Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Afternoon listening: Mike Nock Piano Solos

Mike Nock's 1978 album Piano Solos (Timeless) has been keeping me company this afternoon. I've been listening to this one on a fairly regular basis since I picked it up at the start of the year (or was it the end of last year?). There are some reflective moments, but it general this album has a dynamic, up-beat feel with the eight tunes from Nock and Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" providing plenty of variety. Well worth checking out.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sonny Rollins in Melody Maker 1961

Listening to a bit of Rollins lately made me dive into my files to see what articles on him I had collected. This article from the December 23, 1961 issue of Melody Maker gives a little detail on his 1959-61 sabbatical. I can't recall hearing that he studied classical piano during his time away form the scene and I like that after some experimentation he realized that "essentially conventional fingering and blowing might be best after all." More vintage magazine articles can be found here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lambic Jazz Vol. 6

Gueuze Girardin
Tonight's listening was Christian Weidner's Choral (Pirouet). Alongside Weidner's alto sax are Antonio Palesano (p) and Daniel Schroteler (d). This album dates back to 2004 but it didn't land in my ears until a few years later (I guess it was sometime between 2008 & 2009 I think) - it escapes me now, but I may have been introduced to his playing by James Wylie. I was fortunate to spend some time with Christian (and James!) back in 2009 at Music Village. Not only was it fantastic to hear him in person but he also was very helpful and encouraging. I remember being blown away by how good his ears were.

Christian's alto tone is one of my favorites and it is melded with a wonderful melodic and lyrical conception which yields a very distinctive sound. Notes aren't thrown away - they all count. Weidner's improvisations make great use of the song's melody, why this approach isn't more widespread baffles me (you gotta play your chord scales and hip licks..... so killing!).

The album is very spacious and open, yet the individual pieces are no longer than 5 and half minutes and over half of the tracks clocking in at under 3 minutes. There is a flow and continuity throughout that feels almost suite-like. Even when the density increases the overall focus of the album remains. As I listen tonight a word that comes to mind is clarity. The clarity of the three individual's roles/lines/accompaniment and how it fits into the group and album overall. It is a recording I can return to again and again. Highly recommended.

Considering how much I enjoy his music I have been slack in not getting the last two quartet albums (it's on the cards!).

Accompanying the music tonight was Gueuze Girardin and up next is Sam Newsome's interview from the October 2016 issue of the NYC Jazz Record. Usually I read the online edition but I picked up the print version from Constellation last week.

I'll be back with more next week, here are the previous editions if you're interested: Vol.1 - Vol.2 - Vol.3 - Vol.4 - Vol.5 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lambic Jazz Vol.5

Oud Beersel Geuze LambicI'm running a little behind schedule, last night I did get to some lambic and jazz but I'm only just getting to write about it now.

Steve Coleman & the Council of Balance: Synovial Joints (PI). A few years back I used to listen Coleman's albums on a fairly regular basis at the library, but I haven't really heard anything after his solo saxophone album Invisible Paths. The factor that swayed my choice this time around was the ensemble size. I don't associate Coleman's music with a large ensemble (approximately 19 or 20 piece) and there were some surprises for me. It was not nearly as dense I imagined and led to quite a light feel at times with a floaty buoyancy.  A contributing factor may have been that the drums were less busy than on some of his other projects. I like the way that he managed the weight and balance of the ensemble sound and texture well balanced ensemble, although the album is a little static and same-y dynamic-wise. (a criticism that can be lobbed at a lot of music... mine included).

In general the writing grabbed me more than the soloists - of whom Coleman is the dominant voice throughout (other contributors include Jonathan Finlayson, David Bryant, Miles Okazaki and Maria Grand). Maybe it's not the place to start if you are new to Steve Coleman (check out some of his small group work), but definitely recommended for those interested in large ensembles and jazz composition.

Last night's listening was accompanied by Oud Beersel's Oude Geuze Ale. I may need to grab a couple more Lambics to carry this series through to the end of the semester.

Also pictured is Robert E. Sweet's Music Universe, Music Mind: Revisiting the Creative Music Studio, that I started reading this morning. Earlier in the year I noticed that there were a couple of 3 disc sets that had been released from the Creative Music Studio workshops. I wouldn't mind checking them out some time.

I picked up Synovial Joints on Monday night at Constellation at the Steve Coleman and Five Elements gig. This had been on the calendar for a while and I enjoyed getting out to some live music (I've been pretty slack this year) and of the venues I've been to in Chicago, Constellation is my favorite. This edition of Five Elements is comprised of  Steve Coleman (as, perc, vocal), Jonathan Finlayson (trpt, per), Kokayi (vocals), Anthony Tidd (bass), Sean Rickman (drums), and I have to say I enjoyed this gig more than the last time I heard the Five Elements (albeit with a slightly different line-up) a couple of years ago. I'm still not convinced by Finlayson. I'm not sure what it is exactly... intent maybe. The others in the group are very much, "here it is!" but sometimes I feel Finlayson is more, "is it here?" He seems like the odd one out at times. In saying that, I though he played much better than when I heard him with Coleman at the Chicago Cultural Center mentioned above. I enjoyed the effortlessness of Tidd on bass and Kokayi's vocals were the surprise package for me -great energy and he fit into the group sound well. It should be noted that they played one 2 hour set plus an encore - not bad!

Constellation Chicago October 2016
Constellation Chicago October 2016

Previous Lambic Jazz entries can be found here: Vol.1 -- Vol.2 -- Vol.3 -- Vol. 4

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Lambic Jazz Vol. 4

saxophone trio
On the cards tonight is the 3 disc set - Sonny Rollins Trio: Live in Europe 1959
Sonny Rollins (ts) Henry Grimes (b) Pete LaRoca, Joe Harris, Kenny Clarke (d)

I have fond memories of this recording. I hadn't been keeping an eye out for it and was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon it last week. A little background.....During my mid teens, if I was in town for a saxophone lesson or just hanging out in the city, often I would head to the Wellington City Library to listen to albums in the jazz collection. Not long after picking up a copy of Saxophone Colossus, one of these library visits led me to a vinyl copy of St. Thomas: The Sonny Rollins Trio Live in Stockholm 1959. It grabbed me, and on subsequent visits it was, more often than not, on the playlist.

The first seven tracks of disc 1 (my focus tonight) were on St Thomas but the rest of the set is new to me. I really can't remember the last time I heard these recordings. I was shocked at how much I remembered from those library listening sessions many moons ago. I remember copying the way Sonny plays the melody on "How High the Moon" and lifting his semi-tone shift on "There Will Never Be Another You" and using it a few years later in a big band arrangement I wrote for an arranging class. Back then my attention was firmly on Rollins but this time around my ears gravitated towards the bass playing of Henry Grimes. Although Sonny is out front (the star of the show), Grimes still gets plenty room to move. Plus his walking lines and hook up with Pete LaRoca make a great contribution to the music here. I will say that something I have noticed about my more recent listening vs when I was younger - these days I pay more attention to each of the individuals and the ensemble as a whole rather than exclusively focussing on the saxophone player.

I'm looking forward to the second and third disc. And based off the first disc, this set is a must-have for fans of the saxophone trio and Rollins in particular.

As it turns out, Wellington City Library has started stocking vinyl again (more info Here and Here). I have fond memories of grabbing a stack of recordings, donning the headphones and delving into something new.

Pre-class reading was the article on Spontaneous Music Ensemble from the latest issue of Wire and tonight's listening was accompanied by De Troch Winter Gueuze.

Previous weeks: Vol.1 -- Vol.2 -- Vol.3

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Santy Runyon Saxophone Journal

Reading this feature on Santy Runyon in Saxophone Journal (May/June 1989) made me wonder....Has anyone else out there made a reed from the hard rubber panel of a radio? (and his first reed to boot!). Click on the image to view PDF of the full article. More vintage magazine articles can be found here.