Friday, October 31, 2008

How to have a good morning...

Chester Arthur Burnett, aka Howlin' Wolf, (Cause of it All) makes me want to get nasty.

Anthony Braxton (Mosaic box) gets my neurons firing like little arc welders.

Eddie Harris blowin' the Love Theme from the Sandpiper (The In Sound) makes me glad to be alive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jolie Holland, The Living and the Dead, Anti

So this morning I'm reading Ted Gioia's excellent new book Delta Blues: The Life and Times if the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music, in particular a discussion of the dark nature of some of Robert Johnson's most popular songs, which would seem to be oxymoronic. But I think people, myself included, are often attracted by raw emotion and tragedy in art, whether it is paintings, movies, plays or music (not to mention books, try Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle on for size.)

This occurred to me over breakfast and Jolie Holland's latest, The Living and the Dead, which is mostly every bit as dark as Hellhound On My Tail and might have made me think of Robert Johnson, or Son House and Skip James, even if I hadn't been reading Gioia's book when I first heard it. Holland's music isn't the blues, although it doesn't lack for blues elements, along with folk, pop, rock and a smattering of jazz.

But her lyrics are certainly emotive in the manner of the great blues songs and the way she uses vocal modulation reminds me of some of the tools employed by a James or a Johnson. (I've always loved her voice, which is kind of twangy, truth be told. Then again, Son House's was not exactly Ella Fitzgerald's, nor Louis Armstrong's for that matter. It's what he did with it that counted.)

Mexico City, and especially Corrido por Buddy, leave me feeling like I do when I walk out of the theater after seeing something like No Country for Old Men or finish a book like The Road (talk about dark, just check out Cormac McCarthy). Like I've been through an emotional wringer, sad, yet exhilarated, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Well dust my broom...

Woke up this morning, coffee maker wouldn't heat...

Woke up this morning, coffee maker wouldn't heat...

Woke up this morning, coffee maker wouldn't heat...

Thank the gods for my micrcrowave, and for Earl Grey hot tea.

Broken Mr. Coffee Blues.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Al Gallodoro, Out of Nowhere, Basta

With the Beau Hunks, a Dutch retro pre-swing pop jazz band in 1999. Chops like Pee Wee Russell on the clarinet and Benny Carter on the alto sax with the verve of a youngster like Anat Cohen, even though the Paul Whiteman, TV and other orchestra vet was well on at the time (he passed Oct. 4 at 95).

Great versions of Back Home Again in Indiana and Struttin' with Some Barbecue and a cool original, dedicated to his guitar-playing grandson, in Kevin's Tune. It may be rooted in before-Ellington jazz, but there's nothing "old" about it. Need more Al Gallodoro. Just sorry it took his death for me to find him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am woman, hear me roar...

I find it ironic and really cool that the blues musician I am almost certain is the best interpreter today of thoroughly male-dominated traditional Delta blues, both singing and most certainly guitar playing, is a 59-year-old woman who is, frankly, hot, although I'd probably be in love with Rory Block even if she looked like Son House, the legend she pays tribute to on Blues Walkin' Like a Man, Stony Plain. She was just as lovely on The Lady and Mr. Johnson, Rykodisc. If she's going home on the morning train, or driving her Terraplane, I'm in for the ride.

What's next, Wynton Marsalis hiring a woman horn player for his Lincoln Center band?

Never mind.