Sunday, July 20, 2014

TWO MORE FOR CHARLIE

First, some of you might've recently watched this monumental solo performance of "Lonely Woman" by Charlie Haden... if not, you gotta:



Did any of you catch the massive quote he drops starting at 2:27?

If not, see if you can place the song. The answer is here but no cheating! Hint: It's not a jazz quote.

Second, there's such a great duo by Keith Jarrett and Haden at around the 48:10 mark of this excellent Haden documentary Rambling Boy:


Charlie Haden - Rambling Boy from PiXiU FILMS on Vimeo.

I've always admired Keith Jarrett but I don't think I've ever really understood, or enjoyed, his music as much as I do in this very off-the-cuff performance on what sounds like a standard that I don't know the name of. The reason is the accompaniment; Charlie lays down the harmonic structure of the song so heavy and plain, Jarrett is able to absolutely tap-dance his way through the whole tune, and he does put on a show. Then just watch Charlie, who you thought was the straight man, power his way through a superb solo, never looking at his fingers once. It's so good that it ends with a genuine hug and one of Haden's all-time best utterances of "yeah, man."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

CHARLIE HADEN

I say I'm done making RIP blog posts, and then in one day, Charlie Haden, Tommy Ramone, and Chris Grier all pass away. Maybe I should start a blog or a magazine called Passages and just write about great and important musicians when they leave us. Regardless, each one of these three deserves pages and pages of tribute, and you can type any of their names in twitter and see why. For example, this is a great tweet about Tommy Ramone (as an experienced engineer and producer, he was the mostly unheralded sonic conceptualist for the Ramones), and I'll link to my own tweet about Chris Grier (seriously, NOISE AGAINST FASCISM FOREVER).

But Charlie Haden is simply one of my favorite musicians who has ever played a note. I honestly don't think he ever wasted a note. He played the bass, but more accurately he played MUSIC. As it says on his wikipedia page, "He believed that all music originates from the same place, and because of this, he resisted the tendency to divide music into categories." 

He also had this stunning insight about improvisation in a 2008 NPR interview "I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you're in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow — there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance."

He also always looked cool as hell, especially on the This Is Our Music cover photo. Personally, I've always felt a special connection to him because he grew up in a small Iowa town 20 miles from the small Iowa town I grew up in . . . in fact, his town was a little bigger than mine and it's where I bought my first records, which were actually not The Shape Of Jazz To Come but Kiss Rock and Roll Over and Queen News of the World . . . but enough about me. Here's some tweets about Charlie:






Sunday, January 12, 2014

AMIRI BARAKA / R.I.P. to R.I.P.?




I had this idea that I wasn't going to do the R.I.P. thing anymore. The internet is taking care of it already -- do I have to chime in? Of course I too want all these great artists who are leaving their body week after week to rest in peace, and/or in power, and/or attain a new plane of transcendent existence, but I don't want my twitter and/or my blog to be 80 percent RIP notices. I mean, let's face it, as far as the 1960s counterculture is concerned, we are entering the kind of period that scientists coldly call an "extinction event or biotic crisis." Sometimes I feel like the job is to share the work of these great artists, both alive and deceased, every day except on the day they pass on.

I have to say something about the passing of Amiri Baraka, because as a poet he was simply one of the boldest and most uncompromising artists of the 20th Century. He was also a brilliant essayist/thinker/historian, even when polemical, and his books Blues People and Black Music were completely foundational for understanding how deeply the music I love was forged by the transatlantic African diaspora. His work was fundamental to the free jazz & fire music movements of the 1960s, through journalistic coverage (as collected in Black Music) and also through performance. He said that "Poetry is music and nothing but music. Words with musical emphasis," and when he read his fire music poems, with or without additional musical accompaniment, who knows what unknown tongues were unlocked in his listening contemporaries.

Here's two posts where his name shows up if you do a search on this here blog, including some writing about one of his most powerful recordings ever, "Black Art" with Sunny Murray and Albert Ayler. By the way, I humbly think these are two really good posts of music writing, not just for the Baraka content ... I know people are always saying "Blastitude doesn't review records anymore, blah blah blah," but I do occasionally if you pay attention, and why would I write twenty-seven lukewarm reviews of all the latest underground flash-in-the-pan oversaturation bands when I could be writing shit like this instead? Sorry, end of mini-rant.

I'm sure a lot of you and even most of you have already delved into the works of Baraka for yourself, but if you haven't, read some poems right now on this web page. Listen to "Black Art" and "Black Dada Nihilismus." Dig deep into all the other fascinating related YouTubes down the right side of your screen. While you're at it, check out the crazy "mad stressful" LP he released in 1972 on Motown Records spoken word subsidiary label Black Forum. Also Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music is a fantastic sprawling anthology of his jazz writing that was published just recently in 2010 -- I got it at my local library. And, if you can find a VHS copy, Amiri Baraka: In Motion is a great documentary covering some days in the life of Baraka and his family during the 1980s.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

TOP 7 SONGS I LOVE RIGHT NOW

 1. First of all, RIP Phil Everly.

 

(John Lennon did a beautiful dream-fragment piano-demo version of this once too, you should listen to it.)

2. Circuit Des Yeux "Lithonia" This is probably my favorite new song I heard in 2013. It's completely incredible. I'm gonna be 'that guy' and say I prefer this more raw version, recorded at Magnetic South in Bloomington, IN and released on 10", to the re-recorded version with strings that leads off her great newest album Overdue. Both are superb though.

 

3. Velvet Underground "Sweet Sister Ray" Recently purchased the newish re-boot of the Sweet Sister Ray 2LP. The first record is a single performance of "Sweet Sister Ray" split over two sides, and I haven't even made it to the second record yet. Just been flipping "Sweet Sister Ray" over and over again. It's almost all the music I need in the world, and when I'm not simply blissed out, I'm fascinated by the difference between Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison's guitar styles.

 

4. Anonymous "Sweet Lilac" Completely haunted by this one. How could I not be with these melting heavy folk-rock song structures, stunning electric/acoustic guitar work, and a love-song hook that goes "You teach me/You're a school"?

 

5. Rake Kash "Foreign Lands" This swooning red-wine-infused piece of home-recorded deep romantic psych isn't on YouTube. To hear it you have to buy this record. In the meantime here's another Rake Kash number that is on YouTube.



EDIT: "Foreign Lands" now on YouTube!


6. Charalambides "Namaste" Market Square was the first Charalambides album I ever bought, back in 1996, and even though I haven't listened to it in a good 10 years I just put it on and realized it's still my favorite of theirs.


7. Syd Barrett "Swan Lee" Psychedelicious indeed.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

YOUTUBE COMPANION TO ROBERT BEATTY'S PORTAL FOR THE WIRE

If you just read Robert Beatty's piece for The Wire website that listed his favorite experimental films with electronic soundtracks, and wished there was YouTube links, here ya go. If you didn't read it, go here first: http://thewire.co.uk/in-writing/the-portal/robert-beatty_s-portal and then watch 'em here. (UPDATE: You can watch 'em on the Wire site... you just have to be a little web-savvier than I am.)

Les Jeux Des Anges by Walerian Borowczyk

 

 Et Cetera by Jan Svankmajer

 

 I couldn't find Pixillations by Lillian Schwartz but here's 1976 doc Lillian Schwartz: The Artist and the Computer

 

The Midnight Parasites by Yoji Kuri

 

Bedsitters by Frans Zwartjes

 

Atman by Toshio Matsumoto

 

Feherlofia by Marcell Jankovic

 

 SPECIAL BONUS MUST-SEE SOVIET SCI-FI MADNESS NOT ON BEATTY'S LIST, The Contract by Vladimir Tarassov:

 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

SPIN ME ENDLESS IN THE UNIVERSE

That's the name of a big 12-minute centerpiece song on the new Richard Youngs album Summer Through My Mind (Ba Da Bing Records), one of my favorite new songs of the year. Here are some great live versions of it from his just-finished U.S. tour.

First up, already the big cosmic grandaddy of them all, Richard solo on WFMU's Airborne Event, accompanying himself on a vintage Lowrey Organ. WFMU had just acquired one of these colorful instruments, and it was conveniently there in the studio when Richard arrived for his session. Host Dan Bodah pointed it out to his guest, who asked if he could try it out, and then after getting acquainted for a few minutes, famously left his acoustic guitar in the case and busted out an incredible version of his whole set on the organ, right then and there. (Garth Hudson's "Chest Fever" intro was also played on a Lowrey, so there is a cosmic music precedent.) The first song was an absolutely zoned take on "Spin Me Endless In The Universe" that incorporates the organ's canned "drum roll" sound effect to jarring/mesmerizing effect. This was around three weeks ago, September 16th, the last performance of Richard's tour, check it out:



And, to bring it down a little, here's a live haunting acoustic guitar version with Ben Chasny on slide, at Feeding Tube Records in Northampton, MA, the first performance of the tour, September 2:



And here's one from right in the middle of the tour, September 10th, completely solo with acoustic guitar at the Black Cat Backstage in Washington D.C. At around the halfway point I'm wondering if this is even better than the WFMU version....

Thursday, August 08, 2013

(NOT NECESSARILY) AMERICAN TOP 41


"The hits from coast to coast to coast to coast to coast to coast to coast....."

41. Miles Davis "You're Under Arrest"
40. The Fuckin' Flying A-Heads "Watching TV"
39. Howard Nishioka "Odyseas Over Seas"
38. Forest "Hawk the Hawker"
37. Aaron Rosenblum "Live At Zebulon"
36. New Order "Leave Me Alone"
35. Friction "Cycle Dance"
34. Friction "Crazy Dream"
33. Crazy Dreams Band "Feels So Good"
32. King Sporty "Choice of Music"
31. Horace Andy "Money Money"
30. Ed Kuepper "Ill Wind"
29. Maan "Damocles"
28. Matthew Young "Caitlin's Reile"
27. Forest "Fading Light"
26. Sand "Helicopter"
25. Demdike Stare "Matilda's Dream"
24. Demdike Stare "The Stars Are Moving"
23. Dr. Strangely Strange "Sign On My Mind"
22. Tapiman "Love Country"
21. Balaclavas "Snake People"
20. Monostat 3 "Beyond the Rim"
19. Led Zeppelin "Achilles Last Stand (Live at Knebworth 1979)" (this is actually #1)
18. Bob Dylan & the Band "Sign of the Cross"
17. Gene Clark "Some Misunderstanding"
16. The Byrds "Universal Mind Decoder"
15. The Byrds "Goin' Back"
14. Rolling Stones "Back Street Girl"
13. Les Vampyrettes (aka Conny Plank & Holger Czukay) "Biomutanten"
12. Red Krayola "Duke of Newcastle"
11. Tough Troubles "Paraplegic" aka "Help Me" (pick to click / buzz bin favorite / #11 with a bullet)
10. Gil Scott-Heron "Pieces of a Man"
09. Cedric Im Brooks & the Light of Saba "Words of Wisdom"
08. Matthew Young "Traveler's Advisory"
07. Valley of Ashes "Yellow Fog"
06. Siloah "Feast of the Pickpockets"
05. Siloah "Aluminum Wind"
04. Mighty Baby "Virgin Spring"
03. Dieuf-Dieul de Thies "Na Binta" (super special heat seeker debut at #3 with a bullet)
02. Pierrot Lunaire "Narciso"
01. Claudio Rocchi "Volo Magico N. 1"