2017-08-29 Segu Blue

Segu Blue

Segu Blue by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba.

Bassekou Kouyate is a modern master of the Ngoni, a ceremonial stringed instrument from Western Africa that’s a little like a banjo, with a drum over the resonating chamber, and a little like the Chinese Erhu, in that it can be bowed or plucked. He and his band, Ngoni ba, have attracted attention for doing crazy things like electrifying the Ngoni and playing blues & rock riffs on said electrified instruments.

Segu Blue was their first record, and produced by London based ethnomusicologist and radio presenter Lucy Durán.

The confluence of sympathetic European production values and African talent make it a compelling listen. 
I could go on (and on) about the complex polyrhythmic web of interactions between the Ngoni and percussion. Or exclaim over the beautiful vocal harmonies, but really you should just listen to the album for yourself.

#BassekouKouyate #NgoniBa #segublue

2017-08-28 Seven Pieces – Live at Willisau 1995

Seven Pieces – Live at Willisau

Seven Pieces – Live at Willisau 1995 by Evan Parker, Daunik Lazro, and Joe McPhee.

Three Saxophonists, one American, one British, and one French, improvising freely. Some wonderful and surprisingly lyrical interplay.

One of those records, where it reaches the end, and you want to go back and start over, to listen for more of the details and technique.

#EvanParker #DaunikLazro #JoeMcPhee #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-08-25 Ikonostasis


Ikonostasis by Kari Ikonen, Mathias Eick, Ra-Kalam Bob Moses, and Louis Sclavis.

Duo and trio settings with Ikonen on Piano, Prepared Piano, and Synthesizer.

Despite some passages of, I’m sure, well meaning ethno-tourism, this is a very pleasant release. I especially enjoy the prepared piano pieces and duets between Sclavis on clarinet and Ikonen on Synthesizer, with Sclavis matching Ikonen’s alien tones and bent notes. Evocative music, food for thought.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #KariIkonen #MathiasEick #RaKalamBobMoses #LouisSclavis

2017-08-24 Cymande


Cymande (Sometimes called “Dove”) by Cymande.

Sparsely arranged percussion and bass driven groove based funk with Jazz, Soul, and Reggae influences.

Saxophonist Matt Nelson posted a photo of recent vinyl score of this album, with the comment, “Oh yes. One of the best ever.” So, I thought I should check it out.

And, man, it is great! Once one of these tracks kick in, you get the feeling they could go forever, the groove is so powerful. Yet the playing is relaxed and poised, with every song given the time it needs to develop organically. I also like the feel of space conveyed by the production and engineering.

Just makes you feel good to listen. I bet they were kick-ass live. “But it’s all right, we can still go home.” 

#Cymande #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-08-23 Xe

Xe by Zs.

Since I’ve been recently playing with digital tools for recording and manipulating sound, it is interesting to listen through a release like Xe where nearly every track involves some sort of effect or looping.

I can’t quite decide how I feel about listening to albums where it almost seems more like a showcase for digital effects than a recording of people playing together.

Said the pot to the kettle.

In any case, a very interesting album.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Xe #Zs

2017-08-22 Dark Days & Canapés

Dark Days & Canapés by Ghostpoet.

It’s usually worthwhile to check out audio artists shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. Obaru Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet, is no exception.

A master of the artistically deployed vocal fry, his soundscapes have been sounding more and more rock-ish lately, while still maintaining a pleasant noisiness.

The Guardian describes this release as, “languid and assured,” which is about right.

#Ghostpoet #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #DarkDaysAndCanapés #graffitti

2017-08-21 Strange Days II

Strange Days II

Strange Days II by Wolf Eyes.

A new EP or album by Wolf Eyes, one of my favorite purveyors of electro-acoustic skronk, (or PyschoJazz, as they like to put it,) is always a cause for spending some time zoning out and contemplating the phase shifting of time and space through acoustic alchemy.

My main complaint about this new two song EP is that it is far too short. Or maybe it is too long. Who can say?

#Wolfeyes #PsychoJazz #JimBaljo #JohnOlson #NateYoung

The Wayfaring Stranger

Poor Wayfaring Stranger


As I mentioned, my plan for the next phase is to do more arranging.

For “The Wayfaring Stranger”, I challenged myself to write a piano part along with the 4 clarinet parts.

Clarinet/Piano Arrangement:Poor_Wayfaring_Stranger

Which wouldn’t have been so bad, except I ran into a weird problem with Apple’s GarageBand about half way through.

I’d written a part for the piano, exported it to a midi file. And whenever I imported it into GarageBand, it started doing some sort of weird auto-transposing of all the other parts. It took me about a week, but I finally figured out what was going on.

If you choose the option to “Import Tempo Information” from your midi track, GarageBand does this. I have no idea why, but the easy solution is to choose not to import Tempo Information from your midi track.

The Wayfaring Stranger” is thought to be a traditional American song, but no one knows for sure where it comes from.

Some historians have traced its genesis to the 1780s, others, the early 1800s. Depending on who you’re talking to the song may be a reworked black spiritual, a lifted native hymn, or even a creation of nomadic Portuguese settlers from the southern Appalachian region.

It has been covered, as far as I can tell, by just about everyone in the universe.

Harmonically, the melody is quite similar, being Pentatonic, to the Irish song, “Keg of Brandy,” and the Who’s, “Behind Blue Eyes,” among many other songs.

One of my favorite songs.

1 I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger,
I’m trav’ling through this world below;
There is no sickness, toil, nor danger,
In that bright world to which I go.
I’m going there to see my father,
I’m going there no more to roam;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

2 I know dark clouds will gather o’er me,
I know my pathway’s rough and steep;
But golden fields lie out before me,
Where weary eyes no more shall weep.
I’m going there to see my mother,
She said she’d meet me when I come;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

3 I want to sing salvations story,
In concert with the blood-washed band;
I want to wear a crown of glory,
When I get home to that good land.
I’m going there to see my brothers,
They passed before me one by one;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

4 I’ll soon be free from every trial,
This form will rest beneath the sod;
I’ll drop the cross of self-denial,
And enter in my home with God.
I’m going there to see my Saviour,
Who shed for me His precious blood;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

2017-08-18 Repetitions of the Old City I

Repetitions of the Old City – I

Repetitions of the Old City – I by Jack O’ The Clock.

Prog-ish avant-folk rock, (or some other combination of those words,) which to my ears owes a bit to the work of bands like Henry Cow and Aksak Maboul.

I was unaware of this Bay Area band until I noticed that one of the people I’ve met through the monthly free improv gatherings in Oakland plays with them.

A very pleasant surprise!

Now to manage to get myself out of the house they next time they have a concert.

#JackOTheClock #RepetitionsoftheOldCityI #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-08-17 Incidentals


Incidentals by Tim Berne’s Snakeoil aka Tim Berne, Ryan Ferreira, Matt Mitchell, Oscar Noriega, and Ches Smith (with special guest David Torn on a couple tracks). This is the 4th Snakeoil album on ECM and the 5th overall, if you count the Anguis Oleum live CD included with the Berne/Byram Book “Spare”. Also, the 2nd Snakeoil album with guitars.

I’ve been watching Berne for, uh, I don’t know how long. I guess, the first release which really caught my eye was the anxiety inducing, yet hilarious, “Fractured Fairy Tales” from 1989. So, crap, at least 28 years.

I was initially hesitant about the addition of Ferreira’s guitar to the Snakeoil mix, but I think they have really found a place for it to work and add tension and drama to the group’s compositions.

This is a great addition to Snakeoil and Berne’s body of work, and maybe Snakeoil’s best album so far.

If you’re in the Bay Area, or mobile, Snakeoil will be playing SF Jazz’ Henderson Lab on Saturday, September 23rd.

#TimBerne #RyanFerreira #MattMitchell #OscarNoriega #ChesSmith #davidtorn# SFJazz #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack