“Wait for me at the bottom of the pool…See what the future holds in the future of your dreams.”
“I’m having lunch on the street right around the corner from my townhouse.” —Man on cell at a restaurant twenty feet from my tenement apartment
“ I didn’t know he had so much music inside him.” —Jimi Hendrix’s dad
Some summer fare: Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan gave a stunning performance at Roulette for their ECM duo release Small Town, recorded at the Village Vanguard. The concert lasted an hour and a half and included most of the tunes on the CD and then some. It was a harmonious set that got better as it went along with Morgan (who has a touch of Charlie Haden in him) getting closer to Frisell’s energy, emotions, concept, and content. Bill has stated that Morgan is an extension of his ideas and this showed through by set’s end.
Frisell can hold back whenever he chooses, sometimes exhibiting almost too much restraint, as if wanting to play without touching the strings, while at other times he dominates. And when he flies he really flies. Tunes played at Roulette not on the CD were “Well You Needn’t” and a short, gorgeous rendition of “Lush Life.” Among other tunes were two by Paul Motian, including the exquisitely beautiful “It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago.” Bill told me once that he vowed to play this every set and so far he’s kept his word. His golden fingers encored with “Goldfinger,” ditto on the CD.ome summer fare: Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan gave a stunning performance at Roulette for their ECM duo release Small Town, recorded at the Village Vanguard. The concert lasted an hour and a half and included most of the tunes on the CD and then some. It was a harmonious set that got better as it went along with Morgan (who has a touch of Charlie Haden in him) getting closer to Frisell’s energy, emotions, concept, and content. Bill has stated that Morgan is an extension of his ideas and this showed through by set’s end.
Frisell lately ends sets with “What the World Needs Now” (not on the CD), and this night was no exception. And when Morgan fulfills his role it is as if they are one voice. When the set ended Bill spoke about a poster in the hall from way back in Roulette’s history. “I can’t believe I’m still alive. I played here in 1984. This was one of the things I missed. I’m so happy to be back in New York,” recently having moved to Brooklyn. “We got to stick together. There used to be ten people in the audience in Staley’s apartment. This proves we can stick together.” This said to an audience of close to 400. Bravo Bill, you sweet gentle smile of a SOUL.
it’s like playing roulette / yet knowing where the magic will land / it’s a win win situation / all hands on the strings & the strings are loaded with melody / chords / sounds / it’s a small town we inhabit & life is lonely the man head folded into his knees seems to say / but why for even a moment should we rot with the rest when we have beauty to sustain us?
take a breath / listen to the images speak / the standards become recognizable yet mysterious / feel the heart break again / as we realize that yes all this should’ve happened a long long time ago / & it is as if in this hot packed space you become the gentling breeze that moves the songs along / quenching all this mumbo jumbo / within the interludes of masterly navigation so obviously disguised as the simple complexities of touch.
Pharoah Sanders at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park surprised everyone after a heavy downpour with a downpour of his own as he gave us a set of music that also lasted close to an hour and a half, playing his horn for the majority of that time.
Savion Glover pounded his taps into my brain compounding my joy of rhythm and sound with an unprecedented set of continuous prowess that lasted, yup, close to an hour and a half, with a frail Roy Haynes looking on as Glover and Marcus Gilmore heated up the packed room of the Jazz Gallery.
An hour and a half the new norm? An intense monster set by Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Evans, Tim Dahl, and Weasel Walters at the Stone says possibly.
There was William Parker’s In Order to Survive ensemble at Shapeshifter to celebrate the release of their new CD.
Joe McPhee played duo with Eli Kessler on a rooftop for Blank Forms, which also produced a series of events at Madison Square Park in conjunction with the public sculpture exhibit Prismatic Park by artist Josiah McElheny. Performances included Shelley Hirsch, Matana Roberts, McPhee, and Graham Lambkin. The exhibit includes dance and poetry and is ongoing through October. B. F. also hosted Keiji Haino for two nights at Pioneer Works. They’ll also hold a fundraiser on September 12 at the Ukrainian Home on the Lower East Side honoring 93-year-old Marshall Allen, who will perform with the Arkestra. Mike Huckaby will open the evening.
Speaking of Allen, check out David Soldier’s “classical/jazz/electronic” opera The Eighth Hour of Amduat on Mulata Records, featuring Allen as “the Egyptian god” Sun Ra and based on, according to the press notes, the oldest musical score known. This is quite a strange, almost indescribable journey I recommend you take. But beware, except for the cats’ meows, the libretto is in Italian. Aren’t almost all great operas?
I missed one of my favorite groups, Kaze, (Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Christian Pruvost, and Peter Orins) but did acquire their recent CD June, augmented by percussionist Didier Lasserre and pianist Sophie Agenel to form Trouble Kaze. Other CDs featuring Fujii—one of the most gifted and prolific pianists and composers around—that recently appeared and landed on my CD player include her live solo recording Invisible Hand, Peace (with a large orchestra comprised of Japanese musicians, with trumpeter Pruvost and drummer Orins from France added in), Fujii and Joe Fonda in duet, a duo between Fujii and Tamura, and Neko by Tamura’s trio, Gato Libre. On that recording Fujii plays accordion.
If you want fiery poetry reminiscent of Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka pick up Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone on ESP and get your mind blown by their strength of conviction to poetry, music, justice, and life. Amina also performed in August as part of another socially and politically inspiring Dissidents Arts Festival, at which one event was dedicated to Bern Nix (Matt Lavelle’s July memorial to Nix was without pretense or agenda). Among performers and attendees at the memorial was Denardo Coleman leading a configuration of Prime Time. The event ended with a rousing jam on “Little Symphony” which folks still call “Dancing in your Head.”
Denardo put together a week at the Lincoln Center Festival titled Ornette Coleman: Tomorrow Is the Question. It kicked off with Ensemble Signal, Denardo, Charnett Moffett, Henry Threadgill, and Ravi Coltrane accompanying the film Naked Lunch—a performance that had only been done before in Europe while Ornette was alive. Though I’ve never been a fan of live scores done to talkies, the music was stellar, with Threadgill not only filling Ornette’s chair—while always remaining himself—but laughing it up whenever the film got comically dark. Coltrane and the others did a superb job and Denardo never sounded better. After a standing ovation the orchestra played a moody intro and the quartet ended with “Lonely Woman.” Howard Shore—the composer of the score—put in an appearance, signing vinyl re-issues of the soundtrack.
The next day brought Shirley Clark’s 1985 documentary Ornette: Made in America. This was followed by an evening of Prime Time with David Murray, Kidd Jordan, and Joshua Redman, who not only had to fill Ornette’s shoes but Dewey Redman’s as well. Denardo and Calvin Weston were on drums, Badal Roy on tablas, and there was a host of guitar and bass players, including Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Mark Ribot, Vernon Reid, and many other voices from the original band.
I’ve never been able to fully wrap my head around Prime Time’s sound. The unison playing always created a muddle that only Ornette knew how to cut through, but the tunes are seemingly so simple yet profound. The evening also ended with “Lonely Woman.” This mini-fest ended with folks from Signal and others playing Ornette’s classical pieces, with conductor Brad Lubman adding personal insight into the music.
I never paid much attention to Devo but Mark Mothersbaugh’s show at NYU’s Grey Gallery was an eye-opener. I discovered a new name, Italian artist Carol Rama, a friend of Luciano Berio, who died recently at 95. The closest artist I can relate her to is Louise Bourgeoise. Her retrospective at the New Museum was her first major American museum show.
And there’s that music Calder’s unique sculptures make.
Also kudos to C. Spencer Yeh for his brilliant contribution to the World is Sound at the Rubin Museum.
I’ve always counted my Link Wray LP amongst my favorites so I suggest you catch the movie Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World about Native Americans who pushed the boundaries of the pop/rock world, with key interviews with Robbie Robertson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jackson Browne, Martin Scorsese, and a profile of Wray, whose tune “Rumble” started a revolution in rock guitar. My only complaint is that other than Pura Fe (still with us), Charley Patton, and Mildred Bailey, there are so many not in the pop field that should have been mentioned, such as Cecil Taylor, and powerful saxophonist Jim Pepper. Highly recommended.
See De Sica’s minor masterpiece Il Boom, follow the soundtrack, and you’ll want to twist again like you did last summer.
Happy fall. I ran out of space but believe me there’s more to tell.
For Geri Allen who gave us great moments of musical joy and wisdom.