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Autumn Listenings

October 20, 2019

The weather has turned out here, we’re locked in with gray clouds and occasional showers for the foreseeable future.  Time to retreat to the basement with your grunge.  Or, if your basement is too messy to think, sit with the drizzle and dig dig some old records.

A few years ago my mother in law got me The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions a Mosaic box set.  Man it’s beautiful, it’s a six CD set, covering recordings that Jordan produced in the late ’60s that were released through the ’70s.It’s pretty groovy - musician produced - I dig this kind of late, late post bop, verging on the spiritual thing, Afro-centric and presaging “World Music” in a way.

Today I put on Disk III which has Rhythm X by Charles Brackeen - wow, this is some deep music with Charlie Hayden on bass.  Man, I love his sort of understated nature, and that tone, you can tell it’s him immediately.  I should transcribe some of that solo.

The rest of the disk is an album called Shades of Edward Blackwell - one of my favorite drummers.  It’s a couple tunes with Don Cherry and Wilber Ware as well as Luqman Lateef, (whom I don’t recognize.)  But then it’s an extended drum jam, with Billy Higgins among others, including the eponymous producer, who all take turns on the Log Drum apparently.  It’s sliced into four different tracks with fade outs.  Yea, not something you’re gonna hear on a traditional label at this time.

I dig where jazz is at today, but sometimes the mind bending level of techniques with the post modern aesthetic, even when it’s digesting that phat ‘90s hip-hop groove we all can’t get enough of, I think it can get a little cold and distant, as if it wasn’t quasi-alienated enough covering Radio Head.  I’ve been trying to catch up with all the hip new pianists and groove merchants playing instrumental funk and calling it jazz, and some is quite beautiful and it’s clean and perfect with just the right amount of digital wabi-sabi to have a sheen of humanity, but I need to go back, to really feel it.  I’m just getting into the whole ’70s thing in jazz - I dig the resurgence of spirituality like Kamasi - but I’m just starting to understand Alice Coltrane really.

I even got my old Realbook out when I was at the piano, there are some songs that were left out of the 6th edition.  Like “Some Other Time” which I just realized is a Leonard Bernstein joint.  After lunch I’ll do a deep dive on that tune, definitely checking out Bill Evans version at least.  But the old book is a powerful talisman, it’s in a folder because the front and back pages have fallen off the plastic copy-room binding.  I’ve made numerous notes and corrections, and often let the basic calligraphy of the form remind me of the sound of the version (probably Miles’) that I know.

I’ll miss the sun more and more as this season progresses, but it’s also a small relief - the weather sucks but it’s consistent, there’s plenty of time for practicing and listening - maybe even playing that Brackeen album again while I make a sandwich.

Portland, OR - Grey and wet. 


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