Monday, March 30, 2009

Muddy Waters - Electric Mud

I was looking through my Muddy Waters collection and stumbled (long live the search function on foobar!) on "Tom Cat" on a Psychedelic Jazz And Funky Grooves compilation. The song, a hypnotic stomper, really caught my ear. I tried to track down the source, and it turns out it's off the infamous Electric Mud LP with one Pete Cosey on guitar.

Guitarist Pete Cosey has a magic touch: any project he plays on, the critics seem to hate. His most famous achievements are, of course, on the electric Miles albums of the early 70s - Agharta, Pangaea, Get Up With It - the favorites of the lunatic fringe and pet peeves of the "real jazz" connoisseur. However, this one approaches the Miles LPs both in its underground popularity and in its notoriety.

Electric Mud was a brainchild of Marshall Chess, the son of Leonard Chess of the famed Chess Records, recorded and issued on the Chess subsidiary Cadet, which was an outlet for the unusual and experimental music. Electric Mud is an attempt to update the trademark Muddy Waters sound for the yound crowd by backing him with "the hottest, most avant garde rock guys in Chicago". Those "updating" attempts are not always successful, but they are often interesting. This one is nothing like the other Muddy Waters records; but if you appreciate Sonny Sharrock or Bob Quine, you should check it out. Electric Mud is not blues at all; it's a very tight and rocking psychedelic band with obvious avantgarde leanings fronted by Muddy and playing out of Muddy's book. Here's a Perfect Sound Forever review talking about "I Just Want To Make Love To You": The solo on this song is nothing short of phenomenal. The guitar starts playing some distorted melodic notes then morphs into this gigantic screeching feedback riff becoming louder and wilder then continues to morph from a tearing solo until it reaches this intense mind-bending groove that sounds on the brink of collapse.
Muddy himself seemed to have been ambivalent about this experiment at the time, but later he cooled down considerably, even calling it "dog shit" at some point. However, the record had its fans no matter what - most notably the rapper Chuck D, as well as, apparently, Miles Davis.

Muddy Waters - Electric Mud
256kbps, 74mb on 4shared (a ChrisGoesRock rip)
1. I Just Want To Make Love To You
2. I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man
3. Let's Spend The Night Together
4. She's Alright
5. Mannish Boy
6. Herbert Harper's Free Press News
7. Tom Cat
8. The Same Thing

I would also recommend checking out Blowin Gold, a solo 1969 album by saxophonist John Klemmer, who played with Don Ellis group at the time. It's also on Cadet and with the same Cadet rhythm section as above - Cosey on lead guitar, Phil Upchurch (on bass instead of rhythm guitar), Morris Jennings on drums. Incidentally, not a critical favorite, either. Not as focused nor as exciting as his early '70s sessions, says AMG. I think it's pretty good, some of the noisier jams approach the Stooges in that demented wailing-sax-over-a-monster-riff intensity. Available at the very interesting Ile Oxumare blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Art Farmer and Benny Golson (The Jazztet) - Meet the Jazztet

Farmer and Golson's Jazztet - one of the greatest hard bop groups of the 60s. They were easily the equals of the Jazz Messengers. If they ran for half as long as Art Blakey's group, they'd be a household name by now; unfortunately, the Jazztet disbanded only three years and six albums later.
An excellent short overview of the Jazztet and this album. Of the four Golson originals on this disc, three went on to become jazz standards - Killer Joe (learned by every aspiring jazzman), Blues March (covered by Blakey on Moanin LP), and I Remember Clifford (a Clifford Brown memorial).

Art Farmer and Benny Golson (The Jazztet) - Meet the Jazztet [1960]
High VBR, 72mb on 4shared
1. Serenata (Anderson-Parish) 3:30
2. It Ain't Necessarily So (Gershwin) 4:26
3. Avalon (Rose-DeSylva) 3:29
4. I Remember Clifford (Benny Golson) 3:10
5. Blues March (Benny Golson) 5:16
6. That's All Right With Me (Cole Porter) 3:53
7. Park Avenue Petite (Benny Golson) 3:41
8. Mox Nix (Art Farmer) 4:01
9. Easy Living (Rubin-Ranger) 3:33
10. Killer Joe (Benny Golson) 4:57

Art Farmer, trumpet
Benny Golson, tenor sax
Curtis Fuller, trombone
McCoy Tyner, piano
Addison Farmer, bass
Lex Humphries, drums

PS More Jazztet: Big City Sounds (1960) and Another Git Together (1962)
More Benny Golson - see below.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

City of Glass: Stan Kenton plays Bob Graettinger

As I was searching for Muhal Richard Abrams' Blu Blu Blu, I came across an interesting discussion of "heavily psychedelic big band jazz albums", whatever that means. Several of their suggestions appeared here before - Ghania with Pharoah Sanders, RRKirk's 3-sided Dream, just recently I posted Electric Bath, so I thought that other suggestions might be worth looking into. So, here's an interesting find: Bob Graettinger, a composer, arranger and sax player, and a bona fide mad genius if there ever was one. They call him the most radical arranger to ever work in jazz @.

An article about Bob Graettinger, Above the Timberline, worth reading in its entirety; and bio at AMG.

AMG review of This Modern World 10" LP:
The tragically short-lived, self-destructive Bob Graettinger could have been a matinee idol had he cared; some people who saw him on a Los Angeles bus one day mistook him for Elvis Presley. Instead, he devoted his last years to writing the most complex, atonal, uncompromising, potentially alienating music that even the iconoclastic Stan Kenton band ever played. This Modern World is Graettinger's reaction to the cold, driven, alien planet on which he lived, a natural sequel to the more famous City of Glass yet even more difficult and inward in expression. Comprised of six movements ("A Horn, Some Saxophones," "A Cello," "A Thought," "A Trumpet," and "An Orchestra"), This Modern World moves even further away from jazz into abstract contemporary classical music; undoubtedly, Mingus must have heard this music but it's almost impossible to name anything from which it derives. A jazz pulse occasionally surfaces but more often instruments drift in atonal clusters past each other in differing meters or blast dissonant fanfares, creating a feeling of unease as they converse quizzically. In our time, British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage's Blood on the Floor has picked up the torch where Graettinger left it upon his death in 1957, but it took 40 years, and it makes Kenton's decision to sponsor Graettinger's work seem all the more gutsy and courageous. The individual movements on this 10" LP can now be found on the City of Glass CD, along with the rest of Graettinger's small output.

On his personal life @ CRUD CRUD:
Born in Southern California, Graettinger played music for a while, before giving it up to write. He was in his early 20s when he gave Kenton some songs. Kenton didn't know if they were brilliant or bullshit, but he recorded them anyway... and then took Graettinger on as staff. Graettinger rarely spoke to anyone besides Kenton. Even when Kenton took him on the road, he sat by himself. His diet consisted of scrambled eggs, vitamin pills, cigarettes, and booze. He hated to sleep, saying he'd have enough time to do that in the grave. He lived by himself in a filthy apartment above a garage, which he rarely left. He was tall and skinny, had caved-in cheeks and was very very very pale. Many described him as "looking like death". He died of cancer at age 34. And he wrote some fascinatingly fucked up music.

More weird details about his life in this Bud Shank interview.

This CD collects his works that Stan Kenton Big Band recorded: suite This Modern World, City of Glass, and shorter pieces. This is from Kenton's period of flirtation with avant-garde, which Mort Sahl summed up with a joke: "A waiter accidentally dropped a tray and three couples got up to dance." @

City of Glass: Stan Kenton plays Bob Graettinger
256kbps, 117mb on 4shared
  • Thermopylae
  • Everything Happens to Me
  • Incident in Jazz
  • House of Strings
  • This Modern World, 1st mvt., A Horn
  • City of Glass, 1st mvt., part 1, Entrance into the City
  • City of Glass, 1st mvt., part 2, The Structures
  • City of Glass, 2nd mvt., Dance Before the Mirror
  • City of Glass, 3rd mvt., Reflections
  • Modern Opus
  • This Modern World, 3rd mvt., A Cello
  • You Go to My Head
  • This Modern World, 5th mvt., A Trumpet
  • This Modern World, 6th mvt., An Orchestra
  • This Modern World, 4th mvt., A Thought
  • This Modern World, 2nd mvt., Some Saxophones

    After Kenton's death, more Graettinger scores were found in the archive; in the 90's a jazz/modern classical big band under Gunther Schuller's guidance named Ebony Band recorded two CDs worth of this material.

    And by the way, I never found any Muhal Richard Abrams' recordings, so if anyone is willing to share, I'd appreciate!
  • Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    I'd also like to remind my readers that...

    ...heroin is a harsh mistress.

    Mid-50s (~25yo)

    Mid-80s (~55yo)

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Gerry Mulligan Quartets with Chet Baker and Art Farmer

    I am listening to a lot of jazz lately.

    Gerry Mulligan - baritone saxophonist, arranger and composer, the mastermind behind a good chunk of Miles' Birth of the Cool album. His most well known venture (or second-most, after the Birth of the Cool sessions) was probably his pianoless quartet - a trumpet-sax-bass-and-drums group that he led with changing members throughout the 50s. This highly unusual, minimalistic set-up initially was an accident: a gig opportunity arose to play in a space that did not have a piano. Mulligan decided to take a chance and see how this stripped-down sound would work. [See Mulligan's interview for more info]
    It worked beautifully, due to a lucky choice of Chet Baker on trumpet for a second lead voice. Mulligan's cerebral, architectonic approach was yin to Baker's melodic, intuitive yang, and their proverbial telepathic rapport allowed each to anticipate and play off the other's moves. The laconic compositions group recorded were the epitome of cool, with two lead voices weaving countrapunctal lines around the Carson Smith's melodic bass lines and delicately supported by the Chico Hamilton's brush work.

    The Best of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker (1952-1953)
    REUP: 320kbps, 115mb on 4shared
    1. Bernie's Tune
    2. Nights At The Turntable
    3. Freeway
    4. Soft Shoe
    5. Walkin' Shoes
    6. Makin' Whoopee
    7. Carson City Stage
    8. My Old Flame
    9. Love Me Or Leave Me
    10. Swinghouse
    11. Jeru
    12. Darn That Dream
    13. I'm Beginning To See The Light
    14. My Funny Valentine
    15. Festive Minor

    Unfortunately, this lucky alliance did not last long: in 1953 Mulligan went to the slammer on a narcotic conviction. When he emerged six months later, Baker already moved on to become a crossover solo star, combining his trumpet, good looks, and newly discovered singing talents into an unbeatably commercial combination. Mulligan found a replacement in Art Farmer, a relatively obscure (at the time) trumpet player with a cool, melodic sound. During his time with Mulligan, Farmer also started playing flugelhorn, a trumpet-like instrument with a softer, more mellow sound; he went on to become one of the best-known jazz flugelhorn players. This album is the last Mulligan Quartet LP with Farmer playing flugelhorn exclusively.

    The Gerry Mulligan Quartet - What Is There To Say? (1959)
    98mb on depositfiles
    1. What Is There To Say
    2. Just In Time
    3. News From Blueport
    4. Festive Minor
    5. As Catch Can
    6. My Funny Valentine
    7. Blueport
    8. Utter Chaos

    PS Also, a great 1959 live set from "The New" Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Art Farmer, titled Americans In Sweden, over at