Quartet: Vortices

Quartet: Vortices
Quartet: Vortices

Quartet: Vortices by Nate Lepine.
Bandcamp Link: Quartet: Vortices

A few weeks back I covered a record by Quin Kirchner’s group called The Other Side of Time.

Nate Lepine played in that group and some of the most interesting songs on that album were their takes on Charles Mingus’ songs.

This album is under Mr Lepine’s name, but also includes Mr Kirchner.

And while the music of Mingus isn’t covered literally, it is here spiritually.

And while Mr Sorey’s groups, “are not a jazz group,” Mr Kirchner and Mr Lepine’s groups pointedly ARE playing in modern versions of the Jazz idiom.

There is some really outstanding writing and playing here, the rhythm section, Mr Kirchner and Sommers, are especially fantastically propulsive, making it hard not to tap along and enjoy the music.

The interplay of the two saxophonists, Lepine on Tenor and Mazarella on Alto, feels like the work of a couple, players who can complete each other’s sentences. And, man, can they play precision harmony.

I don’t know if this group has played together a lot, but the whole group feels like one who is used to cooking together.

The melodic writing is often in what I call “Noir Jazz” mode, but the intervals are less minor than pure blues, and often very interestingly evoke 20th century composers like Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

If you’re looking for a modern Jazz album that is a pure joy to listen to, and hum along to, this is a great one.

#NateLepine #QuartetVortices #NickMazzarella #ClarkSommers #QuinKirchner #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Pillars


Pillars by Tyshawn Sorey.
Bandcamp Links: Pillars

Stephen Haynes: trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, alto horn, small percussion
Ben Gerstein: trombone, melodica
Todd Neufeld: electric and acoustic guitar
Joe Morris: electric guitar, double bass
Carl Testa: double bass, electronics
Mark Helias: double bass
Zach Rowden: double bass
Tyshawn Sorey: conductor, drum set, dungchen, percussion, trombone

Tyshawn Sorey’s newest album is perhaps his “magnum opus”. AKA, “A large and important work of art, music, or literature, especially one regarded as the most important work of an artist or writer.”

It is composed of three parts, Pillars I, II, and III.

Each part is a single continuous piece around an hour and 20 minutes long. So, obviously, even after a week of listening to it, I’m still chewing my way through it.

Pillars I and II were released as a double CD. Pillars III was released as a double album. The whole thing is only available in its entirety in digital formats.

Ballsy.

The large slabs of continuous music initially tempted me to compare it to Cecil Taylor. But, listening, I find it has more in common with Bill Dixon’s work.

Lengthy solos evolve into group interactions, then dissolve again into solos.

The scope of the influences on the musicians spans much of contemporary music including 20th Century Classical,20th Century Pop, 21st Century Noise, and even Jazz.

Though, Mr Sorey has recently been getting some flack from Jazz Purists, so has taken to decorating his recent concert announcements on Instagram with the hilarious hash tag, #WeAreNotAJazzGroup.

This is a bold and inventive piece of work from one of the most important composers working in modern music. Outstanding.

#StephenHaynes #BenGerstein #JoeMorris #ToddNeufeld #CarlTesta #MarkHelias #ZachRowden #TyshawnSorey #Pillars #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Jingmai Sun-Dried “Three Aroma” Bai Mu Dan White Tea

Jingmai Sun-Dried “Three Aroma” Bai Mu Dan White Tea, Spring 2018 via @yunnan_sourcing.

Another White tea which mixes leaf and buds. One that even more than yesterday’s illustrates the fragile nature of white tea. And why, when you see it in the bulk bin at rainbow grocery, it’s just a pile of broken leaves.

According to the Yunnan Sourcing site, this is called “Three Aroma” because the smell of the dry leaves, the wet leaves, and the tea in the cup are very distinct and different. The smell of the leaves is tobacco/dried fruit. The wet leaves are grassy/vegetal. And the tea itself a bit minty/floral.

It’s funny, because just yesterday I was thinking how white tea was so very much about aroma, and what you got in the cup was indicated by the smell of the leaves. Live and learn.

This is a more assertive tea than the bud-only white teas, with a pleasant and lightening buzz. Subtle sweetness and good length of flavor. The dried fruit flavors show again in the after taste. Really haunting, finding myself thinking about it long after I finished the last of the tea.

Though, I think I steeped it a bit too hot.

Fine, another tea accessory you need is an accurate thermometer, so you don’t overcook your white and green teas. Or get one of them fancy water boilers that allow you to pick the temperature your water is heated to.

#YunnanSourcing #YunnanTea #WhiteTea #tasseography #Tea #Cha

Beloved

Beloved
Beloved

Beloved by Randall Dunn.
Bandcamp Link: Beloved

Dunn has a long resume as a producer, engineer, and musician for and in groups including SUNNO))), Tim Hecker, Six Organs of Admittance, and many, many more.

Beloved unfolds as a series of vision invoking vignettes which somehow fit perfectly into the Bay Area’s world this morning. Or perhaps it is the other way around

The fire in Butte County has scented our air with creosote and obscured the sun with meandering clouds of ash.

The reverb and dread laden atmospheres of Beloved shook the suspension of my car as I meandered past the beaches incongruously thronged with surfers and lit by a blood red sun.

Art and reality in confluence.

#RandallDunn #Beloved #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #TimmMason #ShahzadIsmaily #UlfurHansson #JeremiahCymerman #JohnMcCowen #WillSmith #FrankFisher #EyvindKang #JustinMorris #ZolaJesus

Jing Gu Yang Ta Yunnan Bai Mu Dan White Tea

Jing Gu Yang Ta Yunnan Bai Mu Dan White Tea, Spring 2018 via Yunnan Sourcing.
Instead of the more common Camellia sinensis, this tea is made from a wild species of Camellia, Camellia taliensis.

After the last several bud only white teas, you can see this one is the ‘one bud, one leaf’ style of tea.

This is a subtle, sweet and grassy tea with an herbal/mint after taste and a zippy caffeine content.

The notes on the Yunnan Sourcing website suggest floral/fruity notes may be expressed in later steeps. Not sure if I get those, but will continue to steep.

#Cha #Tea #CamelliaTaliensis #YunnanTea #JingguYangTa #YunnanSourcing #WhiteTea #tasseography

White Tea (Reprise)

After challenging myself to tasting through several days of white teas from the Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2018 First Flush sampler, I have some observations.

First, temperature is super important with white teas. They really need to be brewed around 180F or you risk overexpressing cooked, vegetal flavors in the teas. The bud only teas are a little more forgiving, but the bud-leaf teas should be handled carefully. I am going back through a second time, paying more attention, and will update my notes on the blog.

The other thing that is hard to judge at first is amount. Since loose leaf white tea isn’t usually rolled or formed, by volume, you need to use more than compressed teas. Takes a bit to get the hang of how much to use, unless you are using a scale.

White teas are pretty subtle. This was my first time drinking fresh brewed white teas. Given the simplicity of the processing, I was very curious about this expression of tea flavors.

They probably will never be my favorite teas, but, brewed carefully, they are quite interesting and complex, while being understated and elegant at the same time. The opposite end of the spectrum from ripe Pu-Erh.

For the record, my favorites (in no particular order) were the Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle, Silver Needles of Feng Qing, and Jingmai Three Aroma Bai Mu Dan.

Now I just have a bunch more white tea to drink. Anyone? Bueller? I hear it’s a nice day for a… white tea party. Come on!

#WhiteTea #YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #tasseography #StartAgain

Another Odyssey of Waiting

AnotherOdysseyOfWaiting
AnotherOdysseyOfWaiting

Another Odyssey of Waiting by Kevin Drumm
Bandcamp Link: Another Odyssey of Waiting

This album starts so quietly, and builds so slowly, that I wasn’t sure what was music and what was the sound of the road.

The first 30 minutes are what sounds like Tibetan bells, bowed vibraphones, and some feedback. There’s actually a lot going on, but it is going on very quietly and very slowly.

At around 29 minutes in everything fades down and then slowly builds again, but what sounds like someone pressing down on about half the keys of a pipe organ is added.

The whole thing shimmers and slowly undulates, like a sonic jellyfish, for about 10 minutes and then fades out again.

#KevinDrumm #AnotherOdysseyOfWaiting #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

20181106

I’ve been listening to these two albums this week.

Broken Politics by Neneh Cherry
Bandcamp Link: Broken Politics

Broken Politics pointedly asks the question; how do we conduct ourselves in extraordinary times? In an era where the signal-to-noise ratio is more uneven than ever, what are the measures we must take to retain and remember our own personhood? It searches for answers, patiently and with great care, and with a fearlessness to acknowledge that sometimes the answers don’t even exist. It’s a record that’s equal parts angry, thoughtful, melancholy, and emboldening, as Cherry and her collaborators continue to expand her ever-widening sonic palette to craft truly singular and potent music.

Songs Of Resistance 1942 – 2018 by Marc Ribot with Sam Amidon, Justin Vivian Bond, Ohene Cornelius, Steve Earle, Meshell Ndegeocello, Fay Victor, and Tom Waits, plus Domenica Fossati, Tift Merritt, and Syd Straw.
Bandcamp Link: Songs Of Resistance 1942 – 2018

“Every movement which has ever won anything has had songs,” says accomplished New York City guitarist, Marc Ribot. “The songs in this collection are what I wish I’d been able to hear or sing at the demostrations and benefits I’ve attended since Donald Trump’s election. Through them, I’ve tried to channel some of the deep rivers of song from movements past into something that may be useful now. A few tunes are arrangements of US Civil Rights (We Are Soldiers In The Army, We’ll Never Turn Back) and WWII European resistance songs (Bella Ciao, Fischia Il Vento). One is a Mexican romantic pop ballad originally written as a political attack (Rata de dos Patas). Others are my own tunes based on or inspired by these.”

Sun Dried Buds

Yunnan Sourcing Early Spring 2018 “Sun Dried Buds” Wild Pu-Erh Tea Varietal.

Seriously, how can you NOT want to brew a tea from these fuzzy little buds?

Heh, I don’t think I’ve drunk a tea before which made the physical connection between the tea tree leaves/buds and the beverage so apparent.

The FlavorScent is described on the Yunnan Sourcing web site as evocative of Pine forest, but it reminds me more of scents I associate with spicy green chile. Good body, a slight sweet taste, and some floral/perfume notes that linger on the palate after you are done sipping. Tea liquid is nearly perfectly clear.

Overall, a very subtle tea drinking experience.

#Tea #Cha #WhiteTea #YunnanSourcing #tasseography #Gaiwan #gongfucha #gongfu