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


centrifuge said...

actually, before i even get started on the numbered footnotes, there's other stuff i didn't quite get round to saying (even that tiny little attempt at a post took several days to complete, believe it or not... life is a bit hectic at the moment, until i adjust to the latest version of my new daily schedule - this latest model includes a *lot* less free time - doesn't sound like a selling point does it)...

... having just said that i no longer hjave a choice about seeing my page hit details, etc, i then promptly saw what was right under my nose but had gone hitherto unnoticed: the clickable "don't track your own pageviews" link. heh. well, too late now isn't it, the cat is out of the bag.

for the record, my current monthly page-hit count is approximately 10% of what we used to get at c#9. that's not too bad i reckon, bearing in mind that a) i am not (usually) sharing files on here, b) i make no effort to promote the blog, or myself, throughout the net any more and c) i'm probably just not that popular or well-liked, when it comes down to it. after all, for all those hits, i don't attract followers and rarely get comments. this latter has been addressed before and is not worth bringing up again, though i am always happy to receive and engage with comments (unless they are purely destructive - those will still be ignored, not that i've had any for years now).

but the matter of popularity or whatever - well, there's any number of reasons for that, but all of them come back to the fact that people who insist on principles *before* social requirements will always cause abrasion when they move among social circles - or even skate around the edges of them. so i can't expect anything else and i guess i'm fairly happy with what i've got.

now, as regards lack of blog activity specifically, it's not just been about lack of music either. i still didn't get that goddamn tape player fixed, partly because of the (aforementioned) drastic shake-up in my daily routine; i saw about b's only gig this year, at roulette, and got the email from TCF with the rehearsal pix... and this just reinforced to me how distant i am from it all. i have no active connection to TCF at all really and they have not yet found a use for me, and partly for that reason i have still never become a paying member, and (accordingly) don't get any of the monthly downloads etc. this will change soon enough i expect, i have been thinking about it. but the question of reinforcing links..? i have never felt particularly welcomed, but again, i may not be the kind of figure who is viewed that way after all this time (and all those online arguments, etc).


centrifuge said...

1. yup, as is sometimes the case i wasn't even listening to rock or metal for most of this time. silence or even background tv seemed easier, which is pretty fucking odd really :-S

2. actually, part of the problem is that this does not always hold true. if i am really not in the right frame of mind, dense creative music just mulches down into impenetrable noise even for me. free improv in particular becomes totally unlistenable, as i simply can't *hear* it under those circ's.

3. ok, this is the sort of comment which might cause some strained expressions among my (largely-american) readership. haha, typically for me, that is one reason why i seem to feel compelled to keep dropping it in casually, i.e. to reassure you all that it's ok to talk about it, to acknowledge skin colour or ethnicity, among other factors. it's not some sort of ethnographic statement, just a recognition of the fact that such differences do rather stand out on, say, an album cover (i'm thinking of *this is our music* and *new york city r&b*). this doesn't mean that those differences are otherwise of any great importance: certainly, and quite apart from anything else, in the case of ornette as well as of c.t., both men would have been so grateful to meet sympathetic collaborators that i'm sure they wouldn't give a shit about something as random as skin colour, irrespective of any justified grudges against the "white establishment" (or, indeed, of any cultural prejudice regarding white cats being unable to swing, etc etc... how am i to know what these men did or didn't think, in their day?). don't forget too that both creators were used to being shunned by their own racial groups (as was ayler) and *not* just by the establishment.

- it's relevant, or worth my bringing up at least, also because: neidlinger has apparently (though i can't recall whence i gleaned this nugget) referred to himself over the years as having been "one of (c.t.'s) white slaves". hence, with however much of his tongue in his cheek, he has made it a minor issue for him as well. finally, if the flat terminology (black/white) sounds wrong to an american sensibility: sorry, please bear in mind this is not intended. on my side of the atlantic, such terms are widely used across ethnic groups and have no negative connotations ( - in themselves).

[3a. it is otherwise pretty ironic to lump ornette and c.t. together in an article discussing neidlinger. why? read the interview (see below). his account of why taylor's music was so roundly ignored - at a time when his advances were way more radical than those of coleman - is a real eyebrow-raiser, and has the ring of truth about it.

4. - as apparently is common among prodigies. this is just one of the many, many fascinating gems to be found in that interview. the url is halfway down that para.

5. for "might require" read "might be expected to produce". i am paraphrasing b.n. in that para, not quoting him, and indeed i didn't re-read the interview at all on this occasion - large parts of it are in my mental library already! essential reading/learning...

6. there are other such peaks. i never did get buy the double-disc duo with joelle leandre. yet. (and if i had another point to make here, i really can't remember what it was dammit...)

centrifuge said...

i was contacted recently by mr neidlinger, who corrects me on this: he has NOT co-authored any books on divorce mediation! (sorry it's taken me so long to set the record straight.)

where on earth did i get that from, then?! can't remember now, and i can't find it online either. it's possible that i am mixing him up with someone else entirely, or that i *did* read it somewhere once upon a time, and that the source has now been removed due to its inaccuracy; or who knows. it's unlikely that i just dreamed it up, but that remains a vague possiblity ;-)