Friday, April 13, 2007

Paul Bley... Ornette Coleman... Coleman Hawkins/Ben Webster... Juke Boy Bonner... Lord Buckley

The Paul Bley Trio from 1965 playing 'Crossroads,' an Ornette Coleman tune. Bley is an adventurer whose career has spanned playing with Charlie Parker to intersecting with the avant garde in the fifties – with Ornette – and the sixties. And beyond. Free playing but based on a solid sense of history. There is a cool intelligence on display here – working with the freedoms Ornette built into his music. The emphasis is on melody – mainly right hand linearity on display here from the pianist. Altshul discreet (although the mix is not great so this may not be so deliberate), subtly shifting the patterns as Swallow takes a spiky solo.In his sixties trio work, one could posit him as similar to Bill Evans but overall taking the forms much further out. I hear echoes of Tristano as well...

Here's Ornette with Dewey Redman from 1968... 'The Garden of Souls.' An oddity because of the bass and drums of John Coltrane's band – Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. The drummer more sympathetic/empathetic to this music, perhaps, than the bassist, who had a chequered relationship with the leader and his music since he replaced Scott La Faro. See John Litweiler's 'Ornette Coleman - A Harmolodic Life, pages 102-3, 128). A stretched-out dirge-like melody. Ornette emerges first over an easy swing from the drummer who then proceeds to play some interesting counter-rhythms before doubling the tempo. Ornette's music always works off this slow/fast dynamic – this track will change tempos throughout from slow walk to fast canter and back. Redman enters with bizarre growling granularities – a strangled bending droning. A technique of singing through the mouthpiece to produce overtones and chords that he perfected. Here, he sounds further out than Coleman, issuing scratchy almost bad-tempered timbres:

'In my world, that's the first thing I reach for is the sound. Technique is Ok, but if you got the technique and I got a good sound, I'll beat you every time. You can play a thousand notes and I can play one note and wipe you out. That's what I reach for is a sound.' (From here...).

Here are two of the fountain-head tenors getting down on 'Blues for Yolande.' Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, the track ushered in by Oscar Peterson's rolling piano. Hawk takes off first, in dirty, slurring gut-bucket mode. Webster has a lighter tone relatively. He comes in for his solo in a more reflective mood, slowly building in intensity and approaching the Hawkins growl. Peterson takes a solo, bass heavy and sparse with his technique held on a tighter rein than usual – in keeping with the mood of the track. This is all about 'sound' not pyrotechnics... riffing tenors edging into r and b territory. Given the macho history of tenor battles, what is interesting on this track - and album - is the way Hawkins and Webster complement - and mirror - each other. Ornette Coleman wrote in the liner notes for his album 'Ornette on Tenor' the following:

'The tenor is a rhythm instrument, and the best statements Negroes have made, of what their soul is, have been on the tenor saxophone... the tenor's got that honk, you can get to peope with it...' (On page 98, Litweiler, ibid).

Ornette Coleman and Dewey Redman were both from Texas and the blues tradition is strong in their music... Here's some more Juke Boy Bonner, the Poet of Houston. 'When the deal goes down.' Strong echoes of Lightnin' Hopkins - but Bonner was an original voice...

In affectionate piss-taking mode: the great Lord Buckley, whose material I have not posted for a while... here is his hip-talking burn-up on the story of Jesus: 'The Nazz.' A carpenter kiddie...

Paul Bley
Paul Bley (p) Steve Swallow (b) Barry Altschul (d)


Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman (as) Dewey Redman (ts) Jimmy Garrison (b) Elvin Jones (d)
The Garden of Souls


Coleman Hawkins/Ben Webster
Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster (ts) Oscar Peterson (p) Herb Ellis (g) Ray Brwon (b) Alvin Stoller (d)
Blues for Yolanda


Juke Boy Bonner
Juke Boy Bonner (g, harm) Alvin J. Simon (d)
When the deal goes down


Lord Buckley
The Nazz


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