Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jason Bivins on Cecil Taylor

Jason Bivins on Cecil Taylor:
The astounding technique and energy of Taylor's language has influenced so many generations of players that it is now impossible to play cluster chords without the association. There is a flow and lasting intensity to his playing that seems to demand submission, insisting that you enter its atmosphere entirely or not at all. There is total speed and perfect stillness, as notes hang limpidly in air while also barreling through it. But while at first the weight and density of sound overwhelms you--a release, an orgasm--it becomes apparent over time that there is organization to it, not merely in the formalist sense (compositional kernels alive in the torrent) but a context and direction that gives the notes a solemnity of purpose, as if  each exhilarating glissando or thunderous mashed chord in the lower register were part of an invocation, some rite from a tradition hitherto unknown to the listening adept. (Jason Bivins, Spirits Rejoice!, 2015, pp. 184-185)

Playlist, Week of 2015-07-26

Lots of classic jazz this week...for some reason I kept hitting lots of the giants. "For some reason"....the reason being, it's great music!

Playlist 2015-07-27:

*Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Spiritual
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: Certain Blacks
*Anthony Braxton Diamond Curtain Wall Trio: 2015-01-29 Schorndorf, Germany (CDR)
*Ornette Coleman Trio: 1965-10-31 Copenhagen (CDR)
*John Coltrane: Fearless Leader (disc 2)
*Miles Davis: The Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection, Vol. 2 (LPs 1, 2)
*Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet 1965 to 1968 (disc 2)
*Mary Halvorson Quintet: Saturn Sings
*Ingrid Laubrock Octet: Live in Zurich
*Ingrid Laubrock Quintet: 2014-01-22 Brooklyn NY (CDR)
*Made in Chicago: 2015-07-11 Rotterdam (CDR)
*MAP (Tatsuya Nakatani, Mary Halvorson & Reuben Radding): 2010-08-11 Brooklyn NY (CDR)
*Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: Live at “A Space” 1975
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-12-08 “Feed the Feed” (wav)
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: The Moment's Energy
*Tom Rainey: Obbligato
*Sun Ra: Other Planes of There
*Sun Ra and His Arkestra: Some Blues But Not the Kind That’s Blue
*Sun Ra: Dance of Innocent Passion
*Cecil Taylor: 3 Phasis (side 1)
*Cecil Taylor Unit: The Eighth
*Cecil Taylor Quartet: 1998-12-06 Yoshi's, Oakland (CDR) (disc 2)
*Various artists: Spirits Rejoice! Listening Guide (Chapter Two) (streaming) (selections)
*Various artists: October Meeting 1991: 3 Quartets
*D’Angelo and the Vanguard: 2015-06-14 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, TN (CDR) (disc 2)
*Dark Carpet: 2015-06-20 Peoples’ Garden, Brooklyn NY (CDR)
*Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding
*Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Midnight Sun
*Grateful Dead: 1972-05-03 Paris (CDR) (disc 1)
*Kinks: The Anthology 1964-1971 (discs 3, 4, 5)
*Ozric Tentacles: Spirals in Hyperspace
*Pineapple Explode: Cooke City
*Shangri-Las: Myrmidons of Melodrama
*Ululating Mummies: De-Haunting the Body House (cassette)
*Various artists: Short Cuts I (cassette compilation)

Reading List, Week of 2015-07-26

Reading List 2015-07-27:

*Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960-1994 (selections) (started)
*Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped (started)
*Banville, John. The Book of Evidence (started/finished)
*Bivins, Jason C. Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion (finished)
*Turow, Scott. Pleading Guilty (finished)

Sunday, July 26, 2015


When I was a boy, adulthood seemed an inaccessible condition--a mixture of unattainable competences and unenviable anxieties (pensions, dentures, chiropodists); and yet it arrived, though it did not feel from within how it looked from without. Nor did it seem like an achievement. (Julian Barnes, Nothing To Be Frightened Of, Knopf 2008, p.186)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Playlist, Week of 2015-07-19

Gayle is awesome on this, of course, but I was struck on this listening by how seriously William Parker kicks butt here...dynamic and propelling, and clearly channeling the spirit of Jimmy Garrison. Rashied Ali ain't no slouch, either. A masterful record.

Playlist 2015-07-20:

*Charles Gayle: Touchin’ on Trane
*Spanish Donkey: XYX
*Beatles: Past Masters
*Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night
*Beatles: Help!
*Beatles: Rubber Soul
*Beatles: Revolver
*Ray Charles: Anthology
*Sam Cooke: Greatest Hits
*Grateful Dead: 1972-04-17 Copenhagen (1st set)
*Kinks: The Anthology 1964-1971 (discs 1, 2)

Reading List, Week of 2015-07-19

Reading List 2015-07-20:

*Turow, Scott. Pleading Guilty (started)
*Higson, Charlie. The Enemy (started/finished)
*Aaronovitch, Ben. Moon over Soho (started/finished)
*Lepucki, Edan. California (started/finished)
*Aaronovitch, Ben. Midnight Riot (finished)
*Schmidt, Michael. The Novel: A Biography (finished)
*Bivins, Jason C. Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion (in progress)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Steven Erikson on writing the Malazan series

Did I intentionally design the series for re-reads? A couple years back it occurred to me that I never really learned how to write a novel: I learned how to write short stories, and when I set to writing a novel I simply scaled up. So you can consider the ten book series as the longest short story ever written. I approached every line as if under the burden of carrying as much information as it could withstand, balanced against the elegance, rhythm, word-choice, of the sentence itself. Just like in a short story. It's no wonder the books do well as re-reads, because let's face it, who reads a novel as if it was short story? The text is packed. It's bursting at the seams. I must have been insane. (http://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/q8zyv/hello_reddit_i_am_steven_erikson_please_ask_me/)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Novel Channel

A little note on my reading habits: I get antsy if I don't have a novel going. I tend to read many books at the same time, and one of them has to be a novel. It's like there are different channels going, and they all have to be on for me to function, and one of those channels always has to be a novel. This antsiness can extend to the other non-reading aspects of my life. Having a novel going anchors me in ways that could be scary if I think about it too much.

And it's not just that it has to be fiction--short stories don't do it for me. I enjoy their concentrated dosages of story, characterization, and language, but they're ... short. There's something deeply unsatisfying about their inherent brevity. I so much prefer the sustained, long-term commitment of the novel. I need long, drawn-out narrative with meaty plot, with lots of digressions, sprawling metaphors, and compelling characters.

So I have to have a novel going, and once I do, that sets the pace for the rest of my reading. Novels alone don't do it for me. Sometimes I want to read essays, or more often, books about literature, music, or film. It's good to have a book of criticism on hand. Or poetry (though less often). Or my old standby Shakespeare. The Arden Shakespeares are perfect for this: poetry, drama, criticism, history, and textual analysis all in one. Books of reviews are fun. So are comics (which I think of differently than novels, even though both are fiction) (and yes, I realize I am discounting a whole genre of comics that are non-fiction). I always have to have a novel going, but only one novel at a time, whereas I can have several other books of other types going, including short stories and comics.

I can't explain why my brain needs certain kinds of reading at different times. Shakespeare usually works best for me in the morning, with coffee. My novel at lunch. Non-fiction around dinner, and back to the novel at bedtime. Of course sometimes my novel can subsume everything to the point where I read nothing else--this most recently happened to me with the Malazan series. It happens far less often with non-fiction.

Occasionally I will test myself when I finish a novel. I wait  and see how long I can go before starting another one. I devote my reading time to the other books I have going. Invariably, within a day or two I get ansty. My brain then can't concentrate on reading anything. I distractedly flit from article to news story to review to essay, and all the words blur into a non-ending stress-inducing stream that does not cohere. Then I start a novel and all clicks into place, and then I make headway even in the most boring and prosaic of reading tasks, and all my other reading flows smoothly and coherently.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Time-Bound Music

Sound travels, of course, beyond conceptual as well as physical boundaries; more suggestively, it is as absent as it is present, time-bound, and thus always evaporating from the moment of its articulation. And music is never only expressive of something else beyond itself; it always moves in other directions, on other scales, creating its own context of hearing. (Jason Bivins, Spirits Rejoice!, 2015, p. 6)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Playlist, Week of 2015-07-12


Playlist 2015-07-13:

*Ornette Coleman: Three Short FM Broadcasts 1965-66 (CDR)
*John Coltrane: Stellar Regions
*Ingrid Laubrock Octet: Live in Zurich
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-08-25 “The Most Effective Effort” (wav)
*Pauline Oliveros/Roscoe Mitchell/John Tilbury/Wadada Leo Smith: 2011-05-08 (CDR)
*Plymouth: Plymouth
*At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command
*Beach Boys: That’s Why God Made the Radio
*D’Angelo and the Vanguard: 2015-06-14 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, TN (CDR) (disc 1)
*Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3(Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 (disc 2)
*Grateful Dead: 1971-12-01 Boston Music Hall (set 2 Cryptical > Other One) (CDR)
*The High Llamas: Damby Delight
*Opeth: Pale Communion
*Todd Rundgren/Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrom: Runddans
*Spring: Spring
*Wondermints: Bali

Reading List, Week of 2015-07-12


Reading List 2015-07-13:

*Aaronovitch, Ben. Midnight Riot (started)
*Bivins, Jason C. Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion (started)
*Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment (transl. Jessie Coulson) (started/finished)
*Schmidt, Michael. The Novel: A Biography (in progress)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Playlist, Week of 2015-07-05

Still catching up!

Playlist 2015-07-06:

*AMM: 2000-10-14 Boston (CDR)
*AMM: Tunes Without Measure or End
*Anthony Braxton: Composition 98
*Anthony Braxton with the Northwest Creative Orchestra: Eugene (1989)
*Anthony Braxton: Piano Music (1968-2000)/Performed by Genevieve Foccroulle (discs 3, 5)
*Anthony Braxton Diamond Curtain Wall Quartet: 2015-01-23 Le Kremlin-Bicetre, France (wav)
*Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano & Drums)
*Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Aphelion
*John Coltrane: Offering: Live at Temple University (disc 1)
*Marilyn Crispell/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian: Nothing Ever Was, Anyway (disc 1)
*Kris Davis Trio: 2014-03-04 London (CDR)
*Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago
*Mary Halvorson Quintet: Saturn Sings
*Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges
*Joe Henderson: Inner Urge
*Ingrid Laubrock Octet: Live in Zurich
*Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House: Strong Place
*Joe Morris/Agusti Fernandez/Nate Wooley: From the Discrete to the Particular
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2015-02-09 “Second Thoughts on Number Five” (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2015-03-16 “On the Phone” (wav)
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: 2006-11-17 London (CDR)
*Plymouth: Plymouth
*Tom Rainey: Obbligato
*Thirteenth Assembly: 2011-10-30 London (CDR)
*Ben Webster with Strings: Music for Loving (disc 1)
*Dark Carpet: 2015-06-20 Peoples’ Garden, Brooklyn NY (CDR)
*Modest Mouse: The Lonesome Crowded West (selections)
*Todd Rundgren/Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrom: Runddans

Reading List, Week of 2015-07-05

Still catching up...

Reading List 2015-07-06:

*Space Is the Place (40th Anniversary Ed.) (started/finished)
*Nogowski, John. Bob Dylan: A Descriptive, Critical Discography and Filmography 1961-1993 (finished)
*The Time Traveler’s Almanac. Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, ed. (finished)
*Schmidt, Michael. The Novel: A Biography (in progress)

Playlist, week of 2015-06-28

Catching up...

Playlist 2015-06-29:

*Daniel Barbiero: Not One Nor
*Anthony Braxton: Past, Present, Future: Selections from the Tri-Centric Foundation Archives, Vol. 2 (mp3)
*Anthony Braxton: 4 Compositions (Ulrichsberg) 2005/Phonomanie VIII (disc 4)
*Anthony Braxton: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 (discs 1, 2)
*Ornette Coleman: 1972-07-04 “Skies of America” Philharmonic, NYC (CDR)
*John Coltrane: Fearless Leader (disc 1)
*Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago
*Mary Halvorson Quintet & Septet: 2011-10-14 NYC (CDR)
*Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House: 2012-05-26 Moers Festival (CDR)
*Sun Ra: Soundtrack to the Film “Space Is the Place”
*Various artists: Spirits Rejoice! Listening Guide (Chapter One)
*Deerhoof: 2014-11-04 Brooklyn (youtube > mp3)
*Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan
*Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
*Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’
*Bob Dylan: Another Side of Bob Dylan
*Bob Dylan/The Band: The Basement Tapes
*Edan: Beauty and the Beat
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2015-05-29 (wav)
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2015-06-19 (wav)
*Tim Gane & Sean O'Hagan: La Vie d'Artiste (disc 1)
*Genesis: Foxtrot
*Jimi Hendrix: The Rainbow Bridge Concert (disc 2)
*Kinks: Face to Face (Deluxe Edition) (disc 1)
*Rolling Stones: From The Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971
*Spring: Spring
*13th Floor Elevators: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
*13th Floor Elevators: Live in Texas
*13th Floor Elevators: Easter Everywhere
*Carla Thomas: Sweet Sweetheart: The American Studios Sessions and More (selections)
*Various artists: Doob Doob O'Rama: Filmsongs from Bollywood
*Brian Wilson: No Pier Pressure (selections)

Reading List, Week of 2015-06-28

Catching up...

Reading List 2015-06-29:

*The Time Traveler’s Almanac. Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, ed. (started)
*Mandel, Emily St. John. Station Eleven (finished)
*Nogowski, John. Bob Dylan: A Descriptive, Critical Discography and Filmography 1961-1993 (in progress)
*Schmidt, Michael. The Novel: A Biography (in progress)