Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet,* “Aziz” (M. Zerang), recorded live in Chicago (Empty Bottle), 9/17/97 (Okka Disk OD-12022)
art beat: yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago (after meeting with a client at the nearby federal jail)
Utagawe Hiroshige, Suijin Shrine and Massaki on the Sumida River (from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo), c. 1856
Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose . . . the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times—noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring—belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars.
—Italo Calvino, “Lightness,” in Six Memos for the New Millenium (1988, translated from Italian by Patrick Creagh)
*PB, tenor sax/clarinet/tarogato; Mars Williams, tenor/alto/soprano sax/clarinet; Ken Vandermark, tenor sax/clarinet/bass clarinet; Mats Gustafsson, baritone sax/fluteophone; Joe McPhee, pocket cornet/valve trombone/soprano sax; Jeb Bishop, trombone; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Kent Kessler, bass; Michael Zerang, drums/percussion; Hamid Drake, drums/percussion.
Willie Nelson, “She’s Not For You,” “Darkness On the Face of the Earth,” “Hello Walls,” TV show (The Porter Wagoner Show), 1965
Today, at 8 a.m. (EST), WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University) kicks off their Annual Country Music Festival. This year’s fest, which runs until midnight Wednesday, focuses on “the Outlaw and Progressive country movements of the 1970s”: “new and archival interviews from Ray Wylie Hubbard, Billy Joe Shaver, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings”; “[s]pecial segments . . . detail[ing] the fertile creative scene in Lubbock, Texas”; “the endurance of the outlaw theme in country music”; “progressive country’s Californian comrades,” etc. (To college students this stuff ain’t just old—it’s history.)
“Until I Die,” Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., 2001
On the Death of Friends in Childhood
We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven,
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
Forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come, memory, let us seek them there in the shadows.
—Donald Justice (Collected Poems, 2004)
“[We find] it impossible, when we have to analyze death, to imagine it in terms other than those of life.”
—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (translated from French by Peter Collier)
listening room: (some of) what’s playing
• The Dirtbombs, Ultraglide In Black (In the Red Records)
• Wild Flag (Merge Records)
• That’s What They Want: The Best of Jerry McCain (Excello)
• The Best of Slim Harpo (Hip-O)
• Ambrose Akinmusire, When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)
• Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, I Only Have Eyes For You (ECM)
• Anthony Braxton, 9 Compositions (Iridium)
• Chicago Tentet, American Landscapes 1 & 2 (Okka)
• Steve Lehman Octet, Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings)
• Joe McPhee, Nation Time (Unheard Music Series)
• Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans, Electric Fruit (Thirsty Ear)
• J. Berg’s Royal Rarities Vols. 2-3; A Cappella Archives, Vol. 3; Gospel Goldies, Vol. 2 (Rare Gospel)
• The Fisk Jubilee Quartet, There Breathes A Hope (Archeophone)
• This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African-American Gospel On 45 RPM 1957-1982 (Tompkins Square)
• Bach, Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Pierre Fournier, (Archiv Production/DG)
• Mozart, Piano Sonatas Nos. 16 and 17, Peter Serkin, piano (Pro Arte)
• Arnold Schoenberg, Das Klavierwerk, Peter Serkin, piano (Arcana)
• The Art of Joseph Szigeti (Biddulph Recordings)
• Anton Webern, Five Movements For String Quartet, Op. 5; Six Bagatelles For String Quartet, Op. 9; String Quartet, Op. 28; Quartetto Italiano (Philips)
• Anton Webern, Complete Works for String Quartet and String Trio, Artis Quartet Wien (Nimbus)
• Music of Stefan Wolpe, Vol. 6, David Holzman, piano (Bridge)
Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, live
Capital Centre, Landover, Md., 1987
Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five, recording, 1948
Last night, sitting at Wrigley Field with my brother Don (something we’ve been doing together for over 50 years), I thought of a line my younger son Luke, who turns 21 next month, wrote in elementary school in response to a prompt: “When I am 100 I will not be able to play baseball with my brother.” (P.S. Cubs 3, Cards 2—their second straight walk-off victory.)
Charles Mingus Quintet,* “So Long Eric,” “Peggy’s Blue Skylight,” “Meditations On Integration” (all by Mingus), live (TV show), Belgium, 1964
Mingus’s music, it seems, has everything. Call it “simple” or “complex” and you’d be both right and wrong—it’s both. Compositional elegance is balanced, exquisitely, with improvisational unruliness. Rhythmic momentum is no less—and no more—important than melodic invention. Like Ellington and Monk, he will, I’m confident, still be listened to a hundred years from now.
(Excerpts from this program have been posted previously.)
art beat: yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago
Ludovico Carracci, The Vision of Saint Francis, c. 1602
Going to the Art Institute again, after being away for a while, I felt a bit like someone who doesn’t realize he’s starving until he finds himself at a feast.
*CM, bass; Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet; Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard, piano; Dannie Richmond, drums.
I thought that you were an anchor in the drift of the world;
but no: there isn’t an anchor anywhere.
There isn’t an anchor in the drift of the world. Oh no.
I thought you were. Oh no. The drift of the world.
—William Bronk,* “The World” (mp3 [Hudson Falls, NY, 1978], Selected Poems )
*Bronk, who died in 1999, was recently inducted, posthumously, into the ultra-exclusive MCOTD Hall of Fame, joining tenor saxophonist Von Freeman and poet Wislawa Szymborska.