Friday, September 29th, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
I've gone back to adding links to artists' names. I'd tried this
last year and stopped because I thought it made the page look funny.
For whatever reason, I've decided that's not the case any more. Plus,
it's not like I'm shooting for any Web design awards here.
I'm still trying to find a good routine for typing up these notes, as
it takes a surprising 60-90 minutes.
Doing it during the show didn't work, even with the 10- to 20-minute
spaces that I'd get during songs. (One problem: We get a lot of
business-related phone calls on Fridays, and I'm usually the only one
available to take them.) New idea: Putting up a skeleton during
the show, and fleshing out the annotations over the weekend.
So, in the bizarre event that someone is actually looking up these
pages during or right after each show -- the notes will take a day or
two to appear. Sorry for the wait! Feel free to e-mail me if
you're looking for the title of a particular track you heard :
ctm at sonic dot net.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
* Paul Flaherty -- "Compassion Lost and Found" -- Whirl of Nothingness (Family Vineyard, 2006)
Solo saxophone from the old fireballer. This CD comes from a
contemplative, even mournful space, but it's still packed with passion
and lots of the aggressive, tangly playing Flaherty is known for.
* Horace Tapscott -- "Dark Tree" [excerpt] -- Live at Lobero, Volume 1 (Nimbus West, 2006; recorded 1981)
Great piano-trio session from the late, lamented L.A.-based pianist.
"Dark Tree" was also the title track to a colossal two-CD set of Tapscott's
on Hatology; great stuff, although
I can't play all 20 minutes every show, the way I did here! Tapscott is one of those players who
successfully straddled traditional jazz and freer styles, and it's been said
that his career might have been bigger had he not opted to remain in Southern
California, where he did a lot of community work. (The Web site linked to his
name, above, also suggests outspoken social criticism helped shut him out from the
music business.) The kind of musician who
deserves to be remembered.
* CBD Trio -- "Alap" -- Suspension (Rastascan, 2006)
Calm flute-led piece. I've meant to play this track a couple of times
now but opted for a different track each time, so "Alap" finally gets its say.
CD previously noted
* Frank Gratkowski, Thomas Lehn, Melvyn Poore -- "Renaming a Boat" [excerpt] -- Triskaidekaphonia (Leo Records, 2006)
Played the first five minutes, which feature low growls from Gratkowski's
William Parker Quartet -- "Groove" -- Sound Unity (AUM Fidelity, 2006)
By request, from my buddy Robert in the heart of the Navajo Nation
out in Arizona. He's actually a buddy of Your Imaginary Friend, and he
tunes into my show once in a while and calls up to talk free jazz. I faded
the previous track at a slow, quiet juncture, which made a nice segue into
the easy bass riffs that open this one. The track does groove, but in a
light, restrained way, closing out the album. Fine stuff.
* Sound in Action Trio -- "Togo" -- Gate (Atavistic, 2006)
Ken Vandermark's project of one sax plus two drummers. Larry Ochs
of ROVA has tried the same
permutation with his Drummercore project, but this is more directly
jazz-oriented. This is the second SIA disc, as far as I know, and presents
some solid free jazz. I didn't notice the lack of other instruments at
first, although that might be a sign that I just wasn't paying enough
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Al Margolis/Bwana If -- "Cicada #5: Version Bohman" -- Rex Xhu Ping (Pogus Productions, 2006)
Strange disc full of different sound experiments. Some are done
with actual, you know, instruments... this one, OTOH, uses cut up spoken-word
tape of Andrew Bohman (insert unknowing shrug here), in a low-key monologue
backed by a continuous low drone (probably his voice distorted) and occasional
backwards-run snippets. Creates a dark, lurking atmosphere that was a great
lead-in to the Choir Boys track.
* The Choir Boys -- "Rest of the Skeleton" -- With Strings (pfMentum, 2006)
Probably the jazziest of the tracks on this dark, electronics-rich
improv session, opening with trumpet and clarinets over electronic chiming
at gets increasingly harsh. More info here.
!* Johanna Kunin -- "Soul Secrets" -- Clouds Electric (self-released, 2006)
Singer/songwriter type, produced by Tucker Martine; our DJ the
Baud Of Euphony describes her as a moodier Laura Viers. Some upbeat folky
tracks adorn the CD but I went with this one, the gentle and floaty closer,
as an outro to the spacey madness of Choir Boys.
* Syntopia Quartet -- "Elysium Planitia" -- Mars (Nemu, 2006)
* Art Ensemble of Chicago -- "Malachi" -- Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City (Pi Recordings, 2006)
This track, a tribute to fallen brother Malachi Favors, starts with some
upbeat horn lines and eventually lands in that AEC all-percussion territory
before seguing into "The J Song." I used this as the start of what would be
the "funky" set of the show.
? Bobby Previte
, Elliott Sharp, Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn -- "77 White" -- Downtown Lullaby (Depth of Field, 1998)
Great one-off improv session with four of downtown NYC's greats. There's
a trace of funk to the whole thing, to my ears anyway -- hardly a surprise given
Previte's rock-oriented projects (Latin for Travelers, e.g.) and E#'s penchant
for tribal rhythms.
* Gnappy -- "Grease Don't Freeze" -- Unloaded (Bean Pie, 2006)
This is where the set really started delivering the funk. These guys are
a straight pop-jazz outfit doing catchy, funky stuff -- and showing enough chops
that I was compelled to put them in rotation. Strangely, the CD's gone mostly
unnoticed by our DJs -- too bad, because there's some fun stuff on here. (Also,
admittedly, some stuff that smacks of TV commercials or the background filler
of the modern "music-comes-second" MTV). A couple of tracks add rap with results
that aren't as embarrassing as usual. (I've discussed that with M-Smooth, our
hip-hop director: Projects that mix hip-hop and jazz seem to always take the
worst elements of both sides to come up with something unbearably cheesy.
It's stunning how unsuccessful that mix can be.)
-- 5:00 p.m. --
* Chicago Afrobeat Project -- "Talking Bush" -- Chicago Afrobeat Project (self-released, 2005)
Exactly what you'd think: a project of hard, funky grooves with plenty
of dance energy and packed with "world" music elements. Fun, fun stuff. A proud
ending to the funky set.
* Dual -- "My Ashes, Your Eyes" -- Pyroclastics (Quodilbet, 2006)
Spastic guitar-electronics noise tracks, basically walls of sound
with the fast but precise guitar notes creating pointillistic detail.
Short tracks; this one, at nearly 5 minutes, is the colossus, while about
half of the other 15 clock in at less than a minute. After completing the
funky set, I did a mic break with more of the Chicago Afrobeat stuff underneath,
then dove abruptly into this one for the harsh, deafening contrast of it all.
College radio means never having to wonder if the listeners appreciate this
kind of humor as much as you do.
* Peter Brotzmann Group -- "Alarm, Part 1" [excerpt] -- Alarm (Atavistic/Unheard Music Series, 2006; orig. released 1981)
Another archival gem in the Unheard series. This one features a large
group doing surprisingly accessible work. "Alarm" starts with unison blares from
the horns, like, you know, an alarm. Then it dives into a brilliant piano
attack from Alex Von Schlippenbach. It's a long piece with lots of the usual
free-improv elements. Elsewhere on the disk, you've got some surprisingly
straight Mingus-like jazz.
* TV Pow -- "Maybe It's the Alternator" -- TV Pow Presents (Southport, 2006)
From Chicago, an interesting project of long, lingering spaces.
It's got enough piano to count as "jazz," and the Southport label is a
jazz label specializing mostly in Chicago's mainstream scene. But you could
also call this experimental sound, often gloomy and dark, with strange
electronics creating a nifty late-night feel. Oh, there's guitar in there
too. Nice stuff.
* Bridge 61 -- "Dark Blue, Bright Red" -- Journal (Atavistic, 2006)
Yet another Ken Vandermark-related project, this one a quartet that
slides between bright modern jazz with free touches, and stately museum-like
serious pieces -- sometimes mixing the two moods in one track. Lots of
energetic free-jazz soloing throughout, and an electrified bass that sometimes
dishes out rock-guitar-like sounds. Quite a successful project.
The Lost Trio -- "Shuffle Boil" -- Remembrance of Songs Past (Evander, 1999)
here. The Lost Trio,
with Phillip Greenlief on guitar, Dan Seamans on bass, and Tom Hassett on
drums, still plays regularly, and I like to spin the CD to promote their
gigs once in a while.
* Pete McCann -- "Hunter Gatherer" -- Most Folks (OmniTone, 2006)
The inherent unfairness of radio: Because only one song at a time
gets played (usually), only one mood of a CD can be shown to the listener
at once. And since listening habits tend to focus on spurts of attention,
a listener can get a permanent image of an artist based on a few
unrepresentative seconds of music.
* Chaos Butterfly with Biggi Vinkeloe -- "fireice3" -- Live at Studio Fabriken (Eld, 2006)
Put another way -- this CD has some pretty and pastoral guitar-led
tracks, and some heftier songs that touch on prog-rock guitar territory
for an edgier, more creative sound. This track is kind of neither; it's
a 3-minute interlude of creepy, floaty, otherworldly guitar -- edgy, but
not as overt and ear-catching. It fit my
needs for this set but doesn't really represent what the CD sounds like.
One could argue, then, that I haven't done McCann any favors with
this particular spin. Still, it's a good track, and it shows off some
of what he can do, and maybe it did catch the ear of someone who might
not have paid attention otherwise. Hard to say. In any event, I dig
the rest of the CD (especially the edgier stuff) and plan to make this
up to McCann by playing some of the more obvious radio tracks. I do
wonder, though ... If he heard this set on the radio, would he be
happy? Tough to say.
The local duo of Dina Emerson (who's done vocals for Cirque de Soleil) and Jonathan Segel (ex of Camper Van Beethoven). They play tons of stuff in their improvised sets -- both do all sorts of sounds and samples on computer laptops, plus vocals and wine glasses (Dina), and guitar and violin (Jonathan). The results are fascinating soundscapes, sometimes with stream-of-consciousness wording from Dina. Late last year, I did a writeup of them for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, with more detail. They really are impressive, and I hope they keep at this for a long time to come.
Eld, by the way, is a Swedish label whose small catalog includes some Bay Area artists -- Chaos Butterfly here, and a disc including drummer Donald Robinson elsewhere. (Robinson, along with Biggi Vinkeloe, is on the CBD disc mentioned above).
* = 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.