Opening theme: Art Ensemble of Chicago, Nice Guys: Nice Guys
Roland Kirk: I’ve Got Your Number: “Rahsaan” The Complete Mercury Recordings of Roland Kirk
Charles Mingus: Eccusiastics: Passions of a Man
Roland Kirk: Rip, Rig and Panic (title tune)
Roland Kirk: A Quote from Clifford Brown: I Talk With the Spritis
Roland Kirk: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square: “Rahsaan” The Complete Mercury Recordings of Roland Kirk
Jean Sibelius/Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vânska: Symphony No. 4: Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4
Lee Konitz: Blues for Bird: Charlie Parker Memorial Concert
Uri Caine: Raindrop Prelude: Callithump
Barry Guy/Marilyn Crispell/Paul Lytton: Ithaca (title tune)
Ra-Kalam Bob Moses/David Liebman: Prayer Song (From the Great Hall): Music from a Parallel Dimension
Matana Roberts: Was the Sacred Day: Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile
Out theme: Uri Caine: Two Blue Eyes: The Drummer Boy
Without a doubt, the carnivalesque aspects of Roland Kirk’s presentation—playing two or three horns simultaneously, singing through his flute while sometimes accompanying himself on nose flute, punctuating the end of a solo with his siren, and not incidentally his blindness—had a lot to do with his popularity when he hit the scene in the 1960s, but he wouldn’t have lasted if he hadn’t been such a great and fearless example of a jazz musician who dared all limits down and could blow the bell off any of his horns even when he played them one at a time. I used to see him at the Five Spot when he rotated long gigs with Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins in his pre-Rahsaan days, before he changed his wildly original but still fairly straight jazz idiom into something more theatrical still, and I found programming about 45 minutes of this music on this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Five Spot time—a bout of pure listening pleasure. The pace changes with Sibelius’ 4th Symphony. I’ve been programming the wintry music of Allan Petterson lately, and it seemed time to head for the season’s frozen heart, this time in Osmo Vänskä’s re-recording of it with the Minnesota Orchestra: having done it definitively, once, with the Lahti Orch, he tried to give it something extra this time, and he succeeded. I know the piece well, and seem to be hearing passages that had never crossed my ears before. Updoc chases it with the stunning Lee Konitz Blues for Bird I couldn’t get hold of last week, and chases that with music from Uri Caine, Marilyn Crispell in virtuoso thunder-mode, free improv from Dave Liebman and Bob Moses, and goes to church for a minute with a pentecostal Matana Roberts. The first time I played drums in front of an audience was opposite Roland Kirk’s quartet on a Monday ‘talent night’ at the Village Vanguard, and I remember the noise getting a lot more joyful when he joined us at the end. The tune was Well, You Needn’t, but I was oh so glad we did.
Opening theme: Art Ensemble of Chicago, The Ninth Room, Tutankhamun
Dizzy Gillespie: The Cup Bearers; Something Old, Something New
Charlie Haden/Kenny Barron: Body and Soul; Night and the City
Freddie Hubbard: Take it to the Ozone; Super Blue
Kenny Barron/Dave Holland: In Your Arms; The Art of Conversation
Kenny Barron: One Finger Snap; Wanton Spirit
Charlie Haden Quartet West/Shirley Horn: Lonely Town; The Art of the Song
Allan Pettersson/Nörkopping Symphony Orchestra/Leif Segerstam; Symphony No. 8
Dewey Redman/Cecil Taylor/Elvin Jones: Nine; Momentum Space
Elvin Jones: Anthropology; Dear John C.
The New Elvin Jones Trio: Village Greene: Puttin’ it Together
Out theme: Louis Hayes: Village Greene: Return of the Jazz Communicators
Opening theme: Art Ensemble of Chicago – Nice Guys (title tune)
Duke Elllington – Toot Suite – Ellington Jazz Party
Allan Pettersson/Nörkopping Symphony Orchestra/Leif Segerstam – Symphony no. 7 (title tune)
John Coltrane – Sun Ship (multiple takes) – Sun Ship
Claude Debussy/Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez/Franklin Cohen – Clarinet Rhapsodie – La Mer
Bobby Lapointe – La Framboise – Tirez sur le Pianiste
Duke Ellington – A Tone Parallel to Harlem – Ellington Uptown
Out theme: Charlie Haden – Wayfaring Stranger – The Art of the Song
Time flies when you’re having fun. At the party after the great Charlie Haden memorial concert I found myself telling Lee Konitz about the unaccompanied alto solo he’d played at a star-studded Charlie Parker memorial comcert—Gillespie, Stitt, JJ, a tragic Bud Powell very near the end—at Carnegie Hall in 1965. It was the knockout piece that night and I remembered it well enough to sort of sing the opening. Konitz didn’t recall it, but was struck that I was telling him about a solo he’d played fifty years ago, and that is pretty strange. I wish I had a copy I could play on the show; it was on an LP once. Anyone out there have one? Kenny Barron played at the Haden concert too, and I remembered first hearing him in 1963 with Dizzy Gillespie’s classic band of the period, not yet 20 years old and right up there with Dizzy and James Moody. I was underage at Birdland myself and have got a digital copy of some of that, which leads off this week’s show—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Carnegie Hall Tardis time—and a long Kenny Barron set. He is something like the Tommy Flanagan de nos jours, invincibly brilliant no matter the setting, a paragon of invention and a summitry of taste. That decants us into Allan Petterson’s 8th Symphony, following last week’s 7th: another obsessive troll through layers of light and dark, accompanied by the sound of a distant hammer. Elvin Jones to the rescue with his skyful of thunder and blaze, a wealth of invention overstorming Cecil Taylor, a trio, and a bebopping quartet. Check out Kenny Barron, though, back in ’63, taking his solo after Gillespie and Moody, showing off his incredible chops without seeming to, unassumingly brilliant and sly. Some things never get old, only better, and Kenny Barron is one of them for sure.
I’ve been trying to remember my first turning toward music in infancy, perhaps as pure delight in the chiming of sound, and then later for different degrees of enchantment or excitement, for news about life I couldn’t find anywhere else, for intimations of the real scope of existence and news of something Greater. Later still, when hearing something new, there’s also a sense of a reality check: does this music stand up to experience, does its coin ring true on the counter of all you’ve lived? Duke Ellington’s music stands up, rings true, holds up, sets sail, takes wing, gives heart, wakes body, stirs soul, raises spirit, rears up and shouts out in the face of any question you might ask it, and although last week’s show was largely Dukish I couldn’t resist playing some more of him this time—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Ellington Uptown time—starting with Toot Suite from last week’s record Ellington Jazz Party. It’s not one of his greatest compositions—its French-punning title implies that he knocked it off in a rush—but the entire wealth and richness of his art stands tall in it anyway: a matter for a politique des auteurs, perhaps. The Ellington shout is succeeded by the wintry chill of Allan Pettersson’s 7th Symphony, a deep-delved work through light and dark, powerfully performed; then comes John Coltrane’s rocketed affirmation in several takes of Sun Ship, after which the times required something French, and got the delicacy of Debussy and the Charlie-like rudeness of Bobby Lapointe in counterpointe. Updoc has aired Duke’s Tone Parallel to Harlem before, but this seemed like another time for its clarion call across the lifescape, and that wraps it up except for another farewell throb from Charlie not Hebdo but Haden, whose memorial concert in New York this week made clear how much of us has gone with him, and how much of him has stayed with us.
Archie Shepp —You’re What This Day is All About —The Way Ahead
Archie Shepp —Back Back—Kwanza
Stephen Riley —Hellhound on my Trail—Baubles, Bangles and Beads
Archie Shepp/Horace Parlan — Courthouse Blues—Trouble in Mind
Stephen Riley—Who?— Baubles, Bangles and Beads
Archie Shepp—Sophisticated Lady—The Impulse Story
Ben Webster—In a Mellow Tone—Ben Webster and Associates
Ludwig von Beethoven/Edwin Fisher—Piano Sonata No. 30—Edwin Fischer Plays Beethoven
Ben Webster—Chelsea Bridge—Ultimate Ben Webster
Chad Eby—I’m Still Here—Broken Shadows
Dinah Washington/Ben Webster—Trouble in Mind—Ultimate Ben Webster
Chad Eby Quartet—Ourchestra—The Sweet Shel Street
Ben Webster Quintet—Soulville—Soulville
Sonny Rollins—Autumn Nocturne—Don’t Stop the Carnival
Gene Ammons—Hittin’ the Jug—Blue Ammons
I had the extreme good fortune to hear Duke Ellington and his fabulous Orchestra once, live at Newport in 1965, but although I was a young jazz fiend and all the authorities were unanimous on Ellington’s overwhelming greatness, I was so pig-ignorant that to me he was some old dignitary who had nothing to do with me while I trailed after Trane and Sonny and Mingus and Ornette, etc. And then the band came onstage across the seatfilled pasture and played some opener, and then began to preview a few pieces from the forthcoming Far East Suite, and somewhere in the middle of The Bluebird of Delhi I began to tingle all over and experience the distinct sensation that I was levitating. I had no name for the delight that took me over, nor any explanation of how Ellington’s astounding alchemy of instrumental combination conveyed its magic through the coarseness of the open-air sound system, but there I was, hovering a few feet above the ground with my body all lit up, so to speak. Some of this gets across on recordings, and this week’s Updoc—8PM Friday and noon next Tuesday—does what it can to reconvey as much of it as will fit. La Plus Belle Africaine—Sam Woodyard at the drums!—Ellington Jazz Party with Dizzy and Jimmy Rushing, that kind of thing, plus Mingus at his most Dukish, and more Dizzy, and Bartok, and Basie, and Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, closing with the recently departed master of the kanun, Julien Jelaluddin Weiss. The kanun is a trapezoidal zither, which with a slip of the tongue I announce as a trapezoidal zikr—possibly Freudian but definitely appropriate, since zikr (or dhikr) refers to the invocation and rememoration of the Divinity. The same could be said of the whole dang show, as far as I’m concerned. And Sam Woodyard!
This week’s Updoc greets 2015 with saxophones, tenor saxophones, tenor saxophones with some growl in their throats, 8PM Friday and noon next Tuesday, Broadway and West 53rd St. time. I’ve heard it said that the more complicated a musical instrument is, the easier it is to play. If that’s true and the sax makes fewer initial demands than flutes and oboes, bassoons and even the clarinet, then let five or six generations of geniuses have their way with the horn and see what happens. I mean, just look at those two pussycats in the photo: you ready to deal with that? I never got to hear Ben Webster live but I did catch Coleman Hawkins at the Vanguard toward the end of his life, head shaven clean as a Bean, wispy grey beard straggling from his chin, almost no wind left in his lungs and playing everything in a near-whisper. It’s one of the gigs I’d most like to take a Tardis-trip back to. Ben outnumbers him on the show however, and other participants includes Archie Shepp, Budd Johnson, the relative newbies Stephen Riley and Chris Eby, and an up-and-comer name of Beethoven, who didn’t bring his horn and is represented by Edwin Fischer on an old piano, live, sometime in the 1940s, I expect. And oh yes, a gentleman named Rollins, who even at his best does not entirely distract us from questions about Fischer’s wartime sympathies, even though he left the Reich for his native Switzerland in 1942—well, the worm was turning then. It’s enough to put some growl in anyone’s throat, with serried waves of human history coming at us even now. Music is one of the most encouraging signs of hope we have. May it sing on to us this coming year and thereafter.
In the lull between Christmas and 2015 Updoc zoned out on 19-year-old Benjamin Britten’s (presumed) melodification of ‘Lully Lullay’ in the Corpus Christi Carol, and then was lullled into programming two nearly motionless orchestral studies by Toru Takemitsu and Morton Feldman—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, New York Navel Observatory Time. There’s a tad more agitation in Ned Rorem’s Lions – A Dream, particularly when three-fourths of Branford Marsalis’s quartet—less a benched Joey Calderazzo, who thought he didn’t need to practice the piece that much—interrupts the orchestra; and British composer James Dillon’s walking tour of Manhattan, um, climaxes when he conjures La Femme Invisible for a large ensemble. Updoc has long resisted the nearly endless, much-praised chordal tremolos of the Alaska-dwelling elementalist John Luther Adams but has finally given way to Become Ocean, and not because it drenched the Pulitzer panel into submission this year: already lulled and overlulled, the show surrendered to the notion of the motion of the ocean—and forty-two minutes of gorgeous texture from the Seattle (where they know from water) Symphony Orchestra. Updoc #311 ends with Richard Wagner’s giant ripoff of JL Adams and all the Minimalists, the orchestral Vorspeil of Das Rheingold, the first of his four mighty operas about the unworthiness of big-name American beer. My mother used to rinse her hair with Rheingold and once lost her ring down the drain and there was almost no end to it. Heigh-a-to-ho and a happy new year.