Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Whammies at Constellation

Jorrit Dijkstra (Alto Sax/Lyricon) Pandolis Karayorgis (Piano) Jeb Bishop (Trombone) Mary Oliver (Violin/Viola) Jason Roebke (Bass… Nate McBride on the albums) &  Han Bennink (Drums) make up The Whammies. And they were at Constellation on Saturday night playing the music of Steve Lacy (with one from Thelonious Monk added along the way).

Being a fan of Lacy I was interested to hear not only what compositions they played, but where they took the music.
A lot of the music Lacy debuted during the 1970s and there was quite a bit I had not heard or wasn't that familiar with such as "Skirts," "Threads" & "Lumps." Others I was more familiar with - "Feline", "Revolutionary Suicide""As UsualMonk's "Shuffle Boil"

The addition of the lyricon to the line-up had me curious. My only other experiences with similar instruments (the EWI) left me disappointed. This was not the case with Dijkstra who was creative in sonically and as an improviser. He displayed plenty of taste and didn't over do things.

For me, the second set seemed a little stronger overall with more variety in the tunes and improvisation. Mary Oliver had a very nice solo on "Pregnant Virgin" and "Feline" was hauntingly beautiful - the trio of piano, violin and lyricon blended superbly. The sextet finished off the night with "As Usual" which included the most perfectly timed smashed glass in the audience I've heard. In one of the quieter moments and right at the end of a phrase…. SMASH!!… It fit so well into the music I wouldn't have been surprised if the culprit was Han Bennink (who roared with approval and rushed to the front of the stage as the audience cracked up). A wonderful moment.

I left with a smile and a copy of the groups latest album, The Whammies Play The Music Of Steve Lacy Vol.2 (Driff Records 1303) - mostly due to Vol.2 having a few more tunes on it - Time to add it to this week's playlist.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Solo Mix Tape

With the wintery blast taking hold of Chicago (and the rest of the U.S) I decided to use some of the time I had indoors to put together a mix tape/playlist of solos (at both regular and half speed) that I want to spent time with this year. Here's what has made the list so far, with more still to be added.
Apparently it is "Sitting In."
Roy Eldridge
"Body and Soul"
"Stardust"
"Sittin' In" (I also included Chu Berry's solo)
These three tracks come from a session in 1938 for Commodore released under Chu Berry's name with Clyde Hart (p) Danny Barker (g) Artie Shapiro (b) Sid Catlett (d).

Warne Marsh
"Remember" (Live at Birdland 1949)
One of my favourite solos from Marsh. Based on "I'll Remember April."

Charlie Parker
"All of Me"
"I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me"
These two tracks were recorded with Lennie Tristano and Kenny Clarke in 1951.

Lennie Tristano
"Line Up" 
One of Tristano's best known solos. There was a time when I was listening to this solo everyday. I'm looking forward to sharing some time with it again.

Lester Young
"Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" (two takes of Tenor and Clarinet solos)
I plan to add the remaining tracks from 1938 on the Kansas City Sessions (Commodore) when I get the chance.

There are still a few others I would like to add… some more by Tristano and Lee Konitz to start.

Monday, January 06, 2014

cold weather listening

Over the past week, I have been listening to a few discs from the Masters of Jazz series of tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray.

The disc starts out with some tracks with the Earl Hines Big Band from 1944 - some of his earliest recordings.

Live performances from Gene Norman produced "Just Jazz" concert in 1947 with players such as Howard McGee (trpt), Sonny Criss (as), Dodo Marmarosa & Errol Garner (p) - there is a picture from this concert on this Wardell Gray fan-site. From the same year, tenor duels with Dexter Gordon - "The Chase" & "The Hunt."

It's probably been over 10 years since I listened to more than just a track or two (mostly his work with Bird in 1947) of Gray's playing. I remember listening to one of his LPs (I think it was one of the Memorial Albums) at the Wellington City Library. At the time I was living a block away from the Library and would stop in regularly after school or dinner and listen to some LPs. Another LP I remember listening to quite a bit was Clifford Brown & Max Roach Live at The Beehive and some albums by Eric Dolphy too.

Then today, as temperatures dropped to -25C, a couple of albums from Al Cohn got some air time.

Cohn On The Saxophone (Dawn, 1956)
Frank Rehak (trb) Hank Jones (p) Milt Hinton (b) Osie Johnson (d)

Al Cohn's Tone (Savoy)
The album comes out of two sessions. The first, in July 1950, with George Wallington (p) Tommy Potter (b) Tiny Khan (d). The second is from June 1953 with Nick Travis (trpt) Horace Silver (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)

Nice swinging, uncomplicated playing.