Showing posts with label Mitch Mitchell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mitch Mitchell. Show all posts

Monday, October 17, 2016

This recording of a live French radio broadcast of Larry Coryell (guitar),Jack Bruce (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) has been circulating for years. Bruce and Mitchell were no longer with their respective former bands Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience (though Mitchell  would rejoin JH not long after this date) and Larry Coryell, recently of the Gary Burton group, was an emerging jazz-rock pioneer who'd already released a number of albums under his own name. The audio quality is excruciatingly bad, with the muddiest sound and scratchiest ambience imaginable. The sub par fidelity may be fitting, though, or at least ironic, as the mega power trio here, winging through a selection of tunes like "Sunshine of Your Love" and such features the energy of skilled musicians jamming against the static of the spheres. 

This is closer in spirit and execution to the proto-grunge thrash of  1969's Emergency, the first album by the Tony  Williams Lifetime, an early fusing of fleet improvisatory  fury and rock's bludgeoning power. Before it became slick, polished and professional,  before it morphed into the slick and largely gutless form termed "fusion", jazz rock was dissonant, blaring, something of a battle of hard tones and contrasts as much influenced by Ornette Coleman and free-jazz advocates. These were the pains of something raw and beautiful   coming into being. Coryell, Bruce and Bruce get some of that on this recording, slipshod though the presentation maybe. 

This is of historical importance mostly, I suppose, since none of these musicians would have signed off on some thing this woefully recorded to be released to the public no matter how cheaply it might have been priced. If you're willing to bear with the barrage, chatter and distortion,  you'll have a sense of what might have been. Bruce and Mitchell criss cross rhythms in ways neither of them did in their previous bands; both had jazz back grounds and this shows a little  of what they might have done . Coryell is at his choppy best, a veritable geyser of  dive -bombing  riffs,quicksilver runs, thorny power chords and swaths of strategically placed feedback. He plays like a man liberated, a high tension combination of Sonny Sharrock and Albert King, with more than a little Joe Pass and Link Wray tossed in. This trudges, stumbles, energizes and rocks the box it came in. Again, the worst  recording you're likely to encounter, but worth a listen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mitch Mitchell, RIP

By Ted Burke

Mitch Mitchell passed away this last week, and it's an odd thing to realize that all the members of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience are now deceased. Drummer Mitchell was a wiry, pro-active, Elvin Jones influenced musician who was one of the few who could keep up with guitarist Hendrix's flamboyance , both when he was brilliant (was frequent) and when he was out of tune and erratic ( just as frequent).
In either case, Mitchell was there, piling basic rock beats, 4/4 time, but often enough embellishing and tricking up his stickwork with polyrhythms, counter bits of propulsion, attacking the written and improvised structures from outside the progression and at times catching Hendrix on a sweeping uplift of rattling, snare drum cracking uplift.

One has only to pay attention to the Experiences first album Are You Experienced?to understand how important Mitchell was to Hendrix's developing genius--the crashing waltz time he keeps on "Manic Depression" is a fury that condenses the mania of Tony Williams Life that provides a drumming excitement the equal to the band leader's fabled fretwork, or in the tension Mitchell creates on the iconic song "Hey Joe", with Hendrix's vocal and guitar slow and insinuating as Mitchell performs jazz-slanting furies behind Jimi's slow, snaking approach to the song's message of anger and payback. The surface calm and the roiling rage under the off hand presence, the perfect dualism, musical and narratively.

And then there's Electric Ladyland, one of the very few albums from the Sixties that qualifies as an unabashed masterpiece; one may discuss this assertion at length in other venues, but the point here is that without Mitchell's amazing chops as a drummer , Hendrix most likely would have had a vastly different double record release. No one could do what Hendrix could do, and no one could do for Hendrix what Mitchell did, and it's one of the great rock and roll tragedies that these musicians didn't have the opportunity (or inclination?) to record more albums as great as Ladyland. But I am grateful for the great music that was given to the listener, and am grateful for the privledge of hearing Mitch Mitchell lay it down for Jimi.