Saturday, September 25, 2004

The comps pile

A few compilations from Soul Jazz Records, borrowed from the library, have been enlivening the household, of late.

The New Orleans Funk compilation is awesome, almost every track is great. There are a couple of sure-fire Meters tunes (so many moments of perfection in "The Hand-Clapping Song" and "Just Kissed My Baby"), but perhaps the most striking track, to me, was Professor Longhair's "Big Chief." I'd never heard any Longhair before (or, indeed, any of the compilees apart from The Meters, not even Dr. John) and definitely never heard a piano riff quite like this one. If you listen to it in a certain way when it's underneath the horns, rhythmically it's almost Cecil Taylor-ish (harmonically not at all, obviously, so it's a bit of a stretch, but still). This led me to pick up Soul Jazz's 2-disc compilation dedicated to Longhair, but the first disc hasn't really grabbed me. We'll see.

The last comp is The Sound of Konk 1981-88, a fairly explicit title. This should go a small way (a glass of water into the Grand Canyon) towards filling one (of many) of my Yawning Fucking Chasms of Ignorance (TM). According to the as copious as ever liner notes, Konk was underground dance music, but 20 years later it's hard to understand why: dance-funk with added latin percussion (timbales, congas) and touches of exuberant jazz have become a fairly standard, even clichéd, template.

Since I'm at the confluence of two things (compilations and "why wasn't this more popular back then?"), I'll mention (yet another library-owned) compilation: Jazz Loft Sessions from Knit Classics. It culls live music recorded in Sam Rivers's Rivbea loft over 10 days in 1976. Apart from a couple of the 10 tunes (those from Braxton and David Murray, iirc), one wonders why this music wasn't accepted in the major jazz clubs of the times (if indeed they were not). I'll come back at a later date with more detail, but a major discovery is that in his early 20s, Michael Jackson led an alternate and well-hidden existence as an avant-jazz guitarist. Since then, we've learned that he has even more sinister stuff to hide, but that's another issue.

And why not: also got a Rhino 2-CD compilation (as beautiful as ever) of Bootsy Collins, but haven't been able to listen to it yet. I'm kind of all compiled out.