Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yet more old music from my CD collection

Yes, more old music-tb

The Sign of 4-- Derek Bailey, Pat Metheny, Greg Bendian, Paul Wertico
A three disc proverbial wet dream for lovers of skronky, abrupt, clicking, feedback leavened non-jazz electric guitar improvisation. Granted, I don't listen to it that often, but it's a bonus shot of energy when I'm done with my occasional, though lengthy dose. This morning was in dedication to the recently passed Derek Bailey.

This about the only Gong album I cottoned to , and it's the only one of their albums I didn't sell off when I was moving between apartments. With this disc they had evolved from a space-rock unit and into a tight, percussion driven jazz-fusion unit. The music, for the style, still has a kick, and guitarist Allen Holdsworth, in a period of doing short stints with several name bands, does some of his best work here. Solid, melodic, fleet and moody improvisations and material that gives the players intriguing twists to play off of.

Earth Walk--Jack DeJohnette and Special Edition
A 1991 session on ECM, it's an engaging if conceptually diffuse collection; DeJohnette as a composer/arranger can be irritating at times with his habit of inserting style changes with hardly a thought of a natural sounding segue. The charts tend to drift into the kind of "space chords" vamping where there's nothing to suggest a melodic underpinning, a lack of an idea, leaving worthy soloists like reedmen Greg Osby and Gary Thompson to play more frantically than otherwise would be called for. It gets the customary ECM Afro/Euro groove going about a third of the way through, which leads us to much rhythm interplay, spiraling, head-whacking flights from Osby and Thompson and, to be sure, DeJohnette's sure stick work.
Walkin'-Miles Davis
A live recording from 1960, interesting for the inclusion of saxist Sonny Stitt , replacing for the time being John Coltrane. It is a fine, fine, fine performance; Davis takes some of the coolest solos you might wish to hear him play, and Stitt's ebullient, fluid sense of rhythm and melody does amazing things in the generous spaces he has to fill.

The Pious Bird of Good Omen- Fleetwood Mac
With Peter Green on vocals and guitar, and Jeremy Spencer, slide guitar and vocals. Green is the attraction here, with a voice that sounds as if it's bubbling from the bottom of a river of black water, and a guitar style that remains a model of economy and emotion, an uncommon virtue in an era given over to conspicuous displays of chops. Particularly beautiful is his version of Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad", a gorgeous blues pleading for love, unadorned. Green's singing is transforming.
Spy vs Spy.—John Zorn
From the svelte skronk of Zorn's Ornette tribute to the minimal meditations of Glass's impressions of a man trying to find out if a horse's feet all leave the ground at one time. Good stuff, on a re-listen. I had a girl friend in college who was given to sudden and intense love affairs with many a hip trend and avant garde mannerism, much of which has aged badly and is either in cold storage or ready for the next garage sale; The Photographer, though, has it's repetitive pleasures; it's not especially gripping at an emotional level, but the sheer rigor of Glass's pared formalism is compelling in the way that an idea , a concept, finds its situation and flourishes under the circumstances.

Port of Call-- Cecil Taylor
Repackaged sessions from 1960-1961 released in the States on an economy label called Past Perfect, this is a bit more comprehensible and, say, conservative than what Taylor and his bands are known for. An abstract heat still burns away , though, and there are great moments here; the ten minute piano deconstruction of "This Nearly Was Mine" keeps you guessing and anticipating where Taylor and his trio would take the Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut, and "Things Aint What They Used to Be” is rethought a dozen different ways by Archie Shepp and Steve Lacy.

Flowers of Evil--Mountain
I play this once a year, and this morning was the time to do it; the studio sides have a repetitive pomposity you can get behind after a couple of stiff drinks, but the combination of Felix Papalardi's whiney voice singing his wife's bullshit lyrics can ruin any buzz you have going for you. It's the live material that kicks it, with lots of fat, snarling Leslie West guitar work getting twisted around a punchy set of slow, grinding , distorted hard rock. Yes, arrangements do count, even in rock and roll.” Roll Over Beethoven" and "Dreams of Milk and Honey" are on my best live rock tracks ever. I might be the only one who likes this, but fuck it, it makes me happy.

Live at Bradley's --Kevin Eubanks
If you can forget the fact that guitarist Eubanks is Jay Leno's band leader and default second-banana, you gather that he's a classy jazz player; rhythmic, melodic, swift on the solos, but with emphasis on phrasing , pauses between passages. This is a pleasant respite from the copious amounts of the ever-busy Mike Stern I've listened to lately. Stern seems unable to leave a quite moment alone and fills it with frantic riffing, not so much as technique gone berserk, a jazz version of wank guitar, but rather an accelerated directionlessness. An agile Jerry Garcia would be a better comparison. Eubanks, meantime, swings powerfully, with a light touch, a spry tone. James Williams (P) and Robert Hurst (b) do lithe work here. Good stuff for a drummer-less trio.

Unity--Larry Young
Wonderful , simply wonder expanded organ improvisation by the late Larry Young. I appreciated his work with the first Tony Williams Lifetime, but hadn't looked into his own releases until recently. A solid bandleader. Trumpeter Woody Shaw, an undervalued player, soars nicely with saxist Joe Henderson. Elvin Jones gives a demonstration of drum techniques from another planet.

Free Jazz Dance-Phil Woods
Recorded live in Rome, 1969, Phil Woods blows a very swift and elegant alto with a game trio of French sidemen who can play it any speed they want to. The eleven minute Eddie Harris title tune is a fine clustering of rhythms and crashing sensibilities. Nice swing and drive, and pianist Daniel Humair has the right chord voicings for Woods' galloping lines. Takes a sweet, Teddy Wilsonesque solo too.

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