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December 9, 2008

More Blue Note Influence on NBC

Was watching SNL on Saturday, December 6th and came across this clip:



Check out these two covers; and they are just the two that are of immediately thought. There's definitely a lot of text and color design influenced from Reid Miles appropriated in this SNL clip.

December 7, 2008

'Quartet (Dortmund) 1976' - Anthony Braxton


Anthony Braxton screams modernity! From the way he titles his works, to his album covers, and through the aesthetic of his sound. Amazingly he has adhered to this image even up until today. One aspect of free jazz that I love is the subtle and subliminal intuitiveness between a group of musicians, and Braxton consistently achieves this with his musicians.

This record is supplied with four compositions buy this stunning quartet. It's insanely well produced and each instrument is mixed amazingly in the channels. George Lewis is heard on trombone in the left channel while Braxton is pertained to the right. To me what makes it brilliant on the ears is the echoing acoustics of Braxton's reeds on the left channel. You hear his notes and riffs mimicking themselves as they bounce around the venue.

Composition 40 F / Composition 23 J is a 26 minute long track that starts off with his whimsical, ambient, and often times almost minimal (comparatively speaking) free form playing before erupting into the more aggressive, straight ahead free jazz style to top the track off -- Is that an oxymoron or what, straight-ahead free jazz? -- I guess what I mean is a sound more stylized like Ornette Coleman; and there is nothing straight-ahead about Ornette.

The rest of the set demonstrates this similar concept.
Composition 40 (O) and Composition 6 C are more ambient before the whole set finishes with Composition 40 B. This conclusion is a stellar performance by the whole group creating an incredible peak to the set. [As an added note, I think Dave Holland's best recordings are with Braxton's groups]
1976 - Hat Hut Records.
Anthony Braxton - alto, contrabass & sopranino sax, clarinet, EB & contrabass clarinet; George Lewis - trombone; Dave Holland - bass; Barry Altschul - drums, percussion.

November 15, 2008

Outside the New Sound



I’ve always struggled with the connections between the Avant-Garde Jazz and visual art. I appreciate the meshing of ideas between these two loves of mine, and comparing the improvisations of say Ornette Coleman to Pollock’s action paintings are definitely relevant. However, it’s never really taken further than this. Not only are there similarities between Free Jazz and Abstract Expressionism, but also between the conceptualist of the 1960s.

The basis of this argument is not the aesthetic qualities of each medium, but the ideas that are driving their existence. In fact, when hearing Coleman talk about his music, I draw more references to the work of John Baldassari or Sol Lewitt than that of Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning.

There’s still a strong connection between Free Jazz and Abstract Expressionism. I tend to see these in works of late Coltrane or Albert Ayler. Coltrane described his playing as sheets of sound, creating notions between his sax playing and the color field paintings of Marc Rothko and Ad Reinhardt. Also, suggestive titles like Om, Meditations, or Expressions create spiritual relationships in his music, which is parallel to the spiritual aspect of the paintings that encourage viewers to embrace a meditative experience with the art. This dedicative relationship intended for the creator and the viewer is completely valid to musicians and visual artists akin.

Even beyond the new sounds, free improvisers seem to share similar attitudes and unconventional feelings as visual artists do. While I tend to disagree with
the phrase of art for artists, saying one is a musicians’ musician holds the same significance. I often see the Minimalists and Conceptualists as artists who were interested in the complete deconstruction of art, forcing the purist elements to the forefront. Now if we take Ornette Coleman’s elimination of chord changes, or maybe Paul Bley eliminating percussion to break down restrictions we can observe these related concepts.

Just like conceptual artists, Coleman challenges listeners in the same way artists may question what the definition of art is. There are the continuous dealings with time and motion, then and now, before and after, and as always the last role of the listener or viewer who become active in these pieces. Cecil Taylor is consistently focusing on the physicality of his music and the space or intervals he works with. Similar to Donald Judd who creates objects that represent the idea of physical space that swarms the presented matter.

Lawrence Weiner and John Baldassari are infamous for redefining standard attitudes regarding sculpture and painting. Weiner works with using words to represent the physical presence and aspects of sculpture that are absent in space. Even though these are portrayed flat on a flat surface, he still considers these sculptures. Baldassari often times uses dry humor and confronts viewers with the use of literal terminology; taking traditional ideas from art history or theory and rendering them in a complete modern way.

Also, the use of serialized titles by reedist Anthony Braxton holds water to those used by visual artists. We see titles from Braxton like,
60666 C -66M Composition 23K, or Comp. 40N/Comp. 23J, while Dan Flavin would make artworks like his Icon series, which were numerically ordered. Since artists of these movements saw their objects as ways of conveying their ideas, they often used titles that would almost convey a systematic inventory of sorts.

I attended a conversation with Ornette that was hosted by writer and NYU professor Howard Mandel. Throughout the discussion Coleman was always referring to the “idea” as if it was the object that his music represented. “Only thinking about improving the idea,” Coleman said as he continued to talk about ideas as knowledge, how the quality of the idea never mattered as long as it existed.

Coleman also spoke a lot on music theory. Questioning that there must be more than just 12 notes to the chromatic scale. “How can ears know if something is sharp or flat,” said Coleman, “when they don’t know the intent.” Like a lot of minimalism or conceptualism, the intent is more important than the final product. Sol Lewitt says it perfectly with his infamous statement, “The idea is the machine that drives the art.” A lot of reactions viewers and listeners have to free jazz and Minimalism (or even AbEx and Conceptualism) is that they think the creators are lazy or creating easy work. When there's the famous reaction of, "I can do that," my initial response is you can, but it would look or sound completely different to what you're experiencing now. One may choose colors and materials closer to their desire, or their music may reflect their current moods and feelings. To dismiss work because one can repeat it is a completely irrelevant argument.

Whether it’s Ornette’s interest in the idea, or Sol Lewitt’s conceptual manifestos, modernity in both mid-century artists and avant-garde musicians are reasonably similar. I’ve been disappointed that writers haven’t explored these comparable aspects more. The creative impulses to redefine the notions of jazz and visual art are a major driving force behind the existence of their works.


November 10, 2008

Street of Dreams

I was watching re-run clips of Conan O'Brien online and saw this still image that was used when returning from advertisements. A great adaptation of a classic Blue Note cover and recording. You can see Brubeck's Time Out and 'Round Midnight by Miles and then they rendered Grant Green's Street of Dreams to display Late Night with Conan O'Brien. An interesting find.

November 1, 2008

"Town Hall, 1962" - Ornette Coleman


This record marks a hand full of milestones for the alto saxophonist. It's his first and only release from the ESP-Disk label; his first recording with his new trio featuring Izenzon and Moffett; his last release before a two year hiatus from recording and live performances; and it's an early example of Coleman's theory of harmolidics featuring a string ensemble.

The release contains the partial concert in which Coleman recording himself one Christmas night. From my understanding the tapes sat for sometime before given to ESP-Disk for mastering. No matter how tight his Atlantic quartet was, this trio is definitely equal. David Izenzon plays uniquely compared to Charlie Haden, while creating tremendous layers and the ability to play independently from Coleman.
  Charles Moffett is an outstanding drummer and performs solidly on all their sessions together, constantly creating the perfect tone and mood behind Coleman's blues and melodies.  Myself, being a drummer, I am strongly influenced by Moffett's style and especially his strong use of the kick drum.  Where we saw Higgins constantly swinging on the ride cymbal, and Blackwell relying heavily on his heads, Moffett presents the best of both worlds with consistent bass drum polyrhythms behind his cymbal.
1962 - Esp Disk.
Ornette Coleman - alto saxophone; David Izenzon - bass; Charles Moffett - drums; Selwart Clark, Nathan Goldstein - violin; Julian Barber - viola; Kermit Moore - cello.



Other albums featuring harmolodics and symphonies:
Chappaqua Suite Soundtrack (1965), The Music of Ornette Coleman - Forms & Sounds (1967), Skies of America (1972), Naked Lunch Soundtrack (1991).

Other albums featuring Izenzon and Moffett:
Chappaqua Suite Soundtrack (1965), Who's Crazy Soundtrack Volumes 1 and 2 (1965), At the Golden Circle Volumes 1 and 2 (1965).

October 22, 2008

"Things To Come From Those Now Gone" - Muhal Richard Abrams

I was fortunate enough to find a copy of this at my city library, it truly is a treasure.  I've listened to it three times completely through since obtaining it four days ago.  I've always been into stuff by Abrams or other artists involved with the AACM, but I haven't been able to get me hands dirty in a lot of recordings.  This particular album contains eclectic cuts with styles ranging from abstracted blues, free-form improvisation and even hard bop.

We start off with a subtly beautiful ballad called Ballad For New Souls, which has a tone that is comparative to a score that may have been composed for an Eames film.  The following song, the title track, starts off with a heavy tom section for a minute and a half before ripping into a thunderous assault of free improvising collectivism.  The horns flow freely while Abrams leads them with brilliant comping.  The track appears to be quicker than it is and then we step away  while Ella Jackson sings a short, slow tempo piece complementing Abrams called How Are You?.  

I particularly fell in love with the closing cut, March of The Transients, which is a strongly written composition with the intensity that could be paired with an action movie sequence.  It's stylized more like hard/post bop, comparable to Joe Henderson or Andrew Hill.  Abrams' solo floats freely and is followed by the horn ensemble reminding us of the theme using basic chord changes.  The band then trades eighths with the drummer a few times before returning to the composition closing out the album.
1972 - Delmark.
Muhal Richard Abrams - piano; Wallace McMillan - flute, sax; Edwin Daugherty, Richard Brown - sax, Emanuel Cranshaw - vibes; Rufus Reid - bass; Steve McCall, Wilbur Campbell - drums; Ella Jackson - vocals.

October 10, 2008

"Let Freedom Ring" - Jackie McLean


Jackie McLean's 1960s Blue Note albums are never fail high energy performances and well entertaining. I remember reading in Blue Note Records: The Biography that he struggled and was self-critical during his mid hard bop period with finding a comfortable sound. It wasn't until Ornette Coleman was on the scene allowing McLean to develop his style. In this LP, and others like Destination Out! (1963) and New and Old Gospel (1968, which features Coleman solely on trumpet), you can really here the influence in his horn. The band is swinging, especially Billy Higgins on drums. There's the classic hard bop sound, but McLean's playing dips further into uncharted territory with squeaks, grunts, and more free playing than his other hard bop contemporaries.
1962 - Blue Note.
Jackie McLean - Alto Saxophone; Walter Davis, Jr. -Piano; Herbie Lewis - Bass; Billy Higgins - Drums.

September 5, 2008

"Tijuana Moods" - Charles Mingus


This is a near flawless performance in my opinion.  I love the whimsicality of Mingus' compositions, and how the band alters the tempos constantly during tracks displaying how tight these guys were.  Mingus is praised for joining highly arranged parts mixed with sections where it sounds like the band is falling down stairs.  In this 1957 (released in 1962) session we can hear early demonstrations of this concept, and even though you don't immediately think of Mingus when you hear the term "free jazz," he certainly was an influence and opened a lot of doors for the avant-garde.

Dizzy Moods starts off calm with well harmonizing ensemble parts and straight forward solos.  Following this is the more roller coaster of a cut, Ysabel's Table Dance, which demonstrates the influence the city of Tijuana had on Mingus; this album was recorded shortly after a trip he had there.

One milestone is that this album solidified Dannie Richmond as a drummer for Mingus.  Prior to this he played sax in the band.  If you are a fan of "Tijuana Moods," check out "The Clown."  Both records pair nicely. 
1962 - RCA.
Charles Mingus -bass; Jimmy Knepper - Trombone; Curtis Porter - Shafti Hadi, Alto Sax; Clarence Shaw - Trumpet; Bill Triglia - Piano; Dannie Richmond - Drums; Frankie Dunlop - Percussion; Ysabel Morel - Castanets; Lonnie Elder - Voices.

August 21, 2008

"Yasmina, A Black Woman" - Archie Shepp


Sorry my posts are so few and between, it's been a crazy summer.  I'm still managing one post a month which will have to do for now.

"Yasmina, A Black Woman" is a wild ride of session recorded in Paris by Shepp.  Yasmina is a twenty minute long track that lends towards a more far out theme that's more common in Pharoah Sanders.  It starts off with a big African influence with yelping vocals and heavy polly rhythms before creating a repetitive rhythm section and some soloing by Shepp while a dominant, pulsing ensemble backs him up.  

The second cut, Sonny's Back, is a straight ahead jazz-blues piece which features Hank Mobley creating dual tenors.  The drums were produced with pretty high levels allowing them to be in the foreground and strong emphasis on the kick drum.  The third and final track is a ballad called Body and Soul, which gives more of the sensibility and the blues you'd expect from Shepp.
1969 - Actuel.
Archie Shepp - tenor sax, vocals; Hank Mobley - tenor sax; Arthur Jones - alto sax; Roscoe Mitchell - bass & baritone sax; Lester Bowie - trumpet; Clifford Thornton - cornet; Dave Burrell - piano; Laurence Devereaux - balafon; Malachi Favors, Earl Freeman - bass; Art Taylor - rhythm, logs; Philly Joe Jones - drums; Sunny Murray - drums, percusion. 

July 14, 2008

"Marion Brown Quartet" - Marion Brown


Nabbed a copy of this on vinyl a few weeks back; don't get too excited, it's just a 2002 Get Back reissue, but none the less, very cool to have coming off the needle.

This is Brown's first session as a leader for ESP-Disk' and it's a solid performance. Capricorn Mood is a side-long track that starts with an Eastern influenced rhythm between Rashied Ali on drums and Ronnie Boykins and Reggie Johnson on bass. The melody kicks in cheerfully and whimsical before Brown sets off on his solo. This is then followed by Alan Shorter on trumpet. The two of them create an interesting juxtaposition over the repetitive bass line. Following all this is a dual bass improvisation and a heavy tom dominating drum solo by Ali before returning to the theme.

27 Cooper Square is a faster tempo cut with a higher collective of free improvisations. Contains the same personnel as Capricorn Mood minus Boykins on bass. Exhibition drops Alan Shorter on trumpet with the additive of Benny Maupin on sax. This track is similar to Capricorn Mood with it's Eastern influenced rhythms, but seems focused more on longer dissonance of notes. There's also a stellar solo by Ali before rapping up the set.
1967 - Esp Disk'.
Marion Brown - Sax; Alan Shorter - Trumpet; Benny Maupin - Sax; Ronnie Boykins - Bass; Reggie Johnson - Bass; Rashied Ali - Drums.

May 22, 2008

"Pharoah's First" - Pharoah Sanders


I think these recordings were created during an interesting transition in jazz, and it's definitely heard well in this session. By the mid 60s, Hard Bop was reaching it's peak and the Avant-Garde has been making a firm plant in jazz. With the exception of Stan Foster's playing, the Quintet's rhythm section showcases straight ahead, bop. The affects of Coltrane's playing is certainly heard through Sanders' licks, melodies, and improvising. It's interesting to hear how his progressive sense challenges the rest of the band, and Foster keeps up at times. This album is a must have.
1965 - ESP Disk'
.
Pharoah Sanders - Sax (Tenor); Stan Foster - Trumpet; Jane Getz - Piano; William Bennett - Bass; Marvin Pattillo - Drums.

April 11, 2008

"Slug's Saloon" - Albert Ayler

This is a beautiful set put on by Ayler's band. Often times I prefer his live recordings over his studio sessions because I think the lower produced quality add to the expressiveness of the music, but also because you can really hear more of what Ayler is feeling and how hard he and his band is playing.

Everyone plays here like it may be their last date. Michel Sampson's violin playing is out of this world and creates a wonderful relationship behind Albert's squeling. Ron Jackson frails on the drums giving you an artilary of rhythm and Albert's brother Donald plays like he is going to take off. With many reminders of the themes, the ensemble parts are nearly dead perfect, creating a balance between harmony and free improvising.

My favorite tune is Our Prayer, which Ayler incorporates marching band melodies (which I'm sure he got from his time in the military). He creates wonderful build-ups that are destroyed by controlled-chaotic (if that makes any sense), collective, free expressions. The album also features token composition like Bells, Ghosts, and Truth Is Marching In.

In the documentary, My Name Is Albert Ayler, drummer Sunny Murray stated that Albert "played with love," and that couldn't be more apparent than in these cuts.
1966 - ESP Disk.
Albert Ayler - Tenor Saxophone; Donald Ayler - Trumpet; Ron Jackson - Percussion; Lewis Worrell - Bass; Michael Sampson - Violin.

March 20, 2008

Ornette Coleman Quartet Reunion

These clips are such treats.  This is in Spain in 1987.  Talk about intuitive intelligence, it is absolutely amazing how in-sync these guys are with one another.  I love how Charlie swings his fiddle bass back and forth.  Enjoy these!!!





March 4, 2008

Music Millennium Picks

I had a handful of picks at a record store I used to work at.  I made cards that had brief written reasons to why these albums stood out to me.  As you can see, I have a thing for Blue Note.

'Genius of Modern Music' - Thelonious Monk
These lower produced tracks are my favorite recordings by T. Monk.  They're worth it just for the simplified versions of the Bebop wizard's compositions that I think enhance Monk's soling and improvising.  
1947, Vol. 1 / 1951, Vol. 2 - Blue Note.

'In 'N Out' - Joe Henderson
This pressing has five originals by Henderson that feature amazing chord structures that are brilliantly backed by McCoy Tyner, Richard Davis, and Elvin Jones.  Former Messenger Kenny Dorham also rips with sweet trumpet solos.
1964 - Blue Note.


'Lee-Way' - Lee Morgan
This practically Jazz Messenger line-up is pureley exciting for the fun, unique solos of Art Blakey.  It's rare to hear solos like that come from Blakey since he uses the Messengers to showcase the talents of his sidemen.  
1960 - Blue Note.


'At the Half Note Cafe' - Donald Byrd
When I think of cooking, I instantly think of this live recording.  Byrd and Pearson are a dangerous duo when it comes to compositions...  And cuts like "My Girl Shirl" and "Child's Play" really represent the groups ability.
1960 - Blue Note.


'At Basin Street' - Clifford Brown & Mac Roach
This record features awesome cuts by the powerhouse quintet that hosts Sonny Rollins, Richie Powell, and George Morrow... You'll hear wonderful horn licks and tremendous rhythm sections backed by Brown and Roach.
1956 - EmArcy / Verve.


'A Night In Tunisia' - Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
Proabably one of the most prolific recordings of the Gillespie tune.  This album has a line-up that, what many think, is the best Messengers' roster... The disc is well worth it for Lee Morgan's, "Kozo's Waltz."
1960 - Blue Note.


February 18, 2008

"Broken Shadows" - Ornette Coleman


Coleman produces some great sets with his brief columbia sessions. Science Fiction, has more of a space-y and electronic aesthetic, where as Broken Shadows is more reminiscent of the Atlantic recordings but perhaps a bit more aggressive.

Besides the aggressiveness, you get all the boogie and swinging and positivity you’d expect. Tracks like “School Work” leave dancing melodies in your head (he has used this melody numerous of times in other compositions). Don Cherry plays at such a great level on these recordings and complements Ornette so well as he always does. Also accompanied is Bobby Bradford which makes an interesting variation to Cherry, and we also hear a strong tone difference of Dewey Redman against Coleman. Higgins and Blackwell are shown playing together making heavy rhythms and flooding sheets of percussion.

The last two tracks have Webster Armstrong joining the group singing some blues. The exciting juxtaposition of the harmolodics and vocals is like a wonderful roller-coaster filled with expression, feeling, and soul.

1972 - Columbia.

Ornette Coleman - Alto Sax; Don Cherry - Pocket Trumpet; Dewey Redman - Tenor Sax; Bobby Bradford - Trumpet,Charlie Haden - Bass, Billy Higgins - Drums, Ed Blackwell - Drums; Jim Hall - Guitar, Cedar Walton - Piano,Webster Armstrong - Vocals.

In spirit of Ornette, I’d like to talk about the PDX Jazz Festival. Not only did I get to see him perform, I saw a conversation with him and his son Denardo hosted by Howard Mandel (author Miles, Ornette, and Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz); at which I was able to shake Ornette’s hand and have him sign my Blue Note LP. “Only Thinking about improving the idea,” was the very first comment by him. And he continued to express his thoughts about sound, life, knowledge, sex... Everything! Always remaining in the most positive attitude and keeping a smile on his face.

Now from my understanding, all of the educational programs hosted by the festival were recorded and will eventually be available through KMHD. This one is worth checking out.

Later that night (to top off one of the best days in my life), I went and saw Coleman at the Schnitzer. Man, it was unbelievable. It was so transcendental and sublime, I spent most of the show with my eyes closed tapping my feet. Throughout the performance, melodies from classic compositions were mixed in. Like, “School Work”, “Beauty Is a Rare Thing”, “Lonely Woman”, “Turnabout”, and “Morning Song”. I feel privileged seeing how it has been 25 years since the last time Coleman played in Portland and perhaps one of the last.

February 10, 2008

"Reflections" - Steve Lacy


I think this is one of the finest, individualistic interpretations of Thelonious Monk tunes that I have heard.  You can tell Lacy really understood how to translate his melodies and work them with just the right amount of dissonance and tension; and when and when not to apply it.  The rhythm company performs top notch and Mal Waldron seems to fit in well with Neidlinger and can anyone honestly think of any time when they didn't enjoy hearing Elvin Jones.  

My favorite is "Hornin' In."  Waldron starts off with this vamping and then after the first bar or so Lacy steps in with his wonderfully pitched horn.  The way he plays his solos it seems like many horn players were trying to mimic five years later.  Waldron's phrasing seems spot on and the harmonies between him and Lacy are out of this world.

This is an album I could consistently listen to for the rest of my life.     
1958 - Contemporary.

Steve Lacy - Sax (Soprano); Mal Waldron - Piano; Buell Neidlinger - Bass; Elvin Jones - Drums.

February 1, 2008

"Out To Lunch" - Eric Dolphy



Out to lunch is a beautiful album.  Whenever I hear Dolphy I truly understand the ideas in his head and the dialect he's trying to make with his horn.  Anyway, this album cooks.  Everyone plays at such a high level, it's no wonder why so many refer to the album as the best of the era, the best Blue Note, the best of the avant-garde, or even some say one of the best jazz albums period.  The cuts have these whimsical aspects to them, but enough emotions and definitely the blues remains so that anything meaningful still exists.  Tony Williams, I think, is only 18 years old here, and he has already shown his prominence as a common drummer on many Blue Note dates and many to follow.  

It seems every time Dolphy plays, it's the last chance he'll ever have to play.  You can really here his passion in his recordings, and it's amazing how many ideas you can hear come out of one solo by him; and they're all so coherent and just right on.  Richard Davis responds well and also is excellent at guiding Dolphy, and Williams always knows what to hit and what to omit every time.  

I'll leave you with a link to this wonderful article by Milo Miles.
1964 - Blue Note.

Freddie Hubbard - Trumpet; Eric Dolphy - Sax (Alto), Flute, Bass Clarinet; Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes; Richard Davis - Bass; Anthony Williams - Drums.

January 27, 2008

"Symphony For Improvisers" - Don Cherry


This is a great performance lead by Cherry.  You get two different dimensions of sax coming from the jagged sounds of Pharoah Sanders and the more straining sounds of Gato Barbieri.  And when Sanders plays his piccolo, it really makes an interested contrast to Cherry's horn playing.  The best is when the musicians sort of sync up for those brief sublime moments, and the listener is unsure if they are just playing an arranged part, or if their ears are just adjusting to the actions of the musicians.  I love Karl Berger's vibe playing as well, and the way he follows Don Cherry's playing adds a nice effect.  Around 9:30 into the album title tracked, the group plays an ensemble part that is just breathtaking and is than followed by a swinging solo by Blackwell.  "Manhattan Cry" starts off almost like a ballad, but steadily evolves into a freeing collective of sounds that sticks with the album's theme.
1966 - Blue Note.

Don Cherry - Cornet, Trumpet; Ed Blackwell - Drums; Gato Barbieri - Sax (Tenor); Henry Grimes - Bass; Jean-François Jenny-Clark - Bass; Karl Berger - Piano, Vibraphone; Pharoah Sanders - Piccolo, Sax (Tenor).

January 23, 2008

"My Name Is Albert Ayler"



For the last year, Albert Ayler has been very important and influential to me. I was super excited to see My Name Is Albert Ayler, a film by Kasper Colling that the NW Film Center showed as part of their Reel Music Festival.

It mainly follows his brother, Donald, and his father, Edward. The filmmaker also travels abroad and interviews friends and old girlfriends from when Ayler spent time in northern Europe. This showed different opinions and perspectives offering unique ways of understanding Ayler as a person, but also show how he influenced everyone on different levels. Some of the best parts are interviews and phone conversations with the drummer Sunny Murray. He, very charismatically, shared stories of Albert and Donald. Murray talked about the tonal quality of Aylers playing with how he could expand on one note and get so much out of it. "Albert played it with love," is how Sunny referred to Albert playing his horn.

I was surprised that the story didn't focus on so much of the religious or spiritual concepts of Albert, but instead focused on his relationship with his brother and Maria Parks. They continue with how Albert began to be isolated, whether he was causing it or Parks, and how his brother was pushed out of the band, and leading to Donald's nervous breakdown and ultimately ending with Albert's death in 1970.

The Third aspect of the film was taken from audio interviews with Albert, and you hear his own voice, hauntingly over footage, music, and photographs. It leaves you with wonderful insight into his concepts and ideas. My favorite was when he was talking about playing at Coltrane's funeral and he said, "How could I do that, how could I play crying."

2005, Directed by Kasper Collin

January 18, 2008

"Ornette: Made In America" - Ornette Coleman


Wednesday night, as part of the Reel Music Fest, Ornette: Made In America was shown at the Portland Art Museum. I have seen clips of this film on youtube, and as I had a prior glimpse of its production style, I still didn't know what to expect. The film started in 1983 in Ft. Worth, Texas where a ceremony is being held to make an official Ornette Coleman Holiday in the city, where Coleman was also handed the key of the city.

The film furthered with various interactions of Ornette with his son, old friends from Ft. Worth, colleagues and musicians. We saw him telling stories of his past, and montages of him performing live at clubs and events. With sort of a Warhol-esq editing style, it definitely had its psychedelic moments.

My favorite part was when there was clips from 1968 where Coleman was jamming w/ his son (age 12 at the time) and Charlie Haden. From the editing, I couldn't tell if the music was directly taken from the footage, and I can't help to wonder if it was from the Blue Note session for "The Empty Foxhole." Since the CD is out of print, I have been holding out for a Liberty pressing of this on vinyl, so I haven't heard these recordings. There was one segment where young Denardo was playing single rhythmic snare hits, while Haden was walking high on the bass' neck, and Ornette was playing so melodically with such beautiful lyricism. Then, completely randomly, Denardo would unleash these chaotic blast beats, but only for a few moments before returning to his single snare. This is great foreshadowing for me for these recordings.

The movie was really fun, I loved learning about Colemans concepts about his music. For example, him comparing Religions on an emotional level and his music on a creative level and how that intertwines, or the idea of intuitive intelligence as a third world technology.
1985, Directed by Shirley Clark

January 14, 2008

"Coltrane Time" - John Coltrane/"Hard Driving Jazz" - Cecil Taylor

There's a lot of diverse opinions about this recording session, and whether we hate or love it or don't get it, I think all fans of Coltrane and Taylor wonder, how would these two amazing individuals sounded together in 1965 or 1966?  This
 was originally recorded with Cecil Taylor as the leader.  It was
 produced by Tom Wilson, and being under pressure to appease the label heads, he pulled this line up together.  Five years after it was recored, it was issued with the title "Coltrane Time."  We have to remember that Taylor has already recorded "Jazz Advance" on Blue Note two years earlier where we could hear him already
 experimenting with the physicality of his music and the sporadic dissonance in his chords. But in this date 
he is put with more of a front line, and even though Coltrane was
 beginning to broaden his playing, he appears a little premature to be playing with Taylor, and ex-messenger Kenny Dorham seems way out of place.  

To sum it up, I think you get mainly two opinions about this record.  One is from new
 fans of Coltrane who are just diving in and lose grasp of Taylors concepts.  The other is fans of both Coltrane and Taylor and the "new sound" but understand that these artist just weren't
 meant to be.  I for one, am just gald that this recording was made possible and is available.  It's certainly worth the listen.
1958, United Artists/Blue Note-EMI.
J.Coltrane - TS, K.Dorham - Tr, C.Taylor - P, C.Israels - B, L.Hayes - Dr