Saturday, November 24, 2012


Anyone who has consulted my political blog will guess that I did not vote for Barack Obama either this time or last.  While I have been a frequent critic of the President, I also recognize the extraordinary historical importance of his election and reelection.  In his honor, I am playing 'Meditations on Integration (or for a pair of wire-cutters)' from The Great Concert of Charlie Mingus.  No, we are not a color-blind society yet and perhaps such a thing is not to be expected.  But Mr. Obama's success proves at least that the wires have been cut. 

Every time I return to the music of Mingus, I am astounded anew.  As a band leader, composer, and bass player, Mingus was equally brilliant.  This 1964 Paris concert is a fine sample of his genius.  
This composition has a classical grandeur that much of jazz aspires to.  I can't get enough of Eric Dolphy.  Everyone on the piece is in very fine form.  Enjoy.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tord Gustavsen

I said in a recent comment that I didn't have any Tord Gustavsen in my library.  Shows you what I know.  I did have a TG Trio album: Changing Places (2003).  Tord Gustavsen: piano; Harald Johnsen: bass; Jarle Vespestad: drum.  

It's a fine example of the Nordic flavor in jazz: slow and deeply introspective.  I am playing 'Where Breathing Starts', an evocative title if ever there was one.  I especially like how the three layers of sound slide over one another for each solo.  The texture of the percussion seems woven of soft straw, allowing the bass to bounce on it and the piano to weave its sparkle through both.  This is one worth having for anyone fond of piano trios.  Hat tip to John for sending me looking. 

The Lush Tenor of Ricky Ford

If you are in a mood for that lush sax, have I got an album for you.  Manhattan Blues was recorded in 1989 and features the wonderful Jaki Byard on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, and Ben Riley on drums. Trust me on this one: this is one big heart on display.  Every note is fat and has the texture of crushed velvet.  Of course, Ricky Ford won't mean a thing if you ain't got that sing.  If you got it, give this one a listen.

I am playing 'Ode to Crispus Attucks', and 'My Little Strayhorn'. 

ps.  I have added 'The Short Life of Barbara Monk', from Ran Blake's album of the same title.  Ford plays wonderfully on this essential album.  It ought to get a lot more attention.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I am not quite sure why I bother with this blog.  Although my stats show plenty of readers, no one ever bothers to comment.  As a result, I don't bother much with it.  The thing is, I love jazz so much I just can't help talking about it from time to time.  I like a lot of musical genres, especially rock and roll, Celtic traditional, and Reggae.  Nothing, however, seems to dig deeper into my soul than jazz. 

Earlier this year I listened to Brad Mehldau and Joshuah Redman perform 'Hey Joe', a duet interpretation of Jimi Hendrix's great blues composition.  I still get shivers when I remember it.  I just downloaded Mehldau's new album Where Do You Start.   I am playing 'Hey Joe' from that album on my station.  It can't match what I heard, but it gives you a pretty good feel for it.  I am also playing 'Holland', an exquisitely pensive meditation.  I urge you to get this album.  Tell 'em I sent ya.

Meanwhile, Brad, post me a comment.  I have been pushing your music for a long time.  Push back.  And if your are reading, leave me a note.  It's lonely here.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jemeel Moondoc & William Parker

I finally bought New World Pygmies Vol. 2, with Moondoc on sax, Parker on bass, and Hamid Drake on drums.  New World Pygmies (1999) is a brilliant piece of avant garde precision with no prisoners taken.  The duo format leaves nothing unexposed.  

The two disc Vol. 2 (2001) is less uncompromising for two reasons.  One is that they add a drummer.  The existential distance between duo and trio is profound in avant garde and pretty much in all jazz.  Hamid Drake is fine choice for third.  Second, the album includes several lyrical compositions by Parker and Moondoc.  I consider Parker to be one of the most important composers in modern jazz.  'O'Neal's Porch' is the title cut from a Parker album.  'Three Clay Pots' is from Parker's superb avant garde document, The Peach Orchard

I am playing 'O'Neal's Porch' and a Moondoc composition 'Spirit House' from New World Pygmies Vol. 2 and 'Theme for Pelikan' from New World Pygmies.  I also loaded 'Judy's Bounce' from a Moondoc album of the same title.  Fred Hopkins plays bass and Ed Blackwell drums.