Thursday, July 26, 2007

John Coltrane... Charles Mingus... Paul Motian... Jackie McLean...

...and I said that these posts would stabilise into more regular delivery. But: things have got hectic here at the Eagles Nest – which is yet again in transitional mode as we have to move again soon – hopefully to a more stable tenure. But one tries to keep it rolling...

With my usual amnesic panache – I neglected to mention the John Coltrane anniversary just passed, the fortieth anniversary of his death on July 17 1967.. Sorry John. So: here's a track from one of my favourite albums, 'Africa/Brass,' 'Song of the Underground Railroad.' Deep and sonorous brass drape round the sinuous folk theme before Coltrane comes belting out of the gates – full-tilt tenorboogie. Tyner solos next, restating the theme before taking off in a calmer yet sparkling diversion, underscored by spare brass passages. Coltrane returns, that keening edge slicing through before Tyner vamps over running bass and the track somewhat abruptly ends. Elvin Jones is superb throughout...

Mingus from the Fifties. Another restless, driven artist. 'Passions of a Woman loved.' Starting sedate and sombre before falling helter-skelter into stop-start rhythms and silences - Mingus early on was disrupting the frantic flow of the bop line. This spins off on into long melodic lines and rhapsodic piano jumping into a skittery walz-time and beyond - freely swirling passages amid cool and calm, Legge coltishly boppish scamperings, Hadi romantically eloquent, Knepper gruffly sardonic. Episodic evocation of a loved one? Like a cubist portrait maybe... This is one of the two unreleased tracks added to the CD re-issue (of the album recorded in 1957 but unreleased until 1961).

A synchronous segue – just pulled this out and the first track is 'Pithecanthropus Erectus,' the Mingus composition.. This blog runs on such improvisations... An unusual line up, the Paul Motian band with three electric guitarists, two tenors and no piano. Plenty of space to roam here – the guitars keep out of each others' ways. Lines drift across each other to form into a patchwork of some beauty...

Jackie McLean, the title track from his 1965 album 'Jacknife.' Lee Morgan was also on this date, but it's Charles Tolliver in the trumpet chair here, a fast, almost savage tune as befits the streetgang title. Cue metaphors for sharpness, cutting through etc... but you wouldn't be far wrong. Jack DeJohnette is the mainspring, swinging the ensemble powerfully, placing accents with a surgical skill, scalpel rather than jacknife, really...

Tomorrow I'm off to see the Pet Shop Boys at Newmarket Racecourse with the rather gorgeous Rachel who is their überfan... we have tickets for the Royal Enclosure - so this will be the first gig I have ever attended with a dress code... looks like fun, either way... I wonder if I have to wear socks? Which I never do from April to October as a rule. Damn the weather, in my head it is summer... a report soon...

John Coltrane
Song of the Underground Railroad


Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus (b) Shafi Hadi (as) Jimmy Knepper (tb) Wade Legge (p) Danny Richmond (d)
Passions of a woman loved


Paul Motian
Paul Motian (d) Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder, Jakob Bro (el-g) Jerome Harris (b) Chris Creek, Tony Malaby (ts)
Pithecanthropus Erectus


Jackie McLean
Jackie McLean (as) Charles Tolliver (t) Larry Willis (p) Larry Ridley (b) Jack DeJohnette (d)


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