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May 2009 Archives

May 7, 2009


The Beast ran into our good friend "Dr." Jeffrey Winston last weekend at a Charles Owens concert and he clued us in to the ongoing series of Charles Mingus-related events happening around town in the next few months. Sponsored by the LA Dept. of Cultural Affairs, the series is titled Son of Watts Musical Caravan Project: Celebrating the Life and Work of Charles Mingus. Unfortunately, Jeffrey informed us that we had already missed two of the most prominent events: last Friday night's concert in Culver City that featured such a Murderer's Row of high-end local talent -- James Newton! Roberto Miguel Miranda! Bennie Maupin! Steve Cotter! Nolan Shaheed! SONSHIP THEUS! -- that we almost cried; then there was the panel discussion on the "State of Music in South LA" which kicked off at 9am (?!?) the following morning. Damn, of all the weekends to fall down the rabbit hole...

"Better Git It, Motherfucker"

Fortunately, there are still some significant events left in this musical caravan: the "Mingus Visual Art Exhibition" is a compendium of Mingus memorabilia (vintage album covers, concert posters, photos, books) currently on display at the William Grant Still Arts Center thru May 24.
The piece de resistance will be on June 21 at the Watts Towers Art Center: a screening of A Tribute to Charles Mingus: Past, Present and Future, a documentary film by Rosie Lee Hooks and Paul S. Rogers that includes interviews and performance excerpts from some SoLA heavies like Patrice Rushen, Nedra Wheeler, Ndugu Chancler and Mr. Buddy Collette, who essays his many memories of keeping that firey young Mingo in line. Following this will be Ms. Wheeler's Bass Choir perfoming their tribute to Mingus.

And, if you can't wait that long, the Mingus Big Band -- featuring trumpeter Kenny Rampton and saxists Vincent Herring, Craig Handy and Seamus Blake, trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy, pianist David Kikoski and Boris Kozlov (playing Mingus's own lion-headed bass!) -- will invade the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts this Friday to perform TWO classic Mingus albums -- Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots -- in their entirety. (Hmmm, it's about time the jazz world jumped on this mostly rock trend of performing whole albums in sequence -- but then again, didn't jazz start that trend to begin with?)


Another bit of info Jeffrey fed us was Prayer for my Ancestors (Futhermore), the new CD from Azar Lawrence featuring drummer Alphonse Mouzon, bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin and pianist Nate Morgan (in his last studio session before his stroke last December). Jeffrey proudly related he did the terrific liner notes, and we informed him that as a writer he had just been elevated to a whole new level of Cool: liner notes for a jazz CD!

If the first four months of 2009 are any indication, it will be a far busier year for Mr. Azar. On the heels of Ancestors and Speak the Word (Zarmedia), he traveled to New York and reestablished a few old connections, jamming with Eddie Henderson and Rashied Ali in separate sessions. Azar proposed the idea of making a recording with Henderson and Ali to Furthermore and the fledgling label found it impossible to refuse. Joined by his East Coast pianist of choice, Benito Gonzalez, and bassist Essiet Essiet, Azar rehearsed his quintet during the day and hit the clubs at night. He hooked up with alto saxophonist Gerald Hayes, who appeared on Azar’s 1975 album, Summer Solstice. The quintet grew into a sextet. The group headed to Bennett Studios in Englewood, New Jersey on April Fool’s Day and recorded the tunes for the upcoming album, Mystic Dreams, scheduled for release in the summer of 2009.

May 13, 2009

Das Vilco (Das Stream)

Those generous boys at WilcoWeb have streamed their new album in its entirety.


(Nels' chair is second to the right.)

May 20, 2009

Stuff That Got By Us (May Edition)

"Saw you walkin' / Down Bob Hope Way in Burbank..."

Check out this great account by the LA Weekly's movie man Scott Foundas on Van Morrison's rehearsal of Astral Weeks' "Slim Slow Slider" for a recent Tonight Show appearance. The proper hijinks ensue -- not in the least an inadvertent meditation on the nature of Time itself.

Jan Steward [photo by Irfan Khan, LA Times]

Also, someone pointed out there was a story in the Los Angeles Times about the grandmother of L.A.'s musical "salon scene" (private house concerts with name musicians) -- Doris Duke being the great-grandmother -- a writer named Jan Steward. Mimi Melnick, who is today's grand dame of L.A. house salons, names Steward's Silver Lake house concerts of Indian music as a prime influence on her starting her own series of Sunday avant-garde jazz events. Steward also was involved in the Music Circle, an arts organization started by Ravi Shankar and Harihar Rao in 1973 that brought Indian musicians like Ashish Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain and Sultan Khan, to L.A. for concerts at Occidental College, many of which were attended by a young philosophy major named Nels Cline.


And speaking of bringing in the name musicians, there's an upcoming benefit event happening on May 31 -- coincidentally the last day The Jazz Bakery owns its lease. The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS) will be staging Blast!, its annual musical fundraiser. SASSAS is also celebrating 10 years of its groundbreaking sound. concert series, which over the past decade has seen maverick performances from the creme d'underground: Bonnie Barnett, Gregg Bendian, Joe Berardi, Don Bolles, Carla Bozulich, Harold Budd, Alex & Nels Cline, Dan Clucas, Jeremy Drake, Fred Frith, Jeff Gauthier, Philip Gelb, Vinny Golia, Kraig Grady, Steve Gregoropoulous, Tom Grimley, Petra Haden, Joseph Jarman, Lynn Johnston, Miya Masaoka, Roscoe Mitchell, Pauline Oliveros, Zeena Parkins, Rod Poole, Joe & Rick Potts, Scot Ray, Devin Sarno, Sara Schoenbeck, Wadada Leo Smith, G.E. Stinson, Solid Eye, James Tenney, Kris Tiner, Dwight Trible, Kira Vollman, Mike Watt and Rich West. (Catch any Cryptogramophone artists in there anywhere?)

Performance of "Exquisite Corpse II" at sound. featuring Dan Clucas, Dwight Trible, Rich West, Kira Vollman, Joe Baiza & Alicia Mangan (9/20/08)

Many of those same creme will be popping by for Blast!. From the press release: “Performing is Tom Watson and his Clients, a “free-jam” formed especially for Blast and featuring Flea, Petra Haden, Motoko Honda, Takafumi Kosaka, Tom Watson and Mike Watt, the minimalist electronic experimental sounds of howardAmb, and the duo of Jim Shaw & Dani Tull, who will provide a plethora of sounds using vocal improvisation, bass guitar and home made instruments. DJs for the evening are Los Angeles artist Kevin Hanley and Ale (dublab, Languis). In addition to the performances, there will be a silent auction featuring the donated works of acclaimed artists Vanessa Conte, Evan Holloway, Jason Meadows, Dave Muller, and Marnie Weber. And, musician, author, spoken word performer, TV host, film actor and host of the radio show Harmony In My Head, Henry Rollins has contributed a specially programmed playlist for signed iPod Shuffles to be presented to Blast! [6] attendees who pay $300 for a special SASSTER BLASTER ticket." Well allright!

Blast! will pop off Sunday, May 31, 2009 from 4:00 - 8:00 PM at the home and garden of writer/performer Abby Sher in Pacific Palisades [pictured above]. Directions provided with ticket purchase)
Show info: www.sassas.org/blast or 323-960-5723
Purchase tickets on line: www.sassas.org/blast

May 25, 2009

Two Live Crews

Check out the reviews for two new live CDs from Cryptogramophone's extended family:

Myra Melford and Satoko Fujii's Under the Water (Libra Records) reviewed at Jazz Review, Free Jazz, Lucid Culture and All About Jazz.

Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney's Live in Concert (Kadima Collective) reviewed at Free Jazz, AAJ and The Squid's Ear.

Harry Abraham
Jay Walter Bennett
Stephen Bruton
Julie Coryell
Nicholas Maw
Charles "Buddy" Montgomery
Wayman Tisdale
Uli Trepte

May 26, 2009

Two Live Clines

Alex and Nels are profiled in the June 2009 issue of Downbeat magazine. Perosnally, we thought they would've made a great COVER story, but oh well...

At any rate, here's an excerpt from the mag, available on newsstands now!

Sushi Performance Gallery, San Diego (1/13/09)

by Josef Woodard

Musical brothers have long figured into the lineage of jazz, including the famous Jones brothers out of Detroit (Thad, Elvin and Hank), the Heaths out of Philadelphia (Jimmy, Albert and Percy) and the Marsalis clan from New Orleans (Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason).

Meanwhile, out West and lesser-known in the fraternity of musical brothers work the Clines, guitarist Nels and drummer Alex. Whereas brothers from other settings have heeded the theory of a musical household and the passing-down of wisdom from an older to younger siblings, the Los Angeles-born and based Clines are in synch as twins.

“You have solidarity, a best friend who’s obsessed with all the same stuff as you,” said Nels about the relationship he has with his twin. “We probably have some psychic connection.”

Starting in the ’80s, the Clines (born on Jan. 4, 1956) have figured strongly in the jazz and adventurous music scenes in L.A. and beyond. Both have played with Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake and Charlie Haden, as well as numerous West Coast players to the left of straightahead. Their influential Oregon-like acoustic group Quartet Music lasted for much of the ’80s.

In recent years, the Cline name has bumped up in recognition after Nels joined the rock group Wilco. But his newfound fans have a lot to learn about Nels’ twisty musical story, involving work with his trio, the Nels Cline Singers, and other liaisons in jazz, rock and experimental circles.

This year, the brothers simultaneously released solo projects on Cryptogramophone, the 10-year-old L.A.-based indie label run by violinist Jeff Gauthier. Similarities and differences mark Alex’ Continuation and Nels’ Coward. The former is an expansive chamber jazz project, featuring pianist Myra Melford, cellist Peggy Lee, Gauthier, bassist Scott Walton and Alex on his large and texturally varied drum and percussion set-up. Coward, conversely, is Nels’ first all-solo project, although it features a layered collection of acoustic and electric, abstract and lyrical sounds. It includes such seemingly incongruous—but to Cline, logically linked—references as Ralph Towner, Derek Bailey and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

On a mid-January afternoon, the Clines convened in the Culver City home where Alex lives with his wife and young daughter. The interview took place a few hours after Barack Obama’s inauguration, which partly explained the excitable atmosphere, not to mention having their albums timed for a joint release.

While the brothers grew up together musically, they have cleaved personal directions and lifestyles. For instance, at the interview both Clines wore black T-shirts, with telling distinctions. Nels’ sported a facsimile of the album cover of the first release by the Bad Brains, the Washington, D.C., punk band, but retooled with the words “Barack Obama.” Alex, the more poised and introspective of the twins, wore a shirt with the Zen-like inscription “this is it.”

A week earlier, the brothers played a rare duo gig in San Diego [see above clip]. On the set list were Keith Jarrett’s “Angles Without Edges,” a snippet of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive,” the Jimi Hendrix instrumental “Beginnings,” Ornette Coleman’s “Law Years” and John Coltrane’s “India.” The set list speaks volumes about the eclecticism embedded in the Cline family crest, and manifested in their ongoing musical output.

May 29, 2009

If You Knew Harry...

Coinciding with Partch Dark/Partch Light, John Schneider's survey of the music of Harry Partch tonight and tomorrow at REDCAT is John Payne's brief article on the genius/iconoclast/hobo/gardener, entitled "Harry Partch's Boxcar Revelations".


Not enuff Harry 4 ya? Check out this superb BBC documentary:

May 31, 2009

Twinight of the JB's (RE-updated)

Good night (but hopefully not goodbye) to The Jazz Bakery. As one can see, our coverage of other people's coverage of this is extensive:

The Doors Are Closing, but the Jazz Bakery is Still in Play

Jazz Bakery Closing It's Doors

Iconic Jazz Club Loses its Lease

Jazz Bakery Loses Lease, Seeks New Site

UPDATE: And just so you don't think we only take one side of such troubling issues, here's a "counterpoint" opinion, published in the L.A. Times' Letters to the Editor on 6/06/09:

Bakery, get back in the groove

I couldn't care less that the Jazz Bakery is moving. I used to visit the place regularly when they featured mainstream musicians like Scott Hamilton, Ken Peplowski and Bob Wilber who played melodious songs written by qualified professional composers like Gershwin, Porter, Ellington, Arlen and Rodgers and Hart. I stopped going to the Jazz Bakery when its featured musicians spent practically the entire evening playing their "original compositions," usually an irritating array of tuneless, cacophonous numbers created to show the audience how many notes they can play in less than a minute. I walked out at least a half-dozen times before I stopped going altogether.

Classical music aficionados attend concerts where orchestras feature music by the same composers, over and over: Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, etc. The Jazz Bakery, if it chooses to improve its attendance, should consider devoting at least half of its performances to musicians who feature the works of such mainstream modern musicians listed above, musicians who have respect for standard chord progressions and whose goal is to entertain the customers and not themselves.

Norman Jacobson
Los Angeles

Came across this quote concerning Jay Bennett, the multi-instrumental mathematician who passed away last week, in Greg Kot's thin but superb Wilco bio Learning How To Die. The quote is attibuted to another ex-Wilco member, drummer Ken Coomer: "Out of the blue, Jay pulled me aside and told me he wanted to talk. It was the most emotional and heartfelt conversation I have had with anyone in the band. He was going though some stuff, and he bascially told me how important I was to him. It reminded me of this bird I had for eleven years, a cockatiel, and one day he lands on my head, then jumps on my shoulder, talking to me. It was like he was seeking me out. The next day, he crawls into his cage and dies."

Oy vey. What a shitty way to start the summer.

Jay Bennett Remembered: Jeff Tweedy Issues a Statement

Jay Bennett Remembered: Undertow Records Issues A Statement

NPR's All Songs Considered: Jay Bennett Thoughts

Who Was Jay Bennett?

The Final Word on Jay Bennett

Tag cloud

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