Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bill Evans/Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh... Matthew Shipp... Billy Bang... Cannonball Adderley...

Bill Evans and the Kings of Cool – Konitz and Marsh. 'Speak Low.' This is sparkling, frothy stuff. Evans leads off in rhapsodic mode before Konitz takes the theme and lifts it into steady rhythm. Warne Marsh joins in to weave round the alto in a high-stepping dance. Eddie Gomez springs a line across Evan's chording, firm-fingered, high up the neck. Konitz up next. Followed by Bill Evans, Warne Marsh. Listening to all of them stretch phrases across bar-lines and chorus demarcations is a fascinating master-class in modern jazz improvised melody. Evans returns then there is an almost old-school ride out by the ensemble... Not to get tangled up in racial stereotyping, but this is not the blues end of bop, out of the fountainhead, Bird, and the Afro-American vanguard , rather the oblique white line coming out of Lennie Tristano (which of course came out of the same vanguard, Bird with a large dash of Lester Young, yadda yadda)– yet there is plenty of tension and emotion, delivered on its own cultural terms. Joyous...

Matthew Shipp and 'Density and Eucharist' from his album 'Critical Mass.' Observing the late-night eucharist here in the Eagle's Nest, trying to get it back on track over Budweisers and a chocolate orange. High living... And no intentional blasphemy here – the antinomian takes his or her own way through... But it's a loaded word... Density follows... Led in again by piano, a loping line underscored by some biting harmonies before the violin enters, riding across an increasing complexity from bass and drums. Shipp solos, thick-fingered clusters and swirls, prodded by Parker especially, locking into the occasional almost groove. Manieri comes back in finger-plucking strikes, before returning to his bow. Grappelli it ain't, this is the astringency of contemporary classical whammed across into free jazz. Or the reverse, take your pick... Tension building with heavy deep piano chords bombing across the drummer's rising clatter. Dickey takes his solo before the violin comes back to utter some wrenched phases, answered by the hurly burly piano. Shipp solo – fast track moves that leap the registers before a crunching chordal phrase summons the violin. More fast-it whirligig piano. Slowing down into more reflective mood, yet suddenly criss-crossed by Parker arco, duetting with the violin. Bass switches back to a fast strum as the tempo ups again. Some percussive and also lyrical bass from Mr Parker throughout, the deep heartbeat that links it all together. Density a plenty... The violin gives it that trans-idiomatic riff, as Mr Braxton might say... And much is coming together here – in the interplay of the musicians and the resonance of the title:

'The Eucharist is generally... thought to have its antecedents in common meal practice of uncertain origin, which gradually developed into a rite central to the Roman Church in the first two to four centuries of the Common Era.' (From here...).

Meeting to participate in the easygoing practice and commonplace necessity of eating which will transcend the gathering to a higher plane and purpose... I just re-read Paul's 'First Epistle to the Corinthians,' the first biblical reference to the Eucharist, while also checking the etymology of 'εὐχαριστία' as my classical Greek is shaky after all these years and was struck (again) by the Will to Order implicit and explicit in that text – especially with regard to women and those who speak in tongues as opposed to prophesying as defined by Paul – this argument especially interesting in a jazz context, perhaps re fire musics and the neo-orthodoxies. Nietszche famously said that the Will to Order displayed a lack of integrity, if I remember correctly. But enough...

More violin... Billy Bang – whom I first heard with the String Trio of New York way back and loved instantly... This is from an album where he recorded a load of standards in a pretty straight-ahead setting. 'Sweet Georgia Brown' the title. Bang a player who can go all the way out yet here playing pretty much inside – the fire and attack reminding of earlier maestros like the great Stuff Smith – or to give him his splendid full name: Hezekiah Leroy Gordon "Stuff" Smith. Must dig some of his music out – sure I have some somewhere... Smith was always capable of enthusiastically looking forward, as a master musician from an earlier generation. Bang as a master musician from more contemporary times looks back in celebration of the lineage:

'Violinist Billy Bang is a marvelous bridge from early jazz - [a] strong influence [was] Stuff Smith - to the most cutting-edge innovations of the avant-garde.' (From here...).

As Gaston Bachelard wrote:

'True poetry is a function of awakening. It awakens us, but it must retain the memory of previous dreams. ' (Gaston Bachelard: L'eau et les rêves (Water and Dreams) 1942, quoted from here...).

Blimey. Let's move one...

The Cannon and brother Nat playing 'Soon,' from his album 'Them Dirty Blues.' Julian Adderley could, of course, get down with the best, but like his mentor, Charlie Parker, was capable of fast, complex flights while remaining drenched in the blues. I was just thinking that he was part of a great Miles Davis sextet – the one that made 'Kind of Blue' – and his position between the clenched minimalist burn of the leader who learned his trade on Bird's bandstands and the swooning swooping fire of John Coltrane, maybe gives an hint of where to place him on the rolls. Bobby Timmons opens the game lightly before hitting a heavier chordal vamp as Nat Adderley takes the theme on muted cornet and solos first – the two beat gait alternating with the four walk from the bass to give a curious lopsided dance. Cannonball takes it onwards, the band switching to straight-ahead behind him as he unreels some dazzle and flash. Louis Hayes hits rimshots on the fourth beats, ticking off the bars in Philly Joe mode. Sam Jones displays his credentials, supple melodic bass. Timmons grounds it back as the cornet picks up the theme and that heavy piano chordal figure surfaces to end the track.

Bill Evans
Lee Konitz (as) Warne Marsh (ts) Bill Evans (p) Eddie Gomez (b) Eliot Zigmund (d)
Speak Low


Matthew Shipp
Matt Manieri (v) Matthew Shipp (p) William Parker (b) Whit Dickey (d)
Density and Eucharist


Billy Bang
Billy Bang (v) Billy Bang (v) D.D. Jackson (p) Akira Ando (b) Ronnie Burrage (d)
Sweet Georgia Brown


Cannonball Adderley
Cannonball Adderley (as) Nat Adderley (ct) Bobby Timmons (p) Sam Jones (b) Louis Hayes (d)


No comments: