Sunday, June 2, 2019

resounding and astigmatic one (being a music journal)

Evan Parker - Process and Reality FMP 1991

Multi-tracking solo saxophone, fluttering from speaker to speaker - near silently, aggressively and with a touch of the sublime, and concluding with Steve Lacy's Cryptosphere feeding through the valves of Mr. Parker's instrument. Sometime around 1998 I decided it was a good idea in obtaining every Evan Parker CD and worked at that for many years. Over the past couple of decades quite a few have really stood out which I am re-listening to recently including this FMP release from 1991 with cover art by Roger Ackling (Weybourne 1990). A friend of mine recently saw him perform live put the idea in my head to do some Parker Immersion.

The goal of this series Resounding and Astigmatic is to go through a collection of 3000+ records and compact discs, some of which have been floating around the art of memory's head for 30 years and some for the first time, and give not a review of them but an idea or feeling of personal love and admiration. These images have been going up on instagram but somehow just posting an image seems without depth, so here a non-writer finds themselves wanting to put words to an aural experience which in a way makes this listener uncomfortable. The goal here is to put up as many of the records and CDs I spin as possible, some with text, some without, excluding listening digitally which is what this author does in his 9-5, strictly to pass the time.

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme Impulse! 1965

Around the age of 18 I discovered John Coltrane, shortly after discovering Charles Mingus. In 1993/94 my approach to feeding the habit was to go to either Tower Records in Boston or Cambridge or Newbury Comics and put my money earned washing dishes and serving food in the MassArt cafeteria into a music and book library. The first Coltrane to really hit the ears was A Love Supreme. It is something I had not listened to in a while and recently purchased a vinyl reissue. The last 10 years or so I have mostly listened to (very loudly) Alice Coltrane's version from the 1972 album World Galaxy which is bloody astounding and an album that assists the listener in transcending time and space. Salvador Dalí apparently said "I am drugs", this tune certainly works in a similar way, listening to this music puts one in a state beyond the beyond. Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin have a solid A Love Supreme on the 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender. It is quite refreshing to hear Mr. Coltrane's recording which is often times quite stark.

Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um Columbia Records 1959

Another classic from my youth. Freshman year of college I went down to the dorm tv room and some older students were watching Thomas Reichman's 1968 documentary Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968. An intense love of music began that day, not only for Mingus and for jazz but for listening to music in general, the man and his music struck me in a way beyond words. I remember going out the next day and buying the laserdisc of the film and watching it over and over and starting a pretty intense Mingus CD collection. I have almost no Mingus on vinyl and saw this album at a few booths at the recent WFMU record fair hovering around $200, I probably spent that much on my Mingus collection the first year of listening, so I found a nice reissue. One moment in the Reichman film which left such a strong impression was Dannie Richmond just pounding hell out of the cymbols after a few moments of silence in a song. Richmond and Mingus interaction is one of the reasons I have returned so often to these great recordings. Present is a pretty classic Mingus band with Booker Ervin, John Handy, Shafi Hadi, Willie Dennis, Jimmy Knepper, and Horace Parlan. The tunes that entered Mingus' head bring to mind the idea of the artist and his/her relationship to divine intervention, much like the work of J.S. Bach. How the hell did someone write this stuff?

Jacques Coursil - Black Suite BYG Records Actuel 1971

The last few years I have been attempting to get many free jazz classics that I know mainly digitally. Intitally hearing the work of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman as a young man, it took some years to discover the other heavy hitters, including the trumpet player Jacques Coursil's extremely powerful Black Suite from 1971which features Arthur Jones on alto, Beb Guerin on bass, Claude Delcloo on drums, Anthony Braxton on contrabass clarinet, and Burton Greene on piano. Just the album cover along makes one jump off their seat, the goddamn music is truly profound. It is interesting playing a record that is roughly the same age as you are, hearing the small imperfections not dissimilar to one's wrinkled and pock-marked skin, missing teeth and graying/vanishing hair.

Tangerine Dream - Thief ost Elektra 1981

Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida ATCO Records 1968 

Hadn't really planned on listening to these two records back to back with their Michael Mann implications. The ending of Mann's Manhunter from 1986 with Tom Noonan hunting the blind love interest Joan Allen with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as a heart attack accompaniment is one of Mann's strongest moments. His Thief is an equally great film, featuring the German masters Tangerine Dream. When I first started getting serious about listening to the classic period of German rock and experimental music, I found myself only attracted to early Klaus Schulze and early Tangerine Dream, of which lately I have completely shifted perspectives. The way Mann has guitar show up in his films is very unique to his style, in Heat we find Moby on guitar getting quite heavy. I had seen the film 50 times and had no idea it was him.

Arthur Blythe - Lenox Avenue Breakdown Columbia 1979

Picked up a rather trashed copy (sleeve-wise) of this underrated jazz classic. A beautiful album which includes Blythe on alto, Cecil McBee on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and James Blood Ulmer on guitar. Harlem inspires good music, Bobby Womack's Across 110th Street comes to mind as well.

Herbie Hancock - Crossings Warner Brothers 1972
(Antarctica Starts Here reissue)

Marion Brown - Three for Shepp Impulse! 1967
(Antarctica Starts Here reissue)

I am the kind of person who would rather buy 3-4 albums than buy a rare LP, especially when I own the CD. One of the most exciting things lately is an email from Superior Viaduct announcing new titles, from John Duncan to Alice Coltrane they are superbly curated with top notch presentation. The Hancock band features some of the most exciting players revolving around the Miles scene like Julian Priester (the ECM album Love, Love from 1974 a must have), Buster Williams, Eddie Henderson, and Bennie Maupin (also his ECM release The Jewel In The Lotus from 1974 is a must).

The Marion Brown release also has some key players like Grachan Moncur III on trombone,  Beaver Harris on drums, Dave Burrell on piano and Norris Jones aka Sirone on bass (Sirone's Life Rays with Walt Dickerson and Andrew Cyrille is dynamite, as is his Live album from 1991).

Paul Bley - Ballads ECM 1971 (German pressing)

Songs by Annette Peacock, with Barry Altschul on drums,  Gary Peacock and Mark Levinson on bass, and B & B Wojirsch on design. Essential ECM.

Mal Waldron Quintet ‎- Hard Talk Enja Records 1974

Ran into this LP at the new Stranded Records in NYC, was not familiar with the release but loved the cover and the players, esp. Steve Lacy and Manfred Schoof. The double volume Hat ART set Live At Dreher Paris 1981, Round Midnight with Lacy and Waldron is some truly great jazz, amongst the best the label issued. Top notch underrated (I think?) album from the 70s.

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