Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ornette Coleman...Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz...Rhasaan Roland Kirk... Warne Marsh... some hot and some cool...

There may not be much posting next week as I'm off to Wales on monday to see my daughter and the boy Jake. So I'd better give some good value before I leave. The usual eclectic selection – I would have put up a couple more but have been having problems with slow uploads. But onwards...

I first heard 'Chappaqua Suite' not long after it came out - way back – apparently Conrad Rooks had commisioned Ornette to write the music for his movie 'Chappaqua' – then for whatever reason decided that it didn't fit his concept – I've never seen the film- one of those counter-culture legends which may well exist as more interesting unseen, given some of the reviews – although the redoubtable William S Burroughs has a part in it as 'Opium Jones.' I suspect that the music may well outlive the movie anyway... arranged by Eric Dolphy, it's wonderful stuff. Played by his trio, plus Pharoah Sanders on tenor and a backdrop of strings woodwinds and brass - lifted by the drums of Charles Moffett – (can't hear the bass too well, which is a great shame given that Izenson was so damn good). The basic format is for the orchestra to come in and out with brief jagged shards of sound – vertical clusters and chords in block harmony while he improvises over the top - when they fall out leaving just him and the bass and drums – like a collision/contrast almost between the swinging and the more austere European scoring. A dry run for 'Skies of America,' maybe? Some great blowing from Ornette, tempos pretty up on this track, that vertical orchestral wedge intersecting with the linear, free -flowing free-blowing, unravelling ingenuity of the leader, matched all the way by Moffett. You won't hear Sanders on this track, by the way - he only pops up briefly on the album.


So to the cool Рthe iceman Tristano cometh. Or is that just an old critical clich̩? Plenty of soul here, just two guys playing from what they know. Tristano may have been blind but he wasn't black and neither was Lee Konitz. So you don't expect them to play cornbread and greens gutbucket blues really, do you? There's a different fire going on here, I think. And lest we forget РKonitz was one of the few original alto sax voices in the bebop and after period when Bird was being massively imitated by Рpretty much everyone. Here they tackle the fountainhead, so to speak Р(Bird, rather than Ayn Rand Рcome on!) Donna Lee, an archetypal bop line of Parker's. With a good rhythm section РDoug Ramey and Art Taylor (undersung in the annals Рcrisp and clear on this live date) Рthey respond accordingly. This is Tristano's logical take on the ramifications of the bop improvised line echoed by his pupil Konitz. Flowing, surprising little rhythmic twists, light but strong. And all that rubbish about his hatred of drummers is nonsense Рsome kind of a put Рdown. Tristano's music has been neglected due to the vicissitudes of jazz criticism (probably an element of crow-jim here): his impact was a lot greater than realised.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk was more than a sax player – he was a wild ball of energy who sometimes had to play three saxes at once to get the music he heard and felt out into the world. An amazing musician – and one who was regarded by some critics (damn their impudent eyes) as some kind of circus act. Well, to engage in polemical critical discourse – fuck 'em and the hegemony they rode in on... Kirk was a very underrated tenor player, let alone his expertise on flute and the hybrid saxophones Manzello and Stritch (sounds like a quirky movie title). He also confused people by his depth of historical musical knowledge and reference – from New Orleans traditional upwards. People who don't fit critical pigeonholes usually get – ignored. Not to say he was, totally, but I get the feeling he was never given his due. This track is a bright and cheerful ¾ , played on one of the bastard horns, the one that sounds like a soprano sax – it has that 'lemony' character one associates with the straight sax. Some full two handed accompaniment on the piano and thrusting drums. For all the blood and fire usually associated with Kirk – this is a lithe, spring morning track, the waltz time giving it a pastoral feel as he sticks to one horn throughout.


Back to the 'cool' school? One of Tristano's pupils – the equally neglected tenorman, Warne Marsh. Playing here with the expat pianist Ronie Ball who was also taken under the Tristano wing. Marsh plays with a lighter tone than the usual sturm und drang brigade, coming out of Lester Young but very much his own man. It has been remarked about his playing that he never resorts to signature phrases and fall-back licks but was always freshly inventive – a characteristic of Tristano and his stronger pupils, that came directly from his teachings on improvised melody? Crisp drumming and bass, Ball plays an inventive solo and Marsh dances across it all like the master he was... This is taken from the oddly named album 'Music for Prancing' – which suggests bizarre images to me of those weird folk whose sexual fetish is to impersonate horses and be driven around pulling carts. Or maybe I should get out more... I've alos just noticed that I've typo'ed Marsh's first name into my surname – well, I'm not uploading the bugger again, so my apologies to his shade, as it were...

The subtext here? That the wild men were not always what they seem, while the 'cool' guys had plenty of fire. Sometimes the best thing to do is just listen... and resist the critical hegemony...

Dont'cha just love that word?



Ornette Coleman
(Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone;David Izenson:bass; Charles Moffett: drums; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone; 11 piece orchestra, arrangements by Eric Dolphy).

Download

Chappaqua Suite part 1


Buy

Download

Lennie Tristano
(Lennie Tristano: piano; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone;Doug Ramey: bass; Art Taylor: drums).

Download
Donna Lee

Buy


Rahsaan Roland Kirk
(Rahsaan Roland Kirk: saxes, flute; Jaki Byard: piano; Richard Davis: bass; Elvin Jones: drums).

Download

Black Diamonds


Buy



Warne Marsh
Warne Marsh (tenor saxophone), Ronnie Ball (piano), Red Mitchell (bass), Stan Levey (drums).

Download


Playa del ray


Buy

19 comments:

Molly Bloom said...

I loved your upbeat, jaunty style here Rod. And I loved the line:
"So you don't expect them to play cornbread and greens gutbucket blues" which is brilliantly done.

And you mention Burroughs..another link to Olsen...(see last post).
I'm going to enjoy listening to your downloads. You bring joy to the days. You really do...


How long are you going to Wales for? Can't you blog from there...? Hope so.

Rod... said...

I'm only going for a few days, maybe a week at most... probably can blog from there as will be online - just depends on time - also putting finishing touches to solo cd and doing the (minimal) artwork. In between sampling the joys of the Principality...actually when I lived there it wasn't all bad as got to know a disparate and interesing crew of writers and musicians - some of whom I intend to look up next week. Also did my first degree in Aberystwyth - alma mater and all that -which had a great library and proximity to the National Library of Wales of which I was a member. It was probably getting married again disastrously across there serythat soured my memories!

Molly Bloom said...

What was your degree in? And have you got another one? What's that in? C'mon, don't be shy... I'm so inquisitive, I can't help it. Sorry.

Yes, I have often thought that places like Wales have a lot of creativity tucked away. Often the smaller places are like that. Where I grew up, it was rather narrow-minded and parochial but there was a gang of us trying to explore territories of creativity.

We were reading, writing, painting, talking and that's always good. Oh yes, and drinking!! There was a fantastic pub called 'The Hole in the Wall' and it was full of us. I loved it...until I spotted my English teacher in there and she told the landlady that I was only 14...spoil-sport! I did spend much of my youth there. It was a horrible little market town in the middle of The Fens. The inbreeding was frightening and let's just say that most of the animals were nervous....(ooh Betty)

And, you say that you are doing the artwork - is that for the CD cover? We want to see it. When is the CD going to be ready? How many more questions can I ask on this comment space?

Molly Bloom said...

I'm just going to say 'hegemony' again...just for jolly.

Molly Bloom said...

I must have just missed you in the comment box just now. That's a shame. I wonder if you'll come back. I think comment box conversations are great.

Molly Bloom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Molly Bloom said...

Sorry that last mistake was me. I've just been to read your Ginsberg essay relating to 'Howl'- marvellous stuff.

Rod... said...

chim chim hegemony chim chim cheree an intellectual's life is the best one for me...
whoops - time to go out soon - if a whole load of comments appear it means that blogger is still working -my printer has gone haywire and I'm in need of alcohol and a short walk in reverse order

Molly Bloom said...

Oh, where are you going for a walk to?

Molly Bloom said...

Thelonius Monk is on the TV right now...

Rod... said...

in some kind of order - to answer your question - degree was BA first class honours American Studies - second one an indifferent Msc in IT - there's inter-disciplinary for you, boyo...
trying to print off my novel as need to get it in post for agent on monday before I leave - and printer has decided to go loopy re ink smears and paper jams - bugger!

Rod... said...

I'm having a stroll up to a pub called the Orange Tree where I'm meeting Murray the collaborator - we're off to see the Akron Family in nottingham - now we don't have our own gig - a night off!

Molly Bloom said...

Ooooh, a first...goodness me.

Molly Bloom said...

You need to kick your printer up the arse and then it might work.

Molly Bloom said...

Can I come to the pub please?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful stuff! Thank you

Rod... said...

T monk? All I'm getting is the snooker... which my last girlfriend taught me to appreciate as she was a snooker buff since a girl... something about the provincial air that breeds oddballs! Still - beats pool. As the old Jackie Crowley song goes - 'And every man jack was up for the crack with his arse in the air playing pool.'

Molly Bloom said...

I laughed at the Jackie Crowley lyric. Hope you have a great time at the pub. And look - an anonymous admirer!!

Did your printer work in the end?

Rod... said...

jury is out on the printer... we'll see tomorrow - back from the gig - truly inspirational... but decided to complete the descent into saturday night by stopping in the AQ for a brief drink (and to check that no one actually turned up for the cancelled gig)... a couple with a couple of friends - then, the shame of it - a kebab -not quite sure what I have just eaten but time will rapidly tell if it was a mistake...