Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer... Sonny Rollins... Jimmy Lyons... George Adams/Don Pullen

Coming in for a fast hit today...

Introduced by Stan the Man, this is 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams' from the classic 1954 album 'Live at the Shrine.' An easy swing through this ballad, Getz solos first, elegant and smooth. Brookmeyer next, a more bluff tone via the valve trombone, backed by obbligato from the sax - then they start to spin lines off each other, moving through an unaccompanied coda up to the end. Short, pithy and rather beautiful.

Another ballad, another 1954 track, this is Sonny Rollins' take on 'More than you know.' Late night, bleary sax, you could imagine Sinatra sat somewhere nursing a whiskey, replete in raincoat and that iconic hat. Thelonious Monk comps succinctly, feeding a gnarled arpeggio here and there as Rollins starts to dig in. The pianist takes the next solo, thoughtful and probing, his unexpected intervallic leaps and flinty chordal voicings giving some edge. Low to mid-register mainly, keeping the sombre mood. Rollins returns to take it out... A classic...

Rollins again - another ballad, same year, different rhythm section. 'Silk N'Satin.' As befits the title, a smooth and sensual reading. But big and powerful tone, muscular all the same... Elmo Hope eases in, delivers some rippling fluid lines (compare to Monk in the previous track). Rollins again, with an odd muffled afterthought of a trumpet obbligato which sounds as if it's in another room, from Kenny Dorham.

Moving on a few years... the late Jimmy Lyons, from a live trio session with Sunny Murray and John Lindberg. Consider the space that had become available by now for the three musicians - this is the curtly titled 'Riffs #5.' Alto swirls in with melodic fragments, followed closely by the bass, speedy playing across the registers as Murray's cymbals ebb and flow. On one line of progress, a light year away from 1954 - yet there was always a touch of Lyon's original master, Charlie Parker, residing in his playing, with some oddly boppish touches and the sheer brave-hearted dash of it all. Getting pretty frenetic with high-register squawks, but you always know he has complete control over his instrument. A master himself, fascinating to hear in this piano-less setting, away from his long-time bandleader Cecil Taylor. Murray takes a brief stomping coda then out to applause.

To end on: another live belter. George Adams and Don Pullen from 'Live at the Village Vanguard Vol 1.' 'Intentions.' And their intentions here are evident from the start - coming fast out of the traps, building up to a full-scale fire storm. Adams first record was with Roy Haynes, but he arguably made his bones with the Mingus band. Plus a few stints with Gil Evans... Hooking up with Don Pullen (who also played with Mingus)to form a great quartet in the 80's, the connection with the bassist/composer is maintained by the presence of Danny Richmond on drums, on fine unfettered form throughout. Cameron Brown in the bass chair, fluid and driving. Adams, an extremely underrated player, skids up and down his saxophone, deep honk to high squeal, entwining himself in tight melodic knots to suddenly bound free, chased by the bass, drums and thumping piano. Pullen solos, treble single notes stretched across jabbing left hand, then those swirling clusters, his trademark, jumping across the styles and the years to bend them all into his individual over-arching paradigm. Cameron Brown now, mobile melodic grace. Adams returns to lead off the exchange of eights that ratchets up the energy even further.

In the Videodrome...

Adams and Pullen quartet...

Adams and Pullen (with Lewis Nash replacing Danny R)...

George Adams does the Blues March... positively stunning...

Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) Stan Getz (ts) John Williams (p) Bill Anthony (b) Art Madigan (d)
Polka Dots and Moonbeams


Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Tommy Potter (b) Art Taylor (d)
More than you know

Sonny Rollins (ts) Kenny Dorham (t) Elmo Hope (p) Percy Heath (b) Art Blakey (d)
Silk N Satin


Jimmy Lyons/Sunny Murray
Jimmy Lyons (as) John Lindberg (b) Sunny Murray (d)
Riffs # 5


George Adams/Don Pullen
George Adams (ts) Don Pullen (p) Cameron Brown (b) Danny Richmond (d)


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pack Horse reopens Friday 26th October, 2007 for new season

Just a quick post to alert any locals that the Pack Horse venue in God's Little Acre - which has had a delayed opening for the new season due to problems/change of landlord etc - will definitely resurface this coming Friday - details here... Looks like I will be on the door - so say hello...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review: Michael Gira, Simon Finn, Directing Hand at Tailor John's House, Sunday 21st October, 2007

Back to Taylor John's with Murray for the Michael Gira gig... The place, ridiculously under threat as a venue, tonight packed, an atmosphere of buzzing anticipation...

The openers: Directing Hand – a duo of Alex Neilsen on drums/vocals and Lavinia Blackwell vocals/ various plucked and keyed instruments. Scrubbing away at the harp to produce swirling glissandos, she launches a serpentine wordless vocal line, half folk, half more classical/operatic over spattering free jazz percussion. Switching to electronic keyboard – fizzing and buzzing with a reverbing memory of Suicide's gloriously cheapo scuzzy noise with a drone shard of Nico perhaps – more of the same vocal strategies. What makes it work – and there is a danger of going on too long - is the bending and stretching framework of the drums wrapping round the melodic movement. Ending on a stark acappella duet – some old murder ballad whose title I have forgotten – Neilsen's high voice giving a sinister, unearthly ambiance appropriate to the stark tale unfolding. Damn good – I've heard similar material down the years by more orthodox 'folk' performers that comes nowhere near the eery menace and feeling for the story they achieve here...

The second support – another pleasant surprise – Taylor John's obviously put some thought into the balance of the shows (or maybe the luck of the blessed, who knows?) - Simon Finn. (Here and here A rugged faced, long-haired survivor of the distant dream of the Sixties who moved to Canada in the seventies apparently, I had the odd feeling I had heard him back in London years ago. Given that the legacy of the Brit acoustic scene has been revisited much over recent years as the 'Freak Folk/Psych Folk' brigade pick up on antecedents like Bert Jansch, Davy Graham and co and extend the lineage in fascinating new ways (as did the previous act tonight) he proved to be a revelation. Backed by violin (Joolie Wood) and superb guitar work (Karl Blake) that acted as a backdrop of sonic washes and sympathetic amendments rather than conventional rhythm or lead, his old songs stand up well, far from being some corny tribute, and the new stuff is equally compelling. Finn plays with a hard-strumming tough sound and has a powerful, flexible voice, both used with passionate intensity. Darkish melancholy wrapped in a peculiarly English angst. Title of the night: 'The Rich Girl with no trousers.'

Gira is resplendent in a light suit, splendid hat and cool cowboy boots as he prepares for his set. When he is ready to start he has lost the jacket and titfer, showing workmanlike braces over a spotless white shirt. Sunday going-to-meeting clothes now adapted for sitting on the front porches of a soul-dark night. 'I'm as ready as I'll never be.' Playing amped up acoustic guitar, he opens on crushing discords and proceeds to deliver a set of extreme emotional power with aggressive nonchalance. Professional to the max in that American way, yet engaging the audience totally – almost brutally – his between-song patter spiked with a mordant humour that probes the Brit politeness of the audience – 'Why don't you guys have a war with Germany again to jack up the testostorone levels.' 'Can I say... cunt?' You wag Michael... The Swans are a ways back now but there are still echoes of their special brand of slowsmashing overwhelming darkness. Gira lets more light and air in these days with broader orchestrations and more acoustic backdrops - the 'Angels of Light' collaborations with the Akron Family – but this perhaps points up those movements through the dark places of the soul which are still operating in his work. And some fascinating positioning in the traditions of American music. On 'Promise of Water,' his sudden savage footstomps work as a device that echoes and channels John Lee Hooker's jukejoint rhythmic punctuations. Similarly, with his use of extended vamping figures, he reaches back to the devices of the country blues without being a pale imitation (pun intended). No blackface here – in fact, his rich dark baritone links to the country styles of Johnny Cash in a resonant and existential similarity although he's arguably a more flexible singer and swoops down into deeper cowboy angel transgressional territories than the Man in Black. Add a singular grasp of dynamics to the mix and you have an evening that takes in madness, booze and allied addictions, thwarted love and despair, decay and death - delivered with a subtlely throttled back emotion and a literate and knowing intelligence. Fun, really... And a suggestion for future encores – 'Smoke, smoke smoke that cigarette.' (You had to have been there...).

And a big shout to Taylor John's for another great gig – keep up the fight!

Back at last... three tracks... Alice Coltrane... Jerry Lee Lewis... Alexander Von Schlippenbach...

A crazy weekend culminating in a great gig at Taylor John's where Michael Gira was incandescently brilliant left me even further in the hole physically... mainly self-inflicted... just starting to pick up things again... review tomorrow plus photos...

I have no idea where I acquired this – searching for another album I found this single track by Alice Coltrane, a re-recording of the title track from her husband's somewhat famous album 'A Love Supreme.' This really shouldn't work - but it does... A swirling orchestral beginning then an invocation from her guru Swami Satchidananda edging into New Age territory (but each to their own, hey?) until the familiar theme surfaces on electronic keyboard/organ and the rhythm picks up – Alice soon plunges into more aggressive figures, a mirror of the searching, shattering brilliance of her late husband. Leroy Jenkins steps up to saw away into increasingly lengthening spirals, melodic cascades again matching the soaring lines of the original. The organ returns to damp the emotion down as more peaceful orchestral figures commence, shot through with ascending/descending keyboard and the Swami returns briefly to take it out. Shh/Peaceful...

One of my first loves (musical, musical!) - Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer. Southern white fried country blues boogie rock and roll... A firm loping swagger through the old 12 bar 'Matchbox' from a rough and ready live show recorded at the Star Club in Hamburg in 1964, backed by the Nashville Teens. As Edwin C. Faust said in a review:

'What kind of middle-of-the-road, pussy willow, drag ass society do we live in where “Jerry Lee Lewis At The Star Club” isn’t the number one top-selling live album of all time!?' (From Stylus magazine article here... ).


Alexander Von Schlippenbach and the boys – Evan Parker and Paul Lovens – one of the longest-lasting bands in European free jazz. Recorded live in Berlin in 1975 with Peter Kowald on bass added. This is 'Black Holes,' a title which evokes science and mystery simultaneously.. Scrawl and scratch and bang by sax, bass and percussion/drums until the piano finally comes in - minimally and soon dropping out as ultra high notes take over the sonic area - like a hip penny whistle. Sparse piano returns, repeated single notes until a final fade. Laid back stuff by this band's standards, with a reverse climax almost as the busy beginning slowly falls backwards.

Andrew Hill – an alternate take of 'The Griots' from his 1964 album 'Andrew!!' John Gilmore, who plays on this album, is not present here – just a quarter with Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Chambers and Richard Davis. Hill solos first, plunging into the changes, suddenly back-spinning a long cascading line – sparkling stuff. Davis, who is superb in his underpinning throughout, takes a scampering solo after the pianist. Hill returns until Hutcherson comes in to restate the theme. Spikily brilliant.

Alice Coltrane
Alice Coltrane (org) Reggie Workman (b) Ben Riley (d) Elayne Jones (tim) Frank Lowe (saxes, perc) Swami Satchidananda (voice) Leroy Jenkins (v)
A Love Supreme


Jerry Lee Lewis (p, v) plus Nashville Teens


Alexander Von Schlippenbach
Alexander von Schlippenbach (p) Evan Parker (ss, ts) Peter Kowald (b) Paul Lovens (perc)
Black holes


Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill (p) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Richard Davis (b) Joe Chambers (d)
The Griots (alternate take)


Saturday, October 20, 2007


Excuses, I know - but combo of illness/exhaustion and domestic factors have taken my time - plus off to see Michael Gira in Coventry at Taylor John's tomorrow night...
Loads of music waiting to be loaded up... asap...

And now: the rugby final is about to start...


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Hopefully will get some posts up starting from tomorrow - the old health has done its flip-over again so somewhat bolloxed at the moment. But like General McArthur - 'I shall return...'

Friday, October 12, 2007

Oliver Nelson... Milt Jackson/Thelonious Monk... Zoot Sims/Joe Pass... Albert Ayler

Oliver Nelson recorded 'Afro-American Sketches' in 1962 – a forgotten masterpiece. 'There's a yearnin''is a slow sonorous sway in 3/2, scored for an unusual orchestral combination that combines strings and french horns and tuba with the more conventional sections. Nelson states the theme on alto, his tone immediately identifiable – broad and ripe – as the ensemble wrap round him like dark velvet. Jerry Dodgion's flute pipes in a couple of times to answer the sax. This is flat out gorgeous and sad... blue beauty...

Milt Jackson recorded early on with Thelonious Monk and was one of the great interpreters of the pianist's music. Jackson's melodic and rhythmic sense never seemed to desert him throughout his career in whatever circumstances – witness (ho ho) his playing on 'Evidence,' one of those dark, sardonic Monk themes, hardly a melody but instantly recognisable in the unpredictable rhythmically displaced stabs of the notes. Monk chases Jackson with his more outre comping but the vibist is up to the challenge. The piano essays some sparklingly dissonant crunches...

Zoot Sims met up with Joe Pass in 1982 to record a laid-back duo session roduced by Norman Granz. Zoot was no ground-breaker, perhaps, but a remarkably consistent improviser throughout his career. This is the title track from the album 'Blues for Two,' a relaxed tenor bounce over Pass's comping and walking lines and melodic fragments – some technique this guy had for playing back and fore ground simultaneously. As displayed in his solo... Swinging and subtle.

Albert Ayler had a similar broad vibrato to Oliver Nelson – except he cranked it up further – way past Sidney Bechet, even – to produce an even more heavily vocalised sound on tenor. This is Albert in his pomp – recorded live in 1964 with Sunny Murray and Gary Peacock, a squalling ride through 'Wizard.' Some superior free jazz here – and they said this man could not play? Weird... Peacock takes a good solo and Murray's cymbal work ably supports.

In the Videodrome...

Zoot plays 'My Old Flame'...

Joe Pass delivers a masterclass...

Oliver Nelson big band with Gato...

Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson (as) Ernie Royal, Joe Newman, Joe Wilder, Jerry Kail (t) Urbie Green, Britt Woodman, Paul Faulise (tr) Bob Ashton (ts, fl, cl) Jerry Dodgion (as, fl) Julius Watkins, Ray Alonge, Jim Buffington (fr h) Charles McCracken, Peter Makis (c) Don Butterfield (tba) Art Davis (d) Ray Barretto (perc)
There's A Yearnin'


Zoot Sims (ts) Joe Pass (g)
Blues for Two


Thelonious Monk/Milt Jackson
Thelonious Monk (p) Milt Jackson (vib) John Simmons (b) Shadow Wilson (d)


Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler (ts) Gary Peacock (b) Sonny Murray (d)


Save the Tin Angel/Taylor John's...

Below I am pasting in the two emails I received earlier this week from Oliver Betts (Black Carrot) concerning the fate of Tin Angel/Taylor John's in Coventry - from first hand I can say that this is a great venue and worthy of the fight to keep it open (see my review here...)
Any help will be greatly appreciated...

Hi Folks, Get behind this, if they close it will be a crime... email:

Save The Tin Angel and Taylor John's House

Since it's opening in 2002 The Tin Angel remains an integral part of Coventry's cultural fabric and has been host to a wide variety of artists and musicians from around the world. The primary aim of owner and promoter Richard Guy was to enable the people of Coventry to experience high-quality, diverse performances from artists that were rarely found in this area as well as to provide a platform for local, up and coming performers upon which to showcase their music to a wider audience.

The success of this, combined with people's enthusiasm and limited space in the Tin Angel, prompted expansion and so, in April 2006, Taylor John's House; a dedicated music venue with a capacity of 200, opened. This enabled Richard and other local promoters to move forward in terms of the kinds of artists it was possible to present resulting in appearances from internationally touring artists keen to include shows in Coventry in their schedule ranging from cutting edge songwriters to established names in Jazz and world music. The venue is also used as rehearsal space and is a fully functioning recording studio where successful bands have chosen to record their albums.

Taylor Johns House has also been used by University students for filming, performance and final collaborative projects. As well being one of the West Midlands venues for the International Independent Cinema Network "Future Shorts" it is also used to host Coventry's only club night for adults with learning difficulties in the form of the D-Vine disco.

Taylor Johns is visited by approx 300 people per week and the website receives, on average, 50, 000 hits per month. We send weekly gig listings out to our e-mail list and feature in the Uk's best selling music magazines such as NME, Q, fRoots and The Word).

In addition to all of this is Taylor Johns House is now the base for Tin Angel Records; a label that has released albums by such names as Devon Sproule, Paul Currerri and Adrian Crowley.

However, the loss of our entertainment licence at the Tin Angel in the summer has brought the situation to the brink of failure for both venues. The financial problem is that the operation is currently structured as a business and, as such, can't access the many funding sources available to support such community/arts/education endeavours. We are now looking to take the next step in our development by becoming a non-profit organisation so that we can continue to expand on our success in providing the local community with a cultural focus and a creative space.
We need to raise sufficient money to keep the show on the road until we can restructure the operation to become a not-for-profit enterprise. We have committee of dedicated people who will support the change over but need finance to make those changes.

By becoming a funded arts-centre we can:

* Continue to bring internationally recognised artists to Coventry therefore bolstering the city's profile in terms of entertainment and the arts
* Encourage more people from elsewhere to visit Coventry and leave with a positive impression the city
* Create a vibrant, creative hub in which artists from a wide variety of artistic disciplines can work and develop
* Allow the local community to become involved in the cultural and creative development of the city as a whole
* Allow Taylor John's and ultimately Coventry's name to be synonymous with high standards in terms of entertainment and diverse cultural activity


Sponsorship is fundamental to the progress of any community based arts centre and is essential in our move to being a non-profit organisation as it will allow us to present even more high profile events therefore enabling us to prospect for further funding to support our long-term plan for expansion.
If you are interested in making a donation, becoming a personal or corporate sponsor or just finding out more about The Tin Angel or Taylor John House then please contact us. or 024 7655 9010

Dear Tin Angel & Taylor John's House friends.

Some of you may be aware that both the Tin Angel and Taylor John's House are currently under threat of closure due to lack of funds. We need to raise sufficient money to keep the show on the road until we can restructure the operation to become a not-for-profit enterprise. We have a committee of dedicated people who will support the change over but need finance to make those changes.

Please have a look at our website to find out more information.

GOOD NEWS!!! - The Dandelion Trust ( is a charity who's aim is to support the arts and specifically 'Opportunities for growth, resolution, care and creativity through the arts'. They offered support by making us one of their projects. We are currently in talks with them about how they might be able to help. We'll keep you updated.

There are many ways YOU can help -

* Forward this email to as many people as possible and ask them to join our mailing list (send a blank e-mail to - we need more people to understand what we do.

* Send an e-mail of support to

* Lobby your ward Councillor. Lots of people have expressed how the closing of the Tin and Taylor John's House would have a negative effect on the culture of Coventry and community of artists and musicians that are involved. If you feel the same way, please e-mail your local councillor who will be resposible for passing on points of view. The link above will take you to a map of the city. Just click on the area where you live. This will give you to information about your ward councillors, including a short profile and contact details.

* Vote for us in the Godiva Awards - Both online (see below) and on the pink voting slips in The Tin and Taylor John's House

* Support our events this week - Come along to as many shows as possible

* Are you on Facebook or MySpace? Why don't you make friends with us.....

* Do you have your own business? Or can you make a donation? Sponsorship is fundamental to the progress of any community based arts centre and is essential in our move to being a non-profit organisation. Would you or anyone you know be interested in becoming a corporate sponsor? If you are interested in making a donation, becoming a personal or corporate sponsor or just finding out more about The Tin Angel or Taylor John House then please contact us. or 024 7655 9010

* Buy tickets for our raffle - Only £1 a strip, available at Inspire, Christchurch Spire, New Union Street, The Nursery Tavern, 38/39 Lord Street, Chapelfields, Alexander Wines, 112-114 Berkeley Road South, Earlsdon and The Tin and TJ's. The draw will be held at Taylor John's on Thursday evening and anounced live there at 9.30pm, at The Tin Angel and The Nursery Tavern - Several prizes have been donated including -

2 x 30 minute massages worth £15 – (Thanks to Dan Searles)
1 x DJ Set from DJ – party/wedding (Thanks to Steve Kohler)
1 x bottle champagne – Moet and Chandon Rose Imperial – (Thanks to The Nursery Tavern)
2 x 50cl crème do cassis – (Thanks to The Nursery Tavern)
3 x Jagerschoppen (red leibfraumilch) – (Thanks to The Nursery Tavern)
2 x Copperidge Californian Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 – (Thanks to Kaz Alexander wines)
2 x free tickets to gig of your choice at Taylor Johns
1 x VJ – projections set (Thanks to Falling Forward – Big Tony)
1 x Guitar lesson from Dave Bennett (Thanks Dave)
Co-Op Truly Irresistible chocolate biscuit collection (Thanks Elaine)
Bottle of Valdo Prosecco Marca Oro extra dry sparkling wine (Thanks Elaine)

* Bid in our Auction - Photographer, Andrew Fox has kindly donated a beautiful framed photograph, artist Len Catell has kindly donated one of his Aboriginal inspired paintings, Richard Elms has kindly donated a free studio recording session and Si Hayden has kindly donated 2 of his guitars. The auction will start on-line, on our website tomorrow. People will be able to bid electronically up until 6.00pm on Saturday. At 7.00pm the auction will continue live at Taylor John's House. Check our website for details and photos of the items.

The Week Ahead.......

Wednesday 10th October
The Circus: - Guest artist Francois and the atlas mountains £2 door
six 20 minute slots with a 45 minute guest spot in the middle - music, magic, comedy welcome.

Thursday 11th October
Paul Curreri + support £7 adv/ £9 door
The New Yorker calls this guitarist & songster from Charlottesville, Virginia "exquisite... brings a renewed eloquence to the medium," and Americana-UK says: "full of soul, hushed insight, and (at last) originality." Of his 2003 effort, Songs for Devon Sproule, which was produced by Kelly Joe Phelps, Vintage Guitar Magazine claims, "One of the very finest records in awhile. And, not just in this genre. Any genre."
His 5th album, The Velvet Rut, is released on Tin Angel Records. "Spontaneous & poetic... playing unpredictably, altering his phrasing, his routines thankfully haven't been hammered into regular shape," says The Independent UK.

Friday 12th October
Vinny Peculiar + Thomas Truax £5 Adv/£8 Door
Vinny Peculiar, crowned ‘the Tony Hancock of pop’ by UNCUT MAGAZINE, is the sobriquet for one Alan Wilkes, a Bromsgrove-born, the Manchester based singer-songwriter. He has toured extensively with acts as diverse as The Killers, Malcolm Middleton and Edwyn Collins, is a regular compere on the Glastonbury Acoustic Stage and has collaborated with various artists from Bill Drummond to Bonehead. His seventh studio album 'Goodbye My Angry Friend' is released Nov 8th 2007 on Pronoia Records. The current touring band line up features the sublime talents of Mike Joyce [the Smiths, PIL, Buzzcocks] on drums, Paul Arthurs aka BONEHEAD [OASIS] on bass and Ben Knott [Jeep] on keys.

Saturday 13th October
Gilad Atzmon Quartet £8 adv / £10 door
"A formidable improvisational array...a local jazz giant steadily drawing himself up to his full height...a blast of fresh air in the UK"-John Fordham, The Guardian
"Jazz in the '50s and '60s was inextricably linked to the Civil Rights Movement in the US; and the music of Israeli-born reeds-playing genius, Gilad Atzmon, is similarly enmeshed with the struggles of the Palestinian people" -Joe Cushley , What's On
“A revelation, a multi-reed man of enormous talent.”-Tony Richards Musician Magazine
“Atzmon sends his soprano sax and clarinet soaring over complex rhythms from all points of the globe with a poetry that never forfeits control.”- Nina Caplan, Metro
“Audiences are clearly bowled over with Atzmon's whirlwind approach ... dynamic, charismatic and ... exasperating!”-Brian Blain, Jazz UK

godiva logo
Voting for the Godiva Awards has now started and Taylor John's House has been nominated in the 'Best Venue' catagory and The Tin Angel has been nominated in the 'Best Bar' catagory. Please support us and place your vote here -



You can vote once a day, every day up until the close of the awards.

Tin Angel Productions
Tel: 024 7655 9010

Monday, October 08, 2007

Charles Gayle on BBC 3...

A quick post to alert/remind people that the BBC Radio Jazz on 3 program has a recording of a recent Charles Gayle gig in London. (Here -search for the link to the recording). Brilliant stuff - and a fascinating interview with the man as a bonus. (Available until the end of the week). More - apparently he's booked for a gig in London as part of the London Jazz Festival next month - a bright star in a somewhat lack-lustre line up (apart from Sonny Rollins, of course). The Baltic Restaurant/Bar on Sunday November 18th, 2007.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Johnny Griffin... John Coltrane/Don Cherry... Grachan Moncur III... David Sylvian/Derek Bailey... Frank Sinatra... Jelly Roll Morton... Keiji Haino

Little chat - all music...

Johnny Griffin has always been a favourite of mine, for the powerful speedy brilliance of his playing, imagination moving at full throttle alongside formidable technique. He recorded the album 'Change of Pace' in 1961 with an unusual line-up – two basses, drums and french horn – an echo of John Coltrane in that rhythm section, whom he replaced in the Thelonious Monk Quartet a couple of years previously – and had played with on some of those wild hardbopping Prestige blowing sessions. The double strings give a totally different feel to the usual small combo backdrop of the time - the lack of piano makes this track seem quite free while still rooted in the harmonically orthodox. Zeitgeist? Nice mixture of arco and pizzicato bass...

Here is Coltrane with Don Cherry – the Coleman band without Ornette - playing the Monk tune 'Bemsha Swing,' taken at a sprightly bounce here. Cherry solos over bass and drums and demonstrates the new freedoms acquired – but he would be used to playing with Haden and Blackwell.. An odd album overall – 'The Avant Garde' title is a bit of a hostage to fortune - but on this track Coltrane stretches out and seems to enjoy the rolling acres available.

The splendidly-named Grachan Moncur III, from a session recorded in 1969, 'New Africa,' the track 'When.' A track dominated by a haunting, simple vamp from the piano that sounds throughout – and Andrew Cyrille's drumming which dominates and drives the band onwards and upwards. A reticent, almost hesitant solo from Moncur, which is followed by a fascinatingly pithy jigsaw puzzle offered by Mitchell. Shepp is muscular and raw. Red meat. Burrell keeps the vamp going with his left hand while he serves up some almost Basie-ish minimal treble figures. Some more Moncur - wry figures as the saxes sporadically comment. But the drummer's track, I would say. A fascinating (yet sad) interview with the trombonist here...

David Sylvian recorded his album 'Blemish'in 2003, after the break-up of his marriage. Uniquely, he added the late great Derek Bailey for three tracks – here's 'How little we need to be happy.' Soft, pained vocals against a backdrop of Bailey's spiky shards, like some cruel reality breaking in to shred happiness – sadly grasping after consolation.

Continuing in this vein – Frank Sinatra from 1959, the album of saloon songs 'No one cares.' 'I don't stand a ghost of a chance with you.' Tragic stuff, delivered superbly, the ambiance of a guy in a raincoat and hat that only Frank could get away with, sat in a bar somewhere over a bourbon... the despair of someone who will not even get the chance to love and lose...

We have got this far down the track on the doom quotient – here is Jelly Roll Morton's late flowering band from 1938, with the New Orleans mordant comment on mortality, 'Didn't he ramble,' an elegy, perhaps, for the style of music he pioneered but which had been supplanted by the late thirties by swing and a small band style that was about to explode into bop within a short few years.

Fast-forward - Keiji Haino with Greg Cohen and Joey Baron. The Japanese guitarist skitters out some fast strummed chordal figures, sounding like a more conventional Derek Bailey at times. Bass and drums dance round him joyously...

Johnny Griffin
Julius Watkins (frh) Johnny Griffin (ts) Larry Gales, Bill Lee (b) Ben Riley (d)
As we all know


John Coltrane/Don Cherry
John Coltrane (ts) Don Cherry (t) Charlie Haden (b) Ed Blackwell (d)
Bemsha Swing


Grachan Moncur III
Grachan Moncur III (tr) Roscoe Mitchell (fl, as) Archie Shepp (ts) Dave Burrell (p) Alan Silva (b)Andrew Cyrille (d)


Jelly Roll Morton
Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton (p) Sidney De Paris (t) Claude Jones (tr) Albert Nicholas (cl) Sidney Bechet (ss) Happy Cauldwell (ts) Lawrence Lucie (g) Wellman Braud (b) Zutty Singleton (d)
Oh didn't he ramble


David Sylvian/Derek Bailey



Frank Sinatra
I don't stand a ghost of a chance with you


Keiji Haino
Keiji Haino (g) Greg Cohen (b) Joey Baron (d)
Rolling on the time and tide spreading the colour red


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Review: Johnny Scarr/Filthy Turd/The A Band... Nottingham Art Organisation, Friday 28th September, 2007

The Plexus Boys together for the first time in a few months (since the Damo gig, I think) and out on the town in Nottingham to the Art Organisation venue on Station Street. David T was an A Bander way back, (another link here, Murray was going to join the lineup for the performances and I tagged along to take photos and do a writeup. We arrived early – spent a pleasant hour checking out the joint as people ambled in and set up – a large, airy space with four pillars at the end of the room that helped to give a stage area some definition. But this would be a night of spilling through barriers – Filthy Turd would spread his pedals and kit out in front – along with a large branch ripped from some unfortunate tree (or maybe ecologically correct windfall?). Branch? It was going to be that sort of night... Skronk, noise, informality – and fun, a light vibe as people arrived and said their hellos – a reunion for many this evening. Like a party slowly gathering – mirrored by the musicians, as, almost imperceptibly, the A Band, playing two sets that book-ended the evening, roughly clustered, coming and going, to-ing and fro-ing until they deemed it correct to – well, start...

''Can you nuts give me a word beginning with an A?'

And off... a slow, spurting straggle as various instruments – saxophones, guitars, keyboards, drums and found objects rattled, hummed, coughed, splattered, rattled and rang – the first time I have ever seen a soup tureen used as percussion... (Please Sir, can I have some more...). At first giving a distant echo of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, oddly enough – the 'small instruments,' discrete sound events and use of space – until the music thickened into a denser movement. So it went, for about twenty minutes, coming together, separating, in and out of rhythms – like some weird mashup of free jazz, out-rock, noise and dadaist cabaret. But FUN! Something the improv scene is not always noted for – and very much a provincial scenario, I suspect (in my championing of the out of London scenes) – the Smoke tends to be a bit drier about these things at times, more serious. What made it work was the physical space inhabited and the way it was played off – the musics/sounds could drift across and take up their individual acoustic area while blending into the larger whole in an almost harmolodic manner – different sound events breathing and interacting, criss-crossing, clashing and combining – or not, staying within a briefly defined area denying an easy resolution. Because there was so much performance area to inhabit... people could wander across, fool around, jump about – visually it was never boring either... Slowly unwinding down to the end...

Johnny Scarr
next up on solo electronics, standing at a table full of kit. High-pitched waves of sound with some low and crumbling bass, like a gang of frogs on a distant summer evening. Air wafting through onto a repeated tone... A fascinating but relatively brief set (some of which I unfortunately missed - but listened to his MySpace stuff while writing this - pretty damn good), sharp and focused as a contrast to the sprawling wonder of the opening twenty minutes and keeping the momentum going down a different road... At the end, JS wanders across to flip on some music set up on a far wall – bagpipes? Somehow, that would fit...

Then: Filthy Turd... who despite his no doubt transgressive yearnings had a kind of innocent wonder to his performance... His set up – a bunch of foot pedals, a beat up cd player – that wooden branch mentioned above – and a couple of mikes – which, after a false start, a squalling high note like a clarion call to invoke the gods of NOISE, he proceeded to sing/howl/ into and abuse in general, with insertion down the inside of his trousers in the process of molesting a fluffy toy at one (climactic?) point, the resultant sounds further processed and beaten up across the effects pedals for a glorious ride into sonic absurdities/inventions... Oh, and at the beginning he smacked the floor repeatedly with a hammer...(edging dangerously close to my toes at one point).

'Hello. Fucking dogs are horny. Fucking dogs are hungry.'


Physical stuff – much leaping around, jerking his body, squatting like a dog and woofing into the mike – I was hoping the floor had been recently cleaned for his clothes' sake (Jesus, I'm getting old) – but this is ART and NOISE so devil take the hindmost howl...

...of which there were many: following a song about dogs, a song about fucking (and I use the word 'song' as a loose enclosure for a scrunched warp of voice, sound and movement) – miked up trousers body thrusting – yo, mike my dick! Fluffy toy involved in on-stage debauchery – the long branch flailing...

His last piece – dedicated to '70's Jamaican music,' (his three loves: dogs, fucking and – 70's Jamaican music -a reasonable trio) – screechbawlingfloorcrawling and a tin can with a mike inserted and rattled around in to produce some fearsome sounds. Iry... (And a cue for more absurdity/synchronicity - as there was no bar - bring your own booze - I wandered down to the Bentinck and had a bizarre and extremely funny encounter with a stage Rastafarian - it was one of those nights... Seen...).

A set of awesomely sculpted noise, as intensely physical as it was smart. And hilarious...

The A Band returned to end the night. Another drifting, undelineated beginning, this time with a more differentiated rhythm under the scattered sounds and fragments of melody – then full throttle NOISE as a ticking beat was kept on the soup tureen (glad to see it back)– Murray wandered over to the electronic organ we had been fiddling with earlier but the volume was not loud enough to compete with the main show, not being plugged into the P.A. Looked good though... The A Band proceeded to build a more rock-y almost groove in places as shreds of saxophones squeal and splatter over the counter-rhythms. Another exoneration of the SPACE – furthered by intermittent swapping of instruments as part of the visual affirmation of FUN. Much loopy dancing about to approach finally the COSMIC WAHOO. Perhaps...

Another great set...

And a great night – almost a new kind of variety performance where improv and bent electronics meet avant garde cabaret with older dadaist resonances, imbued with the gloriously scruffy provincial fun attitude which keeps it anchored – I've been to many superb gigs around the country the last year or two, Northampton, Sheffield, Coventry, Liverpool and Nottingham (more frequently because its just down the road) and there is a different vibe outside of London (where I am frequently as well, so I am able to make the comparison). I think that the dynamic/contrast between capital and more far-flung places is a healthy one to counterbalance the always on-going gravity pull south-east. As a local boy, observer and sometimes player in the game – long may it all flourish. And a big thanks to the Nottingham Art Organisation plus Johnny Scarr/Mantilefor putting on the show... A good interview here about the venue...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

... I will be back, honest...

... apologies - my unpredictable health has boringly but inevitably decided to lurch into the exhaustion scenario and confined me to quarters - but I will put up that review of last week's A-Band gig - hopefully tomorrow... a bumper crop of music for the weekend, perhaps, to make up for my absence... à demain...

... and by the way, does anyone out there have any info on the improv/jazz/whatever scene in Budapest? I may be there very soon for a couple of weeks...