Friday, June 02, 2006

Festival photos... more videos: Thelonious Monk... Last Exit... Max Roach...

I haven't got round to finishing my review of last week's festival but here are some more photos – the top one showing a rather appropriately ghostly image on the famous Club Sporadic screen from Tristan Burfield's re-score of Cocteau's 'Blood of a Poet'...and three links to more videos...

Here is Thelonious Monk with his long term running mate Charlie Rouse and Larry Gales and Ben Riley- recorded in Norway in 1966. Quite a long clip this... the old war-horse (by then) 'Blue Monk' taken at a fair trot. This tune was my entry into Monk's world so I never tire of hearing it. Nice solo from Rouse who is rather critically underrated -he's not a barnstomer tenor player yet he fits into Monk's sound world so well. Actually watching Monk play is fascinating – probing the keyboard for timbral combinations, his foot steadily banging out the time. Bass is solid – the nice surprise is the drumming on a ridiculously small kit by today's standards. Crisp and swinging, following every move and prodding where necessary. Heaven...

Thelonious Monk Quartet

Last Exit seemed to have vanished of the radar fairly quickly but for a while in the 80's and early 90's they displayed a fascinating collision between the different yet overlapping NY downtown scenes represented by Laswell and Sharrock/RS Jackson and Peter Brotzmann's Euro improv. There is a wild and brusque swagger to the German's tenor playing – expressionistic to the extreme (and Brotzmann is another who started out as an artist before switching to music). Matched in this performance by Sonny Sharrock's post-Hendrix fire and underpinned by the storming drums of Jackson. You can't really hear Laswell – but this video gives a taste of a truly ground-breaking act who anticipated much of the current 'free-noise' scene that similarly cuts across the genres, rooted in improvisation strategies that come from jazz. This clip is taken from a 1994 concert recording in Germany.

Last Exit

The trumpeter Booker Little was another of jazz's tragic casualties, a player and composer of immense promise and freshness, cut down far too young. Here is a fascinating glimpse of his tenure with Max Roach in an unusual line-up – Roach had dispensed with piano but had added Ray Draper on tuba (who featured on an early John Coltrane album they co-shared, recorded in 1957). George Coleman is on tenor and Art Davis on bass. The mighty Roach spurs it along with his usual percussive authority. I think this was recorded in 1958 for ABC's 'Sounds of Jazz' - there is no information given about the clip. 'Minor mode blues' is a Little composition: the flickering black and white images and ropy sound add an extra poignancy, a faded snapshot of a young player just starting to display his considerable talents. Booker Little died of uraemic poisoning in 1961 – at the age of 23.

Max Roach Quintet

1 comment:

St Anthony said...

That Monk footage is priceless - a nice demonstration of the Monk keyboard technique ... and his taste in headgear.
I tghink his tunes still stand up today - better than some of the other beboppers, he seems more modern somehow.

I liked Last Exit - pretty furious stuff. I'm quite fond of Brotzmann's work (actually, he'd probably hate such a lukewarm sounding word)- always strikes me as an uncompromising individual. Poor old Sonny Sharrock, no longer with us. Thay were quite a combination, as this footage shows.

I had an album Laswell made with Brotzmann, 'Low Life' - it was good stuff but not as savage as the work they did together in Last Exit.