Wednesday, May 31, 2006

rock stars think big

The sheer scale of the Bon Jovi show is mind-bogglingly ludicrous:

[Bugzee, crew leader] leads three separate road crews that leapfrog one another throughout the tour. Each team has 10 massive trucks full of staging. Added to these three teams are two advance teams, who also leapfrog each other - with four trucks each full of weather protection, rigging, power cables, and all the things that must be installed before the stage can even be put up. The screen at the back of the stage alone needs four trucks to haul it around. No one, says Bugzee, gets much sleep.
Don't forget the "130 managers, road staff, chiropractors, cocktail-shakers, lighting designers and flight attendants" and a "fleet of black Mercedes" large enough to transform a hotel's front entrance into "the forecourt of a Mercedes dealership." But smart people seem to enjoy it.

Even in this world, there are opportunities for humbling comedy:
a wedding guest buttonholes a member of Bon Jovi's support band, Nickelback, with: "Hey, aren't you the singer from Nickelodeon?"

Like any big rock star, Jon Bon Jovi wishes to "contribute" something to the world, by building 26 shelters for the homeless, for example. Ted Nugent does, too, but has more judiciary aims:
"I say if somebody robs you, shoot 'em. I'd like all thieves killed. And all rapists. And carjackers. No more graffiti. No more..." - this next phrase is a Spoonerism, rather than some Texan term for gross indecency - "snatch-pursing."

He has more than just grand dreams and is no stranger to small, direct and significant action. While in Fallujah with the USO:
"I visited Saddam Hussein's master war room. It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars. I saw his gold toilet. I shit in his bidet."
And when was the last time Jon Bon Jovi killed his own food, anyway?

Monday, May 29, 2006

embracing the free market

Well, not exactly, but close enough. Jane Siberry has opted for self-determined pricing on her digital downloads. That means downloaders pay whatever they wish for the MP3s, starting with nothing. So far, 17% of downloaders have freeloaded, 8% of payers have paid less than the suggested price and average payment is $1.14 per track (vs. the $0.99 suggested price). You can also see the average payment on each track while ordering. Pro-choice generosity tangled with peer pressure psy-ops. Sounds like a free market after all.
[via Abrasive Records]

The MySpace blog indicates that she was in Belgium recently. Hmmm...

you've got to be revisionistic

Darcy's link to a post on composition revision on the great inspirations blog (the posts are long and few and far between, but all extremely worthwhile: it's like letter-writing versus email-typing) can be completed by one of DJA's own on help received from Maria Schneider and undermining "the illusion of the Brilliant Masterwork bursting fully-formed from the composer's brow."


Phil has some reservations, but I like the NY Times Magazine's Sunn0)))/Boris article a lot. Zoilus, typically, breaks it down nicely.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

people who only eat buffalo wings should chill before they criticize prime miso fish

?uestlove on Bilal

When will Bilal let all his purported craziness loose on record? There are only hints of it so far... Go to ?'s main page to hear Bilal sing (and Robert Glasper play) "Everything In Its Right Place" (and segue into his own "Sometimes" and its great lyrics) at The Roots' recent Radio City Music Hall concert.


Jazz video fans should like this collection of links.

Friday, May 26, 2006

brooklyn and the world.

I love articles like Nate Chinen's on Brooklyn jazz spots. It's about something extremely local, yet any jazz fan can recognise the kinds of things going on and the places they happen in. Although generally the front-row seats aren't quite as close to the stage as they are at Barbès. I also love the first picture's reversal of racial clichés.

the minimalism of thelonious monk #1: oh, carolina

Carolina Moon (Joe Burke/Benny Davis, 1929) is a Monk pop cover I'd never heard mentioned until it jumped out and grabbed me this week-end as I listened to my unmarked CD-R copy of the Complete Blue Note Recordings. I was compelled to go online to find out what Disc 3, Track 7 was.

It's an unusual and prescient reading. The cymbal beat during the head is abstract, at a remove from the bass's tempo. It reminds me of Roy Haynes on Andrew Hill's "Wailing Wail." Over this come fragments (voiced by two saxophones and trumpet) that are alternately melodic and dissonant/abstract. During the A sections, these fragments are separated by startlingly long rests. When the solos start, the rhythm settles into a conventional mid-tempo groove and the statements are linear and melodic (Kenny Dorham, Sahib Shihab sound pretty old-fashioned for the early 50s, despite the altoist ending his solo with a Charlie Parker quote).

I haven't heard a pop version of "Carolina Moon," but reading its lyrics, it's much easier to imagine the solos' relationship to the original song than it is the head's. The usual approach is thus turned inside out: the solos set the basis for what the head's extrapolations. This holistic approach, the way in which solos are integrated with the composition, reminds me of Ben Allison.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

mali and brazil @ molière, brussels

Afel Bocoum & Alkibar - 17/05/2006

Mali is sort of the new Cuba, but I don't know much about it. I figured Ali Farka Touré protégé Afel Bocoum was as good a place as any to start. The concert's grand concept was the same as that of his new album (which I bought after the show): travelling along the Niger river, stopping off in several cities, celebrating a tribe, animals or the river itself, visiting the Touareg and so on. Bocoum's voice is strong, yet sounds as if it is coming from far away.

The music cultivated a particular kind of slowness that revealed how tense I unconciously tend to be. With no changes to look forward to, I was forced (or, rather, allowed) to relax: they may well have played every song in the same key and on the same pentatonic scale, but the continuous, intricate, multi-layered groove was its own reward, even though it was occasionally broken up by zigzagging melodic unisons. When Bocoum said that in Mali, for better or for worse people were never in a hurry, I had no trouble believing him. It's a whole different mindset and I've been trying to integrate it into my own for the week since.

Rhythms could lean towards duple or triple meter, but often the two were deliciously superimposed. Brief acoustic guitar solos served as laconic emphasis on the power of the underlying rhythm. Dance steps latched onto slowest tempo possible, except when the lead guitarist happily drew one of his bandmates into an amused, shuffling pas de deux.

A scratchy one-string violin added background melodies, a two-string lute sounded like a mandolin and worked like a plucked rhythm guitar and the left-handed 5-string electric bass looked out-of-place, but fit in perfectly by locking in with the percussion. The percussionist played most practical instrument imaginable: a giant salad bowl. When you're done, turn it over, throw in your sticks and jacket and you can start picking up the groupies.

The main structural element I could make out were two sections, slow then fast, separated by a brief percussion break. Sometimes the change of sections led to surprising thematic development: a song in praise of harmonious male-female relations (i.e. couples) expands its scope to become a chant for world peace "all the way to Palestine."


Silverio Pessoa - 24/05/2006

I don't know what it is with me and Brazilian music: I'm one for four (Pessoa included) in concerts I've attended recently, Vinicius Cantuaria being the only one worth writing home about (the truly curious may want to read or re-read about Pascoal and Lenine).

I'll grant that the mix wasn't ideal: the two guitarists were mostly drowned by the not-particularly-loud accordion. And, of course, there's the language barrier. Still, the intensity Pessoa should have brought from the beginning was present only at the rabble-rousing end.

The concept is a 21st-century version of forro. Not knowing what 20th-century forro sounds like, I can't really say if it's successful in that sense. I can say that I was pleased to hear pan-Carribbean elements, that it didn't sound, to my uneducated ears, either like a sloppy collage or Gotan Project's yuppie-ready sheen, that I was amused by the Brazilian effemininacy of Pessoa's stage presence, that I enjoyed his use of samples (field recordings of animals, folk songs, etc.) and of a theremin-like sensor pad and that I was dancing with various degrees of conviction on certain songs. But overall, I was underwhelmed and didn't buy the CD.

heavenly orbs

"My Funny Valentine," Disc IIa, "The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel," Miles Davis Quintet: Miles plays his first, short phrase 50 seconds in. He plays a second short one 13 seconds later. The interim is mainly taking up by Herbie Hancock's decaying piano sounds and silence. 13 seconds of two kinds of silence (soloist silence and total silence) is amazing (dangerous: when will he come back?), one of the rarest things in jazz, perhaps. Miles is notoriously not on top form on the Plugged Nickel set, but still has his moments. On MFV, it's as if the trumpeter himself is the valentine (and Shorter is the narrator?).


Contrary to the widespread vision of Coltrane as an impassioned spiritual figure and the rumours of LSD-fuelled later work, I see him as the most fanatically rationalist of improvisers. He's experimental in a strict scientific laboratory sense: concientiously changing one parameter at a time, until all possibilities have been exhausted. Nothing is left up to the imagination, nothing is left uncreated. Is there any other reason "One Down, One Up"'s title track lasts so long?

Paradoxically, it's this unflinching rationality, this hard, all-encompassing gaze, that vaults him back up onto the metaphysical plane, but more as an Old Testament god than a touchy-feely New Age icon. And despite all that, "Venus," on "Interstellar Space," contains some lovely melodic playing.


Miles's use of the wah-wah pedal is/was often decried as a crutch (for failing health, lack of chops, commercialism...), but, weirdly, Coltrane's tireless lack of concision (which he was certainly capable of) is celebrated and certainly never seen as a crutch.


As a reward for reading all that, here's the greatest site ever. Not quite safe for work, but it's for health & science.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

a touchable saint

Rashied Ali on playing Coltrane's late music

I salute cats that play that music, ’Trane’s tunes, especially the ones he did with me. Because they should be played so that people can hear it — it’s not so sacred that only John Coltrane can play that shit. You’re supposed to play those tunes like you would play any Bird tune, any Dizzy Gillespie tune. And I do that — I play Eric Dolphy’s tunes, I play things that people think you shouldn’t play.

For some reason, nobody even dares mess with any of that music. All those tunes should be played and cats should play them, and get up off thinking that it’s totally religious and that it’s only about ’Trane. It’s about the music.

[via Zoilus]

Demystification is good.


Zoilus points to a discussion of David Thomas's (Père Ubu) view of rock as a folk music. Very interesting and provocative. Before you cry reactionary, consider that what's he's saying is pretty radical, taking music out of globalisation, out of capitalism, out of commodification in a lot of ways, in favour of a more human-level, socially-anchored patchwork. Also, check out the comments for a brief dissection of his discursive methods. Not that I totally agree (cultural boundaries and origins are more porous and confused than Thomas claims here), but he makes a strong argument.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Not being part of a corner of the world that listens to Godsmack, I've only just heard about this amazing interview transcript, in which the interviewer takes Godsmack leader to task over the use of his music in Navy recruitment advertisements. It's a little bit of an ambush, but classic stuff nonetheless.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Alexi Tuomarila Quartet - 20/05/2006 @ Arts-ô-Bases, Brussels

In years past, I've spent Brussels Jazz Marathons walking, if not 42 kilometres, a fair few between venues indoors and out. No longer. I didn't go on either Friday or Sunday, and on Saturday I pretty much attended just this concert, even though I caught bits of things elsewhere. There's one BJM tradition that I'll probably always participate in, however: eating TUC biscuits. They're one of the main sponsors and hand out seemingly endless amounts for free and I eat seemingly endless amounts of it. I'm not sure how effective a campaign it is, though: I hadn't eaten any TUC since... the last BJM. Also, I missed the Eurovision finals, but it's sort of okay because half of the band is Finnish and I spent time talking to a Finnish couple. So I got my quota of Finland anyway.

Scarily, the last time I saw Alexi was exactly 364 days ago. Alexi's back in Finland now, but is going into the studio today to record his third Quartet CD, with familiar Belgians Nicolas Kummert on saxophone and Teun Verbruggen on drums (although Lionel Beuvens - whom I like more every time I see him - was playing tonight) and newcomer Finn Anntti Lötjönen on bass. He's also recorded a trio album with different musicians that's coming out on a Norwegian label later this year.

Alexi's playing has grown out of his natural reserve: there's a sense of abandon under that measured surface, and a particular brand of funkiness, too. He even stood up and made announcements! Loud! Nicolas usely handles speaking duties. I asked Alexi how come he's started talking on stage, he simply answered "Because I had to." He's a laconic guy.

Nicolas is still contributing some great tunes. "69-8," so-called because it contains 69 8th-notes, had a powerful afro-tinged beat set off by a percussive saxophone riff. For the first half, Nicolas relied on his smooth Garbarek-influenced tone, but later brought out a richer, breathier one, especially during a ferocious duet with Beuvens and on a shambolic-but-fun "Monk's Mood." By the time the theme returned for the close, it had been stripped down into a series of percussive exclamation points.

I'd never heard Anntti before, but he was brilliant (he's a part of this band and this one, which seems more avant). Never more so than during his only solo, taken on the concert's only true ballad: when he ended it by playing only with his left hand high on the neck, coaxing out extremely thin, quiet notes in an unorthodox manner, you could hear a pin drop. Modestly, he attributed the solo's success to it being the only time he didn't have to read the music.

A lot of the tunes were in odd meters, in seven, actually. The unnatural "counting" feel that often happens with odd meters was avoided by means both intentional and accidental. Intentionally, beats were added to the scheme here and there: three bars of 7 with a bar of 8 in their midst, for example. Accidentally, given the band's unrehearsed nature, there were some... let's call them disagreements, that created a fruitfully messy feel.

citizen jazz update

Nathalie Loriers Trio Silent Spring
In which I publicly complete my turnaround on Loriers. A magnificent album that concisely paints a close-up portrait of the pianist.

Franck Nicolas - Jazz Ka Philosophy 2: Papillon Ka
In which I show that I can't escape my roots. I love Nicolas's blend of jazz and Guadeloupean rhythms unreservedly. The seven tunes come in two versions. Listen to the stripped-down trumpet-and-percussion version of the first track here.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

keith jarrett minus the music

Finally, the Jarrett everyone's been waiting to hear!


Monster costumes, biblical hard rock, fireworks and backing vocal "aaaaah"s on the chorus: how could they not have won?


Who is that bundle of bop? Thelonious Monk, of course.


Less joyous, Butch Warren destitute, "crazy" and in jail.

Friday, May 19, 2006

fried in greece

So, Kate Ryan and Belgium have stumbled at the first hurdle. As usual, I was busy with other things (in this case, a Dutch exam). I'll most likely be at the Brussels Jazz Marathon (which Jazzques has usefully scrutinised) during saturday's final. Why oh why do these two great events have to coincide every year?

For more coverage, may I suggest Mike Atkinson, available in blog and Slate correspondant flavours.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

sing, ye mighty electronic rabbits

May 27th, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris: Nabaz'mob, in which 100 Nabaztags participate in "the official first smart rabbit opera" (have there been unofficial ones? are regular, silent, non-flashing rabbits dumb?).

Composer Jean-Jacques Birgé blogs about it (in French) here and then here. The Nabaztags are semi-autonomous in regards to the material sent to them seemingly in real-time. There will also be quieter passages where the only sound will be that of 100 pairs of ears wiggling.

Hopefully someone will give a full report. It's free, but you have to sign up.

the seventy-year delusion

Another Wikipedia scandal! Jazz Corner's John L translates Wikipedia's Russian jazz entry:

After the 1920s, jazz hardly developed at all. Although there exist myths about so-called "bebop," "modal jazz," etc., in reality these are all just variations of Dixieland and Ragtime of the 1920s. The only significant modern development in jazz was Louis Armstrong's recording of "Hello, Dolly," which became a jazz standard and achieved huge popularity among jazz fans."

Babelfish puts it more humourously:
After the 20th is annual jazz practically it were not developed. Although there is a myth about the so-called. to "bibope", "modal jazz", etc., in deytsvitel'nosti all these genres are variations in diksilenda and regtaymov of the 20th it is annual. Only significant reaching of contemporary jazz - record of Louis Armstrong "Hull, dolly", the become jazz standard and conquered enormous popularity in the worshippers of jazz.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

oldie rock

Roy Haynes, another entry in the 80-year olds who rock department, pre-eulogised.

For all their originality, both Elvin Jones with John Coltrane and Tony Williams with the Miles Davis group were deeply affected by [Haynes's] novel conceptions.

Odd way of phrasing a rather natural (obvious?) chain of influence.


Vijay Iyer, describing (44 minutes in) Monk's soloing as "environmental" and getting sparser as it develops. *Vigourous head nodding*. A whole little-explored corner of the jazz soloing universe, it seems to me. Monk, Waldron, no other pianist springs to my mind, but maybe someone does to yours?

jazz and blogs #7

Matana Roberts
Less for the blog (though there are some interesting things there) than for the samples on the main MySpace page. I saw her once with Sticks & Stones, she's a great player with a beautiful tone. The AACM's motto could also be "tradition without convention" and Roberts emobdies that.

School For Improvisation podcasts
Interviews with and music by improvisers. Currently: Vijay Iyer.

An interesting shuffle through one music listener's collection.

Chants Ethérés
Magnifiques chroniques d'albums neufs et anciens, bien connus ou beaucoup moins.

A veritable deluge of classic albums to download. In english, despite the name.

jazz e arredores
A sombre de Ra. Nova musica.

Un fanatique d'Horace Tapscott, au nom de blog suspicieusement proche du mien...

Musicians Moments
Ce que dit le titre, mais en français.

Canberra Jazz Blog
Jazz down under

Improvisations on a Theme
Guitar graduate student.

My jazz guitar journey

Jazz Elements
A Canadian focus.

Jason Moran - Steve Coleman - Reggie Workman - 13/05/2006, deSingel

We were lucky to have a concert at all: Sam Rivers was originally billed, but dropped out and a Parisian concert was cancelled altogether. At 82 years old, I hope he's doing okay. I was listening to "Fuschia Swing Song" the other day, it's such an amazing album. "Beatrice" has become a jazz standard, but there are other, equally great tunes on FSS. My favourite moment is perhaps the very beginning of the first (and title-) track: tenor and bass alone for a few seconds, Ron Carter walking furiously while Rivers cruises through these magical intervals in a manner that evokes a speeding sleek, obsidian, oblong object. Around the same time, check out his soprano on "Ghetto Lights" (on Bobby Hutcherson's "Dialogue"): it illuminates an already wonderful polyphonic Andrew Hill composition.

Back in the concert hall, Steve Coleman flew in from the USA to save the day. Pianists haven't found much of a place in Coleman's recent work, but on his latest album, "Weaving Symbolics," there are two trio tracks with Moran and young drummer Marcus Gilmore that are somber and mysterious and unexpected (listen to "Tehu Seven") that I love (I love the album as a whole: it's a sprawling two-CD monstrosity that probably triggers the same follow-the-clues neurons in listeners as the "Da Vinci Code" does in readers. I say "probably" because I'm part of the ever-shrinking minority not to have read DVC.) and used to warm up before heading out to Antwerpen. I left the bullet-proof vest at home.

The trio played chamber music that drew on "a menagerie of compositions by (...) a whole bunch of people," according to Moran. The only one I recognised was "Beatrice," although I thought I caught a glimpse of "All The Things You Are," but that was probably the result of my having listened earlier in the day to Monk and Milt Jackson smuggle subversive messages into the song behind whoever was crooning it. Maybe it was where I was sitting, but Moran's attack generally sounded incredibly soft: he depressed the keys like they were pillows. There was none of the Bandwagon's frantic sugar-rush excitement or skittish change-ups: it was all about three musicians, each one a leading member of their generation's re-interpretation of a common heritage, coming together and improvising, quietly.

The music wandered, sometimes fixated on a soulful downwards riff, briefly free-wheeled in a zone somewhere between Sonny Rollins playing cowboy tunes and Jimmy Giuffre's "The Western Suite," once declaimed a series of interconnected unisons, occasionally giving way to sudden eruptions of fury (in a moment of unintentional comedy, Workman's aggressive arco sounded like a cavernous evil leader laugh) and regularly coalesced around duos. With no amplification save the bass amp, everything sounded exquisite, floating, unresolved and thus, liquid, not quite graspable: there were frequent micro-changes in mood, tempo and accompaniment.

Coleman maintained his warm "standards" tone (as opposed to the steely one he generally employs for his own music). When he played alone, on the last song before the encore, the hall's natural resonance was heard to full advantage. Workman shone throughout, but never brighter than when he began the encore alone on bow and intoned a grave quasi-lamentation that almost sounded like something out of the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" soundtrack.

Afterwards, as Workman was ready to leave deSingel's basement bar, he stopped in front of me and said: "We haven't had a chance to talk." That was precisely the last thing I was expecting, and I only managed to bumblingly assure him of my enjoyment of the concert. We shook hands. I believe it was the first time I had done that with someone who had played with Coltrane. Which brings me back to Sam Rivers. Rivers is actually older than Coltrane and Miles (as are Toots and, I believe, Yusef Lateef), which means that there's no real reason for them not to still be around and playing, apart from the fact they're dead. Just another reminder of how short jazz history actually is.

be.jazz star health news

Reggie Washington, whose M-Base associations are well known, moved to Belgium a few months ago. Unfortunately, he broke his hand in April and (I guess because he's not an EU citizen) has no medical coverage. The Sounds is putting on a support concert on the 24th of June.
[via Jazz in Belgium]

Monday, May 15, 2006

fo' shizzle, my blognoggle

Sequenza21's Jerry Bowles informs me of blognoggle, which "shadows the top 100 classical music blogs." I'm not a classical music blogger, but any top 100 I'm included in is fine by me. And the company is mighty fine.


For those put off by De Morgen's Dutchness, Le Soir is joining the one-a-week jazz compilation bandwagon, starting this friday, the 19th. The CDs and tracks are exactly the same, but I don't know if the texts will be translations of Marc van den Hooof's or new ones.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fête de l'Iris - 07/05/2006

The action took place on the place du Sablon, under a tent whose painted façade evoked a fairground and whose interior reconstituted a wood-and-mirrors Brussels bistrot. I honestly didn't think the concerts were taking place there, and circled 'round the back before realising.

As I came in, Jef Neve's trio was starting "Nobody's an illegal," a title which currently has resonance on both sides of the Atlantic. The real show-stopper came later, though, with "Second Love." It was my third time hearing this tune, which will be on the recently recorded third album to be released in November, and the best yet.

"Second Love" is the kind of thing that is truly unique to the JNT and that JN is getting better and better at writing. If you remember my description of Flim Music, a justifiable criticism could be that it hews too rigidly to its structure and exposes it too harshly. SL also has several sections and metres, but they are longer and flow or transition into each other much more organically: there is no sense of counting the bars 'til the next event. From the opening amorous piano wanderings to right-hand flurries over a powerful groove to intoxicating spirals over a more sedated beat, none of it sounds forced.

One of the main motifs is a menacingly regular 10-beat bass vamp that is overlaid with brooding Radiohead-ish chords. I mentioned the similarity to Jef afterwards and from his response I gathered that he'd never really listened to Radiohead until someone gave him a CD of their's after hearing "Second Love." He seemed a little troubled by the similarity.

Next up was Flat Earth Society with guest star Elliott Sharp, but I didn't hear much as I was waiting outside for IVN's sister and her boyfriend. We were all dying of hunger and had to venture beyond the über-expensive Sablon for pita and fries.

The fête's undisputed highlight was the Philip Catherine/Sylvain Luc guitar duo. From the very first notes of "On Green Dolphin Streets" they managed to create an intimate after-hours, back-of-the-bar ambiance. They leaned back on their white plastic garden chairs, nearly constantly looked into each other's eyes and radiated immense joy in playing together and tossing ideas back and forth. It was impossible to listen and not feel happy. The entire crowd was delighted. Elliott Sharp occasionally listened in the back, his face inscrutable.

Catherine's and Luc's (which makes them sound distressingly like a couple. I guess that's what happens when two last names are on a first name basis) styles contrasted greatly, but their musical goals much less. Catherine's body language, whatever the size or prestige of the stage he happens to be on, always conveys loveably insouciant "oh, you want me to play some guitar?" informality. Luc is a much more technical player (the sheer number of ways in which his fingers extract sound from the instrument is astounding). I'd heard reports of over-virtuosity, but that was not the case here.

Some more general thoughts. Catherine is part of the Charlie Christian lineage, while Luc, although what he played bore no resemblance to gypsy jazz, belongs to Django Rheinhardt's (he did hint directly at Django when, for a few brief moments, he held his guitar nearly upright in his lap and strummed a furious gyspy rhythm). The traditional jazz guitar sound seems to deny the guitar's string instrument nature and wants to sound like breath, in emulation of a horn. Probably because this facilitates blues inflections. Discussing guitarist Chuck Wayne, Bill Crow says:

Chuck began to develop his own approach to jazz guitar when he first heard Coleman Hawkins playing "Body and Soul." Chuck wanted to create solo lines like those of Hawkins, and that prompted him to invent picking and fingering techniques that made his solos sound more like legato phrases blown through a wind instrument.

The Django tradition, though, revels in the strings. Perhaps this is because the music's other main instrument is the violin? Luc's sound is extremely stringy, sometimes to the detriment of clarity, but there was a particularly luminous moment at the end of one tune, when he played a sort of fingerstyle high on the neck and sounded just like a harp's middle register.

The day-long festivities ended with Ntoumos, which is a funky/drum'n'bass/electro jazz quartet (joined by a singer/rapper/poet) led by trumpeter Dominic Ntoumos. Good, hip party band. It was interesting to contrast Ntoumos's drummer's crisp post-d'n'b funk playing with Teun Verbruggen's (who played with the JNT and FES) far woolier, yet no less contemporary, style.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

it won't ring that thing if it ain't got that swing

Get your free Brussels Jazz Orchestra ringtones here!

a thing to make and do

Make your own own mash-up: "Mary Had A Little Lamb sung to the tune of House Of The Rising Sun (try it, it works)" - Suggested by Billy Bragg via Screwlooseum!


Jack Reilly............. he's now taken his show on the road, first stop: Jazz Corner. Pull quote:

the one mis-spelling in the letter of Europeans (Euro-peons) was definately a pun intended and indeed, a Freudian slip even though Jack is a convert to a Jungian view of conciousness. The conversion is not unlike Jack prefering Dave McKenna over Misha Mengleberg!

An intentional Freudian slip followed by a non sequitur? Jack Reilly is not only fast becoming not only an indispensable jazz writer, but also jazz's (thankfully less dangerous) George Bush.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

both ramble, differently

The Rambler has a great Corey Dargel concert review (I wish I'd been in London to see that elephant, it looked incredible on TV), which seems to confirm that the awesome intelligence (as opposed to cleverness) that imbues "Less Famous Than You" applies just as much to the live version. My own CD review is coming shortly.


The future of jazz: I predict more tedious discussions of the future of jazz.

Monday, May 08, 2006

oh, giovanni

We tend to make fun of Jack Reilly, generally not without reason, but he also writes good stuff, like his post about studying with Lennie Tristano.


Doug Ramsey has been bringing some interesting details (and unexpected Johnny Mandel cameo) on Ornette Coleman's emergence in the late 50s, here and here.


Interesting account of orchestral score readings in Minnesota by Sean Shepard.


Rather horrendous World Saxophone Quartet concert review, but contains the phrase "the amazing drummer Lee Pearson, who played one enthralling solo with a drumstick balanced on the top of his head." The Independent makes up for it in an unexpectedly related (they both squawk) Camille review.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

imagine there's no cecil

Recorda-Me brings this solo Cecil Taylor video from 1980. It's some of the friendliest Taylor I've ever heard. I saw him in concert once, but was quite far from the action. Up close like this, but-can-he-really-play doubters should doubt no more. And the end is quite heart-stopping.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

first born again

Fans of Bilal's "First Born Second" shouldn't be disappointed by the new tracks posted on MySpace. "Somethin To Hold On" is good, fairly straight-forward post-JayDee/Kanye West r'n'b, but "You're All I Need" is sugary r'n'b with an unexpected dollop of sparse dissonant piano, "High And Dry" turns Radiohead into sweet jazzy soul and on "Make Me Over" Bilal dips into a Parliament-esque bag of funny voices and stinging guitars. Every song ends up in a different place than it began, which is nice, nowadays.


I understand that those of you who don't know French haven't been reading Yvinek's blog, but now he's on MySpace too.


While you're there, why not check out Brazilian-guitarist-in-France Nelson Veras, too?

sharing the solo spotlight

It is notable that the Ben Ratliff article Jack Reilly refers to, "The Solo Retreats From the Spotlight in Jazz," actually exists (the bottomless Jazz Corner archives hold a copy and the ensuing debate). FWIW, I agree with Ratliff, up to a point.

I certainly don't hear Ratliff saying that there's no more good soloing, or that the solo is passé. I think the string-of-solos as only form of arrangement is boring when used for every song, but is not invalid when mixed in with other approaches or used by truly great soloists. It provides one kind of platform for self-expression, one among several.

The way collective improvisation is being funnelled into more structured forms is the article's real insight (the "meticulous arrangement" bit isn't as interesting), even though it's not necessarily as new a phenomenon as the writer claims (mid-90s). Ratliff hints at the idea's lineage when he says that "there are more analyses of solos than those of rhythm sections, for example, and they're much better-known pieces of criticism." Indeed, rhythm section vocabulary has grown alongside the soloist's, setting the stage for the phenomenon Ratliff latches upon here.

At its best, the effect can be of a *band* perpetually discovering itself, with new corners illuminated through writing, improvising and interplay simultaneously. It can be like the usual paradigm turned inside-out: form/structure/composition floating inside improvisation rather than improvisation infiltrating a form.

I'm very dubious of the claim that the "arranging impulse had largely dropped out of small-group jazz from the 1960's to the 1980's," though. And I don't see any logical reason why a more collectively improvised (or even meticulously arranged) style would lead to more of a new literature than decades of great solos (and rhythm section teamwork) have.