Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Thelonious Monk, a survey by Wiggia

Yes, that was his real name and his middle name was Sphere. largely self-taught, he toured with evangelists in his teens playing the organ, and by his late teens was finding work playing jazz. he then landed a job as the house pianist at Milton's Playhouse in Manhattan where his playing style developed.

Here he met in after-hours sessions Dizzy Gillespie Charlie Parker, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke and later Miles Davis; it was an instrumental period during which much of what was to become be-bop was formed.

For a variety of reasons his recording during this early period was spasmodic as was his earning power and although with Blue Note at the time most of what was recorded then did not sell well, it was also during this Blue Note period on the album Criss Cross that the characteristic of Monk's unique jazz style, which embraced percussive playing, unusual repetitions and dissonant sounds was first employed on record, and as he famously said "The piano ain't got no wrong notes!" and in ‘61 followed up with this: “You know anybody can play a composition and use far-out chords and make it sound wrong. It’s making it right that’s not so easy.”

Before the music this short film featuring band members including Sonny Rollins is worth watching as the Muso’s describe their life in music with Monk at that definitive time:

Coltrane, Monk and Rollins Are Definitive from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.


There is an element in his playing, I think, to be found in Brubeck's work a little later which was expanded by block chording.

After ‘52 he signed with the Prestige label and his first significant albums available to the public were issued but despite working with Miles Davis (who found Monk's style “difficult to work with), Max Roach, Art Blakey and Rollins, the sales were still not great.

In one of life's little vignettes he went to Paris and here from Wiki met……..

In 1954, Monk paid his first visit to Paris. As well as performing at concerts, he recorded a solo piano session for French radio (later issued as an album by Disques Vogue). Backstage, Mary Lou Williams introduced him to Baroness Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter, a member of the Rothschild family and a patroness of several New York City jazz musicians. She was a close friend for the rest of Monk's life, including taking responsibility for him when she and Monk were charged with marijuana possession.

It was at Riverside Records ‘55 - ‘61 that Monk found his wider audience and recognition amongst the jazz buying public. “Brilliant Corners” with Sonny Rollins playing mainly Monk's own compositions was his first big seller. Here below is the title track from that album……it is worth noting it was so difficult to play that the recording was stitched together from several takes.

From this period Bags Groove, Blue Monk, and Round Midnight were all destined to become jazz standards. From 62 – 68 he was with Colombia records which gave him greater exposure and several classic albums came from that source, Misterioso, Criss Cross, and Straight, No Chaser among them.

That was really the end of his recording life. Apart from the aforementioned bits and pieces, Black Lion Records in ‘71 did a very good 3 CD compilation that’s worth seeking out.



During the Riverside period other to-become-classic Monk albums were released, including Monk's Music, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, At the Blackhawk etc etc. Many were live club recordings and the one at the Five Spot Cafe with Johhny Griffin is a good one.

There was also Thelonious Monk Orchestra at the Town Hall, an album that had Monk's music and Hall Overton's arrangements; it failed to some degree for lack of time and inadequate sound yet had the makings of something special. Sadly it was never followed up, this and a ‘63 concert at the Philharmonic Hall were the only large ensemble works of Monk, yet the good bits on this album justified more in this vein. Here to give a flavour of the Town Hall album is Little Rootie Tootie, it has a wonderful bass quality to sound provided by the brass section that had been supplemented in this tentet.



And here is a rare piece of good judgment by the Beeb to record Monk playing his classic composition Straight No Chaser with Charlie Rouse on tenor. Mind you, the Beeb were guilty of a lot of good taste back then in many areas; not now.



This recorded in Denmark in ‘66 is Don’t Blame Me, a piano solo showing all the art and craft that he had in his own inimitable style; lovely piece.



As with so many jazz musicians of that era drugs were never far from the scene and Monk's strange behaviour later in life that went undiagnosed by the medical profession meant he had withdrawn from public life by the mid seventies and his patroness cared for him in NY as she had earlier when he was struggling for work, until his death in ‘82. She also, it should be noted, cared for Charlie Parker in his last days; strange but true.

From his live gig at the Five Spot Cafe with Johnny Griffin on tenor, “Blue Monk”, another unmistakable Monk composition:



Those lost early years, recording wise, and his sparse later output meant that releases during those last years and after his death were often bad recordings, parts of sessions and forgotten items cobbled together. Amongst all of that were some very good works that deserved to be heard and much that should have stayed in the box. It was very much a lottery as to what you purchased of his works as everyone cashed in on the grounds that all had a historic musical reason to be heard. Of course Monk was gone and almost certainly wasn’t capable of directing what should or should not be released in his last years anyway; most has since disappeared.

Having said that, the old Esquire label with its lovely thick vinyl platters had a couple of good ones I seem to remember; that now seem also to have disappeared .

This next is not all Monk, he plays two piano solos and then at this ‘69 Berlin concert you get Joe Williams thrown in and the “divine” Sarah Vaughan as well, your full pound's worth and good sound quality to boot:



Finally, the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane playing Ruby My Dear from 1957:



I only saw Monk live once at the Festival hall in London. It was not the greatest of experiences as the performance was late starting and Monk himself did not appear on stage for three numbers, leaving his “trio” to carry on without him. When he did deign to appear there was no apology, nothing. This was I think in the early seventies; whether he was being a diva or on something and getting his head together before appearing on stage is as mysterious now as then, though we do know through biographies on the man that odd behaviour had become almost the norm later in life and he had been hospitalised after being picked up by the police on one occasion, so we never will know how much of that manifested itself in public. But it did little for the concert as many people were slightly pissed-off by the time he appeared,. Doesn’t stop me appreciating his music of course; it’s just a small anecdote from years ago.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Night Is Music Night: Musical Balm, by JD

Photograph taken in Barter Books, which is in the old railway station in Alnwick

"All thing shall be well;..... Thou shalt see thyself that all MANNER [of] thing shall be well;" ― Julian of Norwich; Revelations of Divine Love xxxii












Sunday, February 19, 2017

Java Jazz Man: The Genius Of Charles Mingus, by Wiggia

Almost all of the current jazz musicians have been influenced by the past, some more than others. Indeed some despite their own fame could almost be called tribute acts; that would be grossly unfair, yet for those there is a very close relationship with the music that influenced them.

For others that early influence only drove them on down a path of their own, Charlie Mingus was one such artist. Notoriously difficult to work with, he was uncompromising and would berate anyone who did not toe his line and sackings were not unusual or fights - he was sacked by Ellington for fighting .

His Wiki page is worth a read and is comprehensive….. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Mingus

Very few bassists, even famous ones, break through to become band leaders, composers, writers; in fact it is difficult to think of anyone other than Mingus who achieved that status. Much of his music coming from a hard bop and soul influenced background was ground-breaking, his bigger groups and bands especially so.

And he also, if they could stand the pace, produced some outstanding musicians that played alongside and went on to form their own groups, people like Pepper Adams and Horace Parlan, just two of many.

Mingus must be one of a very small group of musicians who have played with Louis Armstrong , Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker; he could never be accused of being stuck in a groove.

His first major work in his own name came in ‘56 with Pithecanthropus Erectus [aka Java Man - Ed.] that also showcased Jackie Mclean on alto, one of my favorite saxophonists but clearly a Parker disciple, and the talented pianist Mal Waldron. There were elements of free jazz in this album but with Mingus there were elements of almost everything in all his albums and there were a lot of them in the sixties.

For me it was his Mingus Ah Um album that really got me hooked on his music and that was followed by Blues and Roots and many more.

This is a ‘75 Montreux Jazz Festival recording of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat from the Ah Um album and featuring a wonderful solo from Gerry Mulligan and the opener from pianist Don Pullen. The drummer here is Danny Richmond who was with Mingus to the very end, one of the greatest jazz drummers of his era.



And for a complete change of mood, from the same period ‘57 Ysabel’s Table Dance from the Tijuana Moods album.



This from a live ‘64 concert has an amazing piano solo from Jaki Byard and features Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet and if nothing else shows that modern jazz can swing with the best when you have musicians of this calibre.



Hardly needs any introduction, Moanin’ from the ‘59 Blues and Roots album at the time a number that was as Eric Dolphy would say “Far Ahead” made an enormous impression at the time and still does as a jazz standard of the highest quality.



Finally a tribute to the man, a Mingus album: Me Myself and Eye 1978, Mingus composed and wrote the album but was by this time, a year before his death, unable to play, suffering as he was from ALS; but this big band did him proud with this rendition of “Devil Woman” featuring Laryll Coryell on guitar Michael Brecker on tenor sax and Randy Brecker on trumpet; also, there are Pepper Adams on Baritone and Lee Konitz alto.

DEVIL WOMAN CHARLES MINGUS from rascaldani on Vimeo.


Of all the albums of modern jazz I have, Mingus remains along with Roland Kirk at or near the top of most played. His work is lauded as comparable with classical compositions and is used as teaching material in many forms of music, a giant of music whatever the form.

For those interested this film Triumph of the Underdog is worth watching, a Mingus biography.


Charles Mingus Triumph of the Underdog by filmow
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Sackerson adds:

A favourite with both Wiggia and JD is "Money Jungle" (1962), where Mingus plays with Max Roach and Duke Ellington:

What is the matter with Hugo Rifkind? Three competitions.


Is Hugo Rifkind seeing things?


Another précis challenge, this time of Hugo Rifkind's latest in the Spectator magazine:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/02/i-went-to-see-disney-world-and-saw-a-dying-country/

The original is 905 words long. Condense into 200 words or fewer (I think it can be done in half that). You may or may not wish to retain this excerpt, on Rifkind's seeing Trump's beach resort and apartment complex:

"If I said it was like seeing a swastika banner on the Arc de Triomphe, I would of course be exaggerating ridiculously; but I find on reflection that I am totally going to say it anyway."

[Experienced précis-ers will know that "of course" and "totally" are expendable, but once one starts down that road it is hard to know where to stop, with this writer. The function of such phrases is, of course, emotional, an attempt to gain complicity with the befuddled but self-consciously right-thinking reader. "Totally" is a usage a little too old for current cool, though. Should he have tried for a winsomely humorous "totes"?]


Alternatively, you may wish to write an essay on the state of America, as it exists in Hugo's mind, and how you think it is in reality. The Spectator article is dated 18 February, 28 days after Trump's Presidential inauguration, but the magazine is available in shops 2 days earlier and Rifkind's experience dates back to the previous week. Here is his conclusion, after 3 weeks of Trump's occupation of the Oval Office:

"This is the stench of death. This is broken. This is America running out of road."

Extra marks will be rewarded for some consideration of events years or decades earlier than February 20, 2017 that may have influenced the society and economy of the USA.



Finally, you may instead prefer to consider Rifkind's performance against generally accepted standards of journalism - see here for Wiki's briefing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism_ethics_and_standards

In your discussion, you may wish to make reference to a rumour that Rifkind failed to fact-check before sending it "viral" on Twitter, that implied incestuous impulses in Trump. The original is now unavailable, but a version of it can be found listed on a Google search:


"Guido" guys it here - https://order-order.com/2016/11/29/week-hugo-rifkind/ - ending:


You may also like to consider an earlier Rifkind article in the Spectator, also with salacious undertones:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/11/trump-the-pick-up-artist-who-seduced-america/

- the concluding paragraph of which reads:

"Plenty of people seem to believe that Trump does this, too. That whenever he says his latest arresting, infuriating, insane thing, he’s also playing a trick, trying to wind people up. Personally, I don’t buy it. More to the point, though, I’m not sure it makes any difference. Likewise those sieg heils in those Washington restaurants. For show? For real? In the end, the question is meaningless. This is what they give us, so this is who they are. The trick is all there is. The carapace is sealed. Everything beneath has rotted away."

The "sieg heil" (you will detect here a long-running theme in the mind of the writer) is a glance at a function which had nothing to do with Trump personally but serves this journalist's purpose in the form of guilt by association (however tenuous). The incident in question is covered here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/11/21/d-c-restaurant-apologizes-after-hosting-alt-right-dinner-with-sieg-heil-salute/?utm_term=.aa72a2d9fb19

You may be tempted to draw an ironic analogy with the dangerously inflammatory, lying, misleading and calumniating propaganda of Julius Streicher; you must resist doing so.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Flynn's firing: part of Trump's deception plan against Democrat-supporting spooks?

The dismissal of President Trump's National Security Adviser, Lt-Gen. Michael Flynn, is a smokescreen hiding a successful operation to identify subversive elements in the intelligence community, claims writer Thomas Wictor.(1)

According to Wictor, different versions of a false story about discussions between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to the US were fed into the community as a "barium meal" to disclose how classified information is illegally passed on in order to undermine the President, and who is prepared to use it. Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates is, he says, the first to be unmasked by the deception.

Wictor draws an analogy with the disinformation that revealed where the Japanese were going to attack in the Pacific in June 1942, and led to the Americans' destruction of four enemy aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway.(2)

If so, hit and sunk, Mrs Yates. She was fired on January 30 for defying Trump's selective immigration moratorium; that's the mainstream media story, anyhow.(3)

The battle in the shadows goes on. But if Wictor is right, the intelligence community is on notice that long terms of imprisonment could await those who dare to plot the downfall of the nation's Chief Executive.


Image: http://freshlybakedcollectibles.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Spy_vs_Spy_3.jpg
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(1) http://www.thomaswictor.com/leakers-beware/
(2) http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2013/11/20/u_s_in_world_war_ii_how_the_navy_broke_japanese_codes_before_midway.html
(3) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/30/justice-department-trump-immigration-acting-attorney-general-sally-yates

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Night Is Music Night: Sudamericanos, by JD

This week we have a Latin American flavour! (Programme notes at the end.)














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Notes:

"Girl from Ipanema" (Garota de Ipanema) was written by Antônio Carlos Jobim in 1962 with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. It is thought to be the second most recorded pop song in history, second only to Paul McCarthey's "Yesterday" The English lyrics were added later. According to a recent BBC programme about the song Moraes hated the English translation as it turned the girl into an object of lust where the Portuguese lyric was all about 'this vision of grace' Here is a good explanation of the difference between the two- https://oregonexpat.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/garota-de-ipanema/

Violetta Parra was a Chilean singer and songwriter whose most famous song was "Gracias a la Vida" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gracias_a_la_Vida

"Alfonsina y el mar" was written by Ariel Ramírez with lyrics by Félix Luna. Ramírez plays piano here for Mercedes Sosa. The song is about Argentina's most famous poet Alfonsina Storni who committed suicide in the Mar del Plata. She had incurable breast cancer so took that option instead of living in pain for years. "Although her biographers hold that she jumped into the water from a breakwater, popular legend is that she slowly walked out to sea until she drowned." The lyrics of the song reflect that legend. https://www.poemhunter.com/alfonsina-storni/biography/

I was intruduced to the music of Mercedes Sosa by my (ex) wife many years ago and I have loved it ever since. Sosa was a huge star in the Spanish speaking world and was admired and respected by musicians all over the world to the point where she recorded with the likes of Joan Baez, Luciano Pavarotti and even Shakira!

Mercedes Sosa's funeral was broadcast live on Argentine TV and the song "Alfonsina y el mar" was sung and played there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Famine, The Unanticipated Catastrophe", by Jim in San Marcos

Image source: http://www.ccis.edu/courses/hist323mtmcinneshin/week08/feedingchinamanopium.jpg

The Great Bengal Famine of 1770, commented on by Adam Smith in "The Wealth of Nations" (1776) was caused by links between China tea, silver and opium. 
One starting point to explore the issue is here:  
https://defence.pk/threads/opium-wars-connection-to-indian-bengalis-famine-genocide-by-britian.288292/
(Image and caption added by Sackerson)
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People assume that famines are caused by a poor growing season. This is true in agrarian societies where everyone farms. However, a financial world banking catastrophe could lead to the same result; where starvation occurs from lack of funds to purchase food. Also, we may be fast approaching a limit where food production can’t keep up with the increased population. War in the Middle East, is curbing a lot of farm production, which is leading to starvation for many.

And then there is global warming. Once the North polar ice cap melts, the Gulf Stream ocean current could change its direction a tad, making Eastern Europe too cold for food cultivation.

A famine could affect a large part of the world’s population. We are at a point now, where bad weather, financial instability or political instability, could determine who will live or die. A nuclear skirmish in a quest to grab resources, could make food very scarce in some areas.

The next famine will not be anticipated. It may be an economic or financial disaster that triggers it. When it happens, the logistics of transporting food to those that need it could be very hard to accomplish. Imagine a high-density population area like India, where many are already at starvation levels and barely surviving. This could be the end of the road for them.

Without the means to purchase food, life is a real struggle. Most of us are not in a position to grow and produce the food we need; we pay others to provide it to us. Those in the third world who are starving to death slowly, could be the medium for new super diseases that the rest of the world will have to deal with in the future. It is this group, with very weakened immune systems, that could be the incubator for a future plague far worse than any war imaginable.

The funny thing is, the third world was our source of cheap labor. As our economy slows down, the funds that made life possible for them will disappear. That thought worries me. A hungry mountain lion is not going to knock on your door and bargain with you over the price of its next meal -- your pet dog in the back yard.
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Reposted from Jim's site, original here:
http://greatdepression2006.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/famine-unanticipated-catastrophe.html

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Saxophone Range: A Gallery Of Classics, by Wiggia

Following on from the tenor sax all the other versions of the instrument fall into place, none more so than the alto sax with which Charlie Parker did so much with to change the direction of modern jazz and begat be bop. Although he died at the age of 34 he packed more into those years than most of us would in treble that time. There is to much to write about Parker without filling pages so a link to his Wiki page is justified, he earned his dues as they say:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Parker

There was also an autobiographical film of his troubled life, “Bird”, made in 1988 .

This is “Koko” with Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach on drums recorded in 1945, Parker's and jazz's first be bop album.



In direct contrast to the style of Parker there was Johnny Hodges with the Ellington Orchestra and Paul Desmond who became hugely popular with Dave Brubeck; a million miles away from Parker in style but giving huge pleasure to millions on record and live.This from Hodges is almost an Ellington and Hodges calling card:



And here from the Pacific College album, the Oberlin album before this was one of my first jazz album buys, with Brubeck in ‘53; a classic Desmond performance:



At the other end of the sax scale is the baritone. Normally a backing instrument, it was used by Gerry Mulligan, a New Yorker by birth. He was an early cool jazz exponent, an accomplished piano player and also of other reed instruments , and he was also an arranger and composer. He played with all the greats of the time and several small groups later in life including Brubeck; a unique sound.

This is another case of little of value live being available; here with Ben Webster is as good as it gets. Mulligan was also responsible for a rash of jazz film scores after he was responsible for the score to I Want to Live in ‘58, a film that had Susan Hayward in the title role:

Gerry-Mulligan-&-Ben-Webster-Quintet_Whos-Got-Rhythm.mp4 from brunosaeg on Vimeo.


And whilst others like Pepper Adams made a mark with the instrument, the only other player that I liked was Serge Chaloff. This is a later number and better recording, giving tonality of the instrument full justice. Not nearly enough was heard of Serge, who apart from a heroin addiction that caused gaps in his playing also developed cancer of the spine and played and lived in appalling agony in his last years.



Roland Kirk was a multi-instrumentalist who not only played a wide range of them on records and live but often several together; this wasn’t a gimmick, it was part of his approach to his music. He was another who despite being blind from an early age and suffering poor health - he had two strokes and the last one was fatal - gave so much in his performances that he became hugely popular and rightly so, one of my personal favourites. Here he is with McCoy Tyner in ‘75, just two years before his passing:



Another of the younger (he is in his sixties now) exponents of the saxophone is the hugely accomplished David Murray. This version of Billy Strayhorn's Chelsea Bridge is as good as any:



This is for JD who some time ago said (in jest?) That no one could play the soprano sax in the modern age. John Coltrane made this number one of his greatest hits with the instrument. Again the original album version available has awful sound; this one is not great, but it is live and gives a half decent version of this iconic number:

My favorite things - John Coltrane from A JAZZ SUPREME on Vimeo.

The forties through the sixties begat most of the greats of the saxophone era following the foundations laid by the likes of Carter et all. It also saw the start of another form of music started by Ornette Coleman, free jazz - that was also the title of his ‘61 album that started the movement. I personally have never been able to go that route: whilst appreciating the technical ability and the fact that proponents were as with all “art” trying to move on to the new, I simply did not enjoy listening to most of it so my recollections are few and muted.

The only one from whom I have heard anything I like is Anthony Braxton who is prolific in his output, over a hundred albums since the sixties and a multi reed instrumentalist; not all is my type of music but amongst his more staid works are items I like and as a promoter of this style he is as good as any currently playing, and easier on the ear. Later, apart from playing all saxophones from piccolo to ultra bass, he also started to play the piano more than in the past as he went on another tangent, none of which was my cup of tea , but this is:



I could go on forever, there are just so many old and new that should be on any list, and that is the problem. All “lists” are finite, that is the nature of them, so I will finish with this from one of the most celebrated modern jazz albums of all time, Something Else, where we have in a stellar group Julian “Cannonball” Adderley playing alongside Miles Davis; for me, Adderley's solo is up there with any of them - enjoy:

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Scorcher

source

Although it would have been difficult for Pringle to look other than a gentleman, with his slim athletic figure clothed in the sweater, the cycling suit, and the cap and badge (especially the badge), he presented a fair likeness of the average Sunday scorcher. The manners of the tribe he fortunately saw no necessity to assume. 

To perfect the resemblance, the scorcher being comparable to a man who shall select a racehorse for a day's ride over country roads, it was necessary to "strip" his machine, so, removing the mudguards and brake, and robbing the chain of its decent gear-case, he substituted the "ram's-horn" for his handlebar.

R Austin Freeman and John Pitcairn – The Adventures of Romney Pringle (1902)

The scorchers are still with us but I'm not so sure about the gentleman cyclists who looked down on them with such disdain over a century ago. 

Sunday, February 05, 2017

MUSIC: Great Tenor Sax, by Wiggia

It is often said that the trumpet is the most defining instrument in jazz, it would be difficult to argue with that in the early days, but as the be-bop era came in the saxophone which had never been far from the front line became almost certainly the most influential instrument, Adolphe Sax had no idea what would happen to his invention when it appeared in 1841.

Many of the traditional jazz bands had saxophones in the line up, many didn’t. but once the big band era got going front lines of saxophones became the norm and it became in all its forms the driving force for most of the groups in the be-bop age.

Here I want to give some examples of the names playing the tenor saxophone that made their mark in jazz and have stood the test of time, and some of the more contemporary players who almost certainly will do the same. This is a very crowded genre, there like most of us have favourites we like to push as the best of etc, it is impossible to include all and by necessity some will have to be left out even when they automatically can lay claim, with their importance in jazz, the right to be included.

I start with Stan Getz, one of the founders of cool jazz, a West Coast advocate who had no problem fitting in wherever he played, probably best known outside of jazz circles for his association with Astrud Gilberto and the Girl from Ipanema - a huge hit in its time - and a whole period where he played and promoted Bossa Nova sounds with many influential jazz greats. He had a unique smooth sound that is never ruffled or out of place. He started at fifteen and served his apprenticeship firstly with Jack Teagardens band and then the Kenton , Dorsey, and Goodman bands before embarking on a long career in his own name.

The Steamer is my favourite album from ‘56 and I do have an extensive collection of his work; videos of him are rare or withdrawn for copyright reasons or both and the good stuff apart from the Bossa Nova era just isn’t there, so…. here with Charlie Byrd, one of the all time great guitar players and Desafinado:



And an earlier Falling Leaves.

h

John Coltrane was way out in front when it came to pushing the boundaries in jazz, so far out he completely lost the plot in later life but fortunately the bulk of his work remains where it should be, at the top of the pile.

Influenced by Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins and later Charlie Parker he was playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostik and Johnny Hodges before his late fifties association with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, a glorious period; but his debut album as leader, Giant Steps was a seminary album, it blew me away when I first heard it and the melodic chords on this were not just very difficult to play but constituted a new sound in the saxophone, much imitated later.

All the compositions on this album were his own and the three key change chord progressions are not only difficult but gave a magic sound.



Coleman Hawkins is one of the mainstays of jazz saxophone and one of the most influential of all players. Born in 1904, you could say he saw and played it all and indeed went the full gamut of music styles and was as influential in the be-bop era as any other. His version, everyone considers this number to be the high point of accomplishment i.e. when is x going to give the definitive version, is considered the best by most.

Body and Soul:



Lester Young born in 1909 was along with Hawkins the early vanguard of modern jazz, learnt the hard way with his family band in Vaudeville, left at eighteen and went to Kansas City where he met and joined Count Basie's Orchestra and later joined Fletcher Henderson. He also worked with Billie Holliday, another one with that effortless style that just seems so easy but isn’t, known as the President for his long position in the jazz hierarchy.

Here seen with his sideways playing style in a short film, not his best number but again they are hard to come by:



Ben Webster, another “oldie” learnt piano and violin at an early age then learnt the saxophone, was in Kansas City at the time that it was a melting pot of talent, played with many bands in the thirties and ended up with Ellington for many years. After he left in ‘43 he played with many and various artists and on his own, came to Europe in ‘65 and lived out his last years playing and living in several countries including the UK.

He never really embraced the new modern way and was still in the blues and swing style to the end. He died in Denmark and after his death a foundation was set up for the promotion of jazz in the country; it has become a prestigious award. This is from the sixties here in the UK with our own, then young, Stan Tracy on piano:



Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis could never be accused of being pigeon-holed, with his music played with many different bands groups from soul to avant-garde he could blow with the best of them.

This is from ‘65, emerging from one of the greatest front lines ever assembled in jazz to perform this rousing solo:



Sonny Rollins: born in ‘30 he grew up in Harlem and was given his first musical instrument at the age of seven an alto sax, he started as a pianist and switched to tenor sax in ‘46. His high school band had, apart from himself, Jackie McLean, Art Taylor and Kenny Drew, not bad for a high school or anywhere else for that matter.

In the early fifties he was arrested for armed robbery and went to jail and later again for a breach of parole for using heroin; in ‘55 he entered the Federal Medical centre to try and break his habit and volunteered for the then experimental methadone treatment, it worked and he emerged clean, though feared his music would suffer. It didn’t, and he went on to greater things.

He played with Miles Davis Booker Little Max Roach and Clifford Brown but in ‘56 he made his seminal album Saxophone Colossus. The next three years saw him make more successful albums with various artists and formats.

In ‘59 he became frustrated with his own perceived musical limitations and took his now famous music sabbatical, during which he would play solo on the Williamsburg Bridge so as to not disturb the neighbours. He returned to performing in ‘61 with the album “The Bridge”.

After another sabbatical in ‘69 he returned again in ‘71 and has not stopped playing world wide since and has a huge recording catalogue.

This is a rare video of the time playing St Thomas (his birthplace) from the Colossus album:



Another piece with some of the more contemporary musicians will follow later.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday Night Is Music Night: Celtic Visionaries, by JD

Imbas forosnai is a gift of clairvoyance or visionary ability practised by the gifted poets of ancient Ireland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbas_forosnai

Imbas is an Old Irish word meaning poetic inspiration, with overtones of ecstatic mysticism. It is the heart of the practice of filidecht, the sacred poetic tradition of Ireland and Scotland.

A gift of the Goddess Brighid, it is found in the three cauldrons within each person. The cauldrons, turned through joy and sorrow, take the raw materials of our emotions and our lives and transform them into an alchemy of poetry and magic, opening our eyes to the Otherworlds and to poetic truth and power.
















"To create is to stretch one's hand into a realm beyond sequence, beyond time, beyond death - beyond even the meaning of these words - and to share in the magic of the gods. Exiled from Eden, we are the builders of Eden, carving the everlasting forms of which we are the shadows." - John Carey; associate professor at the Department of Celtic Languages and Literature, Harvard University.

"A wood engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888)"
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flammarion_Woodcut_1888_Color_2.jpg