Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton/Nils Petter Molvaer
Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton: Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues: Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center (Reprise Jazz)
This isn't just figureheads rising to the occasion or getting back to where they once belonged, although both models pertain‑-especially for Marsalis, who enjoys the blues enough that his monster chops masticate them lip-smackingly rather than chewing them up and spitting them out. What's decisive, however, is a conception in which the members of a blues horn section interact polyphonically rather than uniting in the soulful Texas manner while blues polymath Clapton dictates as well as plays and sings a repertoire that includes Memphis Minnie and Howlin Wolf as well as W.C. Handy and Johnny Dodd. The juxtaposition may discomfit at first‑-we're not used to blues so jaunty and effervescent. But let it and it'll lift you right up. A MINUS
Nils Petter Molvaer: Baboon Moon (Thirsty Ear)
Recorded live in the studio with a worldly-wise drummer and a sonic guitarist who adds some modest Teo Macero moves, this is less techno and dubby than the trumpeter's norm, in its many quieter moments evoking the exotica stylings of Jon Hassell. "Recoil" lifts into a riff-driven guitar workout at track three before the music recedes back into contemplation, with Molvaer varying his embouchure and the drums all demonstrative as the guitar seeks out effects. Then the seven-minute title track goes all in on a crowd-pleasing finale. He's always a little too subtle. But in a way that's always the point. A MINUS
I don't have the time or inclination to enter these polls. But I do have the time to offer my opinion on the results.The f*ck you do. Well, you have the time, of course, but not the right. I have serious, I think well-structured, objections to polls that cover entire decades. But unless I'm a participant in said poll, or a holdout who claims "I would vote except for these problems ..." I don't get to gripe.
Somebody who doesn't play but then jeers at the results -- not unlike those who keep demanding certain albums or features be included in EW -- is close to the narcissistic noids Bob correctly noted as the least-productive blog posters: "why don't you like what I like?"
What unites them is that the post is about validating the poster, and has nothing to do with the performer or the critique.
Like JeffC77, I greatly prefer small-group jazz to big-band jazz, for pretty much the reasons he enunciates.
That said, I pulled my vinyl on Mingus Ah Um last night and enjoyed it enough to try it again. Looked unplayed. Don't know whether I own Antibes--MIN is a buried patch of shelf that's hard on my aging eyes and knees.
Played Time Out at breakfast. Carola was delighted, illustrated possible choreography for the title track. What must be remembered about Brubeck is this: enjoying Brubeck is about enjoying Desmond, the whitest player from that period I can actively enjoy. (Yes I said whitest, Tom. Sue me.) Next thing to remember: enjoying Morello also important. Brubeck comes in third in that band.
Played In a Silent Way at lunch. For some reason Carola didn't have that one on speed-dial. Big hit. Rinse and repeat.
Clearly such a miscommunication has happened here--it's not just me, you can tell by the thumb bombs. Please contribute, please know you're welcome, and please know that you are free to give your opinion any time on any subject. But I'm also free to give mine, and in this instance, I read your comments to be mean-spirited, and I was sticking up for my man Joe, for what I don't even remember anymore. Oh well. Maybe we should all move on.
I didn't include any Brubeck in my top 100 1960's core list, so I'm not surprised that he didn't get any votes. I credit him with three A- sets from the decade (actually, 1960-63; after that he trails off, although I haven't heard everything): Brubeck and Rushing, Countdown: Time in Outer Space, and Time Further Out. I had about 300 A- or better records from the decade, so lots of good records got cut. I went with a different Rushing record (had three to choose from -- if you want to complain about someone not registering in the poll, start with Mr. 5-by-5), and the other two immediately referred back to Time Out, excluded only by date. (As I mentioned before, I had nine Andrew Hill records at A-, and only wound up picking one for the core list -- something I feel much worse about than omitting Brubeck.)
Several Toms around here, so I'm not sure if I'm the one expected to litigate Paul Desmond's "whiteness" but that seems like a fruitless task given Christgau's other qualification ("that I can actively enjoy"). My guess is that eliminates Kenton and plenty more I'd just as soon not wrack my brain trying to think of. I will say that while Brubeck had some "white negro" tendencies (but nothing like Mezz Mezzrow), I'm not aware of Desmond having anything more than a profound admiration for Johnny Hodges. I'll also note that nearly all of Desmond's post-1965 albums were simply awful. (Although his Two of a Mind with Gerry Mulligan is as gorgeous as good jazz gets.)
I agree that Pithecanthropus Erectus is one of the great Mingus albums. I also recommend Presents Charles Mingus. Also Changes I (and less so II), which came late but introduced the George Adams-Don Pullen group.
I was totally unaware of The Popular Ellington, although I know all of the songs many times over, and love that edition of the orchestra. As for the 1953-55 Capitol period, those were "troubled" years for Ellington -- most obviously because that's when Hodges went AWOL (or on strike, depending on your viewpoint), but also because Ellington was grappling with bebop (whereas Armstrong just ridiculed it) and was trying to live up to his newfound reputation as America's greatest composer -- the whole jazz is America's classical music thing. I've heard Mosaic's 5-CD The Complete Capitol Recordings of Duke Ellington and have it at B+; some interesting stuff there but little of it prime. After 1956 Hodges returned, Ellington reverted to being the Duke, and nearly everything he touched for 15 years turned out fabulous -- that is, until he started preparing to meet his maker.
I too much prefer small groups to large ones, starting back in the late 1930s when big bands predominated and many of the best small groups were spinoffs, all the way through today. But I haven't let that rule prevent me from enjoying the exceptions, which number well into the hundreds. Indeed, if you let such rules of thumb preclude you from the experience, you'll miss out on all the surprises.
Also, you know nothing about my life. Don't be a dick.
I wish someone could tell me something I don't know about the Doors, because what I do know isn't all that flattering.
Well two positive takes from a couple of interesting characters:
Iggy Pop remarked that he learned how stream-of-consciousness rapping and lyric-improvising could mesmerize an audience by watching Jimbo do it on stage. (And that Morrison was a persuasive advocate for trust-the-subconscious.)
Richard Meltzer, a Doors fan, suggested that the whole band worked better if you regarded Jimbo not as some shaman or dangerous figure but as a kind of absurdist clown, his mysteriousness derived from Del Shannon* as much as anyone.
*Not a bad call -- Wikipedia dug up a terrific quote about ol' Del -- "Writer Richard Cromelin said 'Shannon's haunting vignettes of heartbreak and restlessness contain something of a cosmic undercurrent which has the protagonist tragically doomed to a bleak, shadowy struggle.'" The ultimate: "Stranger in Town."
In honor of International Heavy Metal Day (11/11/11), I’ve decided to count down my 10 favorite HM albums. This is highly subjective, both in terms of what I like and what constitutes metal. I’ve stayed away from Teena Marie-isms (Mr. Eddy), although I thought about including Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods. Every one of these titles is probably instantly recognizable to folks around here: I’ve never had much success in deviating off the mainstream for my metal fix. Nor is much of this recent vintage in spite of some effort on my part to find a fresh metal stream to swim in. Enlighten me: It wouldn’t be a decent list if there wasn’t room to squabble.
10. Peter Brotzmann: Machine Gun
9. The Stooges: Fun House
It’s always a challenge to determine how far to go back in a genre exercise. But it does seem to me that there is something about free jazz that served as a spark for what became heavy metal even if its sonic maelstrom was largely expunged from the metal juggernaut going forward—it was a spark that, once the fuse was lit, wasn’t needed for the explosion that followed. At some level bands like the Stooges and the MC5 and early Blue Oyster Cult used distortion and trebly guitar notes to approximate the evanescent epiphany that the best late 60s avant jazz could muster. To me, these two albums are yin and yang, one turning free jazz into proto metal and the other using blotches of quasi-structured atonality to create rock that was not merely heavy. The one element that neither of these records touch, but that becomes a required spice in a lot of heavy metal from late 70s onward, is the progginess of Devotion and Red, both of which just miss my metal top 10.
Am digging both of these most recent EW picks a lot, and they're a nice vacation from my current semi-obsession: I started out a few weeks ago on a Fairport binge that turned into a Richard & Linda binge and shows all signs of continuing into both Richard and Linda's solo stuff.
I got close to the same amount of pleasure listening to Fairport albums 2-5 (for some of the same reasons and some wildly different reasons) that I did when I went back through the Grin albums (cued by Xgau's review of their best-of). For that short period (to a lesser extent on album 5) they were really on fire, in their comparatively quiet way.
R&L sound as great as ever, too - when Xgau did his Rock & Roll &...Thompson piece years ago I was happy to see that Pour Down Like Silver had risen in his estimation - that one feels more beautiful and transportive all the time, especially "Night Comes In." The small revelation was how much more I like Sunnyvista. Still no classic, but except for the lamer-than-ever title song* and a few other instances it's strong musically and lyrically, and just a pleasure to hear. Almost pure delight: "Saturday Rolling Around," which would do any dance comp proud. And how about them McGarrigles! I can also vouch for a bootleg - Once Brave Henry, live acoustic from 72-73, not-great sound, but Linda sings like she's aware of the hidden tape recorder and wants to make sure she's heard, and she sure is. I'm about 3/4 happy with Rhino Handmade's Shoot Out the Lights live disc...it has a couple of nice guitar showcases ("For Shame of Doing Wrong" and "Living On Borrowed Time") and a lovely, circumstantially-very-sad "Dimming of the Day," but also "Pavanne," which always sounded like a song Nico should sing (it could certainly be about her) and "Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed?" sung by Richard, which, when Linda was right there available to sing it, is just wrong.
As to the solo years, I have no plans to hit every album, and am steering clear of all the boxes, but am going to try a couple of the records I've skimmed or skipped altogether, and would love some recommendations, if anyone here wanted to chime in. Greg M., I believe you have a few thoughts on the subject. :) Here's where I'm at: I'm familiar with everything up through Rumour & Sigh. Listened to most of Mirror Blue a few times before falling back exhausted. Made it through two songs of You? Me? Us? before falling back exhausted. Own and enjoy Industry and Sweet Warrior. Downloaded "Oops, I Did It Again." Everything else is virgin territory.
*Though Richard obviously has an affection for broad satire his stabs at it have been wildly erratic...like whimsy, it's an area where one has to be a zen master in every moment, or it can turn unbearable very quickly.
not unlike those who keep demanding certain albums or features be included in EWmea culpa. Guilty of this . Never again will I do this. Lesson learned. As someone so eloquently stated previously, I learn more from the surprises than the expected but I appreciate both equally. Just had to get this off my chest. I have a guilt complex about this so what can I say... thanks Milo.
- Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite (1966, RCA) 
- John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964, Impulse) 
- Duke Ellington: Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962, Impulse) 
- Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes (1960, Atlantic) 
- Johnny Hodges: Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges (1964, Impulse) 
- Sam Rivers: Fuschia Swing Song (1964, Blue Note) 
- Paul Desmond/Gerry Mulligan: Two of a Mind (1962, RCA) 
- Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity (1964, ESP-Disk) 
- Amalgam: Prayer for Peace (1969, FMR) 
- Jackie McLean: Let Freedom Ring (1962, Blue Note) 
For honorable mentions, start with my Core List: http://goo.gl/6SMWQ
I would probably go deeper than that. In particular, a lot of very good Andrew Hill and Jackie McLean discs got cut there. One artist I should have done some research on was Ornette Coleman: his Atlantics straddle 1959-60 and I'm rusty on the later discs.
The one that's raised the most eyebrows is Amalgam: a Trevor Watts quartet, the first real masterpiece of the burgeoning English avant-garde scene.
One I especially wish I had worked into the ballot somehow was Budd Johnson's Let's Swing. I was pleasantly surprised to see that somone had voted for one of the Earl Hines quartets that featured Johnson: Live at the Village Vanguard. Hines' long out of print Up to Date is every bit as good.
One record I'm surprised didn't fare better is the Wynton Kelly/Wes Montgomery Smokin' at the Half Note; another is John McLaughlin's Extrapolation. Figured we had more guitar fans here. Also, for that matter, Bitches Brew: first jazz record I really listened to, mostly because roommates likes to play it as late night chill out music.
Great list - lots of stuff for people to explore, and some cool surprises. Nice to see Ayler make the top 5 - I tucked him farther down for fear of making the final list noisier than it need be.
I ended up limiting myself to one title per artist, same as Nate, tried to go with some overlooked choices here and there (no Love Supreme, yes Ole), and did my best to dampen my more avant leanings. I also included my runners-up, which believe me I sweated over. A very fun poll, Brad.
1. Miles Davis, The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel (30)
2. John Coltrane, Ole (15)
3. Eric Dolphy, Out To Lunch (10)
4. Herbie Hancock, Empyrean Isles (10)
5. Cecil Taylor, Nefertiti, The Beautiful One Has Come (7)
6. Charles Mingus, The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (7)
7. Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil (6)
8. Grant Green, Idle Moments (5)
9. Andrew Hill, Point Of Departure (5)
10. Bill Evans, Sunday At The Village Vanguard (5)
11. Steve Lacy, Evidence
12. Albert Ayler, Spiritual Unity
13. Sun Ra, The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra, Vol. 1
14. Ornette Coleman, This Is Our Music
15. Joe Henderson, Page One
16. Horace Silver, Song For My Father
17. Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder
18. Paul Bley, Closer
19. Wes Montgomery, Smokin’ At The Half Note
20. Dexter Gordon, Go!
21. Sonny Rollins, The Bridge
22. Bobby Hutcherson, Dialogue
23. Anthony Braxton, For Alto
24. Jackie McLean, Let Freedom Ring
25. Stan Getz, Getz/Gilberto
- Roland Kirk Quartet Rip Rig And Panic 15
- Sam Rivers Fuchsia Swing Song 15
- Louis Armstrong And Duke Ellington The Great Summit 10
- Eric Dolphy Outward Bound 10
- Miles Davis In A Silent Way 10
- Ornette Coleman At The Golden Circle Vol 1 10
- Jaki Byard The Jaki Byard Experience 10
- John Coltrane A Love Supreme 10
- Duke Ellington Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins 5
- Thelonious Monk Monk’s Dream 5
And here's what I wrote to Bradley:
I saw pretty quickly that I’d never get anywhere if I didn’t impose some constraints on myself, so only one album per leader (I file The Great Summit under A). I also decided to vote strictly for the albums as they were released at the time: no box sets, no retrospective best-ofs, no after-the-fact reconfigurations, no vault scrapes, and, hey, how about no bonus cuts? Couldn’t face that much relistening (I was interested in your conversation with Joe Lunday yesterday about the ethics of voting for boxes, and I liked Tom’s greedhead ballot, but for the life of me I don’t know how people can absorb 7, 10, 15 disc boxes). This had some effect on my choices—if I’d allowed myself the 1997 five-cut version of Coltrane’s Live At The Village Vanguard it might have edged A Love Supreme off the list. And of course I had to make one exception (what good is an unbreakable rule if you can’t break it?): The Great Summit is an after-the-fact amalgam of two albums, Together For The First Time and The Great Reunion, but it should have been one big album anyway, and anyone who votes for it is going to go for the complete version, so why throw my vote away?
(Okay, so nobody else voted for it anyway--I'm still happy)
Let's not let Cain's sex scandal take attention away from his terrible ideas.
Chuck Eddy is the last person I would have expected to give Lou Reed + Metallica a positive reviewYou're surprised that Chuck Eddy likes something that everybody else hates?
now..that Marsalis guy...there is a polarizing figure in jazz.
He appeared around 1980 as the Wunderkind who would bring jazz back to life, or so figured a mainstream press that hadn't paid any attention to jazz since the Mt. Rushmore figures passed c. 1970. They knew he had the gift because he played classical music as well as jazz, and because he played for Art Blakey. He got a major record contract, and added to Sony's PR machine a handful of favored critics like Albert Murray and Stanley Crouch who wrote about him like the Gospels wrote about Jesus, at the same time deprecating anyone outside of his narrow Jazz = Blues + Swing formula. He then parlayed his reputation into a commanding position at Lincoln Center, which gave him a stranglehold over what's probably the largest source of jazz funding in NYC -- funds he went on to use for conspicuously political and ideological purposes. That in turn led to things like Ken Burns Jazz, which made him effectively the nation's Jazz Czar. The people who benefit from his largess like him fine. Those who don't benefit, well, like him not so much.
His records tend to break into three groups: the small group hardbop sets, which are proficient but never satisfy me like his models do; his various retro nods, which are technically superb and generously educational (good example: Mr. Jelly Lord); and his efforts at composing major works, especially those meant to position him as the successor of Ellington and Mingus -- these are almost without exception dreadful (well, there's a spectacular section in Citi Movement, but we're talking 5 minutes out of two hours). There can be little doubt as to his skills or his mastery of those parts of history he deigns to recognize, but it's too easy for non-experts to overcredit him. (As fine a trumpeter as he is, for instance, Dave Douglas can play rings around him.)
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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