This is coming up on that You Tube on the 23rd of this month. It may be of some passing interest for the resident hep cats. The You Tube channel in question is apart from this upcoming showcase of fresh new jazz well worth perusing. Some stunning music for people with functioning ears and minds.
On the new Albumtoalbum podcast. He was great to chat with, and lots of brilliant details about being in the studio with the Dame, Visconti and the band. We talked for ages, and I invited musician, writer and manager of the Visconti Studio at Kingston Uni, Leah Kardos to join in too. It made me re-listen to Blackstar and get over the loaded associations I had with it and really appreciate the joy and verve captured in the studio as Bowie and McCaslin’s band set each other off beautifully.
This is first of three episodes and hope you might enjoy!
I am not a jazzer. No way. Expose me to pure jazz, and I will run a mile. It just doesn’t work for me, and I have tried (as have friends). It really came home to me when I went to see Bill Bruford some years ago. There I was looking forward to this alumnus of three of my favourite bands but, No! This wasn’t right at all. It was all clarinets and marimbas.
Yet, when the music in my comfort zone gets exposed to jazz, that’s when it really gets exciting. Joni when she gets Jaco. Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. My favourite folk dance thrives when Andy Cutting’s melodeon, the hurdy gurdy and the bagpipes, get cut with multiple saxes and it swings. Above all, at the recent live reincarnations of King Crimson, what has got me on the edge of my seat with delight, what has enthralled me and kept me guessing, has been the syncopations, the flights of fancy, the vaulting instrumentals setting off at tangents. I have to concede; it’s the jazz which makes it.
Given the recent expose from the Daily Mail that a love of jazz renders suspect the credibility of Scottish » Continue Reading.
No, not a prediction – I’m no hunchback – just something I’m loving right now and think you might too. “The Comet Is Coming are a London-based band who incorporate elements of Jazz, Electronica, Funk and Psychedelic Rock”, and, for once, the blurb is actually spot on.
I’m not enough of a jazz aficionado to post a proper review but after last year’s discovery of the lost Coltrane tapes there’s another massive find from the vaults out there. In 1972 Charles Mingus broke a years-long musical silence, including concerts in Detroit with a quintet. Recordings from the run via a radio broadcast have emerged – clocking in at four hours of Mingus magic including interviews and announcements, from a short-lived artists space called Strata Gallery.
I don’t quite have the language to really describe these recordings but they sound absolutely brilliant. The tracks are long, long takes on Mingus classics and jazz standards. The quintet all sound at the top of their games, and it hits that spot where there’s improvisation going to the outer limits without ever losing sense of the tune at the base of it all.
Here’s the Pitchfork review which has lots of clever language and gets it right.
Charles Mingus: Jazz In Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden is on Spotify and emusic. Have a listen. It’s great.
Sad to hear of the death of Joseph Jarman from Art Ensemble of Chicago last week. This great obituary comes from Richard Williams of thebluemoment.com, a great AW friendly blog. I saw AEoC at Fairfield Halls in Croydon some time in the late 80s? with the great Lester Bowie but Joseph was the performer of the night. Sometimes he was too pharping for me but at other times he produced beautiful soulful sounds. Time for an AEoC playlist I think!
I decided to have a listen (on the Beeb’s new “Sounds” page) to BBC Radio 3’s “Jazz Now” programme from December 17th. As they played a few excerpts from this and spoke to TV historian Helen Wheatley at Warwick University, I realised I’d missed an important 2018 archival album and film. The album has been released on CD and as a set of FLAC files by the Storyville label. “Duke Ellington In Coventry 1966” is over an hour of delightful live Ellington music. The concert was originally broadcast on ITV’s midlands franchise of the day, ABC, in black and white. It was thought lost for the past 52 years but was unearthed in time to become part of the buildup for Coventry’s “City Of Culture” celebrations in 2021. The film is being screened today in the cathedral and will doubtless be released generally soon.
All the big stars of the northern hemisphere are back from their hols and filling up the enormodomes and their bank accounts. Lesser musical mortals are back from family jaunts to the Costa-packet and are eager to divest you of your spare spondulicks, pounds and pence, dollars and cents. My favourite Steely Dan tribute have a few pub gigs lined up, mostly free entry. Herts Jazz have their new season starting (after a Summer break) Tuesday nights at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St. Albans. Some good nights in prospect there, including Jim Mullen’s organ trio.
Looking at the upcoming schedules for local venues, I’m somewhat in a quandary. Some clashes ahead. On October 2nd it’s the second in a monthly series of open mic nights in Colindale, organised by an old mate. Also a latin jazz quintet featuring 3 local favourites are playing at Mill Hill Jazz Club. On October 7th Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames are on in Letchworth (Herts Jazz Festival) and vocalist Tina May is on in Colindale. My dance card looks pretty full for October and November.
What about youze lot?
If an alien were to land on planet Earth, knock on my door and ask me, “PUNY HUMAN, WHAT IS JAZZ?”, first I would temporarily pass out, then once recovered I’d play him Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins, and more specifically the opening track St. Thomas. For me it’s the very definition of jazz; a recognisable standard with just the right amount of improvisation, nothing too abstract, and with faultless interplay between the four musicians (which of course is the perfect amount). Finger-clickingly cool and swinging as heck too, it does something to me that no other music seems to.
Speaking as a relative jazz newb, I reckon that the average Joe would also want to suggest something similar. I believe that hard bop is the sound that a lot of folks would most associate with the word ‘jazz’, even if they’d never heard the term and thought that hard bop is something you might do at the disco.
So, what piece of music to you is the very definition, the epitome, of jazz? And why?
Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of the “nicer” end of jazz, not so much the challenging chin-stroking stuff you are supposed to like once you “get into” it. I am listening to ‘Mingus Ah-Um’ as I type this, and wonderful joyous life-affirming music it is, too. There’s even one on there that sounds like the 60’s Batman TV theme.
But for a genre that prides itself on improvising – indeed that’s the stated USP of it – I wonder why people revere LP’s that are by their nature one-offs, captured forever in time.
NO doubt this has been answered many times by clever people, but I ask again: what (apart from capturing a lovely song) is the point of recorded jazz?
Have just heard that Jon Hiseman has passed.
Very sad news – a fine drummer and a decent bloke on the occasion I attended a talk he gave.
Not sure if Colin H has mentioned this in his recent Mike Westbrook mega post, but Bandcamp are releasing a recording of the Mike Westbrook band live at Ronnie Scott’s Old Place in Gerrard Street (Soho) on May 25th 1968. Essentially this is a live (and extended) version of the ‘Release’ album. Release date is, appropriately, May 25th 2018, the 50th anniversary. For those who may not know, The Old Place was Ronnie Scott’s original club in Chinatown before moving to Frith Street and as Ronnie had a lease to use up he featured young and up and coming musicians, pretty exclusively. Here’s Richard Williams’ write up on the album :
LAST NIGHT AT THE OLD PLACE by Richard Williams
So many good things were contained within the Mike Westbrook Concert Band of 1968 that it’s hard to know where to start. Its personnel included the components of a whole scene of young London-based jazz musicians, bursting with energy and the desire to express the sounds they were discovering collectively and as individuals. For a time, this band gave them the ideal structure. And when they needed a setting, Ronnie Scott and Pete King were there to provide it. » Continue Reading.
There is an up and coming Columbia Legacy box set of the Miles Davis Quintet’s tour of Europe in 1960.
This article gives a bit of background to the creative tensions within the band and certainly whets my appetite for this set.
Are there any sax players out there who can enlighten me to multiphonics? If it’s two notes at the same time, does that mean the two combine to create a third sound or is there some technique that means each note is distinct but is played simultaneously. It is clearly easy to do on a piano or a guitar (or any instrument that has seaparate strings), but I can’t understand how two separate notes can sound on a sax (or any other wind instrument), because that is my reading of the comment in the article.
The cover image has come on for a bit* of stick since it was first announced (and rightly so – the utter state of them), but the Martin Freeman/Eddie Piller-compilled Jazz On The Corner comp looks very good, and the double vinyl version is currently up for pre-order for £9.99 on you know where, as opposed to the CD version at over £15, which only boasts an additional three tracks.
As you were.
The glorious Kamasi Washington with 14 minutes of heaven!
Has anyone come across a label called Compulsion / Believe – they pop up on both emusic and amazon digital with albums like Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch and Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil. They have generic cover art – always a bad sign – but the albums appear to be identical in terms of tracks, timings and running orders to the . Are these the original albums or some strange re-recording? A quick google reveals Believe may be a French digital music distribution platform but that’s all.
Yes, well…they’re the words of Robert Glasper, in an interview with the generally erudite and brilliant pianist from The Bad Plus Ethan Iverson. This interview has kind of set the jazz internet alight this last week, with most comments I have read expressing near-universal disdain, not to mention disgust, at Glasper’s remarks. Iverson comes in for a bit of a beating for 1) reporting them verbatim, 2) not choosing to NOT report them, and then 3) making rather lame excuses about how much he respects women, usually the resort of someone who feels the opposite,
And all this came in the week of International Women’s Day.
As with a lot of things I seem to have posted lately, this piece is a bit of a long read. But it’s a necessary discussion. Jazz musicians, most of whom are male, are pretty sexist beasts.
This is a well written well considered piece IMHO.
However the guy completely blows it in the last para where he says “let’s play shorter solos, and let’s play the right notes”. Gawd, no, wrong! It’s entirely possible to engage with the audience without placing those kinds of limitations on what you play. However what you play must first of all have meaning for you, and you need to want to communicate with the listener.
Presumably our Scandy chums know all about her, but I’ve just stumbled across Ms Eriksen, and I have to say I’m pretty smitten. She’s officially a jazz singer, but she strays into Joni Mitchell territory from time to time, and she does a nifty Wish You Were Here too.
Here’s a track from her new album. Anybody else a fan?
178 7th Avenue South, Greenwich Village, New York is a place of magic. In a tiny basement, where you could cram no more than two hundred people if everyone breathes in, is a speakeasy, The Village Vanguard. It started hosting folk concerts from 1937. By the forties, jazz featured more often and from the 1950s onwards, The Village became the premier jazz venue. All the greats played there. Thelonius Monk’s week long residency helped break him to a wider audience. Bill Evans was a regular. Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra performed so often on Mondays from 1966 to 1990, it morphed into the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
The venue is in the shape of an isosceles triangle with a small angle between the two equal sides. The stage is situated at that point in the triangle. As a consequence, the acoustics are special, the source of the magic. The musicians are touching distance from the audience, even spilling into the front tables if the band has more than a few members. The official capacity is 123. The combination of perfect acoustics and intimacy with audience is inspirational to a jazz musician who thrives on improvisation.
Sonny Rollins was among the first » Continue Reading.
“Jazzing the classics” is a phrase from my childhood. Then (I’m talking the dreaded 1960s folks), it referred to the “dreadful” practice of “popular” musicians denigrating the Great European Tradition of Classical Music – Liberace playing Mozart for example, Dave Brubeck playing Mozart etc.
However there was also The NIce doing Brandenburger, and ELP doing Pictures, etc etc
Now the word “classic” akshully means yer classic pop song, and in the wonderful age of YouTube it takes on a new meaning.
This clip is clever, although after about 30 seconds you really don’t want to watch any more.
Any more for any more?
Another sad day for the music community, and the Bowie universe in particular. A great talent.
So says Birdland’s owner.
New club starting up in Melbourne this week featuring Ravi Coltrane all week
Anyone seen this? Is it worth it? First issue £4.99, second £9.99, then £14.99 thereafter, 180g vinyl record with magazine. It’s tempting.
Jazz isn’t discussed enough on The Afterword. I doubt much of it will appear in the end of year list when it is put together. However, as a genre, it is flourishing. There are oodles of great practitioners and fabulous bands making music that is as lively, inventive, challenging and current as jazz has ever been.
Here’s my top ten of 2015:
1. The Bad Plus Joseph Redman
The Bad Plus are a trio from Minnesota, Reid Anderson bass, Ethan Iverson piano and David King on drums. They are willing to try anything. Last year, they recorded a jazz version of The Rite Of Spring. In 2007, they released an album called Prog. They ought to be The Afterword’s house band. On this album, the trio are so empathetic, they sound like a single unit topped by Redman’s expressive, yet gentle, improvisations. It is a beautifully paced and balanced set of original compositions.
2. José James – Yesterday I Had The Blues – The Music Of Billie Holiday
Jazz is a tricky business. Creative challenge doesn’t sell much. When a record label wants to make money from a jazz artist they ask them to record a tribute album. What could » Continue Reading.