Due 2 circumstances Byond my control, this isn't quite as BIG a Jazz Moment as I'd hoped, but more stuff is in the works as time & energy permit. 4 now, however....
Gong -- Mystic Sister, Magik Brother, Mister Long Shank/O Mother I Am Your Fantasy....
Thelonious Monk -- UNDERGROUND (expanded CD): Thelonious, Ugly Beauty, Raise Four, Boo Boo's Birthday, Easy Street, Green Chimneys, In Walked Bud, Ugly Beauty take 4, Boo Boo's Birthday take 2, Thelonious take 3.
Sun Ra -- THE FUTURISTIC SOUNDS OF....: Bassism, Of Sounds and Something Else, What's That?, Where is Tomorrow?, The Beginning, China Gates, New Day....
ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO JAZZ.
ROLLING STONE JAZZ RECORD GUIDE.
PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ, Richard Cook & Brian Morton.
Philip Larkin: ALL WHAT JAZZ?
Still not sure about Gong. Spacey & jazzy, but often 2 silly 4 me. "Mystic Sister" features Gilly Smith's giggly, gasping voice doing nothing much. Daevid Allen takes over on "Magik Brother," which is much lighter than their later stuff, almost folky. Didier Mahlerbe's distinctive flute & sax is already part of the early mix. But it all turns 2 silly psychedelic mush with "Mister Long Shank." Their later stuff works better 4 me. From ABSOLUTELY THE BEST OF....
Now then. Like John Coltrane's GIANT STEPS, Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND is 1 of my fave jazz-blowing albums of all time. I've loved it ever since I found a beat-up vinyl copy of the record in a 2nd-hand store In The Middle Of Nowhere in Wyoming. & Blieve me, there is NO jazz in Wyoming.
2 me, UNDERGROUND just conjures up jazz blowing sessions in smoky out-of-the-way nearly-deserted bars that I'd probly never B caught dead in. I've read some reviews that call summa the performances on this album "tired," but I've got no other Monk 2 compare it 2, so it sounds good 2 me.
I can tell you that, like GIANT STEPS, Monk's themes R memorable, & U can go YEARS Btween listenings (like I did) & still remember the tunes. I can even take the 1 track where Jon Hendricks sings ("In Walked Bud").
I love Monk's sorta "off" piano, his short, jagged phrasing -- the sorta off-kilter or off-balance tunes that sometimes leave you Xpecting more. There's also great work by the resta the quartet -- Charlie Rouse's bright sax, the beautifully-picked-up brush-work by Ben Riley, & Larry Gales' solid bass.
4 me, "Thelonius" is the best thing here, but "Ugly Beauty"'s a close 2nd. On "In Walked Bud," Hendricks' scat-singing of his impromptu lyrics sometimes sounds like another horn. It doesn't much matter what words he's singing. It might B better 2 hear a sax playing that melody line, but the vocal does contribute something Xtra.
The 3 bonus trax R nice but not earthshakingly diffrent from the originals. All the trax R un-edited vs. the original 1968 album which trimmed sevral trax 2 fit on2 vinyl. Summa the pieces run 13 mins.
Now then, the spacey stuff! Or not. Sun Ra's FUTURISTIC SOUNDS is a CD re-release of (what I assume is) a mid-2-late-'60s album originally on Savoy -- Tom Wilson produced.
But here's the thing: Gong is stranger.
"Bassism" has some nice flute from Marshall Allen, & later some nice unison saxes from Allen, John Gilmore & Pat Patrick. "Of Sounds and Something Else" has a swingin' big band sound! The horns mix it up a lot more on "What's That?" Ra also glides all over the piano, but it's not what I would call "spacey."
The trax R SHORT. Not sure what's so "futuristic" or Out There here. This is almost like Monk, but with lots more horns.
"The Beginning" is a little more abstract -- a nice percussion workout with flute & sax coming in later -- vaguely Indian-sounding. "China Gates" has an OK bass vocal, some nice atmosphere with bells & shakers & Ra's lite-oriental piano theme. "New Day" has more nice atmospherics & Patrick's Xcellent baritone sax. Gilmore & Allen join in later. This is also vaguely Indian/African, & there's some nice propulsive rhythms....
Tho time ran out 4 me on this, I'll B returning 2 it. There's nothing stunning here, but there's some nice blowing & atmosphere. Thot Ra was Out There a bit...?
Have also bn trying 2 get in2 some books on jazz. The ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO JAZZ is a huge 1,400-pg monster (nearly as big as their ROCK guide), chock-full of reviews, which is of course why I bot it -- but just a touch thin on personalities & histories of the musicians -- which led me back 2 Richard Cook & Brian Morton's superb PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ, which not only has reviews, but also has great stories about the jazz giants + some really Xcellent writing. They have some Issues with jazz-rock, but then so do I, so....
THE ROLLING STONE JAZZ GUIDE is a thinly-Xpanded version of the jazz reviews originally printed in their original red RS RECORD GUIDE (1979) -- thin & disappointing, but at least it was cheap.
Philip Larkin's ALL WHAT JAZZ? is a collection of jazz reviews he wrote 4 London's DAILY TELEGRAPH Btween 1961 & '71. It just arrived 2day & I've barely had a chance 2 sniff at it. But the 1st thing I read was a vicious & hilarious piece on the death of John Coltrane that -- not suprisingly -- went unpublished at the time it was written. Looks like Larkin doesn't much like Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, or Ornette Coleman, either. & since I enjoy direct, brutal criticism in summa my weaker moments, this could B a lotta fun. Is Larkin the kinda guy hipsters useta call "moldy figs" back in the '40s & '50s? He's hilarious, tho a bit of a stick in the mud. More soon....
Coming next: Yet Another Jazz Moment, featuring Mahavishnu Orchestra's APOCALYPSE & others, Miles Davis's IN A SILENT WAY, Weather Report's 8:30/LIVE, Keith Jarrett's EYES OF THE HEART & others, David Sancious and Tone, Return to Forever, etc etc etc....