Sunday, September 11, 2011

london (new york) masters

*** music file included*** -  see end of post.

man... it seems a looooong time ago now, even by the delays-as-usual standards of this 'ere blog, that i first planned to write something excitable about this concert; and for a whole variety of reasons, i just never ever did. (it's hardly a singularity in that regard.) since then, i acquired this album and that (naturally) changed the nature of the still-planned post (still planned because - i repeat myself once again - the photo was already earmarked!); now it was more a matter of generalising about what the two recordings had in common, etc. or was it? i still didn't get round to writing about either of them.

in a (very real) way, there isn't much to say about them anyway - even for me (compelled as i am to describe and delineate that which others would leave to speak for itself). like all fully (or largely) improvised music, the sets cover too much territory to be usefully "mappable"; and besides... is it not enough, just to know that you are guaranteed to hear two world-class grandmasters, wholly absorbed in the process of co-creating? what reader of this blog is going to require any further incentive..? but there remain just a couple of things i wanted to share about them (as well as a further point which will follow)... first, one might think it would be common knowledge by now (but it probably isn't) that these two men are not always defiantly "awkward" sounding or intellectuals-only in their playing: far from it, and indeed when i first heard the new york boot, the opening few minutes had me thinking of lee konitz and warne marsh rather than any two free firebreathers. (admittedly this doubtless had a lot to do with the fact that i had just been listening to those two gentlemen in the car on my way home..! back when the car stereo still worked, aha...) the earlier london concert begins with a similar passage of quiet restraint, both players essaying very hushed, breathy attacks which only gradually become something more forceful... of course, once that force is achieved it's as if it had always been there in the first place, though initially inaudible... the sheer tensile strength of both players' timbres is a continual marvel. parker, incidentally, usually sounds nothing like marsh who often played with a sound which belied its tenor origins: in these duets, parker's tenor consistently "outweighs" braxton's alto, and it's usually easy enough to hear who's playing what -  although there are moments too when both players are letting rip and it becomes harder, the sound more fully enmeshed...

... which is the other thing i wanted to mention, because in those (glorious) moments when both men are really pulling out all the stops and using various extended techniques (multiphonics, circular breathing etc) at the same time, the ensuing storms seem to be more like the work of a saxophone quartet than a duo :)

now, that other thing... mr parker had of course been b's last instructor on the saxophone: sometime in the mid-seventies, he taught b. circular breathing. (i have still not been able to pinpoint this date in the recorded legacy yet... we'll get there. doesn't have to be me..!) he is also one of a pretty small number of guys whom i would consider to be on an equivalent level of mastery with b. quite a few of the others have either left us or are numbered among the usual aacm suspects... i'm not about to undertake an exhaustive list here, you understand - but it's worth mentioning at this point that in an interview for bbc radio 3 in 2004 (*1) b. began by saying that since he found himself in england again he wanted to express his love and admiration for... the following six players, a short list which i (being me) at once committed to memory: i remember it was derek bailey first, then five reedmen in no order... parker coxhill osborne harriott watts. (nor would that have been an exhaustive list; 's just those were the names - the voices - to which b. felt compelled to pay his respects on the night. if i used the same shortlist as a starting point i might add, say, john butcher who is clearly not just a master but a grandmaster of some standing. alan wilkinson would be on the list too.) ANYway... the point: these two hold each other in great respect, so when b. declined parker's invitation to renew the acquaintance in duo (for what i soon found out was this residency two years ago), this was not, he made clear to me, any sort of snub against mr parker - far from it. no, he was simply sick of seeing his music be hijacked for someone's else's 10-second coffee-table trend, i'm putting words in his mouth there you understand, but i know he did dread too much the thought of reading reviews in some journal or other to the effect that the performance was "the best thing he'd done in years" - what invariably passes for a compliment among the chattering classes (*2). - and yeah, he had reluctantly declined, as i heard it told.

isn't that a shame? that a culture which supposedly values the (true) performing arts tends overwhelmingly to produce glib, shallow "critics" who scarcely really even pretend to be paying attention, then expect you to be grateful for some prepacked pleasantry just because they were smiling (mouth only one suspects) when they said it? isn't that really just a load of shit?! pretty much... no names, no names... there'd be no end to it anyway if the truth be known, i hate the music press and have done for years (no longer hate it in fact since i never read it!) - there are people out there at present who are trying to write intelligently about creative music; not that i'm the best person to ask - but of course there is always eartrip... and i have enjoyed point of departure also (though at least one of my "unfavourite" crits, yes that one, regularly writes for that very organ). (*3) BUT ahhhh fuck it, i've already said it... no more banging on right now.

it's all due to change anyway, 's what they tell me...

so, anyway... the new york duo recording, i rediscovered recently, was only ever in flac at i.sol so if anyone would prefer a smaller, quicker, perfectly serviceable hq mp3 rip (and there's an oxymoron, right audiophiles? heeey): it's...  here

(get it before rs lose interest in it...)

* see comments

1 comment:

centrifuge said...

right, where was i...

1. it was aired during the jazz on 3 broadcast (which premiered the recording of the "great quintet gig of '04" at the london jf) but it was (i think, probably) john fordham. please let it be the case that b. has not had to endure the squirming awkwardness of being interviewed by someone as bland as j.n.

2.stephen king powder-puffed the last elmore leonard novel, road dogs, as his best work in years... doubtless thinking he was, again, saying something nice - but of course all it really communicates is the *other* stuff of yours they "read" was not really sinking in much, shall we say. (for myself i certainly didn't think road dogs was unusually good, certainly not as good as, say, tishomingo blues or the hot kid, from within the master's last decade)

3. the guys at d:o... ah, lean rather too heavily on others' ideas for my liking. but i freely admit they do a lot more than i do to get the music heard and talked about, promoted etc... so good on 'em nonetheless, i still do check in there every so often...