Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 14: US3 "Cantaloop" (Single), Stefon Harris and Jacky Terrasson "Kindred", Archie Shepp "Live in New York"

Going for another triple at the end of the week as this time I've encountered an honest single and it seems a cop out to count it as a full album. Getting more into CDs I don't remember ever getting, including unopened ones.

The worst part is the addictive nature that brought on the Albatross in the first place, because after starting this project, I've wanted to actually go and get more music. I'm discovering music that I had that I really enjoy every week so far, but I still feel the need to go and actively add to the pile. Something has to be wrong...

Three empty nests today as well--Duke Ellington in Sweden, Don Byron "Romance With the Unseen", and Jerry Granelli Jeff Riley.

Cantaloop (Single)

It's hard to find too much to say about this. I suppose I should be embarrassed by this quickly faded rap fad of one taking samples from the Blue Note catalog to make modern rap songs. I hoped it would catch on, I'll be honest about that. I have some rap in my past. I liked Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, and Grandmaster Flash...I even went to a Fat Boys concert. I've made my peace with it.

But I grew into jazz, and when it looked like I could combine my early love of hip hop and jazz, sure--sign me up. And Cantaloupe Island is a funky song all by itself, perfectly fitting into a hip-hop mix.

So I was into this as much as anyone else with at least a passing fascination. But Cantaloop was the only one that did, and US3 faded quick. I don't know if they're recording anymore or off doing other things or what, but I never heard from them again the entire time I worked at the store.

Singles on CD are a difficult thing for me, but that might be because I'm not often that into 'remixes.' I get it, it's several different takes on the same song, and that can be intriguing, but essentially I have the same song now five times. To its credit, some of the later remixes are fairly different, but they all come back to the old Herbie Hancock piece.

That was a refreshing side effect, people started searching out Herbie Hancock records to find out where that track came from. This of course wasn't Hancock's first foray into Hip Hop, he was also responsible for the iconic Rock It, which prompted my dad to speculate that Herbie Hancock didn't know how to play piano. Little did he know...

I think singles exist to completely cure you of liking the song after listening to five slightly different versions in a row. I still like it, but man, I'm kind of done with this song for like a month or so now.

I have to admit, there was a part of me that was hoping I'd end up for at least a little while as a saxophonist in a live Jazz/Rap band. I was kind of willing to be a whore on the sax, mostly because I felt, no matter what, the horn always classed up the joint. I had a bias, obviously.

Stefon Harris and Jacky Terrasson

There are probably some sound reasons I never got around to listening to this CD. All white covers are never a good sign, The Beatles aside. White covers and white suits, double whammy. People named Stefon, also not generally a good indicator. All respect to Stéphane Grappelli, but violin is still a little hard to get into in jazz.

And as much praise as I had for the vibes earlier, it's still a bit of a land mine instrument.

When taking home boxes of CDs at a time, these all seemed like sound reasons to put off listening to this CD.

My mistake, apparently. While there are some tracks that are easy going and light, this is a progressive jazz CD that goes right along with the earlier James Carter CD and anything else I would normally listen to.

It has a pretty good spread of traditional Jazz standards and modern pieces, like the rather smokin' Rat Race that finds the two performers chasing each other in overlapping solos.

This is a far more intense jazz experience than the cover suggests.  I'm not sure what they were trying to convey. I guess it's pretty hard to come up with a concept for a jazz album cover, now that I think about it. There's only so many shots of a guy standing next to his instrument one can try and pull of.  I remember reading an interview with Wynton Marsalis where he complained to the photographer that he didn't want to hold his horn in yet another photo-shoot, though he eventually did. Now that I think about it, it might have been Chet Baker. Doesn't matter, I guess.

I mean, rockers can identify the 'hard-coreness' of their music by the look of the cover and the amount of stage make-up their performers wear, but a progressive jazz album could end up looking like a fusion album by the cover.

This is another damaged set of liner notes, so I don't have much insight into the CD itself, but this is really pretty good.

Archie Shepp and Roswell Rudd
Live in New York

I've mentioned before my fascination with trombone players and there not being enough of them. Well, the Albatross has been hiding this unopened gem since 2001. Roswell Rudd, which by the way is an awesome name, joins saxophonist Archie Shepp (I'll admit right now I thought he played piano) for a live concert in New York.

There's a lot here for me to like. Progressive jazz sound, trombone, live music banter right off the bat, with Rudd introducing his composition Acute Motelitis with "Trapped in a motel room in the middle of nowhere." There's even poetry, apparently.

Eventually the Albatross was going to reveal my fascination with spoken word, and it apparently decided to slip it in here on what is apparently a super album of 'things I dig.' Yep, I like spoken word. Now, I thought what you're thinking, that it meant that I like slam poetry. Turns out, not so much. I mean, there have been a few instances of slam poetry that I have actually liked, but it took a whole lot of bandless rap artists before I got to those. I feel that poetry struggled really hard to let people know it didn't have to rhyme only for slam poets to re-enforce the idea that it had to.

But that aside, I actually dig spoken word. It all started with a quest to find a recording I had read about of e.e. cummings, which I never did. But I discovered a lot of Beat recordings and other spoken word story tellers and kind of got into it. This also led to my beard, but that's apparently a long story that after I typed out I realized even I didn't care about...

Every track, it seems, is getting an introduction. A heartfelt tribute to a loved one with the a pretty cool nickname (Steam), and the introduction to Pazuzu that made it sound like a summer insect, but is instead apparently a demon who is also featured in The Exorcist. Also the gargoyle that Prof. Fairnsworth lets loose in Futurama. The two trombone Slide by Slide...jazz titles like their puns...this song metamorphoses a lot in its 11 minutes. I also like the acknowledgment at the end, "Thank you very much for Slide by Slide...featuring everybody..."

I've never been comfortable with saxophonists who also sing. Perhaps it's jealousy. Maybe it's that the trumpet is easy to hold to one side out of the way, but the saxophonist has to lean over his horn dangling awkwardly from his neck or to the side to sing and we have an extra hand to position when we start to play after we sing.

Or it's just that I can't sing so I don't think other saxophonists shouldn't either. Nice closer with a tribute to Elmo Hope.

The Albatross closed out with a lot of lies and fake outs (including the disappointing Fatal Error of the Count Basie Plays Ellington...) but also some albums that were destined to languish in obscurity if I actually selectively went through this. Not bad, quit killing good CDs in the process...

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