Sunday, February 07, 2010

Words of wisdom...

...from Art Pepper.

"If you can't play this and play the shit out of it, on horn or drums or anything else, don't play." Speaking of Cherokee, The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions.

And he plays the shit out of it, and mostly everything else, too. He was in a bad way from a substance abuse perspective when he made this, living on the edge and the music, likewise, is almost always on the edge in the truest sense of the term. Sad thinking about his life, but he's scintillating playing in the moment.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bugge Wesseltoft, Playing, Jazzland

Highlight: Take 5 stripped down to its blues, that's right, blues, roots, which is interesting because Bugge sticks pretty much to piano, with some well-placed drum machine licks and a few other electronic flourishes later in the piece. Interesting because this CD is largely about Bugge doing it all, à la Keith Jarrett, in a solo piano outing but mixing in (post-production, I assume) the computerized effects he's known for incorporating into his "new conception" of jazz, his vocal manipulation on Singing a prime example.

Then again, Talking to Myself (Part One and Part Two) are about as pure a solo piano ballad à la Jarrett as you can get, offset after by effects-oriented Rytme and Hands, the latter possessed of a decidedly bluesy cast. Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers to Cross he turns into a peaceful, piano-only gospel tune. A gem of a CD.

Horace Tapscott, The Dark Tree, hatOLOGY

New Hat Hut reissue of a 1989 live recording maybe legendary only among fans, this reminds me of Miles' second great group with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock in its level of sophistication (see Live at the Plugged Nickle) and its skirting of the limits of conventional jazz without drifitng into late Coltrane or Art Ensemble of Chicago territory. John Carter's clarinet and Tapscott's piano are essentially classical, albeit in a jazz context, on parts of the first set version of The Dark Tree, a 20-minute opus that I think maintains the intensity of a Jazz Messengers' performance (pick one, with Art Blakey driving they were pretty much all intense). In this case, Andrew Cyrille on drums and Cecil McBee on bass lay the perfect base for Tapscott and Carter, and get in some good solos as well. It's particularly interesting to hear Cyrille play in more of an "inside" context than usual for the free jazz drumming icon. He swings throughout. Blakey would have been down with Sandy and Niles on the second CD, too. Carter makes me sorry the Messengers never used a clarinetist. I hear a different Art, Tatum, in Tapscott's solo.

On Sketches of Drunken Mary, Tapscott shows some Monk influence in a lengthy and impressive solo but at a speed a lot faster than Monk typically employed. McBee's solo response to Tapscott's call is just great bass playing in which he employs the instrument's entire palette judiciously. Likewise on CD two's Barvarian Mist. The level of synchronicity Cyrille and McBee generate with Tapscott on Lino's Pad stuns. Listen for Tapscott's quoting of Greensleeves around seven minutes in; there's a Sonny Rollins-style cleverness in the way he slips it into the mix. Carter playing the clarinet strikes me as a window on what Artie Shaw would have sounded like had he played in the 1970s, '80s and '90s instead of the '30s, '40s and, briefly, '50s. Until Don Byron and Anat Cohen came along, I can't think of any clarinet player both this skilled and modern sounding. One for Lately features Tapscott (well comped by Carter) in a pianistic display of Coltrane-like sheets of sound. At the end of 2010, I may look back on this as my favorite purchase.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Katia Guerreiro, Tudo Ou Nada, Le Chant du Monde

Ser Tudo Ou Nada, the title track per se, is perfect fado in the way she uses her voice and the guitarras behind her, Paulo Valentim on Portuguese guitar especially. Likewise Vaga and Quando.

Classify Muda Tudo, Até O Mundo as a wonderful zippy fado in the vein of Fadinho Da Ti Maria Benta, Amália style. Her matter-of-fact delivery on Canto Da Fantasia reminds me of Alfredo Marceneiro and in general she tends to be less a drama queen than a purveyor in song of life's ironies, although she can be dramatic when called for as well.

She is surely one of the best younger fadistas working today and in Mariza's neighborhood. Absent Mariza, I could certainly deal with a diet of Katia and Carminho.

Masterful the first time

Well, the wheels are clearly off for these Beatles guys I discovered. I have to think that The Beatles Past Masters, basically two CDs of alternate takes, is it for them as a group. Like I said in respect to their last CD, Let It Be, having exhausted, for now, the possibilities in their group sound, their next step is probably careers as leaders individually, kind of like Miles Davis separating from Charlie Parker's group or, later, John Coltrane stepping out on Miles.

Still there is something to be said for this collection. The somewhat stripped down, to my ear, versions of, for example, From Me To You, Thank You Girl, Long tall Sally, I Feel Fine or Revolution offer a different perspective on those songs. It isn't as radical a shift as jazz musicians routinely make in recasting tunes, but noticeable. They did some business early on in Germany and the German-language versions of I Want Hold Your Hand (Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand) and She Loves You (Sie Liebt Dich) make for amusing interludes. I Call Your Name has a more prominent blues cast and Slow Down shows off its boogie-woogie roots more prominently. Call The Ballad Of John And Yoko rockabilly and You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) boffo performance art.

We can only revel in what they've done, which is marvelous, and hope they work it out, don't let us down and get back (with Billy Preston) to where they once belonged, which is together, like Duke and Johnny Hodges, although, Christ, you know it won't be easy.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mariza speaks

Nice interview with Mariza ahead of her U.K. tour, in which she quotes Dizzy Gillespie, talks about making music with Wynton Marsalis and expresses her admiration for Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, among others.

On growing up in Mouraria, the traditional wellspring of fado:
"If (the people of her neighborhood) are very sad they are very deeply sad. If they are in love they are deeply in love, everything is conducted in a very emotional, dramatic way. So they spent lots of time singing, or listening to music in their houses, and I was there listening too, and singing. It was like instead of having a doll I was having music to play with. At the beginning I never saw it as anything other than that. I was just singing because I loved music and I wanted to do something that made me feel good. It’s the same today. I’m there because of the passion that music makes me feel."