Monday, July 5, 2010

Voodoo Drums & Ghostly Horns

Not exactly a Fourth of July theme, but then I am writing at 40 minutes into the new day.  After a wonderful day of cooking ribs and cleaning house, followed by eating ribs and drinking beer with friends, I am in the mood for something less wholesome and a lot less fattening.  

Here it surely is.  I've been listening to Birth and Rebirth, a duet album by drummer Max Roach and horn player and "philosopher" Anthony Braxton.  Wow, does Braxton have spooky eyes.  It is an odd meeting between the mainstream and the jet stream.  It is pretty dry, overall, but good in the way that a dry martini is good.  You can hear and appreciate everything these two jazz genies conjure up.  Here is a sample:
Max Roach and Anthony Braxton/Spirit Possession/Birth and Rebirth
If that is not enough to cut the fat in your bloodstream, try this one from one of my beloved Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy duets.  It's sad romance, but pairs the emotion down to something not much more complicated than a beating heart and a sigh.  
Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron/A Flower is a Lovesome Thing/Sempre Amore
Sempre Amore is one of those albums that nobody but me seems to listen to.  Well, suddenly I am in the mood for something a little richer, with the same mood.  So here is a cut from my latest Sonny Criss acquisition.  Would you ever have expected a brilliant jazz interpretation of this song?  Criss, whose flag I have long been flying, managed to wield all his hard bop magic without ever losing the original sad mood of the Beatles' hit.  God, but I love Sonny Criss. 
Sonny Criss/Eleanor Rigby/Rockin' in Rhythm
Well, that's all for tonight.  Pick up these recordings.  That's an order. 


  1. Listening to Anthony Braxton never fails to make me feel inadequate. The experience is much the same that I make with “avantgarde” creators of classical music, say, Bartok, Hindemith, Stockhausen. But it stretches the mind, and that’ s where I think your blog fulfills its mission. I love the Steve Lacy / Mal Waldron duet. So many layers of sound -- hard to believe it’s just the two of them playing. The album is on the high-priced side where I buy at, so I’ll have to wait. Sonny Criss’ Eleanor Rigby was a surprise, first because I wasn’t aware of Sonny Criss and second because it struck me as a convincing rendition of a tune that in the wrong hands could leave everyone embarrassed. I put two Criss albums on my shopping list (Portrait Of Sonny Chris and Sonny’s Dream) based on what the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD says about them.

  2. Andreas: Criss is marvelous. Sonny's Dream is by far his most accomplished recording. It is edgy and brilliant. I think my second favorite Criss recording is Saturday Morning. I am listening to the first cut as I write this. "Angel Eyes" is good enough to make your toes curl.

    I worship the Penguin Guide.