Monday, April 06, 2020

Patriarchitect

Another day, another recently-deceased master musician in the ground.
This guy is almost as revered for the children he made as he is for the pianos he played.
He did, however, participate in countless recording sessions, both as a leader and a sideguy.
As beloved a professor of music as the city of New Orleans may ever know, he taught at several schools in the city for decades, shaping even more countless lives and future musicians.
And of course, there's those kids.
All four of them have been everywhere for at least the last 35 years, from the Lincoln Center stage to the bandleader chair of late-night talk shows.
I could easily cover any and all of them on here, such is the prolific output for which they, as a family, have been responsible.
Their dad passed away at 85 last week, the latest victim of this dreadful virus.
So today we honor a true patriarch of Jazz, and bid farewell to the legendary Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
Ellis Marsalis Quartet
Internationales Jazzfestival
Marians Jazzroom
Bern, Switzerland
5.13.2014

01 Syndrome
02 EM announcement
03 crepuscule with nellie
04 evidence
05 EM announcement
06 dolphin dance
07 EM announcement
08 magnolia triangle
09 EM announcement
10 unidentified quartet title
11 Sweet Georgia Brown
12 unidentified solo piano title

Total time: 1:03:26

Ellis Marsalis - piano
Derek Douget - saxophones
Jason Stewart - bass
Jason Marsalis - drums

digital capture of a digital FM broadcast over SRF2 Radio
393 MB FLAC here
I will roll back by tomorrow with a big time milestone birthday for another patriarch, as the hits just keep right on coming.
Enjoy this quartet set -- our hero's youngest son is the drummer -- and thank Providence that as tough as things are these days. you picked a lifetime that overlapped with beautiful people like Ellis Marsalis, Jr.--J. 
11.14.1934 - 4.1.2020

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Just the Two of Us Festival

Round two of the recent In Memoriams is a tough one, but at least this was more natural causes and he didn't die of the damned virus.
This guy, though. Has America ever produced a finer, more beloved songwriter?
The most famous native of Slab Fork, WV didn't even begin doing music seriously until he was in his 30s.
Up to that time, he was making good money, installing toilets in commercial airliners. He always claimed he put cameras in them, but I think he was kidding. I hope he was kidding.
At the start of the 1970s, he met superstar record honcho Clarence Avant, and that set him on the path to the Hall of Fame.
Perhaps his rarest achievement is the universality of his material, which is so firmly rooted in the African-American experience, yet resonates so freely with all walks of life and living.
Eventually -- after a run of monster hits that lasted into the 1980s -- he transitioned out of the music business, which he claimed to find horrifying and anti-artist.
I can remember singing Lean On Me -- perhaps his most beloved composition -- in Glee Club in the 6th grade in 1978.
There'll probably never be another songwriter in our lifetimes that is gonna do it with the compassion, clarity and pure humanity that Bill Withers -- who passed last week from heart disease at 81 -- did.
To send him off in the style befitting an utmost legend, we'll direct your attention to this, an episode of the utterly seminal early-1970s PBS-TV program SOUL!, which finds our hero's group performing on the same show as (the also recently passed) McCoy Tyner's then-current quartet in a television time capsule you won't wanna miss.
Bill Withers
McCoy Tyner Quartet
Mae Jackson
SOUL!
WNET-TV Studios
New York City, NY USA
12.29.1971

01 Ellis Haizlip intro
02 McCoy Tyner Quartet - Sahara
03 Mae Jackson poems
04 Bill Withers - I'm Her Daddy
05 Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
06 Mae Jackson poems
07 Bill Withers interviewed by Ellis Haizlip
08 McCoy Tyner Quartet- Extensions
09 Mae Jackson poems
10 Bill Withers - Grandma's Hands
11 Bill Withers - Harlem/Cold Bologna

Total time: 58:51

Bill Withers band:
Bill Withers - guitar & vocals
Melvin Dunlap - bass
Bernorce Blackman - guitar
James Gadson - drums
Mike Stokes - keyboards

McCoy Tyner Quartet:
McCoy Tyner - piano
Sonny Fortune - saxophones
Alphonse Mouzon - drums
Calvin Hill - bass

NTSC DVD of what looks like a master VHS of the original WNET pre-broadcast tape
2.22 GB NTSC DVD here
Someday, the entire five, ecstasy-inducing seasons of SOUL! will be reissued in full, but there's no need to hold your breath.
Until then, at least we have this VHS tape of the pre-broadcast U-Matic.
I shall return again tomorrow with yet more homages of interment to the fallen, and I have so many things lined up this week I might post every day!
One thing at a time, though... and the thing today is to celebrate the life and legacy of Bill Withers, who used up all his available energy and left this lonely street in a lonely town this week after giving us a lifetime's worth of impeccable songsmithing service.--J.
7.4.1938 - 3.30.2020

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Rites of Roney

We're gonna deal with three huge passings in the musical firmament that all happened in the last week.
First up -- or down, depending how you look at it -- is a terrible loss for the world of Jazz.
He first came on the scene in the mid-'80s, first as part of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and then in Tony Williams' group.
In the early part of that decade, he had participated in a Miles Davis tribute at NYC's Bottom Line club, where he met Miles.
The elder took the younger under his wing -- even supplying him with one of the Maestro's personal horns -- and from then on our hero essentially exploded.
When the big tribute concert at Montreux 1991 happened, the young firebrand was on hand to pay homage.
Then, Miles died. Our guy was asked into a tribute project where he depped for Miles alongside the members of Miles' Second Classic Quintet.
This project won all sorts of awards and brought down the house on tour.
This took today's guy into a whole other realm, making him the heir apparent to the man who'd taken him on as his protégé.
He soon married pianist Geri Allen and began leading his own groups from the mid-1990s on out, taking time to participate in further Miles tributes along the way.
He's been considered one of the world's greatest living trumpeters until his death this week -- just a month and change from his 60th birthday -- from complications arising from the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
To honor his life and work, we've got two of these supercharged, unissued tributes to his mentor -- both alongside a whole Jazz Palace full of superstars -- recorded 20 years apart in the very same city.
i.
A Tribute to Miles
Estival Jazz
Piazza Della Riforma
Lugano, Switzerland
9.2.1992

01 So What
02 R.J.
03 Little One
04 Pinocchio
05 All Blues
06 drum solo
07 Elegy
08 Orbits/Paraphernalia
09 Eighty One/The Sorcerer
10 Pee Wee

Total time: 1:39:55
disc break goes after Track 06

Wayne Shorter - soprano & tenor saxophones
Herbie Hancock - piano
Wallace Roney - trumpet
Ron Carter - bass
Tony Williams - drums

2nd gen DAT of a master off-air FM reel capture
ii.
Miles Smiles
Estival Nights
Teatro Cittadella
Lugano, Switzerland
11.7.2012

01 One Phone Call/Street Scenes
02 In a Silent Way/Splatch
03 Blues MD
04 Maiysha
05 Footprints
06 Time After Time

Total time: 1:34:22
disc break goes after Track 03

Wallace Roney - trumpet
Rick Margitza - tenor saxophone
Larry Coryell - guitar
Joey DeFrancesco - organ
Ralphe Armstrong - bass
Omar Hakim - drums

digital capture of a 256/48 digital broadcast, converted to 16/44 CD audio

both shows zipped together
1.05 GB FLAC here
I'll be right back tomorrow with another hero to lay to rest, and then Monday we'll do the third. Hopefully that'll do it for the deaths for a bit.
If they do happen, I will try to get to each one quickly, without waiting for the next birthday as I usually do, because these are extraordinary circumstances under which to grieve.
To that end, please do enjoy these magnificent performances of Wallace Roney, gone too soon but never to be forgotten.--J.
5.25.1960 - 3.31.2020

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Baroque Ground: J.S. Bach 335

Well after today we ain't Marching anymore, giving way to the April fools.
And what better way to mark the occasion, but with a birthday tribute to someone born a mere 335 years ago? I thought you'd share my enthusiasm.
This fucking guy, though. Sorry if all the pictures look the same, but there were no cameras then, and wouldn't be for several hundred more years.
They had melody and harmony then, though. Counterpoint, however, was still kinda rudimentary before today's birthday boy showed up.
Seeing these portraits, it's hard not to see the similarities between he and SNL original cast member (and noted cocaine casualty) John Belushi, who often played Beethoven on the show yet resembled Bach the most closely.
He (Bach, not Belushi) is probably one of the most formative musicianly types in human history, and his compositions and approach have lasted centuries and will last more centuries.
If there's people still around, anyway... which is getting less likely by the hour.
So let's celebrate one of the formative fathers of it all with, what else? A concert focused on his music and influence that is one part Classical recital, one part Jazz spectacular, and all parts awesome.
Brad Mehldau
Three Pieces After Bach
Philharmonie de Paris
Paris, France 
4.2.2018

01 Prelude No.3 in C-sharp minor (WTC book I), BWV 848
02 Three Pieces After Bach 1: Rondo
03 Prelude No.1 in C major (WTC book II), BWV 870
04 improvisation on Bach I
05 Fugue No.16 in G minor (WTC book II), BWV 885
06 Three Pieces After Bach 2: Ostinato
07 Prelude No.6 in D minor (WTC book I), BWV 851
08 Three Pieces After Bach 3: Toccata
09 Prelude No.7 in E-flat major (WTC book I), BWV 852
10 improvisation on Bach II
11 Prelude No.20 in A minor (WTC book I), BWV 865
12 improvisation on Bach III
13 Fugue No.20 in A minor (WTC book I), BWV 865
14 Little By Little
15 Brad Mehldau comments
16 The Inch Worm
17 Misty

Total time: 1:40:16
disc break goes after Track 08

Brad Mehldau - piano

webstream TV audio, converted to 16/44 FLAC by EN, March 2020
220 MB FLAC here
This show is just tremendous, but circulated in audio form with some nasty dropouts, so I went back to the original webstream video and extracted/recut it to be perfect.
It almost sounds like a cross between a straight Bach rendering and Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert, with piano superstar Brad Mehldau's Three Pieces After Bach record taking center stage.
The whole 100 minutes flows by in what seems like ten, with Mehldau weaving in and out of his own Bach-inspired compositions, some incredible improvisation on it all, and of course the original source material from JSB himself like it's all one, continuous song. You even get an epic reading of Radiohead that makes it sound like Bach wrote the piece.
I must have listened to this 15 times in the last few days, and it truly is must-hear for anyone at all interested in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and where his music meets the music of our lifetimes.
So there's March, now it's on to the Spring and what we hope is a much-needed renewal of all things alive.
But don't stand there like a statue! Go ahead and click the link and all that's Baroque will instantly be fully functional and whole again!--J.
3.31.1685 - 7.28.1750