Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ray Charles... Peter Brotzmann/William Parker/Hamid Drake... Art Farmer... Toshinori Kondo... 'Big John' Patton...

Opening the cabinet of curios again – this is a Ray Charles date, one that is usually sidelined in favour of the better-known sessions that produced 'Genius plus Soul equals Jazz.' A run through 'Senor Blues', the Horace Silver tune. No vocals – just instrumental. An insistent bass figure builds the spine of the piece before the ensemble comes in. Trumpet solo – Blue Mitchell. Some high stepping and brassy preaching. Clifford Scott, I think, solos next. Juggles some soul blues fragments effectively enough. Then Brother Ray, who could play a mean blues. Spare and funky, just a couple of choruses, slightly battling the background band figures and oddly reminding me of John Lewis... Trying to get the personnel for this date was difficult – robbed it from the BBC Radio 3 in the end... I have fond memories of Ray Charles, one of the musicians I worshipped when I was a kid - saw him live a couple of times with his big band and the Raylettes, just as he was breaking to a larger audience. An interesting combination of raw blues and jazz with country just peeping in at that point.

Brotzmann opens, sounding like an asthmatic vacuum cleaner, hoovering up the notes. 'The heart and the bones,' from a trio date with William Parker and Hamid Drake, taken from their 2001 album 'Never too late but always too early:dedicated to Peter Kowald.' (The late bassist, although recorded before his death as a tribute). The Brotz granularities extend to William Parker's cross-sounding arco solo. Brotz moves to clarinet and takes over, woody and mysterious, distanced, over sporadic colouring percussion and riffing from Parker. Up the register to raise the emotional stakes as Drake starts to hit a few grooves. Return to the lower end, fluid, bubbling. A zig-zagging game of register polarity as he rises again into high squalling spurred by heavy hitting from the drums. Parker exercises his doussin gouni for a section, extending into a quasi-African sound world with hypnotic repetitions. Brotzmann returns on taragato, to cross an eastern timbre with the African as Drake goes berserker, sounding like he's enjoying himself with his rolling thunder. Ebbing nicely away at the end... An interesting journey away from the usual sturm und drang of Brotzmann's fire musics – and especial honours to the drummer.

Toshinori Kondo – solo trumpet, playing a splattering, smearing dazzle of textures fired through his electronic rig to amplify the different shapes of his breath and saliva moving through the instrument. Setting off a looping fragment as background, an insistent whirling that dies to leave slow gurglings that intensify and speed up - to suddenly stop. Kondo also performed with Brotzmann and company in the 'Die like a Dog' band, adding an impressive chunk of technical expertise and colour to that powerhouse unit. Playing the old influences game: if a line extends from Albert Ayler through to that group, Kondo walked in on one leading from Electric Miles (and late Don Ellis?). He'd travelled a long way...

Out of the traps fast – a boppish blues line: 'Farmer's Market.' Kenny Drew, nifty and accurate, takes first solo honours, rolling single notes out in a long arc. A droll quote - 'Buttons and Bows'... de rigeur for the genre... Farmer next, rapid fire elegance – a man who never seemed hurried at whatever tempo. Mobley picks up from his last phrase as he enters. Quite a soft tone compared to many other tenorist of the time, he was capable of much subtlety. Addison Farmer does a fast walk for a chorus or two – straight four. Last chorus and out. The young Elvin Jones keeps it all moving. Bop as she was done in 1956.

'Jakey' by Big John Patton, from 1965. Fast riff theme and Patton goes up first. Funky lines backed by sharp splinters of Granty Green chords. Vibes next, cooling it down a tad, the ice next to the smoky fire, sparked again by Green's guitar comping. Green solos, a keener, bluesy twang to his tone than many other modern jazz guitarists. Patton rides it out to the end. Music to make you feel good... dedicated to my young grandson... Jake...






Ray Charles (pno) Bobby Bryant, Blue Mitchell (tpt) Glen Childress (tbn) J. Lloyd Miller (oboe) Curtis Peagler (as) Andrew Ennis (ts) Clifford Scott, Albert McQueen (ts) Leroy Cooper (bs) James Martin (gtr) Edgar Willis (bs) unknown (d)
Senor Blues
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Peter Brötzmann (ts, a-cl, tar) William Parker (b, doussin gouni) Hamid Drake (d)
The heart and the bones
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Toshinori Kondo (t, electronics)
Tojin
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Art Farmer
Art Farmer (t) Hank Mobley (ts) Kenny Drew (d) Addison Farmer (b) Elvin Jones (d)
Farmers Market
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Big John Patton
John Patton (org) Grant Green (g) Bobby Hutchinson (vib) Otis 'Candy' Finch (d)
Jakey
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