The Tony Allen set is a solid survey of his drumming. These sides are mostly background inspiration for me, keep me on track with their deep 4/4 grooves, regardless of the task at hand. I bought this one at Earwax in Williamsburg.
I forgot I had this Hypnotic Brass Ensemble record and have no idea when or where I picked it up. A fascinating group to which I was first introduced by curator and former-record-shopping-companion Jesse Pires via a CD-R many years ago. The CD-R is gone but I’m pleased to report that Mr. Pires is doing well and by all available accounts, so is the HBE, whose rollicking jazz-informed, marching band/funk band hybrid is, indeed, hypnotic.
I’m not sure how to categorize Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun. Ben LaMar Gay has a lot on his mind and the lexical command of soul music and collage to render it in music. This is beautiful, intentional stuff, by turns jazzy, noisy, groovy, harmonious, cacophonous.
I know almost nothing about Dudu Pakwana or Diamond Express except that I picked this up a few years ago in Philadelphia at Long in the Tooth and that it is a remarkably energetic set. Most Arista Freedom releases are worth a listen, so when I saw this one, I was intrigued for musical reasons and by the apparently rodent-inflicted destruction of the jacket’s upper left corner. When I inquired about a discount for the missing portion, the clerk replied, “That’s some definite chompage. We can discount for that.”
I’ve been thinking about Alphonse Mouzon since McCoy Tyner’s passing, revisiting Tyner’s quartet with him on drums. I’m not sure The Essence of Mystery is a milestone exactly, but it typifies certain aspirations of its era with cosmological vigor and ample talent. I bought this record while shopping at Reckless Records with musician Wayne Montana.
Another Philly find, I picked up guitarist George Freeman’s Birth Sign at Beautiful World Syndicate because it was a Delmark release and because Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre was on the session. Unlike McIntyre-led work, however, this record strikes a familiar note of funky, bluesy, guitar-led jazz. A very satisfying album.
Tim Berne, “Terre Haute,” Sanctified Dreams, 1988.
Nicole Mitchell, Tomeka Reid, & Mike Reed, “Composition 23b,” Artifacts, 2015.
Sonny Rollins (Quintet with Coleman Hawkins), “Summertime,” Sonny Meets Hawk!, 1963.
Ike Quebec, “The Man I Love,” Heavy Soul, 1962.
Masada, “Tahah,” Alef, 1994.
I think audiences are hipper than musicians think they are. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to hear some music, so you don’t have to con them into believing that this music is great.
We are like the stranded particle, the isolated island of the whole, which refuses to expire in the midst of the normal confused plane which must exist—in order that we may, but with which we are constantly at war. We are trying to balance an unbalanced situation that is prevalent in this society.
— Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, 1936-2013
William Parker, “Lights of Lake George,” Double Sunrise over Neptune, 2008.
David S. Ware, “Methone,” Saturnian, 2010.
Air, “Air Raid,” Air Raid, 1976.
John Coltrane, “Bakai,” Coltrane, 1957.
What’s most interesting to me about this tune is that it struggles alternately to stay close to then-current jazz conventions and, by including that quarantined polyrhythmic bit, move away from it. The group is characteristically satisfying but this seemingly conflicted effort is what draws me to Bakai. I feel something similar in my own music: I want it to move out from my own tradition (rock, punk, post-etc.) but if I can get it out there, I retreat to something more familiar. Why I do this is, I think, obvious enough. I’m not ready to work without a net.