Friday, March 30, 2018

Sam Rivers and Friends - 1978-10-15, Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA

A little free jazz for the birds...

Rivers, Daley and "friend"
To some, the San Francisco club Keystone Korner is maybe best remembered a place where Jerry Garcia gigged all the time. Except, you know, the Keystone Garcia gigged at was the other Keystone, located in Berkley. Confusing, I know!

The Korner was a jazz club, somehow improbably successful throughout the 70s at a time when jazz clubs were largely a thing of the past. An insane number of live records were recorded there, my personal fave being Keystone Bop featuring Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson, among others. And it played host to all sorts of jazz: electric Miles, various Art Blakey lineups (including one with a young Wynton Marsalis) and even the occasional free jazz show.

Today's share comes from one of those gigs. This one came to me under Sam Rivers leadership, and who knows, maybe he was considered the headliner here. But the lineup also includes Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, Joe Daley and Thurman Barker. And by this point, both Holland and Braxton were established leaders of their own, with records on ECM and Arista. Rivers, meanwhile, was releasing stuff like Sizzle for Impulse, and most probably, the cutout bins.

And of course, one may remember that Holland, Rivers and Braxton all recorded the seminal Conference of the Birds a few years previous. And that Holland and Rivers had been gigging as a duo occasionally. And that Braxton had been dabbling in his own NYC-based experiments. And that... but I'm rambling.

The music here is probably one long piece, mostly improvised. I say probably because for one, there's a few dropouts and cuts through the one long file. And second, I think there's a few moments where they sound like they're building on some themes or ideas. I'm hardly an expert on free jazz, so please feel free to sound off below and tell me they're all, I dunno, playing an arrangement of Charlie Parker solos. That's another thing Braxton was doing around this time, you know. Still: it's about an hour of some pretty cool music, no matter the content or whose name got top billing. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lucinda Williams - House of Blues, West Hollywood, CA; July 30, 2001

One more for International Women's Month...

Maybe you noticed a theme here this month: I posted only boots by female musicians. Because hey, it's international women's month and because it wasn't really all that hard. And there's plenty of good music to share.

The last one I've got for this month is a nice show from Lucinda Williams. It's a lengthy show from the House of Blues in Hollywood from 2001, and features a nice band:  
Lucinda Williams - vocals, acoustic and electric guitar
Doug Pettibone - electric guitar, electric mandolin, steel guitar
Bo Ramsay - electric guitar
Taras Prodaniuk - bass
Don Heffington - drums
Honestly, I can't say I'm overly familar with her music, at least enough to say if this is like the Cornell '77 of Williams bootlegs or anything, but it's a fun listen and that's usually enough for me. Hope you enjoy, too!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Diana Krall - 2004-06-24, Black Orchid Supper Club, Chicago, IL

Almost blue...
Cor baby, that's really her

I can hear it already: this is too smooth, too easy listening, too mainstream, blah blah blah. I can understand why some people might not like Diana Krall, but I don't really agree with it.

Maybe it's because she's such a crossover success that it's almost impossible not to find her records in thrift-stores and second-hand CD shops. Maybe it's because she doesn't play outside/free jazz or records for a hip, small indie jazz label. Maybe it's because (gasp!) she's a woman who leads her own band. I dunno. But I think that in a vacuum, Krall's a remarkable talent. She possesses a husky voice that drips smokey vibes and emotion and it able to not only turn a song like Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue" into a standard, but make you think it's been one all along. I mean, people love Chet Baker for almost doing the same thing and he threw away most of his talent. And he couldn't play and sing at the same time, like Krall does.

This set was recorded live in 2004, but as per the notes on Ousterhout, it wasn't broadcast until 2008. I grabbed this off a long-vanished blog a few years ago, so any details on the broadcast are long gone, but Krall was touring with a crack band (that's Peter Erskine on drums, who you may remember from his stint in Weather Report) and had an interesting setlist this evening. So: it's a great sounding recording, a good band and a nice setlist. Maybe take a listen, will ya?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cat Power - 1999-05-14, Bellingham

One of her better nights...

My sister's fiance used to work at a radio station, and even though he's not a music guy, he's been to a lot of shows over the years. I asked him about Cat Power once, and he said she was not good: withdrawn, rushed through her set and was gone after like 40 minutes. He wasn't alone; the New Yorker once wrote about how bad she was on stage; little did they know she was an alcoholic who drank to excess to combat stage freight.

This share isn't one of those nights. On this night in Bellingham, she mostly played covers (all from the then-new The Covers Record), a few originals and even a cover that she'd get around to releasing a few years later. It's an intimate show, just her and a guitar (or piano), her voice occasionally a little hoarse, but still carrying emotion. At the time, she was easily capable of creating a tender, fragile performance. And when she performs solo, it's a lot easier to hear her connection to the blues, often a source of influence in her music. It reminds me more than a little bit of Songs: Ohia actually, but unlike Molina, she was able to overcome her personal demons.

The way she takes apart covers is interesting, too. "Satisfaction" is stripped to the sinews, like it might've been performed by Elmore James; "Wild is the Wind" is similarly bare and stark, with just her voice and a booming piano. The whole set is like this. It's not a fun time, but it's a compelling time.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sleater-Kinney - March 20, 2015, Paris, France

Outtakes, of a sort...

Last year, my favourite band band released their first live album and it was one of my fave records of the year. I suppose Sleater-Kinney's Live in Paris didn't really make a splash the way any of their other records have, but as someone who's never gotten to see them live and thinks they're a great live act (there's a reason I collect bootlegs of theirs, ya know), it's a nice memento to have and cherish and hopefully one day I'll get to see them live. Not holding my breath though.

Anyway, this brings me to today's share: a NPR broadcast from 2015, featuring a live show in Paris. Sound familiar? I assume that when they recorded the live album, the NPR people got dibs on a selection of material for their World Cafe program. I think? I truthfully haven't A/Bed these performances, and anyway there's some stuff here that's not on the official record: a lengthy interview and a nice performance of "Fangless." It's short, it's sweet and if you haven't bought Live in Paris yet, hopefully it convinces you to do so.

As a bonus, I attached an unrelated session at KEXP to this. I forget where it came from. Might have been a promo EP at one point? Or something I downloaded somewhere? It's also good, showing them right before their hiatus. So now you get both sides of the story, as it were...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Carla Bley - 1978-03-27, Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX

Keeping the women's month vibe going, here's another great set from Carla Bley in her prime.

This set has some nice tunes: "440," which you may remember from music class is A note you tune your instrument against, "Ida Lupino," and my fave of the bunch, "Wrong Key Donkey."

As you may have guessed, this is a nice slice of the less serious side of Bley's music. She toys with key signatures and tones, making music that doesn't take itself seriously, but is far from a joke. In a few years she'd take this to an extreme: Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports was packed with a sharp, hilarious wit. But even here you can see the seeds of that great record.

I think this is also a nice example of the Austin scene in full effect: the Armadillo hosted all kinds of music, from Willie Nelson to Frank Zappa. I can't imagine too many other venues in Texas would've hosted Bley's euro-centric jazz at the time, so it's very cool to see that she made inroads here.

  1. talk
  2. 440
  3. Ida Lupino
  4. Jesus Maria and Other Spanish Strains
  5. Drinking Music
  6. Wrong Key Donkey

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sleater-Kinney - BBC Sessions 1998-2000

I'm going to to keep the women's month posts going here with a look at some great tunes by my fave group, probably ever.

Between 1998 and 2000, Sleater-Kinney had three sessions broadcast over the BBC. This set includes dates, but I've found other dates that match this setlist so who knows? But you know what's great: this music. It's got a little of everything: stuff from Call the Doctor through All Hands on the Bad One, plus a nice CCR cover, which if you were around a good 18 years ago, had a resonance with the then president-elect.

The thing about Sleater-Kinney for me is that besides the badassery of them all, is that I love the way Corin and Carrie's guitars mesh and Janet's propulsive drumming. They're one of those bands I listen to when I'm not sure what I want to listen to. I think this shows them in their live element, and is a little more concise than a full gig. Is there more in the BBC archives? Or in some college radio, or CBC Radio archives? I hope so, because I'm always looking for more live Sleater-Kinney!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Carla Bley - 1977-08-24, Chateauvallon, France

Boo to you too!

Today, March 8, is international woman's day. It seems like as good a time as ever to share some music by one of my favourite jazz composers: Carla Bley! I've got a ton of her music, but if I'm being honest, I like the late 70s/early 80s period the most.

Today's share comes from a FM broadcast in France, right at the start of this run. I'm not sure of the details, but make sure you stick around for the star-spangled finale, where Bley and company work their arrangement of the American anthem, among other songs.