Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soul Food (Bobby Timmons, 1966)

Bobby Timmons is one of my favorite gospelly jazz pianists. A master of rhythmic innovations and superb interpreter of standards, especially in live dates. As far as the funky piano style is concerned, among all pianists from Horace Silver and Junior Mance to Les McCann, Timmons is is the one that I really have the utmost groove with.He was Art Blakey's Jazz Messenger's pianist and the one who wrote Moanin', a Blakey anthem tune for many years and one of the most played items in the whole history of jazz.

Here, Soul Food is a rare Prestige recording in trio format from 1966, which is usually paired with another LP, Soul Man! in reissues. It is not a great example of Timmon's artistry or his harmonic sophistication - in that case I recommend This Here Is Bobby Timmons, 1960, or In Person, 1961, both from Prestige catalog - but it's a good demonstration of his sheer energy when he really wants to groove.

He is accompanied with Lee Otis on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. First four tracks (Giblets, Turkey Wings, Angel Eyes, Cracklin' Bread) are from a September 30 date and others (Stolen Sweets, Make Someone Happy, Sauce Meat) from October 14, 1966. Now eat your Soul Food!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dylan: Witmark Demos 1962-64

Two falls have been passed since the release of Bob Dylan's last Bootleg Series(Volume Eight). Now, bootlegs are back with the 47-track Vol. 9, which will feature studio recordings from 1962-64 known to old bootleggers as the Witmark Demos and Leeds Demos, named after the New York studios where Dylan recorded. Dylan will also reissue his first eight albums (from his 1962 self-titled debut through 1967's John Wesley Harding) in mono format, which have never been issued on CD before. The reissues — reportedly mastered using "first issue copies of the mono LPs" in order to recreate the sound of the original LPs.

The Witmark Demos features 47 Bob Dylan songs recorded by the artist accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, harmonica and occasionally piano on 2 CD or 4 LP 180-gram vinyl. All of these songs were written—and their subsequent demos recorded—before Bob Dylan turned 24 years old. 

Among the many gems are 15 Bob Dylan songs that were recorded by the artist only for these sessions, and which have never been officially released to the public until now. These include the plaintive Ballad For A Friend, the civil rights era-inspired Long Ago, Far Away and The Death Of Emmett Till, and the poignant Guess I'm Doing Fine.

For those who have been busy with hunting Dylan's real bootlegs, many of materials in these CDs are familiar, but certainly not with this clean sound and perfect quality.

Leeds Music Demos/New York City, New York /February 1962

1. Hard Times In New York Town
2. Poor Boy Blues
3. Ballad For A Friend
4. Rambling, Gambling Willie
5. Man On The Street
6. Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues
7. Standing On The Highway

Witmark & Sons Demos/ New York City, New York /December 1962

1. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
2. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
3.The Death Of Emmett Till
4.Let Me Die In My Footsteps
5. Ballad Of Hollis Brown
6.Quit Your Low Down Ways
7.Baby, I'm In The Mood For You

Witmark Studio/ New York City, New York /Winter 1963

1. Bound To Lose, Bound To Win
2. All Over You
3. I'd Hate To Be You On That Dreadful Day
4. Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues

Witmark Studio/ New York City, New York/ March 1963

1. Long Time Gone
2. Masters Of War
3. Farewell
4. Oxford Town
5. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
6. Walkin' Down The Line

Witmark Studio /New York City, New York/ April 1963

1. I Shall Be Free
2.Bob Dylan's Blues
3.Bob Dylan's Dream
4. Boots Of Spanish Leather

Witmark Studio /New York City, New York/ May 1963

1. Girl From The North Country
2.Seven Curses
3.Hero Blues

Witmark Studio/ New York City, New York /August 1963

1. Whatcha Gonna Do
2. Gypsy Lou
3. Ain't Gonna Grieve
4.John Brown
5.Only A Hobo
6.When The Ship Comes In

Witmark Studio /New York City, New York /October 1963

1. The Times They Are A-Changin'

Witmark Studio /New York City, New York /December 1963

1. Paths Of Victory

Witmark Studio/ New York City, New York /January 1964

1. Guess I'm Doing Fine
2.Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Eric von Schmidt)

Unidentified Recording Studio/ New York City, New York /Mid to late June 1964

1. Mr. Tambourine Man
2.Mama, You Been On My Mind
3. I'll Keep It With Mine


Monday, October 25, 2010

Ben Webster: Stomping Love

Nat Hentoff Original Liner Notes: Ben Webster's Soulville,1957

Johnny Griffin, one of the more venturesome of the "modern" tenors, was talking recently with Don Gold of Down Beat concerning those nonpareil jazz players who never become dated. On his list were Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. “Ben is phenomenal. These guys can come and play with the young cats and still fit in. These guys — like Hawk and Ben - are living legends.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A friend was driving me home, usual for a fellow like me who is afraid to drive himself, in a country that monkey driving is a habit. A CD was playing in his obsessively cleaned Peugeot. It was a ragbag of oldies, most of them boring covers of originally boring songs. Rubbish was playing one after another as a sonic foreground for a gray landscape of a decaying city, where I used to live. Suddenly somewhere between a third rate hippie ballad and an Roy Orbison cover of mini-skirt nostalgia something happened. Something that first froze me for a second, then thrilled me for 5 minutes and finally when I repeated that five minutes for more than 6 times I knew that a key song has been added to my uncalled changes of life: Otchi-Tchor-Ni-Ya by Louis Armstrong!

Wait! Don't say that it's a an ordinary Armstrong CD-filler or a common stuff because of its public domain status to be included in European oldies compilations. Probably even a great Armstrong biographer like James Lincoln Collier felt the same way, since there is no trace of this song in his 400-page book on Satchmo. But despite all these preconceptions and misconceptions about latter days of Armstrong (which myself as a 'purist' had the same problem for a long time), it's an absolute musical miracle, a perfect masterpiece that summarize half of a century of jazz in five and a half minutes.

Otchi-Tchor-Ni-Ya means Dark Eyes. It's a Russian song. The lyrics of the song were written by a Ukrainian poet and writer Yevhen Hrebinka, in 1843. Armstrong's version sounded like "Oh Cha Chunya". and the words are quite different from the proper translation of the song from Russian to English. But words doesn't matter because Satchmo has turned it to a jam song. A chronology of things that would happen to you is as follow:

00:01 Billy Kyle's first piano line can pierce any stone, just with that very first note.

00:07 Armstrong comes in - Gabriel plays the horn!

00:10 Clarinet of Barney Bigard, like a beautiful butterfly chasing after another one (here, Satchmo's trumpet).

00:30 There is a indescribable urgency in this music. Saying all the things, all necessary things, all the things that should be said for the last time.

01:13 Satchmo sings. Words are utterly unimportant. It's just jiving.

01:45 Kyle returns. He sound like father of Bud Powell in a slower tempo. Space! Space!

02:14 Band takes off. New Orleans appears before our eyes. It's a manifestation of humanity.

02:38 Clarinet solo. Unbelievable.

02:55 Bud Freeman from Chicago plays his warm tenor sound on saxophone. So goddamn lyrical!

03:14 A suspending moment with Arvell's Shaw bass before...

03:27 ...before Trummy Young's trombone roars with a freedom unheard in the history of the instrument. His first attack is maddening!

03:44 The Socrates of jazz returns with his endless drama of sound and vision.

04:16 Kenny John takes a solo on his drums. Lifting up - lifting up.

04:48 Swing. Extacy. Joy. Cry. This damn thing will never stop.

05:25 Five seconds of silence begins. It's like 5 minutes.

The song is recorded in New York City, March 19, 1954 by Decca Records. Matrix number is 86062. LP number DL5532. Dig yourself:

Bashir, thanks for driving me home, and thanks for Otchi-Tchor-Ni-Ya.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Fuller Affair: Diggin' Curtis Fuller Trombone

In August 1959 Ralph Gleason wrote to Ira Giltler that how he was impressed by 25-year-old trombonist Curtis Fuller: "Benny Golson was here in San Fransisco and the group was a gas. Fuller had the hardest trombone job in the world. He followed J. J. Johnson (I assume the Johnson quintet had just left SF) but he made it and knocked me out." Only two years before this "knocking-out" Fuller made his mark on one of the most memorable intros in modern jazz, the opening bars of John Coltrane's Blue Train.

Detroit-born Fuller "owes much to Kai Winding's modernization of trombone technique and to J. J. Johnson's demonstration of the instrument's solo potential. However, it was the harmonic language of John Coltrane and Miles Davis that marked him most profoundly," writes Brian Cook about the master of modern trombone.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

History of Jazz: Third Stream

تاريخ موسيقي جاز
بخش هفتم – تِرد استريم

در 1961 گونتر شولر موسيقي Third Stream را موسيقي ناميد كه جايي در ميانۀ موسيقي جاز و موسيقي كلاسيك قرار گرفته است. او بيست بعد از اين تاريخ، در حالي‌كه هنوز تكليف موسيقي‌دانان و مورخان چندان با آن روشن نبود، فهرستي را طرح كرد از چيزهايي كه « Third Streamنيست» در واقع هدف او زدودن تصورات اشتباه از ماهيت اين موسيقي در ذهن شنوندگان بود:
الف – اين موسيقي جاز با سازهاي زهي نيست!
ب – اين موسيقي جازي نيست كه با سازهاي مخصوص موسيقي كلاسيك زده شود!
ج – اين موسيقي كلاسيكي نيست كه جازيست‌ها آن را بنوازند!
د – قضيه اين نيست كه عده‌اي كمي راول و شوئنبرگ قاطي آكوردهاي عجيب بي‌باپ بكنند يا برعكس!
ر – جاز در فرم يك «فوگ» نيست!
در طول بيشتر سال‌هاي دهه پنجاه ميلادي معدودي از آهنگسازان موسيقي جاز شروع به آميختن تكنيك‌هاي موسيقي كلاسيك غربي با موسيقي جاز نمودند گر چه در موسيقي «كول» قبلاً اتفاق‌هاي مشابهي افتاده بود كه نمونه آن ‌را در كارهاي دِيو بروبِك، نوازنده پيانو، مي‌توان مشاهده كرد. البته در اوايل قرن آهنگسازان ديگري مانند جورج گرشوين در rhapsody in blue و داروس ميلو در the creation of the word نيز اين تلفيق موسيقي جاز را با موسيقي كلاسيك تجربه كرده بودند.
در دهه‌هاي 1920 و 1930 نيز اصطلاح «جاز سمفونيك» بر سر زبان‌ها افتاد. دوك الينگون در سال 1935 آغاز به تصنيف آثار متعدد خود از جمله reminiscing , diminuendo in blue , crescendo in blue كرد كه همه آثاري اركسترال محسوب مي‌شوند. آهنگساز كلاسيك ايگور استراوينسكي نيز كنسرتوئي به‌نام Ebony concerto براي وودي هرمان نوازنده كلارينت تصنيف كرد. 
به crescendo in blue الينگتون، 1937، گوش كنيد:
نمونه‌هاي ديگري از كاوش‌ها تلفيق موسيقي كلاسيك و جاز را مي‌توان در اواخر دهه 1940 در آلبوم birth of cool مايلز ديويس ملاحظه كرد و هم‌چنين در صفحات كلود تورن‌هيل كه به‌وسيلۀ گيل اونز تنظيم شده بود.
در سال 1955 جان لوييس، پيانيست و آهنگساز بزرگ‌وار گروه «مدرن جز كوارتت»، تشكيلاتي را سازمان دادند كه «انجمن موسيقي جاز و كلاسيك» نام گرفت و آن‌ها توانستند موسيقي‌هائي را به اجرا درآورند كه تا آن‌زمان تقريباً هرگز شنيده نشده بود. آهنگسازان جاز و كلاسيك دور هم گرد آمدند و از هم آموختند و آثاري به اين ترتيب ساخته، اجرا و ضبط شد؛ از هنرمنداني مانند چارلز مينگوس، جورج راسل، جي جي جانسون و گونتر شولر.
رويكردهاي ديگري به سبك Third Stream به‌وسيله افرادي مانند بيل اونز رخ داد كه اركستر سازهاي زهي و استفاده از آثار كلاسيك باخ، فوره و شوپن را جزو آثار اجرايي‌شان در چارچوب بداهه‌نوازي‌هاي جاز قرار دادند. همين‌طور استن گِتز در صفحه معروف خود به‌نامِFOCUS بداهه نوازي‌هاي خود را با اركستري كه به وسيله ادي ساوتر تنظيم شده بود اجرا كرد.
به قطعه «پن» از آلبوم «فوكوس» استن گتز گوش كنيد:
بعضي «پيوريست‌ها» از اين تلفيق‌ها ناراضي‌اند و معتقند اين كار باعث از دست رفتن جوهره اصلي موسيقي جاز، بداهه‌نوازي، مي‌شود. اما هيچ‌كس نمي‌تواند منكر شود كه مجموعه‌اي درخشان از اين سبك، در صفحه‌هايي از دهه 1950 و اوايل دهه 1960 به يادگار مانده كه هيچ جازدوستي نمي‌تواند خود را از شنيدن آن‌ها محروم كند.