Starting off on a spiritual note for the day after Ash Wednesday – via the pagan wing first – 'It's magic.' ( I jest...). Eric Dolphy, from the 'Far Cry' album. High on his bass clarinet, he states the theme at a slow, sedate walk. His vibrato giving a hint of Ayler (or the reverse) – broad strokes... Played fairly straight – then zooming off into double timed runs all over the registers, showing not just his phenomenal technique but a wonderfully skewed harmonic sense which provides an amazing bending melodic line that is exploratory, emotionally and intellectually satisfying and way beyond just blowing on the changes. Jacki Byard in minimal mood at first, takes a pithy solo. Dolphy returns with the theme – then a short coda that ends on a dark, woody note... magic, what else?
Wally Shoup name-checks Albert Ayler, late Coltrane – and Little Willie John – in an article about influences... here's two of the three...
'Deep River' is Albert on soprano – testifying on the old spiritual. If one aspect of Ayler's music was a look back at New Orleans improvised polyphony, another major strand is gospel. Indifferent recording quality perhaps – but one can hear Grimes running his bass mightily and Sunny Murray stretching it out underneath. Call Cobbs chords along distantly – but the focus is the soprano horn. There is a meditative feel to this track – as if eavesdropping on someone at prayer. Ayler plays it straight with a searing vibrato. Cobbs solos briefly – re-iteration of the theme, basically but Grimes provides the interest behind him.
Back to the fire musics... 'Holy Spirit' and Ayler plus Don Cherry in pentacostal mode... Murray in the drum chair again – plus Gary Peacock on bass. High squeals before they play the theme punctuated with stabbing accents. Ayler steps up – Peacock emitting swooning figures on bass as Murray lurches the rhythmic pulse. Trills answered back by the drummer's cymbals as Cherry adds comments sporadically. Ayler – 'vocalised' throbbing tenor – a more social voice than on 'Deep River,' bearing witness... Cherry solos – more laid back emotionally but with a poignant edge in his tone. Ayler comes in behind with high figures. Peacock takes over – pizzicato and arco. The horns return in tandem then state the theme. Four musicians... so much space...
Little Willie John is the man who recorded 'Fever' (famously covered by the sublime Peggie Lee), among other R and B hits. ('According to some sources the song was co-written by Little Willie John and Eddie Cooley; others say it was written by Brill Building regular Otis Blackwell.' From here... Otis Blackwell here seems to say that he wrote it with Eddie Cooly. Whatever...).
A small man with a big voice... a proto-soul singer from the fifties and early sixties... here he offers his hit 'I'm Shaking.' His career was cut short in 1966 when he was jailed for manslaughter – he died a couple of years later in prison. Seen as a major influence on James Brown – I also hear something of him in Sam Cooke – that passionate mélange of gospel and blues which became soul music. Here's a MySpace page with some songs and more info...
The spiritual roads travelled are many... here is Terry Riley improvising on a just-intonation organ with delay effects – edging into Alice Coltrane territory? 'Anthem of the trinity' is a long meditation where western techniques meet Indian ragas and the teaching of Pandit Pran Nath. Not jazz, exactly – but linked...
In the comments for last Saturday's post, Jeremy said he liked Charles Mingus... so: here's the man from his epochal 'Tijuana Moods,' a track entitled 'Dizzy Moods.' Based on the chords of Dizzy's 'Woody n' You,' this is from the Mingus album that lay on the shelves for several years before being released – inexplicably. 'Tijuana Moods.' A collision between a boppish theme and the games Mingus plays around and against it – especially in the middle eight which drops into three... A series of short musical interludes before the theme. Knepper leads off – his bluff laconicism buffeted but unbowed by those rhythmic changes underneath in the bridge. Curtis Porter follows on tenor, a nice dancing solo. Then the surprise star – the obscure Clarence Shaw – fresh and warmly lyrical. Mingus reckoned that if the album had been released in its time Shaw would have become a major star. Richmond takes a solo, interspersed with a fluttering ensemble figure. A brief solo passage of piano – more of a contrasting link between sections. One notes the sheer amount of variety, coloration and musical information that Mingus can cram into a seven piece band and a basic theme...
In the Videodrome...
Terry Riley at the Detroit Institute of Arts...
...Alice Coltrane in SF...
...Sonny Rollins and Don Cherry...
(Eric Dolphy (b cl); Booker Little (t); Jaki Byard (p); Ron Carter (b); Roy Haynes (d) ).
Albert Ayler (ss); Call Cobbs Jr. (p); Henry Grimes (b); Sunny Murray (d) ).
(Albert Ayler (ts): Don Cherry (t); Gary Peacock (b); Sunny Murray (d) ).
Little Willie John
Anthem of the trinity