um, yeah, so, um

So megaupload appears to be a thing of the past, for the time being at least: the federales indicted ’em and shut ’em down.

So that kinda deads most of the links here for the moment. If you want me to do anything about that, y’know, um, you can ask me about it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

MLK on jazz

Lifted from jazztimes. I think this is about as good a definition of jazz as you’ll find:

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern Jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from the music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in a particular struggle of the Negro in America, there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all these.

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival program

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

new year, take 2(012)

So you know those bloggers who will post things like, “blech, got a bad cold and just lost a thumb in the coffee grinder, so here’s just a quick post for today”? Suffice it to say, I’m not one of those. I’ve been going to work, playing with my kids, and about three dozen other things that have been occupying my waking hours. Nevertheless, I’ve missed this and apparently so have a couple of other people, so here goes. Happy 2012!

A little tradition I’ve initiated is that the first thing I play in the morning of New Year’s Day is “Welcome” by St. John Coltrane. So in honor of the new year, here’s some live music by the patron saint of pushing forward.

11/20/61 Copenhagen (90M)
The quintet with Dolphy. The key piece here is “Delilah” a not-quite-standard showtune that (I believe) was made popular by the Clifford Brown/Max Roach band. This is the only known recording of Trane playing this, so that alone makes this a curiosity, but it’s so good (and so perfectly suited to this group) that it’s a must.

1962-63 Birdland radio broadcasts (410M)
A more recent collection of fm broadcasts from Birdland. Dolphy’s on the first couple, otherwise it’s the quartet doing business as usual.

11/4/63 Stuttgart (260M)
Coltrane biographer Lewis Porter says, “the seventy minutes that remain unissued is among the most extraordinary of all Coltrane recordings.”

3/19/65 The Half Note (85M)
Radio check-in with the quartet at the Half Note — two more broadcasts have been officially released, but this one was not.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

new year resolute

Three months of working, child-rearing, and the usual seasonal-onset apathy, and I’m surprised to see that anybody even bothers to check in here (at least somebody was, according to the bar graph that dutifully keeps track of perusers here). So if that was/is you, thanks for keeping my little blog in your thoughts. I have nothing musical for you, but I do have every intention of picking up the pace in the coming days and getting back on track.

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and New Year’s Eve and was able to get a few moments of quiet reflection in today. Here’s to y’all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

big score for the jazz nerds, vol. 2

If you don’t know, Gilles Peterson is a British DJ who’s hugely popular and, unlike many other hugely popular DJ’s, is something of a tastemaker in both the dance music world and the nerdy jazz/soul/funk/etc record collecting world (not to mention something of an industry, looking at the number of comps with his name on them). A couple years back he compiled Impressed and Impressed 2, two excellent collections of 60’s British jazz that was all long out of print and more or less unknown to most American (and Americentric) jazz fiends. Turns out that a third volume was assembled by Peterson’s co-compiler Tony Higgins but was shelved/ignored by the record label, and now the whole thing’s available via Higgins himself at the grand old orgy in rhythm blog. Get on it, cuz there’s some really good stuff in there. “Jazz Rule” and “Euphrates” are my jams of the moment. And buy the guy a pint, while you’re at it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

the update

What the heck have I been doing since, um, whenever the last post was? I’ll tell you. Getting ready for this little one:

At some point, I’ll get back to the music. In the meantime:

“To Althea, from Prison”
Richard Lovelace (1649)

When Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair
And fetter’d to her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free—
Fishes that tipple in the deep
Know no such liberty.

When, like committed linnets, I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlargèd winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

OH, and fyi, just so you know that I’m the kind of blogger who both talks the talk and walks the walk, I didn’t miss the opportunity to give ol’ Soothing Sounds for Baby another spin (a few hours ago), and lo and behold, the wee one’s eyes lit right up, started gazing around the room, then drifted off to napland. Score another one for the history of ambient music!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

stay in school, fool

announcement (from Stay in School) by nwgj

A belated back-to-school special: some words of wisdom from your friend and mine, the big O, Otis Redding, reminding you that without an education you could only be a tramp.

You really (h)oughta think about it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

baby sounds for sound babies

Dedicated both to KD and to krista, both of whom are due to produce a child any second now. Here is some music for two new newborns.

The first album was designed specifically for the ears and minds of the newborn by maverick composer/bandleader/innovator Raymond Scott — maybe most famous for writing the little ditty “Powerhouse,” which is hardwired into your brainpan as the soundtrack to a couple hundred manic & spooky old cartoons (skip to about a minute into this youtube video and you’ll see what I mean). Leading a double life as a TV bandleader, Scott was also a pioneer of early synthesizers and electronic music and a contemporary of Robert Moog, and around 1963ish he created a series of three albums designed to gently stimulate, delight, and sooth the children of the hip elite from 1-18 months. Music scribes have since rewritten Raymond Scott, and these albums in particular, as a pioneer of ambient/electronic music (10 years before Brian Eno, no less). A few years ago, I was leading my own double life as both an expecting father-to-be and as a revisionist music hipster who was eager to drop nuggets of wisdom like “did you know Raymond Scott was recording synthesized ambient music more 10 years before Brian Eno?” on unsuspecting passersby, and I dutifully bought Soothing Sounds For Baby, vol. 1: 1-6 months in preparation. KD, who prefers reggae, was less than thrilled and probably less than surprised when Soothing Sounds didn’t do much to sooth our collicky child. But who am I to argue with science, or the history of ambient music for that matter?

What did do the trick, a little bit at least, was good ol’ Steve Reich and his minimalist epic Music for 18 Musicians. When our wee bairn would enter his nightly battle with his own half-formed ability to work out his own digestion and farting needs, out came the Steve Reich. I swear that he liked it and that it did indeed do the trick to mellow him out somewhat. Maybe it didn’t really, but it sure mellowed me the hell out, which in the grand scheme of parenting may have been just as important. At any rate, I leave all this up to the blog’s #1 supporter obes to work out on his own in the very immediate future. As for me, I’ll be keeping this cd within arm’s reach. This, for the record, is the 1996 version, not the original 1978 recording on ECM, which is a little dry sounding to me. This one is like a rainforest of marimbas sprouting around you like a hall of mirrors. It’s (literally) easy to get lost in, but enchanting rather than disorienting, and what little kid doesn’t need that on a regular basis?

Test subject #1 appears to have turned out just fine (can’t vouch for that other dude, though). Thank you, Steve Reich!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

let us go into the house of the lord

and now for a very different kind of gospel music…

I’m inclined to think of these two offerings as the two definitive Pharoah Sanders albums. While he’s generally categorized as a free jazz blowtorch (which he definitely was in his early days with Coltrane), a lot of his Impulse albums are actually pretty varied with shorter pieces, hot-blast freakouts and long ambient droners. These two go straight for the furnace at the core of it all — I’m not going to pretend that some of his extended freakouts can’t be a little unlistenable to me, but when he gets that groove going and slowly builds up and over like a volcano, it makes me want to jump out a window. These two are his most consistent and powerful long-players. I’m also kind of pleased with myself for posting them back to back with Hank Williams, so there.

It wasn’t unusual to see other horns on Pharoah’s records, but not often of the caliber of Woody Shaw or Gary Bartz, both of whom were entering realms of stardom soon to be equal to (and maybe surpassing) the leader’s. It also may seem strange that the big man plays nothing but soprano sax here, though you wouldn’t know it from the intensity involved. summum bukmun umyum may could even be considered Pharoah’s most overtly “spritual” album, with a title quoting from the Qu’ran and sporting liner notes that some may read as off-puttingly prosyletizing, dedicated to “the future enlightenment of El Kafirun or The Rejectors of Faith (non-believers).” Recorded dead in the middle of 1970, the title cut leans in the direction of the African “world music” vibe with its heavy percussion and quasi-highlife feel that’s great but probably hasn’t converted any rejectors of faith. But it’s a pretty far gone non-believer who won’t be converted by pianist Lonnie Liston Smith’s adaptation of the spiritual “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord.” Just to provide some context, the then very popular Edwin Hawkins Singers (of “Oh Happy Day” fame) recorded their own version the year before, which I’ll bet was on Lonnie’s mind, and Carlos Santana recorded his own homage to Pharoah & Lonnie’s version on his Love Devotion Surrender album with John McLaughlin, which starts off on the same ground but then can’t resist surrendering to the pull of that trademark Santana groove. Two interesting comparisons, both in the file for you to ponder.

Black Unity is one big 37 minute track and therefore tends to get lumped alongside Ornette’s Free Jazz or Coltrane’s Ascension as a defining . As seminal as both of those pieces are, both still fall back into the template of a “theme” (or group blowout in this case) followed by a progression of solos, with the energy starting at 10 and pushing the limits of endurance until it ends. Black Unity ebbs and flows. It takes its time. The first few minutes clear your head for the onslaught that you expect to come blazing in, but it never really happens. The horns finally appear nearly 4 minutes in, then drop back out — that mishmash of a groove is what’s important: the squeezy harmonium, the piano vamp, the clattering percussion, that cool disorienting duetting bass line, and so on. By the time the “freakout” comes — and it is definitely a freakout — you’re already flying high. Pharoah’s still-lingering reputation as a sonic terrorist isn’t exactly unearned on his part, but anyone who actually listens to this will maybe hear how he’s coming from a different place than his predecessors. The groove reigns supreme, and when the horns finally return at the very end, you realize that what the piece is. It wasn’t entirely sustainable, as his later albums (as great as they are, for different reasons) attest to, but for the moment it was a pretty good summation of what Pharoah was all about.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

are you sure Shmank done it this way?

Anticipating potential music biz snipership, I’ll keep it discrete about this here deluxe Shmank Shmwilliams box set, The Smunreleased Shmrecordings, from 2008. Granted, it doesn’t get much more nondescript than that title, but this solid solid gold from ol’ HW. Truth be told, I was never a huge Shmank Shmwilliams fan — I wasn’t not a fan, either, but he’s such an icon and I was someone who came to appreciate country music pretty slowly and HW is the prototype for all postwar Nashville county music and he’s an American legend and all but blah blah blah. At any rate, I can’t say a ton about the guy without cribbing it from amg or wikipedia, so I won’t. I will say that these 3 discs are a collection of recordings HW and his band dashed off in the studio for broadcast at 7:15 in the morning on the Shmother’s Shmbest-sponsored radio program in 1951. Oh, for the days when you could listen to music like this at the crack of dawn in between cries to buy flour and animal feed. This isn’t the “complete” material, of course — a second box set came out last year, and I’m sure that the HW estate and the mother company Shmtime-Shmlife will keep finding more ways to slice this particular pie in the future. But for the time being, here’s a hearty helping of what was happening in country music circa 1951, served up with a smile and a big bag of chicken feed by the man who put his thumbprint on it all.

The notes in the box rave about what a major find this is (or was, two years ago) and how much hassle went into getting this into our hands (much legal wrangling is implied), and, though some of this stuff appears to have been in gray-market circulation for a good bit longer, I sure am grateful to the lawyers and the suits because this sounds absolutely awesome. Multiple others have raved about how HW actually sounds better and looser on these rise ‘n shine folks! tunes than on his classic hits, and marveled at how his band was so keyed in to each other that they just rattled these numbers off without much fuss or pre-planning. The material is varied enough to make you want to hear all of it: Hank plays some of his hits, but also a bunch of gospel numbers, hymns, tunes written by friends of his, old timey stuff that his grandma sang him, and whatever the heck else he felt like. There’s not really any filler in here at all, which in a way makes the occasional curveball — like when they sing the hell out of “On Top of Old Smokey” — that much cooler. I don’t know, maybe grizzled old Shmank fans have a different take on this. What I do know is that I was making a couple loaves of zucchini bread the other night and I was playing this loud, and all was right with the world. And I’m kind of a Shmank Shmwilliams fan now.

Much more specific info on the who’s, where’s, when’s, and why’s would be available at amg and I’m sure plenty of other places, too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment