Wednesday, June 10, 2020

SME-Conference: John Stevens 80

Let's get this up in honor of one of my influences as a drummer, who'd have been 80 years old today.
When I was about 19 years old, I read a book on improvisation in music and started to get into Free Music.
One of the records that moved me the most -- and still does -- was called Karyōbin, by a group called the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. It's one of my 20 favorite records ever, really.
I got way into this kind of music for a while, as I was learning about improvisation and discovering that my strengths as a player, if I have any, lay in this area.
Later on in life I got hip to the songwriter John Martyn, and his record Live At Leeds, and was astonished to discover that today's birthday guy was the drummer on that tour. This also became one of my favorite albums of all time.
The common denominator was born this day in 1940 and died in 1994. 
His name was John Stevens, and he was as legendary a figure in non-idiomatic free improvisation -- where it's not intended to adhere to the standard premeditated structures and sounds and devices we are all used to -- as any you could name.
We will celebrate the occasion with a half hour of pristine SME footage, thought lost for decades and only ever broadcast once, on the NRK-TV webchannel.
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
NRK Studios
Oslo, Norway

01 introduction & explanation by John Stevens
02 1-2 Albert Ayler
03 Norway 
04 Tickets Please

Total time: 29:43

John Stevens - drums
Trevor Watts - soprano saxophone
Julie Tippetts - vocals & guitar
Ron Herman - bass

HD FLV file, digitally captured from the NRK website, of a never-broadcast performance from Norwegian TV
514 MB FLV here
Look out in this show for the extraordinary vocalist Julie Tippetts, who is in many ways the star of the thing.
I'll be back in a few days and I apologize for being lazy about this page. But do check into this NRK SME extravaganza, and remember the completely unique musician that was John Stevens.--J.
6.10.1940 - 9.13.1994

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Original Synesthetic: Anthony Braxton 75

We'll inaugurate June with the platinum milestone for possibly the most out-there musician and composer of our lifetimes.
His music is quite literally like no other's, ever, and the way he writes it down is like something out of the future.
Active since 1969 on recordings, he's a multi-instrumentalist, a composer of dozens of works, a teacher, a college professor, and a figure almost like no other in modern music I can think of.
The way he notates his stuff, in his own, multi-dimensional graphed language, is a living vision of synestheticism and the visualization of sounds.
I feel lucky to have seen him play in person more than once.
Has there ever been, is there, or will there ever be a Maestro as uniquely expressive and challenging as Anthony Braxton?
To celebrate his 75th today, we'll slot in this fantastically otherwordly 48 minutes of unbridled Free-Jazz-meets-20th-Century-Classical-Music-at-the-home-of-Louis-Armstrong mayhem, taped in 1979 in Germany and featuring a trio he never recorded, premiering one of his most seminal pieces.
Anthony Braxton Trio 
Berlin, Germany

01 Composition #94

Total time: 47:59

Anthony Braxton - alto, tenor & sopranino saxophones, clarinet
Ray Anderson - trombone
Richard Teitelbaum - synthesizer

spectral analysis goes to 20k in places, indicating a pre-FM source of indeterminate origin
212 MB FLAC here
I gotta go sort out what's gonna happen in June here, but if society doesn't completely collapse before I can post it all, you bet it will be worth hearing.
Today, though, let's give acknowledgement to one of the most creative and unusual musos of our lifetimes, and get you into these Brax attacks to commemorate his big birthday today.--J.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

I Ride In Your Webstream

OK, this is one of those where I had no idea when I woke up I was gonna post anything, but it was so good and there are so many rare songs I couldn't resist.
It's also really appealing, as this is the first time I've ever posted something on the same day it was made.
Richard Thompson's been doing these almost weekly, and I might go back through them and pick out the best performances and the least-performed tunes and pluck the audio. 
We'll see if I can get to that after the 10,000,000 other things I have lined up for here.
I dunno I've ever heard him play Doctor of Physick solo before, so it's worth the (free) price of admission just to hear him get into the creepiest, dirtiest Full House-era Fairport song.
His pal Zara Phillips joins him for the last five songs, adding harmonies and such.
He was saying between songs that for this series of home concerts, they're free but if you want to donate, a portion of the proceeds will go to a food bank in New Jersey. So click the link to do that, if you will. 
Richard Thompson
private home venue
Montclair, New Jersey

01 Sam Jones
02 The Poor Ditching Boy
03 Sunset Song 
04 Doctor of Physick
05 Devonside 
06 The End of the Rainbow
07 Old Thames Side
08 Hand of Kindness
09 Guns Are the Tongues
10 Razor Dance
11 Poppy-Red
12 She Twists the Knife Again

Total time: 1:08:24

Richard Thompson - guitar & vocals
Zara Phillips - vocals on Tracks 08-12

.TS file of digital capture of the Facebook Live webcast
540 MB .TS here
That's the May fare, what a month huh? Should society remain intact and functional enough for me to continue living and having a web connection, I will be back to -- in a nice way -- blow up June soon.--J.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

"In" Crowd Control: Ramsey Lewis 85

We'll begin to wrap up the May days with a birthday recognition for a stalwart player that's been around for what seems like forever.
He led his first session in the mid-1950s, so maybe not forever but a good, long time anyway.
One of the rare Jazzers to run some material up the Pop chart flagpole, he's had future superstars aplenty come through his group since way back.
Heck, Maurice White -- founder of Earth, Wind & Fire -- was once his drummer.
In addition to playing the music, he's hosted one of the great radio programs about the music since 1990, called Legends of Jazz.
He also art directs a major festival in his native Chicago.
He's one of the principal figures that has had lifelong success with one of the hardest aspects: getting a non-Jazz audience to enjoy Jazz.
Part piano deity, part educator, part broadcaster, part ambassador .... is there anything Ramsey Lewis -- turning 85 today and still going strong -- doesn't do well?
Let's time travel back to 2004 for an example of his ongoing artistry, shall we? I knew you'd say yes.
Ramsey Lewis Trio  
Onondaga County Community College
Syracuse, New York USA

01 Wade In the Water
02 O-o-h Child
03 Betcha By Golly Wow
04 Armando's Rhumba
05 Sun Goddess
06 Ray Charles medley incl. Amazing Grace, Georgia On My Mind & Motherless Child
07 Pass Me Not/Blues improvisation incl. Heartbreak Hotel & Flip, Flop & Fly
08 The "In" Crowd 

Total time: 1:06:10

Ramsey Lewis - piano
Leon Joyce, Jr. - drums & percussion
Larry Gray - bass

master DAT from the soundboard
slightly edited, gaps fixed & volume issues corrected by EN, May 2020
267 MB FLAC here
I refurbished this one some, especially around smoothing it out volume-wise and fixing the lonnnnnng fade up at the beginning to play consistently in a reasonably audible fashion.
I'm gonna try to finish up this ridiculous Kraftwerk playlist and get it up by the end of the month, but no promises because it's a motherfucker and I want to tribute Florian Schneider in the most awesome way possible.
But today is all about Ramsey Lewis -- born this day in 1935 and still playing with the vigor of someone a half century his junior -- and you clicking that link and getting to wade in the waters of what he's been laying down for 65 years in music and counting.--J.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"Kind of Blue" Period

I was gonna do something else today and do this one on the weekend, but it occurs to me that today is the appropriate day so here we go.
Obviously today would have been the 94th birthday of one Miles Dewey Davis III. 
But the other day we lost the last remaining player from Miles' 1959 Kind of Blue project -- pretty much considered the #1 Jazz LP in history -- and one of the bedrock drummers of the music in general. 
That famous story where Miles tells John Coltrane that if he needs a trick to finish off a solo, he might try taking the horn out of his mouth? Today's honoree -- who passed the other day at the tremendous age of 91 -- is where that story comes from. Because he was there.
He was there, all right. His steady, quarter-note pulse style animates a zillion more ultra-necessary albums too, giving him that most rare quality in percussionists: the ability to make you know who is playing four bars into the song without being told.
If you just say his name, what comes to mind is impeccable time and the supple backbone that brings the music to a whole other level of subtlety and fluidity.
You know that no instrumentalist in a band can fashion a solo worth the tape it's recorded on without that drive and accentual flow from the rhythm sectioneers.
But back to the granddaddy of them all and Kind of Blue.
Clearly everything that can have been said about such a seminal, universally revered platter has been said, so I won't try.
Other than to say that every second of bliss contained in its grooves would never have made it to wax in that form, were it not for the pure artistry of Jimmy Cobb.
What better way to honor his passing than on Miles' birthday, with this 66 minute rendition -- in the company of some truly heavyweight players -- of the entire record, taped at a festival in Switzerland 11 years ago?
Jimmy Cobb's So What Band
"Kind of Blue"
Jazznojazz Festival
Theaterhaus Gessnerallee
Zürich, Switzerland

01 So What
02 Freddie Freeloader
03 Blue In Green
04 All Blues
05 Flamenco Sketches

Total time: 1:06:33

Wallace Roney - trumpet
Vincent Herring - alto saxophone
Javon Jackson - tenor saxophone
Larry Willis - piano
Buster Williams - bass
Jimmy Cobb - drums

digital capture of a European digital FM broadcast
414 MB FLAC here
Imma be right back in 24 with another luminous Maestro who is, thankfully, still breathing.
But don't you dare miss out on this exquisite concert, as we commemorate the life and legacy of Jimmy Cobb -- indisputably one of our age's greatest drummers -- and his contribution to one of the greatest albums that shall ever be.--J.
1.20.1929 - 5.24.2020