Friday, June 9, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
Coming off a trip to Chicago this week, the busiest week of work for
my company. Times like this, it's great to have the show to do on Fridays,
a really nice way to wind down after a tough week and just enjoy some
great music. (It's also a nice time to stick to the CDs in rotation --
because they're easier to get to -- and play some really long tracks.)
While in Chicago, I managed to catch Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star
Orchestra, a nine-piece band that plays breakneck modern-bop charts and
throws in generous doses of wild abandon in the form of free group
improv. Great, great stuff. They've been around for years, playing
only occasionally, and hadn't convened in at least a year. (Mazurek,
famed for the Chicago Underground Duo/Trio/etc., apparently spent time
in South America -?) It was tough to get to, being well off the El-train
lines northwest of the Miracle Mile area where we were staying, but well
The few times I've been to Chicago have all been great fun, even when
the Cubs aren't in town,
and they've got some fantastic jazz ideas happening out there. More on
this below, including a summary
(for those who haven't read it before) of the whole
Velvet Lounge situation.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
* Assif Tsahar, Cooper-Moore, Hamid Drake -- "A Falling Leaf" -- Lost Brother (Hopscotch, 2005)
piece is a particularly catchy percussive bit.
* Albert Ayler -- "Truth Is Marching In" -- Slugs' Saloon, May 1, 1966 (ESP-Disk, 2005; recorded 1966)
* The Shuffle Demons -- "Gabi's Gimi Suit" -- Greatest Hits (Stubby, 2004)
* Lucien Dubuis Trio -- "Bal Les Masques!" -- Tovorak (Tovorak, 2006)
Previously noted here. This
particular track shows off both the funkiness and the Euro sense of humor
that pervade Dubuis' stuff -- it's got a bass clarinet playing the bass notes for the
theme (we're talking bass bass notes),
then gets into some brightly funky guitar work. Probably loads of fun live.
* Steve Dalchinsky and Matthew Shipp -- "Subway Systems" -- Phenomena of Interference (Hopscotch, 2005)
Poetry and piano; previously noted
This track is an interesting musing on New York City, in the words of
a "homeless (sha)man:" "NY is my nightmare, my dream / It is what is
beneath the tracks."
* Roland Ramanan -- "Post Part" -- Caesura (Emanem, 2006)
Previously noted here.
Abstract improv with a quiet demeanor but an ambitious, soaring
* John Butcher, Phil Durrant, Paul Lovens, Radu Malfatti, John
Russell -- "News from the Shed" -- News from the Shed (Emanem, 2005; orig released 1989)
I was lining up the next set of music (which was to include the
Charlie Hunter and Virginia Mayhew tracks) and somehow decided I should
detour into the abstract stuff now, before it was too... too... oh, I
don't know. There's a part of me that wants the show to shift gears
as much as possible, even though it's useful to play blocks of a
Another dose of improv, this time with a noisier group and a
more dry, brisk sound. Forgot that this track drops off into
near-silence for a couple of minutes, but -- ah, hopefully it still
worked on radio. Previously noted
* Daniel Carter and Ravi Padmanabha -- "Vines Stem to Flowers" -- Nivesana (Epoch, 2006)
Nice set of duets, with Carter on various lead horns (sax, trumpet,
clarinet, flute) and Padmanabha on percussion, also adding live loops
and on one track, a vocal chant. This particular track is a tumbling
sax/drums free-jazz excursion, just 3 minutes long but quite
satisfying. Most of the rest of the album goes for darkly ethereal
wanderings and quasi-droning spaces, some really nice atmosphere.
The centerpiece is a 20-minute tracks that uses loops to create
a kind of tribal chant, overlaid by warmly jazzy sax.
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Stochelo Rosenberg -- "I Wish" -- Ready 'n Able (Iris, 2005
Really fast gypsy jazz guitar played by Rosenberg and his brother,
Moses. I mean, really fast. Or maybe I just haven't heard
gypsy guitar in a while. Anyway, I was impressed. This particular tune is
a Stevie Wonder cover, although to uneducated ears (like mine) it comes
across as "random Django Reinhardt-type-thing played quite well."
* William Parker -- "El Puente Seco" -- Long Hidden: The Olmec Series (AUM Fidelity, 2006)
Interesting album. Just 10 tracks -- normal length -- but it's like three albums in one. Three tracks feature Parker on solo bass. Three more
have him playing solo doson ngoni, a guitar-like instrument (based on the
sound). And four tracks are performed by The Olmec Group, a merengue
band with Parker on six-string doson ngoni and Dave Sewelson and Isaiah Parker
tearing it up on sax. Those Olmec tracks have a traditional Mexican
sound ... "El Puente Seco" is one such, and includes some blazing, furious,
free-jazz sax soloing. Cool mix of "world" music and free jazz.
* Charlie Hunter Trio -- "Think of One" -- Copperopolis (Ropeadope, 2006)
Fun and funky, with a swampier sound than Hunter used to have;
This track closes the album in relatively subdued fashion. It's a Monk
cover, which I thought set up a cute parallel with the next track.
* Virginia Mayhew -- "In Walked Bud" -- Sandan Shuffle
Sharp, snappy, funk version of a Monk classic. More about the CD
Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls -- "Axe" -- Breeding Resistance (Delmark, 2004)
I spent the past week in Chicago and finally got the privilege of
Record Mart, just off the Miracle Mile shopping district downtown.
Wow! Great store filled with jazz and blues -- much of it vinyl; my
co-worker Ray, who had been there before, told me to take note of the
smell of the place, that wonderful scent that comes from stacks of
vinyl lining the shelves. Wait -- why am I calling this a "privilege?" If
I lived near Chicago, these people would be taking all my money on a regular
* Odean Pope Saxophone Choir -- "Coltrane Time" -- Locked and Loaded (Half Note, 2005)
Wonderful place, though, and while I didn't have time to dig deeply through
the stacks, I did manage to grab a few titles I hadn't seen before from
Chicago locals. Among them, Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls, a band that bases
its music on the struggle against oppresion, autoritarianism, corporate
control, etc. I knew about this CD, from Delmark, but didn't realize
they'd put out a few others on Naim,
in the U.K. I grabbed one of these -- great disc called Vs. the Forces
of Evil -- and was very much impressed. (Didn't realize Rob Mazurek
had been with the band back in 2000.)
Anyway, that got me thinking about giving Breeding Resistance a spin
today, because I'd been very impressed with that disk, too. "Axe," which has
an accent on the "e," means something like "spiritual power" in Yoruba,
the language (and people) of a part of West Africa.
I'd toyed with the idea of doing an all-Chicago set or hour, but I figured
I play tons of Chicago stuff during the normal course of the show. Labels
like Atavistic, Delmark,
and Okka Disk, among
others, have done a great job documenting some of the really exciting
music going on out there.
Previously noted here.
This is the centerpiece track, 11 minutes long, with great out-there soloing
by both Pope and Michael Brecker.
* Fred Anderson -- "Flashback" -- Timeless (Delmark, 2006)
Another great session from the 70-something saxophonist Anderson,
this time in trio format. Four tracks, each about 12-15 minutes,
showcasing some fine soloing with deep roots in the tradition.
-- 5:00 p.m. --
This track ties in to the Chicago theme, too. Not only is Anderson a big
part of the scene there, but he also runs a club, the Velvet Lounge, that's
home to some great jazz sessions. That includes free jazz and improv;
richly African-styled AACM
jazz; and even straight bop, but with an energy and verve you won't
find in the more well known clubs.
Alas, the Velvet Lounge is in a South Side neighborhood that's
gentrifying (signs for $400,000 condos were up during my walk on
South Michigan this week), and its location was demolished. They've
secured a spot in a new building being put up, but it's a higher
rent overhead, and the moving costs have been steep -- check out
the Web page for
details and cross your fingers for a 2006-7 return to form for the Velvet.
Joe Henderson -- "Gazelle" -- In Pursuit of Blackness (Milestone, 1971)
Ronnie Foster -- "Kentucky Fried Chicken" -- Two-Headed Freap (Blue Note, 1972)
Funky stuff from Foster, an organ player hailing from Buffalo, N.Y.
It's got a great summertime jam feel, a glint of sunny days in
People's Park, maybe. (Except that he's from Buffalo, but we can ignore
* Bill Frisell -- "The Vanguard" -- East/West (Nonesuch, 2005)
This is the only LP we've got from Foster, who had a brief and forgotten
career with Blue Note during the end of his first life. Like all
my great finds at the station, this one happened when I went scanning
through the stacks looking for something I hadn't heard of before.
All About Jazz has a great summary
of his career, where they note that Cheshire Cat, a hard-to-find
gem from 1975, is the album to get.
It always feels good to find stuff like this -- both to enrich my own
education and to spread to listeners. That's the kind of thing
music radio should be for.
Hey, where was this one when I first scanned these tracks? It's
got a nicely "outside" feel, the tumbling group-interaction stuff that
sneaks some untethered adventure into mainstream jazz. I mean, I know
Frisell's got that kind of stuff in him; I just hadn't discovered this
track before and had concentrated on the straight-jazz pieces.
Previously noted here.
* Jeff Gauthier Goatette -- "Don't Answer That" -- One and the Same (Cryptogramophone, 2006)
Written by Nels Cline, a nice modern-bop piece. Nels flashes
his jazz chops here, tossing out a bebop solo with some avant-jazz
angles, great stuff. More details
here, if I
ever get that playlist typed out.
* Gebhard Ullmann, Chris Dahlgren, Jay Rosen -- "Walking Under Trains" -- Cut It Out (Leo Records, 2005)
Trio improvisations, mostly subdued (at least that's my impression
after a cursory listen), with bass and drums, and Ullmann on bass clarinet
and bass flute, the latter contributing to a quiet aesthetic. Three
good, well known players here. Ullmann works on a number of fronts,
with the Clarinet Trio and the
* Louie Belogenis, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, Kenny Wollesen -- "Bells Canto" -- Unbroken (Tick Tock, 2005)
* Clogs -- "5/4" -- (Lantern, 2005?)
Chamber music meets indie-rock; these are pieces with classical
instruments (violin mainly) but with drums and bass that set up a
post-rock instrumental environment. Added a melodic touch to an
otherwise improv-focused set (Ullmann, Belogenis, Clogs, Carrier).
* Francois Carrier -- "Happening (Three)" -- Happening (Leo Records, 2005)
this 6-minute track is the radio-friendly "hit single" amid the session's
other 30-minute pieces. Quite good group work, led by Carrier on sax
with Mat Maneri on viola.
* Paraphrase with Tim Berne, Drew Gress, and Tom Rainey -- "Trading on All Fours" [excerpt] -- Pre-Emptive Denial (Screwgun, 2005)
Previously noted here.
Left this one running as a lead-in to the Voice
of Doom, a longtime KZSU DJ who's been one of my mentors at the station.
He was doing a one-time guest spot after my show, and he kicked it off
with some Balinese music, overlapping it with the jazzy trio improvs
of Paraphrase, very cool.
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.