Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Miles Davis... Lennie Tristano... Lee Morgan/HankMobley... Captain Beefheart... Funkadelic...

I return – eventually... had to take a couple of days out to rest up as my brain forgets that my body can't keep up so well any more. A drag, but there you go...

Carrying on from the sad news about Mike Osborne, I don't really want to get into an ongoing obituary scenario – but this year has been pretty savage with regard to jazz/improvised musics. I was going to post a track from the Ric Colbeck album but Destination Out has already done so, plus some other tracks and provided a good write-up – I'll leave it there, for now...

Leading in on dreamy vibes before Miles takes the melody – from the album 'Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants,' the second take of 'The Man I love.' Miles in high romantic mode – burnished and darkly blue trumpet, echoed by Milt Jackson and some subdued comping from Monk - this is a track from the famous Xmas Eve session when tempers apparently flared between the trumpeter and the pianist. Miles respected Monk's music but hated his accompaniments. Then the vibes up the tempo with a short break before taking a solo, fleet and superbly inventive rolling lines from Jackson. Monk enters, with an almost absurdly stretched phrase – maybe some joke going on here – and he seems to disappear altogether as the bass keeps going, then Miles enters tentatively – to be edged out by Monk suddenly splurging a burst of notes. He returns after the pianist's brief amended solo, picking up Monk's last phrase – then swaps to muted trumpet. The tempo drops back to the original speed, then Jackson has another eight bars before Miles takes it out, ending on an open horn coda before they briefly finish it off together... Masters at work, 1954... sprung on the tensions between Monk and Miles, who were both on the cusp of greater recognition. But I reckon Milt wins it on points, here and throughout the session...

'You don't know what love is.' Lennie Tristano in solo mode, a sombre reading that goes into time with a walking left hand line imitating bass before heady chording deepens the line. Unusual, perhaps, if you are more used to Tristano's long complicated weavings of single notes. On the faster tracks, he uses the walking bass to buttress these in an odd mixture that seems to combine Bach with boogie. As on this other selection from the same session 'C Minor Complex.' Some dazzling stuff here – that even four maybe offering an elastic rhythmic freedom to bounce off in a longish exploration...

One is tempted to say this is early Lee Morgan, but in a tragic sense - as all of his recordings are early Lee Morgan, due to his death at the age of 24. This Savoy session, from November 5, 1956, was billed as the Hank Mobley Quintet, introducing Lee Morgan – but he had actually made his first recording for Blue Note the day before. (Just me and my discographies here tonight...). The trumpeter was 18... Jesus... or whatever expletive you think appropriate... Art Taylor leads them in briefly on drums – an uppish riff blues called 'Hank's Shout.' Mobley takes the first solo – an underrated player these days, he has an interesting melodic conception, supple and swinging, a hard bopper supreme yet with a softer tone on tenor than Coltrane, say, or Sonny Rollins. Somewhat like a bluesier version of Warne Marsh? Fast, yet light on his feet, Leonard Feather described him as the 'middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone.' (Quoted in here... ). Morgan struts in, biting hard on a surging repeated note before he takes off on a dazzling display of trumpet playing young turkery. Hank Jones takes a rippling, sprightly solo, bebop piano from the day, letting Doug Watkins in for a quick taste before they go into a round of fours – baton handed back and forth in good order. A gem...

Blues and jazz have sent many a ripple through the musics, high and low. Captain - my Captain Beefheart, the great and inscrutable one, recorded 'Trout Mask Replica' in 1969. One of the great albums of all time, across all genres. This is 'Pachuco Cadaver.' Channelling the Delta Blues with a dash of free jazz to collide into sixties avant rock with a vengeance. A freewheeling freedom to the continually shifting melting rhythms, weirdo lyrics and a splash of the Captain's soprano sax. Vocals on a mainline that stretches back to Howling Wolf... Never surpassed, really...

'A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous. Got

Uh, yes, sort of...

'Standing on the verge of getting it on.' This is Funkadelic from their 1974 album called... 'Standing on the verge of getting it on.' (I'm bored with the word 'eponymous'). Clamourous electric guitars and a wild rhythm section with call and response vocals. Colliding the other way back from psychedelic/hard rock into funk – except funnier than the white genre which took itself a wee bit too seriously – no pun intended – given the subject of the spoken high giggly voiced intro, which sounds like the helium tank had been handed round, if it wasn't speeded up:

'Hey lady, won't you be my dog
And I'll be your tree
And you can pee on me!

We will do you no harm
Other than pee in your afro

Hey lady, won't you be my dog
And I'll be your tree
And you can pee on me!'

Gloriously un-PC... But a democratic offer, I would submit. (Although: I've been around, but I've never understood the attraction of golden showers). Some of the breaks recall/reflect prog-rock – which might be the back-door to jazz, in an odd way, as all those earnest groups of the hour wanted to bring the sort of chops you found in jazz into rock (boy, did they mess that one up) – at a time when fusion was da rage also, (boy, did THEY mess that one up) to mix things even more – trying to cross back via rock from jazz. I was listening to some of Miles' electric jazz today and realised that no one else really came close... But this album works very well in its tight, clenched marriage of genres. A reclamation job, perhaps, on one subversive level... and fun... These separated genres often the convenient fictions of critics... cue Joe Turner, not Bill Hayley... Eddie Hazel is soaringly brilliant throughout... George Clinton for President...

'Even if you don't dig it
Don't mean it's not the thing or thing to do
Could be just for you.'

As Wittgenstein might have said... if he was cool...

In the Videodrome...

The Captain...

Derek Bailey with Michael Welch here...

... and more Derek...

... a long look at the most interesting Clinton...

Miles Davis
Miles Davis (t) Milt Jackson (vib) Thelonious Monk (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
The man I love take 2


Lennie Tristano (p)
You don't know what love is

C minor complex


Lee Morgan/Hank Mobley
Lee Morgan (t) Hank Mobley (ts) Hank Jones (p) Doug Watkins (b) Art Taylor (d)
Hank's Shout


Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
Captain Beefheart (v, ss) Zoot Horn Rollo (g, f) Victor Hayden (b-cl, v) Mark Boston (bg) John French (d)
Pachuco Cadaver


Spaced Viking; Keyboards & Vocals: Bernard (Bernie) Worrell
Tenor Vocals, Congas and Suave Personality: Calvin Simon
A Prototype Werewolf; Berserker Octave Vocals: Clarence 'Fuzzy' Haskins
World's Only Black Leprechaun; Bass & Vocals: Cordell 'Boogie' Mosson
Maggoteer Lead/Solo Guitar & Vocals: Eddie 'Smedley Smorganoff' Hazel
Rhythm/Lead Guitar, Doowop Vocals, Sinister Grin: Gary Shider
Supreme Maggot Minister of Funkadelia; Vocals, Maniac Froth and Spit;
Behaviour Illegal In Several States: George Clinton
Percussion & Vocals; Equipped with stereo armpits: Ramon 'Tiki' Fulwood
Rhythm/Lead Guitar; polyester soul-powered token white devil: Ron Bykowski
Registered and Licensced Genie; Vocals: 'Shady' Grady Thomas
Subterranean Bass Vocals, Supercool and Stinky Fingers: Ray (Stingray) Davis
(given as cut and pasted
from here... ).
Standing on the verge of getting it on



Anonymous said...

rob - i read some of your posts, but i never had a better time than reading this one (well, i skipped miles, lennie, lee + hank...). beefheart + funkadelic are certainly cornerstones on the 'rock sidewalk', - or 'sideshow boulevard'.

thanks for a very good time.


Anonymous said...

p.s.: i really would like to hear some of your own output. i don't know if you're a professional musician, but selfmade music is always true! i don't have the skills to play an instrument properly - i'm not pleased with my accordion play. so i stick to 'fumble' around on the computer, and i'm more pleased with that (just put one up on mr-lucky).


Rod... said...

... thanks for comments - this blog turned almost imperceptibly into a 'jazz' blog but I try to bend it in other directions as I listen to a wide range of stuff... as to my own noisy ramblings - well, watch this space...