Rolling Jazz Thread 2022

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"When I was growing up, what I was doing was making everything abstract. I'd go to a party and they'd be playing all this Bullmoose Jackson stuff. All these fine ladies around and I'd be saying, 'Hey, don't y'all know Billy Eckstine?' I'd go to the record bin while they were slow dragging and throw on some Bird, and they'd say, 'Get him out of here, he's crazy. Don't invite his ass to no more parties.' Me and my brother Alan, they tagged us. 'Don't invite them two to no more parties. They too weird. Abstract and all that.'" — Wayne Shorter, interviewed by Greg Tate, 1985

but also fuck you (unperson), Sunday, 2 January 2022 21:05 (three weeks ago) link

This afternoon I listened to California Concert by the CTI All-Stars, a one-off (I think) band put together in 1971. Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Hank Crawford on alto sax, Stanley Turrentine on tenor sax, Hubert Laws on flute, Johnny Hammond on keyboards, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Cobham on drums, and Airto Moreira on percussion. It's a 2CD set full of long jams on "Red Clay," "So What," James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" (Hubert Laws recorded that), etc., etc. Great stuff. I bought it on Discogs a while ago and it seems like it was a print-on-demand thing because the discs are CD-Rs.

but also fuck you (unperson), Sunday, 2 January 2022 21:08 (three weeks ago) link

Really enjoying the variety in the Burning Ambulance festival!

A Pile of Ants (Boring, Maryland), Monday, 3 January 2022 18:27 (three weeks ago) link

Nice to find that California Concert on Spotify!

... (Eazy), Monday, 3 January 2022 19:20 (three weeks ago) link

Never thought I'd hear an In A Silent Way-esque treatment of "Fire and Rain":

... (Eazy), Monday, 3 January 2022 19:26 (three weeks ago) link

Anything w Hubbard on it is gonna have the showmanship! I even liked his cover of frickin' "Birdland."
xxpost the quote from the Tate interview totally confirms the way Leroi Jones started his 60s piece about the Shorter brothers: that when he and they were coming up in Newark, he started hearing this expression "as weird as Wayne," way before he knew who Wayne was. (Postcript added in Black Music collection indicates that he felt Alan never did realize potential like Wayne did, but I thought Alan's "Orgasm" was great opener to Chicago Underground Quartet's Good Days, one of my faves of 2020.)

dow, Monday, 3 January 2022 19:33 (three weeks ago) link

This came out on 12/31. I've developed a real fondness for Scofield so it's right up my alley

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 19:28 (three weeks ago) link


(I love Scofield but resist Scary Pockets)

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 19:36 (three weeks ago) link

yeah they're not great but fuck every time he starts to play, I care very little about what else is going on. he is so good!

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 19:40 (three weeks ago) link

OTOH they have a tune called "Tacobell's Canon," seriously fuck you for that Scary Pockets

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 19:40 (three weeks ago) link

He's so prolific I have to remember to check in every so often. Have you heard Piety Street, his New Orleans album from (checks watch) 12 years ago? I have a soft spot for that one. The Hudson group with Jack deJohnette/Medeski/Grenadier was really nice.

Just threw on Past Present, the one with Joe Lovano/Bill Stewart/Grenadier and it's sounding great.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 19:53 (three weeks ago) link

No I gotta check that one out! he's just a dude whose style is so distinctive, listening to him is like hearing an old friend's voice.

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 20:40 (three weeks ago) link

Totally. And I really appreciate how he always has a specific concept for each album, and regular groups that he keeps returning to.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 4 January 2022 21:05 (three weeks ago) link

Shannon Powell is a national treasure

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 5 January 2022 21:45 (three weeks ago) link

(so is David Torkanowsky)

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 5 January 2022 22:13 (three weeks ago) link

Been watching some great videos on this channel, Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philly:

The sound is really great compared to pretty much every other jazz livestream, great performances from Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Ari Hoenig, etc.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 6 January 2022 17:28 (three weeks ago) link

Trying again, just go to this channel:

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 6 January 2022 17:28 (three weeks ago) link

Keystone Korner in Baltimore does good paid streams.

A Pile of Ants (Boring, Maryland), Thursday, 6 January 2022 18:11 (three weeks ago) link

Keystone Korner in Baltimore does good paid streams.
u h

A Pile of Ants (Boring, Maryland), Thursday, 6 January 2022 18:12 (three weeks ago) link

Oops 😬

A Pile of Ants (Boring, Maryland), Thursday, 6 January 2022 18:12 (three weeks ago) link

Ari Hoenig is a madman:

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 6 January 2022 23:36 (three weeks ago) link

I can't even.

The Door into Summerisle (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 7 January 2022 00:09 (three weeks ago) link

He is so intense. I remember one time listening to him before a gig talking on the phone to the insurance company after he had recently hit a deer and had to total his car. All that same energy.

The Door into Summerisle (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 7 January 2022 00:10 (three weeks ago) link

Haha, love that image

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 7 January 2022 15:20 (three weeks ago) link

Late to the Brandee Younger album from last year, but I'm really enjoying it today.

jaymc, Friday, 7 January 2022 22:12 (three weeks ago) link

Some of the people who took part in the streaming festival I put on on New Year's Day have been posting their videos on their own YouTube channel. Here's one by Muriel Grossmann:

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 7 January 2022 22:45 (three weeks ago) link

Sorry; didn't know the embed wouldn't work.

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 7 January 2022 22:45 (three weeks ago) link

Released today! Winifred Atwell Revisited - @AdamFairhall & Johnny Hunter

Celebration of the repertoire and idiom of groundbreaking Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell, examined through Adam & Johnny's contemporary, avant-garde lens. CD/DL out now!

— Efpi Records (@efpirecords) January 7, 2022

she was the first black recording artist to have no 1 hit single in the UK and something of a star in the 50's. Nice little album this.

calzino, Saturday, 8 January 2022 13:45 (two weeks ago) link

Joe Farnsworth's tribute videos are true gems:

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 11 January 2022 18:39 (two weeks ago) link

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 11 January 2022 18:39 (two weeks ago) link

Didn't know Kenny Garrett released a new album in the fall, it's extremely enjoyable. Ronald Bruner Jr (Thundercat's brother) on drums is a big presence.

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 20:07 (two weeks ago) link

Gave an interview to DownBeat today about my book (out January 28! Buy it!). I have so much more sympathy for artists after having to give an interview myself. There's no better way to convince yourself you're the world's dumbest asshole than to talk about yourself and your work for an hour straight.

but also fuck you (unperson), Wednesday, 12 January 2022 21:20 (two weeks ago) link

So Ted Gioia wrote a long-ass essay in his weekly Substack newsletter about Michael Brecker, and since I thought it was one of the dumbest things I'd ever read, I decided to respond in my own newsletter:


Ted Gioia calls his Substack newsletter The Honest Broker. This is hilarious, because Ted Gioia is one of the most agenda-driven music writers this music has ever known. He's also one of the most frequently and bafflingly wrongheaded critics in jazz. If jazz has an Armond White, it might be Ted Gioia.

This week, Gioia took it upon himself to defend saxophonist Michael Brecker from a critical mafia that has snubbed his work, and kept him toiling in undeserved obscurity. No, that can't be right, because as he says early in his piece, "almost every saxophonist I met in the closing decades of the 20th century treated Brecker as a superstar at the pinnacle of the jazz craft. This was especially true of students at college jazz programs, where Brecker was a revered name, not far below John Coltrane in the hierarchy of jazz saxophony." He continues, more in sorrow than in anger, "How can Michael Brecker be the jazz sax hero among other hornplayers, but get so little respect from the critical establishment?"

In the next paragraph, he explains that one of the things that sparked this investigation into the mysterious lack of Michael Brecker love among jazz critics was the 15th anniversary of the saxophonist's death, from leukemia, on January 13, 2007. The other is the publication of an entire goddamn book on the guy, Ode to a Tenor Titan: The Life and Times and Music of Michael Brecker, by Bill Milkowski, who is — would ya look at that! — a jazz critic who writes regularly for DownBeat, Jazziz, Guitar Player and other outlets. Gioia talks a little bit about the book, noting that Milkowski stuffs it full of quotes from dozens of jazz musicians who absolutely adored Brecker and thought he was a brilliant player.

So we've established that Brecker, when he was alive, enjoyed a great deal of respect and admiration from his fellow musicians, and was a role model to young jazz students and players. He lists two dozen recording sessions Brecker participated in between January and September 1977, which ran the gamut from Hank Crawford and Chet Baker dates to a Noxzema commercial. But as gratifying as that amount of peer affirmation and steady work would be to any professional musician, it doesn't matter as much to Gioia as the fact that "critics never thought Michael Brecker was cool enough for that full-scale profile in The New Yorker." He lists what he calls "the embarrassing facts that (1) Brecker sold lots of records, (2) he enthusiastically embraced commercial and crossover styles, and (3) he played on a bunch of records with famous pop musicians," and adds, "I hate to have to remind you of this, but each of those are problematic achievements among jazz insiders."

Gioia devotes a significant portion of his piece to a detailed rundown of the albums Brecker made under his own name (as opposed to with the Brecker Brothers) in the late '80s, the '90s and the early 2000s, all of which is interesting if you're a jazz fan. Based on the personnel, I'd like to hear those albums, and they're all on streaming services, because — and this may shock you — Michael Brecker's music was quite popular during his lifetime, and he retains a posthumous audience in the jazz world. But Gioia concludes with this:

"Michael Brecker left the scene as a legend, but somehow never seemed cool enough or sufficiently transgressive to get respect from the mainstream media. His most significant coverage in Time magazine came with one paragraph devoted to his obituary. He was never mentioned in Newsweek during his entire lifetime. My search of The New Yorker archive comes up empty-handed. If there was a full-scale profile in Rolling Stone or The Village Voice, I must have missed it. Online searches indicate that Brecker’s death got more coverage than any of his albums or tours."

Even though I know he's not reading this, I feel I need to address Gioia directly at this point:

Who gives a flying fuck?

First of all, if you're going to Time or Newsweek for jazz coverage, I have to wonder if you were recently struck by falling masonry. And while they come up with a good piece now and then (shout out to Hank Shteamer), generally speaking, the same goes for Rolling Stone. You might as well gripe that Sports Illustrated never put him on the cover. And how about Car & Driver? Where do they stand on the art of Michael Brecker? This is the kind of tendentious BS you pull when you're so in thrall to your narrative that no stretch is too far.

Here's the thing about Brecker's best-known music: it is screamingly of its time and place. There's a story (I'm paraphrasing) that one of Miles Davis's 1970s saxophonists asked the trumpeter why he kept him in the band, and Davis told him that the audience liked to watch his fingers move while he played. Whenever I listen to the Brecker Brothers, I think about that story.

I listened to one of their albums this morning, in fact — 1981's Straphangin' — while doing laundry (and thinking about writing this). And later, I listened to his debut as a leader, a self-titled album from 1987 that Gioia discusses in detail in his piece; it features keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Between those two albums, and several others I've heard, as well as Brecker's performances on other people's records, I have a pretty good idea of his style, and can venture a guess as to why he's not as beloved by critics as he is among saxophone students and other jazz musicians. (I don't know if that's even accurate, by the way — I haven't done my own research, and Gioia doesn't quote any negative reviews, he just declares that there hasn't been enough praise for his liking, and walks right up to the edge of calling it a conspiracy of effete snobs.)

Michael Brecker played a lot. You know that joke that goes, "I thought the Oscar was for the best acting, not the most acting?" To this guy, "best" and "most" were equivalent. Once he gets a solo going, he never seems to pause for breath. He rips off long, complicated lines, fingers flying, and he's got a big, showbizzy tone. When I was listening to one of the slower tracks on Straphangin', I thought, This sounds like the kind of sax you hear over the end credits on Saturday Night Live, and later on, I checked Wikipedia, and sure enough, Michael Brecker was part of the Saturday Night Live band from 1980-85. It's a shiny, post-Sonny Rollins kind of saxophone sound, pushed through some very late '70s/early '80s reverb, so yeah, it's no surprise that he did a lot of rock and R&B session work, and played for TV commercials and whatnot. That's exactly where his tone and approach fit best.

Which is not a bad thing. His music was appealing! And perfectly suited to the late '70s and 1980s. It had a big, garish brashness; the Brecker Brothers were a solid funk-fusion band, but no matter the context, he played what Ethan Iverson refers to as "stadium jazz." It's not intimate music. It's blow-the-walls-down music, rooted in a very particular kind of extreme technical skill. Michael Brecker was a shredder. If he was a guitarist, he wouldn't be Jim Hall; he'd be Joe Bonamassa. In a way it's not fair to compare him (as Gioia does) to John Coltrane, because Coltrane evolved. Can you imagine what A Love Supreme would sound like if Coltrane had still been playing, in 1964, the way he played in 1959? You can draw a straight line from the first Brecker Brothers album in 1975 to the first Michael Brecker album in 1987, because he's doing the same thing, just in a different context.

And that's fine. It's called having a style. But it may have something to do with why Michael Brecker is not as critically beloved (and again, I'm taking Gioia's word for it here) as Ted Gioia would like. But again, I return to the question that this piece leaves me with:

Who gives a flying fuck?

There are very few jazz critics left in the world. There are also very few people who read jazz criticism. I am both. I have never read a piece shitting on Michael Brecker (and I hope nobody thinks I've written one here). I have, however, read a lot of writers talking about musicians whose work they admire. And it's not a zero-sum game. A positive review of some other saxophonist who is not Michael Brecker does not equate to a negative review of Michael Brecker. They're two separate things, and nobody is required to listen to, or write about, everything. (Hell, in the introduction to his piece, Gioia admits that he never wrote about Brecker before!) Critics should write — thoughtfully, insightfully — about music they like, and want more people to hear. That's what I try to do, anyway.

I don't have a conclusion. Gioia's piece was dumb, and I feel dumber for having devoted this much time to thinking and writing about it. Listen to whatever makes you happy. Having listened to a bunch of Michael Brecker's music, I understand why saxophone students would worship the guy. You could hear every hour of practice in every note he played; he was a slick, talented professional. But I'll end with this, because there's one thing I know, as a writer and an editor: when it comes time to write a story, there's got to be more to a person than "they play their instrument really well" if you want anyone other than fellow instrumentalists to care.

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 14 January 2022 15:46 (two weeks ago) link

Good points throughout, thanks. I probably like Ted Gioia more than some but his gatekeeper function can be irritating.

Yeah I pretty much agree with that.

Also I shamefully admit to hearing Joe Lovano on a recent record and thinking "didn't he pass away? Oops, that was Michael Brecker."

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 14 January 2022 17:14 (two weeks ago) link

Ha, was wondering when Joe would get mentioned.

There are basically only a very small bunch of people writing about jazz at all, let alone in "mainstream" outlets, whatever that is these "days," so only a tiny number of artists will be mentioned at all in this latter, and every once in a blue moon a few new ones get added to the rotation. Similar to the reason Charley Pride could have a career in Country Music but not Swamp Dogg/Jerry Williams Jr.

I mean the people who book or have booked some the of the venues like Smalls or the late lamented Jazz Standard etc seem to know something but that doesn't translate into press. Maybe a listings recommendation now and then.

(a lot of people do write about country music, but Swamp Dogg only occasionally puts out albums of country music of which 2020's Sorry You Couldn't Make it is a very satisfying example---on bandcamp with Total Destruction To Your Mind and many others.)
I've never cared that much about Michael Brecker outside the xpost garish attractions of Brecker Brother Band and BS&T's kitsch classic Child Is Father To The Man, but will always love Randy's solo on Springsteen's "Meeting Across The River"---like I said:
Bruce Springsteen labored for years on Born To Run, as the title became ironic, but a lot of it worked, to varying degrees–-most of all, for me, in “Meeting Across The River,” which still sounds like a magical one-off: a seemingly basic scenario, with no purple passages, as written, sung, and played. Roy Bittan’s keys get room to breathe, Richard Davis’s bass slips through shadows, as it did on Astral Weeks, and Randy Brecker, having left his own purple passages far behind in Blood Sweat & Tears and The Brecker Brothers Band, leans his trumpet waaay out of
Cherry’s nightside window and fire escape (I don’t think she’s home).

dow, Friday, 14 January 2022 18:37 (two weeks ago) link

The Swamp Dogg analogy was imperfect, I admit. More about the limited opportunities to record or be played in the past.

Just ordered some late '60s/early '70s out-jazz titles in fancy mini-LP sleeves from Japan:

Stanley Cowell, Brilliant Circles
Andrew Hill, Spiral
Oliver Lake, NTU: The Point From Which Creation Begins
Charles Tolliver, The Ringer

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 15 January 2022 16:31 (one week ago) link

Ok Ted Gioia linked to this article but he didn't write it-- about Ghanaian jazz and Louis Armstrong's 1956 visit there, and jazz there today

curmudgeon, Sunday, 16 January 2022 21:54 (one week ago) link

Ghana jazz article is from December 2021, apologies if it was mentioned last year. I am just seeing it

curmudgeon, Sunday, 16 January 2022 21:55 (one week ago) link

looks like Ted Gioia made his top 100 albums of 2021 list available only to paid subscribers of his substack (but his honorable mention list free)

curmudgeon, Monday, 17 January 2022 00:04 (one week ago) link

new Alexander Hawkins album out on friday with his usual band from the previous sextet albums including guitarist Otto Fischer and Shabaka Hutchings.


lol I can think of few places where Ted Gioia can stick his paywalled list

calzino, Monday, 17 January 2022 10:38 (one week ago) link

I keep going back to the Kenny Garrett album, it rules. Wish I would have come across it in time for the ILM poll.

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 17 January 2022 21:37 (one week ago) link

Been listening to Charles Brackeen's Silkheart albums from the late '80s; they're great. Half Ornette, half Ayler, and the bands are killer. Brackeen, Dennis Gonzalez, Malachi Favors and Alvin Fielder on Bannar, and Brackeen, Olu Dara, Fred Hopkins and Andrew Cyrille on Attainment and Worshippers Come Nigh. Also been listening to the two ECM albums he made with Paul Motian (and David Izenzon), Dance and Le Voyage. I'm not the world's biggest Motian fan, but those albums are really good.

but also fuck you (unperson), Monday, 17 January 2022 22:36 (one week ago) link

Angel bat Dawid 2022 Winter Jazz fest live

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 03:01 (one week ago) link

I interviewed South African jazz drummer Ayanda Sikade for Bandcamp Daily, with additional quotes from pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane:

but also fuck you (unperson), Tuesday, 18 January 2022 16:11 (one week ago) link

Missed seeing the November 2021 death of spiritual jazz flautist Lloyd McNeill, a dc born guy, who was also a painter/ artist, designed concert posters, and hung out with Picasso and Andrew White

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 17:58 (one week ago) link

I do always find something new from Fred Kaplan's year-end list and playlist.

deep luminous trombone (Eazy), Tuesday, 18 January 2022 18:06 (one week ago) link

Yeah, and I agree about the one I already knew, Shepp-Moran's Let My People Go. The musical and emotional range just keep unfolding, giving us the whole picture, so we get the thoughtful spirituals and Ellington-Strayhorn's jewel of The Far East Suite's"Ishtafan" (originally "Elf" before they played Iran), and "Wise One," the non-obvious Trane pick, which fits just fine with all the above and with "Lush Life" and "'Round Midnight," and even a radio edit of the opener, "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," because the Lord helps those who help themselves.

dow, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 02:19 (one week ago) link

Yeah I big upped the Shepp album on the Floating Points thread.

Johnny Mathis der Maler (Boring, Maryland), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 02:55 (one week ago) link

My latest Stereogum column is up now. I talk about Kenny G; explore my decades-long suspicion of the critical love for Fred Hersch; eulogize Mtume, Charles Brackeen, Khan Jamal, and Fred Van Hove; plug my book; and more, so check it out if you like.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 20 January 2022 16:16 (one week ago) link

Paul Steinbeck
Just arrived in the mail: Timo Hoyer's astonishing new book ANTHONY BRAXTON / CREATIVE MUSIC.
#aacm #creativemusic #experimentalmusic #wolkeverlag

dow, Saturday, 22 January 2022 18:41 (six days ago) link

It’s in German though right?

Johnny Mathis der Maler (Boring, Maryland), Saturday, 22 January 2022 20:02 (six days ago) link

Yeah, I replied to that tweet saying I’m waiting for a translation, as my wife can read German but has no interest in Braxton.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 22 January 2022 20:15 (six days ago) link

David Kikowski is dueting with this monster bari player I never heard of before named Jason Marshall at Smalls right now and it is sounding amazing.

Tapioca Tumbril (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 January 2022 04:07 (five days ago) link

From my Brussels buddy John W.: ...yesterday I learned of the existence of this Black Belgian woman,Peggy Pierrot, and I listened to last night's podcast (her playlist is at the link below; the podcast went online even though she herself couldn't go on mic because she's home in bed with Covid; I assume her occasional voiceover readings in both English and French had been recorded in advance). As you would expect from her inclusion of tracks by Drexciya and Detroit-homeboy allies like the Aquanauts, she's into the underwater-aquatic end of Afrofuturist myth. But in her mix she achieved a terrific balance between Detroit electro beats, what people are now calling "spiritual jazz" (one highlight being the Joe Henderson / Alice Coltrane track; another being "Old and New Dreams" by the Old and New Dreams Quartet, and in context it wasn't just Dewey's Chinese musette that sounded spooky, but even Blackwell's drumming) and the music of the whales[!] without being goopy NewAge sentimental about it. If a link to stream the podcast shows up, I'll alert you. Meanwhile, here's her playlist:
Live radio session with writer, radio dj and educator Peggy Pierrot.
From Drexciya and other Detroit techno bands, to historians and science fiction writers, to Solomon Rivers, author of speculative and literary fiction such as The Deep, the Atlantic Ocean – known here as the Black Atlantic – has been the crucible for stories of loss and flight, abduction and rebirth. This radio program invites us to dive into this black ocean in search of these sounds and stories.

Playlist of the Radio Show:

Vangelis -Sauvage et Beau, le chant des baleines
Clipping – The deep
Ed Blackwell / Don Cherry / Charlie Haden / Dewey Redman – Old dream and
new Dreams
The comet is coming – The Prophecy
Drexciya – Intro: Temple Of Dos De Agua
the Aquanauts – Aquatic Kamikazi
Drexciya – Hydro Theory
Earth – Sonar and Depth Charge
Joe Henderson & Alice Coltrane – Water
Shabaka and the Ancestors – The Sea
Mr. Bubble – Bubble Beats
Sun Ra – Lanquidity
Le chant des baleines – Killer Whale, Orcinus Orca
Ras-G – Been Cosmic
Le chant des baleines – narwhal Whale, Monodon Monoceros
Sons of Kemet – in remembrance of those fallen
Extracts from The deep by Rivers Solomon in french and in english.

dow, Monday, 24 January 2022 19:28 (four days ago) link

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