I’ve been enjoying Harriet Tubman’s music for a good long time now.
Their last album, Araminta, with special guest Wadada Leo Smith, was a stone cold classic.
This new album, “The Terror End of Beauty”, does more to celebrate the length and breadth of the contributions of the African diaspora to popular music, especially to that most American of inventions, The Electric Guitar.
It also is a perfectly apt record to listen to while celebrating the birthday of that polymath of the electric guitar and lightning performance, Jimi Hendrix.
I was thinking about “Ambient” music and thinking back to Eno’s album, “Music for Airports”.
The “songs” on that album were created by running 4 different tape loops of various audio events simultaneously. The way the audio events occurred in temporal space lined up differently depending on the alignment of the tapes. Beyond creating the tapes and pushing “play”, the artist was not involved in the actual creation of the music.
I often wonder how interactive Kevin Drumm’s music is, or if it is some variation on that creative process.
You may recall our long stroll through “A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound” by Roland Kayn. My understanding is his compositions were similar to Eno’s, but far more elaborate Goldberg contraptions of sound creations. Like Eno, little actual input from artists occurred beyond pressing “play”.
The Gas Bill EP is more similar to “Music for Airports” than it is to Drumm’s more aggressive work, or even yesterday’s “Sunday”.
Eno, again, conceived of “Ambient Music” “‘as ignorable as it is interesting’ that would ‘induce calm and a space to think.'”
Whether Drumm is directly involved in creating the music or not, it functions similarly for me.
I put The Gas Bill EP on and am able to center myself and think. It is somewhat “ignorable” but also interesting.
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.
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.
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!