Saturday, September 30, 2017

Drum the Jewels: Buddy Rich 100

Saturday and September's finale bring a 100th birthday salute to the man more than a few humans believe to be the single greatest drummer ever to live.
It's really very rare to be able to say something like that; it almost always crosses into hyperbole. The greatest drummer? You could get a different answer on that question from 100 different people... the drums are such a ubiquitous instrument, after all, and so many have played them so well and so memorably.
Yeah, that's nice. Everyone has a favorite skinsman, nothing unusual about taste. One thing though: anyone's favorite drummer they could name might well name today's centurion as theirs. He's as influential a player on any instrument as any person in the history of music.
Gosh I am happy with bold statements this morning, aren't I? The history of music? Any instrument??? Wow... there must be Goof Juice in my chocolate milk, eh? But hang on.
The truth is he's long dead for thirty years now, but even deceased he could find fifty kids in the park that could play better than you... and that's without a rhythm section! I believe the words are "Get outta my fuckin' bus!" He'll take you as far as Detroit, and you got it. And a right to your brain, if you want it.
Nope, today's birthday boy did not mess around, nor did he suffer the fools of life gladly. There was probably never a more irascibly committed bandleader in the annals of 20th century lore. He heard every mistake, and would dress you down for clams you didn't even play. We know this because there are recordings of his animated displeasure, from various and sundry tour buses of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Those bus tapes -- surreptitiously made by his band members -- of him viciously deriding them for onstage miscues are probably the most legendary -- and legendarily hilarious -- items traded and laughed about amongst musicians, even to this day. This is not someone on whose bad side you wanted to tread, trust me... in addition to his batterie skills, he was also a Black Belt in Karate.
He began playing spoons at age one, and his parents (entertainers in their own right) thankfully got him onto the drums as a small child. By age 11 he was leading a big band. By age 20 in 1937, when his career really took off, he was already among the most in-demand players of all time.
Over his roughly 50 years as a professional musician, he helped codify the entire modern vocabulary of his instrument, and is responsible for technical innovations drummers will employ forever. His ultra-high-energy approach is not just the inspiration for a million human drummers... he is also the basis of Animal from The Muppet Show.
His life would make a crazy movie or documentary or twelve. Let's just say there's never gonna be another drummer -- or person, for that matter -- quite like Buddy Rich.
It's almost impossible to believe he is 100 years old today, or that he has indeed been gone from us for three decades already. It's pretty obvious his influence will go on for a whole lot of centuries.
To honor the special centenary day of this beloved beatsmith, I've got a couple of rare Buddy Movies for you this morning. One was taped for Norwegian TV in 1970 and the other for Danish TV in the mid-1980s, towards the end of Buddy's run. Both were captured as HD webstream rebroadcasts and feature the Maestro driving a large ensemble to feverishly swinging heights of expression, as was his norm.
1.
Buddy Rich Orchestra
Newport Jazz Festival '70
Njårdhallen
Oslo, Norway
10.21.1970

01 Norwegian Wood
02 Basically Blues
03 Preach and Teach

Total time: 18:58

Richie Cole, Jimmy Mosher - alto saxophone & flute 
Pat LaBarbera, Don Englert - tenor saxophone & flute 
Joe Calo - baritone saxophone
Joe Giorgianni, John Madrid, John DeFlon, Ernie Jones, Danny Hayes - trumpet & flugelhorn
Rick Stepton, Jim Trimble, Tony Lada - trombone
Dave MacRae - organ 
Rick Laird - bass
Buddy Rich - drums 

FLV file of a digital broadcast from the NRK-TV site

2.
Buddy Rich Big Band
Copenhagen Jazz Festival 
Plænen Tivoli 
Copenhagen, DK
8.7.1986

01 Drum Intro
02 Basically Blues
03 Love for Sale
04 ‘Round Midnight
05 Winding Way
06 In a Mellow Tone
07 Groovin' Hard
08 Bugle Call Rag

Total time: 40:54

Paul Phillips, Eric Miyashiro, Michael Lewis, Joe Kaminsky - trumpet & flugelhorn
Scott Bliege, James Martin, Michael Davis - trombone 
Mark Pinto, Bob Bowlby - alto saxophone & flute 
Brian Sjoerdinga - tenor saxophone & flute
Steve Marcus - tenor & soprano saxophones
Jay Craig - baritone saxophone 
Bill Cunliffe - piano
Dave Carpenter - electric bass
Buddy Rich - drums

FLV file of a digital web rebroadcast from Denmark
both shows zipped together
748 MB FLV here
Watchers will watch out for keyboards heavyweight Dave MacCrae -- later of several Jazz-Rock bands like Matching Mole and Soft Machine -- and soon-to-be Mahavishnu bassist Rick Laird in the 1970 set, and super sax whiz Steve Marcus from Fusion heroes Count's Rock Band in the 1986 one.
That'll do it for September for me... stay tuned for a wild October as we celebrate the fourth -- yes, it's been four years already! -- anniversary of this page. There'll be a 100th birthday tribute -- the second in ten days -- as well as some really strange treats coming out of the cloud like a surreal autumn rain. 
But for now I'd suggest you check into these old TV shows and recall precisely how much dominion over modern drumming the astonishing Buddy Rich -- born this day in 1917! -- still enjoys over the percussionists of the present. See? He tries to talk to you like a human being, but you talk back all the time!!!--J.
9.30.1917 - 4.2.1987

Monday, September 25, 2017

Dex Education

Greetings and I hope your weekending was superb. Monday brings an anniversary show 40 years in the aging, featuring one of the deities of the music of our epoch here.
There isn't much to say about this performance, recorded in Paris 40 years ago tonight, other than it's one of the acknowledged all-time greats accompanied by an absolutely top-drawer supporting cast.
You say the name Dexter Gordon and you think of elegance, tone, swing for decades, and longevity. Surely one of the greatest and most powerful tenor saxophonists ever to bend a reed. Untouchable.
So if I fail to explain who he is in my usual verbose manner, you'll understand. If I have to explain who the titans of American music are, we should just kill ourselves and get it over with because we're culturally as illiterate as we often seem.
As for this date, it finds the man in the company of some heavyweight bandmates, especially with drum avatar Kenny Clarke on the scene. Thankfully France Musique rebroadcasts sets like this one fairly frequently, because you'll hear this music on American radio at approximately the same time as the current POTUS exhibits prescience and humility. Which is to say, don't hold your breath.
Anyway for today I feel it's best to just cut the chatter and spin the platter, so let's get to posting this delicious 53 minutes of Our Man In Paris, blowing gold on tenor and even a taste of soprano, somewhat unusual for him but something he broke out frequently during this mid-1970s era.
Dexter Gordon Quartet
Espace Cardin
Paris, France
9.25.1977

01 Sticky Wicket
02 A la Modal
03 Body and Soul
04 Antebus
05 Oleo

Total time: 52:57

Dexter Gordon - tenor & soprano saxophones
Al Haig - piano
Pierre Michelot - bass
Kenny Clarke - drums

digital capture of a January 2017 France Musique rebroadcast
254 MB FLAC here
I shall return on Saturday with a very special birthday bash a whole century in the making, but for this week I need you to paste your ears to Dex and his compatriots and let them fill your Monday with Jazz until your cup runneth over. Deal? Enjoy!--J.
2.27.1923 - 4.25.1990

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Voice Recognition: Normalized Volume

I return once again on a day full of luminary birth-a-versaries with one you might not have heard of, but who's been operating at the very toppermost level of musicking for the last half century.
Today is the 76th birthday of one of my all-time favorite vocalists. I would have tributed her 75th last year, but that was John Coltrane's 90th, so I gave him the nod. All you Bruce Springsteen underbosses will have to wait until two years from today when he turns 70, if I somehow live that long. I apologize in advance.
As for today's honoree, there really isn't any way to describe her style, or really the multitude of styles she has featured over a five-decade career at the forefront of British Jazz. Her career divides roughly into two phases, with the first half seeing her make just one solo record, but as an honored guest on ten million essential records by a million UK Jazz titans.
The second half -- since the 1990s or so -- has had her release a passel of incredible albums under her own name, whilst still finding time to drop in on the sessions of others. Under either circumstance, this is someone who can sing but a single syllable and there can be no doubt who it is.
She is renowned for two things above all: the swooping, wordless improvisatory style she brings to bands like Azimuth (one of the very most awesome ECM groups), where she often duets note for note with brass and reed instruments, and the songstress side of her personality, where she pens incredibly unique lyrics of her own and sings them with her band.
Sometimes you even get both in one composition, but whatever she has done or is doing, you are getting 101% Norma Winstone, front and center. Whether she is scatting over a tight fusion groove or intoning a melancholic torch song as only she can, this is surely one of the greatest living singers still inhabiting our spiraling world.
I am trying to recall the first time I heard her right this minute... I can't pinpoint it exactly but it must have been in the early 1990s when I was getting into insanely tremendous UK Jazz stalwarts like Mike Gibbs and Michael Garrick, because she is all over their records beginning in the late 1960s.
Possessed of one of the purest, most bell-like tones ever vocalized, as well as diction that could only be described as worthy of a professional diplomatic translator in a national Embassy somewhere, this is absolutely one of the unsung heroes of the music of our age.
To honor this most elegant voice, I have placed cloudward another one of my crazy compilations. Why this has never been attempted beyond a single-CD, unofficial mix from years ago that I have never even seen I cannot say, but over the last years I have constructed a 3CD compendium spanning her long career that I finally finished in April and of which I am perhaps prouder than any other mix I've done.
This features tracks from all phases of her journey, with two discs of band performances sandwiching a disc of her lush, piano-based ballad material. I'd put this up against any representation of her music and if I had to pick just one comp I've done to be officially put out there, it might be this one.
Norma Winstone
How It Was Then
(1969-2014)

CD1
01 Quiet Departures (excerpt) (with Eberhard Weber)
02 How It Was Then (with Azimuth)
03 Perkins Landing
04 Autumn King (with Mike Westbrook)
05 Fellow Feeling (with Michael Garrick)
06 Jaipur (with Joe Harriott & Amancio D'Silva)
07 Magic Garden (with Mike Westbrook)
08 Summer Sounds, Summer Sights (with Mike Taylor Remembered) (mono mix)
09 After Long Silence (with Neil Ardley)
10 Song for Someone (with Kenny Wheeler)
11 Fool Talk (with Will Power)
12 The Heart Is a Lotus (with Michael Garrick)
13 Timewind (with Mike Taylor Remembered)
14 Mother Lou (with Jazztrack) (live excerpt)
15 Breughel (with Kenny Wheeler Vocal Project)

CD2
01 En Mort d'en Joan de Cucanh
02 Cradle Song (Hoy Nazan)
03 A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing
04 Live to Tell
05 Just Sometimes
06 Azimuth (excerpt) (with Azimuth)
07 Sea Lady
08 Drifter (with Glauco Venier & Klaus Gesing)
09 San Diego Serenade (with Glauco Venier & Klaus Gesing)
10 I See You (with Mike Taylor Remembered)
11 Song of Love
12 It Never Was You
13 Distance (with Glauco Venier & Klaus Gesing)
14 A Wish (with Fred Hersch)
15 Songs for a Child
16 The Longest Day (with Azimuth & Ralph Towner)
17 Harvest (with Fairplay)
18 Here Comes the Flood (with Rusconi & Fred Frith)

CD3
01 O (live) (with Azimuth)
02 Jumping Off the Sun (with Mike Taylor Remembered)
03 Metropolis III (with Mike Westbrook)
04 Home Stretch Blues (with Michael Garrick Band)
05 Bull-Dance (with Nucleus)
06 Sequence 73 (excerpt) (with Paul Rutherford)
07 Heyday (reprise) (with Will Power)
08 Lime Blossom (with Michael Garrick)
09 Towards Tranquillity (with Neil Ardley)
10 Blue Poppies (with Michael Garrick Band)
11 Ariadne (with Nucleus)
12 Enjoy this Day

Total time: 3:59:01

4-hour career overview, compiled and remastered by EN from the best available sources over the period of several years
1.22 GB FLAC here
Even if you don't know Norma Winstone from Norman Mailer, I'd advise taking the Saturday chance on this little aggregation.... you never know, you might learn something before it's done. Principally the lesson on offer -- unspooled across this four hours of unparalleled vocal power and control -- is that you've just discovered your new favorite singer, born this day in 1941!--J.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Detourn to Forever

It's Sunday and time for a vital tribute to a true pioneer and avatar of the music of our age.
Today's honoree passed this week at 79 from an undisclosed illness, but not before 50 years in sound construction and not before founding one of the epoch's most important and beloved bands.
Perhaps his most epic contribution to the sonic continuum is the fact that he was the very first person to begin to use records and recorded music and material to make new stuff. Back in 1968 when he started doing it, it didn't have a name.
Nowadays, we just call it sampling, and it's arguably the last major innovation we've seen in the arena. Zillions of people have used a stack of LPs and a couple of turntables to create new vistas in sound since... but this guy started it.
And then there's that band. Certainly one of the most influential ensembles ever to plug in an amplifier, there's just no quantifying what they mean to so many. Their music will still be fresh and challenging a thousand years and more from now. If you referred to them as the greatest German rock group of all time, you'd get precious little argument.
They may have been the first band of their kind to have their own studio... built for them by none other than that guy again. The idea that their first five or six records -- all indispensable to the power of essential -- were cobbled together from (mostly live-in-the-studio) two-track tape just drops my jaw right to the floor. That's right, the fuckers didn't even have multitrack facilities until around 1975!!!!
If you don't know by now, they were called The Can -- he named them after The Who, sort of -- and the man was named Holger Czukay. The experiments he and they undertook have done as much as anyone to subtly shape the last half century of recorded sound on this planet.
When he changed frequencies this past Tuesday, there were plentiful and instant tributes published in several musicianly places, detailing who he was and suggesting what tracks of his and of Can's are most representative of his output and his ideas.
Because I am 1) insane and 2) have little better to do, I took the list of songs from two of these online music mags and set about bringing their hypotheses into the real world, so to speak. I constructed a 3CD compendium of Czukay's best, utilizing all the tracks proffered by Pitchfork and most of those selected by The Stranger, plus a few of my own choices to round things out.
This little four-hour extravaganza -- as fine an introduction to the work of this compelling and extraordinary artist as may yet exist -- is titled Pitchfork Stranger Cutaway and can be found right here, as a reward for those brave enough to actually read my screed all the way through.
Additionally we have a Can concert from Halloween 1975, remastered meticulously by audiomaestro Tom Phillips from what sounds to me like a stage-miked capture made by the band themselves. This was recorded in Stuttgart and provides a marvelous snapshot of what this most seminal combo was like on the boards and in full flight in their mid-1970s heyday.
Can
Gustav Siegle Haus
Stuttgart, Germany
10.31.1975
(finkployd49-TomP V2 remaster)

01 Improvisation
02 Bel Air
03 Dizzy Dizzy
04 Pinch
05 Quantum Physics (on 'speed')
06 Improvisation

Total time: 1:19:30

Irmin Schmidt - keyboards
Michael Karoli - guitar & vocals
Holger Czukay - bass & electronics
Jaki Liebezeit - drums

unknown recording, possibly stage microphones or mixing desk, remastered by Tom Phillips from a finkployd49 tape
535 MB FLAC here
I'd advise grabbing both the mixtape and the concert, but I posted them separately to the cloud so's you'd have options. Either way, both should be taken as necessary tribute to the late Holger Czukay -- sampling forefather and a cultural alchemist for the ages -- as living proof of his indescribably central influence on the music of our lifetimes.--J.
3.24.1938 - 9.5.2017

Monday, September 04, 2017

Countdown to Eulogy

I never seen you looking so bad my funky one
You tell me that your super fine mind has come undone
Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more
Any major dude will tell you
Any major dude will tell you
Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine
The people on the street have all seen better times
Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more
Any major dude will tell you
Any major dude will tell you
I can tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do
You can try to run but you can't hide from what's inside of you
Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more
Any major dude will tell you
Any major dude will tell you
Steely Dan
Record Plant
Los Angeles, CA
3.20.1974

01 opening remarks
02 Bodhisattva
03 The Boston Rag
04 Do It Again
05 Any Major Dude
06 King of the World
07 Rikki Don't Lose That Number
08 tuning
09 Pretzel Logic
10 Your Gold Teeth II (Jam)
11 Reelin' In the Years
12 This All Too Mobile Home
13 closing remarks

Total time: 57:14

Donald Fagen - piano, synthesizer, vocals
Walter Becker - bass
Royce Jones - percussion, vocals
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - guitar, pedal steel guitar, percussion, vocals
Denny Dias - guitar
Michael McDonald - Fender Rhodes, vocals
Jim Hodder - drums, percussion, vocals
Jeff Porcaro - drums

pre-FM master reel, remastered by Remasters Workshop
350 MB FLAC here
Any major dude will tell you
2.20.1950 - 9.3.2017