Friday, August 30, 2013

Just a place for links - stuff I am listening to. See comments

Monday, August 13, 2012

Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations

This would be my contribution:

Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations
REUP 02/15/2014: 93mb on zippyshare
  • My Yiddishe Momme (Billie Holiday)
  • Utt Da Zay (Cab Calloway)
  • That Old Black Magic (Johnny Hartman)
  • Baby Baby (Libby Holman & Josh White)
  • Ich Hob Dich Tzufil Lieba (Alberta Hunter)
  • Sholem (Eartha Kitt)
  • Where Can I Go? (Marlena Shaw)
  • Exodus (Jimmy Scott)
  • Sabbath Prayer (Cannonball Adderley)
  • Swanee (Aretha Franklin)
  • Now! (Lena Horne)
  • Dunkin Bagels (Slim Gaillard)
  • Eretz Zavat Chalav (Nina Simone)
  • Fiddler on the Roof Medley (The Temptations)
  • Kol Nidre (Johnny Mathis)
  • Friday, December 23, 2011

    Dear readers,
    At the moment I have nothing meaningful to say on the musical subjects, but want to say I appreciate having readers whether you leave comments or not, and doubly appreciate the comments with suggestions, astute culturological analysis, or shares. Below is some of the excellent stuff posted lately throughout the blog in comments:

    The Wrigglers: Sing Calypso at the Arawak (1958) with the great Ernest Ranglin on guitar at the Easy Jams blog (original vinyl rips and great commentary)

    Yuko Ikoma - Moisture with Music Box (2008) - Eric Satie on a music box, very surprising and effective readings of his music, on Hypnagogic Travels

    Olivier Messian - Les Corps Glorieux (Organ Works III) - "kinda cosmic stuff, very deep and unusual" - in FLAC, thanks to Symbolkid!

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    John Sousa, the great aphorist

    These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy... in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape. - A submission to a 1906 congressional hearing. @

    Also, Sousa on music piracy (a letter to the editor).

    I also stumbled on a lengthy article how Victor, makers of the "talking machines," created its own audience - on the social construction of listening to recorded music. Good stuff; did not finish it yet though.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    In the "insane far out crazy sh*t" category.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Giacinto Scelsi: Symphony de Uma Nota So

    Articles about Giacinto Scelsi tend to begin with accounts of his biography and for a good reason: he is a fascinating character, a colorful figure in the tradition of great eccentrics and lonely visionaries, and his life makes for a great story. I will skip it: first, there is a number of articles that tell his story better than I ever could (see and, as well as an extended and thorough obituary). A second, and more important, reason is that it would have been the wish of Scelsi himself. He was a recluse, granting no interviews and refusing to be photographed - not as a whim, but as a natural extension of his vision of himself and his role in composing:
    "Scelsi believed to be a postman, someone who delivered a message, considering himself as a medium between different worlds. [...] Scelsi's unorthodox methods of working proved to be controversial as seemingly questioning the very notion of authorship that even someone like Cage never relinquished." @
    "The method used in the pieces for which Scelsi is famous [...] was to improvise extensively on one note and record the results onto tape, this later being transcribed in score by an assistant. Scelsi did not think of these works as compositions with an author in the conventional sense but as snapshots of something more profound and of which the composer was something of an intermediary." @
    This approach lead to claims that the music was not, in fact, his, but rather written by his many assistants - although there is an originality and unity of vision behind his output that has to come from one person.

    So, if it's all about the music, what is the music like? A common adjective is "monotonous," and it's not derogatory, but directly descriptive. Indeed most of his compositions are based on exploration of a single tone. Yet, the music manages to be engaging, fascinating; it feels like you are hearing a great story told in a foreign language. Scelsi's musical language is completely original and unconventional: completely devoid of melody, yet infinitely rich in timbre, texture, and dynamics; there is no pulse, and rhythm is used only in the most general sense of ideas developing faster or slower; harmony is completely foreign to the classical tradition - it is based on a single note and a multitude of its overtones, so one can occasionally recognize triads and chords, but more often there are microtonal shifts or larger note clusters that may sound dissonant, but not jarringly so.
    The entire impression his music makes is like that: dissonant, but not jarringly so; foreign, yet vaguely familiar. His language is not otherworldly, not alien, not futuristic like electronic bleeps and glitches tend to sound. Quite the opposite: Scelsi is reaching into the past, into the history and sometimes prehistory to connect to the deepest human musical impulses. This is how Scelsi himself saw his music: the composition titles are in Latin, Sanskrit, Sumerian; they refer to characters and concepts from Near Eastern, Mayan, or ancient Greek mythology.
    My personal aural association is different; once upon a time I read an article on diddley bow - a one-string homemade instrument played with a slide - which said that in early African-American folk music there tends to be little use for pure timbre, and homemade instruments are often augmented with buzzers and rattlers attached to the string to dirty up and fuzzify the sound. The Afro-American folk tradition was completely unknown to Scelsi, yet again they seem to produce convergent results.

    To connect to another previous idea, while Scelsi was not an orthodox believer like Pärt or Bach, he definitely was a mystic and saw his work in spiritual terms; music for him is something external to and something greater than a man; and I think that his attempts to remove his ego from the process of composition improve results dramatically.

    See also essays on AION and Konx-Om-Pax.

    Links: the source, AION / PFHAT / KNOX-OM-PAX on depositfiles

    A three-CD collection of his Œuvres Pour Chœur Et Orchestre (including the material on the disc above) at uaxuctum (incidentally, the blog is named after a Scelsi composition)

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Kronos Quartet - Winter Was Hard

    I recently got me a new hard drive and went on a downloading rampage; mostly modern classical, but other stuff, as well. I'll try to go through some of it and perhaps will be posting my listening notes as I go along; possibly with the links stolen from where I got the music.

    This one was an easy choice for a start - I could have written a review without even listening. What Kronos are trying to do here is to give a panorama view of the modern string quartet repertoire, and doing so admirably. They pick out samples from all the extremes of the modern string quartet tradition: the last of the American Classicists (Barber's 'Adagio') is balanced by the 'pop' people dabbling in strings (John Lurie's 'Bella by Barlight,' Piazolla); dodecaphonic Webern sits opposite melodic Salinen; Zorn's cold and clinical genre manipulation is counteracted by the earnest and direct 'Fratres' by Arvo Pärt. This album might be a good starter for a hipster trying to cover all his classical bases in one strike.
    As an interesting aside, Kronos spent the rest of their career breaking out of this modern string quartet canon by collaborating with anybody and everybody, from the Tiger Lillies to Asha Bhosle.

    Now, as far as specific comments after actually listening to this, I got the following:
    I don't like Zorn, never have, and probably never will - despite the fact that most of the modern musicians I love, respect, and admire collaborated with him at some point. His track here is yet another reminder why. He does not play music, he plays with music. His usual genre juggling is here on full display, and, as before, it does nothing for me. There is so much attention to the form that content gets completely lost (if there ever was any content behind the form).
    Arvo Pärt, on the other hand, I really dig (I only wish he was a little louder and a little faster). Interestingly, composer's faith seems to have a positive correlation with the quality of music: e.g. Bach and Pärt. I guess the difference is that they are not writing for a specific audience and not trying to impress anyone - they are writing from their very core and are only accountable to their God (or to themselves).
    Lurie's track is a bit predictable; it sounds like something he could have written for the Lounge Lizards and just happens to be performed by KQ, rather than an authentic string quartet piece. The title is a play on 'Stella by Starlight,' but I don't remember it well enough to tell if there are musical references to it in the piece.
    Another interesting thing is how surprisingly similar are the Riley and Piazolla pieces. I had the album on shuffle; one followed the other and the transition was completely natural. From tango one would expect the energetics that comes from it being, ultimately, dance music; Riley's piece should serve the abrasive edge of the modern experimental music; yet, both reach outside their genre confines and meet in the middle - 'Four, for Tango' with transitional dissonance, scratching and sawing; 'Half-Wolf' with truly rock'n'roll energy, a pulse that goes through the piece.
    Webern stuff I did not get, period. Schnittke I think I need a few more listens to say anything meaningful about.

    Another review

    Kronos Quartet - Winter Was Hard (1988)
    The source, depositfiles
    1. Winter was Hard, for chorus & orchestra, Op 20 (Sallinen) 1:40
    2. Half-Wolf Dances Mad In Moonlight(Riley) 8:21
    3. Fratres, for string quartet (Part) 9:23
    4. Six Bagatelles for string quartet, Op. 9 (Webern) 3:57
    5. Forbidden Fruit for voice, string quartet & turntables (Zorn) 10:20
    6. Bella by Barlight, for string quartet (Lurie) 2:47
    7. Four, for Tango, for string quartet (Piazzolla) 4:41
    8. String Quartet No.3 (Schnittke) 19:06
    9. Adagio for strings (Barber) 7:09
    10. A Door Is Ajar (Traditional) 0:03

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    New World Jazz

    We've seen indo-jazz (@ and @), Caribbean jazz (@, @, and @), Ethiopian jazz (Mulatu Astatke), North African/ Arabic jazz (Salah Ragab, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Lloyd Miller), South African/highlife jazz (@), jazz-mugam (Armenia - Vagif Mustafa-Zadeh), Chinese jazz (@, @, @, @), a multitude of Brazilian jazz styles (choro, samba, music by Pixinguinha, Turma da Gafieira, and Meirelles - in addition to the omnipresent bossa nova), even jazz-influenced french accordion folk music (@). So I guess there would be no harm in posting a classical composers' take on jazz. For an astute musical observation of the day, I'd like to point out that the main theme in Hindemith's Ragtime is taken from Bach's famous C minor fugue, WTC book 1.

    New World Jazz {Michael Tilson Thomas - New World Symphony}
    143mb, 256kbps on 4shared
    1. Lollapalooza, for orchestra - John Adams
    2. Rhapsody in Blue, for piano & orchestra (orchestrated by F. Grofé) - George Gershwin
    3. Prelude, Fugue And Riffs, for clarinet & jazz ensemble - Leonard Bernstein
    4. La Création du monde, ballet for orchestra, Op. 81 - Darius Milhaud
    5. Ebony Concerto, for clarinet & jazz band - Igor Stravinsky
    6. Ragtime, for orchestra (or piano 4 hands), Op. 20 - Paul Hindemith
    7. A Jazz Symphony, for piano & jazz orchestra (original version), W. 157a - George Antheil
    8. Theme From The Bad And The Beautiful - David Raskin

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Arie antiche

    As it might be apparent from this blog, I think the topic of musical authenticity is fascinating. What was authentic to the generation of our grandparents became fake for our parents and then is picked up and dusted off, to be discarded again with the changing fashion and interests. One example from pop music is the 50's exotica trend. For their contemporaries Martin Denny and Les Baxter were the true troubadours of faraway lands; then they became the cheese peddlers, and now they are "the authentic exotica movement of 50's."

    Recently I stumbled onto another example from the classical world. Several extended quotes from Wiki and elsewhere after the jump:

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Brahms - Hungarian Dances (arr.Joachim)

    Earlier, I posted some music by The Bollywood Brass Band, a wonderful fruit of cross-pollination between the British and Indian cultures. Here's an excellent article that traces the ebb and flow of the brass band tradition between two countries: the British brought it with them in the early XIXth century, the locals absorbed it into the greater Indian musical fabric by playing Indian traditional tunes and Bollywood songs using the brass band medium; South Asian immigrants brought the wedding brass band tradition with them to UK and now the young Britons got together as "The Bollywood Brass Band" to play the music that went through these multiple iterations. The cultural give and take behind it is at least as interesting as the music itself.

    Now, here's another example of a cultural ping-pong between two musical traditions, separated not geographically, but rather socially: the living folk tradition of gypsy music and the classical world. Brahms had a strictly classical education, but first became interested in gypsy music when he toured Europe (and particularly Hungary) as an accompanist to the virtuoso violinist Ede Reményi. Through him and street musicians Brahms became exposed to gypsy and Hungarian folk music, which were thought of as synonymous at the time. He compiled and arranged a book of compositions that were published as "Hungarian Dances" to much acclaim and financial reward for Brahms. They gave the audiences of the time a measured taste of exotica, the carefree life of noble nomads, yet filtered through and tempered with a classical sensibility enough to be acceptable in polite society.
    One of Brahms's friends and colleagues was Joseph Joachim, a celebrated hungarian-jewish violinist who was both classically trained and thoroughly familiar with the oral tradition. Joachim made a violin/piano arrangement of these pieces, bringing them closer to the actual folk music of the time with authentic ornamentation and melisma - and then carefully notated them out, sending the ball back into the classical court, as it were.
    The performers on this recording, Shaham and Erez, have both impeccable classical credentials and also experience playing hungarian/gypsy folk music, and so they occupy perhaps the ideal vantage point from which to approach Brahms.

    What I've written above does not imply an assessment of this music as more or less "authentic" or "true" to the folk music it was supposed to represent. It would be an error to judge it by the orthodox musicological standards: the Hungarian Dances were with us for long enough to stand on their own merits and they probably have influenced a few performers of the "true" "traditional" gypsy music.

    Johannes Brahms - Hungarian Dances (arr.Joachim) {Hagai Shaham - violin, Arnon Erez - piano}
    VBR, 95mb on depositfiles
    Hungarian Dances #1-21
    Variations in Emin #1-21

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    "Google vs. everyone" - Larry Downes on information sharing and copyright law. A thoughtful and well-written article that touches on the rhetoric of online stealing and piracy.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith (1958)

    Great album. The first two songs are killer, better than the original Bessie Smith versions, IMHO. The band mostly stays in background, which is a pity. I wish they would step out a bit more - especially on something like "Trombone Blues".

    Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith (1958)
    VBR, 93mb on depositfiles
    1. After You've Gone
    2. Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair
    3. Jailhouse Blues
    4. Trombone Blues (AKA Trombone Cholly)
    5. You've Been A Good Ole Wagon
    6. Careless Love
    7. Backwater Blues
    8. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight
    9. Me And My Gin
    10. Fine Fat Daddy
    11. Trombone Butter (Alt Take)
    12. Careless Love (Mono)
    13. Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair (Live)
    14. Me And My Gin (Live)
    15. Backwater Blues (Live)

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Os 3 do Nordeste - 20 Super Successos

    Here's a respite from all the eggheadedness overflowing here lately. I posted some forro before, and the description in that album's title is still the best: "Music for maids and taxi drivers." Many styles make up the rich, intoxicating bouquet of Brazilian music, and forro adds to it a strong sniff of glue. For an hour of primitive, repetitive, hard-driven accordion music, grab this one!
    The songs are rather uneven; many of the tunes I liked turned out to be covers of songs by Antonio Barros - É proibido cochilar, Forró do poeirão, Homem com H (this was a big hit in Brazil). Da boca pra fora is a great tune, so is Pra virar Lobisomem.

    Os 3 do Nordeste - 20 Super Successos
    50mb on depositfiles
    1. É proibido cochilar
    2. Voltar Pra Bahia
    3. Pra virar Lobisomem
    4. Forró do Poeirão
    5. A Vendinha da Feira
    6. Homem com H
    7. Forró de Tamanco
    8. Estourei no Norte
    9. Brasil Expresso
    10. Por debaixo dos panos
    11. Da boca pra fora
    12. Forró Casamenteiro
    13. Ta Faltando Alguém
    14. Elas por elas
    15. O Melhor do Forró
    16. Forró sem frescura
    17. Amor Sobrando
    18. Vamos todos festejar
    19. Eu era feliz
    20. Minha Fogueira

    Possibly the closest musical project in spirit, if not in style, from the other side of the globe:

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Eric Satie

    Listening a lot to Eric Satie lately. For some background, here's a great article: Flabby Preludes for a Dog: An Erik Satie Primer. I've heard a few interpretations and it seems his music is most effective when played glacially slow; so, AFAIK the best ones are by Pascal Roge. Gnossienne No.1 would be the best soundtrack for a lonely eccentric high on absinthe going to his empty apartment at 4am.

    145mb on depositfiles

    His music is not very conducive to a jazz approach, yet many try it; here is a discussion of Gnossiennes No.1 and No.2 from a jazz angle. Mal Waldron made an entire record of Satie's compostions. I don't know if it is better than a straight-ahead reading like Roge's, but an interesting effort nonetheless.

    Mal Waldron Plays Erik Satie (1983)
    70mb, on depositfiles

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Nicolai Gedda sings S. Rachmaninoff and A. Tcherepnine

    Songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexandre Tcherepnine / Сергей Рахманинов и Александр Черепнин - Романсы
    Nicolai Gedda (tenor) with Alexis Weissenberg and Alexandre Tcherepnine (piano)
    High VBR, 115mb on zippyshare (new link 3/6/15)

    S. Rachmaninoff
    Они отвечали (They answered), Op.21 № 4
    Не пой, красавица (Don't sing, my belle), Op.4 № 4
    Сирень (Lilacs), Op.21 № 5
    О, не грусти! (Do not be blue), op.14 № 8
    Буря (Tempest), Op.34 № 3
    К детям (To the children), Op.26 № 7
    Христос воскрес (Christ is Risen!), Op.26 № 6
    В моем саду я вижу (I see in my garden), Op.26 № 10
    В молчаньи ночи тайной (In the night's silence), Op.4 № 3
    Вокализ (Vocalise), Op.34 № 14
    Здесь хорошо (How peaceful), Op.21 № 7
    Отрывок из Альфреда Мюссе (Fragment from A. Musset), Op.21 № 6
    Арион (Arion), Op.34 № 5
    Сей день я помню (I remember this day), Op.34 № 10
    Уж, ты нива моя (Oh my field), Op.4 № 5
    Ветер перелётный (A passing breeze), Op.34 № 4
    Весенние воды (Spring waters), соч.14 № 11

    A. Tcherepnine
    Озеро (The lake), Op.16 № 3
    Три домовины (Three coffins)
    Мир одиночества (The world of loneliness)
    Береза (Birch tree), Op.33 № 14
    Осенняя песня (The autumn song), Op.7 № 1
    Свечка догорела (A candle has burned out), Op.21 № 3

    This post is for Sergei Rachmaninoff, who was born exactly 138 years ago - happy birthday, Сереженька!
    I used to think that classical composers only wrote orchestral symphonies, or at most string quartets - boy, was I ever wrong. A good number of them was able to appreciate the value of small-scale works, and came pretty close to pop music of the day by writing actual songs. Let me quote Hindemith:
    In recent years, I have almost entirely turned away from concert music and composed nearly exclusively music with pedagogical or social tendencies; for amateurs, children, broadcast, mechanical instruments, etc. I hold this sort of composition to be more important than writing for concert uses because the latter usually serve only as a technical task for the musicians and have hardly anything to do with the advancement of music.
    Songs take a good part of Rachmaninoff's output; a few became standards with at least one - the famous Vocalise - crossing over from the singer's repertoire to a multitude of other instruments; it's been covered on just about anything: violin, French horn, theremin, double bass, jazz quartet, 24 cellos, even hard rock guitar (Slash of G'n'R, I shit you not).

    In all truth, art songs, and Rachmaninoff's especially, hardly sound like pop music to а modern ear; a certain effort is necessary to get them - but IMHO it's an effort well spent. A few have conventional structure, but others are small dramatic performances with lyrics driving the development and a richly textured piano part to support and echo the voice, occasionally stepping up into the spotlight. It takes a few listens to follow what is happening, but once you can, it's a whirlwind ride through the peaks of emotion.

    This upload is as close to "my own work" as it is going to get - I did some remastering. The dynamics on original were entirely too extreme, I could not make it through a single song without turning the volume knob. So this is compressed from a lossless file and then ripped into high VBR. The classical nerds will murder me for it, but the truth is, I don't care much about hi-fi; and anyway, those who want hi-fi can buy a CD, or better yet, get tickets to a live concert.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Cal Tjader ethno ventures

    Far East / jazz hybrids were featured here before (see the far east tag), from ShiDaiQu of 40s and 50s to the modern recreations of same by John Huie under the Shanghai Jazz moniker, to the more modern chinese jazz fusion of Coco Zhao. Yet, there were some interesting attempts at cino-jazz by American musicians, as well. One worth checking out is Cal Tjader's Several Shades of Jade. He was a leading exponent of cross-cultural music as the man behind a number of excellent and influential latin jazz albums in the 50s. Here he steps away from latin jazz to explore the eastern music traditions - not just chinese, but also Near East (hear, for example, the Turkish-sounding jangly detuned reeds on The Fakir and Sahib). This 1963 LP is a joint effort between Tjader and Lalo Shifrin, who wrote half the material and did all arrangements. The authenticity here is a bit suspect, although I don't know enough to judge. Nonetheless, the music is engaging and easy on the ears; while it occasionally approaches kitch/easy listening territory, it doesn't really cross the border - which can be said about much of Tjader's work.

    AllMusic review

    Cal Tjader - Several Shades of Jade (1963)
    at Oufar Khan, yorubajazz
    1. The Fakir (2:53)
    2. Cherry Blossoms (4:59)
    3. Borneo (3:45)
    4. Tokyo Blues (3:52)
    5. Song Of The Yellow River (3:18)
    6. Sahib (2:29)
    7. China Nights (3:24)
    8. Almond Tree (2:58)
    9. Hot Sake (3:35)

    As a bonus, Tjader's stab at South American music; most of the above applies.
    AllMusic review

    Cal Tjader Plays The Contemporary Music Of Mexico And Brazil
    With Laurindo Almeida, Paul Horn. arr. by
    depositfiles and megaupload via
    mediafire, rapidshare pt.1 and pt.2, also in lossless: FLAC
    01. Vai Querer (Hianto de Almeida-Fernando Lobo)
    02. Qu Tristeza (Mario Ruiz Armengol)
    03. Meditao (Antonio Carlos Jobim-Ferreira De Mendonca)
    04. So (Mario Ruiz Armengol)
    05. Se Tarde, Me Perdoa (Carlos Eduardo Lyra-Ronaldo Boscoli)
    06. No Diga Nada (Carlita-Noacy Marcenes)
    07. Silenciosa (Mario Ruiz Armengol)
    08. Elizete (Clare Fischer)
    09. Imagen (Mario Ruiz Armengol)
    10. Tentaao do Inconveniente (Augusto Mesquita- Manoel de Conceicao)
    11. Preciosa (Mario Ruiz Armengol)
    12. Chro e Batuque (Laurindo Almeida)

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    An amusing iPod-related rant

    Did you know iPods are tracking devices that government uses to control the populace? Beats an implanted skull chip, 'cause iPods can also play music!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Arranger/composer special pt.2: George Russel and Oliver Nelson

    A second installment of the (jazz) arranger/composer special. The first one was about arrangers working to the strengths of a specific performer. These two are more about the composition; it's the performers that come to play with the mastermind.

    George Russell is the mastermind behind the first album. He passed away in mid-2009; here's a well-written obituary detailing his accomplishments. While not a household name, Russell was very influential among his contemporaries. Many (including Miles Davis) point to his theoretical work as a cornerstone of the modal jazz. His book, Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, is legendary among the jazz musicians - among other things, for being so densely written as to be nearly unreadable. The excellent Casa Valdez Studios has a discussion of his theories - see if you can make more sense of it than I did.
    Russell had no trouble assembling an all-star cast for his albums; this one is the first he recorded under his own name and it has Art Farmer on trumpet (again!) and Bill Evans on piano. Don Ellis and Eric Dolphy play on his next, Ezz-thetics, possibly even more fascinating, although somewhat less accessible album.

    George Russell - The Jazz Workshop [1956]
    With Art Farmer, Bill Evans, Paul Motian, and others.
    256kbps, 103mb on depositfiles
    1. Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub
    2. Jack's Blues
    3. Livingstone I Presume
    4. Ezz-thetic
    5. Night Sound
    6. Round Johnny Rondo
    7. Fellow Delegates
    8. Witch Hunt
    9. The Sad Sergeant
    10. Knights Of The Steamtable
    11. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt
    12. Concerto For Billy The Kid
    13. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt (Alternate Take)
    14. Concerto For Billy The Kid (Alternate Take)

    Another album that fits the arranger/composer theme is Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth. It is probably the best-known of all of the above, and also well-represented in the share-o-sphere, so I will leech the links instead of uploading it.
    Read a review: a landmark of jazz orchestration, one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever (Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans)

    Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth ()
    Three links here or get it on rapidshare or mediafire; also available in FLAC
    01. Stolen Moments
    02. Hoe-Down
    03. Cascades
    04. Yeanin’
    05. Butch and Butch
    06. Teenie’s Blues
    Alternative artwork:

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Paul Hindemith

    The reason I wasn't writing here much in the past year is that my musical interests have shifted once again, going rather beyond the scope of this website. I still want some place to write down my little musical observations, so I guess the scope of this website will have to expand, as well.

    I am generally more interested in what in jazz is called a combo and in the classical lingo chamber music. So in my recent explorations of classical I came across the Hindemith's sonatas for piano-and-every-orchestral-instrument-there-is; many of them staples of educational repertoire.
    So I spent about a week trying to get my head around his music - specifically, the trumpet and piano sonata of 1939, and the horn sonatas. The first few times had me rather baffled. Last night I listened to it again with scores in my hands and finally found a point of reference I could grab onto. He sounds to me a lot like Ornette Coleman. Incidentally, it looks like I might be the first person ever to use the names of Ornette Coleman and Paul Hindemith in one sentence.
    I think there are two main points of similarity, the very ones that made Ornette's music so distinctive and controversial. Firstly, it's the rhythm. Both Coleman and Hindemith are melodists, with their compositions hung on melodic lines that run through the pieces, giving them inner logic and consistency. However, the melodies conform neither to the 4-bar/8-bar length, nor even to a steady time signature. By ear, it sounds like a player is adding or subtracting beats at will to underscore or enhance a certain melodic point, to make it more expressive. On paper, these jumps and skips have to be notated by shifting from 4/4 to 3/2 to 12/8 and back. Ornette's themes are built on the very same logic. Strictly speaking, that approach is nothing new and is used by solo performers from just about any folk tradition - most visibly to an american listener, by Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson, or a tune like King Bee. Coleman was controversial not for inventing it, but for placing it into the context of a jazz combo.
    Secondly, it's the harmony - the pliable, fluid harmonic development that follows not the conventional rules, but the melodic line. A lot of times piano accompaniment in the sonatas is primarily textural, not so much harmonic - a feature Ornette would've appreciated.

    As before, it is worth noting that these are the case of the opposites converging. Hindemith is a highly schooled composer from the Western classical tradition who chose to speak through the medium of written music. Ornette Coleman comes from the aural/oral African-American folk tradition and to my knowledge he was musically illiterate. I guess the biologists would call it convergent evolution.

    Here are some sounds to sample:
    Sonata for Trumpet and Piano played by Thomas Stevens, on mediafire
    It seems that classical music is best perceived in small amounts - preferably, is chunks intended by the composer. The CD this came from contains more stuff, none of it relevant to today's post and thus omitted.

    Nonetheless, the completists might be interested in the Complete Works for Brass as performed by the Summit Brass and available on megaupload, 192mb, high VBR

    Outside link:
    Horn and Piano Sonatas at the most excellent Closet of Curiosities

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Arranger/composer special pt.1: Johnny Richards, Gigi Gryce, Quincy Jones

    In the heyday of swing a lot of the bands had similar repertoire - the tunes the public wanted to hear. What made a band stand out was how they played it. It was not the star soloist that made the band, but the person who put the spotlight on the soloist: the composer and the arranger. Really? - you say, - the arranger? who cares about the arranger? Look at Ellington's orchestra. After going solo, none of his former stars - Johnny Hodges, Bubber Miley, Cootie Williams, - ever achieved artistic heights comparable to their work in the Duke's orchestra. Duke's (and Strayhorn's) writing highlighted their special talents and hid their shortcomings.
    In the search for the ever-smoother, most commercial sound, a lot of swing music became completely scripted. That prompted the backlash of bop and the following styles that focused more on the improvised, spontaneous communal music creation. The pendulum swung back, and some say it went too far: the music industry found it easy to package and sell the myth of the dissipated genius (Bird), the lonely visionary (Trane), the jazz version of a rock star (Miles) - each image quite fascinating, but still incidental to the music itself. Of course, our celebrity-centered culture swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. The idea of superiority of improvisation over anything and everything else gradually spread from the recording company promos to the listening public to the musicians and jazz educators, and lead to the stagnation of the style. A million young musicians in a hundred thousand jazz classes play the same Real Book tunes in the same head-solo-solo-solo-trade fours-head format as they played forty years ago.

    However, there was a time before jazz got run over by the thousand little Coltranes, a time when the pendulum stood just right, a time of bold experiments that fell through the cracks. Fifties were the time when that perfect balance between writing and improvisation was briefly found again. I would like to present today two artifacts from that era, two albums that put the improvising virtuoso's wild flights of fancy within a framework of carefully thought-out, painstakingly constructed arrangements, two collaborations between a writer and an interpreter, each greater than the sum of the parts.

    The star soloist on the first one is Art Farmer, one of my favorite trumpet players. While writing this post, I realized that a lot of his best work were collaborations with master writers/arrangers - see his Jazztet LPs with Benny Golson or his Baroque Sketches album (+ +). As the name suggests, here he "Plays the Arrangements and Compositions of Gigi Gryce and Quincy Jones." From liners:
    Quincy went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood while Gigi dropped out to anonymity of the Long Island education system before he died in his native Florida in 1983.

    Art Farmer Plays the Arrangements and Compositions of Gigi Gryce and Quincy Jones [1954]
    With Charlie Rouse, Quincy Jones, Horace Silver, Percy Heath, Art Taylor, and others.
    320kbps, 84mb on depositfiles
    1. Mau Mau
    2. Work of Art
    3. The Little Bandmaster
    4. Up in Quincy's Room
    5. Wildwood
    6. Evening in Paris
    7. Elephant Walk
    8. Tiajuana
    9. When Your Lover Has Gone

    Another pairing of a brilliant soloist with a great writer is an album of Sonny Stitt playing Johnny Richards, profiled here before. The sound is a bit muddy, but the music is fascinating.

    Sonny Stitt Playing Arrangements From The Pen Of Johnny Richards [1953]
    With Kai Winding, Horace Silver, Charles Mingus, Jo Jones, Don Elliott, and others.
    320kbps, 52mb on depositfiles
    1. Sancho Panza
    2. Sweet And Lovely
    3. If I Could Be With You
    4. Hooke's Tours
    5. Loose Walk
    6. Pink Satin
    7. Shine On Harvest Moon
    8. Opus 202

    PS I am introducing two new tags.
    composer+arranger is for albums that either are an original work of a single composer (Mary Lou Williams, Lalo Schifrin, Moacir Santos, Bob Graettinger) or bands focusing on the work of a certain composer (Pixinguinha, AR Rahman, Mancini, Carl Stalling).
    I also realized I have Art Farmer on a few of the albums posted here, and a few more are coming up, so there's a label just for him.

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Zé da Velha & Silvério Pontes - Só Pixinguinha (2006)

    Choro is one of my favorite Brazilian music styles. The stuff I posted here before (1, 2) is all original, historical choro from the early XXth century. But the style - now over a century old - is still going strong. The modern performers have the same problem as the jazz musicians in US - how do you stay true to the spirit of the music without falling into cliches? There is a modern duo that does so successfully: Zé da Velha (trombone) and Silvério Pontes (trumpet/flugelhorn). They found the right balance between respect for tradition - after all, this album is all out of Pixinguinha's songbook - and bringing jazz and samba elements to the mix.

    Zé da Velha & Silvério Pontes - Só Pixinguinha (2006)
    ul.oz or zippyshare
    1. Já te Digo
    2. Carinhoso
    3. Diplomata
    4. Chorei
    5. Sensível
    6. Cascatinha
    7. Desprezado
    8. Ainda Me Recordo
    9. Ingênuo
    10. Trombone Atrevido
    11. Os Oito Batutas
    12. Sedutor

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    QotD - Hesse on recorded music

    And in fact, to my indescribable astonishment and horror, the devilish tin trumpet spat out, without more ado, a mixture of bronchial slime and chewed rubber; that noise that owners of gramophones and radios have agreed to call music. And behind the slime and the croaking there was, sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. [...] Observe how this crazy funnel apparently does the most stupid, the most useless and the most damnable thing in the world. It takes hold of some music played where you please, without distinction, stupid and coarse, lamentably distorted, to boot, and chucks it into space to land where it has no business to be; and yet after all this it cannot destroy the original spirit of the music; it can only demonstrate its own senseless mechanism, its inane meddling and marring. - Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

    Is that poetic or what? "Bronchial slime and chewed rubber," that's a great name for a music blog.

    QotD - Sleazy on CDs

    I would have thought that CDs were things that homeless people hang on their super market shopping carts to make them look less depressing but apparently some Americans still buy them for the data they contain. - The late Sleazy of Throbbing Gristle and Coil

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    How come I never heard of this guy?

    Chung! Chung chung!

    Edison Machado É Samba Novo (1964)

    until today the single most important Brazilian instrumental music album ever released.

    This one is widely available elsewhere on the web, but it seems to only be known among brasileiros. I believe it deserves wider recognition.
    Firstly, the all-star cast. Edison Machado, the drummer and bandleader, is truly a towering figure of the Brazilian musical scene; he played with everyone and then some, defined the whole bossa drumming style etc.etc. Meirelles on the winds, a composer and leader of seminal samba-jazz band Meirelles e os Copa 5; he wrote five tracks on this album. Raulzinho - trombonist, composer and future bandleader, "the Hendrix of trombone". Tenorio Jr., the legendary piano player. But the magic touch that turned this into gold came from Moacir Santos, of whom I was raving before; he was the mastermind, arranger and producer on these sessions and there are three of his tunes on here.
    Secondly, the tunes are really strong - ALL of them. There's not a single weak track; not only the solos are rippin', but the writing is very melodic and catchy and the arrangements are inventive - unlike a lot of post-50s jazz.
    Finally, the album came in that brief moment when the musicians were ready to make Great Art, but the record execs still wanted pop music. So while their North American contemporaries were putting out album-long epics, here the Art is pressure-packed in two-and-a-half minute bits that explode with intensity. The whole album is one second short of half an hour, which is just the right length to leave you wanting more... Whenever I put it on, I usually listen to the whole thing straight through - and it happens often! I've had it for about three years, and it's showing no signs of getting old.

    Edison Machado É Samba Novo (1964)
    Edison Machado - drums
    Tenorio Jr - piano
    Sebastião Neto - bass
    Paulo Moura - alto sax
    Pedro Paulo - trumpet
    Edson Maciel - slide trombone
    Raul de Souza - valve trombone
    J. T. Meirelles - tenor sax

    55mb on depositfiles
    Large back cover scan with liner notes etc.

    01 - Nanã (Moacir Santos / Clóvis Mello)
    02 - Só Por Amor (Baden Powell / Vinicius de Moraes)
    03 - Aboio (J. T. Meirelles)
    04 - Tristeza Vai Embora (Baden Powell / Mário Telles)
    05 - Miragem (J. T. Meirelles)
    06 - Quintessência (J. T. Meirelles)
    07 - Se Você Disser Que Sim (Moacir Santos / Vinicius de Moraes)
    08 - Coisa Nº 1 (Moacir Santos / Clóvis Mello)
    09 - Solo (J. T. Meirelles)
    10 - Você (Rildo Hora / Clóvis Mello)
    11 - Menino Travesso (Moacir Santos / Vinicius de Moraes)

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Lord Kitchener - Klassic Kitchener Vol.1-3

    Lord Kitchener - Klassic Kitchener Vol.1-3
    REUP: 192kbps, 242mb on depositfiles

    When A Man Is Poor
    Trouble In Arima
    Tie Tounge Mopsy
    Cricket Champions
    Old Lady Walk A Mile & A Half
    Chinese Never Had A VJ Day
    Steel Band Music
    If You're Brown
    Doctor Kitch
    Batty Mamselle
    Law And Order

    My Pussin
    Flag Woman
    One To Hang
    Panorama Night
    Take Yuh Meat Out Muh Rice
    No More Calypsong
    Handy Man
    No Melda
    Love In The Cemetery
    Mama Dis Is Mas
    The Road
    Miss Tourist

    Pan In A-Minor
    Pan In Harmony
    Sugar Bum Bum
    Symphony In G
    The Symptoms Of Carnival
    The Bees Melody
    Gimme The Ting
    The Spirit
    Pan In The 21st Century
    Curfew Time
    Tribute To Spree Simon


    A few albums I uploaded for a fellow calypso fan, might as well share the links here.

    A Guide to the Real Calypso
    A CD that came with a japanese book of the same name.
    VBR, 86mb on zippyshare
    1. Atilla & The Huns – West Indian Rhythm
    2. Gerald Clark And His Caribbean Serenaders – Flores De Trinidad
    3. Atilla & The Huns – Man Man Biscoe
    4. Atilla & The Huns – Women Will Rule The World
    5. The Executor – Three Friend's Advice
    6. Lion – Ugly Woman
    7. Sam Manning – Medley Of West Indian Song
    8. Wilmoth Houdini – He Had It Coming
    9. King Radio – Chip Chip Water
    10. The Caresser – Ah Gertie
    11. Tiger – Next Door Neighbor
    12. Mighty Destroyer – Mother's Love
    13. Lord Invader – The Sport Pool
    14. Lord Beginner – Norah The War Is Over
    15. Duke Of Iron – Box Car Shorty
    16. Macbeth The Great – Old Man
    17. Trinidad Blues-Calypso – Lord Biginner
    18. Lord Kitchener – Is Trouble
    19. Mighty Terror – Calypso War
    20. Wonder – Follow Me Children
    21. King Fighter – The Two Old Lovers
    22. Lord Melody – Mama Look A Boo-Boo
    23. Mighty Sparrow – Simpson

    Duke of Iron - "Calypso!" (1957) in 320kbps and "Duke of Iron Sings Calypso" (incomplete)
    118mb on mediafire or megaupload
    Man Smart, Woman Smarter
    Music Lesson
    Meringue Jenny
    Creole Girl
    Last Train
    Last Watch
    Loving Woman Is A Waste Of Time
    Man Is Easy Fish
    Mambo Calypso
    Clear De Road
    West Indies Serenade
    Duke of Iron Sings Calypso
    I Left Her Behind For You
    A Better Woman Than You
    Fifty Cents
    The Walking Department Store
    Calypsonian Invasion
    It's The Rhythm We Want
    Pepper Sauce Milly

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Max Roach - Award-Winning Drummer (1958)

    I said before that I consider the Clifford Brown/Max Roach group to be the pinnacle of jazz (one of many, yes). They left behind many excellent recordings - B&R On Basin Street, Brown and Roach Inc., Study in Brown - but not enough: Brown's death in a car crash in 1956 terminated this tandem. However, Roach moved on to more great things - after Brown's passing, he again hooked up with a trumpeter who also was a prodigy, a legend in his own time, and also was to die young: Booker Little. The brass section on this album is also powered by George Coleman on tenor sax, who went on to greater fame with Miles' "Second Quintet" and Herbie Hancock group, and Ray Draper on tuba, in a league with such jazz mavericks as Julius Watkins (french horn) and Don Elliott (mellophone). Also notable is the absence of piano: a setup that seemed groundbreaking when pioneered by Mulligan in the early 50s, it was becoming accepted, and then even preferred for the harmonic freedom it allowed - especially by the new generation of the free jazz players. This group exploits the flexibility fully, with rhythmic shifts and turns and the tuba alternating between the role of the third horn and a third rhythm player.
    Same lineup also recorded another excellent album, Deeds Not Words, available here (notice the password) or here.

    Max Roach - Award-Winning Drummer (1958)
    Max Roach (drums)
    Booker Little (trumpet)
    George Coleman (tenor sax)
    Ray Draper (tuba)
    Art Davis (bass)
    320kbps, 85mb on depositfiles
    1. Tuba de Nod
    2. Milano
    3. Variations on the Scene
    4. Pies of Quincy
    5. Old Folks
    6. Sadiga
    7. Gandolfo's Bounce