Saturday, June 30, 2007

I made another presentation to our senior group at my library yesterday. This one was a bit of a gamble, because it wasn't about either legendary musicians that they would probably know or singers performing standards they would recognize. No, this one was a self-indulgent presentation on “Today's Jazz.” I thought that I had kept the set list pretty middle of the road, there's no way anyone can capsulize the diversity of the jazz scene today in 90 minutes, so I decided to just play some highlights of young-ish instrumentalists (my anti-vocalist bias raising its ugly head again) and give some background. What surprised me is how strange and unusual the music sounded when I listened to it from the audience's perspective. I'm so used to seeking out and listening to adventurous music that I had forgotten that most people look for music that provides them comfort and does not challenge them. Four people actually walked out during Michael Blake's “Surfing Sahara” giving me questioning looks as if to say “what is this?” Luckily some of our regulars stuck it out to the bitter end. I probably should have given more consideration to the playlist, opting for more melodic material over anything else, but I was pressed for time and wound up just slapping it together. The two points I was trying to make in the presentation were that today's jazz musicians were drawing on a wide variety of material, often from different cultures to add to more traditional forms of jazz. To this end I played the aforementioned “Surfing Sahara” with it's swirling solo from Blake and Ben Allison's “Disposable Genius” which has a very distinctive kora solo from Matamou Diabate. I also spoke about how younger jazz musicians were drawing from rock and pop music much as their predecessors drew from Broadway show tunes. I demonstrated this with Brad Mheldau's take on The Beatles' “Dear Prudence” and the version of Blondie's “Heart of Glass” by The Bad Plus. Overall, I guess it went OK, I'm still not that comfortable speaking to groups, but I didn't seem to talk myself into a corner too often. We started with a respectable crowd of 20 and then four drifted out... and one fell asleep! One lady told me afterwards that it was nice to see someone so passionate about a topic, so I guess that was a compliment. Here's the complete playlist:

Disposable Genius by Ben Allison
Surfing Sahara by Michael Blake
Chasin' The Gypsy by James Carter
Dear Prudence by Brad Mehldau
Fire Waltz by Jason Moran
Peeping Tim by Nicholas Payton (Not a senior-friendly tune, but included as a much needed dose of self-deprecating humor)
Minor Blues by Kurt Rosenwinkel
Heart Of Glass by The Bad Plus
Foxy by Reid Anderson
Lakbay Ang Sayaw by Susie Ibarra
Zurich Mark Turner by Mark Turner

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Avishai Cohen - After the Big Rain (Anzic, 2007)

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen is part of a large musical family (including the incredibly cute Anat). On this mix of improvised jazz and world music, he is joined by Lionel Loueke on guitar and vocals, Jason Lindner on keyboards, Omer Avital on bass, Daniel Freedman on drums and percussion and Yosvany Terry on cherekere. The music on this disc seeks an ambitious fusion of electronic jazz and the music of Africa and the Middle East. Highlights of the disc include "Parto Forte" which has Cohen improvising on open unamplified trumpet over a cool sounding world beat groove. Loueke's guitar provides some wonderful flavor throughout the album but particularly on this disc. "African Daisy (La Suite African)" also has strong trumpet playing over a slinky bed of electric piano. The remainder of the disc finds Cohen experimenting with electronically amplified or distorted trumpet, with varying degrees of success. "Afterthoughts (Mozartine)" "Miryama" are lonely sounding ballads that mine electro-acoustic territory. Cohen gets a nice fragile Miles-like tone on the ballads. Overall, this is a solid effort. The music seems strained at times, as if the musicians were trying to stuff in too many ideas rather than letting things flow naturally. But there is a lot of potential for the combination of jazz, electronics and world music.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lots of good coverage of the Vision Festival in the jazz blogosphere: Soundslope has a couple of lengthy posts covering the festivities: “Overall, my Vision Fest highlights were Matthew Shipp's solo set, Fred Anderson Trio, and the Moholo and Friends set. Here's to hoping next year's even better.”

Brian Olewnick’s blog, Just Outside presents the flipside. Olewnick is a big fan of unfettered free improvisation and electro-acoustic improvisation (EAI) so he wasn’t too impressed by the proceedings: “But the great majority of music being performed at Viz ain't free (improv) and, for my bucks, shouldn't in good conscience mislead people into thinking that it is. Insisting on that aura, imho, weakens the music. For the most part, it's every bit as essentially conservative as what's being presented uptown at Wynton's place. Different veneer, very similar core.”

DGA’s Secret Society has some fine commentary as well: “William Parker presented the premiere of "Double Sunrise Over Neptune," an old-school hour-long extended jam for 15 players. The piece is anchored by three different bass ostinatos, but Parker delegated the bass duties here to Shayna Dulberger, who along with drummers Hamid Drake and Gerald Cleaver, did an admirable job holding everything together. Full ensemble passages were used sparingly -- instead, there were many solos and duets, often bookended by Sangeeta Banerjee's melismatic vocal improvisations.”

Photo courtesy of Kate Glicksberg/URGE.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

David Witham - Spinning the Circle (Cryptogramopnone, 2007)

David Witham is a pianist and keyboardist who has been associated with the likes of George Benson and Grover Washington among many other musicians. Considering those credits it’s a little surprising to see him on the cutting edge Cryptogramophone label. On this album he is leading a group which includes Scott Amendola on drums, Jay Anderson on bass, Nels Cline on guitar on a few tracks, Luis Conte on percussion, Jon Crosse on reeds and trumpet and Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar. Leadoff track “The Neon” is a very cool tune with dexterous drumming from Amendola and slinky keyboards from Witham and a slowly building saxophone solo from Grosse. Nels Cline also sits in to contribute an excellent guitar interlude. “Who Knows” is a slow piano centered song which ebbs the momentum gained in the first song. “N.O. Rising” keeps the tempo pretty mild, but sneaks in a little accordion which is appropriate in a New Orleans tribute with a limpid soprano saxophone solo added. Some pedal steel guitar gives this track something of a Bill Frisell-Americana feel. "Momentum" is yet another slow building tune, a cinematic mix of accordion and drums with saxophone entering the fray a few minutes in, before building up a head of steam around the 4:30 mark. “The Circle” finally picks up the pace with a melodic upbeat tune fueled by Luis Conte’s percussion. The lengthy “Afrobeat” slowly builds to become the album’s highlight with bubbling percussion and saxophone and another excellent cameo from the always reliable Nels Cline. Witham lays down some very cool sounding Fender Rhodes electric piano, and the song takes on a very nice early-70’s Miles Davis groove. There is some good music to be found on this CD, but patience is required because much of the music is of the slowly developing, atmospheric variety.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

David Murray - Sacred Ground (Justin Time, 2007)

Saxophonist and composer David Murray works in a variety of formats from big band to trio and string quartet. On this album his sticks to a straight quartet approach, where he's joined by pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Andrew Cyrille and on two cuts, vocalist Cassandra Wilson. Murray refers to this group as his "Black Saint" quartet, alluding to the series of great records he made for the Italian Black Saint label. Wilson's two features "Sacred Ground" and "Prophet of Doom"are singing lyrics written by essayist and poet Ishmael Reed, who also contributed the liner notes, are well done. Her smoky and sultry vocals are supported well by gospelish piano of Gilchrist and restrained playing from the normally muscular Murray and Cyrille. The five instrumental tracks are also well done, mostly taken at considerable length. "Family Reunion" is the swinging highlight of the album, where the backing trio gives Murray a full bodied pulse to improvise over with swirling and swooping tenor saxophone. "Transitions" allows Cyrille to take a very interesting drum solo. The only thing holding the album back, particularly the twelve-minute "Transitions" and ten-minute plus "I Believe In Love" is that the music seems to drift into a little too comfortable mid tempo during the lengthy improvisation making things overly loose, but not egregiously so, and this is a minor quibble. This makes Murray's pithy (five and a half minute) bass clarinet feature "Banished" seem all the more effective. A moody and atmospheric track, it builds to some starkly intense playing against a spare backdrop. This is a very good Murray album, the music is relaxed, and the addition of Cassandra Wilson was a very good idea. This would be a good disc for people to check out if they are curious about Murray but unsure where to begin. The music is interesting but not daunting, with examples of the full range of Murray's playing.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Be.jazz drew my attention to an interesting article by David Hajdu about John Zorn and the Downtown New York City music scene. Hadju has written well received books about Billy Strayhorn and Bob Dylan, and takes an interesting and not all together positive view of Zorn:

"Zorn is an exceptional artist, without question, because he prizes and seeks exceptionalism above all. This is not to say that he is exceptionally good at his art. What he is good at--so very good as to suggest a kind of genius--is being exceptional. Unfortunately, uniqueness is not an aesthetic value; it is a term of classification. To say that Zorn is one of a kind, as he certainly is, is to ignore the larger matters of his nature as an artist and, more significantly, the nature of his work, much of which is thin and gimmicky, and some of which is elementally corrupt."

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jewels and Binoculars - Ships With Tattooed Sails (Upshot Records, 2007)

Jewels and Binoculars is a collective trio made up of Lindsey Horner on bass, Michael Moore on saxophone and clarinet and Michael Vatcher on drums and percussion. This group came together to play instrumental versions of music by Bob Dylan. They are joined on this album by guitarist Bill Frisell on three tracks. The addition of Frisell is an inspired move, he has covered Dylan before on his own albums and his Americana inspired jazz guitar adds excellent spice to the music. At first, the music of Bob Dylan may seem like an odd choice for an improvising jazz band, but his music has very strong melodies and this allows the band to craft some wonderful improvisational flights while staying true to the source material. Frisell's guitar is a potent force on "Blind Willie McTell" with looped and processed guitar lines setting the tone for the slowly developing and atmospheric song. Frisell also adds wonderfully to "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." The shorter tracks hit hard with some fine collective improvisation. "Father of Night" and "If You See Her, Say Hello" state their cases quickly and efficiently in under four minutes apiece, stating Dylan's melody succinctly and then drawing logical and impassioned improvisations from it. I enjoyed this album quite a bit. The group sounded really comfortable and challenged by the material, and the addition of one of my favorite musicians, Bill Frisell, made the music even more powerful. This music will be enjoyed by all fans of improvised music.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Concord has sent promos of their second installment of the Keepnews Collection a reissue program featuring new liner notes from Orrin Keepnews. I find it interesting what's being chosen for re-issue, and I wonder if these are Keepnews's choices or Concord's or a little bit of both. This round of reissues is: Bill Evans - Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958), Chet Baker - Chet (1959), Jimmy Heath Big Band - Really Big (1960), Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Caravan (1962) and Flora Purim - Butterfly Dreams (1973).

I have only listened to the Baker and Evans discs so far. The sound quality seems good and each disc contains a "bonus" track recorded at the session. I'm not familiar with Baker's music apart from his playing with Gerry Mulligan, and I found him to be in the Miles Davis bag, playing a lot of ballads and slow tempoed tunes. For the most part here the music is composed of mild standards, not really my type of thing, but I guess if you're looking for a late-night type of romantic LP it might fit the bill. The most interesting track for me was the slow-motion version of "How High the Moon". I'm so used to hearing that song played at a fast tempo that it took me a minute to recognize it. Keepnews pulls no punches in the liner notes about his dislike for Baker, so that's what made me wonder whose choice this was. Apparently Baker's legend as a "wounded soul" still sells a lot of units, so there you go. The Evans album is quite recognizable and has been reissued may times. He's teamed up with Sam Jones on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums for a serene set of standards and originals. One of his most beautiful compositions "Peace Piece " is here as a timeless example of piano mastery. There is a ton of Evans available, but if you are not familiar with him this makes for a good place to start. This group doesn't quite get the respect of the LaFaro/Motian unit to follow but these musicians swing strongly and quietly and support the music in a fine manner.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior (Shout Factory, 2007)

Songwriter, guitarist and singer Richard Thompson has had one of the most consistently productive careers in popular music. His wry singing and composing and stinging guitar playing continue apace on this fine album. Leading off with a some very good songs detailing the foibles of the man-woman relationship (a Thompson specialty) "Needle and Thread" and the painfully funny "Mr. Stupid" it's clear that this is going to be a special album even by his high standards. But it's the haunting social commentary of the songs "Guns are the Tongues" and "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" which prove how extraordinary this record really is. Decrying the violence and stupidity of war and terrorism, he never resorts to cliche, but draws powerful conclusions that ring true long after the music is over. This is a truly excellent album of contemporary rock 'n' roll and deserves to be heard by anyone who appreciates finely crafted music. Thompson's music isn't glamorous or flashy, but cuts to the bone with a powerful message.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Ornette Coleman hospitalized in Tennessee: "The 77-year-old jazz legend had been performing in the jazz tent on the final day of the Manchester, Tenn., music festival when, midway through a song, he collapsed on stage. A festival spokesman said that Coleman's collapse was likely caused by heat exhaustion."

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Joey Calderazzo - Amanecer (Marsalis Music, 2007)

Pianist and frequent Branford Marsalis collaborator Joey Calderazzo presents a quiet, late-night record of mostly elegiac solo piano with a which features a muted pastelish quality to his playing. On a couple of tracks he is joined by either a guitarist Romero Lubambo and/or a vocalist Claudia Acuna to explore jazz with a South American tinge. The most enjoyable tracks for me were the most upbeat and fast ones, "Toonay" and "I've Never Been In Love Before" which break the spell of a slow moving suite of music, although upbeat cookers are really not what this album is about. A touchstone for this album is the meditational work of the late pianist Bill Evans, and Calderazzo pays tribute to this influence by including one of Evans most famous compositions, "Waltz For Debby." Although the album is well performed, I must confess that this really isn't my kind of thing. I guess I'm not enough of a romantic... but on the other hand if you a looking for an album to put on in front of the fireplace whilst you stare doe-eyed into the gaze of your one-and-only in a wine-drenched stupor, this might fit the bill.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Horace Silver - Doin' the Thing: Live at the Village Gate (Blue Note, 1961)

Horace Silver is joined by trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Roy Brooks. This live recording took place at the Village Gate in New York City, before a very appreciative and excitable audience. I'm definitely going to be partial toward this record because I leads off with my favorite Silver composition, "Filthy McNasty" which melds soul and jazz together with an unforgettable melody and a string of first rate solos. Sliver knows well what his audiences are looking for, which is funky soulful music that had made him one of the premiere jazz musicians of the day. "Doin' the Thing" continues the greasy funky vein, while "Kiss Me Right" slows things down for a much needed ballad feature. This album ends with a spritely Latin tune "The Gringo" and a quick run-through of "The Theme" which heralds the end of a set and of this fine L.P. Horace Silver could really do no wrong during this period, releasing a string of excellent albums with tight, well-rehearsed groups and always memorable compositions. This is a fine example of his best work, and shouldn't be missed by hard-bop fans.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sun Ra - Toward the Stars (Five/Four, 2007)

This new collection takes a close look at two pivotal years in the music of keyboardist, composer and bandleader Sun Ra. In 1955-56, Ra had started his own record label, Saturn Records, and had started to develop a stable of sympathetic musicians, some of which would stay with him for decades to come. The music here foreshadows many of the themes he would investigate throughout his career, ethnic musics, spiritualism and Afro-centrism all played a big part in the Sun Ra worldview and are all represented here in greater for lesser quantities. The interesting piano and horn voicings and the unusual tympani break give “Call for all Demons” a distinctive flavor and the percussion work also enlivens the exotic “India.” The hand-clap fueled swing of “Lullaby for Realville” and “Kingdon of Not” shows the Ra band engaging in some of the heart on its sleeve righteous jazz of akin to the Mingus bands that produced Blues and Roots and Ah-Um. Ra's classic ode to Chicago “El is a Sound of Joy” starts out as a ballad here, before moving gracefully to mid-tempo swing. In fact, swing is the primary element here. Mainstream jazz who may have shied away from Ra in the past due to his cosmic myth-making and 70's free jazz would find quite a bit to enjoy on this disc. Also wonderful is the full-throttle big band bebop of Julian Priester's “Unrack.” The only soft spots on the collection are the some recordings from rehearsals in Ra's apartment, which suffer from muddy sound. This is an interesting glimpse into the formative years of Sun Ra as a bandleader. While it may not be the perfect place for neophytes to make his acquaintance (that may best be served by the superb Jazz in Silhouette) fans of the man from Saturn will find a fascinating glimpse of Ra's early years and much to savor here.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Bad Plus have another typically excellent post on their blog about Jazz in the 1990's. Ethan makes some very interesting points about Wayne Shorter:

"If I have lost anybody at this point, let me be precise: Wayne Shorter is one of the greatest players and composers of jazz music. At least two of his own records, Ju-Ju and Speak No Evil, (both from 1964) are among the very finest jazz records ever. Many regard the Shorter-editions of the Art Blakey (1959-'64) and Miles Davis ('64-'70) bands to be the leaders' best."

He wrote this in response to some comments he quoted questioning Shorter's value as a composer and instrumentalist. It's hard to believe that anyone would need to prove Shorter's bona fides any longer. His track record as a composer and as an instrumentalist speaks for itself. Try to imagine an alternate universe without Shorter, how would have jazz developed both in terms of composition and improvisational structure? Now, I'm a listener not a player, and to be honest I know embarrassingly little about the technical aspects of music. But even I can hear that his conception both in terms of the music he writes like "Lester Left Town", "Dance Cadaverous", and of course "Footprints" are unique in the jazz canon. He has an original improvising strategy on the soprano saxophone to stand with the likes of Sidney Bechet, Steve Lacy and John Coltrane; and his tenor saxophone improvising is of an extraordinarily high order as well.

To be sure, he's gone down a number of blind alleys during the course of his career - I never really got into Weather Report or his Eighties and Nineties albums with electronic instruments (but they are not nearly as bad as Peter Watrous would lead you to believe). His acoustic band of the past decade has been fascinating to listen to, particularly his interaction with pianist Danillo Perez who is a true kindred spirit. I wonder if the reason that musicians and critics are selling him short is the fact that he has lived so long and has had such a mercurial career. Sadly in jazz, legends don't often grow into their autumn while still experimenting. Shorter has had the temerity to live on and do things his way, to go on being "Mr. Weird" regardless of what anyone thought.

More power to him.

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The Claudia Quintet - For (Cuneiform, 2007)

The Claudia Quintet is a novel jazz ensemble made up of John Hollenbeck on drums, Drew Gress on acoustic bass, Matt Moran on vibes, Ted Reichman on accordion, and Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor saxophone. This group blurs the barriers between jazz, classical and ethnic music to create a well balanced and individual music. In particular, the combination of clarinet, vibes and accordion make for an unusual and memorable sound. The opening track “I'm So Fickin' Cool” grabs you right away, and builds to an intense improvisation of swirling and colorful sound. Another improvisation that displays the jazzier side to the band is the brief but potent “Rug Boy” which shows the band in an intense collective improvisation. “Rainy Days/Peanut Vendor Mashup” shows the groups quirky and humorous side by combining The Carpenters soft rock anthem “Rainy Days and Mondays” with Stan Kenton’s “The Peanut Vendor.” It’s hard to think of a more unlikely combination of music, and it’s a testament to the band that it works so well. This album works well as a whole telling a coherent musical story, and the only soft spot on the record is the lengthy experiment in minimalism with a little spoken word, “For You” which briefly slows the group’s momentum to a meditation-like crawl. But this is a minor quibble, and as a whole, this album provides unique and thoughtful compositions and suburb improvisational dexterity.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur (Domino, 2007)

The Cinematic Orchestra is a curious group that combines jazz, classical music and film scores into a unique mixture. On this album they also invited several vocalists to sing with them and wrote the compositions for this project with an unmade film in mind. Most of the compositions on this disc are taken at slow, nearly sleepwalking tempos. “As the Stars Fell” breaks free from this malaise a bit with drums and subtle electronics to develop a sweeping soundscape, while some of the more classically motivated compositions like “Prelude” slow the musical movement to a near halt. The music an be quite daring at times, like on “Breathe” with the voices transposed against a minimal arrangement, but the crawling pace again works against any forward motion in the music. The musicians are obviously quite talented, but I think that I just do not have the patience for this type of slow developing music. I became interested in this group after hearing a performance of theirs through the BBC web site, and that was a performance that focused primarily on instrumental performances with varying tempos but a more strongly flavored and coherent flow to the music. It would be interesting to hear this music again if the accompanying film is ever produced. Perhaps some compelling images on screen would help the music take on more resonance.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Nerd on the run... I just finished an inventory of all of the vinyl records I own (drum roll, please...) 1,472. That's almost 1,500 records and no girlfriend, hmmm... think there's a connection there? I think I'm turning into some sort of monster out of the Vinyl Junkies book, or a possible replacement for the Collyer brothers. And what's a nerd without a database? View a spreadsheet of the whole stinkin' mess here.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some interesting concert torrents have been popping up on dimeadozen lately, but the one that I have been listening to the most is a wonderful concert from the always excellent Dave Holland Quintet from Club Nefertiti, in Gothenburg, Sweden, May 11, 2006. This recorded radio broadcast has crystal clear sound - all the better to hear this fantastic band improvising at great length. If you are not familiar with this group, the lineup is: Dave Holland, bass; Chris Potter, saxophones; Robin Eubanks, trombone; Nate Smith, drums and Steve Nelson, vibraphone and marimba. All of the members of the group contribute compositions to the band's book. The concert finds the band opening with a new composition, "Looking Up", which sets the tone for the rest of the performance with some deeply interactive modern jazz. This group has been playing together regularly for quite a long time now and has developed a near telepathic level of interplay. Fantastic solos also abound throughout the concert, particularly from Chris Potter, who blows an epic and passionate solo on "Vicissitudes." Drummer Nate Smith gives a very unique rhythmic feel to his composition "The Leak" as well as the rest of the music throughout the performance. "Secret Garden" is a fine group performance with a mysterious and haunting melody. As an encore, the group tackles an older Holland composition "Dream of the Elders" to conclude a magnificent concert. As great as this bands studio CDs have been recently, the best way to hear them is interacting in live performance. If you ever get the chance, don't pass it up.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

There have been some very good podcasts posted recently (none from me, though... I'll try to remedy that soon.) Meanwhile, check out these fine programs:

Congratulations to Illasounds for posting their 60th podcast, Good Vibes: "Celebrating the masters of the vibraphone in jazz featuring Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Burton, Roy Ayers, Terry Gibbs, Stefon Harris, Lionel Hampton, Cal Tjader, Red Norvo, Jay Hoggard, Walt Dickerson, Dave Pike, David Friedman, Buddy Montgomery, Joe Chambers, Teddy Charles and Karl Berger."

Taran's Free Jazz Podcast has posted a number of interviews with musicians lately including Lou Grassi and Matt Lavelle. Taran's June 2nd music episode featured tracks from the Chicago Underground Trio, Exploding Customer and George Schuller.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

I thought I was the world's biggest David Murray fanboy. I am thrilled and humbled to read the ongoing analysis of Murray's work in the Wall of Sound blog. This is some truly fine music blogging, don't miss it!

"David Murray released 39 albums in the 1990 as leader, although three were actually recorded in the late 1980s. The World Saxophone Quartet released seven, and I’ve also tracked down a further 11 where he is a featured sideman on other leaders’ dates. At least 57 records in ten years!"

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Sonny Sharrock - Black Woman (Vortex, 1969; 4 Men With Beards, 2001)

Avant-garde jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock came to the attention of the musical public in an interesting way, by taking part in mainstream jazz flautist Herbie Mann's band. To Mann's credit, he apparently never tried to reign in Sharrock's improvisational flights and in fact encouraged him - to the point of producing this, his first solo LP. Joining him on this album are Linda Sharrock on vocals, Dave Burrell on piano, Norris Jones (aka Sirone) on bass and Milford Graves on drums. Sharrock's wife Linda plays a fascinating role in the music, as her wordless vocals ranging from moans to screams take the place of a reed instrument. Indeed at times on this record, she contributes a unique and personal version of the sounds Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders were exploring in this period. The Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum during this period and there is a strong thread of black nationalism running through the album, most notably on "Black Woman" and "Portrait of Linda in Three Colors, All Black" where Sonny fires out molten shreds of guitar and Linda responds with anguished cries. Sharrock doesn't use a tremendous amount of feedback on this album, his lines are clear, and often bubble ominously between the bass and drums. "Peanut" is the most outre track, with the band pinning their ears back and engaging in a collectively improvised free jazz blowout. Graves and Jones are a fascinating rhythm pair. While they often eschew traditional timekeeping duties, their support of the guitar and vocals and their participation in the collective phases of the music are a key ingredient in its success. "Blind Willie" is an interesting curio as well, an interlude for acoustic guitar that Sharrock would return to again on his classic solo LP Guitar. Here he strums and picks an individual take on the delta blues, foreshadowing James "Blood" Ulmer's recent fusion of blues and free jazz. This is not for the feint of heart, but it is a consistently interesting album for anyone interested in the outer fringes of jazz. Sharrock's guitar concept was unique at that time and this album really sounds like no other.

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