My Day’s Plays

Yesterday was a scheduled record-reshelving day, meaning there were the twin joys of cleaning up and finding some forgotten treasures among the heavy-rotation titles. It brought some respite from our greater unrest, loss, tragedy, protest, and pandemic, and for those of us who might have some time to spend listening to music, I thought I’d make this post.

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.