Also the first post, incidentally.
So this will be the official online home for BYOV (Bring Your Own Vinyl).
I decided to start this listening group to provide source for knowledge building and a fun hang. Nice of me, huh? Actually, the group’s success is entirely dependent on folks (like you) coming to meetings and sharing your favorite music. Sounds like a gas, right?
The first meeting was on June 5th at Barbés in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I have to admit being a little antsy when only a few people were hanging at 3pm. I forgot I live in NYC for a sec. Give ‘em 15. I think we had a great group show up with some fantastic music selections.
Onto the show. The initial two themes for this meeting were the following:
a) Start at the bottom… Who are your favorite low voices? Bass players, tuba virtuosos, etc.
b) He/she did what!?! Know a performer that’s done something completely out of the ordinary? Change genres? Instruments? Genders?
So here’s a list of the selections that were brought in along with links to sound and places to find ‘em.
1. Keith Jarrett – “Mortgage On My Soul” from Birth (Atlantic, SD 1612)
Presented by Me – Theme: Both - LP
I picked this track because it applied to both themes. Birth is one of three recordings that emerged from a particularly fruitful July 1971 with his recently formed American Quartet, featuring Dewey Redman (reeds), Charlie Haden (bass), and Paul Motian (drums). Of course, Haden is one of the greatest bass players in jazz history. But what the hell was he doing with a wah-wah pedal?
I remember buying this record when I was 17 or 18 at the Record Exchange in Kansas City. Being more or less a jazz novice, I knew that I had to give Jarrett a listen. He was supposed to be heavy, right? This may have been the cheapest in the bin plus it had some killer artwork. Psychedelic baby burps? Count me in. I was coming to jazz via hip-hop and “Mortgage” had a particular grab on me.
2. Barre Phillips – “Mountainscape, I” – from Mountainscapes (ECM, 1076)
Presented by Ben Monder – Theme: LV - LP
Oh man… Told Ben that I had nearly brought this one myself. This 1976 ECM release is an amazing blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. Phillips is an American born bassist who left to find greener pastures and a more receptive audience in Europe. His most frequent collaborators turned out to be the British reed/synthesizer master John Surman and another ex-pat drummer/synth guru Stu Martin, who both appear here. These three originally came together as a trio called, well, the Trio.
The thing that is most striking about this recording is the fact the synthesizers don’t date the work or dominate the proceedings. They sound natural in the development of the overall sound. Large credit should be given to experimental synth maven Dieter Feichtner.
We discussed the work of Stu Martin a little. There isn’t much info available about him or his short career. His work with Surman and Michel Portal is great. I also see that there is a trio recording on the French Marge label entitled Sunrise from 1979. More info on Stu would be appreciated.
This record received an ovation, btw.
3. Eva Taylor w/ Clarence Williams’ Blue 5 - “Mandy Make Up Your Mind” (Okeh, 40260)
Presented by David Adler – Theme: Both - CD
“Is that Wynton?” Some laughs. Great tune, great singer… Features the lovely trumpet of Louis Armstrong. Overall this is a nice trad jazz recording from December 17, 1924. But that isn’t reason it was brought in. This track also features the legendary reeds virtuoso Sidney Bechet. He isn’t playing his customary soprano sax or even a clarinet. He solos on an instrument called the Sarrusophone.
David went on to explain the particulars. Evidently, Bechet, being a master at many wind instruments, decided to try something new. He came across this behemoth of a horn in a music shop before this recording. The Sarrusophone is a woodwind instrument named after French bandmaster Pierre-Auguste Sarrus. The instrument was intended to be a louder replacement for the oboe or bassoon in outdoor bands. The fingering is close to that of a sax, thus Bechet was an easy study.
So… Here we are listening to this lovely track when this tuba meets dump truck sound comes in. Huh? So back to the story… Bechet makes this recording and decides that he doesn’t like the track or the horn. So not only does he quickly get rid of the horn but also denies that he ever played it or even appeared on the track.
This track was a real winner and a total surprise. Also got us contemplating strange low voiced instruments and contemporary players. Scott Robinson, Anthony Braxton, J.D. Parran, Roscoe Mitchell! Please take a bow.
4. Billy Higgins - “Blues Tinge” – Which Way Is East (ECM, 1878)
Presented by Jerome Sabbagh – Theme: HDW? - CD
This was a blindfold test for the group. I can tell you that no one got it right. Apparently, Monder had guessed Elvin Jones on a previous listen.
Now we know what it sounds like when a fantastic drummer plays the guitar. Higgins appears on what seems to have been a very laid back session with saxophonist Charles Lloyd with guitar and the blues.
Not that he’s the greatest vocalist or guitarist of all time but rhythmically there wasn’t anyone that could have delivered the song more naturally. Pretty interesting to hear. BTW, there is a Elvin Jones recording where he plays guitar – Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison’s Heavy Sounds on Impulse!. Also worth a listen.
5. Jimmie Rodgers & Louis Armstrong – “Blue Yodel #9”
Presented by Oran Etkin – Theme: HDW? - CD
Early fusion? I guess you could call it that. I’m happy that Oran brought this in. Very interesting how closely related the blues and country music really are.
Rodgers was a fantastic country guitarist and vocalist (yodeler). This session with Louis Armstrong and pianist Lil Hardin was put together in July 1930. The form is extremely loose. Oran points out that all the members were willing to let measures slide in order to extend phrases, etc. A rambling tune in the American tradition, huh?
Armstrong’s solo is a work of minimalist beauty, too. Far from his usual bravado.
6. Swamp Dogg – “The Other Man” – You Ain’t Never Too Old To Boogie (DJM, 20476)
Presented by Zak Shelby-Syszko – Theme: HDW? – MP3
Born Jerry Williams, Swamp Dogg has been a musical gypsy his entire career. Jumping from genre to genre and label to label. He finally began his own label to release his particularly unusual records. Musically, he has been associated primarily with soul but, as this particular selection proves, Swamp can play whatever.
Swamp grew up listening to country music. The genre creeps into this rockabilly, country swing tune from 1976. Honky tonk guitar and driving drums. Really fun.
7. Swamp Dogg – “Synthetic World” – Total Destruction of Your Mind (Canyon Records, LP-7706)
Presented by Mark Jacobson – Theme: HDW? – MP3
Talk of Swamp Dogg led to another track from an iPod. Ugh. Kidding…
“Synthetic World” is what many refer to as Swamp’s “hit”. Swamp complains about a “world that is plastic.” Worries about falseness, pollution, psychedelic music… Call him old fashioned and a little ridiculous but some fun shit. This came out in 1971.
“My patience is wearing thin…”
8. Hermann Szobel – “Transcendental Floss” – Szobel (Arista, AL 4058)
Presented by Richard Gehr – Theme: HDW? – CD
Whoa… Richard described it as “a distillation of all fusion” then added, “I think it is pretty awesome…”
Brief story. 18 year old, Austrian nephew of famed concert promoter Bill Graham records his one and only record for Arista. He was a piano prodigy influenced by Jarrett and Martial Solal. He puts out the record and then has a nervous breakdown. Szobel completely disappears never to be heard from again. Uh… Read some more on the guy this Myspace tribute site. http://www.myspace.com/szobel/blog/172297862
What the hell is “the Roberta Flack thing”? Weird.
Sounds like a fusion of 1976. Mish mash ideas with segued sections. Overcomplicated piano over aggressively reverbed space drums. Many wondered who the sax player was. A guess was Steve Grossman. I thought it sounded a lot like Gato Barbieri. Dude named Vadim Vyadro. Breakdowns leading to contemplative piano ruminations and sax slinkiness. Zappa-ish toward the end where Dave Samuels’ (a name we recognize!) marimba comes in.
Ebay that sucker!
9. Sam Newsome – “Blue Beijing” – Blue Soliloquy (CD Baby)
Presented by Jim Macnie – HDW? – CD
Brilliant example of physical command of body and instrument. Sam Newsome is a fabulous saxophonist that has been focusing on the soprano for over 15 years. His command of the horn is well known.
“Blue Beijing” is an exercise in circular breathing and pattern in a solo setting. The Eastern flavor is a premise for his arpeggiating figures that run up and down the length of the horn. His speed increases as the figures get more complex and ends up with some extremely highly blown altissimo notes.
Give his blog a read. Fascinating study on this difficult instrument.
10. The Stoner (Nils Berg) – “Mitt svenska hjärta” – Hat Music (Hoob Jazz)
Presented by Jeremy Udden – LV – CD
The Stoner is a band led by the Swedish saxophonist/bass clarinetist Nils Berg. Jeremy tells us that Berg is his favorite bass clarinetist.
The tune is from a live recording of the band. The low fi quality is cool as it provides an interesting vibe to the piece. There is also an airiness in the music as Berg and the piano player seem to float in the space. Beautiful piece of music.
Buy and listen
Amazon links will have sound samples where YouTube couldn't find. Hope to make this a little more solid soon.
Thanks again to all of you that came, presented, and listened! Hope to see some more folks on July the 10th!
Love to hear comments and thoughts.