In Search of Good Times and Good News

I've been writing liner notes for two upcoming releases: Charlie Haden and Jim Hall live in 1990 at Montreal and previously unissued Jaki Byard solo from 1979. Both albums are terrific; I gained a new appreciation for Jim Hall (Charlie forces him into some more open spaces) and had fun comparing several versions of Jaki's complex compositions.

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Steve Smith moves on from Time Out. Thanks for everything at that important supporter of New York music, Steve, and good to know Hank Shteamer will be moving up. Hank's recent Heavy Metal Be-Bop interview with Andrew Hock is compelling.

I enjoyed a fairly long talk about the late Gerald Mortier with Mark Morris recently. Alex Ross hosted Peter Sellars's memorial, which touches on many of the same points.

Kyle Gann is blogging about the Concord Sonata by Charles Ives; great stuff. The revisionist post about Ives's supposed revising is particularly important.  

Philip Sandifer completes his run of Doctor Who analysis, and makes me see good in an episode I would otherwise simply dismiss. 

Speaking of Steven Moffatt, SD and I were baffled at how overblown season three of Sherlock was. We quit halfway into the first episode. Too bad; that series had marvelous potential. Now waiting for True Detective to become digital as our next planned watch together.

Levi Stahl's anthology of non-fiction Donald Westlake The Getaway Car is getting ready to leave the garage. I've been a small part of that process; more here when Levi's book comes out.

While thinking about Westlake I looked at The Outfit again. Westlake himself liked it, and it seems to have a cult following these days, but as an obstinate Richard Stark fanboy, I don't see Parker in there. Robert Duvall is just too emotional. Those early '70s American automobiles are great, though. Is Mopar porn really a thing?

The two best new(ish) books I've read recently are modern thrillers that offer important political lessons. The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen is time travel science fiction by way of espionage, a mix I've seen several times but never done as well as Mullen. Brilliant book. I eagerly await more from Mullen. 

Even better is Charlie Huston's Skinner. My sense is that many of Huston's fans didn't like it as much as I did, so I wrote a review on Amazon: "Like Charles Willeford, Charlie Huston uses genre as means to an end. For SKINNER, Huston appropriates the conventions of the post-Bourne techno thriller. Those that only see those conventions miss the point. Past the glitz and guns, SKINNER skillfully uses a funhouse maze of metaphor to deliver a profound warning about the current condition."

I also commented on a New York Times article last week. In "Which Jazz Greats Were Left off the Blue Note 100?" Larry Rohter talks to Don Was about what is being reissued on vinyl.  Rohter invalidates himself as the right guy for this job by an offhanded dismissal of Stanley Turrentine. I'm afraid Rohter is going to be dragged over the coals for this a bit more in the next DTM post. Anyway, my comment is, "Stanley Turrentine is not 'a humdrum player.' For that matter, Turrentine's classic disc of moody blues ballads BLUE HOUR with the Three Sounds might be the first LP I'd add to the list. Great cover art, too: a rare example of Reid Miles using (with blue tint!) a Francis Wolff photo of the full band in session." 

Another relevant recent NY Times article is by Saul Austerlitz, "The Pernicious Rise of Poptimism." This is not really my world, so I'm still thinking about some of these points. It's certainly a valuable read. However, I wish that Austerlitz had pointed to many talented critics (who actually are still getting paid to write) who balance covering Miley etc. with missives about less popular music...

...although perhaps there aren't as many as I think? At any rate, that's the way it is supposed to work! If you are music critic that only covers Miley, you aren't doing your job. It's also part of your job to convince your editor to let you write about somebody besides Miley. (It's a tough job, of course.)

What else has happened? The set and recording with Han Bennink and Bill McHenry was a blast; something will definitely come out.

I also played an informal session with Michael Moore that was really fun. Michael also hipped me an extraordinary record that somehow I'd never heard: A Meeting Of The Times by Rahsaan Roland Kirk & Al Hibbler with Hank Jones, Ron Carter, and Oliver Jackson. 

Sarah and I saw Haydn and Bruckner conducted by Mariss Jansons at the Concertebouw in Amsterdam; what a marvelous venue. Classical music in Europe is really a must. I have no stronger recommendation to American visitors when coming over here than: "See some classical music in some good halls."

Yesterday TBP visited Manfred Eicher and his team at the ECM offices outside of Munich. Manfred played us some upcoming releases; the Keller Quartet's collection of adagios was particularly compelling. He's got a nice stereo system in his office. The speakers  (one-offs for German radio) are the same ones he's been using since 1969. "They were always good speakers," Manfred said, "but they have been trained to be even better by so much good music."

04/09/2014

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