Friday, February 19, 2016

Weekend Mix: "I Don't Know My Jazz From A Hole In The Ground"

"I've got no kick against modern jazz,
Unless they try and play it too darn fast,
And lose the beauty of the melody"

-Chuck Berry nailed it in 1957

Sal warned me that a few of his Jazz mixes didn't go over so well, but that's exactly my point. This collection is for people who don't think they like Jazz. I'm one of them, after all, because I think a great deal of it is boring. Too many notes going nowhere as fast as they can. Where is the tune?

Shane Theriot hails from New Orleans and is currently guitarist and musical director for "Live At Daryl's House". His "Sanford and Son" (2000) seemed like the perfect place to start.
"Jungle" (1995) by Jef Lee Johnson is one of several tracks featuring vocals. Purchased as a cut-out from Sal back in the day. The rest of the album, "Blue" is just as good. Unfortunately he passed away at 54 in 2013.
"Elephant Walk" (2009) by Israeli guitarist OZ Noy is the funkiest and loosest of grooves in the best possible way.
"Kimotion" (2001) Composed and conducted by guitarist Kimo Williams is pure exhiliration.
You're excused for thinking "You Can't Sing, You Can't Dance" (2013) by Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic is Hard Rock. More like mid-period King Crimson than standard Jazz. One of the baddest songs I know.
"Pineapples & Ashtrays" (2015) is best described as "Surf  Noir". Led by Saxman Bryan Beninghove, the Hangmen are an incredible live act. Highly reccomended
James "Blood" Ulmer got his start with Ornette Coleman but really made a splash in the early '80's with his angular idiosyncratic guitar style. "Black Rock" (1982) somehow manages to sound like both Captain Beefheart and James Brown.
"Sacred Emblems" (2014) is more Surf than Jazz.  From "Psychomagia", the second album by Abraxas, led by Shanir Exra Blumenkranz, performing compositions by John Zorn.
"Keep The Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your Ass" (2003) The Bad Plus. They've been called a "jazz power trio with a rock n roll heart." The melody is as much fun as the title.
Singer, musician, songwriter, producer Cassandra Wilson's take on "The Last Train To Clarksville" (1995) is one of my all-time favorite covers.
Bill Frisell, an incredibly versatile guitarist contributes the only ballad. A lovely rendition of Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman"(1992)
"Footsteps"(2012) by The Fretless Brothers truly unique exploration of microtonal guitars and tunings makes this track wonderfully disorienting.
"Storm The Reality Asylum" (1982) features the vocals of a very young Neneh Cherry with her stepdad Don sitting in on trumpet.
"Silent Land" (1981) Material, formed by Bill Laswell in 1978, went on to become an integral part of, and define the post No Wave downtown Jazz scene.
"Breathe" (2014) from a Big Band reinterpration of the Pink Floyd classic, "Dark Side Of the Moon".
"Tobago Tango" (1986) Art Ensemble Of Chicago were the first Jazz band I really loved, Probably because they annoyed many Jazz fans by playing music that seemed like anti-Jazz. This is their most accessible moment.
"Come As You Are" (2003) Pink Freud. From Poland. Nirvana cover.

I Don't Know My jazz From a Hole In The Ground



Ken D. said...

"a great deal of it is boring. Too many notes going nowhere as fast as they can."

Huh. And here I thought it was just me.
Thanks, Buzz. This mix could open my ears up a bit more...

Anonymous said...

one of my friends said, "I'd like to like jazz, but it requires paying too much attention."

I came to jazz via a free form rock station in Hawaii (dad was in the service). they had a method to draw you in - lots of soul jazz (Les McCann/Eddie Harris' "Compared to What," the 1st side suite to the Crusaders' "Pass the Plate," and loads of Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann), and then the might-as-well-have-been the Dead on a loose night of Charles Lloyd's "Forest Flower Suite," Miles' "Jack Johnson" and Keith Jarrett's cover of Joni's "All I Want."

William Repsher said...

I'm hardly a go-to person for jazz, pretty much a neophyte at this point in time, but I'm learning as I go along. What I've learned with jazz, coming form a rock background, is the good stuff has senses of texture and depth you don't find nearly as much in rock (although you do on occasion). The way it's recorded has a lot to do with it, often live in studio or in a small venue, so you can really get a feel for the instruments, particular the various horns, bass and piano. Similar to the blues in that sense: there's a feel, a deep feel, to the music that rock just can't provide.

And in some cases, the musicianship is stunning. Keith Jarrett was the guy who kicked that door open for me. Those incredibly long, winding solo piano pieces ... are not something most musicians of any genre could pull off.

That said, I'll be sure to check out your mix. Just seeing Bill Frisell's name is a good sign, his take on various Beatles related tracks (like "Mother") are always subtle and right on. I suspect a jazz snob would scoff at your list ... which is why so many of us took years to or never get into jazz. But I suspect the kind of music you grew up with (in our case, rock) is always going to shade how we hear other kind's of music.

Robin said...

Thanks BBJ. Can't wait to listen. And I agree seeing Bill Frisell's name is always a good sign. Have a good weekend.

Sal Nunziato said...

While I am no jazz purist and I am hardly an expert, I have listened to it semi-regularly for years, and had a stretch of about two years where I listened to nothing else. I happen to love it and maybe that's why this fine contribution from BBJ is not quite my cup of tea.

My old pal Tim Vega was the one who introduced Herbie Hancock's "Speak Like A Child" and Miles' "Sketches Of Spain" to me. It began there and continued for years, but mostly with hard bop and swing and rarely with electric guitars and electric bass and with what sometimes sounds like rock chops. Another friend and I would look at the instrumentation on a record and if we saw a Fender Rhodes and an electric bass, we would not bother listening. Of course, we were young and foolish, but in many ways, I still lean towards acoustic jazz and still despise the sound of a Fender Rhodes.

I don't mind fast, or too many notes, as long as I can recognize the melody at the top of the tune. When that happens, the music really takes off for me. I marvel at the musicianship and the improv skills of all the greats.

This is a great effort BBJ and I look forward to diving in. Just thought I'd share a few thoughts.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Actually, I have a pretty extensive Jazz library. And like Sal, I had at least a two year stretch where I listened to nothing else.
This mix is a gateway for those suspicious of it.

rick said...

The squelchy opening of 'Come As You Are' kinda sorta reminds me of the beginning of a couple of Portishead tunes. I love the Cassandra Wilson cover, as well as her version of 'Harvest Moon'. She really slows things down and lets us savor each note.

The University of Buffalo had a listening room in the student union. You could sit in the main room and listen to what the person working there was playing, or you could use a private booth and choose something from their extensive library of LPs. Sitting in the main room is where I first heard Coltrane and Ellington's 'Say it Over and Over Again'. Wonderful! and that led to discovering Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea and Freddie Hubbard and Gary Burton, all of whom seemed to be in vogue at the time. Some weeks later, a guy was selling records for $1 from a box on the steps of that same building. 'Oh great, another Coltrane album!', I thought, when I saw a copy of his 'Ascension'. Great...until I got it home and listened to it. That 18 year old kid was not ready for it, and I'm not sure this 59 year old is even ready for that kind of experimentation.

buzzbabyjesus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buzzbabyjesus said...

Those album length Coltrane compositions are incredible accomplishments, but aren't that much fun to listen to. Just about any Thelonious Monk album would have been more satisfying.

Sal Nunziato said...

I do love Coltrane's "Ole," which although is a side long, is a completely different animal.

Mark said...

I'm having trouble downloading the recent files such as these that come through MediaFire. Says permission denied, etc. I tried opening a MediaFire account. Could someone please offer some downloading instructions for these kinds of files? Thanks!