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December 20, 2012

Tri-Centric Foundation comes through for a last minute gift idea.

The last two years I created a couple of gift guides for Jazz Geeks like myself (and here).  In anticipation of all the 2012 top of, worst of, best of lists we'll be seeing I decided not to bother.  However, an email in my inbox from Tuesday prompted me to spread the news.

The Tri-Centric Foundation is pivotal in the archiving and releasing of Anthony Braxton material.  For a limited time, members can download a rare solo bootleg entitled, "Solo (Carnegie Hall)1972,"  for free, and non-members can purchase it for a mere $6.99 for a limited time.  It would make an ideal last minute gift for that Avant-Garde fan in your life. So jump on it. 
An example of the recording equipment used.  Photo by Kyoko Kitamura
From Tri-Centric Foundation:
Recorded when Anthony was 27 years old, this bootleg which was discovered earlier this year is the only available audio of the event that we know of...

...We can only offer this recording to you because of your generous support. As manyof you know, TCF was revived in 2009 by a dedicated group of volunteers. We are proud to have accomplished much in three short years but we need your help to keep going. Here is an appeal from the Tri-Centric Foundation president Taylor Ho Bynum. 
I am writing to you in the hope that you share my conviction that the music of Anthony Braxton can have a transformative effect on artists and audiences alike. Personally, Braxton’s artistic innovations have not just changed the way I listen to and make music, but have taught me profound lessons about community, creativity and idealism. If Braxton’s work has been similarly important to you in your life, I ask you to consider donating to the Tri-Centric Foundation.
Best regards, 
TCF Team 

November 28, 2012

"On This Night" / "New Thing At Newport" - Archie Shepp

Call Me by My Rightful Name by John Coltrane & Archie Shepp on Grooveshark I spent Thanksgiving in the MCM wonderland known as Palm Springs, California. Modernity stretched to every corner of this world.  Driving back to San Diego to catch our flight I tuned into their local Jazz station. The drive was soothed by a broadcast Archie Shepp's On This Night.... Man this was good. And I haven't heard it before (shame on me!).  Shepp is a master at having balance in his music.  He fuses delicate arrangements with strong willed playing.  This, along with his arrangements and raspy tonality are an ideal equation for the New Thing style.

Since I do not own this record, I am reluctant to write about it. However, this recording immediately brought to mind the Split LP he did with John Coltrane entitled New Thing At Newport.  Which makes sense because NTAT was released right after On This Night.  For me, Archie Shepp always seemed to bridge the gap between Post Bop and Free Jazz.  A reason why I put him on such a high pedestal.  I completely admire his recordings, personally, and thoughts regarding the history and continuation of Jazz Black Art Music.

Leaning on the freer side, New Thing At Newport offers a rare glimpse at a quartet that featured Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, Barre Phillips on fiddle bass, and Joe Chambers on drums.  I mentioned Shepp's raspy tonality above. A sound that is created by substantial drive on the reed of his saxophone, this aesthetic also reminds me of older Rock/R&B music.  Shepp's tonality allows him to stand out from a sea of tenor players.

Shepp is typically rooted in the blues.  A nice anchor to have when traversing abroad to the freer side of music.  No matter how rare or obtainable it is, early Shepp recordings are a gem.  Whether he is playing far out or far in, I always sense that feeling of the Blues.  Another reason why I applaud Archie Shepp.
1965 - Impulse.
Archie Shepp - Tenor Sax, Vocals; Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes; Barre Phillips - Bass; Joe Chambers - drums.
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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October 18, 2012

Post-Matthew Shipp Trio Performance / Pre-Portland Jazz Fest

The Matthew Shipp Trio performed Monday night at Portland's Jimmy Mak's.  Sponsored by PDX Jazz, the lineup announcement for the 2013 Portland Jazz Festival coincided with the show.  

Three unique individuals in Matthew Shipp's trio, himself along with Michael Bisio (b) and Whit Dickey (dr), provided both a physical and metaphysical journey throughout the night.  An organic blend of familiar and unfamiliar themes pulling from Classical, Jazz, Rock, and Folklore.  I know I use the phrase Controlled Chaos a lot on this blog, but this was the perfect example of that concept. The music was free and continued to lift higher and higher.  Yet it was all weighted by a sense of connectivity these three had with one another.  

...So without further ado here is the 2013 U.S. Bank Portland Jazz Festival Presented by Alaska Airlines roster.  Now in their tenth year of bringing stellar Jazz music to our fine Metropolis.
Friday, Feb. 15, 7:30pm @ Aladdin Theater - Afro Cuban All-Stars & Alfredo Rodríguez

Friday, Feb. 15, 7 & 9:30pm @ Jimmy Mak's - NEA Jazz Master Barry Harris with Chuck Israels & Todd Strait in partnership w/ Soul Patch Music

Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30pm @ Scottish Rite Auditorium - Art Abrams Swing Machine Big Band featuring Rebecca Kilgore in Tribute to Stan Kenton with Shanghai Woolies

Saturday, Feb. 16, 9:30pm @ The Mission Theater - Blue Cranes in partnership with Creative Music Guild

Sunday, Feb. 17, 3:00pm @ Classic Piano - Alfredo Rodriguez, solo piano

Monday, Feb. 18, 7:00pm @ Jimmy Mak's - PDX Jazz All-Star Student Big Band under the direction of Gerald Wilson

Monday, Feb. 18, 9:30pm @ Jimmy Mak's - PDX Jazz All-Star Educators Ensemble under the direction of Darrell Grant Play the Music of Gerald Wilson

Tuesday, Feb. 19  7 & 9:30pm @ Jimmy Mak's - Scott Hamilton Quartet

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7:30pm @ Evans Auditorium - Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet in partnership with Lewis & Clark College

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 7 & 9:30pm, Jimmy Mak's - Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts

Thursday, Feb. 21, 7:00pm @ Winningstad Theatre - Patricia Barber Quartet

Thursday, Feb. 21, 9:30pm @ Winningstad Theatre - Kenny Garrett Quartet

Friday, Feb. 22, 7:00pm @ Newmark Theatre - The Jazz Message; Celebrating Art Blakey

Friday, Feb. 22, 9:30pm, Winningstad Theatre - Steve Kuhn Trio w/ special guest Devin Phillips

Saturday, Feb. 23, 7:00pm @ Newmark Theatre - NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette featuring Ravi Coltrane, Matt Garrison & George Colligan

Saturday, Feb. 23, 9:30pm @ Winningstad Theatre - Sexmob Plays Fellini  

Sunday, Feb. 24, 3:00pm @ Winningstad Theatre - Portland Jazz Master Nancy King with Glen Moore and Steve Christofferson

Sunday, Feb. 24, 7:00pm @ Newmark Theatre - ACS: Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding

I know! Right?...  The shows that stand out to me are Jack DeJohnette and his For Portland Only special quartet configurationThe Jazz Message Celebrating Art Blakey in a world premiere featuring Javon Jackson, Bobby Watson, Eddie Henderson, Curtis Fuller, George Cables, Buster Williams and Lewis Nash, the Kenny Garrett Quartet, and the Steve Kuhn Trio featuring special guest Devin Phillips.  

Tickets are on sale now to PDX Jazz Members and will be on sale to the public starting October 27.  For ticketing information and a complete schedule of events visit www.pdxjazz.com

October 10, 2012

PDX Jazz brings Matthew Shipp Trio to Portland

Photo credit: andynew
Thanks to PDX Jazz Matthew Shipp and his Trio will be performing two sets at Jimmy Mak's (8pm and 9:30pm) on Monday, October 15th.  I will be there and so should you.  Shipp is pivotal in Modern Jazz and allows Free and Avant-Garde Jazz to maintain relevance in new music.  I can talk and talk about how important he is to contemporary Jazz, but if you're reading this blog chances are you already know.

From PDX Jazz:

PDX Jazz and Jimmy Mak’s present the Matthew Shipp Trio on Monday, October 15th @ 8 and 9:30pm. The 2013 U.S. Bank Portland Jazz Festival Presented by Alaska Airlines lineup will be announced. Shipp, an influential godfather figure in the New York Knitting Factory scene, will be making his first Portland area appearance in nearly 20 years.
Earlier this year Shipp released a studio album entitled Elastic Aspects with Michael Bisio on bass, and Whit Dickey on drums.  This recording follows the lineup's first release, a live album called Art of the Improvisor.  Shipp's style has a wide range under the Free Jazz umbrella.  This Trio date should offer an intimate glance into the pianist/composer's technique and concepts. 
You can also wet your whistle with this...

The Matthew Shipp Trio
Monday - October 15th
Set Times - 8 & 9:30pm
Advance Tickets
PDX Jazz is also presenting a film screening during the NW Film Center's 2012 Reel Music Festival.  If seeing the Matthew Shipp Trio live on Monday isn't enough Jazz for you, be sure to visit the Mission Theater that Wednesday, the 17th, for a special double feature of Sonny Rollins: Behind the Notes, and Ornette: Made in America.  

I had the opportunity to see Ornette:Made in America at the 2008 edition of the Reel Music Fest.  It's worth noting that seeing this in its entirety is a special treat, and I wouldn't miss this chance to see it on the big screen. 

September 13, 2012

Music of the Cosmos, meet headphones of the Spaceways

[Full Discloser: my brother works for the company that makes Polk Audio products.  He sent these headphones to me.]
UltraFocus 8000 Headphones
A few things have prompted me to write about Sun Ra.  One: last week Portland's KMHD Jazz Radio featured Sun Ra's music all week long as part of their Artist Spotlight series.  Two: this summer I took up reading more Sci-Fi novels, and I feel this has reconnected me with Sun Ra's intergalactic themes.  And three: these new Polk Audio headphones sound fucking great.
"Sun Ra and his band from outer space will entertain you now"

What I am listening to here is Sun Ra's College Tour: The Complete Nothing Is.  The original ESP-Disk' LP contained 39 minutes of audio from a live set at St. Lawrence University in Potsdam, NY.  This two disc CD version contains the full 70 minute set along with a "partial second set from the same evening."  We can thank Sun Ra archivist Michael D. Anderson for all this new material.  Overall, the Nothing Is... is a feast to the ears.  Total ear candy in the highest Avant-Garde sense.  Great arrangements, great sound, great solos, and just plain-great Jazz music.
CD cover left, original LP cover right
Audio engineer David B. Jones captured a wonderful performance here, and this remastered version fills the role using my UltraFocus 8000 headphones.  The 8000's drivers provide a sound quality that allows the highs and lows to come through individually without conflicting with one another.  Along with the natural sounding mid-range tones, the highs, mids, and lows create a true harmonious listening experience.  For example, Ronnie Boykins bass slapping sounds killer on It Is Eternal.  There's a lot of room for the audio to breath, yet picking up little noise from the outside world thanks to the noise cancellation; which cleared out the hum from my window A/C and Mac Pro Fans.

Ok.  So listening to 320kbs MP3 files is one thing... But the proper question is, how do these sound with Vinyl?

Keeping with the intergalactic themes, I tethered myself to the receiver with the company of Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction.  Particularly to the cuts Civilization Day and Street Woman.  The two tracks containing the [original] original Quartet line up.  
Agnes Martin scoping the UltraFocus 8000 Headphones
There was once a time when young folks wanted the loudest stereos.  Now, we keep the music to ourselves thanks to iPods and Smartphones.  However, I can't remember the last time I sat with headphones while listening to an actual piece of Wax.  For one, I sit and what else is there to do but read the liner notes?  I just said to my wife the other day, "people don't read liner notes these days."  Which I followed up with, "do people even write liner notes for new music?"

To answer my question, Howard Mandel has work doing so, but I don't know the answer in the "Pop" music sense.  However, my original point is that I am thankful these new headphones gave me the chance to read some liner notes oppose to just having music in the background.  And boy, does Ornette's Quartet sound good on these puppies.  Of course I still hear the snap, crackle, and pop of the LP, but I don't think I have ever heard Billy Higgins sound so good.  I mean, I can really differentiate between each drum head and cymbal.  And along with Charlie Haden's chromatic use of his finger board on Street Woman, the Quartet appeared more unstoppable than ever before.
The Complete Nothing Is... 1966 - ESP-Disk'
Sun Ra - piano; John Gilmore - tenor sax; Marshall Allen - alto sax; Pat Patrick - baritone sax; Robert Cummings - baritone clarinet; Teddy Nance - trombone; Ali Hassan - trombone; Clifford Jarvis - drums; Ronnie Boykins - bass, tuba; James Jackson - log drum, flute; Carl Nimrod: sun horn, gong. 

Science Fiction, Civilization Day & Street Woman. 1972 - Columbia
Ornette Coleman - alto sax; Don Cherry - pocket trumpet; Billy Higgins - drums; Charlie Haden - bass.

August 26, 2012

"Man On The Moon" - Ornette Coleman

Yesterday (8/25/12) Neil Armstrong left us.  Not to travel to the moon and back again, but instead he is forever a part of the Cosmos that exists beyond our tiny Spaceship we call Earth. 

In 1969, Ornette Coleman released a 7" single to celebrate the Moon Landing.  This rare, out of print gem was issued by Impulse and was only available in France.  It's no surprise that Ornette would create music in response to Space travel.   His music looked to the future (and still does) in time that was stepping into the future.

Ornette Coleman - alto sax; Don Cherry - trumpet; Dewey Redman - tenor sax; Charlie Haden - bass; Ed Blackwell - drums; Emmanuel Ghent - electronic devices on "Man on the Moon."

August 2, 2012

"Weight" - Yoni Kretzmer 2Bass Quartet

This is another ambitious record from the Brooklyn based label, OutNow Recordings; which is their second that features Yoni Kretzmer as a leader.  In OutNows' eighth release, Weight provides a solid example of how the Avant-Garde remains fresh in today's music scene.
Weight contains a double bass quartet.  OutNow states that "this quartet's sound is obvious yet unfamiliar simultaneously."  I couldn't agree more with that testament.  While Kretzmer is drawing on the similar platform to his standard trio, these eight cuts were composed with the double bass quartet specifically in mind.  With extended amounts of double bass (quadruple bass? jk) we're left with warm, low tones that interact well with one another.  Sort of like a mega bass player in the personnel, everything is anchored but there is still a significant unbalance that lends to a unique listening experience.

The jagged percussion by Mike Pride, and the accompaniment of bassists Sean Conly and Reuben Redding provide the perfect atmosphere for Kretzmer to display his craft.  In my humble opinion, Kretzmer is one of the finest contemporary saxophonists of the genre.  He knows how to create wonderful melodies and licks that are surrounded by, what seems to be, a controlled chaos.  Which allows breathing room for each player to have their moment under the sun.  
2012 - OutNow Recordings
Yoni Kretzmer - tenor saxophone; Sean Conly - bass; Reuben Redding - bass; Mike Pride - drums.  

July 2, 2012

"Evidence" - Steve Lacy

I can't think of a more modern sound on the soprano sax than Steve Lacy's.  Well maybe Coltrane's, but it's like apples and oranges.  This 1961 album from Mr. Lacy contains two thirds of Ornette Coleman's back up group and is a collection of two Duke Ellington tunes along with four of Thelonious Monk's.

Yet another exploration into Monk's music, Steve Lacy can really bring his own, unique style to a Monk composition.  He knows his way around a Monk tune, and even though this quartet isn't far out in Avant-Garde territory, Lacy's phrasing, licks, and arrangements are quite forward thinking.

Don Cherry is also very notable in this session. Bringing to the table a straight ahead approach to his trumpet.

This LP makes for great winding down music; whether it'd be after work, before bed, or reading a book. I often find myself throwing it on once I need a mental break from a project.
1961 - New Jazz
Steve Lacy - soprano saxophone; Don Cherry - trumpet; Carl Brown - bass; Billy Higgins - drums.

Evidence by Steve Lacy on Grooveshark
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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May 13, 2012


06 - Mothers by Albert Ayler on Grooveshark
Today is a celebration of Mothers.  Here is Albert Aylers spiritual hymn acting as  tribute. Happy Mothers' Day.
1964 - Freedom Label
Albert Ayler -tenor saxophone; Don Cherry - trumpet; Gary Peacock - bass; Sunny Murray - drums.

April 26, 2012

"Streets" - Charles Gayle Trio

Northern Spy continues to release boundless music with the recent drop of Streets by The Charles Gayles Trio. Consisting of himself on tenor, Michael TA Thompson on drums, and Larry Roland on double bass, this session is spiritual as it is heavy hitting.  A blast of supersonic sounds for one full hour, out of the gate it is one of the best jazz releases yet for 2012. 

The title alone draws attention to Gayle's own history from his homeless days. "Streets" is also an alter ego Gayle portrays which exhibits him in clown ensemble. 
photo by Geert Vandepoele

Like much of Gayle's music, Streets pays homage to religion and God. For example, the track "Glory & Jesus." A tune that has a ton of augmented and contrasting rhythm, Gayle solos here for nearly six minutes. For the title cut, we hear Gayle create notes that appear longer, and a little bit more slurred. Perhaps this is "Streets" creating a dialogue with us.  I don't know... Is that a cheesy thought?

Streets is a seriously good listen.  With much replay value, ultimately listeners can expect a complete improvised performance from play head to finish.  This album looks back as much as it looks forward, and Streets is clear evidence that Charles Gayle is still a prime player on the scene.   It's refreshing to hear an album that sounds like it could fit perfectly into the Avant-Garde of the 1960s, while still sounding unique and original today.

March 14, 2012

OutNow Recordings creates a great first impression.

Calling Brooklyn its home, OutNow Recordings is producing some seriously good avant-garde music by a solid crew of Jewish musicians. Jewish tradition, and even Klezmer music, has always had a strong influence on Jazz. In fact, the 2011 Portland Jazz Festival presented this connection as its theme. I must admit, beside's musicians like John Zorn and Perry Robinson, it is a part of Jazz that I am not overly familiar with. But luckily with Spotify it isn't too difficult to get exposed.

OutNow Recordings is the muses of Yoni Kretzmer, Yair Yona, and Ido Bukelman. Out of the initial six releases from this crew they maintain the Jazz medium while straying off with world music and even rock influences. I am particularly hip to Yoni Kretzmer's group Tel Aviv with their album Overlook. Employing many riffs and jaunting rhythms that remind me of the noise rock I used to enjoy in my youthful days (and still do), the drums swing, the the deep tones of the tenor sax and bass clarinet moan with intensity, and the rhythm is constantly flowing. There are faster tempoed pieces alongside ballads that turn into colorful expressions.

Ido Bukelman's Cracked Song pulls from many influences. I can't help but think of Joe Morris and Michael Gregory Jackson. The music is quite textured and overall an interesting listen. There are different stylings through each track with a mixture of acoustic and electric pieces. Bukelman also has a release entitled Solo, which is what it implies. Primarily acoustic, Bukelman creates the same obscure music with unique and interested tones not typically heard on a Martin guitar.

In their fist studio session, Electric Free Trio (EFT) features Ido Bukelman again with the inclusion of Daniel Davidovsky (electrics) and Ofer Bymel (drums). Pulling from free jazz and rock, this improvising trio really showcases the power of in-the-moment creation.

On the album East of Jaffa, Ehran Elisha (drums), Harold Rubin (clarinet), and Haim Elisha (piano) join forces for a session of improvised music. Father and son duo, Haim and Ehran Elisha, work with clarinetist Harold Rubin to create a unique sound. With the lack of a bassist and classical influenced piano playing, William Parker's Clarinet Trio seems like the opposite spectrum to this clarinet trio. Quite melodic and containing Eastern influences, patience is required by those listening who are then rewarded with a rich listening experience.

Ehran Elisha returns with a duo recording alongside Roy Campbell on trumpets, flute, and percussion. A dynamic and complex record, Watching Cartoons With Eddie is a real treat to listen to. These are players that can cook, react to each other, and show their venerated statuses at the same time. The album pays tribute to Jazz masters of history's past. With titles like "For BD" (Bill Dixon) and "The Dizzy Roach", even the title track is homage to Ed Blackwell. Which contains trumpet playing reminiscent of Don Cherry and a generous drum solo by Elisha.

This is forward looking, contemporary Jazz. A testament to improvised music, and proof that neither Jazz, nor Avant-Garde Jazz are dead. Be sure to stay up on OutNow Recordings as they have much more in the works. An Albert Beger release is slated for next month. Follow their Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts for updates.

March 9, 2012

Happy 82nd Birthday Ornette!

Currently grooving to Free Jazz (first take) on WKCR. It's a beautiful day in Portland and perfect for opening all the windows and zoning out to Eric Dolphy's solo.
Tune-in for the collective experience.

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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March 7, 2012

Tune-In to WKCR for their annual 24 hour Ornette Coleman Broadcast

My birthday is tomorrow. Which is then followed by Ornette Coleman's birthday on March 9th. As a birthday gift for myself each year I zone out and listen to Columbia University's WKCR all day long on the 9th.

As they do each year, they will broadcast 24 hours of Ornette Colemen to honor his big day. Typically they start playing in chronological order with rarer recordings mixed in as well. It leads to a wildly, mentally productive day.

March 4, 2012

BH&G @ The Blue Monk Tonight

I have neglected this blog for too long and plan to jump right back in. I have some reviews in the works that I hope to get up sooner than later. I have been doing too much listening and not enough jotting my thoughts down.

In the meantime, and unfortunately with late notice, I am happy to announce that Portland's leading improvising Jazz group, Better Homes and Gardens, is returning to The Blue Monk this evening as part of Ninkasi Presents Sunday Night Jazz series. The romping begins at 8pm.

Take note that moving forward Better Homes and Gardens will known as Battle Hymns and Gardens (as announced by drummer Tim DuRoche). I am excited that a new website and upcoming CD is in the works too.

February 12, 2012

Church Going Music

Happy Lazy Sunday.
Spiritual by John Coltrane on Grooveshark
One of my favorite Coltrane compositions. Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet moans like a sad bird. Coltrane dominates the chord changes with ease.