2017-07-12 Cell Walk for Celeste

Cell Walk for Celeste by Cecil Taylor with Buell Neidlinger, Denis Charles, and Archie Shepp.

A year after the “World of Cecil Taylor” sessions and the band is a lot tighter. Shepp has matured and is incorporating Taylor’s right hand melodic expressions and rhythmic motifs into his playing. Unfortunately, Taylor is saddled with a painfully out of tune piano and sits out much of this session. Two of the tracks are Bass/Sax duets. The piano issue is particularly egregious on the relatively straight forward covers of the Mercer/Ellington tune Jumpin’ Punkins with a larger band including Billy Higgins, Clark Terry, Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy, and Charles Davis. Unless you’re curious what it would sound like to hear Taylor playing honky tonk piano, avoid those two tracks.

#CecilTaylor #BuellNeidlinger #DenisCharles #ArchieShepp #BillyHiggins #ClarkTerry #RoswellRudd #SteveLacy #CharlesDavis #CellWallkForCeleste

2017-07-11 The World of Cecil Taylor

The World of Cecil Taylor by Cecil Taylor, Buell Neidlinger, Sunny Murray, Denis Charles, and Archie Shepp.

Since I listened to alternate takes from the sessions for this album yesterday, I thought I should revisit the album proper today.

First, whomever picked the takes to use on the album was right. While the tracks on “Air” have their charms, these stand head and shoulders above. From Murray’s drum call to action to Cecil’s soft intro to track 2, these are invigorating, dramatic, and astounding.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #CecilTaylor #BuellNeidlinger #SunnyMurray #DenisCharles #ArchieShepp #TheWorldOfCecilTaylor

2017-07-10 Air

Air by Cecil Taylor, Buell Neidlinger, Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp, and Denis Charles.

Recorded in 1960, this album is additional material from the sessions for, “The World of Cecil Taylor”. The first two tracks, a trio with Taylor, Neidlinger, and Murray, are finger tapping, steering wheel pounding, goodness. A 23 year old Archie Shepp joins on track 3, and at first seems a bit lost, deploying idiomatic Jazz and Blues expressions. As he settles in, and begins to find his place in the maelstrom, things get interesting. By Take 24 of “Air” he’s really getting it.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #CecilTaylor #BuellNeidlinger #SunnyMurray #ArchieShepp #DenisCharles #Air

2017-07-07 Amorphae

Amorphae by Ben Monder, Pete Rende, Andrew Cyrille, and Paul Motian.

This album of solos, duets, and trios from Mr Monder &Co has been on my “to listen” list for quite a while. On this release, Monder operates in roughly the same reverb and chorus drenched wide screen universe as players like Bill Frisell and David Torn. Not quite as “folksy” as Frisell and using more “classical music” inspired melody and harmony than Torn, Monder seldom “shreds”. Instead building his solos to curtains of shimmering abstract sound.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #BenMonder #PeteRende #AndrewCyrille #PaulMotian #Amorphae

2017-07-06 Nightfall

Nightfall by Quercus.

ECM has always been eclectic in it’s releases. This atmospheric mashup of Jazz, Classical, and UK Folk music isn’t exactly the exception, as the rule. June Tabor is a great folk vocalist and her partners in Quercus are Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy, Piano and Saxophone, respectively. If I had any complaints, it might be that Nightfall is just a tad too pleasant.

#JuneTabor #IainBallamy #HuwWarren #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

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