Thursday, September 20, 2012

2 by 2 (little by little)

ahhh.... much to my (genuine) surprise, people seem to read this blog more now that i am scarcely finding the time - or headspace - to post on it: hits are on the up. [apparently some of you are belatedly attempting to download the pic folder(s)..? ok, if i remember i will try and get round to reposting live links for those.] now that i am no longer able to pretend that i don't even know how many readers i do or don't have - and for years this was absolutely the case, at my own bloody-minded insistence - i have been quite curious to see what sort of attention the blog's been getting... there is some evidence to show that readers are using it as i hoped, i.e. as a reference. (just let's all remember that i very often leave my mistakes in and don't always get round to adding corrections/updates on very timely fashion... nothing you read here should be taken as a fully-formed, crystallised judgement. but then... what can? ahem.)

anyway, as i cryptically hinted (in the comments) last time, i had intended to force myself into getting the details written up, but it just wasn't happening - and, maddeningly, i responded to this self-induced pressure in the end by drifting away from (any) music altogether for a few weeks, scarcely ever even feeling like listening to any (*1)... and getting a quick, visceral "uff, no" from somewhere deep down inside every time i thought about "tackling" something demanding, something with real detail and density to it. but there we are back again, and again: demanding? tackling? that's all just part of the procrastination process... if and when i "surprise" myself by putting some creative music on, usually what results is delight, pure and simple enough (*2). we have been here before.

- but sometimes, for better or worse, it is after all just a matter of waiting until the propitious moment - and suffering the frustrations in the meantime. can't force these things... or perhaps sometimes one can and at others, not... in any case, this time it was just about that: a few days ago it suddenly clikced back into place, and i found myself aware of a pressing need to get the maestro's music into my ears and beyond... and when that came to pass in due course, more thoughts came issuing forth to greet the sounds, as always. as you can see from the picture, the music on this occasion was from the one-off (?) evening of duetitude between b. and buell neidlinger, released just this year on K2B2 (the label co-founded by neidlinger and marty krystall, in case anyone needs that blank filling in). little by little..? well, that's because this is mighty music and not to be trifled with, in terms of detailed analysis; nor am i even tempted to undertake such a thing, never mind a proper "review" or critique. (what, with my recent track record? fuggeddaboudit.) - it's nevertheless long overdue really, to say a few things about this remarkable double-document, which really does stand out even amidst the master's extensive list of recorded duo encounters (as has been claimed on its behalf).

basically the reason it stands out is very siomple: these are two freakish individuals! neidlinger is still best remembered by history for being a sort of "second charlie haden", the white cat with shades on playing the bass in an ensemble led and totally dominated by a black pioneer-genius (*3); in other words, he's still known to many people primarily known for a gig he landed when he was still in his teens. but this is peculiarly appropriate: the young buell was a child prodigy, not on the contrabass of course but on the 'cello, until that became a source of emotional trauma for him (*4) - much later in life he became as celebrated for his contribution to emotional healing as for his association with creative music, if not more so, and (as i understand it) has co-authored several works on divorce mediation *, wearing his counsellor's hat... but back to music, the voice lost to the smaller instrument found the fullest possible expression in the larger one, once he made the switch. neidlinger's total confidence of attack and tone is matched only by his complete (non-arrogant) refusal to give a fuck about any time schedule other than his own; and this, indeed, may turn out to be the overall emblem of his contribution(s) to the art: as with richard davis, another orchestrally-trained maestro of course, neidlinger was a favourite of stravinsky's - the bassist tells an anecdote of how the composer rushed to meet him after a performance of l'histoire du soldat, declaring it the best rendition he had ever heard, and when asked why this was so, answering "because you go forward" - as the bassist continues to explain, to a player who has properly absorbed the meaning of jazz, and especially of free jazz, there is no time, just a starting point and a journey. nor, of course, is this true solely of time; this musician permits himself complete freedom of address in all directions, and his sureness of utterance immediately provides all the licence he might require (*5).

one of the things i found charming about this trecording when i first played it was the way in which they don't quite sound fully warmed-up at the start; they have not yet fully found each other in the soundspace and b's faster runs tend to misfire at certain points, but this does not last for long - ha, far from it. they are just warming up in public, as it were, using monk to work out any kinks or whatever, and to get into the music; by the time the second piece begins they are both on, and of course this is demonstrable every second after. this piece, which encompasses several moods and textures, has been titled (by neidlinger) "tonight the night" and is here dedicated to xenakis; the liners refer only to the time which has passed and the difficulty of establishing authorship over music which was co-created on the night, but this number sounds suspiciously braxtonesque and begins, indeed, with one of b's signature birdcalls, a prolonged horn line which toys with both linear displacement and pan-tonality. [argh... ok, by now i "should" be able to say definitively which piece this is, or most resembles and i can't. even if i refuse to accept any external pressures on me to provide that information, i have fallen short of my own hopes and expectations in this regard - ! well, i forgive me ;-) ] - the second set includes the same number and sure enough, it begins exactly the same way so i really do wonder whether b. didn't just bring this to the gig, however informally, and then they forgot to sort out the details afterwards... who knows. (if so... it's another paris concert. but in this case they possibly never expected it to get released.)

in any case titles don't mean so very much, here, not when this is ultimately just about two freakishly talented and unique individuals enjoying each other's exalted company and exploring as much ground as they can. that second rendition of "tonight"/comp. #? bleeds back into "off minor", which is where we came in at the beginning of the evening, but buell's been hanging out there for a good couple of minutes anyway: cue up "tonight" on your player, run forward eight mins and you'll hear him just suddenly click into the monk number out of nowhere, as if it had never actually gone away. (and maybe it hadn't. indeed, perhaps it never does... i know myself that monk's music can feel that way, and i don't even play it.) and this, of course, just brings us back to the braxtonesque, since cross-territorial transitions are a part of the maestro's stock-in-trade, at least in a live context.

and you know what/ i think that might be it. i don't really have anything more to say about it, other than: buy it!! b. is a duettist non-pareil, and his discog most emphatically proves it, but this one will always stand out as one of the peaks therein... essential. (*6)

* see comments 
* no he hasn't... see comment dated 16th oct