Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back in a Few...

So, there was a sudden unplanned interruption. I'll be back this Monday with more CDs, other world issues have been at play.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 73: Glenn Gould "Glenn Gould at the Movies" & Jan Garbarek "Visible World"

Sliding through the crate it's two CDs that I thought would be a good idea to have but wasn't anxious to listen to immediately, or ever since they were never opened. Also, today we get to the 100th Amazon player widget. For those with adblock, it's a little player box above each post that allows you to listen to samples of the disc I'm listening to if it happens to be available for download at Amazon. So far, 100 of them have been.

Glenn Gould
Glenn Gould at the Movies

I was trying to think about what I'd say about Glenn Gould because classical CDs have proven to be a little on the difficult side for me to create content about and I realize something, I'm more interested in Glenn Gould as a character, or element, than I am as a performer.

There's that Cuban cigar element to his playing. That kind of thing where you think, "How much better can it really be?" until you actually hear it. Well, alright, that's pretty amazing in a world of just amazing piano players...big deal, right?

Except for what that means. I tend to think of Charlie Parker in the same way and have even used him in the Albatross that way. That monumental performer that sort of owns an instrument or a style in a way that sort of becomes unrepeatable. There have been great saxophonists since Bird, there have been great guitarists since Hendrix, and there have been great piano players since Gould. But they don't get 'the' spot. A transformational piano performer now will be the 'greatest since Gould...'

There is a novel I keep wanting to read (but c'mon, it's seriously a 200 page paragraph...) about the two piano players that show up to study with Horowitz at the same time as Gould and what that does to them. That's the kind of thing that fascinates me about Gould. Not so much the legendary status or what it was like to 'be Gould,' that kind of thing doesn't interest me. What interests me is what it's like to live in the immediate world someone like that creates, how does that change you're view of self if you're an amazing piano player in the same time and place as the amazing piano player?

This is stuff he either selected or recorded especially for films, or was used in films after his death.  The first half is a bunch of harpsichord pieces played on a piano, which always feels wrong to me, but there's nothing really behind that.

On the last track he goes with 'original instrument' by playing the Art of the Fugue on an organ.

Jan Garbarek
Visible Worlds

 So there was this CD I got as a promo, it was one of those rare 'classical sensations,' not as big as Chant, but did well. And this time, it was something I actually liked quite a bit. The vocal group the Hillard Ensemble recorded some motets and Norwegian saxophonist Jan Gabarek improvised over them. It actually sounded pretty cool, I loved it. I played the hell out of it at the store and even managed to lose it a few times as a personal copy and had to replace it more than once. In fact, I'm pretty sure I no longer have it, but here's hoping because on Amazon it ranges from fifty to seventy bucks, apparently.

I even attended a concert performance of that in the Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill seated right behind some important Norwegian, I don't remember now if it was a politician or a member of the royal family. All I can really remember is thinking it would be really funny to lean forward and ask if he knew of my mom's family. It was a good night for impulse control.

The success of that CD meant that there were suddenly going to be a lot more Jan Garbarek CDs. Awesome, I thought. Sucker. For the most part, Garbarek produces some pretty mild smooth jazz, though still manages to have long open solos instead of repetitive riffing, but that's what he plays. Which I guess goes to why they selected him of all people to perform with the Hillard Ensemble, but I was hoping for more experimental stuff. I mean, he is a European jazz artist, most of the European jazz artists I had run into were mostly pretty caustic free jazz artists.

Not Jan, he's mellow. And I have multiple CDs by this guy. As far as I know they're all like this.

There is no liner notes to explain the theme of this album, just this rather intense photo of Mr. Garbarek. He kind of looks like he's about to perform a feat of mentalism with his sax rather than play it.

I sound like I'm hating on him for not living up to my completely made up expectations of him and my own bias' against smooth jazz. And I guess I am, if I was fairer I'd not that he really isn't that 'smooth' with his smooth jazz, this stuff is just out there enough to avoid being played on the Quiet Storm.

I wasn't prepared for the last song to have lyrics. Of course, I have no idea what she's saying.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 72: Duke Ellington "Mood Indigo" & Don Byron "Romance With the Unseen"

You know what had to happen was that I mentioned that there were performers making several return appearances here and now they're all vying for top spot. Yesterday's Miles CD gives way to some more Don Byron (who has his third, I believe CD go on) and Duke Ellington who may or may not be pulling even. Peaking ahead there's even a Jacky Terrasson, but it's actually the exact same Jacky Terrasson that just went on the hard drive, so that hardly counts.

Duke Ellington
Mood Indigo
More Ellington. Another compilation, this one seeming on the cheaper 'might find this at a gas station' variety. These so far have been older, lower fidelity recordings of early Ellington. The liner notes are pretty sparse, containing an almost dry history of Ellington's beginning in music and a list of luminaries that he's performed with.

I tend to think of this kind of big band recording as 'cartoon jazz,' though that might conjure images of close harmony female vocals personified as singing flowers. It's not quite that, but it still has that mono recording quality, kind of muted sound that comes from a combination of old recording equipment and an air-tight horn section.

The back of the CD is laid out weird, too. It sets up columns for track title, composer, and publisher, all in equal font. It's such a strange way to lay the whole thing out. A lot of times the composer and publishing info is left out of the main listings, or if it's included it's much, much smaller. This kind of borders on data entry style. A little weird.

I'm sort of grasping at straws. Already with Ellington there's not much left to be said about him, but worse than that this is the fifth time he's come up. On the plus side, now I know the name of a song that I often would have in my head, Things Aren't What They Used to Be. And you can never have too many versions of Black and Tan Fantasy. Also, Sophisticated Lady ties Round Midnight for most represented song, which I didn't really see coming. Though it is a cool song. I play it every time I get a hold of a bari sax.

Don Byron
Romance With the Unseen

Don Byron is third on deck. I don't remember if this was the empty sleeve or not, but Byron was one of those artists whose labels would give me advance releases and then the actual CD when it came out. I would usually forget I had the CD originally and end up taking both. So there is a fair portion of of the Albatross that is duplicate CDs. At one point I had like five or six of the same Screamin' Jay Hawkins CD. Sadly, they all met unfortunate demises.

One thing I can say about the Don Byron CDs that have gone in, they so far have been three different CDs. The only thing that's really carried over from one to the other is his skill at the clarinet. In that respect this is perhaps the most 'straight ahead' of the three CDs. No crazy instrumentation, no wild arrangements, straight quartet...

Of course as soon as I say that, extended electric guitar solo. But still, the most straight ahead of his recordings.

I'm starting to think that I should keep track of Beatles tunes that appear on jazz albums, because there are a lot it feels like. Byron has chosen I'll Follow the Sun for his album. I guess I can't be one to judge, in my high school senior year jazz concert I did Yesterday with the guitarist.

This is always the ideal, is an artist who experiments, who tries and delivers different things. But the counter-argument is, I guess, that most people--and with reason--want the same thing, or at least a little bit of predictability. Because of the nature of my collection and the way I dealt with it, I haven't for the most part known which Byron album is which. But I have felt a need to listen to Byron only to find out that wasn't the Byron I was yearning for, it was instead the much different Byron of the CD I just put in.

If an artist experiments then there's the risk, or rather the near certainty, that the experiment won't be to your liking. Even if you're Miles Davis, you can find Davis 'camps' among those that appreciate him and there are those that like the fusion stuff and those for whom Davis more or less stopped playing jazz. I was able to see him about a year before he died, and during a brief moment where he thought he'd address us (by speaking into his bell mic) someone started shouting "Play All Blues." Jackass, this wasn't a shitty downtown jazz bar, he's not going to play All Blues, and now I won't know what he had to say. How did you buy a ticket for Miles Davis thinking that All Blues was even a remote possibility?

So anyway...

Some of it is not going to be something you're into. And so now the artist doesn't get the superlative, 'Consistent.'

It works for him, though, I guess. I mean, he kept releasing albums that I would get promos of, so that's good. It's good to hear some inconsistency now and then.

As part of the Albatross' effort to tie everything in, two days after the Basquiat CD goes in, a CD with a track called Basquiat goes in as well. I really should look that guy's art up some time. Basquiat turned out to be a kind of haunting track, really.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 71: Miles Davis "On the Corner" & Wayne Wallace "Three in One"

Once again the furthest away from another sampler. This is my second day into an actual CD case, a sort of make-believe apple crate that has been shaped into a single row to hold CDs. I collected as many of the wooden cases for holding CDs that I could come across in the attempt to pretend I was organizing them. It's also how I was able to make estimates as to how many CDs I have. Now I have a lot of beat up wooden racks that I drag around with the CDs and none of it is organized.

Miles Davis
On the Corner

Miles Davis continues to add to his lead as most represented artist in the Albatross. This time with one of his early fusion experiments. Not as 'grindy' as Bitches Brew, this one is a little more funk oriented. Not satisfied with having one fusion pioneer with him, the album has both Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. And a bunch of other people that became prominent in the new fusion jazz. Because if you're in Miles' band, that kind of means something.

I know that I have two of this album because I know I've listened to it before but this one was unopened. I think it might have been a double set of On the Corner and Big Fun that I had, now that I think of it.

On the Corner might be that turning point, the sort of 'missing link' I've had with Miles Davis' fusion efforts where I've never been able to connect albums like Bitches Brew and Live/Evil to Tutu. On this album Miles discovered looping, over-dubbing, and using multiple tape machines. This is a kind of 'layered cake' recording that could be argued is anathema to jazz if one considered the interplay of the performers to be an essential element. In contrast, though, even in 'straight jazz' engineers had been stitching together solos and the like for a while. If Miles were to craft the texture over which he would select his soloists, whose to say that you can't do it that way?

While the tracks (four in total going for a little over fifty minutes) are long and have a tendency wander, this is still more accesible by bounds than the previous, more caustic fusion experiments. Which is not to say that there isn't some stuff on here that will make whoever else is listening ask you, "What the hell are you listening to?" (wah wah heard me...)

This is about as far from the last Miles Davis that went in to the Albatross.

Even if it's fusion I'm still weirded out by the fade out.

Wayne Wallace
Three in One

Alright, so now I feel completely stupid scoffing at the notion of 'Cubop' and thinking it was made up for the first CD I came across that had it. I officially feel humbled and ridiculous in light of the fact that I apparently have been sitting on a small goldmine of cubop. I'm sorry. Can the Albatross stop mocking me now?

He's holding three trombones on the cover, so I was afraid that 'three in one' might be like the 'What More Flutes 4' thing where he just used three different trombones (well, bass trombone is pretty awesome...), but instead its a general philosophy "general representation of the African musical continuum through US and Caribbean." According to the liner notes, that is.

And Wallace doesn't leave you guessing what three elements he might have used on any particular track, on the back they're all labeled (including Cubop...).

This guy might have been my instructor had I not become obsessed with going to a UC. He's an instructor at CSU San Francisco where I had initially thought about double majoring in music and film. But instead I went to UC Santa Cruz. I liked the mascot...

I don't know what is about certain CDs or certain music, but every now and then I feel like I should be listening to it live in a beer garden. Not that I spend a lot of time in beer gardens, nor do they usually have music that would appear in the Albatross...but I get the impression anyway. This is one of those CDs.

Days 61-70 Sampler

In there somewhere is Mrs. can you resist?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 70: Flora Purim "Perpetual Emotion" & Dorthry Dandridge "Smooth Operator"

It seems like yesterday that I reached 60 and the last set of samplers and now here we are at Day 70. The sampler will come out tomorrow, obviously I'm getting a super late start today. I wish I had something profound to say about 70 days and almost 150 CDs. The whole thing still would fit on a 32g iPod Touch. Not much room left for apps, though.

Flora Purim
Perpetual Emotion

This was the kind of half way in between way of doing the 'advanced copy.' Not a special sleeve, a regular jewel case with no artwork and a backing that simply pitched the artist. Not that it worked, because even with the notes linking her to 'straight jazz' performers, I was convinced I was going to have to sit through another 'adult contemporary' fusion CD. And I was not ready for that. But instead, she's a modern swing singer from Brazil, which occasionally shines through. Especially on the Brazilian flavored Saudade. And Crystal Silence. Alright, so there's a lot of Brazilian influence on the CD. Of course, I don't have any liner notes so I have no idea what that means or what the collection represents.

I have a love/hate thing with singers. For the most part I have no need for them or interest. But then, torch singers seriously do something for me. This album, in that regard, has a lot of ballads and easy swing and Latin pieces.

They're all songs that I don't know. I don't know if that means they're all original or if I just don't know them.

You don't get many drum solos on vocal albums. This is a pretty ragin' one at that.

The album actually moves from various band line ups, from a big band, Latin group, or solo guitar for a Brazilian ballad that closes the album.

Dorthry Dandridge
Smooth Operator

Before the movie came out, our store didn't carry any Dorthy Dandridge. After the movie we had a variety of samplers like this available. Of course, I was the buyer for the section and I didn't stock her not because she was 'unmarketable,' but rather because I had no idea who she was. I may or may not have been pitched CDs with her before the movie, I just don't know that I noticed. But after the movie, I got promos.

I never actually watched the movie, so I still know really very little about her. In fact I wasn't sure what kind of singer she would be. For those in the same bubble as me, she manages a strong yet soft tone in her voice that's very seducing. The mastering and recording is really clean for its age. It's really very beautiful singing, if you're into that kind of thing. If you listen closely she has that 'conveyor belt' vibrato that I've always found weird. But it's subtle here and doesn't intrude unless you focus on I can't stop doing right now...

This is hitting all the right buttons, about the only jazz ballad missing that hypnotizes me when sung by a breathy singer is Someone to Watch Over Me. But instead I get How Long Has This Been Going On, Body & Soul, I've Got a Crush on You and The Nearness of You. All done with a sweet breathy voice that's recorded so that she sounds like she's singing it in your ear (of course, I'm wearing headphones). I guess I would be extra late to the party at this point to 'discover' Dandridge, but she does have a really good voice.

I kind of wanted to be snarky about her absence before the movie and how we all pretended that we were into her all along afterward. But I really didn't know who she was, and I was the one who decided (for the most part) what we carried in the jazz section. So she was ignored because I didn't know who she was. But honestly, there are so many stories in jazz, how can you know them all? I mean, just look back on the last 70 days and the artists that have come up, Red Rodney, Buddy Rich...I love jazz stories and I collect them as much as I collect jazz and there are just so many, someone is going to come across an amazing jazz story before you, and they may have Halle Berry to do a movie.

Of course after leaving the store I got to be familiar with her through Carmen Jones since I spent a short period studying Otto Prelinger. Which I promptly forgot until I had to Google to check and make sure it was Halle Berry that played Dandridge in the movie.

And that's the other side of it, I just can't know all the jazz stories out there, and the ones I do learn I often forget.

Dandridge's Smooth Operator is a little saucier than the Sade song. It really manages to walk the line between 'saucy' and 'campy.'

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 69: Mrs. Miller "Wild Cool & Swingin' Vol.3" & Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motain "Not Two, Not One"

Being able to measure traffic is a mixed bag. Like, it's cool to see new readers who come from traffic sources I didn't know about. But then you also get to see the days when even Googlebot isn't interested in your crap.

Anyway, it's Day 69. Insert your favorite joke here.

Mrs. Miller
Ultra-Lounge: Wild, Cool & Swingin' - Artist Series Vol 3

I actually remember this CD. I got it as part of that whole 'lounge' thing that happened and of all the CDs I ever got it elicited the biggest 'what the hell...?' reactions I've had from a promo.

How to describe what is happening to my ears right now...? It's regular old 50s/60s pop-style lounge, the album starts off Girl from Ipanema. Okay, and apparently makes its way to Yellow Submarine...but then there's Mrs. Miller herself.

Imagine some sort of June Cleaver caracature of domestic mid-century motherhood/housewife-ness. Now, pretend some hack comic was going to mock her singing popular yet innoffensive tunes. Falsetto, a warbling vibrato, just sort of hammering away through the song completely oblivious.

That's what's happening. Apparently, and this comes once again from Wiki, she was a novelty act in the 60's. I'll let you read that there instead of digesting it. Being the internet, there is of course also a website. Also worth exploring. Seriously, turn off your ad-block and click the player or right click on the link in the header for the album, listen to the samples at Amazon, experience this.

Generations might have a tendency to think that they invite irony. I know that I look at the younger generations romance with irony and think, "amateurs,  Gen X already nailed that down..." But apparently the Boomers were into appreciating things ironically on their own (ours was still better...). Oh good lord, A Hard Days Night...

This is the kind of thing that existed before Karaoke where you can listen to average people murder popular songs in bars across the country.

From what I'm gathering from the various websites she was that perfect combination of novelty and completely sincere.  There apparently wasn't much interest in letting her in on the jokes (there was a second tier to it when she apparently was used as an icon of the drug culture late in her career to her own dismay) but for the most part she was good natured about it. Sort of a 1960s William Hung.

This is the kind of thing I loved about getting promos. There's no way I would have known anything about this unless I had gotten this CD. And now I have 50 minutes of delightful ridiculousness on my iTunes.

How has she not ended up on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack yet?

Okay, that's ridiculously adorable. She apparently does a take on Roger Miller's King of the Road but instead it's Queen of the House. I really feel the overwhelming urge to create some referential pop-culture laden ironic movie that involves homemaking at least tangentially film just to use that song.

And of course he 'big hit,' Downtown. This kind of grows on you in an incredibly weird and indescribable way. And then there's that bizarre bird whistle...

I started this album with a 'Seriously?' and have ended it wanting to have met this woman. I feel bad because we're not entirely laughing with her but at the same time...I don't know. Very interesting.

Paul Bley
Not Two, Not One

I'm cheating with the image, this is another homeless CD but I forgot to scan it before I put it in the computer and now I'm too lazy to stop the CD to scan it and for some reason don't want to do the graphic bit after the fact. Plus, the dim, gray cover lets you in on the kind of album it's going to be. Where Mrs. Miller might have been light and whimsical, this is the kind of arrhythmic, sparse and dissonant kind of music that you apparently hire Paul Motain to play drums on.

This is of course a sharp contrast to the previous album, but they were in the same CD case (to which neither of them belonged.) Which probably means they were part of one of my 'listening blitzes' that I've talked about before, where I listened to half of a few tracks on each CD and then ejecting it and moving on.

I think that every twentieth century composition class has someone at the final hammering or plucking or otherwise attacking the strings of the piano without the keys, which makes me not as receptive when modern performers do it.

This is pretty sparse, a lot of solo piano in it. But where I usually comment on the college common room piano pounders, Bley isn't any where near as dense and isn't mistaking pounding as intensity.

I like this kind of stuff, but I am having a hard time finding anything to say about it. There have been so many of these with this basic line up slipping in that I almost am just listening to it like music and forgetting this is supposed to document  the experience. Or something. If this part is boring, please re-read the Mrs. Miller stuff, that's down right hypnotizing.

I don't have the liner notes to tell me what the idea behind the overall album was, but as we've learned, that doesn't always help.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 68: Louisiana Gumbo & Sonny Rollins "Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert"

This doesn't have anything to do with the Albatross or music or anything, but I really really hate the Rock Hard Weekend ad. Had to get that off my chest.

Various Artists
Putumayo is back with another anthology of a style of music, this time Louisiana. It's in promotional packaging so I don't get any liner notes on the selections or performers. I do, however, get filing suggestions. I should either put it in 'blues' or 'Putumayo.'

Actually that's not as ridiculous as it sounds. We did have a floor display spinning rack for Real World CDs that is now one of my CD racks that hold the Albatross.

The CD so far is not strictly blues in the sense of previous compilations. Well, except for It Ain't the Same Thing (this happens a lot, as soon as I feel I can make some sort of declaration about the nature of the CD some track will start that contradicts that...I could edit it so I don't look silly but that seems like cheating. I could wait until the CD is over to comment on it, but it seems cooler this way. Besides, I'd forget.) It's as advertised, really a "sizzling collection of blues, soul, and R&B from New Orleans and the bayous of Louisiana."

And of course, there is accordion.

This is actually about what you'd expect to hear if someone was trying to portray a Louisiana cookout or something. And it has a contender for awesome track title, Festis Believe in Justice.

Sonny Rollins
Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert

Sonny Rollins is one of the best shows I've been to. He played in Berkeley with Branford Marsalis, it was a pretty incredible evening. It wasn't about 9/11, and it wasn't this concert, but it was pretty cool.

Sonny Rollins is one of the prototype saxophonists for me. I'm not really sure what hooked me or who, but he was the first saxophonist I went after when I started to want to get albums by other saxophonists. That album, that first album that I got is still around kind of in the form of the tape I made of it so I could listen to it in my old car. On one side was Sonny Rollin's trio recordings and on the other was Where Flamingos Fly by Gil Evans. Until I started to get other jazz albums those were it for me.

I later went on to try and imitate Stan Getz sound, Rollins' was too 'big' a sound for me at the time. But I love his kind of raw, almost breaking sound and the way he drifts from melodic to chaotic and back again.

It doesn't take an expert to figure out about when this album came out. So it had to be one of the last promos I recieved. It was actually taking a ride in another case on top of another CD, so I have no idea where its sleeve is. I'm pretty sure I didn't get a regular jewel case for this.

I have no idea what the line up is on this album, but there's a trombone player on it.

Now I have two tracks called Global Warming but I don't know if they're actually the same song. Nope, it appears they are not. That's a slowly growing segment, songs with the same name but are not in fact the same song...

Of course I don't need liner notes because there is a one minute long track of introductions. Also, the only brief address of the theme of the concert so far.

This is almost as long as a CD can actually be, shy only thirty-seven seconds. I think I would have felt compelled when mastering to fill those last thirty-seven seconds. "This is as much Sonny as we could fit on one disc!" It's a pretty neat trick when you consider it's a live album, too. That length comes from only five music tracks.

That took some getting used to going to jazz shows. One set would contain maybe four, five songs but last almost an hour and a half.

Oh Suzanna must have been stuck in his head because he's quoted it a bunch during this CD. And maybe Absolute Beginners? Seemed like I heard a little Quiet Life in some of the solos...

That might be part of what I loved early on about Rollins, that low "blat!" he does from time to time. I like the low end of the sax and he has always been more than willing to use it.

Various Artists
Basquiat Salutes Jazz
So, total fake out here. What I thought I was about to listen to was a recording of bass and piano duets led by Denny Zeitlin. After all, that's what this was a case for. Sure, it also contained the Sonny Rollins disc, but surely the one underneath is the proper one right?

I was so convinced of this that I didn't even look when I told iTunes to transfer, so when Miles Davis started playing when I hit play, well...that was unexpected.

So what I have instead is a themed compilation of, as far as I can tell from my rudimentary search, music someone thought famous graffiti artist Basquiat liked. He apparently included a lot of jazz artists in his work or referenced them (I'm not going to pretend to know anything about the artist himself) and these are the recordings someone thought best represented that.

I was fairly certain that this was to capitalize on the film about him, but the copywright on the CD is 2005, so now I'm wondering how the hell I have this CD. It's clearly marked as a promo, but by 2005 I don't think I knew anyone left in the music retail business. I was graduated and working in film by then...seriously, why do I have this? And I listened to it, and then put it in the wrong CD case. None of this makes any sense.

But on the plus side, bonus Sonny Rollins track. And 'Round Midnight takes the lead as most represented song.

This CD also right at the edge of how much you can put on a CD, this time though with a 51 second cushion.

This is a pretty decent sampling of the kind of performers and standards I like. Kind of a greatest hits approach to compilation instead of a compilation of discovery, like the Putumayo CD would be. I never really thought of that kind of divide in compilations but it's pretty obvious.

Ah, and I get to (re)learn the name of a be bop tune I hum all the time but long forgot where I would listen to it. Conveniently enough, it's called Be Bop, I should have been able to remember that. The version I would listen to, I believe, was a pretty poor quality live recording, not like this one. Both, however, performed by Dizzy himself.

Bonus points for finding a live version of one of my favorite Mingus songs Haitian Fight Song that approaches it in a slower shuffle rather than the frantic album version we're all used to.

And Anthropology! How could I forget that, I spent so much time trying to do that in the Charlie Parker Omnibook.

Alright, some of my initial spite is over for this compilation. My tastes and the tastes imagined to be Basquait's line up rather nicely.  They paired up the "-ologys," this is Fats Navarro's version of Anthropology and it's followed by Bird himself doing Ornithology. Ornithology is another one of those bop tunes I hum unconsciously.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 67: Miles Davis "Boppin' the Blues" & Traditional Jazz The Language of New Orleans V.4

I'm going to hurt myself. It's going to happen, I complain about it happening every time and every time I do it. And I'm perpetuating it again, today, with today's choices. Though this time it's going to manifest itself as an impossibly long post in the next few days. Because I'm a deer in the headlights apparently.

Miles Davis
Boppin the Blues
This I believe puts Miles Davis in the lead as the most directly represented artist in the Albatross. There was of course that rash of Duke Ellington tributes, but only two of those were actually Duke Ellington.

So, from what I can gather from the liner notes this is a recording thought lost from a time when Miles was a trumpet player in Billy Eckstine's band. Eckstine's band also included such talents as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. This is a small unit recording from the larger band. How this makes it a Miles Davis recording is a little dubious. Certainly Miles Davis is in the band and featured (even if it's a young Miles, how can you not feature him?), but these aren't his tunes and from the rather confusing liner notes there doesn't seem to be an indication that Miles led the session. I suspect that someone rightfully assumed that the CD would be a much larger success as a Miles Davis recording than a Billy Eckstine recording. In fact, the liner notes go into great detail about how Eckstine's band was a 'musicians band' that never got the audience it deserved, largely due to poor recordings. And, apparently, Eckstine isn't on this recording, instead it's Earl Coleman. That might be another reason to not call it an Eckstine recording.

So this recording, this release actually, is for me. It's for the 'jazz historian' who wants that sample of early (20 years old at the time of the recording) Miles Davis, just after some sessions with Parker, a Miles in mid-development. Thus the completely listener unfriendly set up of the tracks. Each song gets anywhere from two to four 'takes,' all laid back to back so you can listen to the same song four different times, which is fantastic if you want to listen and compare the subtle differences between each performance, how the artist adapted and developed his approach during the session. Real jazz nerd stuff.

However, if you just want to listen to some Miles you might think that you accidentally putting the player on repeat. Sometimes you can get away with it in jazz, people won't notice that they've listened to the same song twice, or have been listening to the same song for half an hour. But these have lyrics, and that can throw the whole thing into focus.

And not only that, if you picked this up to get some Miles Davis it's like picking up a bunch of rough recordings of The Beatles doing Buddy Holly covers. Sure, you can hear the germ of the band that eventually recorded Rubber Soul, but it ain't Rubber Soul.

There is no information on the complete line up. I know who the singers are and who Miles is, but no idea who the saxophonist is. He sounds familiar, so I have this sinking feeling if I found out I'd be embarrassed to not know. And thanks to Google, now I know, Gene Ammons (I don't feel bad) but the drummer is Art Blakey, which is awesome.

Of course this puts Don't Explain to Me Baby in contention for most represented song on the hard drive with four off the same CD. Sort of unfair, but I have a feeling that it will hold at four for a really long time.

With all the repeated tracks, the album still manages to be just over half an hour long. Which is just long enough since it's the same four songs over and over again.

Various Artists
Traditional Jazz: The Language of New Orleans Vol. 4
So I've come across another water damaged CD. This one is a sampler of traditional or 'dixieland' jazz. It seems to range from the earliest jazz, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, to Kermit Ruffins.

Where the last CD's liner notes were confusing, these are just fused together and therefore unreadable.

I've never been as into traditional jazz as other forms of jazz. Mostly because it's 'pre-saxophone' and I tend to not like the clarinet (despite the fact that one of the contenders for 'most represented' is actually a clarinet player...). I grew up to a rather large traditional jazz festival, so every spring I had plenty of traditional jazz on tap (though as I've related before, I spent most of that time listening to a Scottish jump jive band.) It might be a by-product of what I talked about yesterday, context being everything. Traditional jazz, good traditional jazz, top performers, were not in anyway a novelty to me, just something that was seasonal. So when I listen to traditional jazz I just think 'spring' and maybe being the dorkiest kid to ever cut a class to go watch jazz downtown.

Having said all that, I love second line music, the marches. I love the idea of a band just marching down the street until there is enough people in the street and turning around and having a party. That's just awesome, how can you not like that? Well, I guess if you had to get out of your house and there was some jazz band party parade blocking your way...

South Rampart Street Parade even comes with a raging marching drum solo.  Not uncool.

These are all pretty clear recordings. Yeah, see, that's an electric bass on Whitle We Danced at Mardi Gras. These are not old recordings.

Maryland My Maryland sounds suspiciously like O Tannenbaum...and sure enough, it is.

Also, fantastic first line of a song, "I ain't gonna give you none of my jelly roll..." Awesome.

Ultimately, even when it's sad, traditional jazz music and related forms are 'feel good' music. It's hard to be in a bad mood when listening to it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 66: Keith Jarrett "The Survivors Suite" & Fred Hersch "Songs Without Words"

I'm getting a late start today. I don't really have a reason for that, we had all of three trick or treaters last night, no parties. Just, late start. That's it. Anyway, on with the show...

Keith Jarrett
The Survivors Suite

Well, Keith Jarrett is back in the Albatross and if you read the previous Keith Jarrett post it's not a surprise that this CD was unopened. Like the other day's Tim Berne CD, this is only two long tracks, though neither reaching even thirty minutes much less Berne's fifty-plus minute single track.

This one isn't a solo piano piece the same way the other one was, in fact it took almost nine minutes for Jarrett to even get on the piano after dabbling with the bass recorder, celeste, soprano saxophone, and osi drums. Here he is joined by Dewey Redman on sax and percussion, Charlie Haden on bass, and Paul Motian on drums.

While I have to admit this is prototype pretentious music--not much air, really between the first eight minutes of the first track and the World Flutes 1 CD from early in the project, I actually am growing to really kind of dig this once they got underway. Truthfully, though, I tend to like pretentious music if a little self consciously. Obviously, with almost thirty minute long tracks, they come and go in waves.

The liner notes contain a single sentence:
"And those that create out of the holocaust of their own inheritance anything more than a convenient self-made tomb shall be known as 'Survivors'."
It's in quotations, but it doesn't attribute who the quote belongs to, so presumably Jarrett? To Google! Yep. And people quote it a lot when they write essays about abuse, apparently. I'm not even sure I understand it, to be honest. Like, if you don't take the horrible things from your situation and end up in a ball in the corner you're a survivor? I think people make it out to be an inspiration but it seems to set a lower bar. I'm probably missing something but I don't feel like reading any of the essays that use this quote right now.

Not that the track names shed any light on anything. They are "Beginning" and "Conclusion." No doubt this would have been one uninterupted suite had it been recorded in the time of CDs (or digital music) instead of LPs where he had to split it up into two sides.

There's a release that missed the boat at some point. I seem to remember (and I may have this wrong, I don't have the CD readily at hand for reasons I've exhaustively gone into) Eric Dolphy's Free Jazz fading out on the first track and fading in on the second to accommodate the two sides of the album. Where's the remaster where someone has stitched those two tracks together so we can hear them as one uninterrupted performance? If course this recording there is a clear distinction between the two tracks in tone, tempo, and approach.

I didn't hear it on the last album so I forgot about Jarrett's tendency to sing along with his solos. Put here it is, I can hear it just fine.

We've reached the free jazz section of our program. People who have been politely sitting quietly while this CD played may now get up and question the sanity of the person who put the disc on and insist it be changed, or worse, control of the music completely surrendered. I hate when that happens because to me this is when the music starts to get good. But it's definitely for a select crowd. I always want to go, "Look, I sit through crappy music I hate every day, can't you just stomach this one moment where there is some music that might be a little beyond you at the moment?" Nope, go listen to your weirdo music alone, freak.

Of course I'm getting this self-righteous to a Keith Jarrett recording, who last time I just whined about for an hour.

Fred Hersch
Songs Without Words

Another sampler of a larger box set, which I don't know that we actually carried or not. And another artist that I don't really know that much about. So far it's just solo piano, but there's no telling where it's going to go from there. I've been burned before guessing that a CD would go one way and have it take off in an entirely different direction. Especially one that is an anthology of a larger collection. I can't tell from the only note (that you can see right there) if it's a set of new recordings or if it is a collection of earlier recordings. But certainly each disc has its own set of themes.

So there's this story, or not so much story, but thing that happened, it was big on Stumble for a little bit, about a violinist going to a subway in New York and performing. Not many people stopped or paid attention to him. What he played was one of the most difficult violin pieces available, and the person who played it was Joshua Bell who had just played at a reputable hall for $150 a seat (or some such price). That story in part helped motivate a mostly stillborn project I hope to bring out soon (but no one is reading this, so I have to figure out this a little better so that people actually see it), but it also creates a weird little loop for me here.

I've gone on (and on) about piano pounders, the common room performers pumping their sustain pedal like they were inflating the piano. But then there is Hersch, who is playing standards and some of his own stuff, but it is more or less 'straight jazz.' The kind of 'straight jazz' that a piano player might play in a bar or casino lobby where a slightly drunk record store clerk/buyer might be egged on by head buyer turned label rep to stumble up and request Girl From Ipanema. Good times.

So it's easy to listen to solo piano performing 'straight jazz' and thing hotel lobby, or casino bar, or Nordstroms floor. But I've known a piano player who played on the Nordstroms floor and he was remarkable. It's conceivable that Hersch spent his time playing in hotel lobbies and casino bars.

Thing is, I do this a lot. I keep associating the music I'm listening to in terms of where I would be likely to hear it. And if I'm honest, it's at least partially derogatory. But, clearly, that's not entirely fair. It could easily be an undiscovered Hersch. A Joshua Bell conducting a social experiment. In fact Bell's experiment was about this, that the quality under which we rate music is largely, and embarrassingly, contextual. This is good piano because it's on a CD. Bar piano is not as good because it's just a guy at a bar. Perhaps, if I get sauced enough I'll put bread in their jar and ask what they're doing there, but I don't know that I'll mean it.

So sure, this is good. It's on a CD. He was allowed to record a three CD set no less. Nonsuch records endorses him and I'm given the CD and I listen to it and presumably I agree because it was on a CD and Nonsuch is release three at a time and it will be good. It is better than what you might hear at the bar or the casino or the hotel or Nordstroms because this is on a CD and Nonsuch and my record store said it was good. And it is good. I don't mean to imply that it isn't.

But I think that the notion of context, of having to do two of these every day and realizing what kind of short hand that I begin to use to digest the music, to put it in its place so I can find something to say about it.

Drums and a bass show up for Easy to Love before we get one of three variations of the title track. This one is labeled Aria. We have waltz and ballads to look forward to.

We also get some horns mixed in before we go to the mellow 'ballad' version of the title track to wrap up the collection. A rather standard way to put together a compilation, a little bit of solo, some piano trio, a combo, and the defining track in few forms.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 65: The Country Gentlemen "On the Road (and more)" and Rodney Jones "The Undiscovered Few"

I wish I had some sort of Halloween theme to today's entry, but the CDs are still more or less random (alright, I threw one back because it would have meant a triple day.) There is a change up in the style of CD but really, not out of character. Ah well, I hope your Halloween is cool if you do indeed celebrate it, if not, here are some CDs that don't have anything to do with Halloween anyway, so you're not missing out.

The Country Gentlemen
On the Road (and more)

What Buena Vista Social Club did for Cuban music, O Brother Where Art Thou? did for folk and bluegrass. Truth be told it didn't take much to prompt some sort of sudden stampede to a certain type of music. A song by Iz appears on E.R., suddenly everyone is a fan of Hawaiian music. But a full movie, documentary or not, that can send people into a fury.

Of course, I have this CD, so that means that I had to have gotten caught up in it somehow, though there are even odds I picked it up merely because it said "On the Road," which is probably even more of a poser move, really.

Which is not to say that I don't really like bluegrass, and even had picked up some promos before O Brother Where Art Thou came out. But I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that there was a sharp increase afterward, both from heightened interest and from increased availability.

This is pretty straight O Brother style, it turns out. The Country Gentlemen are well known enough that I knew about them before I looked at the CD, so it's not entirely certain I have this promo just because of the movie. But it's standard issue, 'folksy' vocal harmonies, simple danceable rhythms.

Not the Rawhide I was hoping for.

Now they're doing an Englishman singing bluegrass music...strange. There is a lot of banter with a corny dry wit. There's a section where he 'introduces the band' each other.  He almost introduces a feature player with 'here comes trouble." It's hokey but also has a charm to it.

And of course there is plenty of religious music going about.

Rodney Jones
The Undiscovered Few
I have well noted trepidations about guitar, and as I had discussed earlier, often you can judge a CD by its cover. But if I had thought about it this really would have fit into Blue Note's pattern, it's not really a weird angle, but there is that forced perspective putting the guitar in the foreground, so it's just a modern version of their classic cover picture.

But even though the electric guitar almost always makes things sound a little fusion-y, this is a progressive modern jazz CD like Terrasson or Kirkland or any of the other modern jazz players that I've put in so far. Which is great, because I love that stuff.

The liner notes are fairly philosophical, kind of bordering between the land of a pop Buddhist, a twelve step program graduate and a self help book. It's the usual artist statement, the commitment to the (in this case unnamed) influences that formed his understanding of music, a little wax nostalgic about his early encounters with music ("As a young child of six or seven I remember sitting underneath an old cabinet-style record player. I would listen and dream.")

But then it wanders into contimplation of the human journey and that whole "Who are we and why are we here," bit. The Undiscovered Few, it turns out, are his four principles that have some sort of importance to (at least to him) human existance. They are-
  1. The Desire to know myself
  2. The Experience of finding myself
  3. Being Myself
  4. Willingness to take the next step
Each principle of course is followed by a detailed description of how this is important to his life and life in general and how it made him a better person and guitar player. None of this shows up on the track list, you have to read the liner notes for that.

That's sort of the advantage/disadvantage of wordless jazz. The album, with certain restrictions, can be more or less about whatever you decide it's about and you can assign whatever meaning you want to it. But unless the person listening to it reads the liner notes (and presumably agrees with you) they're pretty much going to assign whatever meaning they want to it. And it might be, "This is some smooth music to play while I try and make it with my lady." Or just decide that My Favorite Things is about someone's favorite things. Or a tribute to John Coltrane. Or just a chart you dig.

There isn't a set group on the whole album, there are various larger and smaller groups depending. Greg Osby makes a few appearances on alto saxophone. Violinist Regina Carter does a duet with him on Through the Eyes of a Child. In that regard there is a lot of variation on the album.

All of this is making the Australian V8 Supercars race at Surfer's Paradise a little more mellow, despite the knife fight for first place in the last few laps.

Regina Carter returns for another duet, this time called Tears of a Forgotten Child. Makes you wonder what that child saw through his eyes in the first duet...

The album opens and closes with barn burners, holding a soft gooey center of gentler tracks. Ah, but it ends on the still enigmatic jazz fade out. Still don't get that.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 64: Betty Page Private Girl:Spicy Music & Tim Berne's Blood Count "Memory Select: The Paris Concert"

Even though they're not a huge, raging success I kind of am digging the playlist posts because it gives me short term benchmarks to look for. Like, I'm kind of excited that we're almost halfway to the next one.

Various Artists
Private Girl
So before 'hipsters' became 'fucking hipsters,' there was the nineties. Well, alright, hipsters have more or less always been fucking hipsters, it's just that in the nineties the internet wasn't developed enough to pour so much concentrated and self-aware hate on them.

But all the conspicious affectations were there, vintage lunch pales and ironic t-shirts and a concentrated and meticulous air of not-actually-giving-a-shit.

The kitsch and irony of the time, as I've talked about before, had a lot to do with the lounge scene. Tiki gods, Mancini music, island themes. And an essential element of any kitschy vintage scene is and always will be Bettie Page.

In the great vin diagram of tastes, this is where me and 'hip culture' intersect. Lounge music is really just a variation of 'cool jazz,' and sometimes contains elements that I really like, like surf guitar or a growling saxophone. Hell, I even like the whole 'Tiki' look--there's a throw away Halloween decoration in my Bus I call Voodoo God (not Tiki, I know) who protects the Bus. (It is important to remember that Voodoo God does not protect the Bus from breaking down...a caveat I have been forced to add...)

And I really like Bettie Page. It all started with a copy of The Rocketeer a friend showed me when I was in junior high. He had been Dave Stevens' neighbor and had this signed copy of a book I had never heard of (it was years until the movie was made) that contained something I already dug, vintage action sci-fi and the romantic interest who I was later to learn was modeled off Bettie Page (Dave Stevens was later able to interview Bettie on a recording that is already on my hard drive).

So I snatched up these promos like a rabid dog. There are a few in this series, Danger Girl, Jungle Girl, and Private Girl. I have all three, or at least had. My favorite by far was Danger Girl, which I actually tried to load onto the hard drive years ago but was too scratched. I was only able to save my favorite track, Mood One by John Barry. Jungle Girl actually came up today but it was empty. So Private Girl is the only one to survive onto the hard drive.

Each one has a pretext for the selection. Danger Girl is "Burlesque music," Jungle Girl is "exotique [sic] music," and this one is "spicy music."

Though the music is just pretext. What these CDs really are is another collection of Bettie Page pictures fitting into the theme of each album. The collected music is just a bonus, really. But I really actually like some of the music, especially the ones on Danger Girl, obviously.

The music ranges from that 'cool jazz' variation to something you might expect on Lawrence Welk. It certainly starts to turn Sin City into a different movie...

The songs are short, too, twenty-eight tracks not even amounting to fifty minutes.

These collections are really reliant on context. Without them I'm not sure I'm going to associate it with this collection. It's just going to be more of that quirky 50s and 60s music I have lurking on the hard drive. A lot of flute, a lot of organ.

Tim Berne's Blood Count
Memory Select: Paris Concert 3
Here's a pretty sharp contrast. The second track on this disc is longer than the entire last disc. In fact, only two tracks make up this particular CD. It's stealth Winter & Winter, it came in a conventional jewel case instead of the corduroy one. Mostly because this isn't the Winter & Winter release but the Verve one. But there is a Winter & Winter release of this album.

But still, you can judge a CD sometimes from its cover. If it's a saturated picture of a man taken at a weird angle, it's probably a Blue Note CD from the sixties. If it's a picture of a man in blue collar settings, probably blues. If it's abstract art, good chance it's some high concept European free jazz.

Which is exactly what we have here. You know you're dealing with some really out there stuff when there are things like only two tracks on a CD that's over an hour long. Or there are no liner notes, just more abstract art.

The band is made up of Berne and Chris Speed on woodwinds and then guitar, upright bass, and drums. The music is rhythmically unteathered and full of the squawks and pops that people tend to associate with free jazz (if they know what free jazz is).

For all the 'freeness' in free jazz, modern free jazz has some pretty elaborate arrangements. The long piece, Eye Contact, have actual movements to it separated by wild solo segments. And this is not uncommon in modern free jazz, especially coming out of Europe.

I really dig this kind of stuff but it's hard to find other people willing to stomach it. Every once in a while you run into that Mike Patton fan that is able to relate in some ways to the music. Or I wear someone down and eventually ease them into the wilder elements of jazz. But usually, this music is the music I play to ensure I'm alone.

It's not without its melodic elements, they're just punched with chaos and walls of sound.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 63: Jack Jezzro "Elegance: The Trio Recordings" & Alan Pasqua "My New Old Friend"

I hate the bottom of a bag. I don't even know why. Sure, some of the self selecting that insures that some of the bottom of the bag is not going to be all that great. But ultimately, this stuff is randomly assembled, no one bag is any different than the other, but so far I get pretty anxious to move on to the next bag, like I'm convinced that next one has all the treasures I've been looking for, and I could get right to it, if it wasn't for these blah CDs I have to do first. I wonder if it actually makes me meaner to the bottom of the bag CDs.

Jack Jezzro
Jazz Elegance: The Trio Recordings

Not the greatest sign when iTunes thinks that this is an easy listening CD, despite the complete insistence of the title that it is in fact jazz elegance...

But yeah, it's winery jazz. A little guitar trio playing some mellow standards and some original bits. Good enough to listen to, not aggressive enough to disturb your wine tasting experience.

I was fairly sure that this is what I was going to end up playing. I'm always down on it in these posts because it isn't as dynamic or weird or whatever as the other CDs, but I don't really have a problem with it ultimately.

The liner notes flip the order of things a little bit, almost like the person sensed that he'd have to address up front that this was going to be a light weight set of recordings. He goes into all the 'flash' criteria people use to determine the value of an artist and implies that another measure, 'taste,' should be applied. Then the usual tour through the selections, timeless melodies etc. But usually the resume comes before all of this, but instead it follows. Ah, and it's because it includes him having released a few 'easy listening' CDs before this album, as well as apparently television soundtrack work. The salesmanship had to flip there a little bit to sell him as a jazz artist in spite of some of his background instead of because of it. His resume as a studio musician and bass player in an orchestra aren't the usual jazz bonafides that you can build on, so on the second page of the notes they go.

I've played about half the songs on this album.

I had this elaborate plan on prom to play Prelude to a Kiss at some point in the evening on my sax and then we'd have a crazy romantic kiss immediately afterward. It was a long walk for a kiss, and of course not necessary. We just started making out when she switched to comfortable shoes. That was right before we found out that I had parked in the front yard of a church. This is a pretty ridiculous pattern of me wanting the names of the jazz tunes to do the thing that they are, Maiden Voyage, Prelude to a Kiss...I guess I should be careful now who I play Serenade to a Cuckoo around, that's a mixed message that won't be fun to unpack...

This album brings the number of versions of Round Midnight to four. I suspect by the end of the project I should be able to create a fairly substantial play list of just Round Midnight. This version is about what you'd suspect.

Alan Pasqua
My New Old Friend

From guitar trio to piano trio, it's a light jazz day today. I don't know if this is going to be light weight or not yet, it's still loading, but Wichita Lineman is on here, so my chances are pretty good. I don't see any vocal credits on here, so at least there is that.

There are no liner notes to save me this time either, just a dedication to "you, the listener." What a weird affectation. "Oh, I'm the listener...I was wondering what my role was in this thing."

Alright, we're underway. Before reading the track list and the credits I was kind of looking forward to this CD because it was a different kind of case for the CD. That can be an indicator of music that is also different, a little out there. Or that the manufacturer had a different supplier for their CD sleeves. This time it's the latter.

Since I don't have liner notes I had to go to our old friend Wiki, turns out that he is the guy who did the theme to the CBS Evening News. And apparently played with a lot of 80s rock bands.

Ah, the whispery voiced back up 'aaah la da dah' girl usually reserved for bossa nova recordings. Highway 14 must be a pretty mellow stretch of road.

Not to be outdone, this album brings the number of versions of Body & Soul up to five. I should start taking predictions on what's going to be the most represented song by, like, the 150th day or something.

It may not be possible to do an instrumental version of Wichita Lineman and not have it sound like we should be in an elevator. Smile is the same story, but it's such a pretty tune it doesn't matter.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 62: Don Byron "Music for Six Musicians" and Wayne Shorter "Juju"

Today represents two musicians I kind of backed into knowing, so to speak. They were either tangential to something I was into or they did one thing that I found curoious and as a result (and since whenever they released something I got it for free from the label) I started following. Also, today represents the first time something is verifiably from the actual rotation section of the Albatross because it comes from a sleeve to a broken CD carrier. On with the show...

Don Byron
Music for Six Musicians

I have to keep checking because I become convinced that this album is already on the hard drive, but it's not. I listened to it enough that much of it is pretty familiar, even though that had to be a fairly long time ago because I don't remember this being available during that brief window in which I had a CD player in the short lived Vanagon.

Not that I associated any of this familiar music with this album. There is the slam poetry opener that I knew as soon as it started, but if I had remembered those lines separately I would not have thought immediately, "Oh, that Don Byron CD I used to listen to..." In fact, I was surprised to hear slam poetry when what I was expecting was just some progressive jazz played on a clarinet.

This, I believe, never really had a case, so it's little torn sleeve is as much home as its ever known.

Outside of the poetic opening it's pretty straight forward progressive jazz stuff, complex rhythms, some collective improve, dissonance, lots of counter-everything. I don't know that what makes up the six musicians stays the same from track to track, since I don't remember the electric guitar that's making a showing in "I'll  chill on the Marley tapes..." on (The press made) Rodney King (responsible for the LA riots). The track names, by the way, are awesome. A little dated in their politics (a reference to both Rodney King and Ross Perot...), but that's fine. In ten or twelve years some rabid downloader is going to realize he has all this unlistened to music and start whatever indulgent method is available to him like blogs now about going through all his music and commenting on the outdated politics of half-term Alaskan governors and modern day tea partiers. And maybe people who do stunts to become reality TV stars. Or maybe by then we'll have given up and everyone will be reality TV stars.

The cool thing about being political in jazz is you really only have to come up with the snappy title and you're done.  Well, unless you're Moss Allison, then you have to use dry wit in lyrics, apparently.

The music is as eclectic as I come to expect from Byron. Not so much as A Fine Line, more than Bug Music. Right down the center of variation. The relatively short The Allure of Enlightenment is a calm and melodic contrast to the previous Crown Heights. I'm more familiar with the beginning of this album than I am its end. I don't know if it's because by this time I was well into playing a video game and not paying attention, or if it stands out less, or if I simply just stopped playing it early on each time and moved on to another CD.

Wayne Shorter

The internet has effected me. I feel the urge to create some sort of graph or something starting with Sidney Bechett and placing saxophonists along it in relation to which direction they took the horn and where they sit. Because in my mind at least, I start to do that in some form or another. There are groupings, like Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, and Paul Desmond all sit grouped up in one part of the graph, the 'mellow side.' Then there's Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Hamiet Bluiett on the crazy side, and just a little in from those guys would be Pharoah Sanders and Rashaan Roland Kirk, and a little further in Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. But here's where the graph would get confusing for me, anyway, is finding the distance on a different axis between Shorter and Rollins. Rollins is more bombastic, more Kirk, and Shorter is more manic, more Dolphy. Of course for any of this to make any sense you have to know who all these players are, and if you do then you don't need the stupid chart.

Wayne Shorter is on or near everything cool at one point or another, which I guess would come from being part of not only Miles Davis' amazing group ("The Quintet" as some have called it) but also part of a whole lot of other people's amazing groups. Whenever I want to find an example of jazz albums I should have to demonstrate my collection's lacking, about half the time the example I bring up is a Wayne Shorter album. Half because he's a remarkable player with some landmark albums, but the other half I think is because he's one of those guys that people know is awesome but don't buy the records that he heads. I might be projecting here, but most of the time when I was able to look at a serious collector's stash, Shorter wouldn't really come up as often. Shorter albums don't appear on lists as much unless the list goes past twenty or so, but when it does the person making the list lavishes it with praise. I don't know what the distinction is or really even if it's just in my head. I was relieved that the CD had been pulled out, that at least I listened to this one when I got home, but not as often, apparently, as Don Byron's CD.

This is, of course, another Rudy van Gelder edition from Blue Note. If I had been tagging RVG CDs in the posts I'm pretty sure that would be the top tag. Everyone of the RVG Edition CDs has the exact same graphic on the back. There's that pose, the universal gesture, apparently, of someone wearing headphones indicating, "Shut up, I'm trying to hear something..." You see that all the time in movies...hell, I do it when I'm recording audio on a shoot. You're trying to pinpoint something in the audio and you tilt your head even though you're wearing if I crook my head just right the proper audio will fall into my ear and I'll get what I'm looking for. Like for no reason we all become Nipper the RCA dog twisting it's head in front of the gramophone. I'm not sure why in the hell we do this. Alright, in movies it is really the only way to visually indicate that the person on the headphones hears something important and is trying to figure out what it is. And maybe it's just reflex because in every other situation if we move our ears we can hear certain things better and it's not like that reflex is going to go, "Oh, hey, the speakers are attached to your head...moving it won't matter." But it's still kind of silly.

I wonder if I could rate artists on how easy it is to do something else while listening to them. I don't really know how to do it without it sounding like a bad thing. I get distracted on a lot of the CDs, they're usually around an hour long and if I sat here with my fingers on the keyboard for the whole hour the posts would be crazy long nonsense, and already they're too long for one of my only readers. But for some of them I enjoy having them play and then merrily go about my business stumbling around the internet until "Shit! The CD is over and I haven't said much of anything!" Then I don't know what to do. It's hardly ever that I just didn't like the music, but rather I just didn't only listen to the music, I guess. And they don't have any tracks where I go, "What the hell is that?" which isn't a bad thing, necessarily.