Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 53: Simon Rattle British Composers: Mark-Anthony Turnage and Freddie Hubbard & Jimmy Heath "Jam Gems Live at the Left Bank"

I've been going Godzilla on my CDs as of late. More than a few have found themselves under foot as I let the Albatross get the best of me and haven't really made any effort to organize the CDs as I go through them one by one. This is of course stupid as hell. I have managed to fish out some of the more scattered CDs and at least start making recognizable stacks. Which means that there is more left for the bag I was working on than I initially thought, almost two more weeks to go.

So I better get to it.

Mark-Anthony Turnage conducted by Simon Rattle
British Composers
Turnage: Drowned Out/Kai/Three Screaming Popes/Momentum
I haven't come any closer to figuring out a way to classify classical CDs in a system designed for pop music.

I was actually kind of dreading putting this CD in because while I like classical music, I haven't had to write about classical music since college, and even in college I wasn't really that great at it.

But I hadn't realized it was a 20th Century composer, which was what I took upon myself as a my mission as classical buyer to promote 20th Century composers. I even made special cards to indicate 20th Century composers, as if that was an incentive instead of a disincentive for the average person browsing the classical section of a suburban record store.

I've talked before about how, let's say 'out of hand' 20th Century music can be. That's not so much the case with this. So far it's pretty accessible.

According to the liner notes the first piece, Drowning Out, is inspired by a William Golding novel, Pincher Martin, about a drowning man. I haven't read or even heard of that book, but apparently that doesn't really matter. Turnage doesn't really commit to that whole 'impressionistic' composition style where the music is supposed to evoke certain imagery or the like.

I really like the cello. Like, in a kind of disturbing way. I bring this up because the second piece is a cello piece written as a tribute to a friend of the composer and cellist for Ensemble Modern who had died.

Turnage manages to dodge one of my main frustrations with iTunes by having his compositions play all the way though instead of in separate movements. iTunes doesn't let you imbed play lists so that when you put things on shuffle you don't get composition movements out of sequence or separated. Pretty frustrating when you have tracks that are supposed to go together in your library.

As much as I'm digging the cello piece (which really is pretty good, has a bit of darkness to it, almost a kind of updated film noir soundtrack feel), I'm looking forward to Three Screaming Popes...because, well, how can you not?

Pretty cool, and fairly tame for 20th Century music, but that's not really a bad thing.

Freddie Hubbard & Jimmy Heath
Jam Gems: Live at the Left Bank

Freddie Hubbard is one of the people I've seen live, but it wasn't as an amazing a musical experience as say, Pharoah Sanders or Sonny Rollins. Instead it was a kind of old school spectacle. Hubbard was, the best of my estimation, completely plastered. What was even better was that he was fascinated with some lady in the back of Kimball's East. So really we got a front row seat to that most of the night. The performance was good, too, but really what I remember was the disjointed back and forth with a lady I couldn't make out (and I was closer to her than he was, so who knows what he was responding to...). It was kind of awesome. I mean, I'm way too young to have had the opportunity to be in a club where Parker might wander out of a bathroom just in time to take his solo after shooting up or Mingus slamming his bass and shattering it (I don't remember who that story goes to, to be honest). Jazz men to me are old men, dignified or mellowed with their age, or the ones that were professional enough to have survived long enough for me to see them. But Freddie Hubbard took one for the team to give me that old school jazz club experience.

Joel Dorn (who also wrote the description of Buddy Rich I quoted) also describes the old school jazz club experience in his liner notes, but that's of the more performance oriented variety. That legendary players would arrive at these clubs and play to enthusiastic audiences and the artists would feed off that.

I can't 'agree' as such because I haven't been to the old jazz clubs at that time, but I do know that the crowds now are more subdued. Fancy men taking fancy women on fancy dates to appear classy, upper middle class folk with the money to go to these things, and a smattering of music students, studying the playing. And I think that we were all judging each other for being there. No one was there 'legitimately' except the person making the observation. I imagine the same thing happens at punk rock shows.

This is from Label M, which packaged their CDs in the same cases used by 32Jazz. They also gave me a t-shirt. There's no insight there, I'd just been sitting here listening to blazing tenor solos and hadn't typed anything in a bit. This is pre-Professor days for Jimmy Heath and yet still awesome.

This isn't the cleanest live recording, but not the worst that's even gone onto the hard drive, and it does give a good feel of the crowd and their reaction to the pretty energetic performance.

I kind of hate Autumn Leaves. For some reason when I played in academic combos the instructor would often give the group Autumn Leaves. Maybe it's the easy changes or easy head, don't know. But it wasn't a particularly interesting piece to play and I played it way too often.

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