Free Parking for improvisation in multiple environments.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Kenny Wheeler I

Kenny Wheeler Quintet -By Myself
Kenny Wheeler Big Band - Part V - Know Where You Are
From Music for Large and Small Ensembles: ECM 1415/16 [Buy]

So here's the start of a Kenny Wheeler series. I could easily say too much about Mr Wheeler, so I'll try to say very little and let people just listen to the man's music.

To kick off, here's two tracks off his 1990 big band/small band double set Music for Large and Small Ensembles. Recorded in London and Oslo, musicians include Dave Holland (b), Peter Erskine (d), John Abercrombie (g) and John Taylor (p) - and that's just the core quartet ! This one is for Taxi Driver and Molo.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - Moments in Heaven
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - 花ふぶき~愛だろ、愛っ。~
From Best (1989-1997): Epic Records ESCL 2333 [Buy]

Another discovery from my trip to Japan last year. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. The name says it all really. They play everything from ska "standards" like Caravan through to funk with Bernard Purdie and the Sesame Street theme. They've been doing it since 1985, perform all around the world, have their own Wikipedia entry and sound like they're still having the time of their lives.

TSPO, or Skapara, or 東京スカパラダイスオーケストラ

Monday, April 25, 2005

Aotearoa: Landscapes for ANZAC Day

TrinityRoots - Aotearoa
From Home, Land and Sea: Independent TR03 [Buy]

Mike Nock Trio - Land of the Long White Cloud
From Ondas: ECM 1220 [Buy]

N.Z.B.C. Symphony Orchestra - Aotearoa Overture
Available on N.Z. Composers: Continuum CCD 1073 [Buy]

Farmland, North Island/Te Ika a Maui

Today (25th April) is ANZAC Day, a public holiday both here in New Zealand and in Australia, a commemoration of the sacrifice of NZ and Australian soldiers in war. Us kiwis in particular seem to shun extrovert nationalism and jingoism, so this holiday is also one of the few times when New Zealanders conciously consider matters of national identity.

So today I've posted three pieces which are reflections by New Zealanders on our country and our place in its landscape. All three refer to Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand. Aotearoa is generally translated in English as "Land of the Long White Cloud".

Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook, South Island/Te Wai Pounamu

TrinityRoots was one of the most important bands in New Zealand's recent musical history, splitting up earlier this year. Their song Aotearoa is from their 2004 album Home, Land and Sea.

Mike Nock is probably New Zealand's most well-known jazz export. Now based in Sydney, he spent time as pianist for Yusef Lateef during 25 years playing in the US. Land of the Long White Cloud was recorded in Oslo for ECM in 1981, with Eddie Gomez on bass and Jon Christensen on drums.

Composer Douglas Lilburn was one of the first composers in the classical/symphonic arena to attempt to express New Zealand identity in his compositions. Aotearoa Overture was written in 1940 to mark the centennial of the founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Betty Carter IV: Elder Stateswoman

Betty Carter Quartet - I'm All Smiles
From Feed the Fire: Verve/Bet-Car 523 600-2 [Buy]

Betty Carter Sextet - East of the Sun
From I'm Yours, You're Mine: Verve/Bet-Car 533 182 [Buy]

The last ten years of Betty Carter's life were characterised by growing critical and popular acclaim. There seemed to be a clear realisation from many that Carter was at the height of her powers, and was indeed one of the unique voices of the century.

Betty Carter at Ronnie Scott's Club, London, 1993

While Carter continued to pull young talent into her bands, nurturing some of the major voices of today's American straightahead scene, some of her finest moments occurred at the head of an all-star band. In the late summer of 1993, Betty Carter toured Europe with Jack deJohnette, Dave Holland and Geri Allen. The band was caught on tape at the Royal Festival Hall in London on October 30, 1993, and the recording was released on Verve as Feed the Fire.

Betty Carter's final album was the slow-burning I'm Yours, You're Mine, released in 1996, featuring a poignant rendition of Kurt Weill's September Song, (too searing to post here - buy the album!), which could well act as her epitaph. She continued performing live and teaching until her death from cancer in New York on September 26th, 1998.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Betty Carter III: Award Winner

Betty Carter Quintet - That Sunday, That Summer
Betty Carter Quintet - Just Like the Movies (Time)
From Look What I Got: Verve/Bet-Car 835-661-2 [Buy]

In 1988, Betty Carter won a Grammy for her first album on Verve, Look What I Got: a perhaps surprising accolade from the pop music industry for a singer who remained "challenging" to the general public throughout her career.

Both these songs are taken from this album, easily one of the finest studio efforts from Carter's career, including one of Carter's own compositions, Just Like the Movies, a determinedly contemporary ballad, ("Circling the globe/on a plane without end/trying to go to sleep/the possibility's slim").

Image Copyright Paul G. Deker

Many of the young players in Carter's bands have gone on to establish significant careers in jazz. On this record alone we hear Benny Green and Stephen Scott on piano, Ira Coleman on bass and Winard Harper and Lewis Nash on drums. Don Braden supplies tenor saxophone on both songs.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Betty Carter II: Live and Loud

Betty Carter Quartet - Surrey With the Fringe on Top
From Betty Carter at the Village Vanguard: Verve 519 851-2 [Buy]

Betty Carter and Carmen McRae - Sometimes I'm Happy
From The Carmen McRae - Betty Carter Duets: Verve 314 529 579-2 [Buy]

Most music is best experienced live, and by the sounds of these recordings, a Betty Carter gig would have been something not to miss ! A pity that I was either not yet born or still running around in short pants when Ms Carter was performing....

Betty Carter with Dave Holland

Two contrasting performances from nearly twenty years apart, and two coasts - Surrey with the Fringe on Top recorded at the Village Vanguard in 1970 when Betty Carter was launching her own indepdendent record label, and Sometimes I'm Happy from a superlative album of live duets with Carmen McRae recorded at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco in January 1987.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Betty Carter Part I: "Betty BeBop"

Betty Carter and the Gigi Gryce Orchestra - Let's Fall in Love
Betty Carter and the Ray Bryant Trio - Thou Swell
From Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant: Columbia CK64936 [Buy Here]

Here's the first of a series of multi-part musical profiles that I'm putting together. I'm planning something similar for Kenny Wheeler, possibly Mingus too, but the 4 parts of Betty Carter material was ready first. Hope people enjoy the next few posts!

Although perhaps not as ingrained in the popular imagination as Fitzgerald-Vaughn-Holiday, Betty Carter (1930-1998) is without doubt one of the great voices and personalities of American jazz, and indeed some have called her the truest "jazz" to emerge singer since the Second World War.

Born in Flint, Michigan in 1930 Lorraine Carter studied piano as a child, but her professional singing career began in earnest at the age of 18, touring with the Lionel Hampton band. She was noted early on as a skilled scat singer. Although she did not particularly appreciate the stage moniker "Betty BeBop" bestowed by Hampton, scat, (in its broadest sense encompassing wordless vocal improvisation over a song's chord changes), would remain a key weapon in Carter's formidable musical arsenal throughout her life as a performer.

Betty Carter, as she chose to be known onstage, began recording as a solo artist with the "joint debut" Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant on the Epic label in 1955. In April 1956, Carter recorded four sides with the Gigi Gryce band for an Epic LP, but plans for a full album were shelved. Luckily this big band material survived, finally to be issued in 1980.

These early recordings (Roger and Hart's Thou Swell and Koehler Arlen's Let's Fall in Love) show off Carter in fairly conventional settings, but the hallmarks of her later mature style are aready there - open play with vowel sounds, phrasing deliberately pushed over barlines and vocal improvisation that remains arguably second to none.

A lot of this Betty Carter story will be based on Tim Cramm's well-written biography on his personal Betty Carter homepage - the best place on the web to find discography, biography and other Bet-Car resources.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

La Bottine Souriante: Beyond Folk

La Bottine Souriante – Le Medley des Éboulements
La Bottine Souriante – Yoyo-Verret
From Xième/Rock & Reel: Productions Mille-Pattes/EMI 8 47446 2

Bon, un blog bilingue, ce qui convient à cette flirtation avec la musique québecoise. (English version can be found below). La Bottine Souriante, un groupe de musiciens du Canada francophone, qui depuis plus que 20 ans maintenant prend comme point de départ la vaste patrimoine des folklores québecois, acadien and celtiques, des chansons et des réels. Ils y ajoutent un brin de jazz tendance Nouvelle-Orléans, des cuivres, une bonne cuillère d’humour et un savoir-faire irréprochable. Un projet plutôt réussi, selon moi.

Deux morceaux donc, selectionnés du disque « Xième » de 1998 (retitré Rock & Reel pour les marchés d’outre-Québec).

OK, here’s a bilingual entry, which sort of suits this brief dip into the music of Quebec. La Bottine Souriante (roughly translated as “The Smiling Boot") is a group of musicians from French-speaking Canada who have been working together for more than 20 years, taking as their point of departure the vast heritage of folk music from the Quebecois, Acadian and Celtic traditions. The overall result is pretty successful, to my mind.

So here are two carefully selected pieces from their 1998 album Xième (known as Rock & Reel when sold outside Quebec).

Dance, my pretties.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Byron Lee: Triple Ska Meltdown

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires - Sunjet Jump Up
Byron Lee and the Dragonaires - Love Me Forever
Byron Lee and the Dragonaires - Wings of a Dove
From 45 rpm singles - The Blues Busters 2001, 2002, 2003

We finish this series of "Carribean Mondays" with a triple whammy from Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. Born in 1935 to an afro-Jamaican mother and Chinese father, Byron Lee is one of the many legends of Jamaican music, a consummate performer and astute businessman, and was probably the most internationally recognised star of Jamaican music in the 1960s.

Before Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Lee "Scratch" Perry, many westerners got their first taste of Jamaican popular music when Byron Lee and his band was featured in a nightclub scene in the 1962 James Bond film Dr No. Byron Lee went on to found the Dynamic Sounds studio in Jamaica that attracted musicians such as the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Paul Simon (who recorded Mother and Child Reunion there). And he's still performing today.

Jazzheads will probably recognise the melody of Sunjet Jump Up as "St Thomas", the tune recorded by Sonny Rollins. Sunjet was used as the advertising theme for British West Indian Airways in the 60s.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ella and Louis: Heaven

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Cheek to Cheek
From Ella and Louis: Verve 825 373-2 [Buy]

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket
From Ella and Louis Again: Verve 825 734-2 [Buy]

It's been one of those weeks. Here's some classic therapy.

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and alternately Buddy Rich (Cheek to Cheek) and Louis Bellson (All My Eggs in One Basket). Two songs by Irving Berlin. Recorded in New York, 1956 and 1957. Produced by Norman Granz. Genius.

And while we're listening to Louis Armstrong, read A Trumpet Player in a Nutshell over on twwot.

"Music is a description of our connections. It provides the platform for us to discover our common ground."

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dewey Redman: Sound Explorer

Dewey Redman Trio - QOW
Dewey Redman Trio - Joie de Vivre
From Coincide (Impulse! ASD-9300), rereleased on The Ear of the Behearer: IMP 12712 [Buy Here]

Dewey Redman is one of my favourite saxophonists, who I first heard in his role as a member of one of the most extraordinary bands ever to walk this Earth, Keith Jarrett's "American Quartet" with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1931, Dewey Redman was a high school friend of Ornette Coleman, with whom he would play in later years in San Francisco and New York. After a spell on the west coast, Redman moved to New York around the time Coltrane died in 1967, and soon became known as a regular performer in exploratory ensembles such as Coleman's own groups and Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra.

Although one of the legends of the late 60s East Coast free scene, Dewey Redman's distinctive sound has never quite lost the blues and gospel roots of his Texas childhood, something that comes through on these two tunes, both recorded in September 1974 for Redman's Impulse! album Coincide, a trio date featuring Redman with Eddie Moore on drums and bassist Sirone (aka Norris Jones).

These are typical Redman performances, weaving in and out of tonality, enhanced by the implied harmonic freedom of the horn-bass-drums format. Joie de Vivre is close to being a ballad, while the mysteriously named QOW is a bluesy, funky romp defined by sing-song bass vamps from Sirone.

Dewey Redman is still active playing, recording and touring, and it is somewhat unfortunate that these days he stands somewhat in the shadow of his son, tenorman Joshua Redman.

Also worth Hearing...
Today, (Wednesday 6th April), (((NOMUSIC))) is streaming a 24 hour worldwide "audio diffusion" event today called Royal Battle. Performers include David Fenech (Paris), Fugu and the Cosmic Mumu (Tokyo), Scott Smallwood (Princeton) and the Alsace based (((NOMUSIC))) founders Carl Y and laboiteblanche. Turn the lights down low and turn it up!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Lord Nelson: Convertible Calypso

Lord Nelson - Don't Let the Party End
Lord Nelson - Human Convertibles
From 45 rpm single - National NSP 089 A/B

Continuing the Calypso theme from last week... I could find very little on the web about Robert Nelson, aka "Lord Nelson", except that he was placed at number 29 on a list of the 20th Century's greatest Calypsonians. If anyone can supply any more information on him, I would be grateful !

Again, the music pretty much speaks for itself, with Human Convertibles standing out as a particularly unusual (for a Western listener at least) and humorous description of transvestitism and "alternative lifestyles". No holds barred here. Are calypsonians the ultimate musical social realists?

For those interested in the history of calypso, the Proudflesh journal has a particularly interesting analysis of the origins and characteristics of this Carribean artform, tracing its roots through the griot tradition of West Africa through slave songs in French patois to the subversive popular form of 20th Century Trinidad.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

P-Funk Afterglow

Parliament - Tear the Roof off the Sucker Medley
From Parliament Live: P-Funk Earth Tour: Casablanca 834 941-2 [Buy Here]

Dancing one row back from the front at a P-Funk gig is like running a marathon. George Clinton and his hundreds of on-stage friends funked us up last night for three hours. The show was a noisy mess of barely controlled chaos, incomprehensible stage chants and shared joy.

Not a picture from the Auckland gig, but it looked similar

A series of impressions:
  • Yeah, Blackbyrd McKnight sure can play guitar some... but what was with the 40 minute guitar solos?
  • Waaaaah? They're STILL playing Flashlight? That song started half an hour ago
  • Guys, you're in New Zealand... when you call for some chronic on stage, you should know you're going to get bombarded with spliff.
  • James Brown's The Big Payback. Yeah. And did anyone else notice the horns quoting the Soul Power riff?
  • Ah, Atomic Dog....I think. At least those guitar solos have finished
  • Roller-skating cuties, we need more of those
  • Tom, you'll never get your lighter back now. It's in George Clinton's pocket.
  • Violin? Camouflage miniskirt? Somehow, Lili Haydn carries the show
  • P-Funk's playing Eddie Harris' Freedom Jazz Dance. And those horn solos!
  • Dudes, enough with throwing spliff at the band. Someone's just passed George their entire stash...!
  • Man, Bernie Worrell has had waaaay too much of some substance or other. Probably Barrossa Valley Shiraz 1998
  • Only George Clinton would have a rapping granddaughter called Sativa
  • We....want....the Funk!
Righto, that's all for today. Do not attempt to adjust your radio. Normality will resume tomorrow.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Mothership is Coming

Parliament - Gamin' On Ya!
From Parliament Live: P-Funk Earth Tour: Casablanca 834 941-2 [Buy Here]

Funkadelic - Elektro-Cuties
From The Electric Spanking of War Babies: Warner Brothers WBK 56 874 [Buy Here]

I am very excited. Tomorrow night the George Clinton P-Funk roadshow hits town. As far as I am aware, this will be the first time that his band has played in New Zealand, and if it's even half as good as James Brown last year, I will be a very happy camper.

The Good Doctor, Treatin' Sum Maggots

What can I say? George Clinton is The Funk. Sure, there are plenty bands that live with the funk, eat with the funk, die with the funk. But only George Clinton is Doctor Funkenstein, and he has been delivering his P-skription for more than three decades.

Even Lego Man Wants to Get Funked Up

My first band after I left high school could play six songs - the entire 4-song length of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, Kool and the Gang's Jungle Boogie, and our own version of P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up). Parliament/Funkadelic is an important part of my musical education, and on Saturday night in Auckland city, we will get to Turn That Mother Out - for real this time. Yeah.