music clip of the day

jazz/blues/rock/classical/gospel/more

Month: March, 2019

Monday, March 25th

sounds of Chicago

Jürg Frey (1953-), more or less normal, a.pe.ri.od.ic, live, Chicago, 2011

 

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lagniappe

random sights

yesterday, Oak Park, Ill.

Sunday, March 24th

sounds of Chicago

Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999), “People Get Ready” (C. Mayfield), with Taylor Dane (vocals), David Lindley (steel guitar), David Sanborn (alto saxophone), et al.,  live (TV show), New York, 1989

 

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lagniappe

random sights

yesterday, Bellwood, Ill.

Saturday, March 23rd

two takes

James Carr (1942-2001), “Pouring Water on a Drowning Man” (D. Baker, D. McCormick)

Live, Italy (Porretta Terme), 1992

 

***

Recording, 1966

 

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lagniappe

reading table

lingering a while
above the blossoms,
the moon in the night sky

—Matsuo Basho, 1644-1694 (translated from Japanese by Makoto Ueda)

Friday, March 22nd

sounds of Chicago

Tortoise, live, Chicago, 2/15/19

 

Thursday, March 21st

sounds of New York

Right now, in the midst of a noisy criminal trial, nothing seems more appealing than something peaceful, something quiet.

Jürg Frey (1953-), Extended Circular Music No. 7; Singularity, live, New York, 2018

 

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lagniappe

reading table

I don’t know anything about consciousness. I just try to teach my students how to hear the birds sing.

Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971)

Wednesday, March 20th

voices I miss

Leroy Jenkins (1932-2007), violin, live (“Lush Life” [B. Strayhorn], “Keep on Trucking, Brother (A Message to Bruce)” [L. Jenkins], “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” [Trad.]), New York, 1977

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lagniappe

musical thoughts

A jazz musician playing alone is like a tightrope walker working without a net. Playing a music of rhythmic verve, he lacks a rhythm section. Playing a music of spirited interplay, he lacks the company of others. And when the musician’s instrument happens to be the violin, he’s working not only without a net but without a tightrope.

The violin lacks all the advantages of the one instrument with a long-standing tradition of solo jazz performance, the piano. Where a pianist can play more than one musical line at a time (accompanying herself with her left hand, for example, while “soloing” with her right), a violinist can’t. Where a pianist can readily play complex chords, a violinist is limited to four strings and beset by innumerable fingering problems. And the range of pitches available to a violinist is only about half that available to a pianist. When a jazz violinist steps onstage by himself, he either falls flat on his face or, defying the conventions of gravity, flies.

Last Friday at HotHouse, jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins not only flew but soared. A dignified man so diminutive that he makes a violin appear large, Jenkins focused the listener’s attention not on what was absent—other musicians, multiple lines, an expansive tonal range—but on what was present. His concert provided a response of sorts to the familiar Zen koan: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Playing for a small but attentive audience, the longtime associate of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians—who hadn’t performed here for several years—displayed a powerful and original musical vocabulary. Just as a poem forces one to consider language word by word, a solo jazz performance forces one to consider music sound by sound. And that was how Jenkins constructed each of his pieces: sound by sound.

He began most of them with a simple melodic statement that sang. Then he would veer off into gradually accelerating repetitions of two-, three-, and four-note patterns. Unlike a horn player, he never had to stop for breath, so these patterns could go on and on. Out of them would emerge long, winding bursts of melody, like swallows taking flight through a swarm of bees. Then Jenkins would return to repeated patterns, steadily building the intensity until he reached a climax and suddenly stopped.

The narrative structure of many of his pieces was thus not unlike that of a sexual encounter. But the steadily mounting intensity was invariably coupled with precise articulation, lucid organization, and exquisite control. When near the end of his set Jenkins rocked back and forth like a man possessed, his seemingly unshakable control of his instrument only heightened the dramatic impact.

A master colorist, Jenkins called forth a seemingly limitless array of sounds, from singing to fluttering to stinging to rasping to wheezing. But what was ultimately even more impressive than the variety and virtuosity of his playing was its logic and coherence. And unlike some jazz musicians, whose solos can be neatly divided into segments “inside” or “outside” normal harmonic and tonal conventions, Jenkins’s playing was all of a piece.

Jenkins’s HotHouse set readily calls to mind Richard Goode’s magnificent recent performance at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall of five Beethoven piano sonatas. Neither musician spoke a word to the audience, but neither seemed remote. Both played so wholeheartedly that they virtually disappeared in the music. Both are virtuosos who put their virtuosity entirely at the service of the music, never exploiting it simply for effect. Both played music that often pitted a coming-apart-at-the-seams emotional intensity against an ultimately prevailing clarity and order. Perhaps one day, solo jazz concerts of the caliber of Jenkins’s will be met with the same degree of anticipation and excitement that performances of Beethoven piano sonatas by artists such as Goode typically receive today.

—Richard McLeese, “Flying Solo,” Chicago Reader, 10/27/1994

*****

art beat: other day, Art Institute of Chicago 

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), The Bedroom, 1889

Tuesday, March 19th

sounds of New York

We Free Strings,* live New York, 1/18/19

 

*Melanie Dyer, viola; Charles Burnham, violin; Gwen Laster, violin; Alex Waterman, cello; Ken Filiano, bass; Michael Wimberly, percussion.

Monday, March 18th

James Carr (1942-2001), “The Dark End of the Street” (D. Penn, C. Moman), 1967

 

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lagniappe

reading table

Counting the Mad
by Donald Justice (1925-2004)

This one was put in a jacket,
This one was sent home,
This one was given bread and meat
But would eat none,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one looked at the window
As though it were a wall,
This one saw things that were not there,
This one things that were,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one thought himself a bird,
This one a dog,
And this one thought himself a man,
An ordinary man,
And cried and cried No No No No
All day long.

Sunday, March 17th

basement jukebox

Armstrong Brothers, “Can You Treat Him like a Brother” (C. Armstrong), 1979

 

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lagniappe

random sights

other day, Chicago (Columbus Park)

Saturday, March 16th

basement jukebox

James Carr (1942-2001), “To Love Somebody” (B. Gibb, R. Gibb), 1969

 

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lagniappe

reading table

Variations on a Text by Vallejo
by Donald Justice (1925-2004)

Me moriré en Paris con aguacero …

I will die in Miami in the sun,
On a day when the sun is very bright,
A day like the days I remember, a day like other days,
A day that nobody knows or remembers yet,
And the sun will be bright then on the dark glasses of strangers
And in the eyes of a few friends from my childhood
And of the surviving cousins by the graveside,
While the diggers, standing apart, in the still shade of the palms,
Rest on their shovels, and smoke,
Speaking in Spanish softly, out of respect.

I think it will be on a Sunday like today,
Except that the sun will be out, the rain will have stopped,
And the wind that today made all the little shrubs kneel down;
And I think it will be a Sunday because today,
When I took out this paper and began to write,
Never before had anything looked so blank,
My life, these words, the paper, the gray Sunday;
And my dog, quivering under a table because of the storm,
Looked up at me, not understanding,
And my son read on without speaking, and my wife slept.

Donald Justice is dead. One Sunday the sun came out,
It shone on the bay, it shone on the white buildings,
The cars moved down the street slowly as always, so many,
Some with their headlights on in spite of the sun,
And after awhile the diggers with their shovels
Walked back to the graveside through the sunlight,
And one of them put his blade into the earth
To lift a few clods of dirt, the black marl of Miami,
And scattered the dirt, and spat,
Turning away abruptly, out of respect.

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