Masterclass is On for Tonight

Tonight, starting at 7 PM, my free masterclass.

“The Drawing Room”

56 Willoughby St. #3

btw Jay and Lawrence St. in downtown Brooklyn. Almost every subway train gets extremely close: Borough Hall for 4/5, Hoyt St for 2/3, Jay St for A/C/F…the very closest stop is Lawrence on R.

Mostly for pianists; others welcome too. 

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(Last night my apartment building was on fire. A big drag, but everyone is fine. Also my libraries of crime fiction and jazz records survived untouched, so DTM marches onward unscathed!)

01/21/2015

 

The Function of Education Is to Teach One to
Think Intensively and to Think Critically

Selma is wonderful! Highly recommended. I saw it yesterday at BAM with a packed house. So, so good. Kudos to my man Jason Moran for the score; however the real relevation for this viewer was David Oyelowo as Dr. King.  Tom Wilkinson as LBJ was terrific too. When Oyelowo and Wilkinson were onscreen together it was simply electric. Now I need to catch up with the other work of director Ava DuVernay.

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Recent reading includes two books especially relevant to MLK day: 

Carl Van Vechten was multi-talented and prolific novelist, partier, photographer, and critic. He turns up everywhere when considering New York City in the 20's and 30's. Emily Bernard has focused on the most controversial part of his legacy in Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White

The blurb from Elizabeth Alexander on the back of the book couldn't be better:

An intrepid scholar, Bernard dives right into the waters of racial misunderstanding, political incorrectness, and unfettered love that drove Van Vechten's career. This is a passionate, dead-serious exploration of and meditation on nothing less than negrophilia and its cultural yield.

I knew Bernard previously thanks to her superb essay "Teaching the N-Word," where she mentions frequently using Van Vechten's 1926 novel Nigger Heaven in class. In A Portrait in Black and White Bernard has the opportunity to unpack Nigger Heaven and its perennially provocative title in detail. It is simply a fascinating analysis. 

Besides Van Vechten, I learned a lot more about James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and many other major figures of the Renaissance. I can fake my way through a discussion of black jazz of this era but I still have a lot of homework to do about fiction, poetry, and the visual arts. Thanks to Bernard I'm more intrigued than ever.

Read Bernard's post on her relationship to Van Vechten and the genesis of this book at Yale Press.

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Ed Berger does jazz history a special service by getting to know his heroes while working on biographies that end up being unusually definitive. I was impressed by Berger's big book on Benny Carter; now we have Softly, with Feeling: Joe Wilder and the Breaking of Barriers in American Music. Berger showed a final copy to the trumpet player shortly he died last year.

Wilder was a superb musician, someone of whom the phrase "could play anything" almost sells the matter short. Interestingly, in the book Wilder himself says that he was a more natural classical musician first, that playing jazz was more of an acquired study.

This is rare admission to make. Herbie Hancock told me the same thing in conversation once, but I didn't really believe him, as Hancock has done so much with so many forms of black dance music in a manner that seems as natural as breathing. In Wilder's case, this claim scans as more likely, at least in sense that his hard-to-find classical recital on Golden Crest is simple and perfect, not to mention that he spent his whole life in the studios, on society gigs, in Broadway pits, and even doing the occasional orchestral performance. (Apparently the exposed trumpet part in Petrushka was a Wilder specialty.)

It is easy to regret that there is not enough Wilder in free-wheeling jazz blowing sessions. Berger highlights the 1956 quartet date with Hank Jones, Wendell Marshall and Kenny Clarke Wilder 'n Wilder, especially a long and groovy "Cherokee" with impeccable taste, charming melodic invention, and sovereign chops. 

But Berger also makes it crystal clear that playing jazz was just part of Wilder's story. Breaking of Barriers in American Music lives up to its title as Wilder helps integrate the Armed Forces, Broadway, staff orchestras, and symphonic orchestras.  I was especially impressed with Berger's research in the long chapter "A Dream Realized: Return to Classical Music (1964-1974)," much of which concerns Wilder only indirectly. 

Read Berger's 2001 profile of Wilder in JazzTimes.

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Blacks in classical music is a troubled topic, then and now. Last week on Twitter, saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman (who generously posted his interview with Jackie McLean on DTM) referenced a worthy essay by George Lewis, "Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives."

Lewis, a brilliant man, is really on to something.

In developing a hermeneutics of improvisative music, the study of two major American postwar real-time traditions is key. These traditions are exemplified by the two towering figures of 1950s American experimental musics--Charlie "Bird" Parker and John Cage. The work of these two crucially important music-makers has had important implications not only within their respective traditions but intertraditionally as well. The compositions of both artists are widely influential, but I would submit that it is their real-time work that has had the widest impact upon world musical culture. The musics made by these two artists, and by their successors, may be seen as exemplifying two very different conceptions of real-time music-making. These differences encompass not only music but areas once thought of as "extra-musical," including race and ethnicity, class, and social and political philosophy.

Lewis than goes on to bash Cage for not appreciating jazz. This lovely bit is really the heart of the matter:

John Cage's critique of jazz-well presented in his 1966 interview with the jazz critic Michael Zwerin-is of relatively little value as music criticism but may serve us well here as a textbook example of the power relationships that Fiske has recognized. In response to Zwerin's query about his thoughts on jazz, Cage replies, "I don't think about jazz, but I love to talk, so by all means, come on up" (Zwerin 1991,161).

To this African-American observer, situated in the 1990s, the interview should perhaps have ended there. From a 1960s perspective, however, we are in the presence of power, as two white males prepare to discuss "the trouble with black people" without, in the declining days of American high media apartheid, having to worry about a response. Even on a subject to which he freely admitted his lack of attention, Cage's opinion was apparently deemed sufficiently authoritative, by the structures of media power that decide such things, for the interview to continue and, finally, to be published and reprinted.

I have two problems with Lewis's essay. The first is the same that I have with his essential book A Power Stronger than Itself: The A.A.C.M. and American Experimental Music: a strange lack of discussion about rhythm. To me, all the true virtuosos of jazz (or Afrological or BAM or anything else you prefer to call it) are virtuosos of rhythm almost before they are virtuosos of anything else. At the very least, when separating jazz and classical players at an audition where they have to play both musics, inevitably the jazz cats will be able to play the notes of whatever classical piece (as long as it's not too hard) but the classical cats won't be able to play any uncomplicated jazz with the right kind of beat. 

George Lewis can swing on his trombone. I've heard him do it! So I don't know why he avoids the words "rhythm" or "swing" in his eight paragraphs about Bird and bebop. With all due respect, surely the Langston Hughes origin story about bebop, that it comes from

...The police beating Negroes' heads . . . that old club says, 'BOP! BOP! . . . BE-BOP! . . . That's where Be-Bop came from, beaten right out of some Negro's head into them horns.

is simply less accurate than that those accents come from ancient, exceedingly complex and intellectual Afro-Cuban drums.

But maybe Lewis is acting like some of his elders, not telling the truth about how the music gets made to protect the secrets from getting out. (I understand that discretionary attitude, although of course I wage postmodern warfare on it weekly from my outpost here at DTM.)

The other thing that bothers me about Lewis's essay is the general conceit of comparing Charlie Parker to John Cage. I respect Cage, of course, but the idea of putting him next to Bird is simply ridiculous. Bird is so much greater. Cage isn't even fit to shine Bird's shoes. 

Still, it's good -- especially on MLK day -- to have Lewis remind me that this opinion may not be so obvious in all circles, even in spheres usually considered to be moderately informed about music.

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On a lighter note, my wife Sarah Deming dug up the retro local access madness of Star and Buc Wild, the "Universal Playerhaters," which she called "the best TV show ever."

Six parts from 1999 are on YouTube. It's totally genius. My man is quiet Buc Wild, who says little (he's usually eating) yet somehow complements every moment perfectly. Big ups also to the tasty set. Part 4 is a good entry point, although all the clip contain comedy gold. (NSFW?)

01/19/2015

 

That Was the Curious Incident

Many people know David King is a very funny man. Indeed, the (great) group Happy Apple has a cult following partly due to Dave's extended and profoundly hilarious commentary on the mic. He has never been the MC for The Bad Plus, I think because Dave knows that he would end up taking over the entire gig.

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Musical instruction videos tend to be pretty boring. Drum instruction videos can be especially terrible: 98% of the time they are fusionistas riffing about chops in an inane and unmusical manner. 

At long last, Dave is offering his own take on this genre: Rational Funk. There are six videos so far on his You Tube channel. Hard to chose amongst such riches, but episode two's exploration of the one-handed snare roll is really quite touching.

Of course much of what Dave is up to here is biting satire, but don't worry, the drumming is still authentically awesome. When he makes fun of people studying Cuban music ("be sure to get Miami Sound Machine and Buena Vista Social Club") check out what he actually plays with the conga. (I've actually never even seen him with a conga before, I wonder where he got it? Dave King definitely does not own a conga.)

After he becomes an international sensation with his pedagogy, I hope Dave will still have time to play with me and Reid...

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A new friend is classical pianist Yegor Shevtsov. Yegor just gave me his excellent CD ...avec un frisson: Late Piano Works of Debussy & Boulez.  It's a really lovely listen. For me, I was most excited to learn of Boulez's Incises, a work that exists in several versions. At ten minutes, the 2001 piano piece is a perfect blast of charismatic modernism.

The performance on CD is even better, with repeated notes that are even more deadly, but those curious about this major addition to the repertoire can whet their appetite with this well-produced YouTube of Yegor playing Incises in concert.

01/17/2015

 

Friends and Neighbors

Congratulations to Jazz at the Bistro for a wonderful upgrade and remodeling job. It was always fun to play here, now the experience is deluxe. The Harold & Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz in Grand Center joins SF Jazz and JALC as a multi-fold dedicated space for jazz. 

This reminds me to tell St. Louis fans to visit Dean Minderman's blog for local news and updates.

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In New York, of course, Winter Jazz Fest is going on. I'd be there if I could, although I'd be torn, because the newish supergroup Heads of State (Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams, and Al Foster) is uptown at Smoke. Rumor has it that they are going into the studio very soon...

Johnny Gandelsman is also playing the complete unaccompanied Bach violin works at Bargemusic tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Jeremy Eichler reviewed Johnny's Boston gig earlier this week.

At any rate, New Yorkers have no excuse for staying home tonight! Always go out.

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Kyle Gann transcribes Ives. A very important post.

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On Twitter, there was a bit of amusing back and forth about the bootleg of John Coltrane and Joe Henderson playing "Sweet Georgia Brown" in 1958. It's regrettably hard to hear, but I find it intriguing that this tempo would even be on the table for these musicians at a jam session. It's a window into how the jazz greats of the era practiced: "As fast as possible" was really important.

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Photographer John Rogers sent me a YouTube playlist of not just jazz but all sorts of interesting American music. 

 

01/10/2015

 

Floyd Camembert Reports

TBP is not so busy for the first few months of 2015, so I'm having two free masterclasses on consecutive Wednesdays:

January 14 and 21

from 7-10 PM

“The Drawing Room”

56 Willoughby St. #3

btw Jay and Lawrence St. in downtown Brooklyn. Almost every subway train gets extremely close: Borough Hall for 4/5, Hoyt St for 2/3, Jay St for A/C/F…the very closest stop is Lawrence on R.

Mostly for pianists; others welcome too. 

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On Tuesday January 13 there is an impressive free memorial gathering for Charlie Haden at Town Hall produced by Ruth Cameron. H'mm, I'll be there of course but (although I'm listed) I am not playing - not that that galaxy of greats needs my help! 

A week later, on January 20, there's another major gala, this one in the name of saxophone great Michael Brecker and benefiting Cancer Research at Columbia University Medical Center and the work of Azra Raza, MD & Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD. DPhil. Notable stars will include James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bobby McFerrin, Randy Brecker, and Dianne Reeves. More details and tickets here.

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A few TBP hits, copied from website:

January

23 Northampton, MA -- Iron Horse
24 Boston, MA -- Berklee Performance Center - Science Fiction with Tim Berne, Ron Miles, and Sam Newsome

February 

27 Quito, ECU -- Fundacion Teatro Nacional Sucre

March 

25 Holland, MI -- Knickerbocker Theatre
27 Knoxville, TN -- Big Ears Festival, Great Hall

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The first week of March the Tootie Heath - Iverson - Ben Street trio plays the Village Vanguard. There will also be a new album, Philadelphia Beat.

01/06/2015

 

Frankie Dunlop and John Ore

Thelonious Monk emphasized rhythm in a manner that encouraged drummers. Some of the most exciting moments of Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, and Max Roach on record are occasions when they sparred with Monk.

Naturally, Monk couldn’t always get the big stars for his working band, so he looked for the best available swingers that could keep his furnace heated. Frankie Dunlop held it down for about three or four years in the early 60's.

Dunlop was a big band drummer who hit hard. Before Monk, Dunlop played with Maynard Ferguson, afterwards with Lionel Hampton. For Modern Drummer, Dunlop talked about Monk and big band music, especially Jimmie Lunceford, in one of the most interesting interviews ever done by a Monk sideman. (The best parts of this interview can be found at Todd Bishop's site.)

There was something else that Dunlop had besides swing. Something a little surreal in the language. It’s not totally slick and level-headed like Ben Riley or Shadow Wilson. There’s a hint of clunky and disorganized, like a little kid beating on pots and pans. For a big-band drummer, he can be unusually indifferent to setting up hits during the heads of Monk’s tunes.

(This sounds like Paul Motian, and, indeed, in my opinion, the two are very similar. Interestingly, Motian credited Lunceford's drummer Jimmy Crawford as a primary inspiration.)

Dunlop sounds wonderful on the Columbia studio records with Monk, but even better are the many live documents of the working quartet with Charlie Rouse on tenor and either John Ore or Butch Warren on bass. 

John Ore was also a kind of rogue musician. His lines don't outline the changes so much as create a groovy and grinding lower space. I admit to loving Butch Warren even more but there's no doubt Ore sounds truly great playing with Monk as well.

To close out Monk's contract with Riverside, Orrin Keepnews put out Two Hours with Thelonious, live gigs of the quartet with Rouse, Ore, and Dunlop in 1961. While seldom cited in jazz histories, this two-record set has always been beloved by musicians. There's just something really correct about it.

Just for fun, here is Dunlop setting up "Jackie-ing." He couldn't play the melody more clearly, but somehow Rouse doesn't know where to come in.

Dunlop intro on Jackie-Ing

I guess it was always Dunlop's gig to be misunderstood, underrated, or mysterious. To my mind he was always one of the great jazz musicians, and arguably the most perfect drummer for Monk, but I didn't even know he had still been alive when he passed away this past summer. John Ore wasn't my man, not in the same way Dunlop was, but when he passed away in late August I was again ashamed at not knowing that he had been around, either.

Neither man has had a proper obituary that I've seen. 

To celebrate them at the close of this rather rough 2014, here's Thelonious Monk's solo on "Bemsha Swing" from Two Hours with Thelonious. Monk starts strong, but he gradually plays less and less. Perhaps he's listening to his great rhythm section and realizing he doesn't even need to be there. Eventually he winds up mid-chorus, and Dunlop and Ore just keep swinging.

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Monk Bemsha 2

Monk on Bemsha Swing

12/31/2014

 

Give

One day left for Vision Fest to reach its mark. Vision Fest is a crucial showcase for many of the music's most radical and freewheeling improvisors.

Another recommended tax write-off is Dance Heginbotham's Campaign to Sustain. I've known John for years, he's brilliant. This coming summer we will premiere the dance and piano collaboration Easy Win together. (More on that later.)

I'm also donating to Wikipedia and IMSLP just because I use their free services so much.

12/30/2014

 

Getting There

"Five Awkward Conversations with Paul Motian" by Vinnie Sperrazza. This utterly marvelous piece really gives a sense of what it was like to interact with Paul. Sincere kudos to Sperrazza, his whole blog is great. 

Kevin Sun has become one of the more active and interesting jazz bloggers. I'm pleased about his DTM references in this Bud Powell transcription and commentary.

Hank Shteamer on the new (!) Ornette Coleman album.

Alex Ross on organ music.

Interview with Sarah Deming.

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RIP Joseph Sargent. The Taking of Pelham 123 remains one of the great grungy '70's NYC movies, with a memorable "12-tone funk" score by David Shire. A perfect film for a slow holiday afternoon...

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I've seen a few "best of 2014" crime fiction lists. Perfidia by James Ellroy is usually there, but I must disagree, I quit after 200 pages. Ellroy is now a parody of himself. Of course there's still some genius in anything that Ellroy writes, but overall I find the work hopelessly out of balance. The reveal of Dudley Smith's daughter was a new low.

A book not on any lists is Storm Front by John Sandford. Probably Sandford is too popular for critical acclaim, but here is one working-class crime novelist who just keeps bettering his game. In Storm Front he is starting to get on the turf of Donald Westlake and Ross Thomas. (I'm serious.) The characters are human, the one-liners are hilarious, and there is not one violent death.

I never thought I'd say this, but James Ellroy should take some lessons from John Sandford.

12/28/2014

 

Xmas Morning in Duluth

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12/25/2014

 

All In the Family

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Recently David Adler came over and gave me a Before and After test for JazzTimes. I did okay on it overall, but my biggest gaffe was somehow not recognizing Jason Moran and the Bandwagon playing “Lulu’s Back in Town” from All Rise. My only defense is that after the first chorus, Tarus Mateen walks quarter notes, something I haven’t heard him do since his Terence Blanchard days. Perhaps because this is an unusual moment for them, the tempo rushes a bit, and I almost thought they were Europeans, except that the drummer was shuffling so well. (Of course the drummer had his shuffle together: it was Nasheet Waits, for heaven’s sake.)

Anyway, all that swing feel happened after the broken and intense first chorus. I praised this first chorus to Adler, saying it was one of the best things he’d played that day. Then, after I learned it was the Bandwagon, I said that hard-hitting first chorus was so good because Jason, Tarus and Nasheet are so connected to hip-hop and the street. There was some kind of “bump” in there that was really authentic.

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Last week Francis Davis oversaw the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. For a sidebar essay, Davis comments:

All Rise , Moran's tribute to Fats Waller, was an attempt to gain street credibility for both of them by pandering to urban audiences.

In my opinion, this is a provincial reading of the situation. Jason is one of many jazz musicians currently trying to bridge instrumental improvisation with the greater continuum of black music, art, and dance. I have a lot of respect for this attitude. A European interviewer asked me about Robert Glasper recently and I said it was great: We have the John Zorn experimental side of this music totally covered, so we need more of the black dance floor back.

In the main overview of the poll, Davis discusses All Rise a bit further, calling it a

"...Label honcho Don Was' hip-hop-cum-smooth-jazz production..."

My feeling about All Rise and many other Don Was projects at Blue Note is not that it this is pandering, but that it is provocative.

To be fair, I understand why Davis doesn’t like this stuff, because I can also find certain things from that world too close to smooth jazz. However, Jason Moran truly embraces the avant-garde, so whatever he’s up to will always have enough grit for my own sensibility.

At any rate, it is problematic to view the “urban” community as a step down for a jazz artist. That community has always been essential for jazz. Indeed, one of the reasons jazz is in trouble is simply because it has gone so far from the source. If I were a young black cat I’d probably be working on bridging the gap as well.

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Stepping back from the frame a little bit, I have enough self-awareness to know I am not an informed commentator here. Perhaps something that scans as too smooth for me has qualities I can’t appreciate.

I am very impressed by Nicholas Payton’s close listen to the new D’Angelo record, which taught me a lot about recent jazz and soul history.

Most of this topic I know nothing about. It’s not just the recent stuff: I’ve never heard the Cannonball Adderley record The Black Messiah either.

In my recent researches about Irving Fine, I ended up running down most of the significant mid-century neo-classic piano music by American composers by the likes of Harold Shapero, Ingolf Dahl, Arthur Berger, Lukas Foss, Alexi Haieff, John Lessard, and Louise Talma. A surprise win was the Variations in G by Leo Smit, a substantial work of real merit. A rare Claudia Hoca LP has a great performance, Gregory Allen plays it well on YouTube.

I found a used copy of the score of Variations in G on Amazon for a couple of bucks, so I ordered it. By mistake, the seller sent me Albert B. Cleage Jr.’s The Black Messiah instead, which I received just before D’Angelo dropped his own Messiah. Was God telling me something? As in, how about balancing all this modernist piano with some soulful sounds?

After reading Payton, I’ve been driving around Duluth with Voodoo and Black Messiah in the rental car. They are both great, but I think Payton is on to something, although (naturally?) I don't mind the the rock references on Black Messiah the way Payton does.  (And D'Angelo's rock beats are not your average indie rock beats!)

I've also placed another Amazon order: Bilal, Van Hunt, Erykah. Not sure if I’m going tune in that hard, but maybe I will. At the very least, my wife will like having those albums in rotation after recently putting up with too many things like Lessard’s annoying Toccata in Four Movements.

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Related:

DTM Interview with Gerald Early mentions literature termed “urban” and discusses who is the audience for jazz

Ward Sutton’s “Do the White Thing”

Jamelle Bouie: "Battered and Blue"

Ta-Nehisi Coates: "NYPD Shooting: Blue Lives Matter"

12/23/2014

 

The Way We Die Now

The ten essays “The Year of Outrage” in Slate are extremely helpful to understanding our current internet culture. 

We’ve had a few jazz pile-ons recently. By Slate standards they were all small potatoes - at least there’s no “Django Gold” or “Sonny Rollins” on the page or in the calendar - but they were certainly there. I participated in one, the stuff about John Halle and Joe Henderson (one and two). I’m telling myself I was mostly interested in decoding jazz history but am going to think about my ethics here a bit more. At any rate I can use the valuable material I dug up during my researches in the future without needing to reference Halle. (Just relistened to the transcription - wow, there are some rookie mistakes: I was really working too fast, transcribing on the train and posting from the dressing room.)

The only general interest pile-on I participated in was the Dr. V magical putter fiasco. When I realized that the whole world had descended on the author, I regretted posting. Enough was enough. DTM isn’t here to police Grantland, anyway.

Generally I hope my topical bits on DTM are reasonably measured. Certainly I have never been mean to anybody on Twitter. But have I always been bland enough about everything? Probably not. Reading this Memeteria piece about about a recent cello concerto reminds me to always act as if an opposing side in a future court case will look over my social media record with an eye to conjuring my doom.

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I love the essays, but clicking through Slate’s calendar of outrage at the top of the page is strangely boring. It’s hard for me to feel like much of this really matters.

Jamelle Bouie closes “The Sadness of Liberal Outrage”  with a telling sentence:

If outrage stands in for activism, if we’re focused on the moral temperature of Internet individuals, then we’re distracted from the collective action—and collective institution building—that makes real reform possible.

Back to Sonny Rollins and Django Gold: Of the whole shebang, I was most saddened by Sonny himself making a video to rebut a fictional piece on the New Yorker website. Sonny is bigger than that - unless he submits to social media policing and joins the fray.

I didn’t exactly approve of Gold's topic, but I certainly knew it was satire right away, and even laughed out loud at: “… In walked Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. We must have jammed together for five more hours, right through sunrise. That was the worst day of my life.” 

The troubling thing about Gold's piece is not making fun of jazz or Sonny; I’d hope jazz or Sonny could take it. The troubling thing is that there is so little jazz coverage in the New Yorker any more in general. The only way to combat that problem, of course, is to make jazz music that is exciting and relevant.

12/18/2014

 

Always Go Out

Prompted by Miles Okazaki and myself, Dan Voss graphs "Acknowledgment" in Schenkerian fashion. Heavy stuff.

Also via Twitter, Darcy James Argue pointed the way to a much lesser musical analysis, where Slate "investigates" the mildly complex mixed-meter theme to The Terminator. Frankly I think everyone involved in this essay looks like a bit of an idiot, from the writer to the composer to all those folks making over 200 (mostly) absurd comments. My own contribution to the Twitter discusssion was bringing up the first theme to The Transformers, which is genuinely pretty mysterious. Probably there is some tape-splicing going on? Dan Schmidt suggested that they needed exactly 30 seconds, and cut a finished track down in strange places. (According to Schmidt, a surprising "missing" bar in the theme to Community is because of a post-production edit due to time concerns.)

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I really enjoyed Jeff Watts with Azar Lawrence last week, and will definitely try to see his quartet with Ravi Coltrane (who is also playing better than ever these days) at the Vanguard before going off on tour again Thursday.

Also on the dance card is David Virelles at Drom on tomorrow. Haven't heard the latest record yet, but I've heard great things about it.

Sadly I will miss Vijay Iyer's BAM event starting Thursday, which seems like something everyone interested in modern jazz should make an attempt to see. Nate Chinen has the rundown.

My old pals a Klavierhaus have a new space. I haven't been there yet, but would certainly go to Dave Burrell's show on December 22 if I could. (Read "Dave Burrell: A Kinda Dukish Pianist," by Eugene Holley Jr. in this month's Hot House.)

Holiday concerts are generally of minimal interest to DTM. But supposing I had children, I suppose I'd have to take the whole fam to Town Hall on December 19: GOTHAM HOLIDAY SWING featuring VINCE GIORDANO AND THE NIGHTHAWKS: Music from the 1920’s, ’30s, and ‘40s and stories and poems about New York City’s holiday season. GUESTS: Ira Glass / Monica Bill Barnes / Anna Bass / Buster Poindexter / Regina Carter / Pedrito Martinez / Bria Skonberg / Sofia Rei / The Xylopholks / Molly Ryan....

Also very curious about what Seamus Blake and Guillermo Klien are going to get up to at Mezzrow on Sunday 21.

There's so much more going on. Wish I could make it to even 5% of what NYC has to offer.

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Willard Jenkins writes of Island Exports and Descendants, an important topic. Most of these players I don't know yet but I've played with and admire bassist Jonathan Michel.

Lara Pellegrinelli covers 80 years of Ellis Marsalis

Of course I always link to Soho: Holy crap, a meditation on In C, Taylor Swift, and much else - including some telling Ellington.

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TBP dates (copied from website)

18 Cleveland, OH -- Music Box
19 Milwaukee, WI -- The Jazz Estate
20 Milwaukee, WI -- The Jazz Estate
21 Detroit, MI -- Cliff Bell’s
25 Minneapolis, MN -- Dakota Jazz Club
26 Minneapolis, MN -- Dakota Jazz Club
27 Minneapolis, MN -- Dakota Jazz Club
28 Minneapolis, MN -- Dakota Jazz Club
30 New York, NY -- Village Vanguard
31 New York, NY -- Village Vanguard

January 2015

01 New York, NY -- Village Vanguard
02 New York, NY -- Village Vanguard
03 New York, NY -- Village Vanguard
04 New York, NY -- Village Vanguard
07 St. Louis, MO -- Jazz At The Bistro
08 St. Louis, MO -- Jazz At The Bistro
09 St. Louis, MO -- Jazz At The Bistro
10 St. Louis, MO -- Jazz At The Bistro

12/15/2014

 

Visitation From a Champion

I snapped an iPhone quickie between the ropes as Claressa Shields posed with the regulars at Atlas Cops and Kids today.

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Bottom row (Left to Right): Nyisha "Siyah" Goodluck, Coach Sarah Deming, Little Nick Scaturchio, Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, Chris "BHopp" Colbert 

Top Row: Tara Ciccone, Mo, Hamza Alhumaidi, Reshat "The Albanian Bear" Mati, Coach Aureliano Sosa, Richardson "Africa" Hitchins, Bruce "Shu Shu" Carrington, Jr, Akil "That Guy" Auguste, Coach Hilergio "Quiro" Bracero, Derrel "Bro Man" Williams

12/08/2014

 

Moving Target

Andrew Durkin has a relevant book out: Decomposition: A Music Manifesto, which "explodes the age-old concept of musical composition as the work of individual genius, arguing instead that in both its composition and reception music is fundamentally a collaborative enterprise that comes into being only through mediation." (Blurb from Amazon page.)

Durkin covers an exceptionally wide turf; indeed, I can't think of reading a previous book that glosses jazz, classical, and pop in equal measure with equal conviction. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Conlon Nancarrow and reproducing music machines. 

Decomposition offers much food for thought. Many recent bloggers have guest appearances....

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Durkin's book is ahead of the curve, but trying to command it all will become familiar territory. (DTM is in that world, of course.) Matthew Guerrieri looks at it from another angle ("tourism") in his latest smart dispatch from Boston.

I'll be going to see Gabe Kahane's The Ambassador at BAM this week. I've heard great things about it.

An evening of Requiems by the ASO somehow has the full NY premiere of Ligeti's essential work in Latin.

At the Vanguard is Christian McBride with Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens, Jr. I saw them last year and really enjoyed a persuasive argument for core jazz values. This group should stay together a long time.

Azar Lawrence is playing A Love Supreme at Jazz Standard Tuesday and Wednesday with Benito Gonzalez, Reggie Workman, and Jeff Watts. H'mm! Kind of a must-see really.

Nate Chinen is leading a jazz critic roundtable in Harlem; Nate also penned a moving memorial to his father that includes - of all things - a look at the place to hop in Rochester, MN in the early 70's.

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John Eligon in NY Times: Police Killings Reveal Chasm Between Races

Jelani Cobb in the New Yorker: No Such Thing as Racial Profiling

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Old-school Americana: Revival by Stephen King. His latest just might be the best of his that I've read. Recommended. On the charming dedication page King offers thanks to Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Donald Wandrei, Fritz Leiber, August Derleth, Shirley Jackson, Robert Bloch, Peter Straub, and Arthur Machen. 

In related news, I also looked at Ring by Koji Suzuki. Very good, although actually I think the American movie The Ring is better, especially since the sex stuff is less convoluted. (Still haven't seen the Japanese movie.)

That's an easy bounce to Under the Skin, the recent movie masterwork with Scarlett Johansson. I haven't been as impressed with something of this nature since the original Let the Right One In.

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RIP P.D. James. I never really connected with James, and a lovely memorial note from Ruth Rendell explains why: James was politically conservative. Speaking of Rendell, the first two Wexfords came back into rotation recently and I am very impressed with good she was right from the beginning.

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Solipsism section: 

Howard Barnum listens hard to my performance of "It's Easy to Remember."

TBP played a sold-out show at a rock room at the London Jazz Festival recently and provoked an unusual amount of press, including two rather astonishingly negative reviews in The Guardian and The Telegraph. 15 years in, we've still got what it takes to raise a fuss! That's really pretty cool.

12/07/2014

 

Irving Fine at 100

New DTM page: A Fine Centennial. 

12/03/2014