Monday, May 01, 2006

Three tenors, one saloon singer... one comic...

Summer is a – coming in and winter's gone away-o...
not in this neck of the swamp... cold and rain...
So – something light and bright to start with...

I've been aware of Warne Marsh as a name rather than having any great knowledge of his playing apart from the Tristano stuff I have (and must knock out at some stage). Listened to him here and there but never really engaged – until recently. A tremendous player who doesn't rely on patented licks or patterns. His version of 'All the things you are' is sublime – playing just with bass and drums. Marsh enters and glances at the theme, employing variations straight away in the first chorus. Then off into a dense forest of musical foliage – following his path can be tricky. This guy is a players' player, seemingly to me at least taking Lester Young as a model originally and building a more complicated and advanced harmonically-aware line. Pedersen, the late Scandinavian phenomenon, is, as ever, reliably tremendous – whether just stalking Marsh with walking lines or letting loose in his solo – bass playing of the highest order, horn-like lines that echo and answer Marsh's solo.

Sonny Rollins – from East Broadway Rundown – one of my favourite albums that dissects some of the new-wave rolling into his playing at that time. A bleary, care-worn take here which matches the song's title and subject matter. Playing with the bass and drums of John Coltrane's quartet, Rollin's explorations are from the inside, as it were, rather than wild fire music. The track's direction is led by the switches of rhythm – a syncopated bass figure that flips back and forth to a straight walking swing. A lot of space here -as if the harmonies and song structure are irrelevant but nevetheless assimilated. Form and freedom, an interesting reaction to the assaults of the avant-garde, which can be encountered in longer and (problematic? According to some...) detail on the title track of this cd. Rollins – who can do sheets of sound with the best of them (Coltrane) - gives less is more here, probing at the song, entering over that bass figure and double timed drums that turn to four four in the bridge and back . The solo is backed by Jones ching ka ching cymbals crossed with his usual ripples of polyrhythm, a delicate examination by Rollins: melancholy and beautiful.

As is this track by Sinatra – 'Drinking again,' which continues this late-night downbeat mode. This is later Sinatra, careworn and frayed – but existentially defiant.

Evan Parker? Greatest Brit sax player, bar none. As much as I love Paul Dunmall and the late Joe Harriott, Parker has blazed a distinctive trail from his roots in John Coltrane and acquired a formidable technique, especially in the unstable upper registers, which, coupled to his circular breathing, gives his solos their relentless unstoppability. This duo with noted free jazz drummer Eddie Prevost has echoes of those drum and sax duos that Coltrane performed and is actually one of the more obvious 'jazzy' albums he has made in recent years. Wild, booting stuff with Prevost in fine kit-thumping cymbal-sizzling form.


Hoo- hah... o.k., the sun is now shining, the rain has stopped, my hangover is easing and I've got to go and prepare lunch for my daughter, before she departs for Mordor. A Bill Hicks snippet, possible heir to Lenny Bruce? And unfortunately just as dead... This is Hicks doing 'Jack the Ripper,' leading into the Easter Bunny scenario and the Gideons – scathing, mordant – and very funny. Adding to the comedy is his conception of English history's timescale – transporting convicts to Australia had obviously finished by the time that Jack the Ripper arrived on the scene – a murderer for the dawnings of early modernism? 'I'm Jack the Ripper' – 'No, I'm Jack the Ripper.' Cue Dick Van Dike on hard drugs...



Warne Marsh
(Warne Marsh: tenor saxophone; Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen: bass; Al Levitt: drums).

All the things you are
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Sonny Rollins
(Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone; Jimmy Garrison:bass; Elvin Jones: Drums).

We kiss in the shadows
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Evan Parker/Eddie Prevost
(Evan Parker:tenor saxophone; Eddie Prevost: drums).

Let us attend to present business
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(Scroll down...)

Frank Sinatra

Drinking Again
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Bill Hicks

I'm Jack the Ripper...
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5 comments:

Molly Bloom said...

Thankyou for another great post. Poor old Bill Hicks. I saw him live at UEA in Norwich, not long before he died. He was fantastic. Truly fantastic. What a loss to the world of comedy.

Another interesting mix of music and art. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou...xx

St Anthony said...

Evan Parker, what a player. Brilliant technique that never gets in the way. I like the way he always comes up with new ideas, whether it's working with electronics or pared-down combos, like this track.

Bill Hicks, RIP.

Molly Bloom said...

Hello, just popping by to say hello....long day at work today...first full week back in the fray. Tired, but feeling ok.

Hope you are ok. What is coming next??

Molly Bloom said...

You've been a bit quiet of late. Hope you are alright. We miss you!

Rod... said...

surfacing again soon...