Saturday, September 26, 2015
One thing you have to understand about jazz is that it is like fine wine. It matters a lot what you are eating while you are drinking. A great bottle of wine is only great in the right light over the right meal.
I was reminded of this when I listened to Streams, by Alto Saxophonist Jarrett Gilgore and drummer Deric Dickens. The album is a tribute to alto sax man Jimmy Lyons. Lyons is best known for his work with Cecil Taylor, but this album is mostly influenced by his duets with Andrew Cyrille. I have a lot of this work in my collection, so I would have been interested anyway.
But it just so happened that I put in on just after I watched a short film entitled “Japanese Sandman”. This thirty minute piece was a dramatization of a letter written by William S. Burroughs to Allen Ginsburg. Burroughs was a gay junky. Almost all of his writing and biography turn on those two descriptors. Along with Ginsburg, he was one of the major Beat generation writers. His chaotic novel Naked Lunch is his best known work.
The film takes a letter written in Mexico and presents it as a short story. It is wonderful. Burroughs’ letters are masterpieces on their own. He puts you right into the junk powered and junk sick world of a globetrotting homosexual addict, trying to cure the one thing and the other, or not. All the while the Beat culture is oozing out.
With that in mind, I listen to Streams. It is an avant garde gem and, accidently it would seem, provided a soundtrack for my mood after I watched the film. The dialogue between Gilgore’s sour sax and Dickens’ pleading percussion is so bloody spot on that one would expect to hear it bleating out if you Googled existential angst.
This is modern music with the M writ large. Only modern in this case came into focus on city streets just after the troops came home from Europe. The center of the music is the sax/drums dialogue, but we also get Jamie Branch and on bass Brian Brunsman and Ross Gallagher. These guys are drilling down to the mother lode.
Don’t miss this one. You might want to watch “Japanese Sandman” just before you put the ear buds in.
I am playing cuts from this album and some Jimmy Lyons on my Live365 station.