—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827; translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)
The Beatles (Comiskey Park). The Who (Kinetic Playground). The Velvet Underground (Kinetic Playground). The MC5 (Lincoln Park). Bob Marley (Quiet Knight). The list goes on and on. My musical life is unimaginable without the experiences I’ve had with my brother Don, who turns 65 today. Happy Birthday!
Africa Express, “Terry Riley’s in C Mali,” 2013-15
I am overwhelmed and delighted by this CD. I was not quite prepared for such an incredible journey, hearing the soul of Africa in joyous flight over those 53 patterns of ‘In C’. This ensemble feeds the piece with ancient threads of musical wisdom and humanity indicating to me that this work is a vessel ready to receive and be shaped by the spontaneous feelings and colours of the magician/musician. I could not ask for a greater gift for this daughter’s 50th birthday.
Khaira Arby (Mali), live, Mali (Festival of the Desert), 2010
Scribblings from the show (habit picked up reviewing live jazz for the Chicago Reader):
Kenge Kenge’s bass player at the start of their set: “We’ve been in America for the last three months. This is our last show. And we want to have some fun.”
Drum is king.
As much as I appreciate the musical experiences available via the ’net, they’re no substitute for live music. Among the casualties of the technological filtering are bass and drums—this music’s heartbeat.
This stage isn’t a dividing line. It’s porous, readily penetrable in both directions. Those onstage come down and dance; those offstage go up and dance. When everybody’s dancing—onstage, offstage—the performer/audience line dissolves.
African music, live, is a full-body experience: you listen not just with your ears but with your hips, your feet.
If folks aren’t dancing, this music ain’t happening.
At times the dancers look as if they’re in a trance.
Lightness, buoyancy, drive: this is music that takes you in its arms, lifts you up, carries you away.
An attentive reader/listener—someone I’ve listened to music with for over fifty years (which reduces the pool of possible correspondents to, uh, one)—wrote yesterday to tell me about an amazing bargain: a recording of Morton Feldman’s For Bunita Marcus (last mentioned here, previously featured here) that’s available, in MP3 format, for 89¢.