Categories
geology jazz mixes music

Granite The Eighteenth

following on from my series of mixes dedicated to individuals here is one for thelonious monk and as usual i will write a bit about each track.

when he got a contract with riverside records in 1955 they thought it wise to start his album account with covers from the duke ellington songbook. this might have seemed insulting to someone who already had written a good number of classic bop tunes but monk liked the idea, saying later in an interview

i wanted to do it. i felt like playing that’s all. i knew that duke started playing some of his numbers more than he had as i recall

before the riverside contract he had been with prestige records and the second tune dates back to october 1951. toot was thelonious’ son’s nickname. art blakey was the drummer and gary mapp the bassist.

at the prestige session in november 1953 they were about ten minutes short of the material needed for an lp. it was friday 13 november and so that was used as the title of the composition that monk made up on the spot. listening to the track it’s fairly obvious to me why most critics dismissed the music back then. the music was way before it’s time and a lot of people thought they were playing like that because they couldn’t play properly.

brilliant corners brings us back to the riverside years to be precise 1956 and it was really the breakthrough album that started to bring a modicum of success and critical acclaim. the celeste that monk uses on the track happened to be in the studio and he set it at right angles to the piano keyboard so that he could use it on the heads and on his solo. of course the track is named after his famous rich patron pannonica de koenigswarter. the following is monk’s introduction to the track caught on a home recording some time.

it was named after this beautiful lady here. i think her father gave her that name because of a butterfly that he tried to catch. i don’t think he caught the butterfly.

in november 1957 there was a concert at new york’s carnegie hall which was a benefit for the morningside community center. as well as the thelonious monk quartet there was ray charles topping the bill, and also the bands of billie holiday, dizzy gillespie , zoot sims and sonny rollins. the concert was broadcast on the radio as a voice of america production. the recordings of the monk quartet were discovered in 2005 in the library of congress vaults.

ruby my dear started life as manhattan moods which was intially registered for copyright in 1945. sometime in the next year the name got changed. rubie richardson was an early girlfriend of thelonious’ but things didn’t work out. her parents never approved.

and so he eventually married nellie smith who he’d known since she was ten and he was sixteen. this tune dedicated to her was originally to be called twilight with nellie and it was nica who suggested using the french word instead. criss-cross now takes us to the columbia records years. the track was recorded on 29 march 1963 and the other musicians were charlie rouse on tenor saxophone, john ore on bass and frankie dunlop on drums.

underground is in my opinion the last great album he produced and the title refers to the nickname of his daughter this time

finally from halloween 1964 (or the evening after) the quartet with a new rhythm section larry gales bass and ben riley drums playing live at the it club. throughout his career monk was famed for his eccentricity but it seemed that around this time things were reaching a peak. here’s an excerpt from robin kelly’s thelonious monk biography which provides an example.

hampton hawes, who had not seen monk since he and nellie helped him out in new york, came by the it club one night to check him out. when hawes approached thelonious at the bar during a break, “he didn’t seem to recognise me. looked over my shoulder, elbow on the bar, staring into space the way he sometimes does…i said ‘monk it’s me, hampton’. he kept staring past my shoulder as if he hadn’t heard then turned his back and went into a little shuffling dance; danced a couple of quick circles around me, danced right up to me and said, ‘your sunglasses is at my new york pad.’ and danced away”

titlealbum
mood indigoplays the music of duke ellington
little rootie tootiethelonious monk trio
friday the 13ththelonious monk and sonny rollins
pannonicabrilliant corners
nuttythelonious monk and john coltrane at carnegie hall
ruby my dearsolo monk
crepuscule with nelliecriss-cross
boo-boo’s birthdayunderground
misteriosolive at the it club
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
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
geology music

granite mIX

first i must explain the ethos behind this the 9th granite mix. which is that i used my box to create a playlist. the songs chosen to make up the playlist all are chosen with 2 common letters – in this case m and y. this conceit has caused some repetition in artists that have previously featured but ultimately that’s taste…

the advantage of the playlist is that it does a segue/fadein-fadeout between the tracks. just about everything that was selected in this case seemed to have a long fade-out which pretty much negates the effect of the segue. still nothing becomes improvisation but artifice as they say in the old guignol street presentation…

mys mr fahey suffered from epstein-barr syndrome when he recorded this album. somehow that’s not a problem for me. i also love bill evans solo album … which was not released at the time because it was thought to be so bad. see further down the playlist for mr evans but not that album. a new film about john is going to be shown on bbc4 on dec 6.

i think french rap could have been sold better in the uk if we hadn’t been so up ourselves. here’s the video if you like this.

myt the only myth on my unit. sun ra is a big myth. and not only is he a myth but he is also a mystery.

my(+space) i am fortunate to have seen sharon van etten twice. once on her own and once with a band. i do not know which to prefer the beauty of inflexions or the beauty of innuendos.

my romance. now it’s getting quite intimate. that’s the trouble with m and y maybe i should have chosen something a bit more random, like a and s

and then gerald finzi comes along and sorts it out. hopefully.

joseph spence makes me reconsider my whole approach to singing. somehow i feel he is challenging me to reassess and reorder. above all in 2014 i want to write a song in esperanto.

whereas rambling on my mind tracks into the veracity of priesthood. the crossroads are literally that – roads where you might find the cross.

what was born in those gospel tours that monk did when he was just a lad?

a couple of british guitarists to end with. why didn’t anyone at island records make sure that there were decent live recordings of the many gigs that chris spedding did with john cale? were they coked out of their brains or something?

sorry song for my mother is from a vinyl digitisation and i increased the gain slightly but it’s a bit distorted. i’m sure you can download it for a small fee if you want to hear it perfectly. i could quote a 3rd great british guitarist on this subject but won’t right now.

finally chris spedding showing his mettle. thanks to michael mantler for this great album which along with no answer and the hapless child are i think the best literary albums ever.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 9
Artist Title Album
John Fahey The Evening Mysteries Of Ferry Street I Remember Blind Joe Death
Soon EMC Elucider Ce Mystère Giant Steps
Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra Big City Blues The Singles
Sharon Van Etten Where Is My Love Home Recordings
Bill Evans Trio My Romance The Village Vanguard Sessions
Finzi Singers My Lovely One Gerald Finzi Choral Works
Joseph Spence Gonna Lay Down My Sword And Shield Gospel At Newport
Robert Johnson Rambling On My Mind The Collection Johnson 20 Blues Greats
Thelonious Monk This Is My Story, This Is My Song Straight No Chaser
John Cale My Maria Helen Of Troy
John McLaughlin Song For My Mother My Goal’s Beyond
Michael Mantler I Walk With My Girl 2 Silence
Categories
geology mixes

granite mix 3

I still remember very well first hearing Rock Bottom back in 1974. My friend Ray Kent bought it before me and played it to me. He described it as soft rock. My favourite British rock/pop albums are The Madcap Laughs, Rock Bottom and Shooting At The Moon. What have all 3 got in common? The contribution of Robert Wyatt.

I like the song Alabama Bound so much that I wrote a sort of tribute song which I call Belerion Bound. I don’t play it too often, maybe I’m too much of a Puritan to want to emphasise it’s hedonistic agenda. Actually it’s called Don’t You Leave Me Here and is by Papa Harvey Hull & Long ‘Cleve’ Reed.

It’s hard to remember just what impact David Bowie‘s Station To Station had back in 1976. It takes me back to the sitting room of my friends Rod & Sheila Henderson in Hyde, Manchester. The still from The Man Who Fell To Earth on the cover seemed to hint at things that were extra-terrestrially incumbent. Actually the film came out earlier in the year, before I was living in Manchester. The film I associate with my short time there is another offering from that year, Taxi Driver. That’s something for another time. There is much to write about it seems.

Which leads me to the soundtrack of another 70s film, Roma. I didn’t get to see this film until 73 or 74 and I have a vague memory that I saw the end of the film (the motorbikes bombing around Rome) first as the previous screening hadn’t finished when I took my seat. It’s not a good idea to do that, although not too bad with a film like Roma.

I first saw John Cale perform on June 1st 1974. That’s easy to remember because the concert was recorded and came out on an Island Records album and that’s what they called it.

Sun Ra I think I saw twice, both times at The Venue by Victoria station. And in reference to the earlier paragraph, that was somewhere I also saw John Cale do a solo gig on his first solo tour and I saw Nico do a solo gig there once too.

Monk sadly I never saw. I’m working on a guitar solo version of Pannonica and have been doing for a while now. It’s going to take me a little longer before I contemplate playing it live, but one of these days.

Misterioso is another of my favourites. I’ve seen the Kronos Quartet a few times. The first album I bought with them on was Terry Riley‘s Cadenza On The Night Plain. There is much to listen to it seems.

Finally back to 25th December at Rod & Sheila’s in 1976. My best Christmas present was the box set of Keith Jarrett‘s Solo Concerts. I may have played one of the sides sometime that Christmas morning. Afterwards I left the triple album in its box on top of the TV set. It’s never a good idea to leave records on the top of the TV. Especially not on Christmas Day in 1976. Later that afternoon I found that the records had sort of changed shape and not much of the vinyl was left in a listenable state. So this recording of Side 4 of the record is from my 2nd copy of the album (although I’m afraid it has some vinyl defects near the end). I should point out that this last track is a couple of minutes over 20 minutes long.

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 3
Artist Title Album
Robert Wyatt Little Red Riding Hood Hits The Road Rock Bottom
Papa Harvey Hull & Long Cleve Reed Don’t You Leave Me Here The Songster Tradition
David Bowie Golden Years Station To Station
Nino Rota Ecclesiastical Fashion Show Roma
John Cale Baby You Know Sabotage
Sun Ra & His Outer Space Arkestra Rocket Number Nine The Singles
Thelonious Monk Quartet Straight, No Chaser Live At The It Club
Kronos Quartet Misterioso Monk Suite
Keith Jarrett Lausanne March 20th 1973 Part 1 Solo-Concerts

Thanks for listening and finally I would like to copy out the words of a poem by William Carlos Williams. I don’t know why exactly but the desire hit me a little bit earlier.

An Exercise

Sick as I am
confused in the head
I mean I have

endured this April
so far
visiting friends

returning home
late at night
I saw

a huge Negro
a dirty collar
about his

enormous neck
appeared to be
choking

him
I did not know
whether or not

he saw me though
he was sitting
directly

before me how
shall we
escape this modern

age
and learn
to breathe again

Categories
birds music

Tattooed Brains

Further to my recent post about the Thelonious Monk biography here are some related thoughts.

Another biography I got out the library over the summer was Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head. Both Monk and Syd had this nut thing thrown at them and in both cases there was a definitely a reason for that, but it just begs the question as to whether madness is a requisite for true artistic endeavour. Probably not, but maybe we can say that often the very best lurk close by to the seeds of madness.

One other thing in common is that mental outlooks in both cases tended to have a retrograde effect on commercial success. This is truly some sort of madness in that we can equate madness finally with the inability to feed oneself and this sort of commercial success kamikaze turn ultimately ends up as the inability to feed oneself. In Syd’s case this probably wasn’t helped by the fact that he was able to feed himself because somehow there was always money for him.

Towards the end of Monk’s life he lost interest in playing the piano. There was a piano in Nica‘s appartment that he could have used. Barry Harris apparently often played it and sometimes Monk would leave his door open to indicate that he was listening but the desire to express himself had gone. That’s sad but in the end, why not? He’d done it all before. You can end up like a performing seal. Bring me blessed silence finally O Lord.

Vincent Van Gogh‘s another of those guys who was dipping a bit into the insanity pool. I love this segment from Kurosawa‘s Dreams (actually I love all the segments of Kurosawa’s Dreams) with Martin Scorsese playing the painter and that beautiful Prelude 15 by Chopin.

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.

Categories
jazz music quotations

Quotations 3

Jazz Quotations

Here are some quotations gleaned from the Down Beat magazine archives which make some interesting points.

Be-bop wasn’t developed in any deliberate way. For my part, I’ll say it was just the style of music I happened to play. We all contributed ideas, them men you know plus a fellow called Vic Coulsen, who had been with Parker and Al Hibbler in the McShann band. Vic had a lot to do with our way of phrasing.

Thelonious Monk

Everyone came up to Minton’s to listen. All the fine musicians sat in – Pres, Charlie Christian. There’s no truth to the story that we purposely played weird things to keep our musicians outside the clique off the stand. All we asked was that the musician be able to handle himself. When he got up on that stand, he had to know.

Kenny Clarke

But I think even Indian music has its origins in the African art form. You can see the influences. Whatever we do, it can be traced back to some of the African forms-there are so many. It’s like the languages; there might be a thousand dialects in one section of Africa, and the music has as many, if not more, dialects, you might say.

Elvin Jones

When America gets to the point that they won’t have to use styles to have people express what they do in a category, then the creativeness in all popular music is going to grow. When you think of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues, they’re using the same notes but they say, “We’re playing this, we’re playing that.” But in Europe, years ago it was just what your name was. If your name was Jim, it was go and listen to Jim – not Jim plays the blues. It was just Jim doing what he’s doing. If that was the case in America, we’d all be a lot better. For instance, I never heard anyone say “white music,” but I hear everyone say “black music” – and I was black before there was music. That’s kind of a drag, and has nothing to do with music.

Ornette Coleman