sounds of Haiti
Rara music, live, Leogane
“Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” (E.C. Ball)
Live, Nashville (Grimey’s New & Preloved Music), 2009
Wayne Henderson, Martha Spencer & Jackson Cunningham
Live, Maryland (Rockville), 2010
E.C. Ball & Lacey Richardson
Recording (Alan Lomax), 1959-60
listening room: (some of) what’s playing
• Face A Frowning World: An E.C. Ball Memorial Album (Tompkins Square)
• Merle Haggard, If I Could Only Fly (Anti- Records)
• The Canton Spirituals, The Live Experience 1999 (Verity Records)
• Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests, Moa Anbessa (Terp Records)
• Derek Bailey, Bill Laswell, Tony Williams, Arcana (DIW Records)
• Peter Brotzmann Octet, Machine Gun (FMP)
• Peter Brotzmann Sextet & Quartet, Nipples (Atavistic Records/Unheard Music Series)
• Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1967 (Columbia)
• Cecil Taylor European Orchestra, Alms/Tiergarten (Spree) (FMP)
• Alfred Cortot, piano, The Master Pianist (EMI, Icon Series)
• Nathan Milstein, violin, J.S. Bach: Sonatas & Partitas (Deutsche Grammaphon)
• Arnold Schoenberg, Das Klavierwerk, Peter Serkin, piano (Arcana)
• WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)
—Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
—Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)
—Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture, “new bass and beats”)
—Sinner’s Crossroads (Kevin Nutt, gospel)
—Cherry Blossom Clinic (Terre T, rock, etc.)
—Fool’s Paradise (Rex; “Vintage rockabilly, R & B, blues, vocal groups, garage, instrumentals, hillbilly, soul and surf”)
—Downtown Soulville (Mr. Fine Wine, soul, etc.)
• WHPK-FM (broadcasting from University of Chicago)
—The Blues Excursion (Arkansas Red)
James Brown, live, Boston, 4/5/68
“I Got the Feelin'”
Here’s the whole show.
On the morning after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., city officials in Boston, Massachusetts, were scrambling to prepare for an expected second straight night of violent unrest. Similar preparations were being made in cities across America, including in the nation’s capital, where armed units of the regular Army patrolled outside the White House and U.S. Capitol following President Johnson’s state-of-emergency declaration. But Boston would be nearly alone among America’s major cities in remaining quiet and calm that turbulent Friday night, thanks in large part to one of the least quiet and calm musical performers of all time. On the night of April 5, 1968, James Brown kept the peace in Boston by the sheer force of his music and his personal charisma.
Brown’s appearance that night at the Boston Garden had been scheduled for months, but it nearly didn’t happen. Following a long night of riots and fires in the predominantly black Roxbury and South End sections of the city, Boston’s young mayor, Kevin White, gave serious consideration to canceling an event that some feared would bring the same kind of violence into the city’s center. The racial component of those fears was very much on the surface of a city in which school integration and mandatory busing had played a major role in the recent mayoral election. Mayor White faced a politically impossible choice: anger black Bostonians by canceling Brown’s concert over transparently racial fears, or antagonize the law-and-order crowd by simply ignoring those fears. The idea that resolved the mayor’s dilemma came from a young, African American city councilman name Tom Atkins, who proposed going on with the concert, but finding a way to mount a free, live broadcast of the show in the hopes of keeping most Bostonians at home in front of their TV sets rather than on the streets.
Atkins and White convinced public television station WGBH to carry the concert on short notice, but convincing James Brown took some doing. Due to a non-compete agreement relating to an upcoming televised concert, Brown stood to lose roughly $60,000 if his Boston show were televised. Ever the savvy businessman, James Brown made his financial needs known to Mayor White, who made the very wise decision to meet them.
The broadcast of Brown’s concert had the exact effect it was intended to, as Boston saw less crime that night than would be expected on a perfectly normal Friday in April. There was a moment, however, when it appeared that the plan might backfire. As a handful of young, male fans—most, but not all of them black—began climbing on stage mid-concert, white Boston policemen began forcefully pushing them back. Sensing the volatility of the situation, Brown urged the cops to back away from the stage, then addressed the crowd. “Wait a minute, wait a minute now WAIT!” Brown said. “Step down, now, be a gentleman . . . Now I asked the police to step back, because I think I can get some respect from my own people.”
Brown successfully restored order while keeping the police away from the crowd, and continued the successful peacekeeping concert in honor of the slain Dr. King on this day in 1968.
Claude Debussy, Children’s Corner, 1908
Alfred Cortot (piano), Marcel L’Herbier (director), 1936
Children’s Corner was written for Debussy’s three-year-old daughter, Claude-Emma (nicknamed ‘Chou-Chou’ [AKA Chouchou]) and bears the following dedication: ‘to my dear Chou-Chou, with the tender apologies of her father for what is to follow.’
—All Music Guide to Classical Music (2005)
Claude & Chouchou
picnicking in a pine forest near Archachon, 1915
It’s easy to play a lot of notes; what’s hard is to play a few.
Jon Hassell (trumpet), “Last Night The Moon Came,” live, Switzerland (Lausanne), 2009
Barn’s burnt down—
I can see the moon.
—Mitzuta Masahide, 1657-1723 (translated from Japanese by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto)
Black Dice, “Pigs”
Recording (Mr. Impossible, 4/12) & Video
I fell in love tonight. She left immediately when I played her this.
Live (music starts at 1:40), New York, 2012
only rock ’n’ roll
This’ll wake you up.
The Men, “Open Your Heart,” live, SXSW (Austin, Tx.), 3/6/12
Here’s the whole show.
The pop music being made in the 1960s sounded nothing like that of the 1920s. But, today, the formula employed by The Men (and many other bands)—electric guitar + bass + drums + volume + energy—is the same one the MC5 was using when I first heard them in August of 1968, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, during the Democratic Convention. What, if anything, does it mean that pop music—some of it, anyway—has changed so little in the last 40 years?
Happy Mother’s Day!
“If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again” (J. Whitfield, 1922)
Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama (2004)
The Zion Travelers (1954)
The Gay Sisters (1951)
Happy Birthday, Luke!
Twenty-one? It may be true; but, still, it’s impossible.
Imagine what it would’ve been like to sit in the late afternoon with a cup of tea, listening to him, in the next room, practicing.
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950), piano
Mozart, Sonata No. 8 in A Minor, K. 310,
Recorded live in Besancon, France, 9/16/1950
As the date of his appearance in Besançon approached, Lipatti was becoming more and more ill [Hodgkin’s lymphoma]; nevertheless, in the days before the recital he wrote to his teacher Florica Musicescu and also to Paul Sacher that his health was fine. The morning of his performance, he practiced on the Gaveau piano in the Salle du Parliament without any problems. That afternoon, however, he developed a strong fever, and his doctor begged him to cancel; Lipatti did not want to consider this but admitted that he didn’t think he could perform. The organizer of the recital was contacted by telephone, and when he stated that the hall was already full, Lipatti made the decision to play. After some injections, he walked robot-like to the car that transported him to the hall. He took each step deliberately, with such difficulty that he decided that he would not leave the stage between pieces. The Radiodiffusion Française cancelled the live transmission of the recital, fearing the worst, but recorded the performance for future broadcast.
The hall was packed, with additional seating behind the piano . . . The concentration of both the artist and the audience members is palpable in both the photographs and the recording of the recital, with enthusiastic applause greeting each work.
Despite other planned concerts later in September and in October, Lipatti did not give another public performance.