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Monday, March 3, 2014

Thinkin' One Thing and Doin' Another: James Mtume and Stanley Crouch on Miles Davis

Posted by on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Tip: Matthew Shipp

This clip is ancient in internet terms (over three years old!), but it’s just coming to my attention now, so maybe it’s new to you, too. In it, Charles Mudede’s favorite jazz critic, conservative grump Stanley Crouch, and James Mtume, who played percussion on Miles Davis’ albums ranging from On the Corner to Pangaea, discuss the merits of the legendary trumpeter’s explosive electric period of fusion masterpieces (did I show my bias? Oops.).

In the video, Crouch says that Miles never challenged Columbia boss Clive Davis’ directives to change his sound in order to sell more records, despite Miles’ assertions about not capitulating to the white man. Mtume delivers a strong argument about Miles’ musical directions being affected by technology, using the analogy of how most of us have gone from writing with pencils to using computers to communicate and that the shift from acoustic to electronic approaches in jazz is comparable to that. All musicians, Mtume says, face the concept of “technical exhaustion,” with their instruments, and one way out of that rut is to find more colors in the spectrum via technological innovations.

Crouch comes out for “human expression” and saying “something of value,” regardless of how it’s achieved. Crouch later claims that the fusion music of Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, and Miles’ ’70s phase “didn’t go anywhere. It basically disappeared.” Tell that to countless hiphop and electronic-music producers who were inspired by them and sampled their music.

Watch the heated dialogue below and then play On the Corner and Get Up With It at top volume, and feel Crouch's words dissipate into nothingness. (Did I just show my bias? Oops.)

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Jazz Diaspora: Terje Rypdal's Eternal Circulation

Posted by on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Hank Marvin and The Shadows, Krzysztof Penderecki, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and György Ligeti would be a swell bunch of dinner guests, don't you think? You could talk about the latest in neo-classical music developments, using the recording studio as an instrument, high fashion, various amplification systems, effects pedals, and string gauges. You could have your mind blown repeatedly when you play their records while enjoying an after-dinner digestive. Such a party would've happened only in Terje Rypdal's mind (although he did have the chance to study with Penderecki), and fantasy or not, these diverse musicians would have a heavy impact on Rypdal's genesis as a guitarist and composer. Not bad company at all.

Miles Davis' Bitches Brew would also open Rypdal's mind to another world of expression, with its expansive jazz-rock meanderings. One can hear this influence quite clearly on some of his early works, wherein sustained vamps create a wide-open vista for the guitarist to ornament with spaced-out electric-guitar filigree. His use of a volume pedal, which cuts off the attack of a plucked note creating a swell, became an important part of his sound. When combined with echo or other effects it creates a ghostly sound like rushing winds or like a softly moaning voice leaning in to whisper cosmic poems in your ear. His McLaughlin-esque bends and vibrato are apparent and yet the lack of overwrought speedy leads lends to a regal sense of drift. This diaphanous guitar sound gives the impression of floating in space without tether and when he does let loose with an unimpeded screaming barrage of notes, the drift stops abruptly and you're tugged back to earth.

Rypdal's solid rock-and-roll background was already showing signs of jazz inflections and it is clearly evident on his first solo release, 1968's Bleak House. These leanings coupled with his taste for European classical music and the progressive jazz raging around him would lead to fertile investigations in new territories, namely the fusion or hybridization of these areas of interest. Jazz fusion in its most abhorrent forms is tepid, soulless, and lackluster, chops for chops' sake, absolutely lacking in aggression and vitality. ECM records, with whom Rypdal has had a long relationship, has been guilty of occasionally churning out some steaming chunks of putrid fusion disguised as important, forward-thinking, new music. They have also, in 40-plus years of releasing contemporary jazz, neo-classical music, and world-music hybrids, produced some true gems of modern music. Much of Rypdal's output lands firmly in this latter category. His music is a confluence of styles that gives a nod toward things past while simultaneously creating a future by sailing headlong into uncharted regions.

If your idea of a good time is trancing out to long-form, mellow psychedelic music of a shadowy, hazy nature, then you would do well to check out some of Terje Rypdal's releases. Look here for a solid rundown of Rypdal's catalog.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Jazz Diaspora: The Nature of Don Cherry

Posted by on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

“He had long hair and a beard, it was about 90 degrees, and he had on an overcoat. I was scared of him.” This is how Don Cherry would recall meeting Ornette Coleman. He mustn't have been too scared, as he fit nicely into Ornette's quartet of the late '50s. This was the band that would cut Something Else!!!! and The Shape Of Jazz To Come, two divisive records that would turn the jazz world on its ears. Just as Be-Bop had previously divided jazz fans into one camp or the other, Cherry was now part of a group of young lions whose proclivity toward a freer style of playing would leave many fans scratching their heads. Indignant jazz cork-sniffers would decry this mess as unfit to be called jazz, even as it continued to spread and kindle other young players to consider its possibilities. Say hello to the avant-garde.

To chart the career of Don Cherry is like exploring deep space. For the duration of his life, his notion of music was continually expanding, gathering bits and pieces of other cultures of music and adding it to his own language. His time was right, ripe for this exact sort of constant appropriation and blending. Lose the business suit, the requisite costume of the hip, sleek and slightly dangerous jazz musician of the late '50s, and don some groovy kaftan, maybe a beanie cap with a propeller on top, too. Far out, man. Hippie ethos was a creeping vine and I'd venture to guess that psychedelics played a part in these expansions, as well. It goes much deeper than sartorial, political, or hippie concerns, as Cherry rolled through the free-jazz trip and on into the spiritual planes of music set forth by Coltrane's late adventures in music as religion. For Cherry, it became a divine pursuit.

Cherry explains, "In the Western system of music some people get into where the technique is the main thing, and audiences, that's what they applaud. It's like some people confuse technique with professionalism. I hate professionalism. I've been a professional musician long enough, and have shown I can do it. But professionalism becomes a religion in certain quarters, and to me, there's more to religion than that." This is the culmination of practicing one's art for long durations. You can move beyond the formalism it entails and create for the pleasure of creating. If others dig it, too, so much the better. "I think of it as a form of nature, or dance and movement. Where I'm playing phrases, or maybe something chromatic, I'm not trying to show technique as a virtuoso, I'm thinking in relation to movement or maybe nature and wind, how the trees are blowing. In terms of dance, because dance is always an important part of music. Dance and movement and the sound of the voice are very important, no matter what type of music I'm playing."

Cherry would become one of the deans of world music fusion (a wretched description, right up there with jazz fusion and a fitting topic for a later diatribe), as he often employed exotic instruments within his various improvising ensembles. This music would skirt the edges of what would be defined as jazz and yet it would always allow for improvising which is a basic tenet of jazz. Ultimately, it was Don Cherry music, a kaleidoscopic reflection of the musical world around him, distilled through a lifetime in jazz.

"There are only beginnings, there is never an end. Music never stops. It's you who is stopping it. It's you who is ending." ~ Don Cherry

Check out some great live clips of Mr. Cherry, here, here and here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This Is How Hiphop Is

Posted by on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Can you feel this?


The minimalism, the mysterious melody whose loop is cut before completion, the urban bounce, the spare soundscape, the digital dustiness, the aggressive but complicated raps, and, of course, the absence of singing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Jazz Diaspora: Blue Blood Ulmer

Posted by on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 3:42 PM

The trajectory goes roughly like this; start young, play R&B and jazz, dig Wes Montgomery to the point of imitation, get into the free-jazz scene and turn the guitar into a feral animal, move to NYC, play and study Harmolodic Theory with Ornette Coleman, cut a string of crucial records in the early 1980s, continue gigging and making records, become an elder statesman of Harmolodic blues guitar. If you tune all the strings on your guitar to one note it makes everything easy, right? Right.

If you listen to the earliest available James Blood Ulmer recordings, you will hear a guitarist working in standard jazz mode. Pretty straight-ahead stuff with a distinct Wes Montgomery influence, nice jazz guitar. But then something happened, the approach changed, and his playing became something altogether different. It became raw and skittering, with sharp teeth set in slavering jaws that were bared and ready to lock into flesh. It was guitar playing reduced to a primal state, a sort of preternatural blues that fit directly within the free-jazz culture that was nourishing it all along. This change began in the late '60s before he met Ornette Coleman and before he learned the name of the language he was already beginning to speak. The youngblood became then, simply, blood.

Coleman found a natural harmolodic player in Ulmer and the two would work together from the early '70s up until Coleman produced Ulmer's first record under his own name, Tales of Captain Black. Ulmer's next four records, Are You Glad To Be In America?, Freelancing, Black Rock and Odyssey, would be and remain highlights of early-'80s jazz-cum-post-everything à la mode. These records were a perfect blend of psychedelic jazz, funk, rock, and punk performed with a razor-sharp edge and often at blazing tempos. This music was played with a taut aggressiveness, very citified, yet with one eye on the past and all ears running at full bore trying to peek around the corner to see what was coming next. These bands were cooking with gas on high.

The fourth album in this excellent spate of recordings was titled Odyssey and, while no less intense and challenging than its predecessors, it was stripped down to essentials. This record shines a light on Ulmer's country roots. A trio consisting of guitar, violin, and drums Odyssey is an album of Harmolodic hillbilly jazz, a deep country blues record with an extremely modern façade. It manages to sound old and new at once, even now, some 30 years later.

I'll leave it to you to figure out exactly what Harmolodic Theory is and how it functions with music and life in general. As with his guitar playing, Ulmer pares it down to it simplest form when he sums it up: “It’s fair to say that a certain kind of blues is the foundation of the harmolodic thing...If it’s free music, coming from the soul, playing any kind of changes and any number of bars, going somewhere else on a moment’s notice, that kind of blues is really ground zero for harmolodic music.”

206 Zulu Turns 10: Spreading Social Consciousness and the Transformative Elements of Hiphop

Posted by on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 11:23 AM

KING KHAZM
  • Joshua Houston
  • KING KHAZM

In the decimated South Bronx of the late 1960s and early '70s, a bloody war raged between a dozen youth gangs, among them the fearsome Black Spades. One sharp and very young Spade from Bronx River, already a natural leader, made a name for himself by crossing turf lines to recruit and forge alliances with other gangs, swelling the ranks and reach—and soon getting himself promoted to warlord of his set. After the historic 1971 gang truce, he founded the peaceful Bronx River Organization (later just the Organization) as an alternative to gang life, and threw block parties, spinning Joe Cuba, James Brown, and the Monkees (his other Spades title "Master of Records" applied here as well) for the massing crowds. In high school, he entered a UNICEF essay-writing contest, winning the prize of a trip to Africa, touring the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Guinea-Bissau. When he came home—inspired by the sight of black people determining their own destiny, and revisiting a childhood dream he'd had since watching the 1964 epic Zulu—he recast the Organization as the Universal Zulu Nation.

This man, their founder, was of course known as Afrika Bambaataa—the godfather of hiphop culture. Having literally turned thousands of gang members into a peaceful unified tribe, squashing black/brown tensions, Bambaataa decreed that hiphop's true values were "peace, love, unity, and having fun"—and that hiphop culture comprised four elements: b-boying, MCing, DJing, and graffiti writing.

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Here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, and beyond!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here, Watch This Cool Documentary About Goths New Romantics: Posers - The New Romantics

Posted by on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM

I was never bat cave, goth, death rock, new romantic or anything uh, fabulous like that, but Posers - The New Romantics is kinda cool. It chronicles the 1980 Kings Road fashion scene which exploded as punk sank and synthpop gained a foothold with the punters. I know a ton of folks from when I was younger who were, well, goth, but I never followed the thread backwards to see how the dance/pop and DIY post-glam glam style evolved.

(slight NSFW warning: a couple or three nipples and perhaps a hint of lady bush)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Historic Riders: Kool & the Gang at the Paramount June 5th, 1984

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Sometime last year a friend sent me a photo text of a ratty file box crammed with manila envelopes. He said that he'd thought that I'd be interested, as it was the remnants of a Seattle catering company from the 1970s and 1980s. He went on to explain that it was mostly backstage food requirements for dozens of bands, and some of the pages had been mangled by rats. As my interests don't stray too far from nostalgia and food, I was interested to the max.

What we have here is a mostly boring list of things desired by Kool & the Gang while on the road in support of their 1983 LP In the Heart. While they must have been riding somewhat high from the release of the infectiously insipid love song "Joanna" (which clocks in at 4:20!), in just five short months they'd release the mega-hit LP Emergency in December of 1984. That would be Kool & the Gang's 18th LP (?!?!?!?!) up to that point. Holy shit, that's so many records!

What can be learned from today's pages? Well, Kool (or the Gang) liked Sanka and required an iron and an ironing board before their Seattle appearance at the Paramount Theatre. Oh, and if the dressing room had a tile floor, a rug was needed. There also seemed to be a pretty strict "no pork" rule backstage as well, but that's understandable. Pigs are our friends!

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Your Father's "The Scorpions"

Posted by on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Before the Scorpions hit "like a hurricane" as part of the '80s hair-metal thing, they were a heavy prog band. Well, at least for their first album, Lonesome Crow. It's a great album, and my fave, obviously. The original lineup only recorded this one LP and then split in '73 after member Michael Schenker left to join UFO.

If you don't know this album you oughta listen to Lonesome Crow in its entirety. The way more "Scorpions"-sounding follow up, Fly To The Rainbow, is quite kickass, too. It's still proggy but with a bit more of a mid-'70s ROCK feel; especially when singer Klaus Meine really gets serious about his vibrato.

Lost Audio Interview with Jimi Hendrix

Posted by on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 12:15 PM

The neat folks at blank on blank / PBS Studios have unearthed another interview with one of our most favorite Northwest sons (see also Kurt Cobain). Holy wow, I love hearing Jimi's voice. And now I also want to wake up, roll out of bed, and swim on over to my breakfast table for some orange juice. Damn, Jimi. You were a chilly-chill dude.




Unrelated/sort of related: Bonus pictures of me holding a real Cynthia Plaster Caster reproduction of Jimi's, um, WHOPPER CHOPPER, after the jump. NSFW.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Historic Riders: Iron Maiden June 28th, 1983

Posted by on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Sometime last year a friend sent me a photo text of a ratty file box crammed with manila envelopes. He said that he'd thought that I'd be interested, as it was the remnants of a Seattle catering company from the 1970s and 1980s. He went on to explain that it was mostly backstage food requirements for dozens of bands, and some of the pages had been mangled by rats. As my interests don't stray too far from nostalgia and food, I was interested to the max.

What we have here is a mostly boring list of things desired by Iron Maiden on their World Piece Tour, in support of the band's fourth album Piece of Mind. They had with them the somewhat decent New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Saxon, touring on their somewhat decent Power & the Glory LP. I saw Saxon open for Motley Crue a year later in Cleveland when I was eleven, so it seems like Saxon never even bothered to leave the country. Oh, looks like Fastway was also playing that night at the Seattle Coliseum, but that band suuuuuucked.

Also included in this envelope is a letter from the caterer's landlord informing her that they were raising her rent at 400 N.W. 45th St. from $400 to $460 a month. That seemed like really personal information, so I decided not to include it.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Hiphop History in Under an Hour: Ultimate Break Beats: The Canon

Posted by on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Via shocklee.com

Primus Luta’s Concréte Sound System has provided a 59-minute history lesson revolving around the breaks that helped to spawn hiphop in the ’70s. Even if you’re familiar with all of this music, it’s inspirational to hear it again, cleverly collaged for maximum impact. In old-school style, Primus Luta doesn't ID the tracks, but you can probably Shazam them, if they're not already a part of your DNA.

Ultimate Break Beats - Concréte Sound System [Shocklee.com Exclusive Mix] by Shocklee.Com on Mixcloud

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Jazz Diaspora: Electrify My Mind With The Lightning Of Your Word

Posted by on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM

God, or the idea of god, has been intertwined with music since the beginning of music and the idea of god or gods. Music is for the spirit and for the spirits. I surmise that it has existed as long as the human concept of the divine has existed, if not before. The Greek word psalmos means a twanging with the fingers, a song sung to the playing of the harp or psaltery and these songs were paeans to the gods, to the spirits, for the spirit. Thus, psalms.

It is no coincidence that blues and jazz, with its roots in early African-American church music, are laden with spiritual content and subtext. Anthems, spirituals and jubilees were various terms that are now best known as known as gospel music. The music of the church held sway on the beginnings of blues and jazz and by the early 1920s blues and jazz were, in turn, influencing gospel music. The back and forth of one influencing the other continues to this day. As far as the music goes, the line between the sacred and the secular is a very thin one.

The 1920s blues recording boom allowed for the record companies of the day to cash in on the more pious set as well. If they could sell blues records to dope fiends, boozers, freaks, flappers, and jazzers, they could certainly sell religious records to righteous individuals that looked down their noses at such heathens. Praise the lord! There had been earlier recordings of black spiritual singers such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers, The Dinwiddie Colored Quartet or the Norfolk Jubilee Quartette, but these were more staid examples of group singing that lacked the rough excitement of the prime sides of the 1920s preachers and guitar evangelists. Sanctified sermonizers cut records that were just as fervent and smoldering as their secular blues counterparts, and the solo guitar and vocal recordings of the era reveal just as many sublime sides as among those of the major blues legends of the time.

The Holiness or Sanctified churches retained a raw edge in their musical praising of the lord and encouraged individual church members to testify by speaking or singing spontaneously about their faith. This sort of spontaneous testimonial is improvisational by nature and could often become unhinged as the power of their faith moved an individual to increasingly ecstatic heights of worship. This energy, this power of the spirit carries over directly into the blues and into jazz and remains a core element of both forms. As blues guitarist and singer Big Bill Broonzy noted, “The blues was in the Holiness churches, moaning and riffs and that sort of thing between the audience and the preacher.” These riffs and moans function as a call and response in a jazz or blues setting with an ensemble or just a single instrument, say a guitar, and a voice taking the place of a preacher and the congregation.

From Blind Willie Johnson to Albert Ayler, there is a continuum of spirit. The acceptance of the saga of jazz and blues as an art form with inherently spiritual foundations has been a long time coming. From the beginning they have held an ignominious reputation as being in league with the devil, the music of sinners. Now the language of blues and jazz has been subsumed and is reflected in gospel music forms, a reflection of the secular forms it helped to spawn. These days, even St. Peters church in New York city offers a Sunday evening jazz liturgy and their explanation offers an interesting insight into this acceptance, "Jazz is this infectious. It blurs the lines of listener and player, and draws everyone deeper into its contours. Jazz sounds like God because jazz reflects God’s way of blurring lines. It draws people closer to God and to one another. Improvisation captures an always-growing faith. Jazz has many entry points. Entering into the music at any time and in whatever way is a vision for life together in community."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Historic Riders: R.E.M. June 27th, 1984

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Sometime last year a friend sent me a photo text of a ratty file box crammed with manila envelopes. He said that he'd thought that I'd be interested, as it was the remnants of a Seattle catering company from the 1970s and 1980s. He went on to explain that it was mostly backstage food requirements for dozens of bands, and some of the pages had been mangled by rats. As my interests don't stray too far from nostalgia and food, I was interested to the max.

What we have here is the food rider for R.E.M.'s show with the Dream Syndicate at the Music Hall on June 27th, 1984. It appears that this show was professionally recorded and heavily bootlegged, so if you're into the Reckoning-era of these jangle-kings, seek it out and go crazy.

Read below and learn that R.E.M. prefer that their wine come from France and would like tablecloths without holes, thank you very much:

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There are many, many, many, many more to come. Iron Maiden loved cookies! Heart needed a lot of towels! Styx demanded a really long sandwich!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lusaka to Me: An Intro to Zamrock

Posted by on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 5:00 PM

The psych rock that came out of the African nation of Zambia in the ’70s is some of the most joyous, tuneful, emotionally stirring, and rhythmically satisfying I’ve ever heard—and I’ve heard a lot. Artists like WITCH, Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, Paul Ngozi and His Ngozi Family, Amanaz, and Salty Dog all contributed to a thriving scene in Lusaka, Zambia that Eothen “Egon” Alapatt’s Now-Again label has documented with several enlightening reissues. Give this man a Nobel Prize.

Red Bull Music Academy’s Stephan Szillus offers further education on this topic with an essay and mini documentary (below). Included in this is a lecture featuring Egon and WITCH leader Jagari Chanda.

Egon summarizes how Zamrock emerged:

What makes the Zamrock scene so interesting? Egon says it’s the lack of almost any other similar phenomenon in Africa. While almost every country had a music scene of some description, few were as directly influenced by rock music – aside from Nigeria perhaps. “Zambia gained its independence almost without violence,” Egon says, venturing a tentative explanation. “There was no war, no apartheid, no oppression. Compared with many of the neighboring countries, Zambia was – in the early ’70s – a nice place to live: Poor, but peaceful. That’s the reason something like the Zamrock scene could arise.”

Read the whole thing here.


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Jazz Diaspora: Dorothy Ashby's Hip Harp

Posted by on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

What do Stevie Wonder , Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Barry Manilow have in common? They all had the good sense to call in Dorothy Ashby to play harp on their records. There is little doubt that these performers had heard Ashby's exquisite playing on her late-'50s and '60s recordings and desired the ethereal sound of her harp to be on their records, too. Dorothy Ashby made the harp swing. When was the last time you heard a funky harp player?

The harp had made appearances in the jazz world before, but it was Ashby that helped elevate it beyond a mere colorant and into a strong lead voice that was just as intriguing as a guitar or piano. The harp's inherent mellifluous quality renders it immediately likable and in the hands of a strong lead player it becomes irresistible, an aural gossamer that wraps you up in just the right way. Check her albums Afro-Harping and The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby for prime examples of her dulcet, tasteful, and most of all, soulful playing.

Like her fellow Detroit natives Terri Pollard and Alice Coltrane, Ashby had started as a pianist and after enrolling in a high school music class the harp became her primary focus. Detroit was rife with pianists, so why not play harp? How many jazz harpists are there? Not many. Alice Coltrane famously utilized the harp on her sublime late-'60s and early-'70s recordings and yet she still considered the piano her main instrument. "I just never considered myself to be a harpist to begin with and I didn't have a lot of background experience [with the instrument] either. But people would say, 'Oh, she plays harp'. They would almost go to the harp first, and then the piano." Coltrane was almost certainly inspired by Ashby's command of the instrument, "There was another person from the city of Detroit [who played the harp] and her name is Dorothy Ashby. She was a most beautiful harpist, the very best. She used her (musical) voice with the harp so beautifully."

In this late-1960s interview, Ashby strongly advocates for jazz education in serious academic settings. "Jazz has a long way to go in the academic community because some of those who teach have not experienced being with jazz people or jazz music, either from circumstance or choice, and continued to think of it as the music of disreputable people, to be performed in disreputable places." She states with great erudition how accomplished jazz musicians could teach the subject, "This requires a keen ear, one that really has heard all kinds of jazz for years. It requires a sharp mind, one that has learned jazz outside of the formal educational system. Of course, we learned the basics of music techniques at school, but we did not study the art of improvisation. Jazz, being the product of the moment, must have spontaneous creation." She goes on to explain its instructional function, "how to create endlessly varying melodies and rhythms in a particular idiom, using a given set of chords; how to fashion continuous harmonic variations for a given melodic line in one or a multitude of forms; and how to design combinations of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic variations for this spontaneous improvisational form we call jazz."

Within that last quote lies one of the finest definitions of jazz I've ever read. Thank you, Dorothy Ashby.

The Captain Before Tennille

Posted by on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 1:43 PM

I heard yesterday the famous late '70s pop duo/married couple, Captain & Tennille, were splitting up...or something? Uh...I guess love did NOT keep them together. DERP. Anyway, prior to Tennille, the Captain, his real name is Daryl Dragon, had been active in bands since the early '60s. I'd reckon the most notable would be Charles Wright & the Wright Sounds, an early version of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. He also played on Bob Smith's awesome rural/West Coast sike LP The Visit. Well, Dragon, as the story goes, was nicknamed "The Captain" by Mike Love during Dragon's 1967-72 stint as the Beach Boy who plays keyboards. So, he begin to wear a captain's hat. BOOM! Great story, and THANKS AGAIN, MIKE LOVE! Right, then, for what it's worth, watch this shit quality clip of the Beach Boys with Dragon on keyboards, and without Dennis Wilson; it's pretty good.

It's odd to hear them sounding like a period long-hair group; pretty rockin' tho. If any of y'all are interested, HERE is good interview with the Captain/Dragon regarding his tenure with the Beach Boys.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Keepin' The Faith on MLK Day

Posted by on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Reflecting on Reverend King today reminded me tho' he is rightfully celebrated for his contributions, he wasn't alone and there was a LOT of music to soundtrack this cultural revolution. Of course then it got me thinking about some of my favorite '60s black protest/political songs. Topping my list, always, is "Keep The Faith" by the Citations, a St. Louis-based group from the Pruitt Igoe projects, This song is huge.

Obviously a ton of other songs came to mind too, so dig 'em: " J.B. Lenoir's "Down In Mississippi," the Fuller Brothers' "Times'a Wastin'," the Impressions' "Keep on Pushing," Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up," James Brown's "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing" and the veiled and heavily coded stomper from the Artistics, "Hope We Have."

Still the Best Song Dedicated to Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Lots of blogs and publications are making posts today about the top songs dedicated to civil rights legend Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Most of them consist of the usual suspects: U2’s “In the Name of Love,” Public Enemy’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday,” Common’s “A Dream,” etc. Sadly, most omit what I think is the deepest, most moving homage to MLK—and it’s an instrumental: Bill Cosby’s “Martin’s Funeral.” I wrote about it on Line Out three years ago, and my sentiments about this stunning 15-minute out-jazz odyssey haven’t changed.

Found on Cosby’s 1971 LP, Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral & Marching Band, “Martin’s Funeral” stirs the soul with a main melody that manifests the beautiful grandeur and mourns the tragic loss of Dr. King while including percussion-heavy passages that simulate the turmoil and epic struggle of his life. In a long career of memorable cultural achievements, “Martin’s Funeral” may be Cosby’s most inspirational work—even more so than this album.

Friday, January 17, 2014

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When Jazz Was King

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Rock and Roll: A CIA Plot?

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