Cannonball Adderley was seen early on as a contender. Equipped with superb technique - out of Bird's lineage but with his own vision – which shared with Parker what someone, writing about the blues singer Bill Bill Broonzy, once described as the 'rooster crow' in his voice – the phrase 'blues-drenched' may come somewhere near to describing what I mean...This the title track from his album 'Them Dirty Blues, Barry Harris leads in on piano, splitting the duties on the album with Bobby Timmons who contributed some righteous 'soul-jazz' themes such as 'Dat Dere.' Cannon takes over, squeezing out high wailing blues nuances and clipped fast runs, not overplaying here... Nat Adderley's cornet follows, closely tracked by Louis Hayes on drums. Sam Jones on bass plays a slow walk while the drums double the time, giving two rhythmic levels throughout. When Harris solos, the slow walk predominates as Hayes ticks of the beats on his cymbal.
Back a step or two... the flowering of bebop... Fats Navarro, the early Sonny Rollins and Bud Powell, from a session in 1949 under the pianist's name. A steady almost un-boppy tempo as they play the theme. Bud solos first, sounding on sparkling form, Haynes in close support. Fats next - clarity and fire, a brief solo before one from Rollins and the out theme. An odd balance: because of the recording time available, Powell's longer solo means the horns have but a short space to make an impact.
Charlie Parker and company – some company – at Massey Hall in 1953. This live recording is fascinating because it allows everyone to stretch out more than the old 78 recordings – which may have given a distorted sense of what bop was about, with everything crammed into three minutes and often moving at speedy to blistering tempos. Here, on 'Night in Tunisia' – the longer recording time gives more space. Bird takes the first solo – note the rooster crow – smears, growls and bluesy timbre – as well as the amazing technique. Diz follows – bravura high wire stuff, rising effortlessly up the register and sky-diving from the top. Bud next, the thud of the bass obscuring somewhat (Mingus overdubbed the parts as the original tape wasn't up to scratch). But you can hear his lines ring through the murk. It ends rather scrappily but who cares – Diz takes a short coda accompanied by a fast run on bass before they go out. Sublime...
If that was old bop – here's Matthew Shipp with some nubop... opening on a plaintive sax cry – almost a lament for the old music...then a vamp from William Parker - who holds the album together with his unflappable strong bass as the drums come clattering in. An interesting experiment in bringing hip hop rhythms into jazz, programmed beats colliding with real-time drums and the improvisations of Daniel Carter and the leader. Shipp has done some interesting recordings with the English duo Spring Heel Jack – later this week I may put up some of their live stuff...
Marc Ribot playing a John Zorn piece, taken from the album 'Masada Guitars.' Just Ribot on acoustic... slowly developing over a repeating riff – gritty and dissonant with a some string-bending that reminds of Bert Jansch – who probably pinched it from Bill Broonzy...
... who was much loved in Europe, especially in the U.K. Big Bill played his part of country blues man to the hilt – amusingly, as he had been one of the first up in Chicago to use amplification and was long gone from the cotton fields. But everyone has to make a living... was it 'authentic?' Do we care? Country blues has - oddly? - been one of the favourite musics of white people down the years, who were and are not close enough to the cultural nuances that Afro-Americans seemed to shy away from, in the urban areas at least. Although this is a broad generalisation: the blues has never totally died... But certainly white people kept an interest in the more archaic forms going – I'm thinking of all the old blues singers who were resurrected in the sixties – Skip James, Son House etc... Maybe Miles was right when he said once: 'Blues? Let the white folks have them.' And I am reminded of the dismissive phrase with regard to Irish traditional music that the late and great Liam Lawlor who used to run my favourite bar in Dublin way back employed on many occasions: 'Immigration Music. Ha!' (He had made his money during a long sojourn in New York before returning to the Emerald Isle and regarded all folk music with a baleful eye, preferring jazz). Further, one could say that English traditional music was only resurrected by middle class researchers and players, at several removes from the sources – most people have no interest in or knowledge of it... Speculation aside, I got into blues after I discovered jazz – and it's still a music I return to often... This is Big Bill singing 'When I've been drinking.' Listen for the rooster crow...
... and above mention of Bert Jansch – why not post an early track of his which shows how the acoustic blues guitar styles were mutated into the Anglo-American folk world. 'Strolling down the highway.' A youthful boho dream of freedom matched to the joyful bounce of the guitar – Jansch and others created something new out of a wild mix of blues, jazz and indigenous folk musics... Jack Kerouac meets Gypsy Davy in 1965...
I just found this, synchronicity striking: a movie by the late Alan Lomax...
Blues, then – here's Monk, playing solo on 'Functional.' I can hear earlier pianists like Jimmy Yancey in the sparse opening and in the intermittent refracted fragments of boogie left hand... Monk, like Parker, seemed able to move back into the past and refer to earlier forms while simultaneously playing advanced harmonies – and exploring the sonic qualities – potential as well as inherent - of their instruments...
Something spiritual... Pharoah Sanders and 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.' Coming out of the fire of free-jazz, the pentecostal voices channeled through split notes, high register squeals and deep growls here subsumed in a more tranquil vision... a track with much surface movement but underpinned by a strong rolling unhurried wave that carries it all home... from the 1970 album 'Summum, Bukmun, Umyun,' which apparently is Arabic for 'Deaf, Dumb and Blind,' and refers to a passage in the Koran.
In the Videodrome...
Lennie Tristano in Berlin
...and with Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz
Oliver Nelson with Art Farmer, Lee Konitz and co in Europe...
Cannonball Adderley (as) Nat Adderley (ct) Barry Harris (p) Sam Jones (b) Louis Hayes (d)
Them Dirty Blues
Bud Powell/Fats Navarro
Fats Navarro (t) Sonny Rollins (ts) Bud Powell (p) Tommy Potter (b) Roy Haynes (d)
Charlie Parker (as) Dizzie Gillespie (t) Bud Powell (p) Charles Mingus (b) Max Roach (d)
A Night in Tunisia
Matthew Shipp (p) Daniel Carter (s, fl) Chris Flam (synthesizer, programming) William Parker (b) Guillermo E. Brown (d).
Marc Ribot (g)
Big Bill Broonzy
When I've been drinking
Strolling down the highway
Thelonious Monk (p)
Pharoah Sanders: soprano saxophone, cow horn, bells, tritone whistle, cowbells, wood flute, thumb piano, percussion; Woody Shaw: trumpet, maracas, yodeling, percussion; Gary Bartz: alto saxophone, bells, cowbell, shakers, percussion; Lonnie Liston Smith: piano, cowbell, thumb piano, percussion; Cecil McBee: bass; Clifford Jarvis: drums; Nathaniel Bettis:bylophone, yodeling, African percussion (Details given in full as I can't be bothered to figure out all the abbreviations!).D
Let us go into the house of the Lord