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January 20, 2011

My Name Is Albert Ayler Screening Tonight In NYC

Just was made aware of this screening. If you're in NYC tonight and able to get up to Harlem, you have the ultra rare opportunity to catch a screening of My Name Is Albert Ayler. "Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin will be present for a Q&A," according to the email I received.

I saw this once in 2008 and it will forever stick with me. If abled to, I would grab any chance instanly to view this film again.

January 20th at 7.30pm.
Maysles Cinema
343 Lenox Avenue [between 127th & 128th]
(212) 582-6050

January 18, 2011

"Midnight Blue" - Kenny Burrell

My vinyl buying habits have taken to the back burner in the last year. I usually frequent Mississippi Records in Portland -- no bushleague to be found there. A lot of vintage/thrift stores in Portland have stacks upon stacks of vinyl, usually not worth fingering through for my refined taste. Over the weekend, in an effort to buy a mid-century coffee table, I stumbled across a Van Gelder Mastering reissue (sporting the blue label with a black "b") of Kenny Burrell's
Midnight Blue. The very first record in the front of a large stack of records -- price: $5. The sleeve is higher G lower VG condition (depending on your standards), but the disc plays gloriously.

A digital copy of
Midnight Blue exists in my iTunes library and has always gotten modest play. When I arrived home on Sunday afternoon I played this on the turntable right away. With the warm sound, mild crackling, and the vast range of lows and highs from my Bose speakers, I was really taken to a new level for this album.

Along with NPR's Basic Jazz Record Library, Midnight Blue has appeared on numerous best of, must have, definitive lists. On a near nine year post, Murray Horwitz offers a perfect visual assessment:
I know a lot of folks with vinyl copies of this record who wore out the grooves. It's the perfect "late night, neon light flashing outside of the window, cigarette smoke swirling up into nothing" record.

Despite the great music, the typography and cover design by Reid Miles is just world class. The elasticity of the text "blue" is symbolic of the notes contained inside the packing. Touted by many others that this is one of the most memorable Blue Note cover designs. One that has had vast influence on modern design.

While wearing a hard bop hat, the blues couldn't be played any better than this crew here. Every note played, every conga and drum head hit, all in near flawlessness. The rhythm is rich and straight ahead showing that often times less can be more with subtle conga accents from Ray Barretto. The lack of a piano on this date simplifies the 12 bars blue format. And the fat, ever stretching tones of Stanley Turrentine act as the perfect complement to Burrell's liquid smooth guitar chops.

1963 - Blue Note.
Kenny Burrell - guitar; Stanley Turrentine - Tenor Saxophone; Major Holley - Bass; Billy Gene English - Drums; Ray Barretto - Conga.

January 10, 2011

Jazz Makes It To iTunes LP

I'm ok with the digital age of music that's upon us. I haven't yet fully gravitated to it for Jazz yet. I still rip all my CDs and digitize LPs for use on the ole' iPod, but I still need the artifact, liner notes, pictures, a physical sense to go along with the album. In Fall 2009, Apple launched a new digital concept called iTunes LP. The idea is to bring a more interactive, multi-sensory experience for customers. Offering images, videos, and other bonus materials.

In comes Nu Jazz Entertainment. An audio and video content producer specializing in Jazz in this new digital age. On January 4th, NJE released
Ellis Marsalis: An Open Letter To Thelonious as the first iTunes LP in the Jazz genre. Promo video here. Press info below:
The iTunes “LP” Ellis Marsalis: An Open Letter To Thelonious (Platinum Edition) will retail for $15.98 and features the (11) eleven original tracks on the album, (3) bonus audio tracks, and (4) bonus high-definition video tracks, bonus photographs from the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection™ and the Marsalis Family Archives™,Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley. bonus liner notes, and bonus literary content from the award-winning book

Included as the bonus video tracks are: Marsalis Family: First Family of Jazz ( a discussion by Ellis of how his family got their start playing music); Musings On Monk: The Inspiration Behind An Open Letter To Thelonious (A discussion by Jason Marsalis & Ellis Marsalis of what lead them to pursue the current project); and Ellis Marsalis: My Life In My Words (a video autobiography of Ellis’ life in jazz). Interlaced in the videos are intimate family photographs of the Marsalis‘ throughout the years – Ellis as a young musician and educator, Branford Marsalis & Wynton Marsalis -- from toddlers through high school, Delfeayo Marsalis on stage, and Jason perfecting his skills as an up & coming drummer.

The interactive experience brought to you through the new “LP” format offers a different approach to enjoying the music. You can watch as a master educator shares his insights, read the liner notes or hear them read by the author, view the never before seen photographs, learn the etymology and history of the songs performed or enjoy the stories that give insight into the creation of a living legend in jazz.
My guess is this content will seem pretty straight ahead, any fan of the Ken Burns Series will probably dig on this. I feel the idea of the iTunes LP has been a missed opportunity for Jazz labels. I'd like to see some serious content by Prestige, Impulse, Blue Note, Columbia, Atlantic in the iTunes LP format. To younger generations, the idea of owning a CD or Record is becoming more foreign and if this modern "LP" format is used properly, it could offer some serious historic content that's worth paying for and consuming hard drive space. I know there could be many road blocks -- rights and reproduction issues, paying someone to produce all this, etc. etc. -- but I still like to gripe.

Thoughts on the iTunes LP format?


Happy New Year... I have received some great albums recently and hope to post about them soon.