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



etnobofin said...

My gorilla is my butler... a bit of a change of pace for wordsandmusic! :-) There's something about the lo-fi buzz on Sly Stone records around this time... like they used dodgy homemade electricity to record "There's a Riot Going On"...

Rod... said...

... one should change pace frequently! Actually, I was away and distanced from the collection so put up whatever was on the laptop... in line with my usual strategies... loved the choirs by the way...