Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 31: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers "At the Cafe Bohemia V.2" 32 Jazz Sampler Miles Davis "Blue Miles"

So this is the thirty-first day. I've been actually doing this for a month. The time period is longer because of the hiatus, but thirty one actual days of cds going onto the hard drive. I don't really have anything profound to say about it but that I'm rather enjoying doing it.

It's all jazz day on the 31st day, and all jazz that I tend to prefer, so it's an easy day for listening because I'm likely to enjoy the heck out of it. We'll see if that translates. I was also suckered again by CDs in sleeves, but this time it's only going to result in three hours of music instead of yesterday's marathon five. When I originally decided to do this, five was the first number I came up with until I realized that five CDs a day meant listening to five hours of music straight through every day and write about it while it happens. It doesn't sound horrible, I'm sure critics do it, and just listening to music that long is not bad at all. But having to comment on it, and my decision to wear headphones to give the music it's best (under the circumstances) representation, that clearly would have been too much. And besides, critics get paid to do this, and I don't know that this blog has a reader I haven't met, so two it is.

Except today, where it's three.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
At the Cafe Bohemia V.2

This has always stood out to me as the halmark of post bop jazz. Not this particular album, which I apparently didn't even take out of its case until just now, but The Jazz Messengers in general. I may have mentioned this when I did the Tony Williams Trio, but drummers make the best bands, and the biggest proof of that is Art Blakey and his messengers. The jazz critic written liner notes tell me that this is the original line up (as much as I admire the Jazz Messengers, I don't really know the line up history--I just know that any time I pick up a Messengers CD the line up is going to be awesome.) The Messengers went from this super band line up to be the greatest predictor of remarkable talent until Blakey hung up his sticks.

This is not a volume two in the box set sense, but it is a companion recording to another that I'm hoping comes up because it's got some of my favorite Horace Silver numbers on it, apparently.  It's of course another Rudy Van Gelder edition...I wonder if I should have been tagging those all this time?

I have been sitting on my Art Blakey anecdote, and I don't think I've already blown it. I wanted to use it yesterday when it was probably a little more appropriate. I was backstage at a Terrance Blanchard performance at Yoshi's in Oakland--I don't remember if I got back there because of the record store or because a former record store employee had become artist liaison for Yoshi's--anyway, I was sitting backstage while Blanchard held court. He was talking about his days as a Messenger and playing with Art Blakey. He was part of that crowd I talked about yesterday, the musicians that came out of school jazz, the technicians. He even talked about how they (including himself) loved to flex their skill by creating complicated, difficult, technical pieces. They'd all come in, Blanchard explained, with these hard, technical pieces to try out. But they'd get three or four bars in and Blakey would wave them off. "What is this?" Blanchard quoted, doing his best raspy Art Blakey voice, "Look here, anyone can write something no one can play. It takes talent to write something people want to hear." Blanchard explained that it changed his entire approach to music. To be fair, this is in no way an admission that Blanchard rejected his academic, technical past. He had reached a point of training himself, of study, that all of that was completely on demand. He wouldn't have been the player he is without that command. It just signaled a time to develop a different direction built on that philosophy.

That story effected me pretty deeply as well, even if I didn't continue on in music.

The CD opens with a track that threw me off completely, and the internet didn't help at all. The liner notes cleared it up, the track that sounded an awefull lot like Tenor Madness but was labeled Sportin' Crowd was in fact what Tenor Madness...when it was recorded six months later by Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. And when a young Walrus played the snot out of it in high school. I had not sufficiently understood how chord changes related to each other for far too long, so I jumped at any chance to play the blues progression.

There's a weird thing that happens at the end of I Waited for You. At the end of the nine minute track the band launches into another tune for 15 to 20 seconds until it fades out. It's a weird choice.

Various Artists
32 Jazz Sampler

This is the kind of thing that I could only get from working at the store. I don't think it's the first of its kind I've done, because that seems familiar. I don't even think that this is the first one from 32 Jazz now that I think about it. Maybe not, my posts aren't as searchable as I'd like them to be...probably my fault.

This is a collection of 32 Jazz's hard bop/post bop artists, for the most part. This was a sampler of upcoming re-issues. Sometimes this meant that I was about to get six new awesome re-issues, sometimes it meant that this was all I was going to get. Since the Albatross is completely unorganized I have no idea which one is the case here. I don't know that I've seen these albums at any point, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

The second track on this album is one of those Real Book charts I never really got the hang of, Freedom Jazz Dance performed here by Eddie Harris. Turns out I wasn't that far off, it's just that kind of melody, I just never listened to it with a rhythm section. Or maybe I did and never made the connection.

You know, one of the things I'm discovering about myself through all of this is that I am a way bigger fan of hard bop that I thought I was. I liked it when I was learning jazz because it was funky, not as hard to play as bop and not, in my teenage estimation, as corny as swing. But my impression of it was that it wasn't always as funky as I thought it was, but that really seems false. Or I've grown into it, or something. Because of the 'straight jazz' CDs that have gone in, I've really enjoyed the hard bop ones most consistently. Rather than trying to use my own words to define hard bop, since it only seems appropriate at this point, I'm going to link to a definition.

It might be that any song named Feels So Good is going to be pretty cool. Mose Allison gives a groovy, laid back, very different Feels So Good than Chuck Mangione.

It was only a matter of time before Satin Doll came up. I had invoked it as the 'generic standard' enough times that here it is. It's being done by Raashand Roland Kirk, who sounds like he has a few saxophones in his mouth. I'm being literal here, Kirk would occasionally play multiple saxophones at the same time.

This is also a much different Angel Eyes than I am used to. A little groovier. This one is performed by Hank Crawford, not the high school big band favorite of any band that had a really good lead alto. I should explain that, but that's really it--there is a ballad called Angel Eyes that about three or four jazz bands would do at every competition that's lead by the first alto. I was expecting that song, but it was apparently a different Angel Eyes.

I really hope these albums pop up in the collection. I only managed to find MP3 downloads of two of the albums on Amazon, but they're both good.

Miles Davis
Blue Miles

I'm pretty sure I have this twice, but the other one may not have survived. This is a themed compilation of Miles Davis recordings that, at least according to the CD, try to establish him as the "King of the Blue Hours between midnight and dawn." Apparently to refute him being the prince of darkness, which I've never heard him called, though he did record a song called that. Not sure that really counts.

This is the Round Midnight I'm most familiar with, the version from the movie of the same name the second most. This is probably the version of Round Midnight that everyone is most familiar with, even if they don't know they know it.

Miles Davis was really, really good at ballads. I mean, he was really good at trumpet in general, but he really smoked ballads. He's famous for saying, "You know why I quit playing ballads? Cause I love playing ballads." I guess there's a couple ways to take that, I don't know what he said after or before that.  Certainly Miles wasn't one to wallow in a comfort zone to be sure.

I usually don't like compilations, I prefer to hear the whole album. I want that artist's 'moment', so to speak, their complete thought. I would hear people complaining about having to buy a whole album for one song and I would think, "Man, listen to better music." But I guess there is an argument to be had for, "I just want to sit back and relax to some mellow, smokey Miles Davis music."

Or, I guess, if I was trying to seduce a classy lady in a cliched movie in the roll of pretentious douchebag. I do feel like I should be sipping wine instead of water for this. Though now any water I consume makes me a little nervous if the computer is anywhere near it...

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