Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thomas Chapin... Art Tatum... Mal Waldron/Marion Brown... Hampton Hawes... Billy Bang...

The music called 'jazz' has moved at an incredible speed of development since its murky beginnings, sometime in the early years of the last century. I use the brackets intentionally, as I often do, because so many strands have split off from the origins that it can be difficult sometimes to define what is and what isn't 'jazz.' Many famous musicians have been unhappy with the word, seeing it as either a form of defamation, intentional or otherwise, that links their artistic endeavours to the whorehouses of New Orleans via one of the etymological meanings of the word and some of the social uses of the early music – or, in an expanded point from this argument, as a limiting term that binds into formal constrictions and punishes innovation. Further, there is probably a resentment by often (but not exclusively) African-Americans at the trivialising and misunderstanding of their art by critics, however well-intentioned – or just plain hostile. Leaving this debate aside, what I find fascinating is the variety achieved in what can be very loosely grouped within the common understood parameters – in the contemporary world where New Orleans/Dixieland styles co-exist with retro swing bands, where the mainstream has shifted to bebop, where the neocons of the Lincoln Center bunker glower across at the antics of those who continue their explorations in the 'free jazz' lineage. And vice versa, no doubt... A world where the benefit of some hindsight and temporal distance now enables the listener to track the continuities that were not always so evident in earlier days – especially from bop onwards, perhaps the first great perceived rupture. With some generosity of spirit, one could (should?) widen the field (in an Olsonian sense) to include rather than exclude...

To start – the traditional count – 'One two three four' – and a bouncing vamp on tuba buttressed by the brass section introduces 'Golgotham' by the Thomas Chapin Trio, playing with an expanded line up (that calls to mind Coltrane's 'Africa Brass,' perhaps). The bright, searing sonorities of the trumpets blended into the trombones giving more than a hint of past big band glories. The tuba – a link back to the twenties... but here taking a ride through the expanded timbral palette of splutter, spit and odd phonics, in an interlude that bridges the opening and Chapin coming in to solo over the heavy backbeat – he sails effortlessly over the ensemble, a squalling, bluesy smeary honking performance from his wide range of stylistic devices. A track that collides many years of the music into a glorious live performance that you could dance to. Continuing with growling and unmuted brass call and response and simultaneous lines, emphasizing the timbres acquired early on in the 'jazz' sound world. Stop time breaks as bass and brass duel... drum solo that flows over the implicitness of the rock vamp rhythm that underpins the track – followed by chants from the band. Ensemble through-composed for a section that then falls into a free for all as the track drops out of the rhythm and the band are name-checked by the leader (?)to the audience, picking up the beat again to suddenly end. Inside and outside... a sprawling riffingly joyous track big-hearted as the city it was conceived in, almost at odds with the punning title – 'Place of skulls?' Sardonic...

Marion Brown in a duo with Mal Waldron – a pianist who moved easily across the piano styles. Slow resonating chords, the overtones ringing in the spaces between the phrases, going subtly into a rocking rhythm as Brown enters on ruminative alto – a touch of Johnny Hodges in his tone, the swooping bend round the long-held notes. Sweet and sour... A track that uses space intriguingly, unhurried in its movement. Waldron takes a solo, a sparse melody twisting in interesting directions. Brown rejoins, playing off a repeated note. Two musicians moving through the tradition – this could have been recorded anytime within quite a large abitrarily agreed timeframe...

Art Tatum made a slew of recordings before his untimely death that document his supreme virtuosity and stature in the canon. This selection is a trio playing 'Hallelujah' - Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich – the latter having the sense to pull back from his usual 'Traps the boy wonder' pyrotechnics by switching to brushes. Bubbling virtuosity from two timeless players as Hampton matches the pianist's speed of thought. Tatum steps up for a solo, stride piano figures disrupted by those tumbling moves up and down the keyboard. Hampton back for some stunning interplay – Rich comes through strongly here. Anyway you slice it, collective improvisation of the highest order. Hot jazz...

Hampton Hawes, playing 'What is this thing called love.' Arpeggiated chords and a ripple of Tatum almost in the introduction (I also hear a distant echo of Erroll Garner) before it picks up tempo and the bass and drums enter. Hawes was self-taught, but acquired the technique necessary to play bop – as evidenced here. Fleet and powerfully swinging, well-supported by Red Callender on bass and Chuck Thompson on drums. He acknowledged a great debt to Charlie Parker who "influenced me more than anybody, even more than piano players." (quoted from here – a very good review of Hawe's autobiography that gives an extensive overview of his career).

Billy Bang would usually be associated with the more radical end of contemporary jazz. Here he is leading a quartet through a swaying swinging version of 'Willow weep for me.' Cutting violin, an instrument that can veer into the lachrymose (I've never liked Grappelli for that reason, undoubtedly fine musician that he was). Swarming bluesy piano- two handed testifying... Bang takes a solo – fire and soul, trenchant bowing... pretty mainstream, if you ask me...

In the Videodrome...

Art Tatum on T.V....

Thomas Chapin at Newport...

Late Billy Holiday swinging out – with Mal Waldron on piano...

The Duke...

... can't leave out the Count – here with a late incarnation of the Kansas City Five...

John Kirby plays for dancers...

... more dancing and playing from a great movie (Slim Gaillard in there somewhere)... a sadly missed old friend of mine was in the English stage show of Hellzappopin'...

... Billy Bang et al in Antwerp


Thomas Chapin
Thomas Chapin (as, f) Mario Pavone (b) Michael Sarin (d) Al Bryant, Frank London (t)
Curtis Fowlkes, Peter McEachern (tr)Marcus Rojas (tuba)
Golgotham
Download


Buy


Art Tatum
Art Tatum (p) Lionel Hampton (vi) Buddy Rich (d)
Hallelujah
Download


Buy


Mal Waldron/Marion Brown
Mal Waldron (p) Marion Brown (as)
Soul Mates
Download

Buy

Hampton Hawes
Hampton Hawes (p) Red Callender (b) Chuck Thompson (d)
What is this thing called love
Download


Buy



Billy Bang
Billy Bang (v) D.D. Jackson (p) Akira Ando (b) Ronnie Burrage (d)
Willow weep for me
Download

Buy

3 comments:

D.D. said...

I really enjoyed your post for a couple of reasons: it was first of all nice to read about Thomas Chapin again. I actually had the great pleasure of playing with Thomas shortly before his death ( there's even an entry on my website's Living Jazz blog). Secondly, I was actually the pianist in the Billy Bang track to which you referred (we played together on his Justin Time CD "Bang On", and he also appears on my CDs "Paired Down, Vol.'s 1 and 2" which I also recorded for Justin Time (and which, in fact, ultimately probably helped get him (thankfully!) signed to the label, where both he and I remain to this day...

Keep it comin'!
- D.D. Jackson
http://ddjackson.com

Rod... said...

well - the wonders of the internet... thanks for your comment - especially as you are linked in beautiful serendipity to Thomas Chapin and Billy Bang... The first I'm just starting to get to know, the second - I heard him way back when he recorded with James Emery and John Lindberg and he/they blew me away... been a fan ever since... just taken with the fire and intensity...

Anonymous said...

29047126483369175 I play dofus Replica Watches for one year, I Replica Rolex Watches want to get some Replica Watch kamas to buy Replica Chanel Watches item for my character. So, I search "Replica Swiss Watches" on google and found many website. As Exact Replica Graham Watch the tips from the forum, I just review the Swiss Replica Watches websites and choose some Replica Montblanc Watches quality sites to Replica Cartier Watches compare the price, and go to their Replica Breguet Watches online support to make Replica Breitling Watches the test. And Last Chaos Gold I decide to use Replica BRM Watch at the end. And Tag Heuer Replica Watch that is the Replica IWC Watch beginning..