(Return to playlists.)
Nothing special for Halloween this time, other than the Dom Minasi track. And TMBG, if you want to count that.
Also of note:
I saw Cecil Taylor at Grace Cathedral last week, and as expected, it was a towering experience. Yes, it was hard to see Cecil -- but I had the foresight and luck to position myself to the side, where I could actually see his hands on the keyboard. And yes, the sound got hard to take by the end of the hour. The cathedral's seven-second reverb made for a very nice effect, but after a while, I longed for the stillness of plain stacatto notes.
Taylor's hands were incredibly fluid, and the occasional two-handed pounding on the keyboard was done with pinpoint precision. Once or twice, he went for entire palms against the keys, massive megaclusters of notes to accent perticularly intense moments (and to kind of give the audience what they were expecting, I suspect -- no one walked away thinking, 'Gosh, isn't Cecil supposed to be wilder than that?')
During the first of four long pieces, I started noticing what sounded like major-key tonality -- normal classical music, in other words. It was still Taylor splashing around on the keyboard, but these overt classical influences were poking through. I don't know if that was a conscious effort on his part or a hidden aspect of his musical logic that was only made apparent with the delayed reverb of the cathedral. (The latter seems too much to hope for, but wouldn't it be cool?)
I'm not the only one who noticed this; check Richard Scheinin's review for the Mercury News (free registration might be required). There's also a good review from Fo at JazzObserver.com.
After four long pieces, hypnotic in their uninterrupted cascade of notes, Taylor stayed on stage for a very brief encore -- fast playing, giving the audinence one last dose of Cecilness, before abruptly stopping, as if to say, "Aw, screw it, I'm 79 and I'm done!"
Later that weekend, I got to talk briefly to an SF Jazz volunteer who'd been Taylor's chauffeur for the weekend. The guy missed the show but enjoyed being around Taylor, even if some diva behavior was apparent (having to wait an hour for the pianist to get ready to leave, for instance). You know what? Taylor's earned it. Maybe it's a shame that he had to wait until late in life to play these gigs, but then again, jazz has no pension and no 401(k) plan. That some of the old cats like Taylor can make an adequate living (I won't assume it's a cushy one) playing the festival circuit is, hopefully, an ample reward for a lifetime of uncelebrated innovation.
Now, here's a question: If Taylor was just coasting that night, replaying his old styles and ideas, would I even notice? I have to admit, his "coasting" would be so far apart from any other musician's work that it would be worth seeing anyway, at least for me. There's no way of knowing the answer, and I'm happy with the concert regardless, but it's interesting to think about.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
Dom Minasi -- "The Vampire's Revenge" -- The Vampire's Revenge (CDM, 2006)
They Might Be Giants -- "Spider" -- Severe Tire Damage (Restless, 1998)
If you're familiar with this short, weird song that first appeared
on Apollo 18, then you'll be as surprised as I was to find out
they not only did it live, but put it on this live album. Cool!
Tim Trevor-Briscoe and Nicola Guazzaloca -- "First Gibbering Story" -- One Hot Afternoon (Leo Records, 2007)
Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra -- "Spiritual" -- Dream Keeper (DIW, 1991)
There's a distinctly Latin flavor throughout, which might reflect the
importance of Central America to U.S. foreign policy in the decade
previous. (The music was written just before everyone lost their
marbles over the Middle East.)
"Spiritual" takes a different path. Dedicated to Martin Luther King,
Medger Evers, and Malcolm X, it's a piano-led gospel piece, at once
uplifting and heart-tugging.
The LMO is a famous project of Haden's, and I checked out their 1991
disk on the strength of reviews, back when I was first getting into
jazz. I have to say it didn't -- and still doesn't -- do much for me.
No disrespect to Haden, who's made some important music in his career,
but the big band here gets used toward gentle, Sketches of Spain
purposes without really reaching the heights of that album.
Part of the problem might be my own mental block against Carla Bley --
that's a note I'm saving for another time -- as she does the arranging
and wrote the lengthy suite that opens the album; the fact that two
other tracks focus on Spanish guitar rather than the whole band
might have disappointed me, too.
* George Schuller's Circle Wide -- "Encore b" -- Like Before, Somewhat After (Playscape,2008)
There's a distinctly Latin flavor throughout, which might reflect the importance of Central America to U.S. foreign policy in the decade previous. (The music was written just before everyone lost their marbles over the Middle East.) "Spiritual" takes a different path. Dedicated to Martin Luther King, Medger Evers, and Malcolm X, it's a piano-led gospel piece, at once uplifting and heart-tugging.
* Kris Davis -- "Prairie Eyes" -- Rye Eclipse (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008)
* Plays Monk -- "Boo Boo's Birthday" -- Plays Monk (Long Song, 2007)
* Frank Rothkamm --
"Digital Feedback OR Highland" -- LAX (self-released, 2008)
Every track on this album has two titles separated by "OR," because ...
aw, heck, I have no idea.
Analog-synth experiments, quite the retro avant-garde sound,
harkening back to early computer music. I picture a guy standing in
front of a Moog or similar instrument with a patch panel on it, cables
slung over his shoulder as he plugs and unplugs things to create different
(The picture on the Web site suggests otherwise.)
* Frank Lowe -- "Thulani" [excerpt] -- Black Beings (ESP-Disk, 2008; orig. released 1973)
Every track on this album has two titles separated by "OR," because ... aw, heck, I have no idea.
Jon Raskin Quartet -- "Bleckner" -- Jon Raskin Quartet (Rastascan, 2007)
* Carla Kihlstedt, Gino Robair, Matthew Sperry -- "Sonarchy Two" [excerpt] -- Sonarchy 1998 (Majmua, 2008)
Greg Goodman, Mats Gustafsson, George Cremaschi -- "Mov" -- They Were Gentle and Pretty Pigs (The Beak Doctor, 2002)
Georg Graewe, Ernst Reijseger, Gerry Hemingway -- "Muss Musik Nun Erklingen" -- Zwei Naechte in Berlin (Sound Aspect, 1994)
* = 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.