Saturday, September 17, 2011

Do Girls do Avant Garde?

If that question is really a question, it has been decisively answered by Matana Roberts.  Roberts is a sax player based in New York.  She is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which sounds like a good thing to be a member of.  I have been listening to her recording The Chicago Project all day, over and over.  It is astoundingly good.  

The album weaves all the elements of traditional jazz into its tapestry but the larger image is unexpected and very gratifying.  The music is challenging enough, without ever losing the song.  I love this album!  Here is some information for you.  
The Chicago Project is Matana's homage to her home town and features compositions and conceptual material composed by Matana and interpreted by close friends and supporters of her Chicago development in the form of bassist Josh Abrams (of Town and Country, Prefuse 73 and more), guitarist Jeff Parker (of Tortoise, Chicago  Underground Trio and more) and drummer Frank Rosaly. The album was produced and engineered respectively by pianist Vijay Iyer and Tortoise’s John McEntire, and features a very special guest saxophonist in the form of Fred Anderson, who is one of the founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
I've posted a couple of cuts on my Live365 station.  It is available on eMusic.  Get the darn thing. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The genius of Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor's Jazz Advance is an essential item in any jazz library.  It is, all on its own, a brilliant piece of work.  In context, it is astonishing.  Recorded in 1956, it makes Miles Davis first great quintet look retrograde by comparison, and Miles was covering ground fast.  Taylor saw far ahead of his time.  

Last night I was listening to Taylor's Conquistador!, recorded a decade later.  Like most of Taylor's recordings, it is pure Avant Garde.  The room was lit by a single lamp and I was tired.  I dropped what I was reading and just listened.  It worked.  I was captivated by every note, though I could not have predicted the next note.  I suppose that was the point.  

Taylor recorded a lot of music, and I have enjoyed only a small portion.  I haven't heard anything that measures up to Jazz Advance, but I have heard a lot that is worth living with.  I have some recommendations.  
  1. Jazz Advance (1956)
  2. Looking Ahead (1958)
  3. The World of Cecil Taylor (1960)
  4. Air (1961)
  5. Jumpin' Punkins (1961)
  6. New York City R&B (1961)
  7. Cell Walk for Celeste (1961)
That gives you the early Taylor.  Most of it is available from eMusic.  I will follow up with some more detail and some later Taylor, well, later.