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December 31, 2011

They Say They Come In Threes

Fuchsia Swing Song by Sam Rivers on Grooveshark
I am late to the game here but I just wanted to post some words on the passing of Sam Rivers along with visual artists John Chamberlain and Helen Frankenthaler. If you follow Howard Mandel's Jazz Beyond Jazz blog then you probably noticed all of the great content on Sam Rivers he's posted in memoriam (and here).

I have always admired Sam Rivers. He was adaptable as he was individual. Most notable for me was his work on Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds, and his own Impulse release Sizzle. But also his incredible, forward looking records on Blue Note. Particularly notable was Fuchsia Swing Song, which is discussed by Ethan Iverson here.
John Chamberlain and Helen Frankenthaler were both artists in the Abstract Expressionist vein. Post war creatives that were part of the scene that brought Modernism to its apex. I had the great pleasure of spending hours upon hours with Chamberlain's work when I was employed at Dia:Beacon, an intensely large contemporary art space devoted to large scale, conceptual, pop, earth, minimalist Art and beyond.
Chamberlain took the aesthetics of Pollock or De Kooning and gave them substance as three dimensional objects using repurposed metals as his medium. Frankenthaler, an artist I must admit don't know as much about, focused on color field arrangements using organic shapes and elements in her canvas paintings.
Sam Rivers, John Chamberlain ,and Helen Frankenthaler were great individuals among individuals. In a world that ultimately seems more and more collective in the creative realm these three have left an invaluable impact on sculpture, painting, and sound.
Photo Credits: Photo of Sam Rivers by Francis Wolff / John Chamberlain's The Line Up / Helen Frankenthaler's Southern Exposure.
Happy New Year. I'll be writing about some new music coming out of Brooklyn at the start of 2012.

December 14, 2011

Holiday Cheer for Geeky Jazz Enthusiasts

Greensleeves by John Coltrane on Grooveshark
I thought I'd return with another gift guide intended to those looking to score points as gift givers. If that special Jazz fan in your life is like me, most likely they are super picky. Take a look at 2010's Gift Guide; and here are my 2011 recommendations:

1. The Jazz Experience
I'm fortunate to have an older brother that's into giving experiences rather than material items. This worked out because it often involved live performances. Get tickets to a big headliner strolling through your area, or maybe a night at a local jazz club accompanied by a stellar meal and sociable libations. Not to mention the Portland Jazz Festival is just around the corner for those in the Portland area.

2. Better Headphones
More and more we're enjoying our music on the go. Good headwear is key for grooving to those remastered albums. Siege Audio, Urbanears, and Dre ($$). Check out this Frog Design FrogMob to see what more folks are into.

3. Destination: Out MP3 Store
Had this on my list last year and the D:O store is awesome enough to repeat. These super limited and unique FMP releases are absolute treasures.

4. Sony Music's PopMarket.com Complete Album Collections
Let's face it, if they're into Jazz they're most likely a completist. Record collecting is like Pokemon, you have to have them all. Now available are complete album collections from Columbia and RCA Records spanning from the 1950s to the past decade. From Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, and Wayne Shorter to Nina Simone, Return to Forever, and Stan Getz. A little something for everyone.

5. Spotify Premium Membership
Spotify is insanely awesome. A premium subscription gives ad-free, high quality, online and offline listening. I've been obsessively digging through many of the rarer Avant-Garde Jazz albums available.

6. Books on Jazz
Here are a few that would be at the top of my list: George Lewis' A Power Stronger Than Itself, Valerie Wilmer's As Serious As Your Life, Fred Kaplan's 1959: The Year That Changed Everything, and Howard Mandel's Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. For a nice survey on Jazz I would recommend Gary Giddin's Visions of Jazz.

That's about all I have for now. Anything else I think of I'll add to the list. Be sure to have a killer Holiday Season!
I sometimes blog on my iPad using BlogPress. If you see the below signature attached to any post, it pretty much means I'm trying to justify any typos, weird capitalization, or awkward formatting issues.

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December 5, 2011

Perry Robinson in Portland

Last night we witnessed the live chops of clarinet great, Perry Robinson. One of my favorite albums I own is William Parker's Clarinet Trio which features Robinson on their release entitled Bob's Pink Cadillac. Along with a solid discography as a leader, Perry Robinson has contributed to many significant recordings as a sideman; Henry Grimes The Call (an album I always tend to leave a copy in my car), Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Archie Shepp's Mama Too Tight, Burton Greenes' Klezmokum band, among other notable recordings.
See a detailed list here.

Perry Robinson was presented in a quartet alongside Portland's premier Avant-Garde drummer Tim DuRoche, stellar bassist Andre St. James, and Seattle's Marc Smason on trombone. We were tucked down in the cozy basement of The Blue Monk. A Jazz club with a speakeasy feel, it's one of the only places in town one can sip a Trappist Ales and tap their feet to some of the best live Jazz around. It's truly an authentic Jazz experience with candlelit round tables and small booth seating offering an intimate climate between musicians and audience. The Blue Monk's Ninkasi Presents Sunday Night Jazz even has a hostess MC, Mary-Sue Tobin, that reminded me of Alfred Lion's wife, Ruth Mason, from her introduction on Donald Byrd's Live at the Half Note.

The piano-less quartet (everyone knows my favorite form of Jazz group) offered a range of Klezmer inspired Jazz tunes to numbers that were amoebic and free in nature. Music that resembled the intricate horn work of Anthony Braxton's compositions, or the artfully crafted work of Roswell Rudd (New York Art Quartet springs to mind). It was some of the best live music I have seen all year. Robinson's tone was out of this world. He seemed in the moment yet he had full control of his clarinet. Andre St. James was powerful on bass, with amazing arco playing alongside a duo performance with Tim DuRoche. Marc Smason appeared to lead the group, directing how each number was arranged.

I feel honored to not only been able to see Perry Robinson perform live, but to see him in such a low key environment. I'm constantly reminded that #jazzlives.

Perry Robinson with Henry Grimes (bass) and Tom Price (drums)
Fish Story by Henry Grimes Trio on Grooveshark

October 20, 2011

"Nice Guys" - Art Ensemble of Chicago

Back in August I discovered a new record shop in Northeast Portland called Beacon Sound. It had a small, yet focused, Jazz vinyl selection with a good percentage of avant-garde discs that I would've gladly purchased. I restrained myself by limiting my purchase to one LP, Nice Guys by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Nothing too rare as it was a cut out, but the price was just right at $6.

I have owned a digital version of this album for some years now. It's not one the Art Ensemble's strongest works, but it sure exemplifies their compositional style and sheer force as they perform in the studio. Like most music on vinyl, I have been listening to it a lot more now. It must be something to do with putting a record on the turntable over and over again that feels right. Rather than using my Click Wheel to access it.

Nice Guys is the first album the AEOC cut for the ECM label, and also the first after a five year break from recording. Probably what is the most satisfying part of the record is the final track, 'Dreaming of the Master'. What is Joseph Jarman's high tribute to Miles Davis, the whole album seems like a culmination that ultimately feels like a spiritual breaking down during this closing tune.

In 1990 'Dreaming of the Master' was reintroduced in a new album entitled, Dreaming of the Masters Suite: Music Inspired by and Dedicated to John Coltrane. Released on the Japanese Label DIW, it's a mixture of Art Ensemble and Coltrane compositions.
1978 - ECM (1126)
Lester Bowie - trumpet, celeste, bass drum; Joseph Jarman - reeds, percussion, vocal; Roscoe Mitchell - reeds, percussion; Malachi Favors - Maghostus bass, percussion, melodica; Famoudou Don Moye - drums, percussion, vocal.

October 6, 2011

nwFilmCenter's Reel Music Film Fest Is Back!

The Portland Art Museum's nwFilmCenter brings back their Reel Music Film Festival; now in its 29th rendition. There's usually something for any music fan here, and each installment of RMFF even contains something for us Avant-Garde music geeks.

On October 18th, at 7pm, you're not going to want to miss this triple header of DICK FONTAINE films.

A meditation on freedom of expression with three avant garde musicians, under the leadership of Ornette Coleman, as they make music for a Living Theater project in Paris.

A portrait of the great jazz musician during his self-enforced exile from his audience.

Sound??? [1967]
A poetic journey from zoo to echoic chamber in search of the limits of music with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and John Cage.

Who's Crazy is a live music performance of a movie score for the film of the same title. Hardcore Ornette fans probably have heard the audio before as it was originally issued on vinyl in 1966 as a two volume set. I've heard of import reissues being available, but I know digital materials do exist in the far stretches of the internet.

The music is exciting and offers more of an insight into Coleman's post-quartet, post-career hiatus trio that featured David Izenzon (bass) and Charles Moffett (drums). Also heard here are some fresh chops by Coleman on Violin and Trumpet. Who's Crazy is intense, somber, heavily rhythmic (Moffett really utilized his kick pedal) -- but ultimately it's still the melodic, harmolodic, and joyous Ornette that we all love.

September 15, 2011

There's No Time Like The Present - TBA:11

A week ago we attended the opening night for PICA's (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art) TBA:11 Festival. Every September PICA brings a unique brand of Time Based Art to Portland in celebration of visual-multimedia installation, performance, and musical artists; from local territories and internationally afar.

This year I had the privilege to edit their trailer. It was an honor since I've been attending the festival each year I've been living in Portland. Which crazy enough has been five years at this point.

The Works take place at Washington High School. A retired SE Portland school that has be retrofitted to accommodate art installations, a beer garden, and performances. Upon entering one classroom I was surprised to see John Niekrasz (of the The Naked Future) performing his 12-hour drum solo. He included a piece with this Altoist (who I don't know his name) (edit: Tim DuRoche notified me that his name is Ben Kates). It was pretty killer.

Here's my tweet from the moment (be sure to click the screen still to watch a clip):
Live music like this is a rarity. Thanks @P_I_C_A! #TBA11 #inpdx #avantjazz - http://yfrog.us/5ksn8tz
To read more about my infatuation with the connection between Art and Avant-Garde Jazz read this post I wrote in 2008: Outside the New Sound.
Tonight my wife and I will be attending the Andrew Dinwiddie performance followed by a Dean & Britta show with music adapted for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests. This should be interesting since I spent a lot of time with many of Warhol's Screen Tests back in my Dia:Beacon employment days.

I encourage you Portlanders to get out to TBA:11 and support PICA and these artists. Just like Free Jazz, it's far and few between that we experience these events.

August 14, 2011

"The Will Come, Is Now" - Ronnie Boykins

Listening to The Will Come, Is Now on my iPod as I type; I can't help but revisit this ESP-Disk' release at least once a month. Ronnie Boykins' first and only release as a leader has so much replay value and it it leaves me wanting more and more. A bassist that is as versatile to play along with Muddy Waters, Marion Brown, Steve Lacy, Bill Dixon, Sam Rivers, Mary Lou Williams. Rashaan Roland Kirk, at many others, Boykins is mostly famous for his time with the Arkestra. Where we can hear Boykins providing the bass lines for some of the most pivotal Sun Ra LPs.

In an era when Jazz was becoming more and more fusion as well as electric, Boykins rejected the norm and recorded this earthy, acoustic session in 1974. It's very rhythmic, with bass licks that draw from eastern music and polyrhythmic influences from African drumming. Yet his beautiful arco playing on the upright amalgamates classical western sounds with eastern and African influences.

The opening title track exemplifies everything I described in the prior paragraph. However we then make a left turn with the following cut, "Starlight at the Wonder Inn." A buoyant ballad pulling from traditional jazz melodies that even a composer like Strayhorn would write. Although Boykins' technique allows it to be off teetered enough to comprise of its own aesthetic. Fitting perfectly with the rest of the album.

"Demon Dance" is the most Post-Bop in nature, but once the theme is played the whole ensemble wails together as if they were a New Orleans band from the earlier part of the century. It's swinging while offering a change of pace just as the album starts to really grip hold of you.

The closing track, "The Third I," comes in strong similar to Art Ensemble of Chicago recordings. Very heavy rhythms, free form, and demanding on the listener's ears. Requiring your endurance for ten and a half minutes, Boykins then stops everything with a satisfying bass line. Here, the horn sections remind me a lot of Anthony Braxton's composing. This theme is short, creating quite the tease. Leaving me wishing I can hear more Ronnie Boykins. Guess I'll have to go through my Sun Ra records this afternoon.

1974 - ESP-Disk'.
Ronnie Boykins - bass and sousaphone; Joe Ferguson - soprano and tenor saxophones, flute; Monty Walters - alto and soprano saxophones; James Vass - alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Daoud Haroom - trombone; Art Lewis - percussion - George Avaloz: congas.

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I sometimes blog on my iPad using BlogPress. If you see the above signature attached to any post, it pretty much means I'm trying to justify any typos, weird capitalization, or awkward formatting issues.

July 17, 2011

"XYX" - The Spanish Donkey

The good folks over at Northern Spy have been putting an impressive catalog out. They're doing it right by featuring a diverse selection of artists, good stories behind the music, and unique packaging to deliver it all to adventurous listeners (CDs, digi downloads, and cassette tapes).

I was eager to set my eardrums on the new release by
The Spanish Donkey, XYX. A trio featuring today's free form guitar hero (video game pun not intended) Joe Morris, dynamic keyboardist Jamie Saft, and the responsive percussionist Mike Pride.

Timeless, yet of it's time.
XYX is reminiscent of some of the electrifying, innovative loft era jazz while meshing metal, punk, and noise rock. I easily think of the mathematically timings of Lightning Bolt and Hella, while also glimpsing into the electrical tendencies of George Lewis and imaginative stylings of some of the European Free Improv players.

This was all improvised right in the studio. The liner notes hint at categorizing the album as "avant metal." Yet without a doubt it still swings at times thanks to the help of Mike Pride's cymbal work. If your ears are in a dire need for something new then go get XYX RIGHT NOW! The album definitely sends you on a powerful trip. It feels like I'm in the head of that character from Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void.

2011 - Northern Spy
Joe Morris - guitar; Jamie Saft - MiniMoog, Roland Jupiter 6, Roland SH-01, Korg Lambda, Korg CX3, Yamaha CS-01, bass guitar; Mike Pride - drums, percussion & nose whistle.

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I just bought an iPad and will be using BlogPress. If you see the above signature attached to any post, it pretty much means I'm trying to justify any typos, weird capitalization, or awkward formatting issues.

June 16, 2011

PDX Jazz, 50 Years of Impulse!, ECM On Sale, & What I've Been Listening To

A lot has been going on in Jazz this year, and I'm having a hard time keeping up with it. For starters I just noticed PDX Jazz Founder and Artistic Director Bill Royston has retired. I'm sure the fest will be in good hands with the board and Don Lucoff. I wish Bill the best. I have gotten to see Ornette Coleman, Lou Donaldson, Bobby Hutcherson, Pharoah Sanders, and The Bad Plus thanks to his curating.


All ECM albums are on sale at Music Millennium:
Please take advantage of this special offer from Music Millennium - and ECM Records of 20% off all ECM titles from now until the end of June.
The first place I worked when I moved to Portland was Music Millennium in NW Portland (up until it closed). I was a floor supervisor and oversaw the Jazz collection. Let me tell you, they have an impeccable collection of ECM titles. Although this sale could be dwindling their stock fast. Music Millennium is in Portland on East Burnside and 32nd Ave. You can also shop online.


It has been 50 years of enjoying Impulse! Records. Some nice releases are/will be available to commemorate this milestone.


I've been enjoying a lot of Destination:Out recently. They have been providing some notable articles on Sun Ra and George Lewis (and here).

I haven't had a whole lot of time to get into some new music. I've been listening to a lot of Braxton Montreux/Berlin Concerts, and an extreme amount of Don Cherry. Particularly his Blue Note sessions and the ESP-Disk' Café Montmartre volumes. Which offer beautiful, low produced clones of segments of his suites from those Blue Note recordings.

As far as Braxton, put him with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul, alongside either Kenny Wheeler or George Lewis and my day instantly gets better.


I just bought an iPad and will be using BlogPress. If you see the below signature attached to any post, it pretty much means I'm trying to justify any typos, weird capitalization, or awkward formatting issues.

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May 14, 2011

Recap: Benny Golson Live At Jimmy Maks

I was on the fence for this show for awhile. I couldn't believe Benny Golson was going to be playing Portland's Jimmy Mak's and I wasn't sure I had the time or monetary expenditure to make it. Before I knew it, Wednesday the 11th came and I said f*** it! If I didn't go I'd regret it.

Glad I did, it was a mere $20 a head at the door to get in. We risked not having advanced tickets and table reservations -- but we got in, and we got a great spot in the upper level just in time as that place filled up. Although we had to uncomfortable stand on our tippy toes to lean over the banister to get a good view, I couldn't help but feel like the main character, Francis, from 'Round Midnight when he was listening to Dexter Gordon from outside the Jazz club at the beginning of the film.

The Jazz Messengers was such a driving force for me when I first started listening to Jazz. I must of listened to Moanin' from start to finish nearly every day for the first few months that I owned it. Golson single handedly shaped the Jazz Messengers as their art and musical director. Bringing in the Philly talent, emphasizing original tunes, and the generating that overall formal aesthetic of the group. In his short year with Art Blakey, he really laid the ground work for the rest of the Jazz Messengers existence.

On Wednesday night, Benny played with Mel Brown's Quartet. Consisting of Brown on drums, Tony Pacini on piano, Dan Balmer on guitar, and Ted Bennet on bass, this is probably one of the most swinging bands in town, and if it weren't for the era we're in today, these four musicians would be world famous stars.

Highlights for the evening were the rich stories Benny told in between numbers -- Stories of how he met Coltrane and the two of them in their teenage years back in Philadelphia; how he came to write the haunting ballad, and heavily recorded I Remember Clifford. And the musical highlights by the collective included I Remember Clifford, Coltrane's Mr. PC, Along Came Betty, and everyone's favorite Strayhorn tune Take The A Trane.

The evening was filled with hard bop standards that were played to near perfection. I've never seen anyone quite like Golson who could improvise and solo with such ease, proficiency, and elegance. He definitely bridges the gap between bebop and simplified melodies focusing on terrific harmonics. Honestly, any words I try to muscle up won't do justice. I'll just leave you with the below photos that I took with my iPhone.

April 11, 2011

Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk

Forgive my negligence to the blog (a sentence I feel I type far too often here). March was sort of a dud month for me. I've been transitioning into a new job this late winter and have been wedding planning as well. Just exhausting much of my time. Oddly enough, part of me new job is getting paid to blog.

I was inspired by Ethan Iverson to have spend some time with Thelonious Monk's and the Jazz Messengers' 1957 Atlantic recording, simply titled, Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk. A recording that I spent, rightfully so, spinning far too much in my earlier Jazz listening days.

Monk's timing here along with the dissonance in his phrasing pairs so nicely with Blakey's heavy rhythms. And unlike earlier when Blakey had recording with Monk before, he shows his power and leadership. But honestly, the album is a true standout when it comes to Johnny Griffin. He shines as a soloist, playing what I think is some of his best soloing here.

Back to Iverson's recent blog post, he defended Monk as a performer. Now bare in mind that I witnessed Lou Donaldson knock Monk down when Donaldson spoke at the 2009 Portland Jazz Festival. Anyway, Ethan Iverson just saw Martial Solal speak at the Village Vanguard before a gig in which Solal dismissed Monk as a performing pianist:

Solal said he was impressed that Monk wore a hat onstage, but obviously Monk wasn’t a serious pianist. A composer, sure, but not someone who could make it in the Conservatoire.
Solal is not the only virtuoso who has dismissed Monk. Oscar Peterson and Lennie Tristano did as well. Still, I was deeply offended that Solal chose this time and place, the last gig of the Monk series, to air this opinion. When will Thelonious Sphere Monk get the respect he deserves?

I enjoyed this part of Iverson's rebuttal:
Monk's material is always derived from the purest of jazz traditions, but his displaced accents and stark voicings are sometimes thought of as connected to European modernism. Indeed, Monk is a father figure to the avant-garde. But Monk’s own music is not pointillist, Webern-esque, or even particularly abstract. It is hardcore jazz with roots in the blues and Kansas City swing. Getting abstract with Monk can work -- the George Russell/Eric Dolphy "'Round Midnight" comes to mind -- but to do so takes serious consideration.

Monk’s surrealism has been interpreted as clowning around or startling. “Oh, look! I just clanged a minor second! Isn’t that funny!” The Tom Lord discography lists songs called, “Monkin’ Around,” “Monkin’ Business,” “Monk-ing Around,” and “Monking Business.” To the composers of these works I say: Fuck you. Monk nevermonkeyed around or did any monkey business. Sure, some of his renditions of standards like “Remember” or “Just A Gigolo” are among the greatest examples of jazz surrealism ever recorded. But they are still serious. And his clanging minor seconds come straight from boogie-woogie and Harlem stride, not the circus.

Naturally I side with Ethan Iverson here. My ears have always been drawn not only to Monk's compositions but also the way he played them. His timing, phrasing, dissonance, chords, rhythmic backing, you name it. I also particularly enjoyed when Iverson mentioned Steve Lacy's Evidence as one of the greatest Monk interpretations out there. Where, I enjoy his Reflections LP more, I do agree that no one can/could really interpret Monk tunes quite like the great Steve Lacy could.
1957 Recorded / 1958 Released - Atlantic.
Art Blakey - Drums; Thelonious Monk - Piano; Johnny Griffin - Tenor Sax; Bill Hardman - Trumpet; Spanky Debrest - Bass.

March 7, 2011

WKCR To Play 24 Hour Ornette Coleman Birthday Broadcast

Photo from All About Jazz


Wednesday, March 9, 2011: Ornette Coleman Birthday Broadcast

On Wednesday, March 9th, WKCR 89.9 FM will dedicate a full day of programming to celebrate the birthday of Ornette Coleman.

Ornette Coleman (b. March 9, 1930) is and has been pursuing the untouched horizons in music since the beginning of his career. Emerging from the Texas blues tradition, Coleman took L.A. and then New York City by storm with his visionary quartet in the late 1950s. His revolutionary concept placed melody, not harmony, at the center of improvisation. He played music that left chord changes behind, improvising harmony in real time, opening the way for the free jazz innovators of the next few decades. Coleman continued to play in his piano-less quartet through the early sixties, and then he moved to a trio playing violin and trumpet in addition to his customary saxophone. The seventies and eighties brought even newer sounds with his explorations of electric instrumentation and amplification, as well as compositions for orchestra. Coleman won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 record Sound Grammar and he continues to play today.

Tune in to WKCR 89.9 FM and join as we celebrate innovation, relentless individualism, and commitment to artistic freedom. LISTEN!

February 27, 2011

Northern Spy Releases

Our good friends over at Northern Spy have been working hard putting out quality, experimental and avant-garde releases. Although they're not in the vein of avant-garde Jazz, they certainly bring contemporary music to that cutting edge Jazz once did and still does.

The first is a minimalist, drone if you will, collection of compositions by trumpeter/guitarist/minimalist Rhys Chatham called Outdoor Spell. The production of this album is certainly textured, and although it drones about, each of the four tracks are beautifully different in their minimalist forms.

Chatham employs layers of guitars, his own voice, and percussion to create these multi-sensory and multi-instinctual sound bites. And the composition, The Magician, contains more of a Free Jazz hat as the drums, electric guitar, and trumpet erupt into a mass of what seems to be an improvised, dissonant demonstration.

Next up, Northern Spy has debuted their Clandestine Series of audio cassette releases. Clandestine Series Cassette # One brings four tracks by the Messages, Tom Carter, Zaïmph, and Loren Connors & Margarida Garcia. Personally, this is worth the purchase just for Tom Carter's piece, August Is All. A minimalist, melodic, lonesome electric guitar piece that has been on repeat all week in my studio.

With a lot of the tracks, think Aphex Twin ambient works, but less electronic.


Check these out! They are worth the purchase for any fan of experimental music. In Northern Spy's short existence so far, they have been prolific and I think they're going to be an excellent outlet for great, under-appreciated music. Offering chances to Artists that may not otherwise be getting the exposure they need.

February 18, 2011

"At the 'Golden Circle', Stockholm" - Ornette Coleman

Last weekend I was invited to record an Object Story (like them on Facebook) at the Portland Art Museum. This is a great project that allows anyone to come in and share something that has a great story (or anything with an interesting personal attachment/history). Naturally when I did mine, improvising for short clips at a time, I left things out I meant to say and said things that weren't necessary. All in all, it was great excuse to talk about my autographed original issued Blue Note of Ornette Coleman's At the 'Golden Circle', Stockholm, Volume 2.

This dual volume Blue Note has to be one of the main reasons that I'm into avant-garde Jazz and why I have looked to Mr. Coleman as my shining light towards more great Jazz and modern concepts. I hadn't obtained these volumes until after a few years of heavy Jazz listening. I remember, when I first started collecting Jazz records I saw both volumes at Rhino Records in upstate New York. That was the first time I became aware of the name Ornette Coleman. The Reid Miles cover design really stood out. Three individuals in the foreground; behind them the desolate, white, stark looking winter woods of Scandinavia. With colorful, contrasting text that wrapped around their bodies. The cover artwork really burned into my mind. I didn't buy the albums, which might of been ok since my novice ears probably weren't ready for this trio's sound.
Fast forward about two to three years, and I'm starting to listen to Ornette's Atlantic sessions. As I'm pulled more into his trance I am able to win an eBay auction obtaining both volumes of At the 'Golden Circle'. Volume 1 a Liberty reissue, and Volume 2 an original pressing. Fast forward another year or so, and I get to meet Ornette Coleman at the 2008 Portland Jazz Festival, resulting in his signature adorning the original issued volume 2.

Every year Frank Wolff vacationed to Europe, which resulted in many sessions that were captured across the pond. This particular 1965 December brought him to frigid Stockholm. To a small cafe, called the Gyllene Cirkeln where Coleman's Trio was performing on the third and fourth of the month. You'll have to remember that 1965 was Coleman's returning year from his three year hiatus to recording. Returning with new violin and trumpet chops fresh for listeners' ears. David Izenzon and Charles Moffett made the best backdrop for him here. Of course, it's had not to compare them to Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell, but they swung, they played deep riveting lines, and completely allowed Coleman's melodic alto to shine.

Anyway, doing the Object Story was a great excuse to revisit this duo of albums. And I highly encourage anyone interested in Ornette to get these recordings and listen to them on repeat. It's quite the transitional sound in Coleman's career. Not as boogie-ing and whimsical as his early stuff, a bit more contemplative for a contemplative European audience and just as gripping.
1965 Recorded, 1966 Released - Blue Note.
Ornette Coleman - alto saxophone, violin, trumpet; David Izenzon - bass; Charles Moffett - drums.

European Echos
from Volume 1