Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 42: David Murray "Deep River" and Jumpin' Jive

There is an ad campaign out for Sour Patch Kids where little animated Sour Patch candies do something messed up to someone and then follow it up with something nice with the tag line, "First they're sour, then they're sweet." I've had my issues with it, since the messed up things that they do are way more severe than being adorable can make up for, but that's not why I bring it up.

I bring it up because the Albatross has just pulled a Sour Patch Kids bit on me. Yesterday I entered a smooth jazz saxophone player who had a name deceptively similar to a free/progressive jazz player who I was a fan of. As a result I was kind of moody about the whole entry.

Well, after two empty nests--a celtic 20th Century composition album and another Real World entry, there was a fake out. Inside a Scatman Crothers CD (you may know him as the voice of "Jazz" the Autobot on the Transformers. Or, as a legendary jazz performer and prolific actor. Or as a Martini Rossi 935 Porsche race car that turns into a robot) and instead there was an actual David Murray (not a 'Mc' in sight) CD inside instead. Completely random pick, I swear.

David Murray
Deep River

Ah yeah, that's the stuff...Murray isn't the most 'agressive' of the progressive/free jazz players by a long shot. I haven't seen him by himself in concert (I have as a member of the World Saxophone Quartet), but I don't envision him leaning into his saxophone's mic and yelling like I've seen Pharaoh Sanders do (in one of the coolest shows I ever attended). There's a little more exploration that goes into his style than shear sound. The second and third tracks are longer, slower, modal pieces with sparse, drawn out solos, M'biza being done on a bass clarinet.

In any gathering of saxophone players my default favorite always goes bottom up. First the bari, then the tenor player, then the alto. If all you play is soprano and your name isn't Sidney Bechet, stop it. But my love for the World Saxophone Quartet is so convoluted that I honestly think that my favorite is which ever one of them I'm listening to at the moment. I arrive at this conclusion because I was about to declare him my favorite when I realized that I have the exact same reaction when listening to my Hammiet Blueitt recordings.

These Coltrane-style modal pieces have a tendency to hypnotize me. I might start off moving my head to them, but with the amount of poly-rhythm going on it usually slows and settles into a thousand yard stare. Not a 'thing I have on in the background,' even if it is, I'll slowly stop what I'm doing and commence 'contemplating my navel' as some soccer coaches have referred to it.

This is kind of the stealth progressive jazz, like if I catch it at the right moment I might lure someone who is resistant to more, lets say 'aggressive,' sounds. Murray works his way towards that. We're four or five minutes in before the madness starts gradually. It never ultimately works, though. Sooner or later someone goes, "You listen to this on purpose?" and I have to switch to something tamer.

This album contains Mr. P.C., which is my favorite piece of Coltrane's Giant Steps album. This also brings the total of songs called "Mr" something to ten. Oddly enough, jazz and surf music are tied for most represented.

Various Artists
Jumpin' Jive
Well, the Albatross can't be completely predictable even when it's making up for earlier cruelty. I've talked a few times about the new swing revival that happened for what felt like a couple of months in the nineties. In an attempt to cash in on this quickly flaring trend several labels pushed out these kinds of compilations. Some of them contained actual artists, sometimes there were super-bland recordings by studio bands. This falls into the former category at least, it's a sort of 'greatest hits' album...just not really a 'jump jive' greatest hits album, more of a general swing greatest hits.

It has such stalwart standards as Take the 'A' Train and In the Mood and Sing, Sing, Sing. It does have some actual jump jive on it, too, with Cab Calloway's Jumpin' Jive (makes you feel six foot when your four foot five) and Louis Jordan's Caldonia (what makes your big head so hard?) I think I've talked about this before, I'm so familiar with these songs that those lyrics jump in my head not because of the original artists but because of wearing out the recording I got from the Scottish jump jive group Fat Sam's Band I encountered at the Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Jubilee. I don't have that recording anymore (I don't think) and have since acquired the original recordings, but that was what made me familiar with it (and started my weird obsession with wearing pleated pants, but that's another story...)

I now have another version of Cherokee as well, this one by Charlie Bernet.

Alright, I don't know this one, 47th Street Jive. It's all the awesome elements of authentic jump jive, including a weird skit/exchange between the singer and the band leader thick with hipster (before the people that term applied to were insufferable) slang which carries into the lyrics which are usually a direct address to someone who either needs to lighten up or stop doin' you wrong (in this case stop talking because you're about to lie.)

And really what compilation capitalizing on the swing revival is complete without Sing, Sing, Sing, which closes out the album. But this is no slouch version of the song, it's Benny Goodman's nearly nine minute long version. Take that, swing dancers.

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