2017-07-05 Lucky Strikes

Lucky Strikes by The Lucky Thompson Quartet.

Most people trace the modern Soprano Sax tone, flute-like, mellow, and largely without vibrato, to the playing of Lucky Thompson. Eschewing the harsh tone and wide vibrato of early players like Bechet, Thompson set the stage for immensely commercially popular players like Grover Washington Jr and the much maligned Kenny Gorelick. Also, as far as I know, just about the only Bebop Soprano player.

A pretty strictly Bebop affair, great work here from the whole group. I think, especially, the expressive cymbal work from Connie Kay stands out.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #LuckyThompson #HankJones #RichardDavis #ConnieKay

2017-06-29 I Forgot to Breathe

I Forgot to Breathe by Lean Left.

Aka, The Ex Guitars Meet Vandermark/Nilssen-Love.

Another perspective from EXEYE on the intersection between rock-ish concepts/players and improvisation. With the influence of Vandermark and Nilssen-Love, this skews more towards Free/Energy playing than EXEYE’s dark metal infused scree. Lean Left is definitely skronkier, but the woodwind players in both ensembles face similar problems of being heard over loud guitars and drums. Though, on this release, the guitars manage to restrain themselves and play quietly on a couple tunes. Invigorating way to start the morning.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #LeanLeft #PaalNilssenLove #KenVandermark #TerrieEx #AndyMoor #CatalyticSound #TrostRecords

2017-06-28 13 Friendly Numbers

13 Friendly Numbers by John Butcher.

Solo (-ish, some overdubbing,) pieces for Soprano and Tenor Sax. Not a lot of conventional Sax playing here. In fact, on some of the “Numbers”, Butcher seems to avoid producing “normal” sounds from his Sax entirely. What I like, though, is that there is a light heartedness and humor about it, you often don’t get in improvised music . If anything, it reminds me of the surreal music from the British tv show “Clangers”. 

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #JohnButcher #13FriendlyNumbers #CatalyticSound

2017-06-27 Hazel

Hazel by Æthenor.

The defining feature of this release by Æthenor is the drumming of Mr Noble. Guitars, vocals, and keyboards shimmer in and out of phase, Calder-esque, while Mr Noble’s propulsive drumming rumbles on underneath. Enjoyable.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Æthenor #Aethenor #StephenOMalley #DanielOSullivan #KristofferRygg #SteveNoble

2017-06-26 Addis

Addis by Xavier Charles & Terrie Ex.

This record starts with a few moments of natural sounds. Birdcalls, muffled conversation, sound of the breeze, remote traffic, livestock. Slowly the musicians come in, imitating the background sounds and playing as elements in the larger soundscape. I love this idea. That music is part of nature and the environment, not separate from it. Or maybe, nature IS art.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #TerrieEx #XavierCharles

2017-06-23 ExEyE

Ex Eye by Ex Eye.

A Colin Stetson solo concert a couple years ago was one of the loudest concerts I’ve ever seen, and he was wearing a Liturgy t-shirt at the time, so Ex Eye’s direction isn’t exactly a surprise.

However, the challenge of fitting Stetson’s sax concept of extended arpeggiation into more traditional heavy metal frameworks is apparent on some of the tracks. That is, no matter how loud he plays, harmonically, he fades into the background under the weight of guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums.

Less traditional tracks, like “Anaitis Hymnal; The Arkose Disc” are where Ex Eye, and Stetson, shine.

In any case, an excellent album, and I’m looking forward to seeing Ex Eye next week at The Chapel here in SF.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #GregFox #ShahzadIsmaily #ColinStetson #TobySummerfield #EXEYE

2017-06-22 Chicago Tenor Duets

Chicago Tenor Duets by Evan Parker / Joe McPhee.

The stars in my saxophone constellation from my teens into my twenties were: Johnny Hodges/LesterYoung -> John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy -> Evan Parker.

I’d always see Joe Mcphee’s albums on HatArt at the record store, but for some reason he didn’t really enter my area of interest. I guess he didn’t get as much press in the magazines I was reading at the time.

I was missing out, and am trying to make up for my oversight by listening to more of his recorded output these days.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #EvanParker #JoeMcPhee

2017-06-21 Tie the Stone to the Wheel

Tie the Stone to the Wheel by Evan Parker / Seymour Wright.

Saxophone duos between UK free improv titan Evan Parker and his disciple Seymour Wright. So I basically spent the drive mentally cataloguing which sounds I knew how to make on the saxophone and which sounds I did not. One of them is really good at extended flutter tonguing, which I can’t do very well.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #EvanParker #SeymourWright