Friday, February 02, 2007

Erroll Garner... Billy Bang... Bley/Parker/Phillips... Thelonious Monk... Sidney Bechet... Derek Bailey/Tony Oxley...

Erroll Garner was incredibly popular in the fifties and sixties – this track 'Mambo Carmel,' is from his 1955 hit album 'Concert by the Sea.' Self-taught and open-eared, Garner was a gem, irrepressibly swinging on everything he played. Crashing left hand chords and florid right hand – then suddenly he pulls back, drops the level and lightly stomps off – his left hand chording like a guitar in that inimitable style he developed. Doesn't really matter about the accompanists – sorry Eddie and Denzil - they're only along for the ride. I saw him play a couple of times in the sixties – he was wonderful...

Another live show... Billy Bang starts off solo – a scintillating dazzle of string techniques – bouncing the bow of the strings, double stops, Ornette-style splinters of sound, almost folk melodies – followed by Hamiett Bluett in the same vein – playing way up high on the baritone to get an almost string-like squeal, descending and ascending – from gruff deep to sarcastic high. A brief pause...interjections from audience... then they start up again, baritone and violin soon followed by the Asian timbres of the komungoJin Hi Kim playing some almost-bluesy figures and string snaps that hint at country blues, microtonally sliding across the western intonations of the other two. Recorded at the Vison Fest in New York 2002. High energy stuff...

Dreamily oblique piano from Bley, closefully followed by Evan Parker sounding almost breathy – he always seems at his nearest to jazz on the tenor and in a group setting. Phillips enters way down low, testing my sub-woofers. A total trio performance, each instrument integrated in its dance across the acoustic map. Slow, almost stately, moving like deep breathing as motifs are exchanged and altered, spun back and forth. A sudden burst of piano from Bley that announces another section where Phillips has changed to arco – the sawing timbre matched by the tenor's rasp. A more scampering pace now as Phillips returns to pizzicato. Skittering, bitten off phrases from Parker – before it suddenly ends... Chamber improvisation but with a steely core... interesting to compare this to Jimmy Guiffre's trio with Bley and Gary Peacock, of which I have some.. somewhere...

Monk with Johnny Griffin, live in 1957. 'Coming on the Hudson,' one of those off-kilter Monk tunes where the main theme is transposed/extended into the middle eight. Griffin solos, off and flying, finding the spaces in Monk's harmonies that few could, yet not ignoring the tune. Monk takes over – as ever the tune firmly pushed to the front of his improvisations, playing quite fulsomely here, in the days when maybe he didn't rely quite so much on tried and tested runs – the whole tone gallop down the keyboard, for example. Magical... Along with Coltrane, I favour Griffin's work with Monk, much as I like Charlie Rouse's...

'St Louis Blues' with declaratory trumpet from Sidney De Paris and growling trombone from Vic Dickenson as Bechet swoons around them on clarinet. Recorded for Blue Note in 1944. Pops Foster keeps it rolling strong. Hodes's piano a delight...

The Old Firm of Bailey and Oxley, recorded in New York, 1995. Oxley starts off quietly, small patters and scrapes, bringing his kit in gently. Bailey follows him, abrupt treble shreds laid across the building rhythm... waves slowly accumulating. Bailey pointillistic, dabbing figures that gradually extend into longer, barrelling lines, a tougher vertical scrabble. They seesaw between scarcity and abundance, long and short, Bailey reflective, spartan in gesture and volume just over half-way in as Oxley drops his levels. Proceeding... Oxley sending out on deep thuds and rippling metallic sounds from his various ironmongery as Bailey works the top end... starting to chop chords in up and down the neck interspersed with those beautiful tangles of notes – answered by steel shimmers – then silence... and applause...

Then the blues... Robert Jr Lockwood.... a link back to the almost-mythic Robert Johnson... playing a song I always associate with Sonny and Brownie – 'Key to the highway.' Lockwood takes it slower than they used to, an easy lope away down the road. His 12 string guitar playing a masterful frame for his voice...

In the Videodrome...

Robert Jr Lockwood...

... Sonny and Brownie...

...Chris Corsano in London...

... and some more Corsano (why not?)...

Erroll Garner
(Erroll Garner (p); Eddie Calhoun (b); Denzil Best (d) ).
Mambo Carmel


Billy Bang Trio
(Billy Bang (v); Jin Hi Kim (komungo); Hamiett Bluiett (bs) ).
Bangart 100


Paul Bley/Evan Parker/Barre Phillips
(Paul Bley (p); Evan Parker (ts); Barre Phillips (b) ).
Variation 2


Thelonious Monk
(Thelonious Monk (p); Johnny Griffin (ts); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (b); Roy Haynes (d) ).
Coming on the Hudson


Sidney Bechet
( Sidney de Paris (tpt), Vic Dickenson (tbn), Sidney Bechet (clt -2), Art Hodes (pno), George 'Pops' Foster (bs), Manzie Johnson (dms) ).
St Louis Blues


Derek Bailey/Tony Oxley
(Derek Bailey (eg); Tony Oxley (d) ).


Robert Jr Lockwood, vocal, guitar.
Key to the Highway


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