Monday, June 25, 2018

Clifford Jordan - 1974-04-05, Half Note, NYC, NY

Generally, I remember Clifford Jordan as the other reed player on Charles Mingus' 1964 tour though Europe. You know, the tour with Dolphy that's been bootlegged extensively and was recently subject to a lavish Mosaic box set.

But on his own, Jordan was a remarkable tenor player, who spent most of the 70s and beyond working with European labels like Steeplechase and Soul Note. And it was on Soul Note that he released a live album from a show at the Half Note from April, 1974. He was joined by a crack band: bassist Sam Jones, pianist Cedar Walton and Albert Heath on drums.

That record, which I haven't heard, has a basically identical setlist to this show. But there's also some stuff here that isn't on that record, which makes be suspect they might be different sets, or that this has a different origin (a FM broadcast, maybe?). I don't know. I do know that you can buy the long out-of-print record on Discogs and you can listen to this show via me.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin - 1973-09-05 - Berkeley, CA

It goes to 11, Carlos

In the summer of 1973, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin did a short tour to promote their new album Love Devotion Surrender, which was somewhere on the spectrum of spiritual jazz and guitar madness. Imagine if A Love Supreme had a supercharged rhythm section and a bunch of distortion pedals, and you're halfway there.

The album's aged pretty well, and sounds a lot better in the wake of stuff like Sonic Youth, Grand General and Rush's more guitar-heroic moments. But live they were a different beast. McLaughlin got Billy Cobham to join him - as I recall, Jan Hammer and company took a small vacation from the Mahavishnu's heavy touring schedule - while Santana brought over a few percussionists of his own. And Khalid Yasin, who used to play with McLaughlin in Tony Williams Emergency, came aboard to provide organ.

The shows are generally completely insane. Songs - most of them John Coltrane covers, with a few originals sprinkled in - go on for over 20 minutes, and there's guitar pryotechnics all over the place. Cobham drums like a man possessed and McLaughlin plays, as Frank Zappa once put it, like a machine gun, spraying notes with reckless abandon. Santana's guitar playing is as tasteful as ever, which is a nice balance against McLaughlin.

This show comes from a show in Berkeley, and has good (if occasionally distant) sound. I think it's a FM recording, but it could be a soundboard. Either way, turn it up and get lost in these two at their most expansive.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Neil Young - 1978 Boarding House Compilation

The other day, news broke that Neil Young will be (or maybe not, you never know with him), releasing an acoustic album from a tour in 1976. Well, it got me thinking. You see, shortly before hitting the road with Crazy Horse in 1978, Neil Young played a series of shows at the small, acoustic-oriented Boarding House in San Francisco. It was filled with new songs, including "Shots," "Thrasher," and "Ride My Llama."

The thing about Neil which makes him so compelling to me is that he's always followed his muse and been in a position where he's able to do so, no matter where it takes him. For most of the 80s - for my money, his most creative period - he dabbled in proto-techno, 50s greaser rock and honky-tonk, not to mention the wonderful This Note's For You. The 70s are probably most people's fave Young period, and he made all sorts of weird turns there, too. A weird one-off show with like five guitarists, the shambling Tonight's the Night tour, even a Crazy Horse show where they played mostly stuff they, and not Young, wrote.

These Boarding House shows fit neatly into this pattern. Even as Neil was listening to punk and writing tunes with a sharp, harder edge to them, he was also leaning back into his folkie days: just about all the new songs here wouldn't sound too out of place on Live at the Riverboat. I like how whomever put this mix together thought to include two versions of "Thrasher," including one where Young fucks up and stops the song. "These songs have so many words," he says.

The tape (tapes?) here are all audience-sourced, and have great sound, making you feel like you're right there in the club. Did Young tape these shows? Well, there is a notch for them on the online archives, so.....

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Carla Bley and Steve Swallow - 1998-10-31, Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Zurich, Switzerland

It's June, which means I'm busier at work, and when combined with cool coming-out-as-trans stuff, my free time is stretched as thin as it ever gets. So there's less time to relax and listen to bootleggy goodness.

But I still have some time, and this is a show I've been digging lately. It's a nice gig featuring just Carla Bley and Steve Swallow playing as a duo, and there's some nice moments: an opening improvisation, a working of "King Korn," and the lengthy "Blues in Twelve Bars." This is a period of her music I'm not overly familiar with: I know Are We There Yet was recorded on this tour, but I don't think any of the material on that is present here.

Bley's piano playing is in fine form here, and meshes with with Swallow's bass. As it should: they've been playing together for a very long time, and by 1998 had recorded two duo albums. But what makes this era neat is the amount of material Swallow brought to the table: "A Dog's Life," and "Satie For Two" are both his. So in all, tons of fun for Bley fanatics!