Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rereading's Gifts

Gerrit Dou, Old Woman Reading a Lectionary (Rembrandt's Mother) (1630)
Although I have also experienced, in the course of my rereading, unexpected bursts of affection for the past self that devoured every book in sight, I have often felt inclined to repudiate that earlier self for its gullibility, its blindness, its undependable or unaccountable judgments. Yet surely we should be charitable to our past selves, if only because we realize that, granted another decade of perspective, we may judge our current selves equally inadequate. Perspective on and insight into the self is yet another of rereading's gifts.  (Patricia Meyer Spacks, On Rereading, p. 278)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Playlist, Week of 2014-10-26

I stumbled across Hank Shteamer's most recent blog post about Cecil Taylor, and I am so glad I's chock full of insight and has some great links. I was astounded to find out there that the legendary 10-CD box set of the Feel Trio (Cecil, William Parker, Tony Oxley), Two Ts for a Lovely T, is available on amazon for under $12. MP3s, true, but at 320, and I'll never be able to afford that limited-edition out-of-print box, and it has long been a gap in my Cecil collection, so I jumped on it, and immersed myself in it all week. It is fantastic. Oxley is killer, and the perfect complement to Cecil, who is, as usual, ravishing and beautiful here. Whew.

Playlist 2014-10-27:

*Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Cosmologies (LP) (side A)
*Jimmy Ghaphery/Tatsuya Nakatani: 2014-02-20 Richmond VA (wav)
*Globe Unity Orchestra: 1979-01-26 Bad Godesberg, Germany (CDR)
*Joe Henderson: In ‘n Out
*Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra: Strange Strings (2014 remaster)
*Cecil Taylor Feel Trio: Two Ts for a Lovely T (discs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
*Thumbscrew: 2014-09-13 Chicago (CDR) (disc 1)
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2014-08-29 (wav) (selections)
*Four Tops: 50th Anniversary Anthology (disc 1)
*Residents: Meet the Residents
*Il Sogno del Marinaio: Canto Secondo
*Various artists: Golden Throats: The Great Celebrity Sing Off
*Various artists: It’s Saturday Night! Starday-Dixie Rockabilly 1955-1961 (disc 3)
*Frank Zappa: Sleep Dirt (side 1)

Reading List, Week of 2014-10-26

Back into the world of Malazan. I'll have more to say about this in weeks to come.

Reading List 2014-10-27:

*Barnes, Julian. Nothing To Be Frightened Of (started)
*Esslemont, Ian C. Assail (started)
*Lock, Graham, Forces in Motion (reread/started)
*Spacks, Patricia Meyer. On Rereading (finished)
*Erikson, Steven. Gardens of the Moon (reread/in progress)

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Like intimacy with a person, intimacy with a book adds value to the revelations that relationship involves. Its intensification is one of rereading's great pleasures. (Patricia Meyer Spacks, On Rereading, p. 143)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

81 Perfect Jazz Recordings

Okay, after much deliberation, I am finally putting up my own humble list of perfect jazz recordings: 81, to be exact. If that number seems arbitrary, that's because it is; that number could have easily been twice as large and still only scratched the surface, at least by how I reckon it, by how I define perfect. I finally had to stop after a while, stop myself from just going through every single jazz recording I own, so I didn't do that...what I have done is largely from memory, plus I went through the Magic Jukebox, and supplemented it with some eyeball checks.

Like I said in my previous post, this list is a response to Richard Brody's New Yorker list and Robin Tomens' list on his blog Include Me Out. List-making strikes me as a very odd endeavor. It's fun to do, but the selection process by definition creates a sense of hierarchy that I sometimes feel guilty invoking. Let's call it a guilty pleasure. I also feel like I should put the words "perfect" and "jazz" in quotes , because I have so many many that it almost renders a list like this pointless. But, as you can see, I made it anyway!

What is perfection? Can a recording be perfect and still have warts? Do those warts in fact help define perfection? Does perfection really mean "I wouldn't change anything about it?" Does a random squeak in a sax solo disqualify it from perfection, or does it add to its perfect character by defining it? Whatever. I like what Brody says: the tracks in his list "convey a sense of retrospective inevitability." I also like this:
The simplest definition of the list I have pulled together is that it has nothing to do with historical significance, solely to do with my own memory. They’re not only recordings that I revisit often (though I do) but recordings that come unbidden, that remember themselves, so to speak—earworms that multiply into ideas of music as such. They’re not necessarily “the best” or even the most exemplary of their performers; they’re recordings that have taken me over.
Yeah, let's go with that. I have gone here for recordings that are perfect...for me. It's not that different a list from recordings that I would call my favorites. The meaninglessness of lists like this starts to come into focus. Let's sharpen the focus by saying again that this list could be five times as long and still not exhaust the candidates. There are a lot of perfect jazz tracks out there!

Unlike the other lists that were my inspiration, I didn't restrict myself either chronologically or numerically, although I have to say my list doesn't have too much current stuff on it-- that's not a judgement on newer jazz, it's more of a statement on what floats my boat, and also on gaps in my listening. Then again, my gaps go way back too. Anyway, note also that there are a lot of predictable "classics" on this list, recordings readily venerated by scores of jazz fans before me. To that I say: they are classics for a reason.

So: here's the list, alphabetical by title. In case of multiple versions of a piece, I have tried to include the album title or the year  (or both) of the version I am listing.

1. Black Bottom Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton)
2. Body and Soul (Coleman Hawkins)
3. Bud P. (Dedicated to Bud Powell) (Muhal Richard Abrams)
4. Bulbs (Cecil Taylor)
5. Charlie M. (Art Ensemble of Chicago)
6. Chasin’ the Trane ("Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings," disc 1)  (John Coltrane)
7. Comp. No. 40B (“Six Compositions: Quartet”) (Anthony Braxton)
8. Comp. No. 51 (“Creative Orchestra Music 1976”) (Anthony Braxton)
9. Comp. No. 159 (“Willisau (Quartet) 1991”) (Anthony Braxton)
10. Coney (Tom Rainey Trio)
11. Conversation (Charles Mingus)
12. Cotton Tail (1940, Victor) (Duke Ellington)
13. Dancing Shadows (“Nothing Is”) (Sun Ra)
14. Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love (“Changes One”)  (Charles Mingus)
15. Duplicity (Andrew Hill)
16. East Coasting (Charles Mingus)
17. Filles de Kilimanjaro (Miles Davis)
18. Four Winds (Dave Holland)
19. Girl from Ipanema (Getz/Gilberto)
20. Globe Unity 70 (Globe Unity Orchestra)
21. Hat and Beard (Eric Dolphy)
22. Home (David Murray Octet)
23. Images (“Jazz in Silhouette”) (Sun Ra)
24. It Never Entered My Mind (Miles Davis)
25. Ko-Ko (Victor, 1940) (Duke Ellington)
26. Ko-Ko (Savoy, 1945) (Charlie Parker)
27. Law years (Ornette Coleman)
28. Lineform on 7 (Roscoe Mitchell)
29. Liza (1937) (Benny Goodman Quartet)
30. Love (“First Meditations”) (John Coltrane)
31. Machine Gun (2nd take) (Peter Brotzmann)
32. Man in the Green Shirt (Weather Report)
33. Me Myself and I (Billie Holiday)
34. Merry-Go-Round (1933) (Duke Ellington)
35. Merry-Go-Round (1935) (Duke Ellington)
36. Ming (David Murray Octet)
37. Mr. P.C. (1961, “Live Trane: The European Tours” disc 2) (John Coltrane)
38. Moten Swing (Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra)
39. New Now Know How (Charles Mingus)
40. Night and Day (Billie Holiday)
41. Night in Tunisia (Dial, 1946) (Charlie Parker)
42. The Ninth Room (Art Ensemble of Chicago)
43. October (Sun Ra)
44. Old Gospel (Jackie McLean)
45. One Down, One Up (“Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up”) (John Coltrane)
46. Parker’s Mood (Charlie Parker)
47/48. Peace on Earth (“Live in Japan,” both versions) (John Coltrane)
49. The Pearls (Jelly Roll Morton)
50. A Piece of Software (Henry Threadgill Sextet)
51. Plutonian Nights (Sun Ra)
52. Possession (“Sun Song”) (Sun Ra)
53. Practice Makes Perfect (Billie Holiday)
54. Prince of Darkness (Miles Davis)
55. Quadrant 4 (Billy Cobham)
56. Reincarnation of a Lovebird (Atlantic) (Charles Mingus)
57. Reminiscing in Tempo (Duke Ellington)
58. Rumpus in Richmond (Duke Ellington)
59. The Same Old Story (Billie Holiday)
60. Saturn ("The Singles") (Sun Ra)
61. Search Light Blues (Sun Ra)
62. The 7th Day (Freddie Hubbard)
63. Snurdy McGurdy and her Dancing Shoes (Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound Ensemble)
64. So What (live Copenhagen 1960) (Miles Davis)
65. Song with Orange (Charles Mingus)
66. Spanish Key (Miles Davis)
67. Springsville (Miles Davis)
68. The Stampede (Fletcher Henderson)
69. Somewhere Else (Sun Ra)
70/71. Stardust (both takes) (Louis Armstrong)
72. Stardust (live Fargo 1940) (Duke Ellington)
73. Sugar Foot Stomp (“Hocus Pocus”) (Fletcher Henderson)
74. Taht (Cecil Taylor)
75. Theme from “The Asphalt Jungle” (“Great Paris Concert”) (Duke Ellington)
76. Thoughts under a Dark Blue Light (Sun Ra)
77. Tight Like This (Louis Armstrong)
78. West End Blues (Louis Armstrong)
79. With (Exit)  (Cecil Taylor)
80. Yes or No (Wayne Shorter)
81. You Go to My Head (Billie Holiday)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Playlist, Week of 2014-10-19

Playlist 2014-10-20:

All of these players continue to blow me away, especially Ingrid Laubrock.

*Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier (Glenn Gould) (disc 1)
*John Cage: The Complete String Quartets Vol. 2 (Arditti Quartet)
*Shostakovich: The String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) (discs 3, 4, 5)
*Anthony Braxton: Quartet (London) 1985
*Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Birmingham) 1985
*Anthony Braxton Ensemble: 2012-05-02 Wesleyan (CDR)
*Don Cherry: Complete Communion
*Don Cherry: Symphony for Improvisors
*Ornette Coleman & Prime Time + Don Cherry: 1987-07-03 Ravenna, Italy (CDR)
*John Coltrane: Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up “My Favorite Things”
*Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage
*Charles Mingus: The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (disc 5)
*Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomax (disc 6)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-09-08 "You May Now Proceed To Take the Post Test for the Self Instruction Unit" (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-10-06 "Waiting for Ben" (wav)
*Tony Oxley: It Cuts Through: A Tony Oxley Mixtape (CDR compilation)
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: 2006-11-17 London (CDR)
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Moment's Energy
*Pharoah Sanders: Live at the East
*Tom Rainey Trio: Pool School
*Sun Ra: Live at Slug’s Saloon (discs 5, 6)
*Sun Ra: Soundtrack to the Film “Space Is the Place”
*Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller
*Weather Report: 8:30 (side 4)
*Wrest: Wrest (Jack Wright/Evan Lipson/Ben Bennett) Spring Garden Music 18
*Chicago Transit Authority: Chicago Transit Authority
*Paul McCartney: New
*Muffins: 1977 Washington DC (CDR) (disc 2)
*Todd Rundgren: The Todd Rundgren Radio Show
*Various artists: Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (disc 2)

Reading List, Week of 2014-10-19

I highly recommend the Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters. Really well-done, and especially in the last volume, quite moving.

Reading List 2014-10-20:

*Winters, Ben H. World of Trouble (started/finished)
*Erikson, Steven. Gardens of the Moon (reread/in progress)
*Spacks, Patricia Meyer. On Rereading (in progress)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Playlist, Week of 2014-10-12

William Bell was excellent this weekend! In fine voice, beautiful, soulful. Deep soul renditions of "I Forgot To Be Your Lover" and "Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday." I saw him on Friday night; here's a clip from Saturday's show.

Playlist 2014-10-13:

*John Cage: The Complete String Quartets Vol. 1 (Arditti Quartet)
*Shostakovich: The String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) (discs 1, 2)
*Various artists: District of Noise Vol. 6: A Compilation of Experimental Music from Washington DC
*Tim Berne: Snakeoil
*Anthony Braxton/Falling River Music Quartet: 2012-10-11 Ulrichsberg, Austria (CDR)
*Duke Ellington: At the Cotton Club (disc 1)
*Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles
*Freddie Hubbard: Ready for Freddie
*Freddie Hubbard:The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard
*Freddie Hubbard: Breaking Point
*Jackie McLean: One Step Beyond
*Jackie McLean: Destination... Out!
*Jackie McLean: ‘Bout Soul
*Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: 2009-06-28 Tivoli (CDR)
*Grachan Moncur III: Evolution
*Tony Oxley Quintet: 1974-03-18 London (CDR)
*Tony Oxley Sextet: 1976-10-28 London (CDR)
*Tony Oxley Quartet: 1976-06-20 Hamburg (CDR)
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Eleventh Hour
*Harold Rubin/Barre Phillips/Tatsuya Nakatani: 3 on a Thin Line
*Pharoah Sanders: Live at the East
*Matthew Shipp Trio: 2012-11-10 London (CDR)
*Sun Ra: Live at Slug’s Saloon (discs 3, 4)
*Sun Ra Arkestra: 1979-07-14 The Hague, Netherlands (CDR)
*Weather Report: Mr. Gone
*Weather Report: 8:30 (side 4)
*Lester Young: Classic Columbia, Okeh, and Vocalion Lester Young with Count Basie (1936-1940) (discs 3, 4)
*Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O.: La Novia
*B-52’s: Cosmic Thing
*William Bell: The Soul of a Bell
*William Bell: A Little Something Extra
*Muffins: 1977 Washington DC (CDR) (disc 1)
*Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
*Various artists: Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (disc 1)

Reading List, Week of 2014-10-12

Good reading these days....

Reading List 2014-10-13:

*Erikson, Steven. Gardens of the Moon (reread/started)
*Winters, Ben H. Countdown City (started/finished)
*Barth, John. “Click” in Atlantic Monthly (Dec. 1997) (finished)
*Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son (finished)
*Ellroy, James. Perfidia (finished)
*Spacks, Patricia Meyer. On Rereading (in progress)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

William Bell at Richmond Folk Festival

William Bell, one of the great Stax soulmen, is appearing at the Richmond Folk Festival this weekend. Details here. I have never seen any of the classic Stax musicians live, so I am very excited!

Here are my Top 10 William Bell cuts, in order:

10. You Don't Miss Your Water
9. Forever Wouldn't Be Too Long
8. Who Will It Be Tomorrow
7. Never Like This Before
6. Eloise (Hang On In There)
5. Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday
4. I Forgot To Be Your Lover
3. Let's Do Something Together
2. She Won't Be Like You
1. Do Right Woman Do Right Man

Bonus track: Private Number (duet with Judy Clay)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Subtle Body Sonic Circuits pic

A nice shot, taken I believe by Gary Rouzer. Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra, 2014-10-04, Sonic Circuits Festival, Silver Spring MD.

From a write-up by Dan:
Saturday’s program began with beautiful, clear weather—and a good thing too, since the opening set, a site-specific work combining improvised music and movement for my group, The Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra, and three dancers, was scheduled to take place outdoors in the Pyramid Atlantic parking lot. Because Pyramid is an artists’ space the grounds contain sculptures and other visual and tactile oddities. We incorporated all of these into our set, with dancers Ken Manheimer, Amanda Blythe and Sarah Schaffer moving in and out of the sculptures’ metal lattice work or weaving in and around saxophonists Tim Harding and Tom Wall, percussionist Sam Byrd, vibraphonist Rich O’Meara and me. We took the opportunity to use the available open space to create an improvisation exploiting the ambient acoustics and incidental sounds—including at one point a passing police siren. Real-time Dictaphone interventions were provided courtesy of Jeff Surak.

Playlist, Week of 2014-10-05

Playlist 2014-10-06:

*AMM: AMMMusic 1966
*Count Basie: Count Basie Volume 1: 1932 to 1938
*Lester Bowie Sho ‘Nuff Orchestra: 1979-02-17 NYC (CDR) (disc 2)
*George Duke: The Aura Will Prevail
*Mary Halvorson Quintet and Septet: 2011-10-14 NYC (CDR)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-08-25 “The Most Effective Effort” (wav)
*Evan Parker/Derek Bailey/Han Bennink: The Topography of the Lungs
*Tom Rainey Trio: Pool School
*Tom Rainey Trio: Camino Cielo Echo
*Schlippenbach Quartet: Das Hohe Lied
*Wayne Shorter: JuJu
*Sun Ra: Live at Slug’s Saloon (disc 2)
*Sun Ra: Calling Planet Earth (web compilation)
*Cecil Taylor Quintet: 1965-07-02 Newport Jazz Festival
*Cecil Taylor: 3 Phasis (side 1)
*John Tilbury: Barcelona Piano Solo
*Lester Young: Classic Columbia, Okeh, and Vocalion Lester Young with Count Basie (1936-1940) (disc 2)
*Beatles Remixer Group: Tuned to a Natural E (CDR compilation)
*CCC/Ill Chemist: Cracked Pepper
*Chemical Brothers: Push the Button
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2014-09-26 (wav)
*Brian Eno: The BBC Sessions 1974-1976
*Grateful Dead: 1972-07-25 Portland OR (CDR)
*Kip Hanrahan: Deep Rumba 2012-08-29 Sardegna, Italy (CDR)
*Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin III (selections)
*Curtis Mayfield: Roots
*Curtis Mayfield: Back to the World
*Prince: Art Official Age
*Prince/3rdeyegirl: Plectrumelectrum
*Rufus Thomas: Do the Funky Chicken
*Various artists: BIPPP: French Synth-Wave 1979/85
*XTC: Skylarking (side 1)
*Neil Young: A Letter Home

Reading List, Week of 2014-10-05

Reading List 2014-10-06:

*Barth, John. “Click” in Atlantic Monthly (Dec. 1997) (in progress)
*Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son (in progress)
*Ellroy, James. Perfidia (in progress)
*Spacks, Patricia Meyer. On Rereading (in progress)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra at Sonic Circuits Saturday Oct. 4

I'm thrilled to be playing with the Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra this weekend at DC's Sonic Circuits Festival.  We're going on at 5:30, either outside Pyramid Atlantic, around the fire truck pictured above, or inside, depending on weather. The music will be outside regardless, heh heh.
(Photo: Nico Barbiero/Postup Productions)
The Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra + Movement is a site-specific music & dance collaboration exploring the outdoor environment around Pyramid Atlantic with sound and improvised movement.
Daniel Barbiero (1958, New Haven CT) is a double bassist, sound artist and composer in the Washington DC area. He has released work under his own name and with If, Bwana (Al Margolis), Ictus Records percussionist Andrea Centazzo, Blue Note recording artist Greg Osby, and electronic sound artist Steve Hilmy, among others. In addition to his solo work and work with The Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra, he is a founding member of the free improvisation quartet Colla Parte and is a regular contributor to Avant Music News and Percorsi Musicali. The Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra is:
Daniel Barbiero, double bass, Sam Byrd, percussion & miscellany, Tim Harding, alto saxophone, Rich O'Meara, vibraphone & percussion, Tom Wall, baritone saxophone, with Jeff Surak, real-time tape interventions and dancers Ken Manheimer & others

Dark Carpet's first gig

Dark Carpet cover art

If you're up in the Brooklyn/NYC area, definitely check out Dark Carpet this Friday at Freddy's! Their first ever live performance; should be blazin'--wish I could make it.