Wednesday, March 14, 2012

embarrassment of riches

right after posting about the "boot box" - and you have not heard the last of that (or rather its contents) - i was on restructures, noticing suddenly all these extra recordings, some of which are appearing back in the mid-seventies. more boots!! well, of course last year had seen me have one of my "moments", flooded with optimism for a while after the relaunch of the TCF site... this spring's bootiful bounty actually arrived around the same time as last year's, but it's been a while (few months i guess - after the october events anyway) - and when i tried to log in, i was booted out. wrong sort of boot, that... and a manual reboot was ineffective, my username and email being dead money around the new-look place apparently :(

- now, there was a happy ending to this: 'cos the guys were very helpful, and explained very promptly indeed what had happened to allow me and others to slip through the net; i rebuilt my account and away we go... now, inspection of the new-and-easier-to-navigate site quickly revealed/confirmed that i really have missed a lot, purely in terms of new releases. the sheer number of variety of braxton house releases now is bewildering, hugely encouraging and (frankly) rather overwhelming. i mean, and here's the crux of it, they all cost money too and even though the foundation has priced things very sensibly on the whole, the unfortunate truth is that most of us cannot simply spend hundreds of pounds/dollars etc on music all the time (well... growing up and into my thirties this was exactly what i did, but i have had to slow down a lot since then... ok, so i found other resources at the same time - !). anyway, for the time being i grabbed one thing which actually leapt out at me as "free", volume one of the sax quintet from 1998, a remarkable affair which i've ben enjoying this very evening. (as for vol two... well yes of course i'm tempted, but we gotta keep a level head here. i still never did become a member, but that's another story... one which is not likely to get aired here any time soon.)

so yeah, i stuck to the free stuff for the time being until i have made up my mind what's what (*). (don't get me wrong, i fully support in principle what the foundation is doing with all this. i also appreciate they can't just give it all away and still survive; i think possibly they have flooded the market a bit, but we will see.) now, as regards this year's "march harvest". there's another fabulous crop of boots, indeed on balance it probably outweighs last year's. ok, there is no '93 supermega-quartet, but then just look at what we have got this time around:

  1.  quintet (new york) 1975. no sooner do i mention this in my previous post (section 4.), than it turns up here, to save me the hassle of playing the tape ;-) fascinating chance to hear the core quartet plus teitelbaum.

  2. quartet (wilhelmshaven) 1979 pts 1 and 2. this one actually turned up on inconstant sol several years ago, passed on by tantris presumably from dime, but in any case both sets were already available to me. (i downloaded it anyway of course... always worth it, just to compare...)

  3. quartet (karlsruhe) 1983. tantalising late version of comp. 98 with crispell and anderson from the original tour, paul smoker in for hugh ragin.

  4. duo (zurich) 1984. one in a very long line of duets for the maestro, this time with gunter "baby" sommer alongside...

  5. trio (pisa) 1982. man, i am so glad this one is back in circulation. i blogged about it myself a few years back but those files are dead of course, and besides, now i find out that i never had the entire thing in the first place. unbelievably high-end free improv from three absolute fucking masters.

  6. solo (kent) 1979. one in an even longer line of discipline-enforcing solo alto recitals. what's not to like, etc

  7. duo (belfort) 1985. and speaking of series and continuations, these two maestros have wandered in and out of each other's frequencies pretty regularly over the years and decades...

  8. trio (wuppertal) 1989 pts 1 and 2.  incredible band this, which left behind an amazing album of course, but which also toured europe somewhat during that year. i was recently delighted to discover at least four full concerts from this tour, all waiting for me in the box. and here is yet another! both sets! my cup runneth over.

  9. creative orchestra (portland) 1989 pts 1 and 2. same line-up as eugene. same set-list too. just under a week later, in the big city. what did they all learn from the first time?

 10. quartet (mulhouse) 1983. one full set from everyone's favourite not-quite-the-finished-article line-up.

- like i say, that's plenty to be getting on with, right there.

now the way it turned out, it was pretty late in the end before i even got started. so i prioritised a bit, grabbed what i could with both hands and immediately started to organise a super-playlist to get me on the go. that turned to be just over five hours long, but hey... in this mood, i've learned to go with it and just absorb as much as i can. (these intensive, music-packed phases don't tend to last all that long historically; they are also counterbalanced by periods of drought.) in the event, though, i was thoroughly exhausted on sunday night (after the traumatic saturday i'd had... never mind that now) and managed only to hear the first two parts of this monster playlist, to wit:

list one

a) as 1. above, the "loft quintet" with teitelbaum sitting in. this is not as mad as you might think, at least not at first. the synth does not really nose its way in until the first piece is pretty well explored, this being the tension-inducing, usually non-cathartic comp. 23g. where i found this date particularly satisfying and interesting was the second piece, comp. 40n (which is far less common in live performances of the time than its schizoid twin, comp. 23e). holland defies belief in this one with his iron self-control when wielding that bow - the actual production of the attack becomes completely transparent, leaving just this endless sound which dominates the space with only minimal (need for) variation; and the synths end up working the most wonderful magic/k - towards the end of the piece i had long since given up doing anything other than standing very still, giving all my attention to the music in my ears. no more detail, that's for another time ;-)

"four winds" is the last piece, just to prove [to me] that it was in the band's repertoire before 1976. i mean, it's only the brass player who would need to learn it and then probably only once or twice; for all its tricky pauses and shifts in time, this is not a difficult piece of music; i don't remember much about this rendition of it though. i was already flagging by this point (as see above). [i am no longer paranoid enough nor egotistical enough to conclude that someone deliberately put this out there to slap my wrist, or whatever, for any of the times i might have implied (or indeed stated) that this piece is too vanilla to belong in the book - and that it was just being played at graz as a nice favour. (don't forget one thing - i didn't start out thinking this way, it came upon me once i had embarked upon the work. my memory told me that the graz rendition of "winds" was, y'know, red-hot... until such time as braxtothon ears told me a little different.) even if there was nothing conscious about it - and of course it's far more likely that the concert was selected for the inclusion of teitelbaum, simple as that - indeed especially if no direct human agency was at work, then it is still what the universe is reminding me with this discovery. it's all part of the self-dissection, the public learning process i seem to be committed to continuing..!]

b) comp. 98 sounds great with smoker on board (no disrespect to hugh ragin; smoker is one trumpet player i liked more or less on first hearing - the small brass is not something i hear clearly in free music, or rather it wasn't until recently... over the last year or two that has actually changed a lot, mainly thanks to thb, peter evans et al). and i did manage to stay awake for almost all of it, but not quite the last few minutes, when i had one of those "suddenly roused by applause" moments. i was far too tired and distracted to draw any useful conclusions about the nature of the piece itself - which i have never studied, and which of course remains some way in the future as far as the core work is concerned - or indeed about this interpretation, but i do remember enjoying it, and particularly the pleasure of "channel-switching" in my head between the three horns at times, consciously trying to hear the whole at others. i will be coming back to all this stuff, anyway.

- and  meanwhile, the playlist (which as you can see includes the first revisit to bremen, just to mix things up a bit) continued on  the monday morning, just like in the old days :)


few more things while i remember... at some point i need to write a bit about the incredible comp. 173, an outrageous vocal/orchestral masterwork which defies description, as they say... oh does it, i reply... but anyway, i've been listening to that recently, three or four times spaced out over weeks or months, however long it's been (for a start, time-before-new-job seems to have moved at a totally different pace - and indeed it did in many ways)... it may have warped my fragile little mind as one might say ;-)   erm, and i have actually been repeat-playing a standard for a change (really does make a change in my case, as the reader may know), notably "little melonae" from the bergamo '03 jf date. ok, ok... it smokes... i have to admit. hey, i do listen to actual jazz from time to time i'll have you know, nor do i have anything (much) against it, it's just not where the meat is at, for me... but every so often like i say... now, it is true that of all the musics b.s plays, i tend to enjoy his standards dates the least but when the piece is really challenging - as in mr maclean's wicked, monkish, spiked sweetmeat - and the band is cooking (as if it would be likely to do anything else, with this guy in the room), i gotta admit the mood is pretty irresistible.

i still couldn't sit through a whole set of it without taking a break...

* see comments

1 comment:

centrifuge said...

one thing i *did* just have to buy was the K2B2 release of precisely what i had missed, as voiced in my previous post: the braxton-neidlinger duo performance from santa monica, 1989... i had no idea that this was being prepared for official release even as the prospect of it coming to me as a boot was whisked away from under my nose last year... thanks to j. for pointing me in the right direction, and so fast!

[in the end i bought it direct from the label btw... cheaper, and i know where all my money is going :)) win-win!]