A new playlist….finally!!

I’ve just discovered Mixcloud, and i’ve contributed my first playlist. it’s mostly avant-garde and/or “challenging” jazz spanning several decades. artists include Sam Rivers, Anthony Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Anthem Subconscious, David S. Ware and others. listen and enjoy!

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Check out this album announcement on All About Jazz.  Fortunes and Hat-Tricks, Vol. 2 available tomorrow, folks!

– M

Sick day shuffle

So, I’m home today recovering from yesterday’s throat surgery and restless already. I decided to hit ‘shuffle songs’ on my iTunes. Here are the first 25 out of 22,367 possible. More than a few things popped up that I had completely forgotten about. Fascinating that 2 of those are from my one and only Buzzcocks album…

1. Voodoo, Jimmy Giuffre, The Jimmy Giuffre 3
2. The Longest Time, Billy Joel, Greatest Hits
3. Libre Spiritus, Danilo Perez, The Journey
4. Sooner Than You Think, New Order, Low-Life
5. Poinciana, Cal Tjader&Eddie Palmieri, El Sonido Nuevo
6. Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
7. Good Feeling, Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
8. Our Way To Fall, Yo La Tengo, and then nothing turned itself inside-out
9. Martha! Mein Liebes Herz, from Alban Berg opera ‘Lulu’
10. Something’s Gone Wrong Again, Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
11. Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone, Anthology
12. The Good That Won’t Come Out, Rilo Kiley, The Execution of All Things
13. Aborigine Dance in Scotland, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison Sextet, Illumination!
14. Whatever Happened To?, Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
15. Brick is Red, Pixies, Surfer Rosa
16. Message From the Border, Hank Mobley, Messages
17. Gloria’s Step, Oregon, Moon and Mind
18. Dr. Jackle, Dave Catney, Jade Visions
19. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, Keith Jarrett, At the Blue Note
20. You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket, The White Stripes, Elephant
21. Will I Ever Find a Love?, Tower of Power, Tower of Power
22. Deja La Nuit, Anouar Brahem, Les Pas Du Chat Noir
23. Temple Street, UNT One O’Clock Lab Band, Lab ’93
24. Ambrosia, Kenny Barron, Other Places
25. Don’t Change Your Plans, Ben Folds Five, Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

An odd exercise…

Fortunes_006The following is my review of my own album, Fortunes and Hat-tricks, Vol. 1.  I’m aware that it’s a little odd to write a formal review of your own album, but my hope is that it will entice a few people to give a listen who had not yet done so.  So, without further ado…

If you’ve ever been on a crowded subway car you know that things usually goes one of two ways.  The first and most likely scenario is that most everyone seems to take the crowd as a personal affront, and they aggressively assert themselves.  They tend to obnoxiously claim as much space for themselves as possible, totally disregarding everyone around them, ignoring the fact that they are all going through the exact same thing.  This approach makes the experience more difficult for everyone.  Truly no one wins.  The second way things can go is that most of the people on this crowded train car realize they are not the only ones experiencing this, and they work together leaving as much free space for others as possible, treating those around them with respect and humanity.  They take off bulky back packs and put them on their laps or between their legs.  They hold the pole so others can too, instead of leaning on it, leaving room for no one else.

Metaphorically apply the first approach to handling the subway situation to a jazz ensemble freely improvising.  Most times free improv = every-man-for-himself type of mayhem.  Each musician is so concerned he won’t have space of his own that he never leaves any space for anyone else.  Even if what each individual player is doing has musical merit, if no one is listening to anyone else or willing to leave space, the result is unmusical, the result is cacophony.  For the audience the result is, almost without exception, an aggressive and exhausting aural attack.  The audience is excluded from the performance, and honestly, so are all of the players.

Now  imagine the second approach to the crowded subway conundrum applied to free improv, and that’s what you get with Fortunes and Hat-tricks, Vol. 1.  On this album, Davis, Duncan and Tiemann cooperate in the truest sense of the word.  Here you have three musicians who are acutely aware of the space they occupy…constantly listening to each other, looking at each other, respecting each other.  In the end what you are left with is an improvised work that, though completely unplanned, has all the most important elements of composition – direction, focus, melody, development, dynamics, contour, space.  Utilizing this rather selfless approach to improvisation, everyone is serving the music and the spirit of the moment and the ensemble…and the reason for doing this in the first place.

It is near impossible to believe the first track, Good Sense Is the Master of Human Life, is the one and only take of a completely unplanned song.  So strong is the conviction of each player, so quick is each player’s ability to recognize his role and refine his approach, that the listener is positive there is at least a lead sheet or a sketched theme.  Surely there were rehearsals.  Surely there was discussion of vibe or cues at least.  Not so –  nothing of the sort in fact.  Track 2, the pensive and well-crafted The One You Admire Would Welcome a Gift, like all the other pieces on this album, had never even had its title uttered before the tape began to roll.  Even a rambunctious explosion of a song like It Is a Silly Fish That Is Caught Twice With the Same Bait, as busy as it is, has a kind of clarity that only comes from a uniquely deep level of musical coexistence.  The three improvisers work as one composer – defining and refining roles, themes and abstractions, while simultaneously leading and submitting, creating canvas and paint and piece all in a moment.  Other highlights include the dreamy and at times eery Someone Dreams of Being With You and the abstract yet playful Hat-trick #9.