Thursday, November 23, 2006

More Bittorrent Bliss

Lots of good stuff popping up on Dime lately. For those of you out of the loop, an explanation: For many years, collectors have traded through the mail (on a strictly not for profit basis) music (concerts, outtakes, etc.) recorded in the audience, from the radio or more recently on the Internet. While collectors still do trade concerts in the mail, the computer file distribution tool Bittorrent has made this much easier by allowing collectors to share large computer music files via a peer-to-peer system which can then be decoded and burned onto compact disc. These are a couple of concerts I recently downloaded in the manner.

Evan Parker - London 11/17/06:
This was a fascinating gig by free-jazz saxophonist Parker's "Electro-Acoustic" ensemble, a large group split between jazz musicians freely improvising on acoustic instruments a bevy of electronic musicians (laptops, gadgetry) taking that acoustic music and rexmixing it and basically messing with it in real time. It sounds like it would be a recipe for disaster, but it worked very well and created some really interesting and spooky soundscapes over the course of two long improvisations. The first half of the concert was a solo performance by Parker on soprano saxophone with the electronics taking his swirling, sweeping sound and building upon it in layers until it became a hurricane of sound whipping around the auditorium. Adding piano, violin, bass and drums for the second half of the concert along with more engineers gave the music a more percussive effect as the layered and distorted music crashed and receded like waves on a beach. Purists will no doubt sniff that this is not "jazz" and perhaps not, but in combining traditional acoustic instrumentation with cutting edge computer techniques, Parker has hit upon a very interesting synthesis. Recorded from a BBC web broadcast, the sound is excellent as well.

Snooks Eaglin - Chicago 6/1/89: Soulful guitarist and vocalist Eaglin left his New Orleans stomping grounds for a little while, but brought some of that great city with him for this festival gig. This well recorded radio broadcast shows that the R&B legend had the crowd eating right out of his hand, singing along and requesting songs. Eaglin hasn't written many original songs, but as an interpreter of funky New Orleans blues he's second to none as he shows by kicking off the concert with a playful version of Professor Longhair's "Bald Head" along with a devastating "Red Beans." He slows things down to a simmering tempo with the standard "Since I Met You Baby" which has some wonderfully deep singing and expressive guitar playing, before wrapping things up with a couple of non New Orleans tunes, a version of "Mustang Sally" that has the crowd nearly rioting with joy and then shuffling out with Jimmy Reed's "Baby What Do You Want Me to Do." A masterful performance.

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