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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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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