December 19, 2009

Playlist 12-19-09

* The Tallis Scholars Sing Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) (d.1) (Gimell 2CD)
* Hesperion XXI & La Cappella Reial de Catalunya (Savall): Vienna 1-27-08 (FM 2CDR)
* J.S. Bach: Cello Suites (ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Charles Mingus: Freebody Park, Newport, RI 7-4-59 (FM CDR)
* Sun Ra: Paradiso, Amsterdam 10-18-70 (FM 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Black Myth/Out in Space (d.2) (Motor Music 2CD)
* Miles Davis: The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (Columbia 4CD)
* Wayne Shorter Quartet: Folkets Hus, Umea 10-28-06 (d.1) (FM 2CDR)
* Miroslav Vitous Group: Museum Tinguely, Basel 11-15-09 (FM CDR)
* Anthony Braxton: 4 Compositions (Ulrichsberg) 2005: Phonomanie VIII (Leo 4CD)
* Rudresh Mahanthappa - Mauger Trio: Teatro Fondamenta Nuove, Venezia 3-23-09 (FM CDR)
* Rudresh Mahanthappa - Indo-Pak Coalition: Teatro Romano 6-27-09 (FM CDR)
* ECM All-Stars (Towner, Abercrombie, et al.): Village Gate, NYC 1-19-76 (Pre-FM 2CDR)
* Free Form Funky Freqs: Urban Mythology Vol.1 (portions) (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions: The Anthology 1961-1977 (d.2) (MCA 2CD)
* The Beatles: Live at the BBC (Apple/EMI 2CD)
* The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (mono) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (mono) (Apple/EMI CD)
* Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol.8: Tell Tale Signs (d.1) (Columbia 2CD)
* Led Zeppelin: Antrabata (d.11) (boot CDR)
* Soft Machine: De Doelen, Rotterdam 1-16-70 (FM CDR)
* Grateful Dead: McNichols Arena, Denver, CO 8-13-79 (set 1) (SBD CDR)
* Grateful Dead: McNichols Arena, Denver, CO 8-14-79 (end of set 2) (SBD CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Rainbow Theatre, London 10-3-81 (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Civic Center, Philadelphia, PA 4-20-84 (SBD 3CDR)
* Chicago: “Mystery Disc” (mix CDR) (see below)
* Robert Pollard: Waved Out (Matador LP)
* Robert Pollard with Doug Gillard: Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department (FCS LP)
* A Perfect Circle: Mer de Noms (Virgin CD)


My friend (and drummer extraordinaire), Sam Byrd, sent me a CDR in an unlabeled jewel box with the instructions: “Trust me on this one – just put it on & play loud! Ha Ha!” How could I resist? I put it on and was confronted with a five-minute distorto guitar feedback solo. I thought, “WTF is this?!” At times I almost thought it sounded like me, way back in the UYA days! But I know I never sounded that good – and I couldn’t ever imagine the guys letting me go on and on like that without interjecting something. Plus the sound of my amplifier frying out – I would have remembered that, I think. Anyway, next up is some art-folk number…and I’m still totally confused. It’s not until the big hit single, “Colour My World,” that I realize that I am listening to Chicago – Chicago?!?. Boy, did it bring me back to my wee childhood days…Except of course, I didn’t really start listening to Chicago’s albums until 1975’s Chicago VII, which explains why I didn’t recognize “Free Form Guitar” from their very first album, Chicago Transit Authority from 1969. Sure there’s a healthy dose of cheese here and there, but Terry Kath’s guitar playing and singing still sounds pretty freaking awesome! Makes me think I should try to track down the original LPs…Thanks for a fun listen, Sam!


When Columbia/Legacy released The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions in 1998, it was a revelation for fans of this classic album. Purists might carp about the re-mixing (and the digital echo is noticeable), but to my ears, the improved clarity of these large, dark-toned ensembles (two basses, two drumsets, three keyboards, bass clarinet, etc,) is worth any loss of “atmosphere” in the original mix. Heck, I still have my old LP, if I want to hear it. I hadn’t listened to Bitches Brew in a long time and I was immediately captivated by the hypnotic grooves and densely interwoven instrumental textures. Wow, this really is one of those truly timeless albums; it sounds as fresh and unique today as the first time I heard it, probably around the same time I was digging Chicago! But this sprawling double-album is not by any means easy listening, and it still blows my mind that Bitches Brew was Miles’s first gold record, selling over one million copies! I mean, if you’ve actually heard it, that figure is just astounding. What were all those people hearing back in 1970? What were they responding to? Miles’s cachet? Well, it was different time, I guess…The previously unreleased tracks on the box set are extremely interesting, but they are mostly experiments (many featuring guitarist John McLaughlin) in mixing elements of the “In a Silent Way” approach of the year before with the Indian elements of sitar and tabla that would follow in 1972. Thankfully, Columbia/Legacy finally released The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions in 2003 and The Complete On the Corner Sessions in 2007 to fully document this fascinating, transformational period in Miles Davis’s art. I’m looking forward to delving into those box sets again in the near future.


I also wound up listening to all four discs of Anthony Braxton: 4 Compositions (Ulrichsberg) 2005, a smorgasbord of Braxton’s incredibly diverse compositional approaches. Disc One consists of a recent solo piano piece (Composition 301) performed by Genevieve Foccroulle, who has recorded the entire corpus of piano music on a nine-CD set, also on Leo (no, I don’t have it, although I do have the four-disc survey on hatArt admirably performed by Hildegard Kleeb). Discs Two and Four features an ad hoc large ensemble playing Braxton’s orchestral music in the Tri-Centric fashion, that is to say, with three conductors with a collagist approach to the vast range of compositional material. Disc Three features (a variation of) the Diamond Curtain Wall Trio with Taylor Ho Bynum on brass, Aaron Siegel on percussion and Braxton on a variety of reeds and the Super Collider computer program. What appears to be a severely daunting program is brought off with dazzling aplomb; the musicians’ love and respect for Braxton’s music is readily apparent, making this a particularly satisfying overview of (some of) his most wildly inventive and intensely challenging works. Despite my best efforts to read and understand, I find it difficult to say anything intelligent about Braxton’s music. All I know is that so much of it moves me in a way that no other music does – or possibly can. Deep down, I believe Braxton is probably one of the world’s greatest living composers, surely an artist with a capital-A, the real deal and the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Despite the obfuscation and deliberate obscurantism of (some of) his proselytizers and (yes, at times) the man himself, the music is singularly beautiful and infinitely rewarding to listen to. That’s all anybody needs to know.


Sam said...

Glad you enjoyed my little "mystery disc"! Terry Kath is sorely missed, although it's hard to think how he would have continued to fit in that band's increasingly solid slide into irrelevance as early as their fifth album. Oh well.

I love everything I've heard of Braxton's use of the Super Collider program, although I don't understand how it works. Is it like a real-time sampler, playing back bits and pieces of what's just been put into it, or does it consist of pre-recorded sounds? The interactivity aspect of it is intriguing. Has George Lewis used programs like this?

Speaking of George Lewis, I get blown away every time I return to the several recordings of the Lewis/Abrams/Mitchell trio that you've shared with me. I know I'm in for a treat whenever I settle down for some intense listening with these three!

Here's my lists for the past week:

Playlist 2009-12-21

*Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, & Roscoe Mitchell: 2008-08-17 Antwerp (CDR)
*Anthony Braxton Small Ensemble 2008-05-07 Wesleyan University, disc 1 (CDR)
*Anthony Braxton Diamond Curtain Wall Trio: 2009-10-30 Frankfurt (CDR)
*Circle: 1971-03-04 Hamburg, Germany (CDR)
*Rodger Coleman: Abstractions Vol. 1
*Rodger Coleman: Gift of Light
*Chick Corea: Circulus
*Billie Holiday: The Complete Original American Decca Recordings, disc 1
*Charles Mingus: New York Sketchbook [East Coasting]
*Charles Mingus: 1959-07-04 Newport (CDR)
*New Loft: 2009-12-02 My Brain Was in the Mailbox (wav)
*Sam Rivers: Contours
*Irene Schweizer-Rudiger Carl Quartet: 1981-11-17 Zurich (CDR)
*Woody Shaw with Anthony Braxton: The Iron Men
*Sun Ra: 1970-10-18 Paradiso
*Sun Ra: Detroit Jazz Center, disc 5 (1980-12-27) (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor European Quintet: 1997-10-31 (CDR)
*Henry Threadgill: X-75 Vol. 1
*Grateful Dead: 1969-06-21 Fillmore East (CDR)
*Grateful Dead: 1969-06-27 Santa Rosa, CA (CDR)
*Grateful Dead: 1979-12-28 Oakland (CDR)
*George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (remastered ed.), disc 1
*Parliament Funkadelic: Unreleased Outtakes and Demos, Vol. 1 (boot)
*Rufus: Ask Rufus (LP, side 1)

Reading log 2009-12-21

*Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet (Arden ed., 2nd series) (started)
*Musil, Robert. Man Without Qualities (in progress)
*King, Stephen. Under the Dome (finished)
*Smith, Chris. 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music (stopped/unfinished) (reasons: poorly written, poorly edited, facile arguments, riddled with factual errors)

Rodger Coleman said...

Re: Chicago: “that band’s increasingly solid slide into irrelevance as early as their fifth album.” Heh…well, as I said, that was just when I was getting into them. And didn’t Kath last until VII or VIII? I remember really loving that stuff. I’m going to haunt the used bins and find out.

Re: Braxton: It’s unclear to me what’s going on exactly with the Super Collider program. In Broomer’s book, he talks a bit about it and it doesn’t sample the instruments directly but uses them as input and apparently the program cycles through various algorithms and there is a chance aspect to what the program will do with the source material depending on where it is in the sequence. Or something. I don’t know much about George Lewis’s use of computers either, but I am curious. And how about that Diamond Curtain Wall Trio show from Frankfurt 10-30-09?!?! Mary Halvorson rules!

If you like that Muhal Richard Abrams/Roscoe Mitchell/George Lewis stuff, you need their studio record on Pi (if you don’t have it already). It’s incredible.

Re: your playlist: Did you really listen to all that old stuff I did? I’m flattered! Should I post it on