OK, one last chance for the following CD's to impress me before I sell them all off at Half-Price Books in Tacoma. Lots of '60s/'70s jazz and off-the-wall stuff follows.
NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY:
* Van Morrison -- TUPELO HONEY (1971). Just heard this all the way through for the first time ever a couple of days ago. "Wild Night" I knew well, and I'd heard the title song once 30 years ago and wasn't impressed. But overall, very nice bouncy music to relax by, not as dark and intense as ASTRAL WEEKS or MOONDANCE, and not as light as HIS BAND AND THE STREET CHOIR. Great drumming from Connie Kay, great sax from Jack Schroer, good guitars from Van and Ronnie Montrose, and excellent singing as always. I've read that Van was happy in his domestic bliss with Janet Planet (who sings backup here) when he recorded this, and happiness and contentment comes through on almost every track. And the title song gains momentum and emotional impact I'd never noticed before thanks largely to the great drumming. Good stuff.
* Vince Guaraldi Trio -- Linus and Lucy. From A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. Is it weird to be listening to "Christmas" music in August? Well, it's cooler than normal here.... This takes the irresistible PEANUTS theme music and elaborates the hell out of it. There's even a pure-jazz be-boppish midsection. Wasn't there a flute on the original version of this? Where's the flute? Doesn't matter. Tough to resist.
* Vince Guaraldi -- Christmas Time is Here. Tough to resist the PEANUTS kids' cute vocals. The backing is sorta standard piano-trio jazz, but very soothing. You can hear the snowflakes falling....
* Vince Guaraldi -- Skating. I don't remember this as the music for the kids skating on the pond in the cartoon -- I thought that music was more languid. This jumps around way more than I remember. Vince is skating across the keys....
* George Winston -- Cast Your Fate to the Wind. From LINUS AND LUCY: THE MUSIC OF VINCE GUARALDI. The repeating piano choruses are a lot of fun. This could almost be a PEANUTS song, too.
* George Winston -- Linus and Lucy. Yes, just like the other one, but with more ringing held notes on the piano and a more direct attack. Kind of stiff. And then he elaborates the sucker out to Mars. And where's the bass and drums? And there's still no flute.
* John Coltrane -- Acknowledgement. From A LOVE SUPREME. Is this CD stuck? Coltrane riffs on the same four-note phrase for five minutes before the quartet starts the deep-voiced album-title chant. But Elvin Jones bashes all over the drum kit and McCoy Tyner comps all over the place on the piano. Hmmm....
* John Coltrane -- Resolution. This is more like it, with Coltrane blowing strong and Tyner just as strong while twinkling away on the piano. Easier to listen to than the opening movement. A little screeching from Trane later on....
* Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- Tarkus. From the ATLANTIC YEARS best-of. Good Ghod, 20 minutes of this?! Active, forceful opening. Alternately horn-like and popcorn-machine-like busy synthesizer opening into Greg Lake's lovesong to the title armadillo-tank creature. Silly, dumb Deeply Significant lyrics, but OK if you're into bombast. Good cheap entertainment. "Karn Evil 9" is way better. But man, Keith Emerson could play the hell out of that keyboard. Then there's a rockin' bluesy midsection ... with more dumb lyrics. Couple of brief, dramatic keyboard-drums-guitar duels -- the best part of ELP: short, punchy, catchy phrases repeated at lightning-fast speeds. Good stuff. The lyrics are pretty unbearable, and they're delivered portentously, morosely, without any humor. Then more popcorn-machine synth, but it's cute. Maybe the joke's on me. Sounds sort of like a duck quacking. Emerson's having fun with it. And just when you think it's over, they bang a gong and bring back the opening theme. Overall: Silly, meaningless, but not bad. OK, survived that, what else we got around here...?
* Clannad -- Na Buachailli Alainn (I think). From FUAIM. In Gaelic. This is early, from 1982, and seems lighter than their often-somber later stuff. Enya's on here, too, on keybs and vocals. Very pleasant choruses, no idea what they're on about. Over too soon.
* Clannad -- Strayed Away. In English! More like their later stuff, but very pleasant ... and over too soon.
* Maire Brennan -- Ce Leis. From MAIRE. She's Clannad's lead singer. This is very soothing. Is it nap time yet? Sounds like Clannad, no surprise -- but quieter. Nice flute by Mick Taylor.
* Maire Brennan -- Against the Wind. This is more like it. An actual beat, angry-chanting backing vocals, some force. Nice mandolin from Donal Lunny. A battle song. Fairly dramatic.
* Maire Brennan -- Atlantic Shore. This also has a beat and it moves. A beat and a little drama seem to do Maire a lot of good. She should tell her relatives in Clannad.
* Frank Zappa -- You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here, Trouble Every Day. From FREAK OUT! "Trouble Every Day" is a way-ahead-of-its-time media-and-society critique, with some good FZ guitar. Not bad, and right on. "Wondering" is more silly munchkin-like social criticism.
* Frank Zappa -- It Can't Happen Here. Acapella weirdness.
* Frank Zappa -- Who Are the Brain Police? The Beach Boys on acid. Does Frank ever stop with the jokes? Did he ever take anything but his guitar-playing seriously? Devolves into serious noise.
* FZ -- How Could I be Such a Fool?, Wowie Zowie. More doo-wop comedy. I used to know somebody who did a better, funnier version of "Wowie Zowie" than Frank and the Mothers....
* FZ -- The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet. Oh, no....
* Richard and Mimi Farina -- Pack Up Your Sorrows. From TREASURY OF FOLK MUSIC. Could almost be a sweeter Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Mimi and Richard were briefly almost a big deal back in the mid-'60s. Sweet, talented, but not distinctive.
* Simon Sisters -- Winken, Blinken and Nod. Carly Simon?! This is cute, could almost be Clannad. Kids would love it.
* Pete Seeger -- Little Boxes. Cute and funny and true, this lecture about "levelling" and Everybody Ending Up The Same is over so quickly the point almost doesn't hit you.
* Jimmie Rodgers -- Kisses Sweeter Than Wine. Ray Conniff(!) does a better, more dramatic (frankly, CLASSIC) version of this, though this is OK....
* Ornette Coleman -- Lonely Woman. From THE SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME. Played this awhile back and survived, so thought I'd try it again. Rather nicely harmonized honking horn music.
* Ornette Coleman -- Eventually. This sounds more like Ornette. Speedy, honking all over the place, busy drums and bass.
* Ornette Coleman -- Peace. Laid back, nice harmonized horns, rather "normal." Restful. But I'm not gonna make it through 9 minutes of this....
* Billie Holiday -- Billie's Blues. From QUINTESSENTIAL, VOLUME 2. I'm told I should listen to her voice and ignore the music. And her voice is fine. But her backup is SO Dixieland-jazz.... Of course it WAS 1936.
* Billie Holiday -- With Thee I Swing, The Way You Look Tonight. "Swing" swings, and it's cute. "The Way You Look" is charming, though very short. I guess she sorta got through to me finally. But the liner notes to her QUINTESSENTIAL best-of are better than the music....
* Miles Davis -- Right Off. From JACK JOHNSON. Wow, this is more like it. Funky, with some nice John McLaughlin guitar. Then Miles comes in with his piercing trumpet. This is much more ALIVE than I expected, though I'd read rave reviews. Can it really hold up for 26 minutes? ... OK, I made it 11 minutes in, to where the rockin' guitar-and-trumpet duel winds down. Not bad. Pretty damn lively. I might even keep it.
* Miles Davis -- Miles Runs the Voodoo Down. From BITCHES BREW. Seems like Miles blowing piercingly over a rather sluggish background, though John McLaughlin does step up later, and there's some interesting twiddling on the keyboards from Chick Corea and Larry Young. But kind of aimless.
* Miles Davis -- Sanctuary. This was written by saxist Wayne Shorter, and is mostly quiet, pretty, distant. Might be time for a sandwich. Or a nap.
* Dave Brubeck -- Kathy's Waltz. From TIME OUT. Formal but pretty piano-and-sax jazz. Good dinner music. Sounds vaguely Christmas-y. Hmmm. Do we have a theme going here?
* Keith Jarrett -- KOLN CONCERT Part 1, Part 2c. I've tried to get into this, but I can't -- though I do enjoy some of Jarrett's other stuff very much. "2c" seems the best part of the concert to me, and it's brief for Jarrett -- only 7 minutes. At least it has a melody. It's pretty. But even it drags. The rest is too much like going to church. Except for the parts where it sounds like he's having sex with the piano.
* Keith Jarrett -- Long As You Know You're Living Yours. From BELONGING. Steely Dan claimed they mined the crap out of this to create the wonderful title track of GAUCHO. They maybe smoothed Jarrett's melody out and made it more distinctive. I don't hear much of "Gaucho" in this. It meanders. But Jarrett's all over the piano and Jan Garbarek really screams on the sax.
* Keith Jarrett -- Belonging. Very laid back. Garbarek's mournful sax dominates this brief piece.
COMING EVENTUALLY: "Cleaning House 2!"