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June 5, 2007

Welcome to Downbeast.com

Hey there, welcome to Downbeast. Check in for the latest in avant-garde, improvisational jazz music rants, musings, reviews, and more. From Cryptogramophone Records, Downbeast.com is a new music blog concept we hope you enjoy.

June 6, 2007

Why Downbeast?

Why Downbeast? Because we're tackling the beast of the music industry and pummeling it into submission. Downbeast is the home of music lovers, industry haters, and everyone in between. Heard a great CD or concert lately? Give us your review. Got an idea of where the industry is heading? Please share it with us. We've started a category entitled CD vs. Download, which I'm sure will spark some interest. Let's create a community with whom to share good music and good ideas. In the meantime, grab a whip and a chair, and let's tame the beast!

July 9, 2007

Nels gets some love via Wilco

It's been almost two months since Wilco released Sky Blue Sky, and our man in the field Nels Cline has been getting a lot of great mentions in the various reviews that have appeared since then (not that we're surprised).

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Here's a smattering:

Continue reading "Nels gets some love via Wilco" »

August 16, 2007

Dog-Day News & The Chicken Pox Blues

Sorry for the long wait between this and last posts. We were just plain lazy and there's no A/C in the "bloggin' office." Kudos to those 'nards over at Pitchfork Media for breaking the news of Nels Cline's chicken pox, which has sidelined our friend for a few Wilco gigs.

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Continue reading "Dog-Day News & The Chicken Pox Blues" »

September 13, 2007

Mr. Witham's Wacky Side

Just hours after his moving tribute to the late Joe Zawinul, our rez keyboard wiz David Witham sent us this bizarre quasi-hip hop video he put up on YouTube called Timeswitch.

(We're not sure who the unidentified lead rapper is, but you can spot Mr. W's disembodied head bobbing right behind him. Yikes. For a more serious side of David, check out his latest CD Spinning The Circle.)

September 14, 2007

We'll give it up for writers...just ask!

Several writers have been talking in the blogs lately about the "stinginess" of record companies when it comes to sending promos to the press (Tom Hull, Scratch My Brain and be.jazz). Many small jazz labels have stopped sending jewel cases or Digipaks to reviewers in favor of CDs in slimline cases, wallets or envelopes. There is even a movement afoot to stop sending promos altogether while making the music and artwork available to writers digitally.

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This is a sensitive issue for all concerned. We know that writers are not paid nearly enough (or at all) for the good work that they do, and of course everyone associated with jazz is struggling these days. And before all the wailing starts, let me just say up-front that if a writer wants a full Digipak of a particular title, just let us know and we'll send it to you. We love you, and we want you to have the real deal if it is something that seriously interests you and you want to write about it.

For 8 years Cryptogramophone dutifully sent full Digipaks to writers to show off our beautiful packages, and reward reviewers for their diligence. However, 500 digipaks (which is about how many we send to radio and press) is about 1/4 of our average sales on a title these days, and most of these end up on Amazon and in the used bins before a title is even released. Since Amazon is now our biggest customer, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot by giving away so many finished Digipaks.

Then there is the issue of cost. The wallets we send out cost about a quarter apiece, as opposed to the Digipaks which can cost as much as $1 or more. It also costs twice as much in postage to send full packages as it does to send CDs without the Digipaks. With six releases annually, that's a cost of about $5,000 per year. With the loss of retail outlets like Tower, and sales down 20% each year for the last three years, independent jazz labels have to find ways to cut back just to keep our heads above water. We really can't afford to make beautiful, expensive packages anymore, but we love them, and we're reluctant to let go of the dream.

And finally, we know our music isn't for everyone. Someone who loves a Nels Cline CD, may not love a Myra Melford or Bennie Maupin title, so we know that even the most responsible writer will trade-in some of our promos. Plus, our percentage of reviews vs. CDs sent is about 5%. So, what's the sense in sending out full CDs when most of them will just be resold, thereby wiping out two sales for every CD we give away (the sale we lost, and the CD we can't sell), while having to pay $5,000 per year for the privilege!

By now writers should know that Cryptogramophone is committed to beautiful (and expensive) packaging as well as great music. They should also know that we will always send a finished copy to a writer if they ask for it. We understand the writer’s perspective on this issue, and hope they will try to understand ours. We will never deny a legitimate reviewer access to our Digipaks if they ask for it. It’s kind of like sex. We’ll even give it up on a first date, but you have to ask!

March 10, 2008

"My imagination is beyond the civilization in which we live."

Kasper Collin's acclaimed jazz documentary My Name Is Albert Ayler opened this week in Los Angeles (in ONE rather hard-to-get-to movie theatre downtown). We caught Saturday's matinee -- yes, it was a beautiful day outside, but we like the dark.

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Donald and Albert Ayler

Collin's film fills in some of the blanks for those whose interest in the out-out-OUT there free jazz saxophonist was piqued a few years ago by the Revenant label's monumental 10-disc retrospective Holy Ghost, which was quite the appropriate title. Ayler’s greatest compositions ("Spirits," "Witches and Devils," "Ghosts") were haunted by so many ghosts: children’s rhymes, army-band marches, Mexican folk songs, church hymnals, not to mention the deepest earth of the blues and the occasional set of bagpipes. (Seems fitting that Ghost should be packaged in a replica of a carved-wood spirit box, augmented by a mysterious smattering of dried flowers.)

Continue reading ""My imagination is beyond the civilization in which we live."" »

March 21, 2008

Recipe for an Austin Hangover

Whewie. We've just started to come out of the fog of SXSW. We thought'd we'd be blogging every day from the epic music bash in Tejas -- what the bleep did we know?

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"No I don't have a laminate. I do, however, have this coin..."

As expected, music was squeezed out of every orfice of Austin. We're not exactly the type to walk around with a laptop strapped to our hips; instead we took barely legible Lester Bangsish notes in a sweaty black leather "Hilton Hotel" writing pad. (Sample entry: "there is an uneasy faceoff between pedestrians and traffic -- always sketchy in college towns even during the off season, but brought to a lather for SxSW -- as streams of one constantly threaten to halt the other.") We avoided the night parties in favor of the day parties -- and man, we hit 'em all: The Garden Party, The AP Party, the Bust Party, The Filter Party, I Heart Comix, the Fader Party, the Whig Party. We felt like crying when we missed the Lou Reed Tribute at Fader that featured Thurston Moore, Yo La Tengo and J Mascius. #@@$%&&&!!!!! We even missed the panel discussion where Thurston Moore interviewed Steve Reich -- probably the one happening that related most to what we all are doing here at Crypto. But we got nothin people, nothin'.

We did happen to catch Mr. Moore with his acoustic combo at the old French embassy, which included Steve Shelley on drums. That was quite a thrill. We wanted to say something to Thurston afterwards, you know, a good icebreaker along the lines of "Nels Cline says hi" or "You look just like Rusty from National Lampoon's European Vacation."
But no.

Thing is, constant motion in the hot Texas sun (it was 92 degrees on Friday) mixed with constant beer drinking and loooooong Port-A-Potty lines and endless stream of cigarettes and very little food equals heat stroke mixed with exhaustion yielding...you guessed it: THE FLU!!! (BTW: if you ever have the flu AND heat exhaustion, I can't recommend more hanging out in airports...really the perfect place to be ill and vulnerable, especially when all you want is for it to end as quickly as possible and you hear that voice over the intercom: "this flight has been oversold...we are offering bus rides to the Houston airport." We made the flight, but those ten minutes of fevered terror will last me a lifetime. The only saving grace was that we almost collided with Janine Garofalo near our gate.)

Anyhoo, this is just a very circuitous explanation for why we haven't blogged all week. We are ingesting chicken soup and OJ at an assembly-line rate and should be up and ranting next week like nothing happened.

CRYPTOGRAMOPHONE: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE'RE NOT ON THE GUEST LIST?

March 22, 2008

Your Brain on Jazz

An interesting -- if not exactly surprising -- report published last month by researchers at John Hopkins University's School of Medicine and the National Institute on Deafness demonstrates the almost rapture-like dream state the brains of jazz musicians enter when they are "in the zone" of improvising. Check out a good article on the study here. For a cool 5-minute interview with the interestingly named Dr. Charles Limb M.D., who headed the study with Dr. Allen R. Braun, M.D., and also a studied jazz saxophonist himself, go here. To read their actual report, go here.

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If anything, this study is a refutation of that classic National Lampoon bit between Christopher Guest (playing Mr. Rogers) and a VERY young Bill Murray (as a hungover jazz bassist) when the former asks the latter what he thinks of when he is soloing. "I think of candies -- fresh little candies," Mr. Rogers ventures. After an awkward pause, the jazz musician admits: "Well, mostly I think about my financial situtation..."

March 25, 2008

World Stage Stories Announces Spring 2008 Calendar

Chet Hanley, Clint Rosemond and Jeffrey Winston, our friends down at Leimert Park's World Stage Performance Gallery, just sent us the new Spring schedule for World Stage Stories, their next round of live oral history interviews with local jazz luminaries:

March 28: drummer Fritz Wise
April 11: author Steve Isoardi
May 2: vocalist Barbara Morrison
May 9: singer/washboardist Sweet Baby J’ai
May 30: cornetist/bandleader Bobby Bradford
June 6: pianist Harold Land, Jr.

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Fritz Wise

All WSS interviews include a formal interview with the artist, then a Q&A with the live audience, followed by a short "woodsheddin'" segment where the artist blows the roof off the mutha. WSS takes place on Fridays at 8pm at the World Stage (4344 Degnan Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008). A $10 donation is suggested. For more information, call Clint Rosemond at (323) 290-6565.

April 3, 2008

Desert Island Dozens: Peter Erskine

Ted Goia's Jazz.com website features an extensive list of what recordings our friend drummer Peter Erskine -- who plays tomorrow at the Swedish Jazz Celebration in dear ol' Stockholm -- would take with him to a desert island. Check it out here.

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April 4, 2008

Boppin' with Maupin

Yes, we realize that the word "legendary" -- especially in jazz and blues circles -- is tossed around to the point where it nearly becomes meaningless, but it sure doesn't apply when it comes to multi-reedist/composer/bandleader Bennie Maupin.

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The Maestro

For anyone who wants to see the master in action, Mr. Bennie will celebrate the release of his new recording Early Reflections on Cryptogramophone Records, Friday, April 18th at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood, CA. There will be two sets, at 8:00 PM and 10:00PM.

As anyone with a modem should know by now, Bennie Maupin's "comeback" (one might argue the man never left) came in a one-two punch with the release of the critically lauded Penumbra in 2006 and the re-release of his classic 1974 album The Jewel in the Lotus last year. Early Reflections is a beautiful recording of Maupin's Polish quartet featuring Michal Tokaj on piano (Tomasz Stanko's pianist), and guest vocalist Hania Rybka on two tracks. Joining Maupin, Tokaj and Rybka for this performance will be bassist Darek Oles, drummer Michael Stephans, and percussionist Munyungo Jackson. The ensemble will also be performing in New York City at the Jazz Standard, April 26-27 as a part of Cryptonights at Jazz Standard. Early Reflections will be released April 22nd.

Continue reading "Boppin' with Maupin" »

April 28, 2008

Reflections on the week that was

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Well, CryptoNights 2008 at Jazz Standard NYC has concluded, and as a (not so) independent observer I'd have to say it was a smashing success. Every night was well attended, everyone played great, and the Crypto way was perpetrated in fine fashion. It was wonderful to see old friends in attendance (the family Bendian, Bonnie Wright, Lisle Ellis, et al), and make some new ones as well. The guys who came from Louisville, Nels' wild and interesting pals, they all made me really happy.

Continue reading "Reflections on the week that was" »

May 13, 2008

Of Bird & Bankruptcy

This week's issue of The New Yorker features a profile of jazz nerd Phil Schaap of Columbia University's WKCR radio and his ornithological-leaning show Bird-watchers, a program that, in writer David Remick's words "places a degree of attention on the music of the bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker that is so obsessive, so ardent and detailed, that Schaap frequently sounds like a mad Talmudic scholar who has decided that the laws of humankind reside not in the ancient Babylonian tractates but in alternate takes of 'Moose the Mooche' and 'Swedish Schnapps.'"

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Remick asks Schaap to compile his top 100 Essential Jazz Albums (assumed, Of All Time), "more as a guide for the uninitiated than as a source of quarrelling for the collector" and Schaap responds with an eminently quotable commentary on the sad state of Music Lists as a whole. (Bravo.) For a little perspective of Mr. Schapp, we found this interesting Bulletin Board debate on All About Jazz entitled "Phil Schapp drives me crazy!".

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AAJ also has a timely feature this week on the recent fiduciary woes of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). -- although one doesn't usually read an investigative piece that beigns with the line: "The truth is, we don't really know."

May 28, 2008

Wanna Write a Jazz Book?

If you're like me -- a freelance writer beginning a long and involved slog through what he hopes will be a comprehensive view of L.A. jazz from 1965 on -- you are simultaneously consumed with feelings of pre-accomplishment ("I'm finally embarking on my life's work!") and feelings of abject failure ("Who the hell's going to buy -- much less publish -- this thing?"). A friend of mine (OK, it's my main squeeze) recently sent me this somehwat hopeful, somewhat depressing memoir of jazz-book publishing by the late Leslie Gourse, author of the 1998 Thelonius Monk bio Straight, No Chaser.

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Continue reading "Wanna Write a Jazz Book?" »

June 3, 2008

The Road Runner, 1928-2008

I remember it was 1987 when my college roommate asked me straight out: "Why do you like Bo Diddley so much?" We had just smoked a few bongloads and we were engaged in one of our weekly "CD Duels," in which we would square off with five of our recent favorite albums each, playing them in entirety, back-and-forth. My roomie, God Bless Him, kept choosing records that sounded great when you were stoned: XTC's Skylarking, Peter Tosh's Legalise It, The Beatles' Revolver. I, like an idiot, actually choose records I liked regardless of one's mental state. One of them was the Original Chess Masters Twofer of Bo Diddley and Go Bo Diddley. At about thirty seconds into the first track, "Bo Diddley," my roomie looked seriously annoyed at the muffled analog recordings that -- like most of early rock 'n' roll -- sounded like it was recorded in a basement Men's Room.

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"There's a whole lotta dead copycats..."

Which is why I loved it. The echo-chamber muzz. The distorted vocals and woozy tremolo. The slashing percussive guitars. The hambone beat. The weirdness. (Album titles: Bo Diddley's a Twister, Surfin' with Bo Diddley.) I loved Bo Diddley because he reminded me of Howlin' Wolf: a true primal eccentric with a strange, private sense of humor and a bawdy twinkle in his eye. His music came out in the 1950s and yet sounds so unlike anything that came out of that period. It didn't sound like Elvis or Jerry Lee or even Mr. Berry. It sounded like Africa. It was music that acted as if the stylistic gentrification represented by Elvis never happened. And who else played electric violin on his records? Who else kept Jerome Green employed for so long? Who else used his half-sister "The Duchess" as a second guitarist? Who else went after Ed Sullivan like a scrappy Chicago street fighter?

"Ed Sullivan did everything in his power to shut Bo Diddley down, because he claimed that I double-crossed him on that song. What happened was, they had my name written on a piece of paper; my name is Bo Diddley, and I had a song called "Bo Diddley." He heard me singin' "Sixteen Tons" and wanted me to sing it on the show. So I thought I was supposed to do two tunes. I went out there and sang "Bo Diddley" first — that's what I was there for, y'understand? — and he got mad. He says to me, "You're the first colored boy ever double-crossed me on a song," or a show, or somethin' like this. And I started to hit the dude, because I was a young hoodlum out of Chicago, and I thought "colored boy" was an insult. My manager at the time grabbed me and said, "That's Mr.Sullivan." I said, "Who is that?" I didn't know who the hell he was, man. Shoot."

This quote was one of many from a memorable 1987 interview in Rolling Stone (conducted by, er, Kurt Loder), where Bo Diddley sort of became the poster dude for bitter rock legends who got screwed out of royalties as well as respect from those who came after:

"Well, Bo Diddley ain't got shit. My records are sold all over the world, and I ain't got a fuckin' dime. If Chess Records gave me, in all the time that I dealt with them, if they gave me $75,000 in royalty checks, I'll eat my hat. Boil it and eat it. Somebody got some money — everybody in this business has big mansions and stuff, you know? I got a log mansion. When I left Chess Records, they said I owed them $125,000."

The whole interview reads like an acrimonious meeting between B-Diddley and his financial planner. But it was one of the first pieces I've read that tried to disentangle the claims about the early days of rock and roll and the terrible price played by young black musicians at the hands of savvy record execs. "If the musical copyright laws of the United States more accurately reflected the way American vernacular music is created and disseminated, Bo Diddley would be a wealthy man," critic Robert Palmer wrote in his classic essay that accompanied Bo Diddley: The Chess Box.

But hey, it was always about the music, wasn't it?

HEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY BO DIDDLEY!
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BO DIDDLEY!

HEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY BO DIDDLEY!
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BO DIDDLEY!

And last but not least: the great vibraphonist Walt Dickerson, 1928-2008.
Rest In Tempo.

June 7, 2008

OUR 100th POST: BlahBlahBlahBlahBlah (repeat as necessary)

TEN NEWS NUGGETS POR ALL OF VOUS:

Todd Sickafoose's Tiny Resistors and the Jeff Gauthier Goatette's House of Return both drop this Tuesday, June 10th! Check out John Kelman's review of Tiny Resistors and Troy Collins' review of House of Return at All About Jazz. Jeff Gauthier will celebrate House of Return's release with a special night of music at the Palmer Room in West L.A. on June 26th. The performance will be filmed, so get there early to get yer mug in the frame!

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On the heels of Crypto's triumphant weeklong stint at NYC's Jazz Standard, drummer Scott "Pops" Amendola has just released Live in NYC, six tracks recorded on the eve of April 25th, 2008 and featuring Jenny Scheinman, "Gnarls" Cline and special guest Charlie Hunter (whose spooky 7-string guitar is a highlight of "Buffalo Bird Woman"). It's available for download here.

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Down in the heart and lungs of L.A. jazz, Leimert Park, World Stage Stories has added on an extra special night with the formidable bassoonist/bassist/accordionist Jesse Sharps, formerly of Horace Tapscott's Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. This is a rare treat: Jesse lives in Germany and rarely ever comes back to L.A., so see him while you can and bask in the man's deep wisdom and intense, sonorous voice -- not to mention his scary chops. Sharps will be sitting down to talk with hosts Jeff Winston and Chet Hanley on the night of June 13, 2008, at 8pm. Suggested donation is $10. Hella bargain! Jesse will also accompany the young bassist Nick Rosen tonight at Cafe Metropol in an esoteric ensemble that incudes Katisse Buckingham on woodwinds, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on viola and piano and Tony Austin on drums.

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Jesse Sharps is also the main image on the cover of Leimert Park: The Story of A Village In South Central L.A., a recently released documentary DVD by first-time filmmaker Jeannette Lindsay. It's a terrific film (read a review of it here by an incisive and very studly young writer) and worth a place in any jazz collectors', uh, collection.

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Speaking of tonight (as in: "Why didn't I find out about this sooner?"), there will be a Tribute to John and Alice Coltrane at the Coltrane Estate in Woodland Hills (7pm-12am). It's a fundraiser for the Coltrane Foundation, so be prepared to part with some dinero. But the lineup is simply unbeatable: Azar Lawrence on sax, the killer Nate Morgan on piano, Jeff Littleton on bass and Roy McCurdy on drums. Undoubtedly there will be many surprise guests; so far Ravi and Oran Coltrane have been confirmed, as well as Mr. Bennie Maupin, whose new album Early Reflections was just released on Cryptogramophone. For more details, call (818) 226-9991. (We'll be featuring another one of our "famous" Downbeast Interviews with Mr. Maupin, so we'll definitely ask him how it all went. Stay tuned!)

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Next week will be Eric Dolphy's 80th Birthday. Trombonist Phil Ranelin, whose successful lobbying convinced the city and county of Los Angeles to declare June 20 Eric Dolphy Day, will be honoring the virtuoso from South L.A. at the Brasserie Lounge of the LAX Crowne Plaza Hotel (5985 W. Century Blvd.; 310-642-7500). As our pal Brick Wahl of the L.A. Weekly mused: "But they really should have a parade." Aye-men!

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We were lamenting having to drive downtown to that impossible-to-park-at Laemmle Theater across from the World Trade Center to see the Ferus Gallery doc The Cool School -- but Lo, PBS's Independent Lens will be running the film (check local listings). Our interest in Ferus stems from the scholarship of Seattle University's Ken Allan, who also has been doing research into L.A.'s infamous art gallery (curated by Ed Keinholz and Walter Hopps) and how the worlds or avant-garde art and jazz intermingled with similar agendas in the late 1950s.

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We were out and about last week and came across a mysterious flyer for something called Make Music Pasadena ("A Fête De La Musique Event"). We were just about to ask: "What the hell is this?" when Pitchfork Media answered our question.

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We were at the Greek Theatre last night, listening to Bonnie Raitt and Richard Thompson dueting on a stunning version of the latter's "The Dimming of the Day", when we caught a banner for the L.A Jazz & Music Festival on July 26, 2008. We haven't been able to find any info on what this is or who is playing. Anybody out there know? Pitchfork, I'm looking in your direction...

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Through the grapevine we've heard rumblings about a group photo being planned of L.A.'s jazz elite at UCLA's Royce Hall, apparently to happen on July 31 to commemorate the birthday of Kenny Burrell. It's being organized by trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez -- who like Burrell is on the UCLA faculty -- in the spirit of Art Kane's famous Great Day in Harlem photograph. Shot in 1958 for Esquire and featuring 58 jazz masters from Lester Young and Thelonius Monk to Art Blakey and Mary Lou Williams on a Harlem staircase, the photo later became the subject of a book and a documentary film. True to such Herculean endeavours -- who on Earth would brave trying to get that many jazz musicians to show up at the same time? -- there's already been some grousings and grumblings about the overall concept of the L.A. photograph. Apparently, the organizers are aiming for all-inclusiveness -- meaning, Kenny G would be standing next to Vinny G. What would those two have to say to each other? Would Vinny's nose start to bleed? Of course, This Music We Love is based on all-inclusiveness, so it is a fitting notion. But the very jagged and Balkanized tapestry of L.A. jazz virtually assures that there will be some very strange company present indeed -- unlike the 1958 photo, many may have never even met each other until the Great Day comes. Another complaint, which I overheard from a purist fan, was about the chosen location of a college campus: "Jazz belongs in the street, not the Ivory Tower!" Hopefully, the final product will be an epoch-defining mixture of both -- although we do tend favor The Street 'round these parts...

June 18, 2008

AAJ Profiles George Klabin

Well, OK, it's not exactly a profile as it is an interview culled from the website of Resonance Records, founded by local jazz producer/engineer George Klabin, who recorded many future jazz legends (Gary Burton, Bill Evans, Bob James, Keith Jarrett, Roger Kellaway) when he headed the College Radio Jazz Department at Columbia University in the mid-1960s.

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Klabin is the man behind the Rising Stars Jazz Foundation, which among many other activities mounts home jazz salons that take place in the Beverly Hills estate he purchased next door to his own. He converted the estate into a sumptuous high-tech performance space and recording studio. Klabin's salons feature out of town artists not just from the U.S. but from England, Brazil, Sweden and Italy. Guests have included Gerald Clayton, Elaine Elias, Peter Erskine, Mike Garson, Anglea Hagenbach, Tamir Hendelman, Christian Howes, Christian Jacob, Kathy Kosins, Romero Lubambo, Josh Nelson, Enrico Pieranunzi, Ron Satterfield, Annie Sellick and Ernie Watts. Klabin also just released the Great Moments in Performance Volume 1, a DVD culled from the salons.

June 24, 2008

REVIEW ROUND-UP: Assemblage, 1998-2008

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Continue reading "REVIEW ROUND-UP: Assemblage, 1998-2008" »

July 22, 2008

Tids 'N' Bits

While we're still trying to wrap our heads around Heath Ledger's tremendous, epic, posthumous hijacking of a $200 million summer "comic book movie" (yeah, right. The Dark Knight was like watching two and a half hours of 9/11 footage...utterly brutal), we've got a bit of mopping up to do with some news nuggets that have accrued. Don't let anyone tell you the world of jazz and "out" music is dead and boring: we go away for a two week vacation and so much has happened -- an obscure jazz singer alters the lyrics to the National Anthem and causes a kerfluffle; David Byrne turns the Battery Maritime Building into a enormous musical instrument -- sheesh! So we'll just get right to it:

UNO
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Our axe man in the field Nels Cline, robbed of a chance to play with Tom Verlaine when both of them worked (separately) on the I'm Not There soundtrack, will finally get to mount a stage with one of his heroes when he gets to play a tribute show at the Knitting Factory in New York commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Fender Jazzmaster, long and unfairly derided as the "gay cousin of the Stratocaster and Telecaster." No more, peeps. No more.

DOS
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Todd Sickafoose's Tiny Resistors is still racking up rave reviews (well, DUH): check out the newest from The New York Times and Pop Matters.

TRES
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Jeff Gauthier's House of Return continues to burn up the charts. Check out Greg Burk's review of the CD release party here and a new CD review from AAJ's Glenn Astarita here.

CUATRO
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Sad news: Pianist Gerald Wiggins passed away on July 13. We have a special guest blogger who will contribute a personal remembrance of the gentleman everyone called "Wig" sometime this week, so stay tuned...

CINCO
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Jeffery "Win" Winston, our friend from the World Stage in Leimert Park let us know of some cool shows coming up this week: on Thursday night, bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin will lead his ensemble at the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel in Westchester. Since The Skip is based in Riverside, it is a rare treat to see this SoCal stalwart in LA environs. (And he still plays like a dream, too.) On Friday, saxman
George Harper and his Quintet (including the genius pianist Nate Morgan) will host a free afternoon of jazz at the Angelus Plaza 4th Floor Auditorium in downtown L.A. The address is 255 S Hill St. For more info, call (213) 623-4352, ext. 308. And if that ain't enuff 4 u, check out the 13th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival this weekend. Never a dull moment there! The lineup this year includes Ernie Andrews, Justo Almario, Clora Bryant, Gerald Wilson, Barbara Morrison (Sat.) and Phyllis Battle, Michael Session, Nedra Wheeler, Poncho Sanchez and -- who else? -- Mr. Nate Morgan (Sun.), who will be playing with the formidable woodwindist Jesse Sharps. (And get this, Jesse told me they wold be doing a couple of Bennie Maupin songs. Holla!)

SEIS
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Speaking of Central Avenue, the terrific site for the Indiana Public Radio show "NightLights" ("Where The Birth of the Cool Comes Out of the Past") did a show about the heydeys of L.A.'s own "jazz avenue," which you can access here. But there's more LA-related veins to be mined on this site: Dolphy ’64 and One More You Wrote Through Us: Horace Tapscott.

SIETE
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And, to circle back to The Dark Knight, The New Yorker's Ben Greenman has an interesting post that attempts to, well, "close the circle between Batman and jazz." You heard us, homeskillet. It ain't THAT much of a stetch!

TA-DAHHH! (Now, where did I leave that pencil?)

July 30, 2008

Tribes

We've got a lot of books in our nightstand queue, but its only on closer examination we realized that there's some sort of motif afoot: A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music; The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde; The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and The Source Family. And it's not even the keyword "1960s" but the idea of musical and social collectives centered around experimental music -- call them "tribes" if you will.

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I actually have an indirect personal connection to the San Francisco Tape Music Center. My lovely betrothed was a film student at the University of Milwaukee in the late 80s/early 90s and was in a class taught by avant-garde filmmaker Robert Nelson, who was one of the SFTMC's collaborators. My dear actually appeared in one of Nelson's class project films, and it was quite an odd experience for her to attend the Nelson retrospective at the American Cinematheque last year and not only see her younger self onscreen but actually be recognized by Mr. Nelson himself, now in his 70s and a virtual hermit living in the the woods of Northern Cali. One of the films screened turned out to be my favorite: "Oh! Dem Watermelons," a trippy screwball meditation on race relations in America that Nelson collaborated with fellow SFTMC freek Steve Reich. I was pleasantly surprised by Nelson's approach: when I heard "1960s experimental filmmaker" I immediately assumed "angry, confrontational, even a bit crude" (like Putney Swope shot on 16mm); but Nelson's films reminded me of the whimsical satire of Richard Lester (especially "The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film"); ditto for Reich's hypnotic, hilarious score featuring around 200 variations of the word "Watermelons" sung by what sounded like a drunken men's glee club. When we got to talk to the gracious Mr. Nelson over a few beers at Micelli's, he revealed the only music he enjoys listening to are Miles, Monk, Trane and Buhaina. Ahhhhhh...

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The Father Yod collective (OK, it was a cult -- albeit a peaceful and contributive one) poses another interesting realization: even tribes we define as "cults" produce their own indigenous and organically conceived music, and much of it is quite fascinating. On the less sunny end of the spectrum there was the "Irreverend" Jim Jones' People's Temple, who produced original works that borrowed from black gospel and early 70s R&B, reflective of the church's open-door policy of racial inclusion (a good portion of Jones' congregation were African-American), and also a sinister and tragic window into how Jones used inspirational music as just another device to entice and control. Then there were the infamous "Desert Recordings" of the Manson Family (once available on CD from True Classical/Transparency) and the music of failed rock star Manson himself, which start off like folk ditties but end up betraying (surprise!) an earth-shattering rage and a flirtation with annihilation. Then there were the folk songs of "acid fascist" cult leader folkie Mel Lyman, who like Jim Jones encouraged sadomasochism in his followers and whose music sounded like Woody Guthrie writing a mash note to Adolf Hitler. His guitar should have had a sign on it: "This Machine CREATES Fascists."

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If you think this line of reasoning is nuts, just remember the robe-clad "cult rock" of the decidely nondenominational Polyphonic Spree. Whatever one may think about religion or religious indoctrination, whenever people sing to their God -- whether it be the Melanesian choirs featured in the film The Thin Red Line or the vocal chorales of Southern Shape-Note singing as featured in Cold Mountain -- it is always awe-inspiring.

[Damage Assessment from yesterday's 5.8 earthquake: I have no idea, as I am in New Mexico. I hope the fish are OK, though...]

August 15, 2008

Day-O

You know, we're a bit leery of turning this blog into a never-ending New Orleans funeral parade of obituaries for fallen masters: Johnny Griffin, Hiram Bullock, Lee Young, Joe Beck, Brother Yusuf Salim, Michael Berniker and Jo Stafford all left us in the last few weeks. (Whoops, wait, add Mr. Isaac Hayes and Chris Calloway.) Then there's the stuff that's a little too close for home, like Dave Carpenter, who will be honored with a free memorial concert at the Jazz Bakery this weekend. I've read many times over the impulse of many music writers to use this as a metaphor for how the art form of jazz is dying out -- which is preposterous. I'm not saying that jazz is not on shaky legs lately, especially here in Los Angeles. Just because, say, the last of four U.S. Army soldiers to discover Buchenwald died last week, does this mean World War II history is dying out? Last time I checked, it had two full walls at the local Borders.(Then again, the "Jazz" section was only one shelf, and hidden within the general "Music" section. Oh crap...)

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No matter. A terrific new film opens next week in L.A. covering the LIFE of the late great certifiably nuts jazz singer Anita Belle Colton O'Day. I can say this because I spent a couple months with Ms. O'Day in 2001 working on an in-depth profile of her for Flaunt (back when such an article was even possible in that magazine -- thanks to Larry Schubert!). It was exhausting because the little lady was still so much alive and quite tempestuous. She HATED being interviewed; the only way I could pull it off was sign on as her driver and just watch her create chaos wherever she went. We got into a couple of screaming matches. After it was all done and the wreckage cleared way, she quietly thanked me for putting up with it all. Lady was a class act. Her singing was more akin to Charlie Parker's saxophone than Billie Holiday's throat. I always thought one of those old Apple computer adds -- the ones that said "Think Different" -- should include the famous shot taken by Bill Claxton of Anita leaning back and laughing, a crumpled score in her hand. My father used to say: Be like everybody else? What's the goddammed point?

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Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer premieres here next Friday, August 22nd. Check out the short review by The New Yorker's Hilton Als:

If Anita O’Day didn’t invent the role of the hip white chick, she certainly held the patent on it. All you have to do is watch Bert Stern’s strange, almost hallucinatory 1958 documentary, “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” to get a fairly good idea of O’Day’s particular talents. In the film, the Chicago-born singer—who died in 2006, at age eighty-seven—is dressed in a black hat and a tight-fitting cocktail dress, the epitome of cool. O’Day admitted to having been high on heroin during the concert, and she was unaware of being filmed. But her rendition of “Sweet Georgia Brown” is the hit of the movie, revealing her need to communicate how joyful, tough, smart, and shy she was, all at once. Those qualities are on display in Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden’s moving, heartfelt documentary, “Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer,” which opens on Aug. 15. In it, we see O’Day dismiss a journalist’s questions about her personal life with the skill she evinced as a singer: with utter clarity of intention and absolutely no room for bullshit.

That journalist, by the way, was the always-hep Bryant Gumbel; her reply to his smarmy insensitivity: "Well that's just the way it went down, Bryant."

Currently, there is no electronic copy of my Flaunt piece on Anita that Jonathan Lethem and Paul Bresnick chose for the 2002 edition of Da Capo Best Music Writing. (Whoop, ahem, let me just pick those names back up off the floor.) In the meantime, here's a brief (and blurry) excerpt from Google Book Search.

August 22, 2008

Young 'Uns

Next month, the CalArts Jazz Studies Program will launch a website to mark the 20th Anniversary of their invaluable CalArts Jazz CD compilations. which features compositions from the school's student musicians. The archival site, according to the CalArts website, "will contain downloadable versions of all of the cuts produced over the last 19 years. This unique musical resource will also link to musician's biographies and additional information, as well as offer a complete gallery of cover art and liner notes."

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Why is this invaluable? Because graduates of the Jazz Studies program over the last 20 years include Beth Schenck, Nate Herrera, Chris Heenan, Nick Rosen, Lorca Hart, Jason Mears, Jeremy Drake, Gary Fukushima, James Carney, Ralph Alessi, Ravi Coltrane, Sara Schoenbeck, Adam Rudolph and Nedra Wheeler. This ensures the site will be an invaluable resource for not just fans or audiophiles but of scholars and students of the development of modern L.A. jazz.

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A rare Paul Bley interview from 1979 just went up online, courtesy of Bill Smith's Imagine The Sound blogsite. Check it out here.

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Amusing Nat Hentoff article in Wall Street Journal on why kids like John Coltrane.

August 25, 2008

Unsubstantiated Trivia Dept.

We were at a private concert in Encino yesterday -- one in which Jesse Sharps, Roberto Miranda, Kamasi Washington, Kamau Daaood, Dwight Trible, Nate Morgan and Karon Harrison rocked the literal house -- and we heard an interesting bit of trivia concerning the Michael Mann thriller Collateral (2004), where taxi driver Jamie Foxx drives white-haired hitman Tom Cruise around Los Angeles while Cruise -- in his last great performance before becoming terminally annoying -- offs witnesses in a federal drug case.

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One of those scenes (pictured above) takes place inside a Leimert Park jazz club (which was actually filmed inside of the Quon Bros. jazz club in Chinatown), and there is a brief but tre cool performance clip featuring local stalwarts Donald Dean and Trevor Ware kicking out some turgid Bitches Brew-esque jams. (The actual song they played was a note-for-note "Spanish Key.") The club is owned by a aging jazz musician (played by the great Barry Shabakla-Henley) who engages in a duel of wits with Cruise over a bit of Miles Davis trivia. Well, as it turns out, if our sources are correct, the original choice for the jazz club owner was bassist Henry Grimes (pictured below), who was just on the cusp of his great comeback a few years back. Of course it never happened, but man, what an entirely different scene that would have made.

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Kamau Daaood clued us into a terrific new book coming out in the U.S. on Sept. 10. Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats collects a cornucopia of personal photographs from the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter (a.k.a., "Nica"), the jazz-loving heiress to the House of Rothschild who is most famous as Thelonius Monk's patron-slash-squeeze.

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The book itself is a stunning record of an amazing life amidst one's musical heroes (how many of us can claim that?); the photos themselves aren't the crystalline black and white photos one associates with classic jazz photography (a la William Claxton) but are often grainy, blurry and in washed-out colors. But therein lies their power. I don't think I've ever seen a photo record of jazz musicians that is so intimate and present-in-the-moment. I love the usual iconic perfomance photos of Monk, sweating and pounding his piano keys, but there's something even more magical of shots of him lying in his underwear taking a nap, or caught on a New York patio looking out at the skyline. The book is filthy with these priceless unrehearsed moments.

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We've been reading the blogs lately and came across a nice review of Jeff Gauthier's House of Return from Jazz and Music Reviews.

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Also, our pen pal in blogitude Greg Burk is on a brief haitus from his invaluable MetalJazz site, but some unidentified soul is putting up some of the best of the last year or so of Greg's posts. Check 'em out!

September 9, 2008

Crypto Cleans Up at VMAs

Hah-hah hee-hah ho-hah. Well, no, of course not. But we did get some more love last week:

"L.A. is home to one of the world's most adventurous jazz labels (Cryptogramophone)."
-L.A. Times (9/01/08)

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ON TOUR: Our pal Todd Sickafoose, currently on his Tiny Resistors mini-caravan (and playing Santa Monica's Temple Bar tonight with Nels Cline and Kneebody), was just profiled by Sign On San Diego.

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TOUGH CHOICE: Don't miss the upcoming Creative Music Festival at Redcat next week (Sept. 19-20), featuring Wadada Leo Smith [above], Vinny Golia, Thomas Buckner, Anthony Davis and Mark Dresser, among many other participants. Only problem: Friday night's show, which also features Amina Claudine Myers Trio with the CalArts Choir, dovetails with the Sacred Music Festival show over at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre.

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Crypto master percussionist Alex Cline [above] will fulfill a lifelong dream performing as a member of Kinnara Gagaku/Bugaku in Hirokazu Kosaka’s performance piece Mare Serenitatis ("Sea of Serenity") Besides Kosaka himself (a Zen archer/
performance artist), other participants are Oguri, Tetsuya Nakamura, Kaoru Watanabe, bodyTRAFFIC, Majikina Honryu, Koyasan Buddhist Priests, and IKKYU Zen Archers. Wow. "Needless to say, this is my first (and possibly only) gig playing Gagaku music," Alex writes. "Something I love but never imagined I’d get an opportunity to do." What to do, what to do...

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Check out the short film by Morleigh Steinberg called Height of Sky, which profiles Oguri and has striking scenes shot not only in the California desert but at Venice's Electric Lodge performance space, home to many a concert by many of Crypto's extended famdamily. The film also uses music from Lajko Felix and Wadada Leo Smith.

BLOGGY NOTIONS: Check out the David Berman Interview on Zolius; the Peter Evans profile courtesy of Greenleaf Music; the Paul Motian Trio review on Visionsong; the interesting news on the Free Jazz Research Project from Bagatellen; cool info on "aural artists" Bernhard Gal on Just Outside and Trimpin on PostClassic; the Tanglewood Festival coverage from The Jazz Session's Jason Crane; and the enduring vinyl tirade on Running the Voodoo Down.

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And finally, Sunburned Hand of the Man's Adam Nodelman, Rest in Tempo

September 16, 2008

Nugglettes

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WAX ON: The music journal Wax Poetics has lately been poking its nose into the bramble patch of L.A. jazz (i.e, "a tangled and complex network of subterranean vines"), with it's recent profile of trombonist Phil Ranelin and now with a upcoming 5500-word (!!) piece on Horace Tapscott written by Andy Thomas. No word as to when the latter will appear in print, but keep your eyes out for it. Wax Poetics has just released Anthology Vol. 2 of archival articles; you can buy a copy here.

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NELS KNITS: Jon Pareles of The New York Times reviews the 50th Anniversary Tribute to the Fender Jazzmaster at the Knitting Factory last Friday night featuring our axe man in the field Nels Cline and some other guys.

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GONE BABY GONE: Portland loses its Jazz Festival; Santa Monica loses its Temple Bar.
From the latter's press release: " September will be the last month of live music at our current location, so we invite you to please come out and shut the house down with us in creativity, fun and style. The month will be jam packed with the livest music and DJs in town so we welcome all old friends and new friends. And when you get here, please make sure to pick-up a commemorative copy of the farewell brochure calendar which includes September events, a photo collage of Temple Bar friends and family and personalized letter from Temple Bar owners and visionaries, Louie & Nettie. But that’s not all! - we want to invite you to continue to enjoy the experience of Zanzibar and Little Temple which will remain open and booming with business. You will continue to see some of your favorite Temple Bar music presented at these venues from time to time in addition to the amazing residencies you have grown to love. We would also like to present our ‘newest’ venture - The oldest and original speakeasy in Venice – The Townhouse with the Del Monte Speakeasy, located at 52 Windward Ave in Venice."

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[Amusing Nugglette: we remember the pre-gentrified days of the Townhouse -- located near where the old St. Mark's "jazz club" used to be -- when it was referred to as "The Piss House" because of the pervasive stench of urine that the owners/staff were unable to scrub out of the pool hall-cum-dive. What's more, the bartenders kept a white dildo sitting in full view by the bar-back. As the story went, a deranged elderly homeless woman wandered in one day yelling obscenities and threw it at the bartender. I wonder if they'll keep it around?]

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FLEA'S CIRCUS: The Silverlake Conservatory of Music has announced its 4th annual Hullaballoo 2008 concert on Sept. 27 at Los Angeles' Union Station (800 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012). From 5pm-11pm attendees at will be treated to an evening of eclectic musical performances featuring SCM students, co-founder Keith Barry, faculty, and of course, the school's other co-founder, Flea. Special guests confirmed at press time include famed trumpeter Roy Hargrove, jazz singer Roberta Gambarini and members of the LA Philharmonic (more TBA)." Tickets (they ain't cheap) are available online here.

LASTLY, NOT LEASTLY: Pink Floyd's Richard Wright, Infinite Jest's David Foster Wallace and composer Hector Zazou -- REST IN TEMPO

December 9, 2008

Nels Adds His Wisdom to Oxford-American

Oxford-American magazine just published its 10th Annual Music Issue online, which contains an article on the late Texas guitarist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown: (a) written by your humble blogger; (b) containing salient quotes by Mr. Nels Cline. Check it out here.

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January 7, 2009

Well, the plecostomus is dead...

Yes, our plecostomus -- or, "Pleccy" as we knew and loved him -- was found lifeless in our aquarium when we returned from our Big Island Hawai'i trip. We left plenty of food, and the algae was thriving when we left, but we've had him for about seven years, and we're not sure if it was our negligence or his old age that pounded the last nail in his little catfish-casket. Nevertheless, we were quite sad; it seemed like such an unceremonious ending for a cherished companion whom we loved to watch swimming around our tank in lieu of reality television. Quite honestly, Pleccy had much more personality: shy, sometimes petulant, always loyal, a bit of a loner he.

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"Feeeeeeed meeeee!"

At any rate, let's jump in to some "News in Brief" with both coral-reef infected feet:

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LOVE FROM CHI-TOWN
Pitchfork Media, whom we already knew was partially run out of the Suddenly Coolest City on Earth (Wilco, Tortoise, Andrew Bird, The Velvet Lounge, Kranky Records, Common, The AACM and that Obama dude) but didn't know the guy who launched it, Ryan Schreiber, was a jazz guy. Now we suddenly know why they've been throwing us some more L-O-V-E lately, as seen in today's post about our rez talented twins Nels and Alex Cline. There was some surprise -- affected for the uninitiated, we surmise -- that Nels even had a twin bro at all, something we hope to rectify in the upcoming weeks with our exclusive interviews with both brothers in tandem with the upcoming (Feb. 10!) release dates of their respective solo albums: Alex's Continuation and Nels' Coward. Stay tuned.

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PILFERING THE TIMES
Some cool music-related articles from last Sunday's edition: a review of D.J Taylor's Bright Young People, a new book on the overlooked history of the British Jazz Age; a profile of the Coburn Conservatory of Music; and an overview of Noise, a new anthology of fiction based on the music of Sonic Youth.

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LOCAL YOKELS
We've been noticing a recent pique in the profiling of regional jazz music, from Rebecca Abbott's documentary The Unsung Heroes: Jazz Music in New Haven to Jeannette Lindsay's Leimert Park: A Story of A Village in South Central to a new book by Benjamin Franklin (no joke) entitled Jazz and Blues Musicians of South Carolina. All of this appears to be in direct response to the monolithic "national" approach of Ken Burns' Jazz.

TENACIOUS D.
Check out Dary John Mizelle's In Defense of Moderism.

70 YEARS YOUNG
Los Angeles' own Monday Evening Concerts has been going on for 70 years. Which in LA-LA terms makes it positively Jurassic.

OUR FAVE YEAR-END LIST
Wired.com's Top 5 Disruptive Music-Making Technologies

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CHES MASTER
Crypto extended family member Ches Smith is interviewed on Glowing Realm.

CURRENTLY LISTENING:
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – Cardinology
Buena Vista Social Club – At Carnegie Hall
Coldplay – Viva la Vida/Prospekt’s March
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
No Age – Weirdo Rippers

CURRENTLY READING:
A Power Stronger Than Itself by George E. Lewis
Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman w/ John Jacobs
Blindness by Jose Saramago
Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

January 14, 2009

6 x 24 = 504

504 hours, that is, until the end of the Imperial Presidency. Thanks to vacation and attendant illnesses (flu. cold, coral reef infection), we're a little behind the news curve here, so allow us to unload our burdens:

PILFERING THE WEEKLY VIA THE NEW YORKER VIA PITCHFORK VIA ROLLING STONE
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Kudos to the LA Weekly for its terrific regional-centric pieces over the last month or so:
Liz's Ohanesian's piece on electronic composer Mark Lane (pictured above); Casey Dolan's article on The Resurrection of Frank Zappa's Soul. Their blog had some pretty sweet Year End Lists (although we try to avoid the swarm of those) with plenty of local talent like No Age, Delicious Vinyl, Abe Vigoda (which Pitchfork media just profiled), Flying Lotus (celebrated by The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones) and the Knux. Rolling Stone has also highlighted some local scenes and friends: Jenny Eliscu's overview of the resurgent Laurel Canyon scene that is drawing the likes of The Jayhawks' Gary Louris and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis; the ever-interesting David Fricke "picked" extended Crypto gal-pal Jenny Scheinman for a little love. The musical kind that is...

ZORN/KING/GAUTHIER
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On Friday, Feb. 6, Our fearless leader Jeff Gauthier will join New Yawk composers John Zorn and John King in being honored ('bout time!) for having their music interpreted by The Eclipse Quartet (Sara Parkins, Sarah Thornblade, Anna Fernandez, Maggie Parkins, pictured above) at a special concert at MONA's First Fridays series. The EQ will devote the first half of the program to Zorn and King, which doesn't excuse all you latecomers who are there for the second half, which will be an improvisational collaboration as the quartet plugs in to play music by Mr. Jeff, and to improvise with him on electric violin and David Witham on electronics and keyboards. Together these musicians will create spontaneously composed music inspired by the amazing neon art on display at MONA.
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This will be Mr. Witham's second memorable night at MONA, the first being his Jan. 9 concert reunion with Adwin David Brown (W. and he collabroated in Bluezeum) on a bill that also included The Black Plums. The first awesome show of the year, in our book. These nights at MONA started off a bit shaky and underattended, but are really gathering momentum with increasingly adventurous programs -- all to the eerie pulse of L.A.'s neon ghosts. Mr. Witham just completed his role as assistant conductor for Wicked, which closed a couple of weeks ago. He can be heard on Ernie Watt's new CD To The Point: Live at the Jazz Bakery.

SENDING FREDDIE ON HIS WAY
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Freddie Hubbard's funeral was last week, and there's pics and reportage on this important -- if bittersweet -- event from L.A. Watts Times, Sulekha, PicTopia and the San Francisco Chronicle among others. Of the many many tributes given to Hubbard and his music over the last few weeks, we enjoy The Jazz Cat's remembrances with Hubert Laws, David Weiss and Mr. Bennie Maupin and our blog buddy Dave Douglas' lovely "Listening To Freddie Hubbard."

MUSIC WHERE IT DOES/DOESN'T BELONG
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Two favorite pieces of wackiness: the Mystery Piano in the Massachussetts woods and Joshua Bell's rush-hour concerts in Washington DC.

CATCH IF YOU CAN
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Independent Lens' documentary on the making of John Adams' Doctor Atomic...KCRW's retrospective of 50 years of McCabe's Guitar Shop...PBS' Chicano Rock!, about the golden age of East L.A. music (in time for the publication of Anthony Macias' Mexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935-1968)...NPR profiles of Mike Reed and Martial Solal (pictured above).

CRYPTO'S FRIENDS
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Guitarist and Crypto friend Jim McAuley's 2-CD The Ultimate Frog has been getting a lot of good press as of late. McAuley was in the California Guitar Trio with Nels Cline and the late Rod Poole, and his characteristic low profile is offset on the record by appearances by The Clines, Leroy Jenkins and Ken Filiano. You can check it our (or BUY IT) here.

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For those of you who can't wait for Alex Cline's upcoming Continuation CD, one of its stellar players, cellist Peggy Lee, has released New Code, which has been getting rave reviews. Both CDs are on Drip Audio.

COW TIPPING
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Accompanying numerous profiles on Mr. Fred Frith comes a much-needed and long-awaited box set retrospective of Frith's landmark ensemble Henry Cow. Titled, strangely enough, The 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set, you can read AAJ's review here.

And, finally...

REST IN TEMPO
Ron Asheton
Delaney Bramlett
Betty Freeman
Glenn Goldman
Lars Hollmer
Eartha Kitt
Charlie Ottaviano
Rosetta Reitz
Gene Parrish
"Pleccy"
Tony Reedus
Elmer Valentine

January 22, 2009

Crypto Receives No Oscar or Grammy Nods, But...

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"TurtleBird"

If there's any doubt that the dawn of our current Prez will bring back cool music and art, dig Pitchfork Media's coverage of the Big Shoulder Inaugural Ball, which had quite possibly the hippest lineup of musicians (including exended Crypto pals Tortoise and Andrew Bird, pictured above) since Greg Allman and Dickey Betts ran into each other at Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977.

Similar/related thoughts from Edward Goldman, host of KCRW's Art Talk:

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Since Election Day, when Barack Hussein Obama became President-Elect of the United States, I, like everyone else, have been swept up in the wave of enthusiasm over the results of the election. But truth be told, I’m elated not just because we have our first black president, but because for the first time in decades, our commander-in-chief is a brilliant person whose intelligence and eloquence wins friends and foes alike. With that, plus his famous discipline, the sky is the limit.

For the first time, in god knows how long, an American president is including art in his political agenda. During the campaign, Obama was the only candidate to distribute a detailed program of initiatives, including plans for an Artist Corps. It would promote art in schools and low-income communities, increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and provide health care for artists. In an interview on ‘Meet the Press,’ Obama said “Our art and our culture...is the essence of what makes America special, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.”

Probably you’ve heard about the petition circulating in the last few weeks urging Obama to create a new Cabinet-level position for an Arts Czar. My advice to him would be to take it upon himself to promote art and culture, because he has a unique opportunity to champion it for the American public - let’s say by making a habit of visiting the museums within walking distance of the White House, accompanied by family, friends and sometimes by visiting dignitaries. You may remember, I did a program asking him, Please, Mr. President, Take us on a Date. Can you imagine the media frenzy if Barack takes Michelle and his adorable girls on a stroll through the National Gallery? Can you imagine our new president deciding to bring contemporary artworks into the White House - not only in the living quarters, but in the Oval Office as well? Wouldn’t it be a great chance to breathe new energy into the historic rooms, which have gotten a bit stale and could use a break from traditional images of cowboys roaming the Wild West?

And could President Barack Obama take a cue from John F. Kennedy, who had the chutzpah to ask not an established or famous artist to do his official portrait, but a young, unknown painter Elaine de Kooning whose first exhibition had been panned by critics? The resulting portrait of JFK is a remarkable and welcome departure from the predictable and boring portraits of so many American presidents. After all, even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had the balls to sit for an official portrait of her painted by Lucian Freud, one of the most celebrated painters of our time, notorious for refusing to flatter his subjects. Take a look at her portrait on the Art Talk page of the KCRW website: not pretty, not kind, but one tough broad you don’t want to mess with and all that under a heavy, bejeweled crown. Wouldn’t it be intriguing to see what Lucian Freud would do with Obama? Or for that matter, how the presidential portrait would look if it were done by the great American artist Chuck Close?

Think about how many prominent artistic careers Obama and his family could launch if they agreed to pose for a variety of young artists who would have to compete for such an honor. You can say that I’m a dreamer, but encouraging signs abound: in the weeks preceding the inauguration, we see photographs of Obama visiting a Washington museum in the company of Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, and we can also find an amazing variety of portraits of Obama spreading like wildfire via the internet. The most interesting one I discovered there is a mural-size image of Barack Obama as Abraham Lincoln, plastered on a wall in Boston an image as cool and colorful as the man who today became the 44th President of the United States.

January 30, 2009

¡Odds Bodkins!

Completely serendipitous and pointless anecdote culled from our current economic crisis and only marginally related to music:

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The great thing about what's been happening in the financial sectors as of late is the EVERYONE seems to be going though hard times, which to me means there's no shame in doing anything one can to make ends meet. (This would be different in boom times, when the flush wealth of some is waved in the faces of the less fortunate.) Now we (or most of us anyway) are on a more level playing field. I found this out yesterday when The Beast agreed -- through circuituous and unavoidable connections with those in L.A.'s entertainment industry -- to be an extra in a brief TV shoot at Burbank's McCambridge Park. It paid $50. I had no idea what show it was for and I didn't care. I was scraping, but I was proud to do it. My job was to stand at a pay phone (yes! they still exist) and just dial. That's it. Just press the buttons and pretend to raise the phone to my ear. Then, as it was revealed to me by the director, I was supposed to leap back from the phone and drop it. Apparently, I was playing a poor soul who was just about to hang up the receiver when he was struck by lightning. Apparently, this is what the show was about: a cable documentary about the science of lightning.

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OK fine. I asked the director the backstory -- I mean, I needed motivation! -- and she revealed that I was playing none other than Dr. Anthony Cicoria, the orthepedic surgeon from Oneonta, New York who in 1993 was hit by a bolt of lightning that hit the metal pay phone he was at, struck him in the head and exited out his foot. Apparently, the shock to the system "downloaded" (his words) an obsessive love of piano music and revealed a previously hidden talent for playing it. He recently composed the "Lightning Sonata" and now plays concerts billed as "The Accidental Pianist." His story forms the basis for the bestselling book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and The Brain by Oliver "Robin Williams Played Me!" Sacks. One of my all-time favorite books. I was honored!

REST IN TEMPO
Leroy "Hog" Cooper
Susan Meyer Markle
John Martyn
Gordon "Whitey" Mitchell
David "Fathead" Newman
George Perle
Billy Powell

March 9, 2009

The Silence

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Last night, the Downbeast finally met one of its heroes, cultural critic Greil Marcus, at a literary reading at Redcat. He was sitting alone at the bar, with tiny eyeglasses, Clintonesque grey hair, and a creased Mt. Rushmore visage that reminded me of Chef Gordon Ramsey. I caught him in mid-sip. Here's how the conversation played out:

DB: Uh, hello, uh, Mr. Marcus...?

GM: [unintelligible]

DB: Sorry to bother you.* I just wanted to meet you and tell you how much I enjoyed your...

[I go to shake his hand, but he demurs apologetically.]

GM: [unintelligible, something ending in "-itis"]

[I look at his hands, they are wrapped in velcro Tony Hawkish wrist guards.]

DB: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Did this occur from the many years of typing at a typewriter?

GM: I'm sorry, what?

DB: [louder] Did this occur from the many years of typing at a typewriter?

GM: No, no. There's a completely different reason [unintelligible]

DB: [beginning to sweat] Well I guess your career as a piano mover is completely shot.**

GM: [something noncommital]

DB: I think they look kind of cool, like Spider-Man's web-shooters.***

GM: I think they make me look like a reptile.

DB: [laughing too quickly, intensely] Well, I just wanted to tell you that you and I both share an edition of the Da Capo Best Music Writing...

GM: What?

DB: [more sweating, louder] I just wanted to tell you that you and I both share an edition of the Da Capo Best Music Writing...

GM: Uh-huh. What's you article?

DB: On the jazz singer Anita O'Day...

GM: What?

[And so on and so on and so on...]

DB: Anyway, I consider being anthologized with you a great honor.

GM: Oh thank you [mumbles something]

DB: Okay then! [inexplicably patting GM on back] Have a great evening!

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I suppose I should mention the reason I could barely hear Mr. Marcus and the reason he could barely hear me was I've been having terrible hearing problems over the last two months. The first incident plugged my right ear after I returned from Hawai'i and it turned out to be a lump of wax that had been pushed up against my eardrum like a slipcover. (The rainy-season humidity of the Big Island turned out to be the culprit.) Then, not two weeks later, I came down with strep throat, which quickly made its sneaky way into my LEFT ear canal and mercilessly cut off all sound. Not to gross you out with the deets, but there were a lot of bloody q-tips in my bathroom wastebin. Turns out an infection had shattered my eardrum and it is now in the process of repairing itself.

I guess why I am mentioning this is the extreme distress that is caused within a lifelong music nerd/hound/obsessive when one's own God given woofers are blown out, and the world becomes piped in Mono. First off, listening to music on headphones is intolerable. And irritating. And depressing. Having conversations in public places become a pitiable comedy: you either talk too loud or too soft; you hear virtually nothing from others and have to constantly ask, 'What? Hah? Come again? I'm sorry?' like Grandpa Simpson.

Try plugging your ears with your fingers and then speak in normal tones: your voice sounds louder when you can't hear it. Your interior voice becomes your exterior voice; or at least the two are mixed with embarrassing results. It annoys you and anyone you are talking to. Schmoozing becomes a high-wire act that inevitably ends in disaster. You wind up coming off aloof or disconnected: I went to a music concert on Saturday night and was so cowed by my hearing problems that I shied away from saying hello to at least six people I knew and hadn't seen in awhile. And it can be dangerous: Woe betide you should you walk past a deranged street person who demands change and then takes your lack of hearing as a lack of respect.

I guess this is just a long way of saying that being deaf sucks, however temporarily. Which is why it was serendipitous that I met Greil Marcus last night. On the one hand, there was the legendary writer who found it increasingly painful and difficult to write; on the other, the music geek who found it painful to listen. To quote Linus Van Pelt: "There's some lesson in there somewhere, I'm just not sure what it is."

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*public domain term to be used whenever one approaches someone important

**leads to later conversation with mirror: "'Piano mover'?! How could you be so STUPID."

***leads to later conversation with roommate: "'Spider-Man'?! How could I be so STUPID."

REST IN TEMPO:
Louis Bellson
Randy Bewley
Ian Carr
Hank Crawford
Blossom Dearie
Lukas Foss
Lux Interior
Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez
Max Neuhaus
Gerry Niewood
Henri Pousseur

March 20, 2009

A Little Nacht Muzak

Wow. I thought these images were lost forever in my collegiate past. A late night show that was too hip for its own good, hosted by a guy who was the farthest from hip as you could get and still not be in Iowa. No, it's not the Ed Sullivan Show, nor is it The Dick Cavett Show, but Night Music with David Sanborn (with the even less hip sponsor Michelob), a aural showcase of incredible breadth and care that ran for a few seasons in the late 1980s (hence Sanborn's I-haven't-realized-the-80s-are-over-yet hairstyle) and was obviously put together by kindred music nerds who knew what they were doing.

Who was on this show? Hmmm, lessee, there was Pere Ubu, Sonic Youth, Kronos Quartet, The Pixies, Phil Woods, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, NRBQ, Bootsy Collins, Nick Cave, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pat Metheny, Warren Zevon, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Lounge Lizards, Richard Thompson, Hank Crawford, Donald Fagen, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Christian Marclay, Tim Berne, Al Green, The Residents, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Charlie Haden, Toots Thielemans, Milton Nascimento, Diamanda Galas and Artis The Spoon Man.

Night Music was like Saturday Night Live with just the musical guests (Lorne Michaels was the producer), and not just performing solo, but in fascinating combinations. The one that stands out in my resin-corroded memory was Sonny Rollins backing Leonard "The Undertaker" Cohen on a smouldering version of "Who By Fire," with Rollins ending the song with a protean solo that pushes the boundaries of believability.

Good lord, I'm drooling all over my keyboard. At least I HOPE that's drool....

April 17, 2009

Master Classic

The Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival is this weekend, and the local paper The Beacon has an interview with one of the featured artists, Crypto pal Peter Erskine.

May 7, 2009

SoLA

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...

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"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?)

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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:

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

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

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

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".

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

May 31, 2009

Twinight of the JB's (RE-updated)

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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

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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

June 10, 2009

Blogtrollin'

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Is Jazz Times magazine dead? Howard Mandel and Marc Myers weigh in....Thurston Moore interviewed by Decibel magazine (posted by a "J. Bennett," hmmmm)....Sonic Youth is in the middle of a unique residency over at Pitchfork TV and is also featured along with Carla Bozulich, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Devendra Banhart and Explosions in the Sky in Yeti Publishing's new Art of Touring, "a book of art, photographs, and writing reflecting life on the road, plus a DVD of live footage." (Why should we care? 1/3 of the profits from the sales of the book will be donated to the Musicians' Emergency Fund administered by the Jazz Foundation of America)....If that isn't enuff SY 4 U, check out Sashe Frere-Jones' New Yorker article on their 30th anniversary....Nostalgic thoughts on new Jane’s Addiction DVD....Peter Breslin listens to Trout Mask Replica
....Hilarious: “Jazz, A Drug” via Soundslope....Rust Never Sleeps: L.A. musician rescues Lester Young’s horn....Dave Douglas' new Spirit Moves now streaming....AVN plumbs the recently discovered 1957 recordings of Edgar Varese conducting a free jazz workshop that included Art Farmer, Teo Macero and Charlie Mingus....AAJ's Tom Greenland reviews the new John Zorn bio....The Bad Plus announces a sh*tload of summer dates....John Kelman summarizes of awesome anti-Burns jazz documentary Icons Among Us and Eric Benson documents its making....Word from the BBC on another another jazz doc 1959: The Year That Changed Jazz....Kyle Gann on Morton Feldman book....NPR’s A Blog Supreme profiles Jazz Icons DVD series creator Hal Miller....Salient thoughts on the Jazz “Tradition” from Pi Recordings....Bela Fleck’s banjo tour of Africa is documented in Throw Down Your Heart, which just opened in LA (read a review here)....Missed the Harry Partch tribute at REDCAT last week? Greg Burk reviews it here.

REST IN TEMPO
Jeff Hanson
Hugh Hopper
Kenny Rankin
Koko Taylor

CURRENTLY READING:
Love at Goon Park by Deborah Blum (Berkeley Books)
The Birth of Bebop by Scott DeVeaux (University of California Press)
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (Hyperion)
Lowboy by James Wray (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)

June 11, 2009

Son of Blogtrollin'

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CHECK(IT)OUT: via Tim Niland, a link to WBGO's The Checkout podcasts....HEAD IN ARMS MUSIC: Mark Geelhoed essays Josh Haden/Charlie Haden/Johnny Cash....UNDER YOUR SKIN ON YOUTUBE: interviews with Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Sam Rivers, Yusef Lateef, Satoko Fuji, Gary Lucas, and recent Vison Festival Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marshall Allen....FINALLY: LA Weekly profiles Busdriver....ONE GREAT NIGHT: Free Jazz reviews new Ellery Eskelin/Andrea Parkins/Jim Black live CD..."HOW LONG, OH LORD?": impassioned jazz rant from Graham Collier...REALLY??!!: Pop & Hiss stops short of admitting the Playboy Jazz Festival sucks....PASTE PULLS ONE OUT: "Six Gateway Jazz Albums for Rock Elitists"....TAPE CHANTS: Peter Margasak on Oakland electro-experimentalist Greg Kowalsky....UPPER-CLASS TWITS: Sounds & Fury wrings its hands over Twittering during classical music performances....FROZEN MUSIC: Of no musical interest except to those who spent time in Minneapolis from 1986 to 1991....THE MEMPHIS MAFIA: David Brent Johnson on Memphis’s little known jazz legacy....THEY CALL ME MISTER RHODES: requiem for an Angeleno....AND SPEAKING OF REQUIEMS: Kris Tiner’s photos of the last night of the Jazz Bakery....HAPPY ENDINGS: Anvil get their due after how many years?!!!....THE NUTJOB: Ornette Coleman’s “Meltdown”....POINT OF DEPARTURE: New issue is out....THE TALIBAN CAN'T: David R. Adler on Sufi music in Pakistan....THIS PRETTY MUCH EXPLAINS ITSELF: "A Musicologist’s Companion to American Idol"....SUBBACULT: Will Friedwald on the arcane world of jazz discographers.

And if between these three obsessives you can't find a head's up on great music in L.A. this week(end), we don't know what to tell you:
Greg Burk’s Jazz Picks of the Week (June 5-11)
Don Heckman’s Jazz Picks of the Week (June 9-14)
Brick Wahl’s Jazz Picks of the Week (June 11-17)

CURRENTLY LISTENING:
Albert Ayler - Holy Ghost (Revenant)
Arctic Monkeys - Live in Texas (Domino)
The Bird and The Bee - Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future (EMI)
Iron & Wine - Around the Well (Sub Pop)

June 16, 2009

Obamojai

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First off, let's celebrate our endlessly classy First Lady for hosting a series of jazz workshops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Unfortunately, the Marsalis family was well-represented. Oh well, it's a start -- at least they performed "A Night in Tunisia." As Mrs. Obama is a sophisticated city sista from Chicago, here's hoping she'll bring in the AACM for some truly 21st century noise. Check out NPR's podcast of the event, as well as their A Blog Supreme.

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Not to be outdone, the L.A. Times's Mark Swed summarizes the new sounds heard last week at the Ojai Festival.

June 20, 2009

Mingus Returns from the Dead and Punches Someone

Well, no, no of course not. Just kidding. But wouldn't that be awesome? He could start with Larry King and then move right on to a one-two of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

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"I'm baaaaaack"

Just a reminder: tomorrow (Sunday, June 21) there will be a screening at the Watts Towers Art Center of Charles Mingus: Past, Present, and Future, a new documentary film by Rosie Lee Hooks and Paul S. Rogers. The film will be shown in the Center's Noah Purifoy Gallery at 1:30pm and is free to all. From the L.A. Dept. of Cultural Affairs: "The film features an all-star line-up of world-class musicians, singers, dancers, and artists who come together in an exceptional, jam packed hour of television that not only entertains and informs, but inspires as well. Interviews and performance excerpts from many notable musicians, include world renowned Patrice Rushen, the luminous Nedra Wheeler, the extraordinary Ndugu Chancler, the Center for Celebration Arts amazing Giant Puppets, and jazz great Buddy Collette who discusses his life-long friendship with the legendary Charles Mingus. In addition, Nedra Wheeler's Bass Choir will perform live in the Mingus Gallery, playing Mingus, Mingus, Mingus!!!"
Well, we were going to go to a condo open-house tomorrow, but FERGET IT NOW.

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Hank Jones holds Hank Jones at the 2009 JJAs

Also, the verdicts are in from the 2009 Jazz Journalists' Awards at the Jazz Standard in New York City this week past. Go here to view all the winners.

Greg Burk's Live Jazz Picks for June 19-25
Brick Wahl's Live Jazz Picks for June 18-24

REST IN TEMPO
Bob Bogle
Dini Clarke
Andy Hughes
Michael Joseph Jackson
Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy
Ali Akbar Khan
Charlie Mariano
Jack Nimitz
Sky Saxon
Steven Wells

June 24, 2009

Music (The Brain)

Tonight on TV there are two music-related offerings that we'll be queuing up on our DVR:

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The Music Instinct: Science and Song, a PBS documentary about the physical and emotional effects of music on the human body. Heady stuff. Read the LA Times review of the program here.

And our pal Nels Cline will be running the changes with Das Vilco on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien or Jimmy Fallon or Craig Ferguson or whatever...

Wilco (The Album) isn't even out in physical form yet but it's streaming has yielded all sorts of reactions: from Rolling Stone's thumbs up to Nels' guitarwerks on "Bull Black Nova" to these crotchety seniors at Sulimay's diner in Philly:

Read the LA Weekly's review of Wilco's first night at the Wiltern here.


Wilco, with special guest Leslie Feist dueting with Jeff Tweedy, perform "You and I" at the Wiltern Theatre (6/25/09)

July 15, 2009

Hot Weather Music

As scales tipped the 100-degree mark last weekend, the Beast decided to check out Bennie Maupin's hour-long set at the Jazz Explosion III, a California Jazz Foundation benefit at Pasadena’s All Saints Church. The maestro was conducting his Ikeda Kings Orchestra, a big band teaching ensemble he formed under the aegis of SGI-USA, the Buddhist organization that also counts Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock as members. In Mr. Maupin's words to the audience: "Unless you're at UCLA or USC, you don't get a chance to do this." Sweeping his hand over the 25-member band, he added: "We came from the streets, not academia."


Bennie Maupin conducts the IKEDA Kings Orchestra with vocalist Neeyah Lynn Rose

Anyone familiar with Mr. Maupin's classic work with Miles Davis and Hancock's Headhunters (or even his most recent efforts on Cryptogramophone) can see a different side of the saxophonist/clarinetist when he conducts the IKO. The band -- 5 saxophones, 1 bass, 2 keyboards, 1 guitar, 6 trombones, 1 french horn, 5 trumpets, 4 percussionists -- provided the most sternum-rattling moments (we were right up next to stage left) during jaunty instrumental workouts like "Wind Swept" (with a terrific tenor sax break from John Armstrong) and “Lester Jumps Out.” Their set was laden with Latin-heavy arrangements on songs like "Patina Latina" and a bossa nova read of Lieber-Stoller's "Save the Last Dance for Me" replete with mariachi-style trumpets and Phil Edwards’ supple vocal accompaniment.

Maupin centered the set around vocalists whom he admitted he "loved to play with." They included Edwards, Jen Yim and Dee Dee McNeil, who sparkled on "Imagination" and "Fly Me to the Moon," after which Maupin remarked off-mike: "Ah, the voice of experience." Linda Faye closed the set with a smoldering take on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s "Desafinado" and the Vanessa Williams ballad “Colors of the Wind" before closing with the old Eddie Floyd barn-burner "Knock on Wood." (Check out pics from the performance here.) After the set, we caught guests like Mr. Buddy Collette, Mimi Melnick and co-host “Dr.” Jeffrey Winston, who revealed the tough and sluggish negotiations currently underway to keep the World Stage Jazz Festival on the rails for this summer. Keep your economically declined fingers crossed.

EN OTRO NOTICIAS
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Bill Milkowski interviews extended Crypto pal and frequent Cline Brothers collaborator Gregg Bendian for All About Jazz.

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On July 31, the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble will present "Time, Minimalism and Electronics," a summer program centered around California composer Terry Riley's 1964 masterpiece In C at Columbia College in Tarzana.

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Bassist Nick "The Kid" Rosen sent us this message yesterday: Hey Everyone, I have just finished my first full length album entitled Into the Sky after over a year a half of work. It is produced by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Nino, and features all new music of mine with a lot of great musicians from around LA. In celebration of this new album, I will be playing a show coming up on August 3rd at the Mint to play the new music from the album with a live band. This will also be my group's only west coast performance this whole year, so don't miss it. I have a really great group lined up for the night and I will have some copies of the album to give away.

The Nick Rosen Group:
Nick Rosen-basses, vocals, acoustic guitar
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson-viola
Josh Nelson-keys
Brian Green-guitars
Mike Bennett-drums
plus special guest vocalists

Live at the Mint
Monday, August 3rd
7:30pm, $8
6010 W. Pico Blvd
LA, CA
www.themintla.com

July 17, 2009

Crypto (The Song)*

*sung to the tune of "Wilco (The Song)"

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Pardon us for this digression,
We know there’s better things to do,
Are you feeling some suppression?
Is life drilling a hole in your head?
Do you hide in your bed?
So kick back the sheets,
And stop playing Garbo,
And go go go,
To Crypto,
Crypto,
Crypto will save you, baby

Is Auto Tunes getting stale?
Are your favorite pop stars in jail?
Have you reached the end of your rope?
Is your boss just a dope?
Dump that Blu-ray and go
To a land of musical to and fro’
Crypto,
Wilc-- uh, Crypto,
Crypto won’t steal your lady

Too many things we can’t control,
Like that tweaker next door who smells like Skoal,
There is a place past the clouds,
Where you can don cosmic sonic shrouds,
And play it loud-oud-oud
Crypto,
Crypto will make you proud

Someone put a boot on your car?
Stay away from that wine bar,
Get out before you drown in Bordeaux,
D’oh d’oh d’oh,
Crypto,
Crypto,
Crypto,
Crypto will always love you, boo

July 18, 2009

Sky Blue Sky

The recent passing of beloved/puzzled-over Seeds frontman Sky Sunlight Saxon (not his real name) has brought out some prominent voices to pay tribute. A recent Saxon collaborator -- the irrepresible Billy Corgan -- of Smashing Pumpkins© fame offered up this tribute and reputedly will appear in some sort of all-star pickup band (alongside The Electric Prunes' Mark Tulin and other TBAs) for a Saxon tribute on July 24th at the Echoplex in Glendale.

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But now to the important part: a fella we know who was actually alive when Sky and the Seeds were doing their semi-seminal work -- Mr. Nels Cline hisownself -- will be particpating in the tribute. Whether he'll be part of the "Spirits in the Sky" band or just going at it solo-style is anyone's guess. Read Nels' tribute to this late, irreplacable whackjob here.

August 14, 2009

OUR 200th POST

Unfortunately, it does not bear the happiest news...

THE WIZARD FROM WISCONSIN

Lester William Polsfuss (1915-2009)

THE INTERSTELLAR STELLAR

Robert Patterson (1935-2009)

EN OTRO NOTICIAS:
After losing the Jazz Bakery in May, now it seems the Dark Forces (whatever or whomever they may be) are giving chase to even PRIVATE jazz clubs. Case in point: David Anderson's Live at the Atelier salon in Mar Vista, which LA Citybeat's Kirk Silsbee called "one of the best" home jazz salons in Los Angeles. David himself sent us the specs:

Dear Friends,

The first (and only) concert (Tamir Hendelman Trio, Venice, Colbie Caillat) on May 17th, was fantastic...But, here's the rest of the story: a letter we just put up on our website and sent to our Atelier Artists:

You may have noticed that it's August, the opening concert (with the Tamir Hendelman Trio, Venice, Colbie Caillat) was in May, and we've been silent since. The reason? During the May 17 concert, we were visited by a wonderful officer from the Pacific Division of the L.A. Police Department. Apparently one or two of our neighbors on Ocean View Ave. have been consistently calling the police the day of every Atelier concert. Since the complainants are known to the police, but not to us (a fact that surprised the nice officer) we can only hope they come forward, reveal themselves, and we can work it out.

We are doing everything in our power to resolve this situation---it will probably mean calling the ticket price a donation, to reflect our 501C3 status; we have offered a bunch of creative parking alternatives to the neighborhood in the letter reprinted below.

Whatever it takes we're prepared to do. We've put a letter into each mailbox on the street (see below) asking for dialogue and clarity and, as always, inviting anyone on the street to the concerts free of charge. We have all the requisite licenses and dispensations to hold these events. Now, as the officer says, it's a "quality of life" issue. We're working with the city attorney on this; we hope to have resolution in a matter of two or three weeks, and if so will then offer a shortened 3-or-4-concert series for the late summer and fall.

We have more world-class artists wanting to play at the Atelier than we have time for this year---that's a good thing. We'll keep you posted as soon as we know anything. Please keep checking back, and thanks for your interest.

As for salons that are still holding equity, Mimi Melnick's Double M Jazz Salon is hosting an unmissable feast of talent next Sunday, August 23: bassist Roberto Miguel Miranda, woodwindist Charles Owens, drummer Sonship Theus and pianist Wayne Peet with Aubrey Seibert and Stephen Blake adding vocals and spoken word. For times and directions, email MImi at mmelnick@sbcglobal.net.

November 18, 2009

Win A Dream Date with an Evil Genius

Ah, the lost pieces of the puzzle keep falling into place: John "Drumbo" French, one of the key players in the classic 1966-1972 lineup of Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, has finally completed his epic tome on making music with The Captain. It's called Through the Eyes of Magic and it's nearly 1000 pages long....good god, in just writing this our salivary glands have gone into overdrive. Check out more info on the book (drop date: January 2010) from the Radar Station blog.

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BOO!

In related BH news: Josh Lieb, executive producer of The Daily Show with John Stewart, has written I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President, perhaps the only young adult novel (that we know of) where the 12-year old protagonist is a Beefheart obsessive. Here's Mr. Lieb's take on the Captain:

Captain Beefheart, perhaps the greatest Rock & Roll musician of all time. And a sort of...evil genius in his own right. He and his Magic Band produced some of the most amazing music of the '60s, '70s and '80s. It's a kind of thing where it's in the book, I suspect zero percent of...the children reading it will have any idea who Captain Beefheart is. But it's a funny name. And so I think they'll enjoy that. And then maybe they'll...look him up, they'll listen to some music and they'll be horribly disappointed.

Listen to the rest of the interview here.

Greg Burk's Live Picks (Nov. 20-26)
Don Heckman's Live Picks (Nov. 16-22)
Brick Wahl's Live Picks (Nov. 18-25)

November 22, 2009

I, Nica

Are we dreaming? Could HBO actually be running a jazz documentary?

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Yes! This Wednesday, Nov. 25, the network that brought us depressed mobsters, flesh-eating pigs and harried bigamists will be airing The Jazz Baroness, Hannah Rothschild's new film about her great-aunt Pannonica "Nica" Rothschild, perhaps the most famous (and controversial) jazz enthusiast/financial angel/patron/sexpot. Go here to read more about the film.

December 15, 2009

Memphis Slim vs. The Nazis

Your Truly Humble Blogger has a new piece out in that thing we once called "P-R-I-N-T-M-E-D-I-A." The Oxford-American, Marc Smirnoff's perpetually endangered magazine devoted to Southern music and literature, has published its 11th Annual Southern Music Issue with "Blues Is A Kind of Revenge," a small piece by moi on the blues pianist Memphis Slim (with an accompanying essay by R.J. Wheaton on Slim's 1951 recording of "No Mail Blues"). Check it out on newsstands now.


Memphis Slim: Live in Baden Baden

December 17, 2009

Mizz Melford's Multiple Markings

Our friend in Berkeley Myra Melford has been making a variety of news lately: after signing with Firehouse 12 Records, the pianist/composer recently was interviewed by At Length magazine about The Whole Tree Gone, Myra's upcoming record with her Be Bread ensemble. Read a review of it here.

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Greg Burk's Live Picks of the Week (Dec. 18-24)
Don Heckman's Live Picks of the Week (Dec. 14-20)
Brick Wahl's Live Picks of the Week (Dec. 16-23)
L.A. New Music Events (Dec. 17-Jan. 18)

December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays from Cryptogramophone Records

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See You Again in 2010!

January 18, 2010

Blogtrollin' for a Rainy Week

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We realize our Blogroll is a bit outdated. Here's some new offerings to help turn the tide:

Continue reading "Blogtrollin' for a Rainy Week" »

March 8, 2010

REST IN TEMPO: Requiem for a Happy Man

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Another grey, shitty day in Los Angeles, and The Beast is mourning the just-reported death of composer/bandleader Mark Linkous, who led the lo-fi surrealist rock band Sparklehorse from 1995 to, uh, Saturday, when he took his own life at age 47.

If anyone still refers to Downbeast as strictly a “jazz blog” then they haven’t been paying attention. Quoth the sage Greg Burk: “There are no styles anymore, only music.” Linkous himself was a musical omnivore who joined a distinguished line of hermetic, depressive indie “outsiders” (Jeff Magnum, Jeff Lytle, Vic Chestnut) who retreated Big Pink-style to the woods of rural America – in Linkous’ case, a farmhouse in Bremo Bluff, Virgnia – to make strange and decayed sounds with moss-dripped gothic lyrics. One can arguably draw a line of influence from Sparklehorse’s kreep-in-the-kudzu debut Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot to Radiohead’s Amnesiac and Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

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Lately, isolation has been rather hep. Think Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon in his father’s hunting lodge in the musical mecca of Northern Wisconsin, or Owl City’s Adam Young in the basement of a 113-year-old farmhouse in Owatonna, Minnesota. Linkous’ own music reflected this glorious (and somewhat claustrophobic) solitude, conjuring up images of a yard full of paint-chipped hobby-horses, weathered farm machinery and mice-filled refrigerators overgrown with crabgrass, electrical cables running across a chicken-feathered dirt floor to a jerryrigged recording studio amongst rusted tools, ancient spiderwebs and the scent of wood rot. Linkous’ music sounded like blurry ham radio dispatches from such a place, especially on Sparklehorse’s 1998 masterpiece Good Morning Spider: “Pig” is a terrifying blast of Pixies-ish fury; “Painbirds” grows in intensity like a tumor (reflecting Linkous’ quasi-accidental death in 1996); “Sick of Goodbyes” is pure fun; “Happy Man,” especially the live version off the Distorted Ghost EP, is a jacked-up wonder of positivity (“all I want is to be your happy man!”) that made me cry when I listened to it – even though it’s an intense, upbeat rocker. And talk about that live EP: “Gasoline Horseys,” a duet with Sofie Michalitsianos recorded in Bristol, England, is so quiet and delicate it risks being blown away by a stiff breeze.

Linkous sang (and spoke) in kind of a strangled, tremulous creak – like Bobby Goldsboro trapped under a combine. I recall an awkward NPR interview with Linkous that was more silence than speaking: far from being a petulant hipster who was too cool for the room, the man seemed physically unable to even speak of his own music or what it meant. No matter. Good Morning Spider got this Humble Blogger out of one of the darkest and doom-laden periods of my life, when I became a virtual self-medicated, bathrobed hermit in my own apartment, afraid to leave and afraid to write, the floor threatening to open up beneath my feet. Even Linkous’ interesting fashion sense – he toured with the ‘horse wearing a glittering Vegas suit, welding goggles, and a ten-gallon cowboy hat – helped me in some strange way. (It inspired me to write a story, dedicated to Linkous, entitled “Big Neon Cowboy,” about a dustblown primitive awash in the digitized city.) I heard a testimonial at a funeral last summer where the speaker was recalling being depressed, and how having the deceased comfort her was both a blessing and a curse: “What do you do when the one who told you ‘everything will be okay’ is now gone?” Indeed.

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What really sucks, of course, is the announcement on March 3 that Linkous’ most famous project, Dark Night of the Soul, the troubled group project with filmmaker David Lynch and pathological collaborator DJ Danger Mouse, was finally slated to be released sometime this summer. Bummer.

One of the best descriptions of Linkous’ unique effect on the ears came from my friend R.J. Smith, “His songs sound like a secret transmission from the 1930s that bounced around the heaven’s for years before it was picked up by satellite. The songs sound remote, but they communicate as warmly and as richly as a natural-born artist sitting on his front porch, strumming and rocking.”

Mr. Linkous, cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees. Hope to meet you there someday.

Blood suckers hide beneath my bed
And black fumes of skin so gently bled
I slept with a cat on my breast
Slowing my heart stealing my breath
At sunrise the monkeys will fly
And leave me with pennies in my eyes.

-Sparklehorse, “Eyepennies” (2001)

Continue reading "REST IN TEMPO: Requiem for a Happy Man" »

March 19, 2010

Tribeology

Ah, those pholkes at Soul Jazz Records have done it again. Mere months after their fascinating (and long overdue) study of indie jazz cover art of the 1970s, they've re-released 2004's A Message from the Tribe, a lovingly restored anthology of the underground Detroit jazz-funk label Tribe Records. The specially-packaged box set contains early performances by trombone madman Phil Ranelin [pictured below] before he moved out to LA-LA Land and became an integral part of our local "scene" -- if one can call it that. We recommend seeking out Ranelin's Nixon-era lost classics like The Time is Now (1974) and Vibes from the Tribe (1976).

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Check out this review of the comp from Pitchfork Media's Mark Richardson below:

Continue reading "Tribeology" »

June 7, 2010

Adios, Amigos (UPDATED)

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Well, pards, it's been three exciting years here at the Beast, but we must be movin' on. We had an awesome time attempting to turn this blog from a de rigueur attempt at self-promotion to something. . .uh, a little bit more than that. Have we succeeded? We have no idea. Oftentimes, it feels like manning a Morse Code substation in the Arctic Circle: ".. ... - .... . .-. . .- -. -.-- -... --- -.. -.-- --- ..- - - .... . .-. . ..--..? .- -. -.-- -... --- -.. -.-- .- - .- .-.. .-.. ..--.. ..--.. ..--..?!?"

At any rate, yours truly is now walking out the door into a scary and frightening world of freelance chaos. I am in the process of (natch) starting my own blog which we be a continuation of my obsessions -- musical, medicinal and otherwise -- that have taken shape over my tenure here at Downbeast.

Anyhoo, we'll let you know when that starts up. In the meantime, much love, respect, and thanks to Cryptogramophone's Fearless Leader JEFF GAUTHIER for letting me go on (and on and on and on) with this lil' bloggy-wog. By far, he's the best boss I've never drawn obscene caricatures of on the bathroom wall. Another shout-out to all of the great musicians who have rolled through the Crypto Head Office and were quite gracious in answering all of my pestering questions. And thanks to y'all for reading!

(POSTSCRIPT: Our friend and L.A. jazz sage Steven L. Isoardi, has just published "The Return of Henry Grimes" his long-awaited account of the remarkable rehabilitation of the former Albert Ayler/Cecil Taylor bassist at the hands of two teeenage jazz enthusiasts. It's a terrific story, and one that has not been told in its entirety -- much less by someone who was actually there to witness it. Congrats, Steve!)

January 17, 2011

If Anyone is Still Out There...

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My long-promised new blog STOMPBEAST is now up and running. Actually, it's been up and running for a few months, but I wanted some time "in the dark" to develop some sort of voice and focus. Since THAT wound up being a washout, we're offering up five months of random introverted excavations for your dining and dancing pleasure: a 13-part deep reading of the Brat Pack flick St. Elmo's Fire, coverage of the 2010 Angel City Jazz Festival,a review of Nels Cline's DIRTY BABY, an essay on Errol Morris and my latest interview with pianist/sound sculpturist Motoko Honda.

Tag cloud

Adam Rudolph Alex Cline's Band of the Moment Alex Cline; Nels Cline: Alex & Nels Cline; Downbeat; Continuation; Coward Alma Lisa Fernandez Andrew Hill 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 Bard Hoff Ben Goldberg Bennie Maupin Bennie Maupin & Dolphyana Bill Stewart Billy Childs Jazz-Chamber Ensemble Billy Corgan Billy Hart Black Metal Bob Sheppard Bobby English Brent Hoff California Jazz Foundation Cameron Graves Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Carla Bozulich Carol Robbins Charles Mingus; Son of Watts Musical Caravan Project; Azar Lawrence; Nate Morgan; Henry Franklin; Alphonse Mouzon; Prayer for My Ancestors Charles Owens Charlie Hunter Chops: The Movie Chris Barton Cryptogramophone Cryptogramophone Records Cryptogramophonr Records Cryptonight Darek Oles Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy David Anderson Pianos David Breskin David Witham Denman Maroney Dennis Callaci Devin Hoff Dirty Baby Double M Jazz Salon Downbeat 57th Annual Critics Poll draw breath Dwight Trible Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Eclipse Quartet Ed Ruscha Edward Vesala Electric Lodge Eric Dolphy Eric Von Essen First Friday Series at the Museum of Neon Art G.E. Stinson Geraldine Fibbers Glenn Kotche Global Village Monday with Maggie LePique Go: Organic Orchestra Gravitas Quartet Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival; Peter Erskine Greg Kot Gregg Bendian Guy Klucevsek Hale Smith Hannah Rothschild Hans Fjellstad Harry Partch; L.A. Weekly; John Schneider; REDCAT Henry Grimes Horace Tapscott Horace Tapscott; Horace Tapscott Tribute Concert; Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra; the Ark; Jazz Bakery; Ruth Price; Jesse Sharps; Austin Peralta; Isaac Smith Howard Roberts Huffington Post Hugh Hopper Ikeda Kings Orchestra improvisation Initiate Instrumentals 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 L. Stinkbug 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 Linkous Mark Zaleski Matt Ritvo Matthew Duersten Mel Morris Michael Davis Michael Session 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 New Monastery Nick Rosen OC Creative Music Collective Oguri Open Gate Theatre Sunday Concert Series Pannonica Rothschild Peggy Lee Peter Bernstein Phil Ranelin Phillip Greenlief plays monk Rahmlee Michael Davis Rashied Ali ResBox at the Steve Allen Theater RIch Breen Rich Breen RISE with Mark Maxwell Roberto Miguel Miranda Roberto Miranda Rod Poole Ron MIles Ron Saint Germain Royal/T Cafe Ruth Price Sara Parkins Sara Schoenbeck Sarah Thornblade SASSAS Satoko Fujii Scott Amendola Scott Colley Shrimper Records Sky Saxon Tribute Sonship Theus Soul Jazz Records Sparklehorse Spirit Moves Spirits in the Sky Steuart Liebig Steven Isoardi Stompbeast Terry Riley The Gathering The Giant Pin The Jazz Bakery The Jazz Baroness The JazzCat with Leroy Downs The Nels Cline Singers The Nels Cline Trio Thelonious Monk Thomas Stones Tom McNalley Tony Allen Tribe Records 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 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot