This week Howling’s pandering to the blues police as he skips over one legend whilst shedding a tear for another. Sounds like he’s up to his usual nonsense but have no worries folks, he makes up for it with an hour of some of the finest blues ‘n roots you’ll hear on the web.
BB King “We all shed a tear”
Spring fever? I dunno, but I was so tired this week I couldn’t come up with any kind of thematic connection so I just programmed a lot of great music on this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Random Brooklyn time—and that might work: a lot of Mingus in the first set, also featuring Jocob Do Bandolim (thank you, Brad Maestas), Tinarwien, some atmospheric orchestral Ligeti, Tim Warfield’s new Monk album, and some medium-wacky Tyondai Braxton. Then, for no reason but that the performance by Marta Argerich, Claudio Abbado and the Berliners sounded so effervescently alive, a piano concerto by Prokofiev. After that I just wanted to hear Clifford Brown and some other people remembering Clifford Brown. Will that do?
This week Howling’s still on the trail of Alan Lomax but on the way he’s getting messages from beyond and mixing up his genders. Sounds like he’s up to his usual nonsense but have no worries folks, he makes up for it with an hour of some of the finest blues ‘n roots you’ll hear on the web.
James Luther Dickinson “World Boogie Is Coming!”
When I was a wee child growing up, pianos frightened me. First there was their gleaming, toothy look, something that might chomp a wee child any minute, and then a sonic harshness due, as I would later understand, to the unnaturalness of evenly tempered tuning, its systematic unrelation to the true harmonic series that is a constituent principle of our universe even unto our trees and genes and bodies—a difficulty my ears would eventually overcome thanks to blues inflection and Rudy Van Gelder’s flattening of the piano sound on Blue Note and Impulse records, so that nowadays I can levitate to the sound of a well-played eighty-eight: Keith Jarrett, Steve Kuhn, Angela Hewitt, any number of wizards wielding their felt-tipped hammers on the copper-tinted carbon steel. Joe Zawinul even got a bent all funky sound out of the Fender Rhodes, though Jarrett couldn’t do it, for all the brilliance of his work with Miles, basically because he hated the technology. Kuhn, whose piano touch is more exquisite than almost anyone’s, did wondrous things in his brief foray into Fender country, before returning to proper piano radiance. It is a puzzlement. Bach is greatest when heard in the more natural Werckmeister-3 tuning for which he composed but comes out perfect almost no matter how, as when Angela Hewitt has a go at his Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue; and Mozart, who also composed for W-3, opens a window on the true sublime even when subjected to even tempering—try Anderszewski’s extreme interpretation of the stormborn C-minor concerto. Then check out how perfection sounds with its geometry bent all funny by Thelonious Monk. You can do all this, easy, on this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8 PM and noon next Tuesday, Steinway showroom time—on taintradio dot Duck Dodgers in the 24th & ½ century, though watch out for Piano-Mouth, he might be hiding anywhere.
This week Howling finds Muddy’s lost harp player and a young keeper of the blues flame but still has a pedant on his trail! Same old stuff, which means this is an hour of some of the finest blues ‘n roots you’ll find on the net.
Forrest City Joe “who said harps sound better in the mouth?”
Even in the early days, when you could say, Okay those are his Bill Evans roots, now here come the chromatic extensions out of Paul Bley, soon we’ll have rolling blues and gospel with heavy borrowings from Abdullah Ibrahim, and this part tells us how much he’d like to play with Ornette Coleman, there was never any doubt that we were listening to anyone other than Keith Jarrett: everyone has to come from somewhere, but his signature was clear from the beginning. Now that he’s turning 70 on Friday—a very young and healthy looking 70—it’s not only clear that he has never stopped developing and refining his art since then but that he won’t be any crankier now than he was at 35. Keith, we love you anyway. Updoc goes almost but not quite all-Jarrett this week—8 PM on birthday Friday and noon next Tuesday, Delaware Water Gap time—with some choice trio tracks, early stuff from his stints with Art Blakey and Charles Lloyd, and large stretches of music from the two new CDs ECM has put out for the occasion: a superb solo piano set, one of his best ever, culled from a number of concerts played in 2014, and another disc with two major 20th-century piano concertos. Jarrett is surprisingly flatfooted on the Bartok 3rd, metronomic without lightness or lift, but he plays the hell out of Samuel Barber’s vastly American 1960 concerto, when I was surprised that with his small hands he could play it at all. The piece is owned by the massive John Browning, but I actually prefer Jarrett’s full-bodied but more modestly scaled outing for now. An astounding performance of Shostakovich’s darkly enigmatic 2nd Cello Concerto by Truls Mørk with Mariss Jansons and the LPO was meant to accompany the Bartok but takes a haircut from the Barber instead. Then it’s back to the KJ3 for the finish. I had a front-row seat at the Standards Trio’s first gig at the Vanguard, and when Jarrett came onstage with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette he whispered, so quietly that only they and I could hear him, “Let’s not play.” Oh Keith, let’s not stop.
This week Howling’s blues hounds include a bluesman carrying on a family tradition, a 14 year old prodigy and a very tall hillbilly with a giant wedding cake. Meanwhile, there’s still room on the porch for a load of others and you’re guaranteed an hour of some of the finest blues ‘n roots on the net.
The Meters – “Jagger wasn’t wrong”
I’ve broken bread and spilled beer with him, plus he has his own show on taintradio, so it would only be logrolling and puffery if it weren’t for the fact that there isn’t an atomy of aesthetic or moral compromise in my assertion that Kip Hanrahan is making some of the most intelligent and impassioned music of anyone anywhere, and that I’d like to serve up a tranch of his work so that you might hear it and consider chipping or kipping in to the fundraiser he’s got going—via his Facebook page or indiegogo.com—in order to record some new music for the first time in years and get it out there for us all. So this week’s Updoc—8 PM Friday and noon next Tuesday, Off-Broadway time—after starting off with new and newish music from burnout reedmen Kamasi Washington and Gilad Atzmon respectively, serves up about forty minutes of Kip Hanrahan’s life and thought. An early breakthrough album’s title, Desire Develops an Edge, says a lot about the highly charged nexus of love and sex and intellect and world and quest, frequently inflected by umbral looming geopolitical realities, that Hanrahan has achieved. I first encountered him in the late 1970s in the backstage shadows of the New York Public Theatre’s jazz series where, in one of the smartest moves anyone made at the time, he began to see a place where the avant-gardish jazz of the time might meet the Latin percussion he’d heard growing up in the Bronx, and that he might even write a nightborne singable poetry that could stitch those elements together in a way that those elements had yet themselves suspected—a strong beginning for a musical idiom that has enriched itself in passage through mixed countryside along its evolutions toward the sea. It has passed your town along the way, and you’ll probably catch sight of yourself in it. The show eases off, or doesn’t, with the sound of brilliant women singing: Rhiannon Giddens, Joanna Wallfisch, Aoife O’Donovan, Lena Chamamyan, the Wailin’ Jennys, and Dom La Nena: all in all, not 2 bad a 2 hoursworth, with days and nights of blue luck inverted included gratis.
This week Howling’s blues hounds are riding bicycles, talking to the dead and fighting over names. Sounds like a strange crowd? Sure they are, but they do make some of the greatest blues ‘n roots you’ll find on the net so it’s got to be worth a listen.
Otis Taylor – “Who says men can’t multitask?”
Rhiannon Giddens seems to have arrived with the Spring, and now she’s everywhere amid the blasts and blossoms, stunning audience and host alike with her solo rendition of Odetta’s Waterboy on the Letterman show, headlining a country-gospel concert at the White House, profiles on PBS and NPR—seldom have the changing seasons witnessed such a rollout for a first solo album, her Tomorrow is My Turn, produced by T-Bone Burnett for Nonesuch; but in radical contradistinction to a music industry more notable for its industry than its music rolling out ubiquitous armies of promotion for ephemeral crapola, Giddens’ is a voice scaled not only to stun a waiting nation but embrace it, from hillbilly music to classic country to gospel declamation through uncountable gradations from darkest brown to pinkest white: a major talent has arrived, and her Macarthur genius grant will follow next year—you heard it here first, where all Updoc can do, Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Capital of the World Daylight Savings Time, is build a couple of vocal sets around her music buttresed by new releases from Nellie McKay, Lainie Cooke, Cassandra Wilson and a belated celebration of Billie Holiday’s centenary. And that’s not all, folks: we’ve got two long selections from Charles Lloyd’s celebratory Wild Man’s Dance. More than any other of John Coltrane’s epigones, Lloyd has long been drawn to Coltrane’s higher lyrical flights of the spirit, and while in the past it may have been convenient to think of Lloyd as Coltrane-light, nowadays there are so few players with any audible notion of their notes referring to anything greater than their notes that Lloyd brings not only a sense of meditation and celebration but a feeling of relief.