Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Season's greetings

Originally uploaded by mrgreg
Another holiday e-card from the mind and fingers of the great bassist Henry Grimes, whose talents extend beyond the bandstand. Check out last year's as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Smooth, as in good Scotch

On a Dave Brubeck jag today after buying Indian Summer on severe sale this morning (which, if Dave Brubeck never records again, is a wonderful solo capstone to his career) and it occurs too me that it's a shame smooth as in jazz has come to mean pap from, say, Kenny G, best consumed, if consumed at all, on an elevator.

Brubeck's Quartet through Brubeck & Rushing (a super outing with the blues shouting Mr. Five by Five), Jazz at the College of Pacific and Jazz at Oberlin defines "smooth" jazz in the good sense, rendered with nary a jagged edge but still adventurous, creative and full of surprises. They still take risks, they're just good enough to walk the tightrope without falling, and they can swing like mad, kind of like a smaller version of Duke Ellington's orchestra. (And outside of Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker, I don't know an altoist with a more distinctive sound than Paul Desmond. I'd throw Benny Carter in there, too, although I think his sound got a little less distinctive over the years from all the people who appropriated it.)

Proof that "smooth" jazz doesn't have to be boring.

Will end the session with the classic Time Out, of course.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stop that

Geez, I just had like a heart palpitation listening to Billy Preston on the third disk of The Complete On the Corner Sessions, which I am rationing slowly so as to savor, same thing I do when I buy maple sugar candy at Xmas.

Incredibly exciting music with, amazingly, not the least bit of dated feeling to it.

Then I'm sitting here and suddenly realizing I am frigging mesmerized by The Hen.

No wonder this stuff upset people when it came out. It's radical, man.

And I love it.

Corey Harris, Zion Crossroads, Telarc

On second pass I hear a nifty melding of blues-inflected rock with Marleyesque reggae (In the Morning) and lyrics sometimes belted out in a way a blues shouter like Jimmy Rushing could appreciate (Fire Go Come). I also like the way the horn and organ, which are pretty jazzy at times, flesh out the music without getting in the way (Cleanliness, among other places).

His synthesis of blues, rock and reggae, even a little country, on Plantation Town is particularly impressive.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Corey Harris, Between Midnight and Day, ALCD

I know two MacArthur "genius grant" winners and they are fascinating dudes, but I doubt either one could fit right in with Robert Johnson, Bukka White and Tampa Red. This guy pulls it off. The title track, for example, slides between covers of tunes by Blind Boy Fuller and White like it was right at home, in the Delta.

I thought his most recent thing, Zion Crossroads, was shades of Bob Marley (although none of the tunes were Marley's and almost all of the music was of his own manufacture) and yet in doing all this, his musical voice is unique, which tells me that genius money was well spent. I'm interested to see what's next.

Christian Scott, Anthem, Concord

So before fusion, I think the last great Miles Davis quintet (Miles, Shorter, Hancock, Carter, Williams) was pretty much the pinnacle of mostly acoustic jazz and this, electronics here and there notwithstanding, is in the vein. Diverse, complex, extremely technically proficient music with a drummer, Marcus Gilmore, as a linchpin.

My reservation: it's generally downbeat mood music (The Uprising, more or less, excepted). OK, it's about the aftermath of Katrina, but there must be something lively to touch on musically there. Kind of thing I'll play on a rainy day and dig as appropriate moodwise, but maybe not when the sun is shining.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I love her anyway...

In person, Anat Cohen is as tall as, or taller, than me and her fingers
are mondo long. But I still lust after every note from her clarinet. And
her saxes.
-- From Mr. Greg's Sidekick II