Wednesday, January 31, 2007

John Zorn... Keith Jarrett... The Art Ensemble of Chicago... Derek Bailey...

Three long tracks... one short...

The first, an early piece, interesting probably more for what it reveals about its young composer/creator's intentions and music philosophy – throwing a light over later mature work. John Zorn's 'Mikhail Zoetrope Part One.' Recorded in 1973. Guy Peters said of this piece:

'The three-parted "Mikhail Zoetrope" (running more than three quarters of an hour) is in Zorn' own words "the craziest piece I've ever written." Those who've heard some of his more challenging works know what that implies: it's batshit insane. When discussing the brief "Wind Ko/La," Zorn reveals it's probably no surprise that his mother put him under observation at a psychiatric clinic from age 8 to 16. His mother must've been quite a tolerant person, as most other parents would undoubtedly hire an exorcist... but for the most part, it's a pure mess that probably works fine as a concept (if you're into this stuff), but is simply un-listenable and worthless as "music." ' (From here... scroll down...).

This was recorded on left and right channels, one over the other, Zorn on soprano sax and a variety of kitchenware, found sounds plus grunts groans and other assorted vocal noise - pre-figuring Mike Patton's work with him recently?

Love it or hate it, I figure... Zorn is an odd character who inspires strong emotions for and against (let it be said that the above quote is taken from one review among many of Zorn's albums and Peters is a knowledgeable and affectionate follower of the man).

The circumstances that surround the Keith Jarrett recording of the 'Koln Concert' are well-known (apparently – I didn't know them as I haven't really followed Jarrett much although I like his playing) – lack of sleep, crap piano but show goes on – and a classic is born, from a totally improvised performance. This is 'Part One,' spinning outwards from relatively simple minor key beginnings, becoming almost gospel-like in the rolling full left hand voicings. Free improvisation coming from a tonal base and fascinating because of that... Jarrett reached a lot of hearts and minds with the album that this piece is taken from. Still uplifting...


From 1969 – The Art Ensemble. A side of an lp, 'A Brain for the Seine,' recorded (strangely enough) in Paris. The Art Ensemble created their unique acoustic space that was large enough to encompass their collectively steady eye back to the past and their experiments in the here and now (as was), alongside the visual theatrical element of their live performance that riffed strongly on African culture. This gave an unsettlingl, unsteady focus – often quite straight-forward blowing bouncing off spattering small instruments, noise, jumpcuts between jokiness and political statement with the artists dressed up in vivid robes, masks and wild face-painting. Via the AACM, this mix of the european avant-garde and the American gave music that was often quite different to the fire musics of New York. On a different track but coming from similar influences/origins, one can see how Anthony Braxton's work can be tracked back to Chicago and this influential group. Different strokes... The Art Ensemble developed their own methods of long-form improvisation that offered – sometimes - a more user-friendly than usual entrance into the complex sound worlds of the avant garde – to make a clumsy example, the tradition going back to Dizzy Gillespie's vaudeville side as opposed to Bird's junky noir-cool? 'A Brain for the Seine' starts with wah-muted trumpet, harmonica, rattling chains(?), tinkering percussion, sporadic long horn notes like a fog warning, gongs, before Malachi Favors bass thumps several low notes, a strangled voice demands water -'Please can I have a drink of...'- then Lester Bowie drops the mute and plays open horn venting a Spanish-tinged line over what sounds like a marimba as Favors moves between arco and pizzicato... and so it goes onwards... funny – slapstick and smart – and technically superb playing dropped down the mineshaft at intervals into noise and exotica, along with several kitchen sinks. That's the Art Ensemble of Chicago...

Lastly... some of the guv'nor, Derek Bailey, recorded solo in Japan, 1978, on electric guitar for this track – 'A Wonderer(Wanderer?) from the British World.' This is for Montegue, who digs Derek... Steely brilliance...
After the gigs last week, playing, organising and attending, fatigue has impacted on my uncertain health, so apologies for lack of music so far this week. More to come tomorrow...

In the Videodrome...

The Art Ensemble...

John Zorn...

and 9 minutes of Keith Jarrett in Italy, 1974...


John Zorn - soprano saxophone, assorted pots and pans, vocal gymnastics, found sounds...
Mikhail Zoetrope Act One
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Keith Jarrett – solo piano
Koln Concert, Part One
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Art Ensemble of Chicago
(Lester Bowie; trumpet, flugelhorn, bass drum, horns
Roscoe Mitchell; soprano sax, alto sax, bass sax, clarinet, flute, percussion
Joseph Jarman; soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet, oboe, flute, vibes, percussion, guitar
Malachi Favors: bass, fender bass, banjo, percussion ).
A Brain for the Seine
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Derek Bailey – solo electric guitar
A wonderer in the British world
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3 comments:

Mr Blister said...

Thank you very much for the mention and the Derek Baily post - superb piece, mediative, stark and beautiful.

Rod... said...

... you're welcome... always happy to do requests if I can... more db coming up actually...

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