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November 2007 Archives

November 4, 2007

Nels' Shirt Featured in No Depression

Sir Nels is all over the November/December 2007 issue of No Depression magazine: both in Andy Moore's review of the 9/11/07 Wilco show at Overture Hall in Madison, Wisconsin and in a nice long interview in the "Most Valuable Player" column by Jesse Fox Mayshark. It is in the latter that contains pix of Mr. Chix Pox '07 wearing an awesome quasi-psychedelic 1970s-era Givenchy Shirt [pictured below], procured in Chicago at Jamie Issler's Clothes Optional, a vintage store on Clark Street.


Here are some glowing excerpts from Mr. Moore's live concert review:
"Lead guitarist Nels Cline looked like a modern-day Pete Townshend, dressed in high-water black pants with bright red socks showing. Cline's playing, angular one moment, shredding the next, gives very little warning about where he wants to take the song. But he takes it, all right. Nowhere was this more of a kick then when Wilco changed into a three-guitar band with Tweedy and Pat Sansone framing out the melody of "Impossible Germany." The incredible Cline, off to the side and lost in his fretwork, shimmered out bright, sunny notes, feasting on the meat of the music served up by his bandmates."

November 9, 2007

Two New Not-To-Miss Music Docs

Courtesy of Salon's Andrew O'Heir:


"My Name Is Albert Ayler" Even to aficionados of the 1960s and '70s avant-garde music known as "free jazz," tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler remains an enigmatic figure. Unlike John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and other musicians of the period, Ayler charted his path largely alone. He emerged from the expatriate American jazz scene of Stockholm in 1962 and died in New York in 1970, apparently after jumping into the East River. While he was briefly a well-known figure on the Manhattan nightclub scene, his music was strident and anarchic even by the period's standards, and he never sold many records or made a consistent living. Kasper Collin's film portrays a confident but troubled man, who never doubted that posterity would discover him, and consoled himself that prominent American composer Charles Ives had to work a day job. Nearly 40 years later, Ayler's music remains little-known outside a coterie of admirers, but it remains remarkable that, hampered as he was by poverty, drug problems and probably by mental illness, he accomplished as much as he did. (Now playing at the Anthology Film Archives in New York.)


"Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037" Luring non-piano-buff viewers to see this "process" documentary about the making of the ultimate high-culture artifact -- the Steinway concert grand piano, with a retail price of roughly $100,000 -- might pose a marketing challenge. I dragged my heels on seeing "Note by Note" myself, but I'm here to report that Ben Niles' picture is a fascinating and delightful thing. If anything, it glorifies the working-class craftsmen at the legendary Steinway factory in Astoria, N.Y. (a district of Queens), as the heirs to a nearly dead 19th-century piano-making tradition, rather than the concert pianists who depend on their work. Mind you, music fans will get plenty for their money here: We hear jazz pianists Kenny Barron, Bill Charlap and Harry Connick Jr. demonstrate what they want in a piano, and observe concert impresarios Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Lang Lang and Hélène Grimaud trying them out, with the critical air you or I might assume while assessing dishwashers at Home Depot. (Lang is hilarious, Aimard comes off like a pompous ass and Grimaud's playing is positively magical.) But "Note by Note" is more than anything a social and cultural portrait, capturing the lonely pride of the 450 Steinway workers who take nearly a year to render raw sheets of timber, piece by piece and step by step, into the most elaborate and precise handcrafted machine made anywhere in the world. (Now playing at Film Forum in New York; other cities may follow.)

November 19, 2007

Round 'Em Up!: Some (Limited) Thoughts on "Cote a Cote"

Don't get us wrong, we were happy that the Getty Center's three-day "Cote a Cote" conference even happened at all, even if the focus was a bit fuzzy. But we must say, when the Getty throws a grey-matter party they really give out the royal treatment.


I still can't get the image of the refreshment table in the lobby of the Harold M. Williams Auditorium out of my head: coffee offered in tall stainless steel receptacles so polished that you could clean a piece of apple from between your teeth in their reflections. The water was offered in large pots with tons of ice floating on the top. It all had the strange airlessness of perfection -- like a party given by your anal-retentive aunt. Adding to the odd sensation that one was attending a jazz conference at the Acropolis were white walls so spotless that they appeared to glow in the warm buttery sunlight. Then there were the impossibly tall doors that we had to walk back and forth through; they open more towards the middle than at the edge, so when you open one with too much force the darn things almost crack you in the teeth. I surmise that's why there was a breathless usher who was stationed next to the auditorium to open the doors and save some of us the dental bills.

We attended the second day only; specifically three seminars we were particularly interested in: "Jazz In Los Angeles" with photographer William Claxton; "Jazz and the African-American Experience in Postwar Paris" with Tyler Stovall of UC-Berkeley; and "Local Avant-gardes: Wallace Berman, Jazz and Semina in Postwar Los Angeles" with Ken Allan of Seattle University. Interesting talks all, especially Allan's scholarship on Berman and the Ferus Gallery as a nexus for the overflowing worlds of L.A. art and jazz scenes. Most of these dealt with issues involving the key phrase: "Postwar." Of course, this meant not just touching on Bebop but the "Cool" California sound of the 1950s, which seemed to dominate the proceedings. (Not surprising, since this conference was given in conjunction with the Orange County Museum of Art's "Birth of the Cool" exhibition.)

Unfortunately, the contemporary players were given short shrift. Bobby Bradford and Vinny Golia played both Tuesday and the Big Concert on Thursday night, where they were lumped in with what appeared to be a hastily assembled and strangely conceived grab-bag of musicians from the last 50+ years, including Ernie Andrews, Les McCann, Bud Shank and Jack Sheldon. But their ilk were (as far as we know) rarely mentioned in the seminars. The academic vistas seemed to end around 1960.

The point of linking France and California under the rubric was elusive and baffling -- save for the French's honorable treatment of African-American jazz musicians as the great artists they were, rather than the confounding and racist treatment they and their music has received here in America. Nevertheless, it was a treat to see the 80-year-old, 8-foot-tall Claxton remark on how he became involved in documenting the L.A. jazz scene -- he memorably commented on the difference he saw in the West Coast musicians from the East Coast ("Musicians on the West Coast were healthy -- even the junkies ate health food") as well as the stories behind some of his famous photo shoots for Pacific Jazz album covers. (One of them, Sonny Rollins's Way Out West [pictured above] apparently was one of Mel Brooks' inspirations for Cleavon Little's "Sheriff Bart" character in Blazing Saddles -- who knew?) Dennis Hopper and Bud Shank sat in as well, Hopper relating a tale of visiting Thelonius Monk at his therapist's office in Watts (he was up in the bedroom on a bed strewn with pills) and recalled Monk's famous quote about infamous LAPD chief William Parker: "I don't know how a man with the name of 'Parker' can be down on jazz." Bud Shank mostly grunted and offered barely audible bon-mots. Moderator Rani Singh came off like a very earnest Pat Morrison without the flowered hats.

If any of you out there attended the final concert or the film screenings, or even the entire conference, we'd love to hear your memories, impressions or tirades.

November 21, 2007


As you go a-shoppin' for your holiday feast, remember that Ralphs Grocery has accepted the California Jazz Foundation as a member organization as part of their Community Contribution service. As we told you in a previous post, the CJF is a nonprofit organization that helps jazz musicians in need (being without health insurance is a predicament musicians of all stripes can identify with). This means that Ralphs will contribute to the Foundation a percentage of monies spent at Ralphs by every person who signs up.


For more info on how to get involved, there is an explanation online. From there, click on "Community Contribution" on the left side. Then click on "Learn More" under the "Organization" block. After you've educated yourself (or not, as the spirit moves you), click on "Sign Up" under "Participant". All you need then is the CJF's Non-Profit Organization (NPO) number: 84297. Then you input your 13-digit Ralphs Club Card number (without spaces).

And if you don't have a Ralphs Club card, what are you waiting for?!? It's relatively painless, will only take a few minutes, you get substantial discounts and will greatly benefit the Foundation.


November 26, 2007

REVIEW ROUND-UP: Trio M's "Big Picture"

Goodness, has it been a month already since supergroup Trio M -- the 00's avant-jazz version of the Travelling Wilburys -- stunned a nation with their maiden voyage Big Picture? Here's a smattering of praise from the kind folks out there who've reviewed it.


Continue reading "REVIEW ROUND-UP: Trio M's "Big Picture"" »

November 28, 2007

Art Pepper Lives Again on YouTube

If you didn't hear the NPR broadcast last week, Art Pepper's 63-year-old widow Laurie -- who co-authored the late saxophonist's infamous autobio of self-destruction Straight Life -- has been engaging in a bit of guerrilla filmmaking. Frustrated by numerous attempts to get the life of her husband told through the normal Hollywood biopic channels, she enrolled in a few courses on video editing and animation and then on her own home computer began to construct My Straight Life, a trilogy of hourlong films that owe more to Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation or even Todd Hayne's's recent I'm Not There in their surreal, hallucinatory and thoroughly deconstructive takes on their complicated subjects.


[Photo of Art Pepper by William Claxton]

If you haven't checked out the clips on You Tube, they're pretty weird and wonderful. If a more linear narrative is required, check out Don McGlynn's film Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor.

November 29, 2007

Leimert Park's Own Walk of Fame

At 2pm tomorrow (Friday, November 30th), there will be a special dedication ceremony called Sankofa Passage that honors thirty-two distinguished recipients whose lifelong contributions have profoundly enriched the cultural landscape of Los Angeles and have garnered critical acclaim throughout the world.


Sankofa is an Afrikan principle from the Akan people of Ghana. It symbolizes respect and homage to the indomitable spirit of ancestors who endured anguish and adversity but flourished against insurmountable odds.

Each recipient will be presented with a pyramid bearing their name, artistic discipline and birthplace, all embedded on commemorative bronze plaques designed by artist John Outterbridge. The plaques depict the mythical Sankofa bird [pictured above] with its head turned back, referencing the past. Branding symbols used during slavery have been placed along the perimeter to denote the atrocities of the Middle Passage.

Continue reading "Leimert Park's Own Walk of Fame" »

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Adam Rudolph Alex Cline's Band of the Moment Alex Cline; Nels Cline: Alex & Nels Cline; Downbeat; Continuation; Coward Alma Lisa Fernandez Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Live Review (Day 1) Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Live Review (Day 2) Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Photos Antonio Sanchez avant-garde Ben Goldberg Bennie Maupin Bennie Maupin & Dolphyana Bill Stewart Billy Childs Jazz-Chamber Ensemble Billy Corgan Billy Hart Bob Sheppard California Jazz Foundation Cameron Graves Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Carol Robbins Charles Mingus; Son of Watts Musical Caravan Project; Azar Lawrence; Nate Morgan; Henry Franklin; Alphonse Mouzon; Prayer for My Ancestors Charles Owens Chops: The Movie Chris Barton Cryptogramophone Records Cryptonight Darek Oles Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy David Anderson Pianos David Witham Denman Maroney Devin Hoff Double M Jazz Salon Downbeat 57th Annual Critics Poll Dwight Trible Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Eclipse Quartet Edward Vesala Electric Lodge Eric Dolphy Eric Von Essen First Friday Series at the Museum of Neon Art G.E. Stinson Global Village Monday with Maggie LePique Go: Organic Orchestra Gravitas Quartet Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival; Peter Erskine Greg Kot Gregg Bendian Hale Smith Hannah Rothschild Hans Fjellstad Harry Partch; L.A. Weekly; John Schneider; REDCAT Horace Tapscott; Horace Tapscott Tribute Concert; Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra; the Ark; Jazz Bakery; Ruth Price; Jesse Sharps; Austin Peralta; Isaac Smith Huffington Post Hugh Hopper Ikeda Kings Orchestra improvisation Initiate Ivan Cotton James Newton Jason Robinson Jay Bennett Jay Hoggard jazz Jazz at the Plgrimage Jazz Bakery Jazz Explosion III Jazz Journey with Eddie B. Jeff Gauthier Jeff Tweedy Jesse Sharps Jim Black Joe Zawinul John "Drumbo" French John Fumo Kamasi Washington Ken Coomer Ken Kawamura KJAZZ 88.1-FM KPFK 90.7-FM KXLU 88.9-FM Larry Goldings Larry Karush Larry Koonse Learning How To Die Leimert Park: The Roots and Branches of L.A. Jazz Les Paul Lester Bowie Lily Burk Memorial Live at the Atelier Los Angeles New Music Ensemble Los Angeles Times Luis Bonilla Maggie Parkins Marcus Rojas Mark Dresser Mark Zaleski Mel Morris Michael Davis Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Mimi Melnick Motoko Honda Museum of Neon Art Museum of Neon Art; MONA; Many Axes; Susan Rawcliffe; Scott Wilkinson; Brad Dutz music blog Myra Melford Nasheet Waits Natsuki Tamura Nels Cline Nels Cline Singers Nels Cline Singers with Jeff Parker Nestor Torres Nick Rosen OC Creative Music Collective Oguri Open Gate Theatre Sunday Concert Series Pannonica Rothschild Peggy Lee Peter Bernstein plays monk Rashied Ali ResBox at the Steve Allen Theater RISE with Mark Maxwell Roberto Miranda Rod Poole Ron MIles Royal/T Cafe Sara Parkins Sara Schoenbeck Sarah Thornblade SASSAS Satoko Fujii Scott Amendola Scott Colley Sky Saxon Tribute Sonship Theus Spirit Moves Spirits in the Sky Steuart Liebig Terry Riley The Gathering The Jazz Baroness The JazzCat with Leroy Downs Thelonious Monk Thomas Stones Tom McNalley Trilogy Van Morrison; Astral Weeks; Scott Foundas; Jan Steward; Music Cirle; SASSAS Vincent Chancey Wayne Horvitz Wayne Peet Wilco Wilco; Nels Cline Wilco; Wilco (The Album); Nels Cline Will Salmon