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jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 8

When I don’t change anymore then there’s no point in playing anymore – of actually trying to do anything different or trying to play modern. After you reach a certain point when you no longer improve then you just stay the same.

Art Pepper

What I think Cecil and I did mainly–we both were familiar with each other’s work, and as Stanley Cowell so aptly put it, we co-existed. We didn’t rehearse as such–what we did was we sat down and dealt with each other as two human beings and when we found out that we could live with our own attitudes and thoughts about life and things in music and liberty and all the other things that people talk about, we knew that we could deal with each other on stage. And it was pure improvisation, we just dealt from that point of view and we knew from experience that something would happen if we went our own ways but were sensitive to each other at the same time. And I think we co-existed.

Max Roach

You’ve got to study each man in the band, because each has a different disposition. Actually, you’ve got to use a lot of psychology because they all have different temperaments and habits. You have to holler at some guys–others you have to joke with. Another you may have to take across the street to the bar to get your point across. You must impress them that to be a musician you’ve got to do the things that are required of a musician–look the part, play your horn; also time-making.

Some guys didn’t aspire to be soloists; others wanted to. Trummy Young was one of the latter. He was always venturing out, always wanting to play his horn. Everywhere he went he carried his horn with him. The same with Bennie Green. These men later turned out to be outstanding. Like Walter Fuller, he was another, and there are several others I can name–Omer Simeon, Darnell Howard, and, of course, Budd Johnson and Jimmy Mundy, though it finally turned out he didn’t want to be a soloist–he wanted to arrange–but he played a good horn. In the trumpet section, Dizzy stood out so much.

Earl Fatha Hines

Carrying along that same thought, I think musicians do have a tendency to sort of copy and get on the bandwagon instead of accepting one thing for what it is and realizing that it’s another area of progress. They immediately want to emulate. Music is a very personal thing. It’s strictly an individual thing. This one tenor player comes to mind who played like another player. He just tried to play every note exactly the same. He might have been sincere in his love for the musician but it didn’t turn out that way. Eventually, he just went right down and like you never heard of him again. He was a very competent musician but it’s just like my uncle always said, “There’s only one thing that keeps us all from being rich and if we knew what that was, everybody would have a million,” and that’s probably the thing the tenor player didn’t realize — copying was just another form of saying the other man was great. You just extend more adulation and acclaim or whatever to the other guy.

Thad Jones

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.

The reason I don’t announce numbers is because it’s not until the last instant I decide what’s maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don’t recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?

Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it’s somebody else’s turn to solo, I ain’t going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain’t no model, and I don’t sing or dance, and I damn sure ain’t no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they’re doing. But if I don’t want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it’s the next turn for my horn.

Then they claim I ignore the audience while I’m playing. Man, when I’m working, I know the people are out there. But when I’m playing, I’m worrying about making my horn sound right.

And they bitch that I won’t talk to people when we go off after a set. That’s a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything’s going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don’t want to talk. When I’m working I’m concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch’s heart, they wouldn’t want me to talk.

Miles Davis
Categories
geology mixes music Uncategorized

miles of granite

for the xvth granite mix i decided to feature the artist who i have most recordings of, miles davis – it’s a long mix – nearly an hour and a half. instinct led me from one track to another. here’s the mix and after it the details and then some comments on the tracks.

granite 15

Granite Mix 15
Artist Title Album
Miles Davis Mood ESP
Charles Mingus/Miles Davis Nature Boy Blue Moods
Miles Davis Nem Um Talvez The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
Miles Davis Footprints The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 Live In Europe 1969
Miles Davis Pacific Express The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991
Miles Davis It Never Entered My Mind Workin’
Miles Davis Swing Spring Miles Davis & The Modern Jazz Giants
Miles Davis Johnny Bratton The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
Miles Davis The Time Of The Barracudas Quiet Nights
Miles Davis Right Off In Concert

first of all one of my favourite tracks from one of my favourite albums. esp was the first album of what is known as the 2nd great miles davis quintet which was somehow a perfect band when this was recorded tony williams was 19 herbie hancock was 24 and wayne shorter was already doing some of the best writing that was going on in the mid sixties. ron carter was writer or co-writer of 3 tracks on the album including this one and they’re all good. after that he didn’t contribute any compositions to the following 5 albums he was involved with possibly due to the fact that he was an incredibly busy musician during the period he was with the quintet playing on over 50 recording sessions for albums with other artists.

back to 1955 for a track from a session that had problems according to miles in his autobiography

something went wrong at this session and nothing ever really clicked, so the playing didn’t have any fire. I don’t know what it was – maybe the arrangements – but something definitely went wrong…

but I’ve always enjoyed this track, written by proto-hippy eden ahbez, first recorded by nat ‘king’ cole, frank sinatra recorded a version in 1948 and it’s worth recording miles’ frequent assertion that his phrasing was heavily influenced by sinatra, although also worth bearing in mind that he gave a lot of credit also in this respect to charlie christian. as in another quote from the afore-mentioned book

charlie christian influenced my approach to the trumpet and also influenced the phrasing of frank sinatra and nat ‘king’ cole

next is one of 5 versions of this tune by hermeto pascoal that have been released, 2 from a session on may 27 1970 and 3 from a session shortly after on june 3 (although one of them ended up with a different title – selim). given that there were apparently at least 19 takes on the 1st session there could be a few other versions hanging round in the vaults. ian carr doesn’t even bother to mention the 2 that were released when he wrote his critical biography of miles and in paul tingen’s miles beyond he describes them as ‘ear-grating’. much as i like the latter book i find this opinion like a lot of tingen’s other critical opinions are not worth heeding.

the 1st of 3 live recordings in the mix is a version of a wayne shorter composition – probably his most famous. in the sleeve notes (written by josef woodard) to the set that contains the track there is the following quotation from an interview 20 years later with miles

you could tell what part of the note, what part of the sound you could play off of. wayne had some different, each run had. we used to play footprints and the way we were playing it, nobody else could play it like that except for me and wayne.

it’s july again only 16 years later. this is a john mclaughlin composition that was briefly in the setlist. there was an afternoon set and an evening set on the 14th – both long sets, over 2 hours. this track is from the evening set. a week later the band similarly played 2 sets in london at the royal festival hall – i’m pretty sure i was at the 2nd set. ian carr was also there with a backstage pass and he relates seeing miles at the end of the last set

as soon as he got down the two short flights of steps and out of the audience’s sight, two large men were waiting for him, and each grabbed an arm and supported him as he suddenly sagged and almost caved in

given that wayne shorter has already featured on 2 of the above tracks you would expect me to include at least one track featuring john coltrane but sadly this has not happened i didn’t plan it that way. this is the only track in the mix which was at the period of the 1st great quintet. but on this track chosen late at night reflectively the saxophone laid out.

this comes from another controversial recording session. some reports reckoned that there was a fight between miles and monk.

…i just told him to lay out when i was playing, because i wasn’t comfortable with the way he voiced his changes…i wanted to hear space in the music…so I just told him () to come into the music a little after i played. and that’s what he did. there wasn’t any argument…monk was a gentle person, gentle and beautiful, but he was strong as an ox. and if i had ever said something about punching monk out in front of his face – and i never did – then somebody should have just come and got me and taken me to the madhouse, because monk could have just picked my little ass up and thrown me through a wall.

i love all of these tracks that I’ve put on this mix. obviously. but this is another of the great sessions. i wish monk and miles had recorded more together. listening to this session was the 1st time i heard both of them and at the time monk knocked me out more than miles. his solos seemed to come from another mysterious dimension.

and johnny bratton is the 3rd appearance of john mclaughlin in the mix if you include his composition pacific express. recorded on february 27th 1970 this is the sort of thing that some people fail to understand. here’s a good clip that deals with this subject.

from an album reviled by the man himself but which nevertheless has some great moments. this tune was also recorded on the gil evans album the individualism of gil evans and miles got a co-credit for the arrangement. in the end that is a better track but he doesn’t actually play on it and despite the history taken in isolation this is a great track and there’s something actually quite unique about it. if they’d had time and money to complete the album properly this would be a masterpiece and maybe it is anyway.

finally another album written off by various critics or in my words vastly under-rated. when i first heard it back in the early seventies i immediately thought it was brilliant. to me it was great that the instruments were all levelled out in the mix and i assumed that this was deliberately done and i still do. producer teo macero wasn’t an idiot and they wouldn’t have put the record out if they hadn’t got decent quality recordings. it needs to be listened to loud ideally through headphones. with open ears and an open mind. carlos garnett on saxophone and cedric lawson on keyboards for example maybe didn’t go on to have brilliant careers but i don’t think they let the side down at this gig.

Categories
geology jazz may mixes music

Granite Mix 10

The last Granite Mix had a track by Bill Evans in it (not to mention earlier appearances in the geological section) and now I’ve decided to dedicate a whole mix to the man, just to show how much I love his music. His world is a curious mixture of beauty and tragedy perfectly expressed by the way he would hunch over the piano in his simultaneous role as servant and master. Here’s a clip to show what I mean.

Tony Scott was another character who found his contemporary world hard to deal with. There aren’t many clarinetists in so-called Modern Jazz (so-called because I don’t like labels/genres in music, but unfortunately the alternative is to redefine musical history which would be tedious).

1957 was a very productive year for Charles Mingus and as well as East Coasting he put out The Clown, Mingus Three and A Modern Jazz Symposium Of Music And Poetry as well as recording Tijuana Moods which wasn’t released until later.

Kind Of Blue was my first (as far as I’m aware) encounter with Bill Evans and it is no doubt the most well-known album that he played on. There is a certain amount of controversy over whether Bill should have had any of the composition credits on the album, specifically on Blue In Green. In his autobiography Miles insists

Some people went around saying that Bill was co-composer of the music on Kind Of Blue. That isn’t true; it’s all mine and the concept was mine. What he did was turn me on to some classical composers, and they influenced me.

On the other hand Evans has told how Davis gave him a piece of paper with 2 chords (Gmin13 & A7(#9#5)) and asked what he’d do with it. It seems he did a fair bit with it and all he did with it was used. So on the original album the track is credited to Davis and on subsequent recordings that Evans did of the track it’s credited to both men.

The live recordings taken from the 2 albums released in 1961 – Sunday At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby which were recorded on June 25th 1961 for me are up there with the finest ever live recorded music. It’s all a matter of taste come to that but certain things affect the whole shape of what comes after and other things just disappear down a black hole.

Jim Hall – hugely underrated. Here’s his obituary from a couple of years ago.

So my favourite things by Bill Evans are the June 25th live recording, the contribution to Kind Of Blue and then there’s the solo session recorded on January 10th 1963 which Evans requested never to be released. For me that’s like Kafka saying in his will that all his unpublished manuscripts should be destroyed. Luckily in both cases it didn’t happen. Basically he was so strung out on heroin at the time that he did the session to get some money to score. I don’t remember the exact story. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I’ve read about it. Most of the time in this world you’re not there. Unless it’s yourself of course. But the thing about the session is that the deliberative, totally introspective nature of the performance means that… well it’s difficult to explain, but the most I can say is that listening to the music from that recording is like eavesdropping on a genius when he thinks he’s alone and musing with the universe.

After that there’s a couple of live tracks with the 2 main bassists that Bill found to replace Scott LaFaro (I haven’t even covered that, I’m going to have to save it for later). Firstly Chuck Israels and then Eddie Gomez.

And then finally another solo piece another popular song by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse a ballad that was one of his favourites not least for the title. Fool though he might have thought himself sometimes for his massive heroin and then cocaine intake the legacy’s there. Few can claim to have achieved more.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 10
Artist Title Album
Tony Scott Five The Modern Art Of Jazz
Charles Mingus Celia East Coasting
Miles Davis Flamenco Sketches (alt take) Kind Of Blue
Bill Evans Trio My Man’s Gone Now Sunday At The Village Vanguard
Bill Evans & Jim Hall Romain Undercurrent
Bill Evans Everything Happens To Me Solo Sessions Volume 1
Bill Evans Trio Stella By Starlight At Shelly’s Manne-Hole
Bill Evans Trio Blue In Green Live In Paris Volume 3
Bill Evans What Kind Of Fool Am I Alone Again
Categories
jazz news rock n roll years vinyl

When I Was 4

Here’s the next year of the Rock And Roll Years series. I better confess now that I don’t have all of these. In fact I’m missing some of the ones that I would most like to have in particular those that cover the period when British bands first made their extraordinary impact. In addition some of the episodes I have aren’t complete. This one pretty much is except I’m missing the closing credits. I’m sure you can live without those. In fact you can probably live without the final act. I would hope so anyway.

For 1957 I went through some of the films released that year. This time I’m going to cover some of the albums released in the year in question. I’m taking my information from the 1958 albums category page in wikipedia. Not a definitive list no doubt but an interesting and thorough enough work in progress. My aim is to concentrate on those albums which I have in vinyl. I’m sure I could dig through my collection and find albums missing from the list in my collection, but I must say I would be happy to get hold of any of the albums that are covered in the list, pretty expensive items some of them must be.

Firstly there are 2 great Miles Davis albums, Milestones and Porgy and Bess. I’m discounting 1958 Miles because that shouldn’t be on the page as it wasn’t released in 1958.

Then Miles crops up again on the brilliant Cannonball Adderley album Somethin’ Else.

None of those 3 do I have on original releases from the 50s, but the next 2 I do.

Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk. The title sort of says it all. The other musicians playing on the session are Bill Hardman on trumpet, Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone and Jimmy “Spanky” DeBrest on double bass.

Finally there is The Modern Jazz Quartet at Music Inn Volume 2 which has Sonny Rollins as guest artist. My copy of this is not pristine, there’s a chunk of the front cover missing. Anyway this one shouldn’t really be there because although recorded in 1958 it wasn’t released until 1959. Well I suppose the whole premise is rather arbitrary. Really does it matter?

Just enjoy the programme.

Categories
jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 3

This is the 3rd in my series of jazz quotations drawn from the Downbeat archive. My choices are commentaries and also reflect my own life and concerns.

Please do not misunderstand me. I do not claim any of the creation of the blues, although I have written many of them even before Mr. Handy had any blues published. I had heard them when I was knee-high to a duck. For instance, when I first started going to school, at different times I would visit some of my relatives per permission, in the Garden district. I used to hear a few of the following blues players, who could play nothing else-Buddie Canter, Josky Adams, Game Kid, Frank Richards, Sam Henry, and many more too numerous to mention-they were what we call “ragmen” in New Orleans. They can take a 10¢ Xmas horn, take the wooden mouthpiece off, having only the metal for mouthpiece, and play more blues with that instrument than any trumpeter I had ever met through the country imitating the New Orleans trumpeters.

Jelly Roll Morton

I took a job playing in a tonk for Dago Tony on Perdido and Franklin street and Louis used to slip in there and get on the music stand behind the piano. He would fool around with my cornet every chance he got. I showed him just how to hold it and place it to his mouth, and he did so, and it wasn’t long before he began getting a good tone out of my horn. Then I began showing him just how to start the blues, and little by little he began to understand.

Now here is the year Louis started. It was in the latter part of 1911 as close as I can think. Louis was about 11 years old. Now I’ve said a lot about my boy Louis and just how he started playing cornet. He started playing it by head.

Willie Bunk Johnson

A hundred people would crowd into one seven-room flat until the walls bulged. Plenty of food with hot maws (pickled pig bladders) and chitt’lins with vinegar, beer, and gin, and when we played the shouts everybody danced.

Willie The Lion

What attracted Bird to Gil was Gil’s musical attitude. How would I describe that attitude? ‘Proving’ is the most accurate word I can think of.

Gerry Mulligan

When Bird did hear my music, he liked it very much. Unfortunately, by the time he was ready to use me, I wasn’t ready to write for him. I was going through another period of learning by then. As it turned out, Miles, who was playing with Bird then, was attracted to me and my music. He did what Charlie might have done if at that time Charlie had been ready to use himself as a voice, as part of an overall picture, instead of a straight soloist.

I remember that original Miles band during the two weeks we played at the Royal Roost. There was a sign outside-‘Arrangements by Gerry Mulligan, Gil Evans, and John Lewis.’ Miles had it put in front; no one before had ever done that, given credit that way to arrangers.

Gil Evans

Categories
birds geology mixes music

granite mix 6

Paul Bley‘s first album came out on Debut Records label. It’s DLP 7 – Introducing Paul Bley. Debut Records was a label set up by Max Roach, Charles Mingus and Mingus’s wife Celia. A brave attempt by artists to control the commercial aspects of their careers which also produced some classic music and highly collectable if you can afford the original vinyl. Here‘s some of the cover art including this album.

I’m not sure that any of the vinyl that Harold Budd‘s music is contained on has a lot of market value. I expect a few things might have. Luxa I have on cd and the only cds that will keep any sort of value will have very distinctive packaging. I guess this track is named after the Mandan tribe.

I know absolutely nothing about James Earle Hines but I’ve managed to find you a link if you’d like to know something.

The first Laotian music I heard was on BBC Radio 3 sometime in the late 70s and I taped the programme with it on. I may still have it somewhere but this is from a cd I got later. As a special treat I’m also embedding a youtube video to show how this sort of thing is created. You know I only give you the best.

Abraham Ellstein wrote only one opera – The Golem. I’d really like to hear that actually. According to Amazon it has been recorded but sadly it’s unavailable.

According to Wikipedia, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded 79 songs over a 4 year period 1925-1929. He was in his early thirties and he died in 1929. He was a Texan. For me the greatest musician to come from Texas is Ornette Coleman, but Blind Lemon isn’t too far behind. He’d been playing as a professional musician since his teens and until his recording career happened mainly made his money as a busker although busking was probably a bit different then.

But boxing is and was my heart

Miles Davis : Miles The Autobiography

During the first few months of 1970 around the time of recording the soundtrack to Jim Jacobs’ documentary about the legendary boxer Jack Johnson, Miles named several tracks after some of his favourite boxers – Johnny Bratton, Sugar Ray (Leonard),(Muhammad) Ali, Archie Moore and finally the track featured here (Roberto) Duran, which rightly should be Durán, otherwise known as “Manos de Piedra” in his native Panama. This track is about 9 minutes long.

I was fortunate to see Dawn Upshaw once performing with the Kronos Quartet. Unfortunately her throat was bad and she could only sing about three pieces. Still I suppose that should be more valuable like a stamp that’s mis-printed.

Dock Boggs who is the subject of this superb song by Chicago band Califone was born on February 7 1898 and died on February 7 1971 on his 73rd birthday.

I had the craziest dream last night. An owl kicked its way under my blanket in the middle of the night and insisted that it needed to get warm. I’d never conversed with an owl before and I couldn’t really believe that it was telling the truth. Astrud, help me on this one. Could it have been a burrowing owl?

GZA Here’s a youtube link to one of his masterful 50 Cent disses which is nice because the words are given below the video. Sheer Genius.

One of the best gigs I ever went to was seeing David Rudder at the Fleece & Firkin in Bristol. He and his band were stupendous and it was a privilege to be able to see that in such a small and intimate setting. This track isn’t David Rudder but it was as a result of seeing him that I bought the record with this on. It turns out to be interesting in that Gypsy is Winston Edward Peters who is currently Minister of Community in the Trinidad & Tobago government. Couldn’t happen in Britain could it?

And then what do you know? More calypso, I didn’t really plan that. Lord Kitchener was an earlier generation though not the earliest of recording calypso artists. In 1942 he first recorded a song called Green Fig and supposedly Princess Margaret bought 100 copies of it. Maybe she bought 100 copies of lots of things though. I mean if you can afford it you may as well do it.

And finally John Coltrane‘s version of the lovely Irving Berlin song, Russian Lullaby. What more can I say?

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 6
Artist Title Album
Paul Bley The Theme Introducing Paul Bley
Harold Budd Mandan Luxa
James Earle Hines & His Goodwill Singers Get On Board Little Children Get On Board Little Children
Molam Lao Lam Pthuthay Music From Southern Laos
Abraham Ellstein Abi Gezunt Great Songs Of The Yiddish Stage Vol 1
Blind Lemon Jefferson Teddy Bear Blues Black Snake Moan
Miles Davis Duran Directions
Dawn Upshaw Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress: No Word From Tom Knoxville – Summer Of 1915
Califone Dock Boggs Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People
Astrud Gilberto I Had The Craziest Dream Beach Samba
GZA 4th Chamber Liquid Swords
Gypsy Sing Ram Bam This Is Soca
Lord Kitchener Kitch In The Jungle London Is The Place For Me
John Coltrane Russian Lullaby Soultrane
Categories
jazz music

Monk Biography

Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947 8William P. Gottlieb 06241)

I’ve been waiting a long time for a decent biography of Thelonious Monk, one of my favourite musicians and (certainly after understanding some of the things from the book) absolutely integral influences. In fact the one great integral influence when all’s said and done and his impact on Miles as he says in his autobiography

I think a lot about Monk these days because all the music that he wrote can be put into these new rhythms that are being played today by a lot of young musicians – Prince, my new music, a lot of stuff. He was a great musician, an innovator, especially in his composition and writing.

Quite right although I would quip with the last sentence. Ok especially in his composition and writing but also especially in his playing. Listen hard to an album like Criss Cross and you may see what I mean. But of course not just Criss Cross.

Anyway Robin G. Kelley wrote the book and the family looked on him favourably and generally I would say he’s done a good job. I’ve read some other jazz biographies and I know what the failings are of the genre. The word hagiography can often be applied and that’s natural really in that it’s a bit perverted to set out to write a biography about someone you don’t care for. At times the narrative veered scarily towards the tour itinerary list interspersed with odd anecdote of one of the people present. But the sheer depth of research and accumulation of authentic recollection raises it above certain other works which I could name, but won’t.

To put that bluntly. I think a lot about Monk these days. I’ve thought a lot about Monk since I first heard him in 1973. By that time his career was pretty much over. He could still play but it had become meaningless to him. The feeling I get after reading the book is that he just put too much into those 30 years between the late 30s and the late 60s. That was 30 years of a lot of stuff going down. You can’t innovate at that level and that intensity for those many years without suffering some damage. In fact his stamina and physique allowed him to retain his incredible creative power for as long a period as pretty much anyone, (Armstrong, Ellington etc.) despite his massive intake of things which weren’t good for his health.

One thing the book shows is the debt that all Monk fans have to the two most important women in his life, his patron, Pannonica de Koenigswarter but above all his wife Nellie.