Day’s Plays Guest Post: Michael Honch

[You can hear Michael’s latest music here]

Music for teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jim Hall Meets Attila Zoller. Recorded in Studio 1 at NDR Funkhauses, Hannover: Jim Hall (guitar); Attila Zoller (guitar); Red Mitchell (bass); Daniel Humair (drums). This was released on the Guitar Masters: Live in Germany 1973 and 1980 DVD (the later session is an encounter with Zoller and Jimmy Raney). I first heard this recording on an old jazz blog, where someone had separated out the tracks and created their own album cover art. Hall and Zoller are a sublime combination; sometimes I hear them as one brilliant guitar. The highlight of this set is their performance of Zoller’s composition “Extension,” which is best known from Don Friedman’s brilliant album Metamorphosis.

Cannonball Adderley – “The Black Messiah”. Recorded live at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California in 1971: Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Nat Adderley (cornet); Roy McCurdy (drums); Walter Booker (bass); George Duke (electric piano); Airto Moreira (percussion), and other guests. This is a hot one, recorded at the onset of electric jazz-rock fusion. The Adderleys and Duke are well-matched, and sound like they’re enjoying themselves immensely. I’d put this one right up there with the music Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Woody Shaw, and Joe Henderson were making in the wake of Bitches Brew.

Ashanti Afrika Jah (aka Ashanti Afrika-Jah Int Band of Ghana)
1979 Nigerphone / Polygram Records Ltd. Nigeria
. I first heard this band on the Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump, Original Heavyweight Afrobeat, Highlife & Afro-Funk compilation. The two guitars are so tonally different (one sharp and trebly, the other muted and syrupy) and panned apart, with the bass right in between. All three instruments weave separate arpeggiated patterns that vary in length from each other. The harmonized vocals are just lovely, and the drums propel it steadily forward. At times, their music feels like the most direct antecedent to what the Talking Heads were up to in a song like “Crosseyed and Painless,” along with the music of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, and King Sunny Ade.

Georgia-Anne Muldrow (as Pattie Blingh and the Akebulan Five) – Sagala (2007). I learned of her through Mos Def. He puts it best: “She’s incredible. She’s like Flack, Nina Simone, Ella, she’s something else. She’s like religion. It’s heavy, vibrational music. I’ve never heard a human being sing like this. Her voice is wildly, finely expressive.” She is brilliant. I need to hear more of her music!

Hu Vibrational – Boonghee Music 1. Percussion masters Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake have been friends since childhood, playing and recording together since the 70s (the 1978 Mandingo Griot Society is the earliest recording of them together I know of). Their music is such a warm and wonderful expression of their mutual love and respect. I got to see them perform as a duo in a small house party setting, and the Hu Vibrational recordings capture the joy and warmth. If you are feeling out of sorts, this music gets things flowing in the right way.

Kahil El’Zabar’s Ritual Trio w/ Billy Bang Live At The River East Art Center. I was lucky enough to see this group on tour around this time. DC in the summertime, and the venue was hot and crowded: people were out of their seats and dancing, and in the end the band took the show out into the parking lot. I’d long given up on making music myself, but the day after this show I went to the music store and bought a bass. I was (and still am) profoundly moved and inspired by these musicians — especially the late Billy Bang. The songs on this record are tributes to bassist Malachi Favors, who had recently passed away. El’Zabar, Bang, and Favors first recorded together on the first Ritual Trio album from 1987, Another Kind Of Groove, which came out on the German label Sound Aspects. That one is hard to find; if you ever see a copy, let me know — I need one!