Friday, June 20th, 2007
... 5:50 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
Last minute sub for Fo and
his "No Cover, No Minimum" show that mixes blues, jazz, and world. As
usual, I ended up emphasizing World a lot more than the other genres,
a testament to the breadth there, and to the excellent CD notes that
Fo and Decca write up. (Every CD in rotation gets a "review," a set of
notes that serves as a suggestion list for other DJs.)
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
* Bill Charlap Trio -- "Last Night When We Were Young" -- Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 2007)
Contemporary jazz trio, straightahead stuff with a polite sheen. They
do get cooking on a couple of numbers, but this one is a warm slow ballad to
close out the session.
Stan Getz and Chet Baker -- "Half-Breed Apache" -- Stan Meets Chet (Verve, 1957)
A cookin' hard-bop session with two greats. I know Baker mostly for
his lovely, sleepy playing (and singing), but on this track, he and Getz
and the band really dig in. Another great find in our vinyl library.
Justin Robinson -- "The Challenge" -- The Challenge (Arabesque, 1998)
In fact, we've got a ton of good Getz records -- and some real clunkers,
late-period projects with strings and other godawful sap. I'll choose
to remember Stan for sessions like this. And for the fact that my dad
once managed to book him for a short appearance at a UCLA student event.
Very good straight bop session, a modern sound but harkening back to the old stuff. I remembered this one, and sought it out for this show,
because it got praise from Dr. W, a fellow
jazz DJ from my early KZSU days whose tastes ran more "inside" than mine
(not to be confused with Dr. D, who's into jazz and world musics).
By total coincidence, it turns out Dr. W, who's been back in the Bay
Area for a while, stopped by the station to visit last week, when I wasn't
around for my show. Plate o' shrimp.
And now, it was time for a blues set ...
* Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson -- "Somebody Sure Has Got To Go" -- Kidney Stew Is Fine (Delmark, 2007; recorded 1969; orig. released 1979)
Straight blues in a declaratory voice, from singer and sax player Vinson. Great classic stuff to my ears, but I didn't get a full listen, and I'm not a Cleanhead afficionado. Robert Christgau was less impressed.
Alexis Korner -- "Hellhound on My Trail" -- Bootleg Him! (Warner Bros., 1972)
British bluesman who was highly influential to the U.K. pioneers of
what's now called classic rock. This two-LP compilation includes quotes from
folks like Ian Anderson, talking about how Alexis shaped their music. The
sound is a lot like gritty '60s rock, very Woodstock-minded (in that dirty
blues sense, not the airy folky pop stuff; think Hendrix or early Zeppelin,
not Simon and Garfunkel). The songs themselves feature guests like
Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Robert Plant, and Steve Miller.
* The Pauline York Band -- "I Can't Be Satisfied" -- Get Down and Ride (self-released, 2007)
Korner dishes out some pretty cool acoustic guitar
attacks in this Robert Johnson cover, recorded in 1971; elsewhere, he brings
in some avant-jazzers for a more exploring-the-universe feel.
Straight Texas blues with a vocalist who can really belt it out,
despite her petite bookish looks.
* Jimmy "Duck" Holmes -- "Catfish Blues" -- Done Got Tired of Trying (Broke & Hungry, 2007)
Fooled me. This one's made out to look like an old classic release,
and it's got that sound of old Mississippi mud, but it's contemporary,
recorded mostly last year. Authentic acoustic-guitar blues with that proper
This label is a new one devoted to "country blues." It's recording some
old cats, like Holmes, apparently, who've never gotten on record before.
* Rasha -- "Azara Alhai" -- V/A: Rough Guide to African Blues (World Music Network, 2007)
From a celebrated Sudanese singer who champions women's rights. This
was supposed to mark my transition from Blues into World music, but this song
(and most of the others) has a lighter sound than you'd associate with
"blues," and a flowing African feel. Kind of sappy, actually.
Oumou Sangare -- "Ah Ndiya" -- Moussolou (Nonesuch, 1991)
Previously noted here.
Celebrated singer from Mali who's gotten quite a following in the States.
Brisk, modern stuff with fluid electric guitar and bass, but a touch of pain
and longing in the vocals.
* Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder -- "Soukora" -- World Circuit Presents ... (Nonesuch, 2007?)
A gentle, mid/fast vibe with soothing guitar from Cooder.
-- 7:00 a.m. --
* Ibrahim Ferrer -- "Perfidia" -- Mi Sueno
Straight jazz with a dash of Latin in there, heavy on piano. This is the posthumous release from Ferrer, lead singer of the Buena Vista Social Club.
* Prince Diabate -- "Herakoura" -- V/A: Global Rhythm: July 2007
From the Global Rhythm magazine, a sampler CD that has a pretty wide
"world" swath. It includes a track from the latest CD by William
Parker and Hamid Drake. "Herakoura" was taken from Diabate's album
Djerelon, on the Kora Company Collection label. Upbeat African pop with male vocals.
* Maurice El Medioni and Roberto Rodriguez -- "Rai Rock Rumba" -- V/A: Rough Guide to North African Cafe (World Music Network, 2007)
With touches of European cafe music (duh) and French vocals, and an overall jazzy vibe, coolly upbeat.
* Firecracker Jazz Band -- "Firecrackers Rule" -- Explode (Euphonian, 2007)
Previously noted here.
The uptempo ragtime-with-attitude vibe just seemed to fit well after the
nearly jazzy "cafe" tune, so what the heck. I think it worked well.
* The Amani Kids, with Lynn Keen and Martha Wallace -- "Amani, Upendo, na Umoja" -- V/A: Amani: Songs of Peace for the Children of Kilimanjaro (BSV, 2007)
This one's awfully saccharine, but it's for a good cause, benefitting
the Amani orphanage. The facility helps Tanzanian street children who've been
abandoned, driven from home, or orphaned -- often by AIDS, in the latter case.
Tracks feature various kids' choruses, including a group from Amani itself,
singing with a backing band. This track also has some mildly jazzy
instrumental solos, hence the other names listed. The link above goes to
Amani itself, where you can find out more about their work.
* Gnawa Bambara -- "Barmayou" -- Sidi Mimoun (Dunya, 2007)
A calmly bouncy rhythm peppered with complex guitar. If it weren't in the "world" section, you'd call it one shade away from being prog rock.
This is Sufi music, a hypnotic Moroccan style.
? Joey Baron and Robyn Schulkowsky --
"Tales" [part 1] -- Dinosaur Dances (Gema, 2003)
An all-percussion duet, with manic rattly drums that settle into
a strong rhythm. Given the context of this show, it's
got a "world" sound ... but then again, it's made by two white
drummers who live together in New York. Baron is well known in jazz
circles for backing folks like John Zorn; Schulkowsky is more linked
with classical music and has recorded a few times for the
ECM label. This CD
is something they just stamped out themselves on a whim; I was lucky
enough to stop at Downtown Music Gallery
shortly after Baron had dropped off a handful of copies.
* Santiago Mutumbajoy -- [untitled track 6, excerpt] -- Yage Pinta! Psychedelic Shaman Songs of Santiago Mutumbajoy (Latitude, 2007)
Field recordings taken by Michael Taussig in the '70s in Colombia.
Mutumbajoy was (is?) a shaman who conducted healing sessions while under the
influence of the hallucinogenic drink yage. The recordings consist of chants
and growls, and various coughs and spits as well. This was before the movie
Altered States came out, so it was really out-there stuff for American ears at
* Sainkho Namchylak -- "Letter 6" -- Nomad (Leo Records, 2007; orig. released 1994)
According to the liner notes, Mutumbajoy's son and daughter continue to practice these rituals in southwest Colombia.
Namchylak is a Tuvan throat singer, but she's also an accomplished
vocalist in general. Her career includes solo experimental vocal takes as
well as nearly straight jazz -- or, I should say, the more accessible leanings
of the out-jazz that Leo Records supports. She's also recorded in a slickly
sweet Asian-pop theme -- not the bouncy Japanoise stuff, but the really
cloying styles you see in the themes to contemporary Japanese soap operas.
This disk collects snippets of all those styles, including some duets with
departed bassist Peter Kowald, into an impressive career retrospective.
"Letter 6" is one of those Leo-jazz tracks, with a big grand feel, but it
opens up with that nasal Asian-chanting kind of vocalizing. Impressive stuff.
-- 8:00 a.m. --
Miya Masaoka -- "A Shinto 'Midnight'" -- Monk's Japanese Folk Song (Dizim, 1997)
Masaoka is another of thoes former Bay Area musicians who left
for NYC. She plays the Japanese koto, but in a variety of avant-garde
contexts. In addition to the usual improv groups, she's organized
concept pieces -- playing alongside a hive of bees, processing
their sound, for instance. She's also developed a variety of electronics
to go with the koto, including a system whereby laser beams represent
virtual strings on a vertical plane and trigger koto responses.
* Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner -- "Esquina" -- Ojos Negros (ECM, 2007)
She's also done jazz, and for this album, she hired Reggie Workman and
Andrew Cyrille, a couple of veteran cats, as her bassist and drummer,
respectively. As a trio, they plunge into some Monk songs and some
originals, creating koto-led jazz. It's great stuff. I especially
love the rich tone of Workman's bass strings played against the more
brittle twang of the koto.
This particular track is "Round Midnight" played in a very slow, still manner,
very zen. Cyrille limits himself to various wood percussion and a couple of
tiny bells, playing in a sparse mode that you'd hear in traditional Japanese
ceremonies. Incredible stuff that deserves to be heard, but because it's on a
small German label, it's already falling into "forgotten" status.
A CD of duets for bandoneon (which is
similar to accordion) and cello, based on tango song forms.
As usual with ECM, the results get formalized a bit in production, creating
the overly clean feel of a museum-quality contemporary chamber concert.
But, again as usual with ECM, it's a nice session, quite comforting in its
* Osvaldo Montes and Anibal Arias -- "Milonga de Mis Amores" -- V/A: Think Global: Tango (World Music Network, 2007)
Tango again, this time in a more familiar form. A benefit CD for
Oxfam, compiled by the folks who bring us all those Rough Guide CDs. It's
tango music in a variety of contexts (there's a near-disco
electronica one with real live bandoneon, for instance). It's interesting
that many tracks don't have that stiff military feel we associate with
"tango." This one's got a bouncy, swaying feel, very traditional with
Michael Spiro and Mark Lamson -- "Elegua/Exu" -- Bata Ketu (Bembe, 1996)
A concept album: Kind of a play about Yoruba music being "uprooted from
Mother Africa, transplanted in Cuba and Brazil, evolving separately over time,
and then retuniting today." The music is a mix of the regions mentioned
above, with a tangy, high-pitched male lead vocal, a duskier co-lead vocal,
and a chanting call-and-response chorus behind him. And lots and lots of
percussion, of course.
* Spanish Harlem Orchestra -- "Se Formo La Rumba" -- United We Swing (Six Degrees, 2007)
High-energy Latin jazz in big band form. Big fun stuff, and Paul Simon shows up for a guest vocal on "Late in the Evening."
From there, we veer back into jazz ...
* Lafayette Gilchrest -- "In Depth" -- 3 (Hyena, 2007)
Funky Baltimore pianist, who's got a heavy-handed style that can be
quite attractive when coupled with lightly funky beats and harmonies. I'm a
fan; in fact, I first saw Gilchrest not with his own band, but at the High Zero festival of
experimental/improv music, doing all kinds of abstract dabbling. On his own,
he flashes those chops occasionally in solos but mostly sticks to straight
jazz/funk themes. Here he's in a trio setting, so his piano really stands
? Charlie Hunter -- "20, 30, 40, 50, 60, Dead" -- Charlie Hunter Trio (Prawn Song, 1993)
It was oh so long ago, but back in the day, Charlie Hunter was an
obscure young guitarist who caught the ear of Les Claypool, bassist and
frontman for Primus. And that's how this first CD got recorded on Prawn
Song. Hunter has taken off on his own career, of course, but he's still
beloved back home in the Bay Area. Plenty of familiar touches adorn this
disc, including Hunter's graceful trick of playing both bass lines and
guitar-comp fills on his 8-stringed instrument, and the generally funky tone
that permates most of his albums. He hadn't yet adopted the B-3 organ sound
on his guitar, which he'd later use on the Blue Note albums that would
really launch his fame a couple of years later.
As for the title of this one, I interpret it as a countdown through the aging
process, rather than a counting of the dead. It's that extra comma that does
* The Klezmatics -- "From Here on In" -- Wonder Wheel (Jewish Music Group, 2006)
Woodie Guthrie lyrics interpreted by a Klezmer band, who I guess had to write the music themselves. The CD notes that Guthrie left volumes of lyrics unrecorded. Most of the tracks actually retain a Guthrie-like folks vibe, this one for instance.
? Golem -- "Golem Hora" -- Fresh Off Boat (JDub, 2006)
I found this in a record store's listening station and just had to have
it. Golem is a New York City sextet that plays that familiar Eastern
European/Klezmer kind of music, but with verve, passion, and attitude --
basically, they call themselves a punk band. (Here's
a photo that says it all.) They seem to seriously respect
the music while goofing off with it. It works. They've played at the Getty Museum and at SxSW, and they got to perform in Paris on 7/7/07.
This track brings in Mike Gordon (Phish) and Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith). More
importantly, it strings together several traditional Jewish songs --
including, yes, Hava Naghila -- into one big party-fest medley. And after a
while, the lyrics creep into English, and you realize they're suddenly singing
about partying and having one too many drinks. It's really funny, and Kaye
gets a really good solo in there, to boot.
The program that comes after Fo's at KZSU is "The Jewish Alternative," where Sarah
Bellum spins all manner of Jewish music, from traditional stuff to anything
modern that happens to be performed by Jewish people. The only reason I know
about "Golem Hora" including lots of traditional songs is because she was
hanging around, prepping for her show, and singing along note for note during
the whole first half of the song.
* = 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.