Monday, March 2, 2009

blink and you missed it


back in the day (i.e. two years ago) at c#9, one album being hunted by several readers was QB by paul smoker. no-one could help with that one... until last month when it turned up here. (canadian) pablo's new blog has already been mentioned in a recent comment, and i doubt that there are too many readers here who haven't come across it by now... but it's worth mentioning anyway, there's an excellent selection of material on offer with the promise of more to come... i myself haven't downloaded this much stuff in quite a while ;-)

besides, a quick word about the smoker album, which was well worth the wait i thought: get past the dodgy "disco tonite" graphics on the front cover, and the music sounds totally fresh and alive. the date is basically known for its (partial) presence in the braxton sessionography, but there is plenty of reason to listen to the trio even without the master, who only plays on three cuts. smoker, a wonderfully expressive and fast-thinking player, has a big presence which makes his horn sound at times almost like a trombone; and the crackling energy from ron rohovit and phil haynes had me recalling no-one so much as greg cohen and joey baron, from the next decade: indeed masada came to mind a few times during my listens to this recording - and of course with the addition of the alto, the group becomes a de facto "ornette quartet" so the lineage is certainly there. this particular generation of that lineage has not, in all likelihood, been fully appreciated due to the record's notorious scarcity. (some online "discographies" i found don't even list it.)

needless to say, but i will anyway, b. contributes some superb playing to the date. [a few years later, he was to recruit smoker for an all-star septet extravaganza. meanwhile rohovit and haynes, young acquaintances of smoker's at the time of the '84 session, remained for some time his first-choice rhythm section and cut the better-known genuine fables with him for hat, also in 1988.]

* * *

... and speaking of that last label: according to their front page, this one is out again, just in time for its twentieth anniversary... good news!

9 comments:

centrifuge said...

of course, there are other braxton-related items on p's new blog... notably (75% of) the '74 moers quartet, rare to own (but also currently available at sambeck's european echoes blog - see comment on the previous post)...

... and also the *six comps quartet* album from 1981, the one-off band, that's a superb album which the braxtothon will not reach any time just yet, may as well get a quick plug in for it...

... woody shaw's *iron men* is worth grabbing too of course, arthur blythe on there also.

- for a piece clearly influenced by braxton, check out the second track on side one of vinny golia's trio date (slice of life)... no titles forthcoming as of yet but "that one" shows the inspiration put to pretty good use i'd say. (old c#9 lags will perhaps recall my getting all excited about golia's *spirits in fellowship* with john carter... that's up there on the new blog too of course if anyone's curious!)

Massimo Magee said...

Mr. Cent,

How are things with you lately?
I thought I might let you know about a new release I've put up on my netlabel at http://arraymusic.wordpress.com
it's called [AR09] Sax, Bass and Drums, and it does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin but I thought you might find it interesting.

Cheers,

Massimo

centrifuge said...

on the self-promotion trail, mr m..? ;-) well, no problem, this blog is very much about *celebrating the living* so a bit of a plug for a real-life, hard-working creative musician will not go amiss. i'll check it out this week... c x

centrifuge said...

incidentally, the tracklist for that golia trio album went up yesterday.

there's another paul smoker album on that blog, i didn't realise *until* yesterday - under the name joint venture, smoker co-forming a front-line with ellery eskelin and bringing along his drummer to the date - eskelin presumably provided the bassist, future utility man drew gress. now, i have to say i didn't enjoy this one anything like as much - the first four numbers (by gress and eskelin) now sound to me far too worryingly similar to the sort of oh-so-knowing, clever-but-empty stuff which is currently clogging up the london jazz scene... and the fact that these guys got there first is neither here nor there really, after all the template for the f-ire collective guys (etc etc) was drawn up in the 80s and 90s precisely by guys like eskelin... (and steve coleman, tim berne etc etc...) and in any case the core problem for some of us with what's being peddled now is not unoriginality as such, more the fact that there's no real vitality or authenticity to it. yes, it's all very skillful but what's it really SAYING?

anyway... no, i didn't especially like that one (*mirrors*... recorded 1991, released somewhat later), but the one piece smoker brought to the date (a 20-min suite with a complicated title) is another example of braxton-influenced writing. smoker must have been listening plenty to the 70s quartet stuff with wheeler, and specifically *five pieces 1975*: the suite begins with a spare, drawn-out duo theme over busy percussion, irresistibly recalling (the mighty) comp. 23e - a little later on we find ourselves hearing a new version of the original pulse track, as showcased on comp. 23g, and in between smoker even lifts a few of wheeler's pet phrases, notably his high-to-low interval jumps... it's all good... unsurprisingly, this was the only piece on the album which properly compelled my attention, though i drifted off a bit some way before the end ;-)

McClintic Sphere said...

That new blog also features a lot of Max Roach.

Roach is one of the first jazz players that really got me hooked -- I picked up the Max and Dizzy -- Live in Paris 1989 set at a local public library in about 1990.

Jazz snobs get, well, snobby about that one -- saying it's a shame that Dizzy can't hit the notes he used to be able to hit, or that Max couldn't play as fast. To me, that raises the distinction between technique and musicianship; or between technique and artistry.

I've heard 20-year-olds with great chops, but nothing to say and no idea how to say it. This record -- if you accept the technical criticism -- is the opposite; the musical equivalent of a Matisse cut-out.

Max was a good introduction to jazz -- not only did I see him live, less than a year later, with his working quartet, but his discography overlaps with just about everything I've spent the last 20 years listening to. From being one of the creators of bebop, through 1950s-60s recordings with Miles, Mingus, and -- nota bene -- Ellington, to blowout duo sessions with Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and of course, Braxton.

Like Braxton, Roach sought to liberate his instrument from its "jazz" setting; with his all-percussion ensemble, M'Boom, and solo percussion albums.

All the more embarrassing, then, that I haven't given much attention to his albums as a bandleader, particularly with the working quartet that he maintained for about 20 years with Cecil Bridgewater.

This group appears in 4 posts at Pablo's blog, all recorded in the late seventies -- the same span over which Roach recorded with Braxton, Shepp, and Taylor.

I won't attempt to give a blow-by-blow account of those albums here. I'll say, though, that Roach's technique and his musicianship are undimmed here; that he pushes this band into some interesting places (though he had not yet recorded either of his albums with Braxton; he had recorded once with Shepp, and that influence does, I think, show up); and that time spent with a musician of Roach's open mind and broad experience is never wasted.

centrifuge said...

you're right, there's plenty of max roach over at "chez clifford"... now, i haven't taken any of those yet; briefly, having started out in jazz listening with roach being one of a small handful of names for research, i have not really got that much into his music since. i know about his speed and dexterity and his musical approach to the kit, i suppose sometimes rhythm seems to suffer for me... i've gradually come to the conclusion that i prefer blakey with monk or nichols (blakey also more subtle texturally than some seem to think). BUT i stress i have heard very little of roach's music. out of those albums, one to start..?

Massimo Magee said...

shameless self-promotion indeed ;)

McClintic Sphere said...

Of the four Roach albums, posted there, Loadstar is probably my favorite.

This is only based on a couple of listens, but it seems the most fully developed.

Live in Amsterdam is a close second. Shorter, and higher energy.

Confirmation and Tokyo feature shorter tracks, a couple of bop/post-bop standards, sometimes with a clever twist. More what I expect from Roach.

All good albums, though.

MM, your stuff looks interesting... I'll try to take a listen to some of it this weekend. Cheers,
McC. S.

Massimo Magee said...

thanks for checking out the piece, Mr C!