Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Total idiot writes about jazz!

Jazz explorations continue, budget and time permitting. Latest listening has included:
Count Basie: ESSENTIAL, VOLUME 1 -- This is too old and too big-band-ish for me to be able to hear, though the horn lines on "Miss Thing" are cute. Also, I could hardly hear Basie's piano. If I were to keep listening to this I'd probably someday be able to get into later Soft Machine. That ain't gonna happen.
Horace Silver -- "Song for My Father" is OK, but it keeps trying to turn into Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"....
Chet Baker -- Light, cool, almost distracted vocal on "Let's Get Lost."
Gary Burton: WORKS -- A best-of/sampler from Burton's dozen albums on the ECM label. Light, airy vibraphone tunes. Guitarist Pat Metheny guests on a couple of tracks, but it doesn't make much difference -- there's none of Pat's usual melodic flow. Some nice Mick Goodrick guitar on "Three," but when the orchestra enters, it turns into a movie soundtrack. "Brotherhood" is a handful of notes -- pointless atmosphere. OK waking-up music, but not riveting. And the folks at ECM spell the word "crystal" -- as in Burton and Chick Corea's duo album CRYSTAL SILENCE -- wrong TWICE in the album booklet. Once with an extra "h." English is a tough language....
Ornette Coleman -- I could hardly hear his frenzied smears of sax sound on he and Pat Metheny's album SONG X (supposedly a masterpiece). But I got through "Lonely Woman" on Ornette's THE SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME. And I could actually HEAR it. And it wasn't terrible. So, more exploring to come....
Miles Davis and John Coltrane: THE BEST OF (1955-1961) -- Milestones, Straight No Chaser, My Funny Valentine, Someday My Prince Will Come, So What, Blue in Green, Round Midnight, Bye Bye Blackbird. All solid stuff, even if it didn't grab me by the throat.
Miles Davis: BITCHES BREW -- Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, Sanctuary, Pharoah's Dance. The last of these sounds like "In a Silent Way," only sped-up. You sure can tell that's Joe Zawinul on the keyboards. Which leads us directly to....
Weather Report: 8:30/LIVE -- There's some great stuff on here. "Birdland" ALWAYS sounds lame, but "Boogie Woogie Waltz" is one of the greatest pieces of noise I've ever heard, and it just SCREAMS! "Thanks for the Memory" is a nice but eccentric sax solo from Wayne Shorter. "Black Market," "Teen Town" and "Slang" are also pretty cool. Amazing that I can enjoy WR's live stuff this much when I think their studio work is all stone dead....
John Coltrane: MY FAVORITE THINGS -- Not as screechy as I first thought. There's some nice McCoy Tyner piano in the middle of the title standard, which is good waking-up music. Coltrane has a lot of fun with it, takes it a long way out. But Tyner's solo on "Every Time We Say Goodbye" is a little cocktail-lounge-ish. I've never liked George Gershwin's "Summertime" in ANY version, but Coltrane gets away with it here because he hardly bothers to PLAY the melody -- some nice, rough bouncing-all-over on sax. Elvin Jones's drum solo is kind of dull, but he comes out of it with a nice roll and a smash. I can hardly hear any of the original tune on "But Not for Me," but it doesn't matter -- it's a nice finish to the album, a real quick 9-1/2 minutes. But where are the BONUS TRACKS?!  
I also heard:
Miles Davis -- Concerto De Arunjuez.
Herbie Hancock -- Watermelon Man, Tell Me a Bedtime Story. Haven't heard anything bad by Herbie yet.
Wayne Shorter -- Juju, Footsteps.
Lee Morgan -- The Sidewinder.
John Coltrane -- Spiritual, Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.
Pat Metheny -- "Orchestrion" sounds like the Pat Metheny Group, only with wind-up-toy instruments in the background. Not that this is a problem....
Pat Metheny Group -- Phase Dance, Forward March, The First Circle, Praise, As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls, Ozark, Yolanda You Learn. Do I have to rave about any of these? "Yolanda" is a little better than I remembered -- but "Forward March" is still a painful joke. The rest are wonderful.
Happy the Man -- On Time as a Helix of Precious Laughs, Hidden Moods, New York Dreams Suite. Woops, how did THESE get in here? Ah well, "Precious Laughs" is a friggin' masterpiece, worth it all to hear Stan Whittaker's guitar erupt out of the bed of Kit Watkins' keyboards and Frank Wyatt's sax. I even like Whittaker's kind of uncomfortable vocal. The other two tracks are solid mood-music. And let's face it, if there was more good Prog out there I wouldn't be turning to jazz in a search for new sounds....
More coming soon. Hope to get back to Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND and Miles Davis's PANTHALASSA (especially "He Loved Him Madly," dark mood-music recorded on the floor of the Pacific Ocean) and IN A SILENT WAY, plus I'm looking for Miles's JACK JOHNSON, ON THE CORNER and GET UP WITH IT, more Mingus, and some of Keith Jarrett's quartets.
Suggestions and hate mail can be submitted below, as always....

1 comment:

R S Crabb said...


Actually Steely Dan did borrow the riff for Rikki Don't Lose That Number off Horace Silver and Song For My Father the album is Horace's best. I found a CD of it for 40 cents at the Salvation Army and I recommend it. I might have sent you that Sonny Rollins CD and you're right, it's a bit ho hum. For MONK, anything on Riverside Records is worth hearing, but he got a bit complacent when he went to Columbia, Underground is his best work at that label.

A Tribute to Jack Johnson is vintage jazz fusion Miles Davis but he has John McLaughlin on guitar and Billy Cobham bashing away on drums. You might dig that LP if you ever find it. Pangesa is two cds of two compostions that last over 40 minutes per disc, it has moments and Miles makes a lot of fart noises on trumpet just to let you know he's there. Worth a listen but it will bore ya.

Song X the Metheny/Ornette get together, I couldn't listen to the whole thing, but Lonely Woman is a lot more listener friendly. I love Free Jazz the album but that one is not for everybody, Change Of The Century is the best album song wise.

Weather Report 8:30 is their best. I tend to like the live Birdland better than you and Boogie Woogie Waltz does rock. Weather Report is better heard live too. I find their studio albums kinda stuffy and bit boring.

There's more jazz to turn you on to. I've been trying to years to find a decent copy of Thad Jones-Brass Bag (With Gerald Wilson arranging) on World Pacific, the record is trombone driven rather than saxophone. And Buck Clayon's All The Cats Join In (Columbia 1955) which is nice jam session jazz. Strange turn of events that Columbia issued the outtakes on CD in 1988 but never the original album. Which is a shame since one of the songs, the great Coleman Hawkins's sax solo was ruined by a reed failure. Hawkins did a nice 1960 session for Swingsville, that I found in the cutout and while I have yet to find a Coleman Hawkins album I can listen through, this one (Swingsville 2005, Coleman Hawkins All Stars) has some swinging numbers like More Bounce To The Vonce and the 12 minute Some Stretching.

That will do you for now ;)