[UPDATE ON THE UPDATE at bottom of post.]
I'm still very proud of my George Walker Triptych. It's some of the best information about Walker on the internet, especially since it reprints so much work from Mark Stryker in Detroit.
In the interview, there's this exchange about Walker's performance of Brahms Concerto No. 2:
EI: Even if it is flawed, is there any chance that Brahms with Hanson might be available some day?
GW: The cello soloist in the slow movement plays a wrong rhythm that is unacceptable and the orchestra is not tightly controlled.
However, this is now outdated information! Walker in Brahms 2 is now available from Albany Records, coupled with Walker's own Mass and other choral works.
Even better, though, is a new release of Walker's Emperor Concerto from 1967 with Edwin London conducting. The Emperor is not usually one of my favorite concertos, but Walker's impeccable and rather martial attitude clarifies the basic emotion in a compelling way.
It's certainly stunning pianism. I have heard all of Walker on piano on record and find this Emperor the most impressive. The more recent records of standard rep are enjoyable enough, but in 1967 Walker was 45, still in his prime. He eats this Beethoven for breakfast. (As Walker himself suggests, the orchestra is also better than in the Brahms.)
In the 20th century, only a few major composers performed the hardest core rep concertos. (Rachmaninoff of course - Robert Helps played Liszt 2 with Monteux - did Prokofiev or Shostakovich play any?) And as far as I know, these two historical records of Walker essaying Brahms and Beethoven are the only examples that survive on tape.
Recently I got the score to Walker's first Piano Sonata. It's a masterful work that should be better known. Walker's record, while obviously exceptionally valuable, is sonically inferior and perhaps a bit stiff musically. Indeed, none of the Walker sonatas have seemingly definitive recordings, whether they are by Walker or someone else. I'd love to have a modern virtuoso investigate the five Walker sonatas as a group and search for their maximum charisma. They are superbly written for the piano by a superb pianist, and tell an interesting story of compositional development over half a century.
It's impossible to know how much institutional racism has played into Walker's career, which is impressive but inarguably hindered by always having been the wrong color in an almost all-white environment.
At 93, George Walker is a rather forbidding personality but we exchange emails from time to time. Those able to shine a light on him while he's still here shouldn't wait. Before interviewing or profiling him, be sure to read his essential Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist. (I discuss this book at length in "Three Scarecrows.")
This past August, Will Robin published a valuable piece in the New York Times about the travails and successes of Black Composers.
UPDATE: My comments above brought forth emails from both Walker and Robert Pollack.
Many pianists have played my piano sonatas. I have discouraged a few who wanted to record all of them because of their technical and musical limitations.The best performances are these works are on Albany Records. I have worked with all of the pianists before the recordings were released. They know what I expect to hear.
I spent over six hours with Frederick Moyer before he gave the premiere of the Sonata No. 4. Leon Bates commissioned my Piano Sonata No. 3 and gave the premiere of it in 1976 after working with me on it. Robert Pollock has been playing my Piano Sonata No. 5 for over six years.
There are no other pianists who have had this extended experience with these works. No one will play any one of them as well without working with me on them. These works are not subject to interpretation. If tempi and dynamics are not adhered to, the shape of the work is distorted.
I would not want any one of these pianists to record all five of my sonatas. This is a a daunting task that would not supersede what already exists. There is so much that must controlled. A friend, and a reputable pianist and teacher, who decided to play my Piano Sonata No. 5 two years has admitted that he still has a problem with certain passages in the work.
Although the popularity of my Lyric for Strings is well known, I have to remind people that many more pianists have played my piano sonatas. They have been performed on masters and doctoral recitals and in piano competitions like the William Kapell and the Cleveland Competitions. There are at least five doctoral dissertations on them.
I composed Three Pieces for Piano for my Town Hall debut recital in 1945. Horszowski, Serkin's assistant at Curtis, gave them to Horowitz. I decided to retain the first of these works, the Prelude, which is paired with my Caprice. The other two works were discarded. I also personally delivered my Piano Sonatas No. 1 and 2 to Horowitz's home and received a thank you note from him.
There are vociferous supporters in two camps- those who prefer the Sonata No. 1 and the others who are enamored of the 2nd Sonata.
...There is serious concern with your comment about Dr. Walker's piano sonatas with regard to the desirability for new and better recordings of them.
I have been involved in modern music presentation for 40 years, as composer, performer, educator, and administrator. My organizations produced performances of thousands of compositions by hundreds of composers as performed by dozens of professional performers. As director of Composers Guild of New Jersey, 1980-1997, I was privileged to present George Walker in his memorized performances of his Sonata #1 and Sonata #2, at the New Jersey State Museum (Trenton), and Noyes Museum (Oceanville), among other locations.
Dr. Walker's renditions of his Sonatas #1 and #2, and his recordings of them are at the top of our artistic achievement. You call him a superb pianist and composer. You at the same time insult him by suggesting that there could be better renditions of his Sonatas #1 and #2!
Dr. Walker considers my recording of his Sonata #5 to be a definitive one. Such a comment by the composer is all the approval that is necessary. I premiered the work on Maui, Hawai'i, in 2006, part of my organization's (http://ebbandflowarts.org) sponsored residence of Dr. Walker. Three years ago, at his request and with his approval, I recorded Sonata #5 for Albany Records. Since recording the work I have performed it publicly for memory five times in Hawai'i, Berkeley, California, and Xalapa, Mexico.
Thank you for consideration, and thank you for attention to and praise of George Walker, a "national treasure" if there ever was one.
I certainly didn't mean any disrespect. Perhaps the most logical context for my criticism may be seen at my essay on Stravinsky, in which I consider many recordings (including Stravinsky's own) and find both positives and flaws.
The Bad Plus plays Science Fiction! We are almost there. Rehearsals are going great. If you've never heard Reid Anderson sing, you are in for a real surprise. He could easily be a professional vocalist.
I can't sleep, I'm so excited. Unfortunately that means I just "made" an Ornette Coleman 2048 game.
Since I trained on Vollmer's diabolical Threes, 2048 is almost easy. I beat my own edition on the first time, of course. The main strategy is to put your biggest tile in a corner (I use upper left, or NW) and build "rivers" of ascending tiles to the corner (in my case the W is most important). Naturally, the biggest and final tile is Science Fiction.
Thanks again to Aaron Greenwald for the commission and continued support of TBP.
Tour dates, copied from website. The first two* (Durham and NYU) are the Sci Fi with Ron Miles, Tim Berne, and Sam Newsome. After that the band will be touring Inevitable Western.
*18 Durham, NC -- Duke University
*23 New York, NY -- NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
24 Ithaca, NY -- The Hangar Theater
25 Wilmington, DE -- World Cafe Live
26 Vienna, VA -- Barns at Wolf Trap
30 Tokyo, JAP -- Cotton Club
01 Tokyo, JAP -- Cotton Club
02 Tokyo JAP -- Cotton Club
07 Hertogenbosch, NDL -- Verkadefabriek
08 Hertogenbosch, NDL -- Verkadefabriek
09 Mannheim, DEU -- Alte Feuerwache gGmbH
10 Zurich, CHE -- Moods
11 Middelburg, NDL -- Schuttershofcafe
12 Odense, DNK -- Jazzhus Dexter
13 Oslo, NOR -- Nasjonal Jazzscene, Victoria
14 Gothenburg, SWE -- Nefertiti
15 Hasselt, BEL -- cc Hsselt
16 Amsterdam, NDL -- Bimhuis
17 London, UK -- London Jazz Festival
18 Toulouse, FRA -- Salle Nougaro
20 Zagreb, HRV -- ZKM, Zagreb Youth Theatre
22 Gdasnk, POL -- Polska Filharmonia Baltycka Gdansk
I became aware of Jorge Luis Borges in college. My new friend JM pressed a copy of Labyrinths into my hand and told me to read it. I was entranced, most particularly by the story "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote."
Thanks to Mostly Other People Do the Killing, I went back to "Menard" tonight. (For those wishing to understand the story without reading it, Nate Chinen gives a excellent summary in his column on Blue.) Good god, what an immortal masterpiece. Every sentence is either hilarious or profound. For straight-up funny, try this, a description of an arcane Menard work:
...A technical article on the possibility of improving the game of chess, eliminating one of the rook’s pawns. Menard proposes, recommends, discusses and finally rejects this innovation.
Since my previous post, MOPDTK has come under heavy fire for Blue, especially on Facebook. Some consider it racist; others cautiously approve of paying tribute to the masters but don't like the packaging, which includes the Borges's story "Pierre Menard."
The question of racial appropriation certainly can be asked. For me, considering how much bad jazz and imitation black music I hear all the time from white culture everywhere (the garish "jazz" music on the most recent episode of Doctor Who, "Mummy on the Orient Express," is a current irritation), MOPDTK actually playing the notes of a jazz classic seems perfectly acceptable. But I'd read someone else's considered opinion on this topic. Anyone who knows DTM knows I'm down to listen to a smart discussion about race.
Just a few further thoughts for those eager to condemn:
Black jazz means swing. And no, MOPDTK doesn't swing on Blue. Not really, especially in the bass and drums. They are indictable for this, sure, but at the same time they are revealing something else about themselves in an arguably humble way. As Borges explains:
The archaic style of Menard - quite foreign, after all - suffers from a certain affectation. Not so that of his forerunner, who handles with ease the current Spanish of his time.
He decided to anticipate the vanity awaiting all man’s efforts; he set himself to an undertaking which was exceedingly complex and, from the very beginning, futile.
The question, "How can you swing like Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb?" gets no satisfactory answer on Blue. But at least we know something more about this question than we did before.
To those not appreciating the meta, Borgesian, or conceptual aspects of Blue, my response is:
The importance of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the rest of the cast of Kind of Blue is hardly confined to jazz. To declare that they not be allowed to be part of a deconstructed or conceptual undertaking might inadvertently suggest they are not "worthy" of arty mischief. Of course they are worthy! They are Gods, nothing is going to harm them.
Besides, Miles and Coltrane would have actually been around NYC when Cage made "4'33"" and Warhol printed "Campbell's Soup Cans." In a way they deserve to be looked at through the prism of Blue.
The text of "Pierre Menard" is here, although the paragraphing is occasionally incorrect.
Not that it really matters, but I mentioned "Pierre Menard" in a jazz context on DTM a few years ago when discussing Bud Plays Bird. My comparison of that disc to the Borges story is in a way more appropriate than MOPDTK, as Menard stresses he is just trying to remember how Quixote goes, not copy it out. In the end Menard recreates only a few fragments, not the whole work.
From the minute I heard that Mostly Other People Do the Killing was doing a note-for-note cover of Kind of Blue I was impressed. I kind of wished I'd thought of doing it myself.
Jazz tends to mirror trends in the art world to a certain extent. But what jazz has been conceptual art? As in, the idea and context matters more than an objective look at the material? That it exists almost solely to provoke discussion?
To be clear, most satirical or humorous jazz like The Art Ensemble of Chicago's "Walking in the Moonlight" isn't conceptual art. John Zorn playing free jazz alto on top of a Sonny Clark tune is certainly "conceptual," but I don't think Voodoo is really conceptual art, either. Archie Shepp honking "Girl From Ipanema" in response to Stan Getz? Yeah, almost...but it also just sounds like plenty of other Archie Shepp. If there's a concept, it's less important than the natural individuality of the tenor player.
Usually the word "jazz" ends up getting almost irrelevant to most conceptual jazz-related work. Anthony Braxton outside with 100 tubas: that's conceptual art for sure, but at least I don't think it has all that much to do with jazz. Braxton's extremely strange jazz standards on piano is closer, but I wouldn't be unduly surprised if Braxton just feels like playing piano in a quartet sometimes.
Probably there are other examples I don't know. But surely there is nothing so blatant as Blue by Mostly Other People Do the Killing. This is conceptual art with the heart of jazz fully in the frame.
I'm blogging about it mainly because I have heard so many musicians and fans react in horror. I'm afraid to tell all these folks this, but it's true: You have already had a sincere and strong reaction to the conceptual art, so therefore you have already validated the work.
I've been trying to buy a non-digital copy of Blue but can't seem to get one yet, even for pre-order. (It comes out tomorrow.) A tune is streaming at SoundCloud. I don't really like it, of course. How could I? But it is definitely a strong statement. When I can, I'll grab it and happily file it my CD collection. It will probably go in the jazz section...
Sam Newsome blogged recently on a relevant topic: "What's the Deal with Interview Music?"
Sam is joining us this week for TBP plays Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction. In his post, Sam mentions Branford Marsalis. It's unclear whether or not our Sci Fi ever will be recorded, but if it does, there's an obvious grad paper in there: B. Marsalis A Love Supreme, MOPDTK Kind of Blue, TBP Science Fiction. All very different!
Debi and Sarah came as my cheering section for the first night at Mezzrow. Debi even snuck a shot of me listening. It's not really my style to post photos of myself on DTM but Debi lets us see how much I love Ron Carter.
Thanks to Fred Kaplan for his glowing review of the second night.
Spencer Murphy interviewed me about the hit for the SmallsLIVE tumblr.
Once again, I'm part of the nominating panel for the Ertegun Hall of Fame at JALC. Last year one of my choices made it - Elvin Jones - so I thought I'd keep doing it.
I'm supposed to pick three. I checked and it's OK to mention my noms on DTM.
Paul Chambers. He was so good so young, vastly influential, and filled up his short time on this planet making immortal recording after immortal recording. Just try to imagine the jazz discography if we took away the PC records.
Lennie Tristano. Hey, I can be as anti-white as the next jazz fan. But c'mon. You got Beiderbecke and Bill Evans in there. Give it to Tristano for fucking sake. His stature just keeps growing.
McCoy Tyner. Well, he probably won't get in until he passes. But McCoy invented a singular language copped by everybody; also the 60's music of John Coltrane wouldn't exist without his contribution. As famous as he is, I often feel that McCoy is underrated.
Speaking of Trane: I'm unimpressed with Geoff Dyer's suspicious critique of the newly-released The Offering. Dyer pokes around, looking for a practical and digestible still life, unable to comprehend that our saxophonist is burning the canvas to the ground moments before being reduced to ashes himself.
Among other moments of overconfidence, Dyer is somehow able to write the sentences, " ...I would question the assumption that there is something 'spiritual' about this last phase of Trane’s musical journey. If it’s there I can’t hear it."
John Schott's commentary is much more sympathetic and accurate.
Last weekend I spent many enjoyable hours with those that live and breathe movies. I'm not one of that tribe, but I like sharing a conversation with those that do.
Thanks to Vince Keenan, I met Eddie Muller at last. With Etsuko Tamazawa, we all spent time at the Dashiell Hammett apartment on Post Street in San Francisco.
It was a great hang. I went a little fanboy crazy when confronted with an actual copy of Duke's Celebrated Criminal Cases of America. (Every Hammettophile knows this book lurks beneath the alarm clock on Sam Spade's shelf.)
When in the apartment, I grilled Eddie about every Hammett adaptation and screenplay. It was a such a pleasure listening to an expert in his element. There's a lot more there than I had realized; most of it I haven't seen.
Regrettably I still haven't made my way though Etsuko's list of top film noir (found at the end of DTM's "Crimes of the Century"), but that's a project I certainly intend getting done sooner rather than later.
Earlier, in Seattle at the start of this tour, Vince and I wondered about the great recent crime films. Are there any? Well, yes. But it's not a golden age. Honestly I think thrillers are better these days than simpler crime movies. We are too sentimental and fancy to easily accept cops and bad guys as everyday people now. We need things to be done on a grander scale.
Somehow I never saw Jackie Brown until last night, but Vince said I should check it out. (He also sent me a link to an interesting commentary by Gary Deane. Deane agrees with me that Out of Sight is not good - probably we are the only two who share that opinion.)
In Jackie Brown, I was struck by how much more comfortable Robert Forster seemed than his more famous fellow actors. Samuel Jackson and Robert DeNiro are somehow not quite right in this self-consciously simple tale. They are too big or too small. But Forster is a working man. He gets it. For me, he carries the movie. (Both women, Pam Grier and Bridget Fonda, are good too.)
Jackie Brown and the current A Walk Among the Tombstones seem obviously influenced by my favorite set of movies, those classic gritty crime films of the late 60's and early 70's. Just for fun, here are ten commandments:
Point Blank (1967) Arty yet believable. Lee Marvin as existential man.
Bullitt (1968) Plot makes no sense yet the tension maintains. Steve McQueen is not just hard, he is vulnerable. Famous car chase.
The French Connection (1971) Another famous chase. Gene Hackman has only the most tenuous hold on morality.
Get Carter (1971) Astonishing Newcastle noir. Michael Caine is meaner and more charismatic than anybody.
Dirty Harry (1971) Don Siegel's reactionary masterpiece of working class entertainment is a successful closed system. Far too influential, but I admit I'll always enjoy it. The terrible sequels should never have happened.
The Long Goodbye (1973) Meta and marvelous. Elliott Gould in a black suit on a bright California beach. Many scenes improvised in standard Robert Altman fashion. Probably my favorite film of all time.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) Robert Mitchum was a star, but he had no problem playing a minor criminal in superb underdone fashion. (Robert De Niro should have looked at this when preparing for Jackie Brown.) It seems like director Peter Yates learned from Bullitt, for Coyle solves a certain problem in the plot even more convincingly than in the book.
All you need to know about why it is hard to made a good crime movie now can be learned by comparing the recent Killing Me Softly with The Friends of Eddie Coyle (both adaptations of George V. Higgins).
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Well, maybe this is a thriller, not a crime film. But what a movie! It's one of the most purely enjoyable flicks I know. A must for any serious New Yorker.
Chinatown (1974) Very famous, with an original Robert Towne script worthy of the very best crime novels. In terms of going for something retro, Chinatown remains in a class of one.
Night Moves (1975) Maybe this isn't quite as good as the rest of this list, but it is an appropriate end to the era. Gene Hackman can't figure out a damn thing, and the conclusion is as downbeat as they get. They really don't make them like this any more.
The DTM page on Donald E. Westlake, "A Storyteller Who Got the Details Right," has been slightly edited, enlarged, and updated to honor the publication of The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany.
It's really something to see all this diverse material - including a long and fabulous excerpt from a previously unpublished autobiography - collected under one roof. Sincere thanks to Levi Stahl for getting it done.
Levi will be in New York on Monday, hosting a major party at Mysterious Bookshop (6:30 PM) with guests of honor Abby Westlake and Lawrence Block.
Speaking of Larry: I saw A Walk Among the Tombstones two nights ago. Liam Neeson is just excellent as Matt Scudder. Indeed, I suspect I will picture Neeson in my mind when reading the Scudder books in the future. It's so nice to have a crime movie that is about acting, not action, although at the end there is an inevitable dive into Taken territory. I have a few other reservations but obviously all crime buffs must see it.
At any rate, Larry gets a far more loving and understanding treatment in Tombstones than Don did with that mediocre adaptation of Flashfire called Parker. I'll never see Jason Statham in my mind when I look at a Richard Stark book.
Hopefully A Walk Among the Tombstones will encourge the masses to read some of the books about Scudder. My recommendations include When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, Eight Million Ways to Die, and the most recent and entirely superb A Drop of the Hard Stuff.
Related DTM: Lawrence Block blindfold test.
NPR's First Listen is hosting The Brooklyn Rider Almanac, a collection of brand-new music for string quartet. From the article:
"To celebrate its 10th anniversary together, the group (violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Eric Jacobsen) commissioned a wide-ranging assemblage of musicians to write new works... The quartet charged the composers with an inspired framing device: Each work should take the output of another creative muse of the last 50 years as its inspiration."
I wrote the following commentary for "Morris Dance."
"When I was music director for the Mark Morris Dance Group, two of the dancers were Maile Okamura and Amber Merkins, otherwise known as the future wives of the Brooklyn Rider violin section. So 'Morris Dance' is a humorous tribute to all three: Mark, Maile, and Amber. A faux-portentious intro sets up a 4:3 polyrhythm, Mark’s favorite beat. Mostly some version of minimalism is the main argument, but along the way a chromatic cello cadenza seems lifted from one of Yo-Yo Ma’s appearances with MMDG, the violins serenade their women, and even Maile’s ukulele drops by. At the end, of course, everybody sings."
Almanac is an astonishing collection of music overall. I haven't listened to everything yet but it is all at least interesting. Vijay Iyer's hip piece is played so well by BR! It's impossible to imagine a classical string quartet dealing with these rhythms even 15 years ago. The musics are coming together. I'm proud to be part of this project.
DTM cannot keep up with the obituary pages. I just blogged several losses, now there's more to report.
In person, Kenny Wheeler was a modest gentleman. But when he played, he became a fearsome and unpredictable gangster.
Wheeler was one of the crucial voices in recent jazz, but I admit I only know two of his records really well. On 1975's Gnu High with Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette, the extraordinary Wheeler compositions are played with devout irreverence by the star pianist. The combination creates a unicorn. Much later, on Holland's 1987 date The Razor's Edge, Wheeler's lone tune "Four, Five, Six" showcases melodic beauty and a magical trumpet solo.
I have asked someone who knows Wheeler much better than me to contribute a longer overview for DTM. For now read
Even more belatedly, RIP Jean-Jacques Avenel. The soulful and and virtuosic bassist is heard to superb effect on several recordings of Benoît Delbecq. Perhaps especially recommended is the 2000 album Pursuit. Avenel is also on dozens of valuable recordings by Steve Lacy. (French Wikipedia: Jean-Jacques Avenel.)
As usual, NYC offers a truly bewildering amount great jazz. This week alone:
Larry Willis, Gary Bartz, Buster Williams, Al Foster at Smoke. Jazz like this still exists? Apparently they are playing McCoy Tyner tunes. Fine. Whatever gets them on the bandstand together.
Steve Coleman residency at the Stone. An avatar keeps pushing the envelope. One of these days I'm going to nail Steve down for a no-holds-barred DTM interview. (Update: five minutes after posting, I learned that Steve was just named a MacArthur Fellow. About time! Congrats Steve and well-deserved.)
Orrin Evans with Clifford Adams, Reid Anderson (!) and Steve Williams at Smalls. This is a serious Philadelphia operation - did you know that Reid spend some important years there? The ringer is D.C. legend Williams.
Eric Reed with Ralph Moore, Gerald Cannon, and McClenty Hunter at the Vanguard. As far as I know, this is Moore's first real high-profile showing since returning from LA. I'll be there.
Richard Wyands with John Webber at Mezzrow. Wyands is one of the last of the authentic poets of bebop piano. He's on more records than you remember. Ted Panken's interview is fabulous.
Chucho Valdés, Pedrito Martínez and Wynton Marsalis at JALC. I'm a confirmed Pedrito fan. The best "date night" gig on my list here...
Mark Turner with Avishai Cohen, Joe Martin and Marcus Gilmore at Jazz Standard. The MTQ is now really a thing, with a great new ECM album Lathe of Heaven and a big tour.
Alex Ross has been very active, fighting the good fight against the dumbing down of culture, the encroachment of corporations, listening online, and other modern problems.
Last I heard, Alex's next book was going to be about Wagner and related topics. However he also seems well on his way to a compelling volume challenging status quo.
I did acquire the new Leon Fleisher album All the Things You Are (recommended in The Classical Cloud) was rather astonished. Terrific disc. I've never heard music for left hand rendered with such poetry.
Jazz has lost many important musicians recently.
Joe Sample (by Anthony Dean-Harris)
Idris Muhammad (by Nate Chinen)
John Blake Jr. (by Patrick Jarenwattananon)
Kenny Drew Jr. (by George Colligan) (Speaking of left hand performances, that "Sophisticated Lady" is is insane.)
I'm still thinking about Frankie Dunlop and John Ore, and will have something for them on DTM soon.
From Josh Jackson's mass email yesterday:
I want to let you know that this Friday, September 19th is my final day in the office at WBGO. I resigned my position effective September 30th, and I'm burning some vacation days to give myself a moment to enjoy the view from my terrace (and to pack). I'm moving to Roanoke, Virginia, where I will be Program Director and Content Manager of WVTF/Radio IQ, a regional NPR news/talk service of Virginia Tech. The new gig starts October 6th.
Thanks, Josh, for all the good times at WBGO and the Checkout. Josh was an obvious supporter of TBP at a time when not everyone was. More importantly, Josh just loves the music and was a fun hang for all the cats.
Also from the email:
Join me if you dare for a few hangs before I leave New York. This Thursday night, DJ Brother Mister (aka Christian McBride) will be spinning at Spike Hill (186 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211). Showtime is round midnight. Next Tuesday, I'll be at the Vanguard bar on Trane's birthday while Kirk Lightsey plays "Never Let Me Go" and more great music.
This Saturday, I'm in John McNeil's quartet with Jonathan Michel and Jochen Rückert for a 10:30 set a Cornelia St. Cafe, part of the estimable Festival of New Trumpet (aka FONT). Full schedule here. I like playing with John partly because he came up with the last generation who learned jazz as a complicated folk music. His original compositions are tuneful and memorable, kind of like some children's songs placed atop Wayne Shorterish harmony.
John's memorial for Horace Silver is amusing and edifying.
The word got out fast, even before Nate Chinen's piece on new club Mezzrow: I'm playing duo with Ron Carter October 9 through 11.
Some have the impression that this is Ron's gig. No way. We've never even really met. Ron knows some of the stuff I've written about him (at the very least, I'm quoted in his biography) but I'd be shocked if he has heard much of my playing. When Spike Wilner asked me to play duo at Mezzrow I thought about it, smiled, and emailed Ron with the guarantee of a hefty fee if he showed up. When he agreed I was thrilled.
There will be no paper, just a list of familar standards; I also plan to learn a few of Ron's tunes. It will be as if it is 1980 again, an era in which every jazz pianist played with Ron, frequently duo.
Mezzrow is small, reservations are recommended if you want to check this gig out.
The next big project TBP takes on is a detailed look at Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction album with guest stars Tim Berne, Ron Miles, and Sam Newsome. We premiere the work at Duke University on October 18 and play it in New York on October 23.
A DTM essay about this project is in the works...for now we are just trying to learn the tunes. I was assigned "The Jungle is a Skyscraper." Good lord. Is this even close to correct?
Of course this music didn't really exist on paper ever anyway, but with three hired guns we gotta start from somewhere.
Tim, Sam, and Ron are listening hard as well. Anyone else have any insight into how to write down "Jungle?" Hit me on Twitter...
TBP starts an American tour on Monday. This is a really nice swing, including stops in many towns we rarely get to and a couple shows in Berkeley playing Stravinsky with the Mark Morris Dance Group.
(below copied from website)
22 Seattle, WA -- The Triple Door
23 Seattle, WA -- The Triple Door
24 Portland, OR -- PDX Jazz
26 Berkeley, CA -- UC Berkeley*
27 Berkeley, CA -- UC Berkeley*
28 New Orleans, LA -- One Eyed Jacks
30 San Antonio, TX -- Aztec Theater