Monday, December 31, 2007

Xmas Mix4 - Gu4/John Coltrane/Fel Kuti/Rory Block/Jackson C. Frank/Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys/Count Basie&Frank Sinatra/Gu4

Happy new year! And seasonal mix 4 emerges... Slightly less abrasive than the others – not so much a conscious decision as the fact that technical screwups required a change of laptops and once I started recording I realised that half the stuff I wanted to include was elsewhere. But what the hell – I got the frame in – which consists of two songs, beginning and ending, by a local group GU4 (ho ho). The recording is lo-fi – a guerilla one I made at their pre-Xmas gig over at St Marmion's. Spur of the moment and no time to figure out anything – just straight in from where I was sat in the audience – hence bangs, coughs, scratches and a weird balance. But the ethos of a brilliant night comes through, I think... 'Crossing the bar,' the setting of Tennyson's late poem (by who? Not sure...) is awesomely beautiful I think. And Miggy Cambell has written an anthem to end on, which I think is called 'Say no goodbyes'... Certainly a writer to watch... Love this group – reinforces my flagging faith in English folk music. In between you get, well, the usual collation – Coltrane, Kuti ( a long track during which there is a drop-out/unintentional fade – someone came in and interrupted me – can't be bothered to fix it – hey, the silence is conceptual), some white blues, some Bob Wills and his western swing, showing off the musicianship endemic to that band – and the sheer good humour, some Basie with Francis Albert, some Jackson... Maybe one last one tomorrow – more raucous...

So far – a quiet night. But I have managed to avoid the Jools Holland show for once – Jesus, what an irritating man... Cheeky chappies I can well do without...

Xmas Mix 4 (Click on the Flash Player above the Hype Machine content on the right margin).

1.Gu4 – Crossing the Bar
2.John Coltrane – Afro-Blue
3.Fela Kuti – He miss road
4.Rory Block – Rambling on my mind
5.Jackson C. Frank – Milk and Honey
6.Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys – 3 Guitar Special
7.Count Basie and Frank Sinatra – The best is yet to come
8.Gu4 – Say no goodbyes

Update... download here...

Chico Hamilton... New York Art Quartet... Evan Parker... Albert Ayler... Mississippi Fred McDowell

There were so many good and great gigs this year that I have not had time to sit around and count them all up to wrap them into a retrospective. Shucks... Maybe tomorrow... But here are four tracks to consider before I roll out the last seasonal mix.

Chico Hamilton – undersung somewhat overall and probably because of spending time out on the West Coast rather than in the belly of the New York beast where the main publicity action was to be found in jazz. (Although he was commercially very successful for a period in the fifties/early sixties). This is one of his 'chamber jazz' setups playing 'Theme for a starlet.' Introduced by see-sawing strings (Hamilton pioneered the use of cello in jazz) and Eric Dolphy's piping flute. Dennis Budomir's guitar joins them as they hit a slow steady tempo. Short, moody, more about texture than improvisation. A broadening of the palette.

A few years on and a pioneer band from 1964, The New York Art Quartet. The title track of their album, 'Mohawk.' Free jazz had arrived... Although Tchicai was and is a thoughtful player, not given to the scrawk and scream of other saxophonists. Jerky, pulling each other about in a collective performance that is, however, finely balanced overall. Rudd is marvellous, tailgate nouveau, playing off the alto, Workman deft and solid as needed, Graves underneath giving surely-pitched polyrhythmic ballast. A band that listens to each other. A compressed track, four and half minutes but much to consider. Underplayed and perhaps more interesting because of that...

Down the line a ways and Evan Parker, doyen of the European avant garde. A fairly short performance, not one of his marathons. Parker is one of the most consistently brilliant players around – this is 'Banda (O.D.J.B.),' taken from his 1991 album 'Process and reality.' Is there a joke in there, somewhere? Those initials spell 'Original Dixieland Jazz (Jass) Band to me... Or maybe an obscure homage? I wonder what Evan would make of 'Livery Stable Blues'? Anyway... exploring studio multi-tracking for the first time, (I think) he creates a dense space where his soprano weaves across itself, sounding at times like a riffing horn section and/or a tape loop as a line goes in a higher spiral over its cloned selves. A simultaneous evocation of jazz and Steve Reich style systems musics – all improvised freely...

And turning back (maybe): Albert Ayler, from his album 1967 album 'Love Cry,' the title track. One of the last sessions that the recently deceased Donald Ayler played on with his brother, if I remember correctly. (If not the last). A simple declamatory fanfare opens, a yodelling voice briefly echoes it (to return towards the end) then the horns have at it, fairly sedately – Albert is in the usual tenor register, Donald playing simple but strong figures – there is a very good blogpost about him here... Scuttling bass opens it up underneath as Graves rolls his drums out in waves. A distillation of the Ayler methods, quieter than the firestorms he was capable of. Evoking earlier jazz idioms of collective improvisation, simple folk forms, the trumpet especially giving a marching band feel almost, with a vocal quality coming from the blues (and gospel, as Godoggo pointed out a while back in one of his comments, although the saxophone vibrato is not quite as broad-banded here as it usually was). I love Albert...

Mississippi Fred McDowell in 1965... crisp stinging bottleneck, a rolling rhythm and Mississippi Fred's high plaintive voice combine in a crystalline, pure reading of 'Going down to the river.' Country blues brought back from obscurity for a new audience by one of the masters... timeless.

In the Videodrome...

Chico at Newport...

Mississippi Fred McDowell...

Charles Mingus takes the 'A' Train...

Evan and Ned...

Chico Hamilton (d) Eric Dolphy (fl) Dennis Budimir (g) Nathan Gershman (c) Wyatt Ruther or Ralph Pena (b)
Theme for a starlet


New York Art Quartet
John Tchicai (as) Roswell Rudd (tb) Reggie Workman (b) Milford Graves (d)


Evan Parker (ss)
Banda (O.D.J.B.)


Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler (ts) Donald Ayler (t) Alan Silva (b) Milford Graves (d)
Love Cry


Mississippi Fred McDowell
Going down to the river


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mix update...

The xmas mix 3 has now been added to the mp3 player on the sidebar... Just realised it is New Year's Eve tomorrow... The time of year for bloggers to start posting best-of worst-of lists... Hmmm... maybe... maybe not...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mix 3/Cecil Taylor/ Plexus/ Horace Tapscott/Martin Carthy/Cyril Tawney/Sinatra/Mal Waldron/Charles Mingus/Harlan T. Bobo/Pet Shop Boys/Tubby Hayes

Early in the morning of Sunday... a strange Christmas – quiet and much confinement to barracks due to chest infection in a combo with the usual physical crap that lays me down frequently. But you use these periods – reading and listening – and plotting. And maybe drinking too much – but that's the traditional hazard of the season's turn – somewhat enthusiastically embraced, maybe, to counteract the stuttering of the body's clumsy passing through this time continuum. We still aim towards the light, to transcend that downdrag...

I hope everyone has had the Christmas they wanted – here's another mix...

1.Cecil Taylor – an encore...
2.Plexus – extract from 23 September – suite 4
3.Horace Tapscott – A Dress for Renee
4.Martin Carthy – Scarborough Fair
5.Cyril Tawney – Sally free and easy
6.Frank Sinatra – Last night when I was young
7.Mal Waldron – You don't know what love is
8.Charles Mingus – Solo Dancer (First track from 'Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.').
9.Harlan T. Bobo – Bottle and Hotel
10.Pet Shop Boys – King's Cross
11.Tubby Hayes Orchestra – The Killers of W.1

I was watching John Huston's last movie, 'The Dead,' earlier... which I haven't seen for a long time.
It raised a lot of memories... 'Lass of Loughrim' especially – I'd forgotten where I first heard that song... bittersweet stuff...

But we move on... 2008 looms...


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Xmas mix info...

Hope everyone is enjoying their day... just an update to say that the two Xmas mixes can be heard by clicking on the appropriate links in the flash player on the side - just above the Hype machine links...

Xmas Mix 2... Prince Far I... Burning Star Core... Sidney Bechet... Miles Davis... Arcana... Howling Wolf... Fugazi... Jackson C. Frank... and more

And now it's Christmas Day... Another mix...

1.Prince Far I – Heavy manners
2.Burning Star Core – This moon will be your grave
3.Sidney Bechet – Blues in thirds
4.Miles Davis – Jeru
5.Arcana – Derek Bailey/Bill Laswell/Tony Williams – Tears of astral rain
6.Howling Wolf – How many more years
7.Fugazi – Repeater
8.Jackson C. Frank -Yonder come the blues
9.Booker Ervin – Den Tex
10.The Impressions – The girl I find
11.J.S.Bach (K. Richter) – Dem wir das Heilig mitz wit Freuden lasse


Monday, December 24, 2007

Xmas mix - Whitedog... Charles Ives... Bill Evans... Cecil Taylor... Peter Brotzmann...Guy Clark... Judee Sill... Second Zion 4... Roland Kirk

Christmas greetings to everyone... this is the first of two mixes I have done for the festive season, tracklisting below...

1.Whitedog – Budapest 4 a.m.
2.Charles Ives First Symphony – Adagio molto (sustenuto)
3.Bill Evans/Lee Konitz/Warner Marsh – Night and Day
4.Cecil Taylor – 11-52 (From 3 Phasis)
5.Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet – Aziz
6.Guy Clark – Let him roll
7.Judee Sill – The lamb ran away with the crown
8.Second Zion Four – Praise him shining angels
9.Roland Kirk – We free kings

An odd mixture, perhaps... stuff I like... the Kirk is a bit of a seasonal favourite – but it's always worth a runout. Who knows – for the same reasons, I may even whack the MJQ's version of 'God rest ye merry gentlemen' up tomorrow as part of the Christmas day mix...
Beware - this is a relatively large file if uploading, over 70mb... Number two tomorrow, alcohol/fun permitting...

The Wordsand musicXmasMix1


Thursday, December 20, 2007

William Parker... John Coltrane... Frank Wright... Howling Wolf

'The Damned Don't Cry' was a 1950 film noir vehicle for Joan Crawford – with that title, what else? When John Coltrane recorded the 'Africa/Brass' sessions, he included the song of the same name (ok, ok, eponymous). Introduced by drums and then bass spelling out a swaying 12/8 to underpin the ensemble entrance, led by Booker Little, before Coltrane joins them on soprano. The band produce a sonorous mix with echoes of Gil Evans and a hint of hardboiled movie soundtrack, this tune is the most conventional of the sessions – was the arrangement by Cal Massey, rather than Eric Dolphy? – not originally released on the album. The track does appear a bit disjointed in comparison to the rest of material, despite the crack crew on hand, which is maybe why it was left on the shelf initially. It finally settles into a steady four as Coltrane lets fly – skittering fast tenor offering that unique mix of toughness and yearning, pierced with sporadic ensemble interjections. Tyner takes a couple of steady choruses then Coltrane returns on soprano – running all over the distant looming hills of the brass-heavy backup, before the bass signals a return to 12/8 and they all slow down for the theme and out.

Stepping jauntily in with the theme 'Hawaii' from the album 2005 'Sound Unity,' the William Parker quartet. Hamid Drake prominent, firing off sharp fusillades, as the front line of Rob Brown and Lewis Barnes emerge from the theme in a criss-crossing dance, locked in step below by the huge presence of the leader. Collective improvisation to bring a smile to the face and generate some welcome heat on a freezing cold and foggy morning in God's Little Acre – a calypso feel in places to the theme for further warmth – Trinidad goes west? Brown drops out to let Barnes step up, jumped along by Drake who is unremitting throughout. Brown cuts in for a brief fandango before taking his own solo steps. Drake hits a section of off-beats at one point which give an almost trad swing over the four of the bass. Spins off into a dizzying flurried maelstrom when Barnes returns. They drop out to let the leader take over, backed by rolling swing and needle-sharp rimshots from the drummer. The horns tiptoe back in on an almost old-school riff, briefly, Parker doing a bit more then signalling the theme for a front line brief return. Brown is one of my current favourite players, but Barnes acquits himself with authority. Parker sublime and strong, as ever – Drake supple, imperious and on fire throughout.

Frank Wright from 1965. His r and b roots up front here – bleary, smearing sax, that compensates for technical lack (early on his career) with youthful energy:

'Wright had not been playing tenor long when he was asked to make Coltrane’s Ascension date (he had sat in with Trane on several occasions previously), but reportedly he declined it fearing his skills weren’t at the level required by the music. Nevertheless, Wright did make his first session as a leader a few months later, in a trio with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Tom Price for then-fledgling ESP-Disk...’ (From here...)

...from which this track, 'The Earth,' is taken. Opens on solo tenor, then bass and drums join in, Wright jumps into higher registers and continues to balance squall and squeal with deep throaty honks and blats. Henry Grimes takes a solo, backed by the drummer which shows that they have a bit more idea of what is going down – but Wright has an honest, rough-hewn appeal at this point in his career. A lot of albums/sessions from the beginning of the avant-garde (in the fifties onwards) have a certain air of uncertainty which demonstrates, perhaps, the freshness of the ideas, the sheer novelty of what was occurring, that drop into the unknown. Wright was to develop and further hone his technique and influences (Albert Ayler, in the main) but I like the coltish honesty of this album

The mighty Wolf – delineating the blues: 'Now listen, peoples...' - taking a sly dig at white appropriations, before firmly demonstrating he knows what he is talking about... 'Back Door Man.' Archetypal one chord stomping riff – pure Delta blues – as Chester B unfolds the Willie Dixon song – not his original recording but the one from the 'Dogshit' album he was 'persuaded' to make in 1969 -which I rather like, perversely...

In the Videodrome...

Some Braxton...

Rob Brown
with Parker and Grimes...

Howling Wolf tells you all about the blues...

Hubert Sumlin at Buddy Guy's...

Trane in Belgium...

William Parker
William Parker (b) Rob Brown (as) Lewis Barnes (t) Hamid Drake (d)


John Coltrane
Freddie Hubbard, Booker Little (tp) Jim Buffington, Donald Carrado, Bob Northern, Robert Swisshelm, Julius Watkins (frh) Charles Greenlee, Julian Priester (euph) Bill Barber (tu) John Coltrane (ss, ts) Eric Dolphy (as, bcl, fl, arr, cond) Pat Patrick (bars) Garvin Bushell (reeds) McCoy Tyner (p, arr) Reggie Workman (b) Elvin Jones (d) Cal Massey (arr) Romulus Franceschini (cond)
The Damned Don't Cry


Frank Wright
Frank Wright (ts) Henry Grimes (b) Tom Price (d)
The Earth


Howling Wolf
Back door man


Saturday, December 15, 2007

John Surman... Keith Tippett... Gary Smith/John Stevens... Bert Jansch... Yusef Lateef... Ian Matthews... Scrapper Blackwell

So – back in God's Little Acre, preparing for Christmas... presenting some oddities...

I found this John Surman track on a Wire magazine sampler (no 13 – I have them all somewhere - which could be interesting, if I ever have the patience to dig them out). This is 'Way back when part 4,' recorded in 1969. Surman has a lighter style on soprano than the heavyweight model of the time – John Coltrane - less spiky than Steve Lacy, say. Lyrical and folksy over the busy, thrusting drums, electric bass and fairly muted electric keyboard comping. A session that reflects the disparate influences of the time lightly, when Miles was pushing hard in his rock/jazz integrations, a reminder, perhaps, that in the U.K. our intermingling of jazz with rock (and folk) possessed a distinctive flavour... see below... Surman, of course, is more famous for his innovative baritone playing and later investigations of electronics in his composing/improvising. The tapes for this album apparently had been lost until recently, recorded as a loose jam and put to one side, strangely enough... now released on Cuneiform, lord bless 'em, where you can find a basketful of the similar...

Another musician who is probably better known these days for his positioning on the free side of jazz improvisation but who was happy to swing between the genres in the late 60s/early 70s during the hazy existence of that temporary autonomous zone where much seemed possible – and inevitable: (at the time - hmmm) - and embrace the 'spirit of the age' is the English pianist, Keith Tippett. Here he is with a trio, playing a track called 'Glimpse' from his 1972 album 'Blueprint.' Tippett is a unique pianist, integrating post-Cageian under-the-lid tinkerings with a dynamic thundering keyboard style that builds up slowburning storms of overtones. I've seen him a few times down the years and he is one of my favourite indigenous musicians, a powerful player. Starts of with high treble over silvery rustling percussion to build strongly as he brings in that thundering bass – Babbington glisses in to join the fun. Ebbs and flows nicely between subdued filigree and near silence to stomping acoustic fisticuffs...

John Stevens was one of the founders of free improvisation in the U.K. (Little Theatre Club blah blah, via that curious post-WWII mix of Air Force band and Art College). This is a duet with Gary Smith from late on in the drummer's career (1993) (he died at the age of 54), taken from the album '7 Improvisations.' Don't know which number this one is, actually – I have it on a disc from the good Mr Teledu (the same source for the Tippett track above – as is the next selection,come to think of it. So much for even a pretense at coherence this day). Long-held grungy dark chords as Stevens goes busy. Spartan echoey guitar, the metal/rock timbres combining with the drummers free jazz free flow to create two spatial movements that intersect sporadically to lock it all together. A long way from his more terse/spare improv strategies - see SME - this is Stevens in mercurial fashion. Smith replies with sputtering lines and strummed chords that float across the rhythms...

This post becomes more and more elliptical, in time-honoured fashion. Just the way I have the tracks prepared (loosely - very loosely) for delivery – here is Tippett again, plinking away on a soft folk-rock number, which has a winsome charm (I suppose). Ian Matthews (of Matthews Southern Comfort fame - did anyone else hate 'Woodstock?' Sorry Joni...) heads the track up – and the late Sandy Denny, one of my favourite singers, plays harmonium and supplies some back up vocals. 'Never Ending,' from 1971. Richard Thompson (His Dourness) on acoustic guitar. Matthews has one of those light fey voices which on a good day can seem charming enough (compared to Thompson, who is a brilliant songwriter but always sings as if he has a potato up his nose), oddly backed by Sandy who could sing him into the ground on a bad day, here just content to do the friendship/session game. A curio... Fluff, really...


I could always hear the snap of Scrapper Blackwell somewhere in the back of Bert Jansch's playing, that distinctive rip of the strings that drove his playing along in such a powerful way. (Hell on the nails, as I can testify). This is another piece where a lot of the sixties influences that flowed so strongly through the U.K. to link the folk, jazz, rock and blues scenes arrive at an interesting convergence. Bert, backed by Danny Thompson on bass – one of the essential pivots of the scene(Pentangle/John Martyn etc), bringing his jazz chops to bear on disparate genres. 'Bittern,' from 1978. The tumbling 9/8 rhythm probably links back to Charlie Mingus's more gospel outings that were such a massive influence at that time. Plus folk slip jigs? This is also shot through with wah wah electric lead (from Martin Jenkins on amplified mandocello? - I know he played on the album, and I saw him with Bert round this time when I was back home in the U.K. for a visit). Meanders a bit but old Danny holds it together – and takes a neat solo, demonstrating his jazz credentials- which Bert never really had. But what a guitar player within his own self-created space... fire and soul move across genres...

Looking for a rogue cd that has slipped the pack somehow, I stumbled on this – Yusef Lateef, 'Revelation,' from his album 'The Centaur and the Phoenix.' Tenor states the theme, a twelve bar in D minor, joined by the tight-clenched ensemble as back drop in the second chorus. They drop out as the bass picks up a fast walk in four and Lateef solos over some punchy drumming (Lex Humphreys - snappy throughout). Succession of choruses from Clark Terry (I think), a robust Tate Houston, cool, somewhat detached and floaty Curtis Fuller, so so chorus from Zawinul before Lateef returns over clipped horns - into a brief fade out... The rest of the album is more interesting, but, hey, I'm perverse and this is a strange day... More soon...

So: mention of influence (fancied or otherwise) gives us: Scrapper Blackwell playing 'Down South Blues,' recorded in 1931. He teamed up famously with Leroy Carr. But cut a lot of tracks on his own. Maybe that distinctive treble string movement was developed to cut through in tandem with the piano playing of Carr in unamplified environments but he integrates it neatly into his solo style. An influence on Robert Johnson as well, perhaps? Or is it just the register of the voice? Fascinating interview with him here...

Hail the Scrapper anyway... reading this all back made me realise that I've been drowning in too much Olson recently on a re-encounter with his biography as well as the continuing encounters with the rest of his awkwardly brilliant oeuvre - but sad selfish fool in many crossed ways he certainly was... maybe my prose style is haunted by this, on a strange day with much movement close to me and mine, benign, malign, we shall see...

'The chain of resurrection is memory. I am a vain man...'

Yup... Warner to Maximus...

In the Videodrome...

Archaeologist of morning...

so: Creeley...

A brief snippet of Yusef out on the road recently... playing the blues...

Keith Tippett in Le Mans, 1998

Keith and Julie and Paul... improvise...

... reel back- 'Indian Rope Man.'

... jump cut to Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg (saw them in July - one of the gigs of the year)

... run by our good friends Black Carrot...

... Rambling Jack Elliott anyone?

Sly Stone redux recently... (one for Etnobofin)

John Surman
John Surman (ss) John Taylor (p) Brian Odgers (b-g) John Marshall (d)
Way back when part 4


Keith Tippett
Keith Tippett (p) Roy Babbington(b) Frank Perry (perc)


Gary Smith/John Stevens
Gary Smith (el-g) John Stevens (d, )


Ian Matthews
Ian Matthews (v) Richard Thompson (g) Keith Tippett (p) Sandy Denny (harm)
Never Ending


Bert Jansch
Bert Jansch (guitar/piano), Martin Jenkins (mandocello/violin/flute), Danny Thompson (b)


Yusef Lateef
Richard Williams (tp) Clark Terry (flh, tp) Curtis Fuller (tb) Josea Taylor (basn) Yusef Lateef (ts, fl, argol, ob) Tate Houston (bars) Joe Zawinul (p) Ben Tucker (b) Lex Humphries (d)


Scrapper Blackwell (g, v)
Down South Blues


Monday, December 10, 2007

John Coltrane... Lennie Tristano... Miles Davis... Sly and the Family Stone...

In Aberystwyth these last couple of days for the funeral of an old friend so little time or inclination to post but... we move on...

Restricted to what I have on the laptop hard drive until I get home so here's John Coltrane from the Prestige days... What you might call a simplish riff twelve bar, 'Chronic Blues,' taken from his first album as leader ('Coltrane'), recorded in 1957. Odd line up of baritone, trumpet and tenor. Sahib Shihab solos first, a nice measure of fluid garrulity, spinning nicely through with some elastic double timing.. Coltrane next, who always takes it up a notch or two, stretching out asymmetrically across the bar lines – an encapsulation of the achieved linear freedoms of bop and hints of greater freedoms to come. Johnny Splawn takes a bright solo, one of those names who surfaced and disappeared as quickly. Mal Waldron picks out his usual spare line, working small fragments outwards. Ensemble take it out, buttressed by some deep baritone.

Lennie Tristano from 1957 – a live set. Art Taylor's drums drive things along – a tougher rhythmic backdrop than Tristano was supposed to like but I suspect that was something of a canard. Lee Konitz here on alto, one of the very few who came up through those years (and still around) who did not stand in Charlie Parker's shadow. This is '317 East 32nd,' which was the address of Tristano's studio, I think. One of those long, complex lines the pianist wrote over standard chord sequences. Cerebral, yes – but Bird could be cerebral. This swings...a loose feel coming from the live circumstances, perhaps, and the drummer, who takes a couple of fours at the end – some sharp hitting... some stomping chords from Lennie – music with a lot more muscle than it is given credit for.

Miles live from the 'Plugged Nickel' in Chicago, 1965, this is 'Agitation.' A feverish track as befits the title, the leader on imperious form, spurred on by the spluttering, hissing cymbals of Tony Williams, trumpet all the way for a while. Long low bends to end the solo, as Wayne Shorter eventually surfaces. Hancock more prodding here, the bass not too audible (but I'm listening on my portable speakers) Williams again rising from the backline like a storm. Shorter splats out small fragments, the cymbals fall off, he raises the theme as they flow back, batting it about in short flicks. Hancock next as Williams machine guns his snare – bass coming through now. Hancock's line gets more extended as he progresses, the theme allowed to peek through spasmodically. A slow fall off and Williams takes the floor. Parade ground snares, rimshots, long rolls that rival Art Blakey then Miles calls it back home. Turbulent brilliance...

Speaking of turbulence... Sly Stone in 1971 had encountered plenty. Hit by the political/cultural fallout of the sixties, rough times and drugs a plenty, in the wake now of the massive success he had achieved, he recorded most of the album 'There's a riot going on,' by overdubbing many the parts himself.
This is an instrumental track, 'My gorilla is my butler.' Lest we forget – Sly was in the sixties vanguard of slamming together rock, soul and funk, coming from the other direction that Miles took, perhaps. Beating Stevie Wonder to the punch here, with a darker vision overall... This is a bubbling, wah-wahing, sometimes awkward rough diamond of a track out of the zeitgeist. Good to see the man back and touring...

John Coltrane
John Coltrane (ts) Johnny Splawn (t) Sahib Shihab (bars) Mal Waldron (p ) Paul Chambers (b) Albert "Tootie" Heath (d)
Chronic blues


Lennie Tristano
Lee Konitz (as) Lennie Tristano (p) Gene Ramey (b) Art Taylor (d)
317 East 32nd Street


Miles Davis
Miles Davis (t) Wayne Shorter (ts) Herbie Hancock (p)piano Ron Carter (b) Tony Williams (d)


Sly Stone
My Gorilla is my Butler


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Review of the Akron Family+Phosphorescent at Taylor John's, Coventry, Wednesday 5th December, 2007

Back to one of our favourite venues, Taylor John's in Coventry. I missed some of Phosphorescent's set, came in on a heartfelt cover of 'To Love Somebody.' He ended on that layered voice scenario again – the twist tonight being his use of the upright piano to the side of the stage – a few chords hammered out on that to further thicken the sonic brew – before being twisted into savage distortion, the quavering purity of his multi-tracked voice wrenched off again into splintered soundscapes. Went down a storm...

And then – the Akron Family. It's always interesting to catch a group for another night (or more, if you're lucky) to measure the gradations and changes in their set. Same start again – a gentle rural roll in with the drummer, Dana Janssen, playing a keyboard suspended from his neck, giving a sudden rush of Edgar Winter memories (one for the old folks), culminating in the a cappella section supported by fingersnaps from the audience – who responded throughout the night with less reserve than the previous evening in Nottingham. Which made a crucial difference to the way the music developed. Something to feed off, there was more of an edge, more of a reaching out... But Taylor John's is a small, intimate space which gives a different vibe... Similar shape to the night before but given different twists and turns. They were joined for a while by Phosphorescent and some other guy (from the road crew?) - doing a rather wonderful version of the old blues 'I know my rider.' Then it just went into meltdown – Murray had brought some small instruments with him – rattles, bells, shakers and a small drum – and on the nod from the stage distributed them roundabout. (I seem to remember joining in with a stick with bells on, giving out some mean syncopated triplets). Party time in heaven. Surfing across the added rhythms spattering from the audience they played tough, much rockier. The kids' song about the bears got the same treatment as last night – whimsy followed by a long ambient section over repeating chords...(which made me aware of how they incorporate electronics into their expanded instrumental arsenal) before it really cranked up and out... guitarist Miles Seaton out in the audience – everyone going wild. An old r and b standard thrashed out by Seth Olinsky, getting some serious gravel in his voice – 'Turn on your lovelight.' Indeed... this band really need that audience feedback to take them to a different level, I think, and by God they turned on my lovelight. If they were great last night, tonight they transcended great... the buzz off people leaving was palpable. Taylor John's does it again...

Also: my apologies to Sara – the girl I spilt Red Stripe over when I came back from the bar at one point and tripped over a bag of stuff hidden by the vending table. Mea culpa again – she was much more graceful in her response than the drenching in lager demanded.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Akron Family+Phosphorescent... Taylor John's... Coventry... Wednesday 5th December, 2007

Whooooooo! Just back from Taylor John's - which really is one of the best venues around... review to follow when recovery has occurred... but Phosphorescent and the Akron Family gave out a gig to fucking remember tonight... here's some photos before I hit the sack...

Review of the Akron Family and Phosphorescent at the Bodega Social, Nottingham, Tuesday 4th December, 2007

Support act Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck) kicked off the evening... a high, plaintive voice (timbrally located in the Neil Young camp) and amplified acoustic guitar. He's from Brooklyn these days but I gather he originally comes the south of the U.S. which would perhaps account for the country/rural feel to his material. Interesting songs - but what takes him off onto another level is the last number where he slowly builds up multi-tracked repeat/delay vocals – and then proceeds to screw them mightily into the screeching realms of brutal sonic disturbance. From the spiritual yearning for purity and innocence to the Devil's Chorale of the electronic abyss... mighty stuff...

A suitable taster for the Akron Family. I saw them here in 2006 and it was one of the gigs of the year (and that was a good year – as this has been – for live music). Tonight they open lightly – soon dropping back to just three voices, acapella accompanied by finger clicks and encouraging the audience to join in and sustain the digital rhytm, as it were. When the instruments come back in – they proceed to go from country yiha (more high-voiced yearning) to looser jams, arriving at a song about bears (which skirted the areas of twee) – and then taking off into a long wild and free ride that seems to encompass the distance between Jimmy Rodgers or Hank Williams, say, to the howling electronic blast of Wolf Eyes. Via the Grateful Dead, perhaps... But these comparisons are just there as a rough marker – the Akron Family have their own voices – that speak and howl in many tongues. There's a big emphasis on rhythm in their music and it goes through those backbeat country waltzes to freer sections via a carnival of thumping, slambanging syncopations with bodhran added for a hint of Irish – recorder and whistle giving another layer of celtic twiddle that also echoes the fife and drum bands of yesteryear (from both Afican-American and transplanted European traditions. Instruments are swapped to add to the blur of style and sheer exuberant fun – all done in an aw-shucks manner that plays down their expertise. But there is expertise a - plenty here – these boys know what they are doing, backed by a drummer who can turn on a penny (or a dime, to suit the idiom) to hold it all together, delicate acoustic guitar traceries bend into electric guitar freakouts with some country picking in occasional contrast to match up to the high lonesome hollers. Ending on a long noise-drenched wahoo with Phosphorescent joining in on drum, they might just be the best band on the planet tonight.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Akron Family at the Bodega Social, Nottingham, Tuesday December 4th, 2007

Just got back from the Akron Family gig at the Bodega Social in Nottingham... a couple of pictures below... absolutely whacked and staggering off to bed soon. But they were brilliant! (So was support, Phosphorescent). More tomorrow...

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I found out today that a dear friend died a few days ago... A great shock... my sincere condolences to Sarah, Angus and Jo and the family. Mick was a very special person and will be sadly missed... A husband, father and friend with much sparkle in his eyes and a deep love of all forms of music. So: here's Lennie Tristano's sombre tribute to Charlie Parker - 'Requiem,' then Aretha lifting us with her sublime live version of 'Bridge over troubled waters.' Up next, Mick, the wild Chris McGregor band with their ecstatic crashup of American, European and South African jazz styles, playing 'The Bride'... this you will dig, my friend...
To go out - Coltrane... 'Love'

Lennie Tristano

Aretha Franklin
Bridge over troubled waters

Chris McGregor/Brotherhood of Breath
The Bride

John Coltrane