Sunday, April 29, 2018

Waylon Jennings - 1974-xx-xx, Abbott, TX

No reason in particular, just because I like Waylon a lot and his mid-70s stretch especially. This set's got a nice cross-section of his music. Shame there isn't much on the date or anything, but the music's great. Right at the Honky Tonk Heroes peak.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ratdog - 2006-03-01, KPFA Studio, Berkeley, CA

I'll be the first to admit I can't keep track of all the post-Grateful Dead side projects. I understand all the members have their own bands, and occasionally play with each other in some other bands, but quite frankly I feel like Charlie Kelly when I try and keep track of them all:

But of the ones I do know, and actually listen to, Ratdog is the best. Actually, they're the only one, actually. Why? Because, as this live broadcast shows, they're heavy on loose, Blues for Allah era jams that are just the right amount of light fusion. They take the tricky rhythms of "Slipknot" and whip through them like it's nothing special, then work themselves into a nice, slow groove. The saxophone and wah-guitar give them a nice 70s vibe, and I like the way Bob Weir and Mark Karan's guitars mesh. It's maybe a little slow-going for some people's tastes, but I think it's just about perfect for a lazy afternoon where I sit around doing nothing.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell and Material - 2012-10-24 - Milan, Italy

One World Music...

I've been on a bit of a Laswell kick as of late, listening to his solo record Means of Deliverance and a bunch of Material. Why? Because they've all been re-released on Bandcamp, often with new cover art and great sound. It's tempting to just buy them all, especially after a couple of drinks, but since I own a few of them already, and a few don't really do much for me, I've just stuck with his Material albums: One Down, Seven Souls and The Third Power. 

One thing I've noticed is that there isn't a lot of Live Laswell out there. I guess there's a few EPs, but generally it's just lots and lots of studio recordings. Which makes today's share all the more interesting: it's a Material show from 2012, and at this point Laswell was on something of a jazz kick. He'd also brought along sometime-compatriot and P-funk legend Bernie Worrell on keys, which immediately makes this a must-listen

And it's a rewarding one, too. It opens with a lengthy Worrell solo, then the band hits into a laid-back groove for "Volunteered Slavery." From there's the electric funk of "Goodfellas," the spacey almost dub of "Tendi" and some guitar heroics on "Thinking of Hendrix." There's a lengthy percussion solo, which would almost put the Dead's Kreutzmann/Hart to shame and lots of dub/reggae grooves in the show's back end. It sort of promises what the bootleg title delivers: One World Music, as many ideas from what we'd call world music all happening at once.

I'm not sure exactly the details of this recording; it's taken from a radio broadcast, and I don't really know if all the titles are correct. According to one site, the lineup is:
  • Bill Laswell, bass
  • Bernie Worrell, keyboards;
  • Dominic Kanza, guitar;
  •  Hamid Drake, drums
  • Ayib Dieng, percussion
  • Steven Bernstein, trumpet
  • Peter Apfelbaum, tenor sax

Monday, April 9, 2018

Ralph Towner - 1974-03-12 - Postaula, Bremen, Germany

From the NDR Archives...

Is Ralph Towner jazz? He doesn't make music that swings, and even in a full band context (Oregon, for example), calling them jazz seems to take the label to a breaking point.

Regardless, I like Towner's playing a lot. When he plays guitar, he makes it sound like a thousand instruments, alternating between crashing chords and lightning-fast runs up and down the fretboard. I don't think it's too unfair to compare him to John McLaughlin, although I'd argue Towner's a more atmospheric player, in that his playing fills the room with emotion and feeling; McLaughlin's as impersonal as a machine gun at times.

This set was recorded live in 1974, I believe by NDR. Or perhaps Radio Bremen? I'm not sure, and if I spoke German I could probably look it up. What that means for you, is the sound is crystal-clear, sounding like you're right in front of his guitar (or, for "Rainmaker," his piano). He takes standards and twists them on their head (wonder what Mingus made of his "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat",) while originals are cast in a new light: "Nimbus" is all tension and a cloud of notes, while "Rainmaker" shows off his underrated piano skills.

So: is Ralph Towner jazz? My answer: does it really matter when the music's so good?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Kip Hanrahan - Sex, Romance And Passion. Anger, Lies And Deceit

He's the wardrobe master of paradise...

In a more just world, I wouldn't have annoying dysphoria issues, Trayvon Martin would still be alive and Kip Hanrahan would be more well known, or at least to the same extent that Hal Willner or Bill Laswell are.

That ism there's a good chance that you've heard of Laswell or Willner, and even if you haven't, you know the stable of musicians they're able to call upon: Ginger Baker, Sonny Sharrock, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed, among others. And Hanrahan, during his American Clave prime in the 80s, was able to call in some big names: Byard Lancaster, David Murray, Jack Bruce and even Laswell himself.

But not everything in life is peaches and cream, and I think Clave went out of business a few times over the years. Or at least garnered an impression that their records are hard to find. I've only seen one in the wild, and I've been to record stores literally all across Canada. Which is interesting, since on Discogs you can find his stuff for pretty cheap!

Anyway, this share is a mix made by - and I'm going from memory here - a guy named Miles on a long-defunct blog called Birds With Broken Wings something like a decade ago. I grabbed it from another long-gone blog a few years ago, and not only have I not seen it anywhere else, I can't even find anything on Google about it. Go figure.

The music is what you'd expect from a Hanrahan release, but if you're not familiar it's something like this: smoky, back-room jazz, with speak-singing that's closer to a poetry recital than anything; Latin-infused rhythms and horn riffs; ECM-style jazz guitar; jazz that's maybe a little pretentious, but always interesting and never demands much more than an open mind from the listener.

I'd list the sources and players, but honestly I don't have them. Mostly, it's from 90s records like Exotica, A Thousand Nights and A Night, and a few others; there's nothing here from his first couple of records, which are also very cool and recommended. I hope you enjoy, and thanks again to Miles, wherever you are.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Arthur Blythe - May 4, 1979, Public Theater, New York, NY

Back to the Beginning...

In 1979, Arthur Blythe looked like he could've been the next big name in jazz. He'd built up an impressive run as a sidesman and a leader on small labels. And when CBS released Lenox Avenue Breakdown, the Village Voice's Gary Giddons wrote a long, positive review. To wit:
For me, he is one of the four or five most stimulating jazz musicians to come to the jazz fore in the past decade... If Columbia can tap into Blythe's potential audience, the album could be the wedge with which other loft veterans break through to larger audiences.
No small feat considering he was compared against peers like David Murray, Ray Anderson and Butch Morris, among others.

What happened next, and how his records all sort of slipped into the cutout bins, is a story for another time, so let's reward the clock back to the late 70s, when Blythe was gigging with James Ulmer, Abdul Wadud, Bobby Battle and Bob Stewart in New York and radio stations would play his sets over the airwaves.

This one comes from May 4, 1979. It's from early in his career as a bandleader, and if this site can be believed, it's the earliest circulating show of his band. Which is neat, but wouldn't mean too much if the music wasn't so good. Take a listen and think about all the potential and talent, and you know, the stuff that made seasoned critics like Giddons start salivating.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Horace Silver - 1987-06-30, St. Denis Theatre, Montreal, Quebec

From the CBC Radio archives...

Throughout most of the 50s and 60s, Horace Silver was on a hell of a streak. Just about all of his Blue Note records - and there's a lot of them - just about defined what hard bop was supposed to sound like. And they're just dripping with cool: Song for my Father mixes in Latin grooves, while Tokyo Blues opens with jutting horns. And througout, Silver's piano has more hooks than the average pop song. It's no wonder he hasn't just been sampled like a million times, but even been ripped off Steely Dan (see: "Rikki Don't Lose that Number").

Anyway, even if his commercial and artistic peak was a good two decades behind him by 1987, Silver and his band still could bring it when playing live. I've got something like a dozen bootlegs of him from all kinds of places, ranging from the late 60s to the late 80s, and the genius of his songs (and band arrangements, too) has each of them sounding as good as anything from his Blue Note records.

In fact, I'd argue this show from the Montreal Jazz Festival sounds not only as good as any of them, but at moments sounds even better. Think I'm kidding? The way him and his band blast into "Tokyo Blues" sounds like the opening theme to a forgotten 70s cop show, giving the music a harder edge than the laid-back original. Must've been a blast to see in person.

The rest of the show isn't a slouch, either.  Take "The God of Aruba." Through as a few extended solos, the band stretches out while remaining pretty accessible: solo, theme, a few more choruses, then the theme again and repeat. Compare this to, say, the stuff David Murray or Ronald Shannon Jackson were doing at about the same time, and you'll see what I mean. And, unlike Wynton, who at the same time was all about doing jazz as a museum piece, Silver's music remains playful and fun.