Jazz For Haters

“I’ve got no kick against modern jazz,
Unless they try and play it too darn fast,
And lose the beauty of the melody”

-Chuck Berry nailed it in 1957

This collection is for people who don’t think they like Jazz. I’m one of them, after all, because I think a great deal of it is boring. Too many notes going nowhere as fast as they can. Where is the tune?

Shane Theriot hails from New Orleans and is currently guitarist and musical director for “Live At Daryl’s House”. His “Sanford and Son” (2000) seemed like the perfect place to start.
“Jungle” (1995) by Jef Lee Johnson is one of several tracks featuring vocals. Purchased as a cut-out from Sal back in the day. The rest of the album, “Blue” is just as good. Unfortunately he passed away at 54 in 2013.
“Elephant Walk” (2009) by Israeli guitarist OZ Noy is the funkiest and loosest of grooves in the best possible way.
“Kimotion” (2001) Composed and conducted by guitarist Kimo Williams is pure exhiliration.
You’re excused for thinking “You Can’t Sing, You Can’t Dance” (2013) by Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic is Hard Rock. More like mid-period King Crimson than standard Jazz. One of the baddest songs I know.
“Pineapples & Ashtrays” (2015) is best described as “Surf Noir”. Led by Saxman Bryan Beninghove, the Hangmen are an incredible live act. Highly reccomended
James “Blood” Ulmer got his start with Ornette Coleman but really made a splash in the early ’80’s with his angular idiosyncratic guitar style. “Black Rock” (1982) somehow manages to sound like both Captain Beefheart and James Brown.
“Sacred Emblems” (2014) is more Surf than Jazz. From “Psychomagia”, the second album by Abraxas, led by Shanir Exra Blumenkranz, performing compositions by John Zorn.
“Keep The Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your Ass” (2003) The Bad Plus. They’ve been called a “jazz power trio with a rock n roll heart.” The melody is as much fun as the title.
Singer, musician, songwriter, producer Cassandra Wilson’s take on “The Last Train To Clarksville” (1995) is one of my all-time favorite covers.
Bill Frisell, an incredibly versatile guitarist contributes the only ballad. A lovely rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman”(1992)
“Footsteps”(2012) by The Fretless Brothers truly unique exploration of microtonal guitars and tunings makes this track wonderfully disorienting.
“Storm The Reality Asylum” (1982) features the vocals of a very young Neneh Cherry with her stepdad Don sitting in on trumpet.
“Silent Land” (1981) Material, formed by Bill Laswell in 1978, went on to become an integral part of, and define the post No Wave downtown Jazz scene.
“Breathe” (2014) from a Big Band reinterpration of the Pink Floyd classic, “Dark Side Of the Moon”.
“Tobago Tango” (1986) Art Ensemble Of Chicago were the first Jazz band I really loved, Probably because they annoyed many Jazz fans by playing music that seemed like anti-Jazz. This is their most accessible moment.
“Come As You Are” (2003) Pink Freud. From Poland. Nirvana cover.

Jazz For Haters

Enjoy!
-BBJ

The Road To Ruined

I approach singer/songwriters with caution. It can be a rabbit hole of disfunction with boring musical accompaniment. Mix that with Jazz and I really worry.
Maybe because John Martyn’s “Solid Air” is both, and works so beautifully is why it’s been one of my very favorite albums for over 40 years.
It was the first record I played on my first real stereo system, which I bought by working as a busboy at a Marie Callender’s in 1974.
When I was putting this together, I couldn’t bring myself to interupt it’s flow, so tracks 7-15 are 1973’s “Solid Air”. The first six come from “The Tumbler” (1968), “Stormbringer!”(1970)*, “The Road To Ruin”(1970)*, “Bless The Weather”(1971), and the last eight are mostly from “Sunday’s Child”(1975), with the final song taken from “One World”(1977).
He was an incredible guitar player, fantastic singer, and songwriter.

But he had no shortage of demons. I hear many of his love songs as heartfelt apologies for bad behavior.
That’s why they ring so true.

In the ’80’s he morphed from underground folk artist into adult contemporary soft jazz blandness.
And then proceeded to gain about 300 lbs.

I’d Rather Be The Devil

Chillin’ With Miles

 
(Take It Or Leave It)

Despite producing the original sessions, Teo Macero was not involved in putting the set together, and is adamant that they should never have been released in this form. “I hate it,” he says. “I think it’s a bunch of shit, and you can quote me on that. And I hope you do. It has destroyed Miles and made him sound like an idiot. It’s a terrible thing to do to an artist when he’s dead. Those records were gems, and you should leave them as gems.”

It’s too bad most people think of “Bitches Brew” when the subject of electric Miles comes up, because it’s one of the least interesting of the period. Along with Agartha and Dark Magus, it would be an easy to think the whole era a funked up bore. It was that way for me until I got hold of “The Complete On The Corner Sessions”. I was familiar with Bill Laswell’s “Panthalassa”, but distrusted his approach. I don’t always like his interpretations, for instance his re-imagination of Bob Marley is pretty terrible.
I’d never heard the original “On The Corner”, but it’s reputation is pretty poor as many of his Jazz fans found the long funky pieces “not jazz”, and boring. I loved the unreleased jams Teo thinks are shit. It’s what opened my ears to Miles. Next I collected “The Complete Jack Johnson”, then “The Complete In A Silent Way”, and “The Complete Bitches Brew”.
I think Teo’s pissed because it’s pulled the curtain back showing how he and Miles manipulated hours of tape to construct a product instead of letting the jams speak for themselves.

“Chillin’ With Miles Davis” is a nice companion to the official releases. It’s for those who think they don’t like electric Miles. These tracks are really important in the scheme of things. He is making ambient music, he is anticipating dub. You can tell they were exploring unknown territory. Everyone is really listening and trying to make it work. Miles purposely got musicians to play out of comfort zones. That’s why this is so special.

Miles, inspired by Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone, set out to make rock n roll and reach a younger audience. I’m sure he figured it would be easy, after all it was being made by young cats without training, but he found Rock is deceptively simple, and it took him awhile to get his groove on.

I wanted to make an ambient album, I’d read somewhere that Brian Eno had been influenced by “He Loved Him Madly” and used it as a rough guide for texture and pacing in his ambient works, so I started with that and “Guinnevere” (“Bitches Brew” outtake). I made a cd, and while reviewing, realized that no matter how much I love it, “He Loved Him Madly” is too damn long, so I snipped off the first ten minutes, where a natural break occurs and a drum beat is introduced. This differs from the released version in that there are no overdubs or edits (save mine). It’s the original Jam.

“The Big Green Serpent” is another “BB” outtake. it’s a fragment, marred by a slight breakdown with conversation. I cut about 40 seconds.
In order for everything to fit on a cd, I trimmed about a minute no one will miss off the end of “Guinnevere”. Everything else “as is”.

I finished it off with “Go Ahead, John part One” (Jack Johnson outtake), which isn’t all that ambient, but a terrific bluesy closer with great solos by Miles, and John McLaughlin’s stunning guitar.

I heartily disagree with Mr. Macero. It has not destroyed Miles and made him sound like an idiot. This material enhances both Miles catalog and reputation, and in no way casts the artist in a poor light.

Link in comments.

It’s also here

Special Thanks to Willard for turning me onto the music.

I Don’t Know My Jazz From A Hole In The Ground

 
Been tripping on a lot of newish fusion. Seems King Crimson and 70’s prog rock are as big an influence on these guys as The Mahavishnu Orchestra or Jazz in general. I avoided the obvious and tried to stick with newish guitar oriented stuff. In other words, No Jeff Beck, or Al Dimeola. In general I’m pretty traditional in my limited appreciation of Jazz. Monk is probably my favorite, followed by the other “M” guys, Miles, and Mingus.
Most of the music is from the aughts, with a couple exceptions. While assembling this I started to think it needed some James Blood Ulmer, who was at the end of the first wave of fusion, but was a little too forward thinking and didn’t really fit in at the time. The blistering “Black Rock” (1982) somehow manages to sound like Captain Beefheart and James Brown at the same time. Jef Lee Johnson’s Jungle (1993) was included to keep Blood company as the only other vocal. T.J. Kirk (1995) was a band featuring Charlie Hunter on 8 string guitar, who derived their name from the fact that they play the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown, and Roland Kirk. Marc Ribot made the cut with this tune from Rootless Cosmopolitans (1990).


I wrote this post awhile ago but just got around to putting it up. I listened to the comp a bunch of times and couldn’t decide whether to add some newer stuff I’ve “acquired”. Today I was notified of some spam comments so when I deleted them I decided, “Fuck it, I’m just going to post the sucker.”

Link in Comments. Enjoy!

Sanford and Son

Number Fifty Two

The Playlist

A friend sent me a link to someone’s idea of the greatest rock guitar solos on record because “Baby’s On Fire”, one of my first posts, and a guitar solo I’d nominate for some kind of “best” list, was on it. I can’t remember what the other eleven tracks were, except I wasn’t familiar with most of them, or my response was, “What?!”. A brief email correspondence took place where I nominated a handful of solos that would be on my list, and got as far as promising it would be the theme for the next “Bullshit”. I started to jot down some ideas, a little disappointed that “Baby’s On Fire was already on Number Fifty when I realized I had no interest in compiling or listening to all that fretful wankery.
Also I’d collected the solo-less “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” from Lux N Ivy’s Favorites and already earmarked it for Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 52.
All the Bullshits tend to follow the same pattern of eclecticism, so I lost the guitar solo theme. That said, a few of them made it onto the playlist. They are grouped together in a mini set consisting of “Old Pervert”, possibly my favorite Kimberly Rew solo from The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight. Interesting because this version is not on the cd reissue, where it has been replaced by a vastly inferior rendition. This version is dubbed from a cassette copy I made in 1986 of the original vinyl release. Next up is “Lounge Lizard” from Ian Hunter’s first solo album featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. It’s really hard to narrow Mick down to a single solo, but I think this one stands out for all the right reasons. After that comes “Tit-Nan-Darag”, from Live, Love, Larf by French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson. Three out of four of those guys are well known for their guitar prowess. The other guy for the incredible drumming in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. I hear the album isn’t great, but this track smokes, and when Richard Thompson plays, I listen. It wasn’t destined for my list, but his solo on Fairport’s “Tale In Hard Time” is no laughing matter, either. It’s not a solo, but Blixa Bargeld’s guitar on “The Moon Is In The Gutter” is some of my favorite atmospheric noodling. Davy O’List plays some crazy shit on “The ‘In’ Crowd”, Mick Ronson shimmers tastefully on “Up To Me”, and the guitars on Acetone’s “No Need Swim” are as gorgeous as you-fill-in-the-blank.
Keef’s playing on “Honky Tonk Women” and Ron’s solo on “Twisting the Night Away” would have both made the cut, but I’ve heard them too many times, so here they are together on “Not Fade Away” from The Stones Stripped Deluxe, where no one in the band sounds like they plan on fading away any time soon. And then there’s Lou Reed on “You’re Driving Me Insane”, a song recorded by The Roughnecks shortly before forming The Velvet Underground, where he plays the practically same solo (if you can call it that) as “Run, Run, Run” from the “banana” album.
The Mekons always have good guitars, and are here because this song narrowly missed the cut on my post a few months back. One of the Mekons, Lu Edmonds, is currently playing guitar on tour with Public Image Ltd.
The Liquor Giants “I Don’t Mind” is a dead ringer for Big Star. Too bad it wasn’t covered by them on In Space.
Something by Chris Spedding would have found it’s way onto the guitar list, check out Roy Harper’s “The Game” on an earlier post, so I end the set with the Sharks hysterical “Kung Fu”, from Jab It In Yore Eye(1977). One of those albums that wouldn’t make it onto anyone’s all-time list, but for some reason I played to death way back when, largely due to Spedding’s incredible tone and economy coupled with Snip’s charismatic vocals.
There isn’t any guitar at all on Gene Krupa’s “Scandanavian Baby”, but it rocks nicely and comes from a history of Jazz record my parents bought at a supermarket when I was a toddler.
It’s really about the songs anyway.
Link in Comments.
Enjoy!

Number Fifty

As usual it’s been too long since I posted anything of substance. I look at some of my favorite sites, and there’s something new posted every day and I have to think that they must not do anything else except blog. Either that or I’m very slow. Probably a bit of both.  Even this began as a zip file I just wanted to throw up, and now I’m into more than an hour spent writing practically nothing.
As stated previously the blog began as a series of mix cd’s made in response to the demise of my evil i-Pod. I called them now that’s what I call bullshit as a comment on the popular series of Top 40 compilations called Now That’s What I Call Music.  It was a way of processing the ton of music coming my way through friends, downloads, and occasional purchases while I was driving two hours down to South Jersey on surfari.
Many songs posted were originally featured on the cd’s.

I made the first one for Memorial Day weekend in 2006. Here is number 50.

A swell compilation of highlights from the blog so far. It will fill a blank cd nicely, or remain files you can do with what you please.

You can find the link in the comments.

Mine looks like this

Newark From Landfill

Newark From Landfill

Again, apologies for being a bad blogger. Life has been too interesting to spend more time sitting here hunting and pecking.
After this I promise I’ll post something good.
This is my latest painting. I wanted to make a beautiful picture of something not usually thought of that way.
Here also is a brief video of it’s creation. I made the music, too.

I've been playing a lot of music lately. This is with with Globular Cluster.

Newark From Landfill

Crimson Jazz Trio

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy New Year! I had this idea to put together a year-end-of-decade something, but really the decade we just finished was the worst of the six I’ve been alive in so far. Okay, the ’80’s fucking sucked, too. And it’s not just music we’re talking about. I was going to say something about the good times from 1967-1977, and then I remembered that whole Vietnam war thing.  Then I thought I’d go on about how great all the new technology is. In fact this blog would have been a fanzine I never would’ve bothered to cut and paste together, get printed, and assemble. All the music I don’t buy anymore. I used to spend over $1500 per year on recorded music. A fair amount of what I post came magically from the web. I love my cell phone, and digital camera. And then I’ll be out in public somewhere hearing what is ostensibly music, and there it is: autotune.  So as usual everything’s a decidedly mixed bag.

I also thought about a Vic Chestnutt memorial, but I’ve hardly heard any of his music.  A friend sent me a version of his “Kick My Ass” by Garbage, which is great.   Frankly, the minute I heard about Vic Chestnutt and his tragedy, I was so saddened that I couldn’t bear to seek out his music.  Life is hard enough without a wheelchair.  That he was out fighting the good fight was all I needed to know.  I listened to part of one of his albums once, and hearing him struggle to breathe and sing was enough for me.  I felt like I was suffocating. I hope he’s found peace.

Instead I’ve decided to post a recent discovery, thanks again to sakalli (see blogroll).  The Crimson Jazz Trio was lead by Ian Wallace, King Crimson drummer for one of their least loved periods.  He played on the decent, and kind of low-key Islands,as well as the truly horrible EarthboundRobert Fripp has done much to rehabilitate the reputation of this particular incarnation by releasing other live documents much superior to the aforementioned travesty.

The Crimson Jazz Trio will favorably remind many of The Bad Plus, as they are a jazz piano trio playing an interesting repertoire.  In this case it is the music of King Crimson. They cover a fair amount of the Belew territory, although you would not know it from this post.
I’ve spent a lot of time with this music over the years, so hearing it in a jazz context is really fun.  Maybe I’d enjoy more jazz if I knew the old tunes those bop guys were deconstructing in the 50’s and 60’s.

In researching this post I also found out that Ian Wallace passed onto the great gig in the sky on February 22nd, 2007, a few months after some of these recordings.  Even though he was a top session drummer for over 40 years, he is still best remembered for the year and a half he spent in King Crimson.

Ian Wallace 1946-2007

21st Century Schizoid Man
Pictures Of A City
Cat Food
Ladies Of The Road
Starless
Lament
Red

Monk Mystery

 
Not entirely solo

Not entirely solo

Okay you geeks, what tune is this?
I bought this Solo Monk cd in the early ’90’s. It’s supposed to contain 13 solo piano tunes. While there is no mention of a bonus track, it nevertheless has one, even though it’s not at the end. The extra track isn’t solo, but a trio. I just ripped it off the disc and it comes up as “Solo Monk” with the album art and all. Track 14 is solo and comes up as Unknown Artist. The Mystery tune is #13 and listed as “Introspection[+]”. Is that right??
I guess whoever mastered it at Columbia f*&%ed up.
According to Amazon the latest edition has more songs on it than mine, but none are the version of “Introspection”(?) posted here.

Captain Beefheart, (Don Van Vliet,) describes the most memorable performance he ever witnessed.

“I saw Monk once at a theatre in San Fernando Valley. They gave him a grand piano, a really beautiful Steinway, with a cut glass bowl of roses. He came in late wearing a trench coat. He dumped the bowl in the piano, knocked down the lid, and hit one note. The sound: everything going into the piano, the strings, the water splashing, the roses. And then he left.”

Monk Mystery

Cow Cow Boogie

 
 

Peace, Baby

Peace, Baby

I’ve always loved this song. My parents played a lot of records. My Dad used to buy weird cut-outs, mostly by names he knew already, such as Chet Atkins, Doc Severinson, people of the previous era trying to make records in the swingin sixties. A lot of potential for uncool there. One record they played a lot was a Capitol Records something or other anniversary compilation of big hits. Cow Cow Boogie was the opener, being the fledgling label’s first gold record. When I was in High School I snickered every time Ella sang the lyric with “loco weed” in it (Still do, actually). Check out the ultra cool jive rap with Don Raye on The House Of Blue Lights. She actually calls him “Homey”.

Ella Mae Morse (September 12, 1924 – October 16, 1999), was an American popular singer. One of the most talented and overlooked vocalists of the 1940s, Morse blended jazz, country, pop, and R&B; at times she came remarkably close to what would be known as rock and roll.

She was all that

She was all that

Morse was born in Mansfield, Texas. She was hired by Jimmy Dorsey when she was 14 years old. Dorsey believed she was 19, and when he was informed by the school board that he was now responsible for her care, he fired her. In 1942, at the age of 17, she joined Freddie Slack’s band, with whom in the same year she recorded Cow Cow Boogie, Capitol Records’ first gold single. “Mr. Five by Five” was also recorded by Morse with Slack and they had a hit recording with the song in 1942 (Capitol 115). She also originated the wartime hit “Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet,” which was later popularized by Nancy Walker in the film, Broadway Rhythm.

Ella_Mae_Morse_In_A_Jazz_Recording_Session

Cow Cow Boogie
The House Of Blue Lights