Monday, September 25, 2006

What's new on my 'turntable'

Like Saxophones? Well, Max Roach alumnus Odean Pope has a group with 9 of them teamed with a rhythm section. If that weren’t enough, he adds 3 guest tenor saxophonists – Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano and James Carter! This is great Coltrane influenced music. It’s called Locked and Loaded: Live at the Blue Note and is on the Artist label. (Ornette Coleman provides liner notes. Saxophones aplenty!)

For the collectors, a classic Charles Mingus recording is released on CD for the first time. It was recorded at UCLA (my alma mater). I own the limited edition LP version that was released in the mid-80s. (I could have made a lot of money if I had sold it on eBay!). It’s called Music written for Monterey 1965, played in its entirety at UCLA. Quite a mouthful, but it’s a typical Mingus statement. One of the compositions on the album is called "Once Upon a Time, There Was a Holding Corporation Called Old America" which was later known as "The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive-ass Slippers"!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, John Coltrane!!!!

On this date 80 years ago, John Coltrane was born. Sadly, he made just a little over half of that time. But he accomplished so much in such a short time – stints with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk before leading a quartet that redefined small group improvisation.

For those who are looking for a place to start listening to his music, I would recommend the 2 –disc set on Rhino appropriately entitled The Last Giant. It starts with a homemade recording as a 19 year old in the Navy and covers his development up until his Impulse! Records stint. (The Impulse! recordings can be the most daunting to the uninitiated.)

For the musicians out there:

There are 25 John Coltrane solos available at The cool thing about this website is that you can place your order via email and they’re emailed back to you as a pdf file. Very fast! (He has a current catalog of over 800 transcriptions, ranging from Sidney Bechet to David Sanborn. He also does transcriptions by commission.)

Andrew White has transcribed EVERY John Coltrane solo ever recorded! (He also has a large library of Charlie Parker and Eric Dolphy solos available.) I’ve bought several of his transcriptions over the years. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to play Transition or Ogunde, but I had to buy them just to see what the performances looked like! I can’t remember how much his catalog costs, but you can write to him at: Andrew’s Music, 4830 South Dakota Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC 20017.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jazz and The Simpsons

Great Simpsons episode last night!

In order to calm Bart’s antisocial tendancies, he’s given a drum set. Much to hard core jazz fan Lisa’s chagrin, Bart has a natural affinity for jazz drumming. (In an episode a few years ago, Bart thought the animation was American’s greatest art form – he didn’t count jazz "because it sucks.") But what galled Lisa the most was that Bart was given a jazz nickname ("Tick Tock" Simpson – for his steady time). To quiet her, the musicians give her the name "Downbeat" Simpson since she’s such a downer. (Personally, I think all the cool jazz nicknames are already taken.)

Lots of cool jazz references. One of my favorites was the sign outside the for the "8 hour jazz benefit – 2 songs will be played!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ornette is back !!!!

At the end of 2004, we saw the Ornette Coleman Quartet at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever seen. About the only people who didn’t think so were the blue-haired subscribers who left in droves after the first number.

Yesterday, Ornette released a new live album called Sound Grammar with the same quartet we saw two years ago – Ornette on alto, trumpet and violin, his son Denardo on drums and two basses played by Tony Falanga and Greg Cohen. It’s his first album in ten years.

The idea of two basses apparently goes back to Duke Ellington, who started using that configuration back in the mid-1930s and used it off and on until the end of his career. But there is not that much similarity in how the two composers use this set up. Ornette uses one bass playing counter melodies, primarily arco (with bow) and the other bassist in a more tradition, pizzicato (plucked) role.

It’s great music and is another great addition to my Ornette collection. While it probably won’t get much play on the radio, I’d highly recommend it. The album comes full circle (pun intended) by featuring a new version of Turnaround, a composition he featured on his 1959 Contemporary album Tomorrow is the Question! (Hey, as a 47 year old, that wasn’t that long ago!)

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - New York and Sonny Rollins

After a long absence, I’m back with another entry...

Work has been really keeping me busy lately and has also entailed more travel than usual. One of the places I got to go was New York City. It was the first time I had ever been. As a native of the Los Angeles area, I’ve tended to take all of the New York propaganda with a grain of salt, but once I was there, I can see why they feel the way they do about their city.

I was given a car tour of the city and one of the places we stopped was the hole that used to be the World Trade Center. The footprint of the area was smaller than what I would have expected. However, the height is where the center had its area. Amongst all the tall buildings nearby, it was hard to imagine them being dwarfed by what was no longer there.

Shortly after the attacks in 2001, Sonny Rollins played a concert in New York City. It was recorded and released in 2004 as “Without A Song: The 9/11 Concert.” Great playing by one of the legends of the tenor saxophone. If you don’t have it, get it. It’ll help you put things in perspective. (As a side note, there’s some video of Sonny at www. sonny

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt