music clip of the day


Month: June, 2011

Thursday, 6/30/11

two questions

1. Why would anyone create a piece of music that lasts not one, or two, or three, or four, or five, but six hours?

2. Why don’t more more people?

Morton Feldman, String Quartet No. 2 (1983), excerpts, Flux Quartet


On June 12th the Flux Quartet performed this piece in Philadelphia, the finale of American Sublime, a festival devoted to Feldman’s late music. The concert, which took place in the sanctuary of Philadelphia Cathedral, began at 2 p.m.; it ended around 8 p.m. The program notes said: “Audience may come and go as they please.”

More? Here. And here. And here. And here. And here.



this & that

I don’t win stuff. I don’t even enter things—contests, sweepstakes, lotteries—that would give me a shot at winning stuff. Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday morning, driving home after dropping my son Luke off at work (7 a.m. can be a pretty brutal starting time for a 20-year-old), I was listening, as I often do while driving, to our local public radio station (WBEZ-FM), which, I learned, was in the midst of a fundraising drive. “Pledge,” they said, and “you’ll be entered in drawings for an iPad 2,” which were going to be made throughout the day. The earlier you pledge, they said, with what seemed unassailable logic, the better your chances of winning. I hadn’t sent them any money in a while so, when I got home, I went on-line and pledged. A couple hours later, a friend sent me an email: “Congratulations on your iPad.”

When bad stuff happens, particularly bad stuff that’s unexpected and outside my control (as often seems to be the case), my tendency is to try to let it go. Why invest bad experiences with ill-fitting, after-the-fact meanings? This is different. This experience I’d like to invest with all kinds of after-the-fact-meanings, ill-fitting or not. I’d like to see this as a favorable omen, one that portends all sorts of wonderful stuff—things that, at the moment, I can’t even begin to imagine. Goofy? Yeah, I suppose. But is it any nuttier than any number of other stories we tell ourselves to get us through the day?

Wednesday, 6/29/11

Certain musicians never let me down. They always lift my spirits.
This guy’s one.

Hamid Drake (drums) & Bindu, live, Finland (Tampere), 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More? Here. And here.

Tuesday, 6/28/11

Quiet beauty—what a novel concept these days.

*AR (Autumn Richardson, Richard Skelton), “Rise”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Monday, 6/27/11

Someday, just as I sometimes do with my own father, who’s been gone for over thirty years, my older son Alex, now twenty-three, will recall occasions, after I’m gone, when he and I went out to hear live music together, like, for instance, last night, when we saw this group, from Africa, who are on their first U.S. tour.

Group Doueh, live, England (Bristol), 5/10/11

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More? Here. And here.

Sunday, 6/26/11

two takes

The Mighty Clouds of Joy, “I Made A Step,” live

Switzerland (Montreux Jazz Festival), 1981

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Nashville, 2005

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More? Here. And here.



Greatest musical intersection in the world?

Chicago’s South Side, W. 36th St. (Honorary Sam Cooke Way, as of this month) and S. Cottage Grove Ave. (Honorary Albertina Walker & The Caravans Drive)

Photo credit: Bob Marovich, The Black Gospel Blog

Saturday, 6/25/11

nadir, n. the lowest point.

On July 29, 1946, Charlie Parker was arrested in Los Angeles, after starting a fire in his hotel room. Earlier that day, unable to score heroin, scratchy, drunk on whiskey, he recorded this track, which, depending on your point of view, is either one of the worst records he ever made (Parker’s view) or, despite (because of?) its raggedyness, among the greatest (Charles Mingus’s opinion). After his arrest he was confined, for six months, at Camarillo State Mental Hospital.

Charlie Parker, “Lover Man” (CP, alto saxophone; Howard McGhee, trumpet; Jimmy Bunn, piano; Bob Kesterson, bass; Roy Porter, drums), rec. 7/29/46

More? Here.



rewarding the deserving

So often, it seems, when arts awards are announced, my initial reaction is: “Huh?” Not this time. The National Endowment of the Arts just announced their 2012 Jazz Masters Awards, which recognize, with Lifetime Honors, “living musicians for career-long achievement.” And the winners are Jack DeJohnette, Jimmy Owens, Charlie Haden, Sheila Jordan, and Von Freeman.


reading table

The cafeteria in the hospital’s basement was the saddest place in the world, with its grim neon lights and gray tabletops and the diffuse forboding of those who had stepped away from suffering children to have a grilled cheese sandwich.


The next day, I set up an iPod dock and played music, not only in the willfully delusional belief that music would be good for a painful, recovering brain but also to counter the soul-crushing hospital noise: the beeping of monitors, the wheezing of respirators, the indifferent chatter of nurses in the hallway, the alarm that went off whenever a patient’s condition abruptly worsened.


One early morning, driving to the hospital, I saw a number of able-bodied, energetic runners progressing along Fullerton Avenue toward the sunny lakefront, and I had a strong physical sensation of being in an aquarium: I could see out, the people outside could see me (if they chose to pay attention), but we were living and breathing in entirely different environments.

—Aleksandar Hemon, “The Aquarium: A Child’s Isolating Illness” (behind a paywall), New Yorker, 6/13 & 20/2011

Friday, 6/24/11

only rock ’n roll
(an occasional series)

Hasil Adkins with SCOTS (Southern Culture on the Skids), “Hubcap Hunch”
Live, Sleazefest, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1994

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thursday, 6/23/11

Classical music would be better off if folks quit calling it “classical music.”

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Op. 19, Six Little Piano Pieces
Michel Beroff, piano, live

Vodpod videos no longer available.



musical thoughts

My music must be short.
Lean! In two notes, not built, but “expressed.”
And the result is, I hope, without stylized and sterilized drawn-out sentiment.
That is not how man feels; it is impossible to feel only one emotion.
Man has many feelings, thousands at a time, and these feelings add up no more than apples and pears add up. Each goes its own way.
This multicoloured, polymorphic, unlogical nature of our feelings, and their associations, a rush of blood, reactions in our senses, in our nerves; I must have this in my music.
It should be an expression of feeling, as if really were the feeling, full of unconscious connections, not some perception of “conscious logic.”

Arnold Schoenberg

Wednesday, 6/22/11

His blues seem bottomless.

Arnett Cobb, tenor saxophonist, August 10, 1918-March 24, 1989

“Texas Blues,” live (with Ellis Marsalis, piano; Chris Severin, bass; Johnny Vidacovich, drums), 1984, New Orleans

Vodpod videos no longer available.


“The Nearness of You” (mislabeled “Misty” on YouTube), live (with Wild Bill Davis, piano; Bernard Upsom, bass; Frankie Dunlop, drums), 1982, Germany (Berlin)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One of my favorite moments comes at 2:48: “I hear ya, I hear ya.”

Tuesday, 6/21/11

one man’s meat, etc.
(an occasional series)

The other night I happened upon a live set by this guy on WKCR-FM’s Live Constructions—after a few minutes, it felt as though someone had poured a bottle of Drano down my ears (which, actually, I mean as a compliment).

Rust Worship (Paul Haney), live, New York, 2009

Music? Noise? What’s the difference?

%d bloggers like this: