News includes every dollar of electricity from coal does two dollars in damage; MythBusters weigh in on motorcycle emissions; global investment in clean energy blowin’ the hell up. Happenings include Sun Foods at Rice and Spice; Friday Night Fair; Farmer’s Market; Vigil for Peace; Heartland Solar Tour; SlutWalk Carbondale; Downtown Art and Wine Fair; Fifth Anniversary Party at Center at 101; GLBT History Month; Fall Feast Celebration.
There are occasions where, from the moment you first put a new album on and give it the first spin, you know that you have something special that you’re listening to. This is especially nice when the band in question is one that you’re not all that familiar with. Maybe you heard something of theirs on the radio, you said “oh! cool” and bought the album, only to find that the album just gets better and better as you hear song after song.
Such is the case with Nirvana’s Nevermind, a brilliantly written and assembled collection of songs. It was issued 20 years ago this week, so I figured that this would be an appropriate occasion to give the entire album a good listen, from start to finish, especially given that we are about to see a new Legacy Edition come out this coming week along with a video of an excellent performance of theirs from 1991 in Seattle. I have to admit that, upon hearing the album again, I am reminded of exactly how strong this set of songs is. From top to bottom, great songs all. Certainly one of the classic albums of the ’90s. Certainly worth listening to. We actually started the set with a b-side from the Smells Like Teen Spirit single, Aneurysm (another great song).
I had a request last week for some Gregorian chants, which I was unable to fulfill at the time because I didn’t have the material with me. But I promised to do something this week, and the result is a two-part set of music that goes a bit beyond what is actually considered “Gregorian chants”. The first part is an Alleluia believed to have been written by a gentleman by the name of Magister Leoninus. Leoninus (also known as Léonin; both names are forms of the French name Léo) is considered the earliest member of the Notre Dame school of polyphony, a group of composers that worked in the Notre Dame cathedral from about 1160 to 1250. Leoninus, along with another composer, Perotin (who is believed to have revised quite a bit of Leoninus’ music), are the only members of this group whose names are known, and Leoninus may be one of the first composers who can be associated with a specific piece of music. Leoninus’ major achievement was in the refinement of polyphonic organum (organum being a plainchant melody with an additional voice to supplement the harmony; polyphony being the use of independent melodic voices, as opposed to just one voice – common with Gregorian chants – or a voice supplemented by harmonic chords). The addition of polyphony to the already existing organum can be considered to be the source of all future development in Western music. Leoninus and Perotin are notable in that they are the first to write these advancements down in compositional form (although there are music theorists from a somewhat earlier time period who also wrote about these things, notably Johannes Cotto), thus capturing the spirit of intellectual advancement and preserving it for the generations that followed.
Following the work by Leoninus, we heard a mass by Johannes Ockeghem. Born sometime between 1410 and 1430, he is considered to be possibly one of the more influential composers of the time period between that of Guillaume Dufay and Josquin Des Prez (as an indication of his fame and influence, when Ockeghem died in 1497, there was a great number of eulogies and memorial compositions, including a rather well-known lamentation written by Des Prez). We heard his Missa L’homme armé, a mass that uses the French secular song l’homme armé as a cantus firmus. Ockeghem was not alone in using the popular tune – there are more than 40 settings of the song for mass, written by many of the major composers of the day, including Dufay and Des Prez. Even Palestrina wrote multiple settings of the song, roughly 100 years later. Ockeghem’s rendition is notable because, as it dates from roughly the 1450s, it is probably one of the earlier settings of the song.
We finished up the night with some live material from John Coltrane, in celebration of his birthday on September 23rd. His Live at the Village Vanguard box set, recorded over several days in November 1961, is a true milestone jazz recording, capturing Coltrane in truly spectacular form, with Eric Dolphy joining on alto sax, bass clarinet and flute. This particular appearance was quite controversial back in the day, sparking a great deal of criticism from a number of reviewers, including some Downbeat Magazine writers (one of the more influential of jazz trade publications). Indeed, we hear Coltrane delving into more atonal, more experimental techniques, and in retrospect we should not be that surprised at all, given that he had recorded with Ornette Coleman sidemen just the previous year, had played with Miles Davis on the So What sessions in the year prior to that, and in ’58 had been gigging with Thelonious Monk. The reality is that this was simply a natural progression for Coltrane, whose attention to technical detail bordered on the obsessive. We heard two songs from the first disc of the 4 disc box set, India and Naima.
Joe Henderson “Pedro’s Time” from Our Thing (classic Blue Note mid-60s session). Henderson’s tenor sax always tough but tuneful.
Charlie Hunter “Let’s Get Medieval” from Ready-Set-Shango (1999, Blue Note). 8-string guitar, sounding like Hammond B-3 organ.
Nana Vascancelos and Antonello Salis, “Verdame” (1985 Soul Note LP “Lester”). Percussion and Accordion.
Gabor Szabo “Paint It Black” from Jazz Raga, legendary weird 1967 session with the Hungarian guitartist overdubbing sitar. On ‘Stones “stalker rock” song.
Don Pullen “At the Cafe Central” from New Beginnings (Blue Note, 1999) with Tony Williams (of Miles Davis group) on drums. Playing BIG with power piano.
John Coltrane “Blues for Elvin” from Coltrane Plays the Blues (Atlantic, 1962).
Yusef Latif “Plum Blossum” from Eastern Sounds (1961). Early “world” jazz.
Dexter Gordon “Tanya” from Manhattan Symphony (1976 homecoming LP for Long Tall Dexter after 15 years as expatriate jazz musician in Europe). Watch for the movie “Round Midnight” with Dex basically playing himself.
Nils Petter-Malvoer from “Kmer” (ECM). Electronics and trumpet, modern ECM sound.
Gato Barbieri “Milonga Triste” from Chapter Four: Live in New York, the last of excellent early 70s series of albums on Impulse for the Argentine saxophonist.
Bill Frisell “Variation of a Theme” from Ghost Town (Twin Peaks music)
Good Morning! Waist deep in pledge driving, chock full of Grandma’s Jazz! Happy Autumn to you, and enjoy your day! (and yes, only vinyl played on this show!)
Blowin’ Up a Storm, Woody Herman
Baby the Rain Must Fall, The Brass Ring
Keen and Peachy, Woody Herman
Control Yourself, Doris Day with Andre Previn
Alone Together, Dizzy Gillespie with Johnny Richard’s Orchestra
Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Tony Bennett
Ida Sweet as Apple Cider, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians
Drowsy Waters, Luke Leilani
Original Dixieland One-Step, Clyde McCoy and His Orchestra
Walk on the Wild Side, Martin Denny
My Old Man, Smothers Brothers
I’ve Got Rhythm, Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra
El Gato ‘Boo’, The Jazz Ambassadors
Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella, Perry Como
Blues For Sale, Billy Eckstine
St. James Blues, Cab Calloway
Dunn’s Coronet Blues, Johnny Dunn and His Band
Grandmother’s Song, Steve Martin
Darn That Dream, George Shearing and The Montgomery Brothers
This Will Make You Laugh, Nat King Cole
Yeah Man, Woody Herman
Back Home In Illinois, James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band
Shiny Stockings, Milt Jackson and Count Basie
Gimme Some Sugar, Evelyn McGee Stone
Three O’Clock in the Morning, Erroll Garner
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Earl “Fatha” Hines
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Bing Crosby
Wild Root, Woody Herman
News includes why environmentalists should care about Occupy Wall Street; Wal-Mart buys urban agriculture group’s silence; renewable jet fuel from alcohol; Solar Decathalon 2011; Bill Clinton says climate deniers make U.S. look like a joke. Happenings include canning at Rice and Spice; Farmer’s Market; Vigil for Peace; Habitat for Humanity; Community Pride Picnic; Art Workshops for Survivors of Gender Violence; Fall Feast Celebration.
The Bad Plus “Tom Sawyer” from Prog (2008). I hate “standards” like “I’ll Remember April” which jazz musicians seem to feel compelled to keep playing even though the show tunes are long forgotten. But covering a classic rock “standard” — that’s cool. The Bad Plus has also covered “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Ironman”.
Larry Young, “The Moontrane” from great mid-60s Blue Note date “Unity” with Elvin Jones on drums, Joe Henderson on sax and Woody Shaw playing trumpet on his most famous composition.
Roland Kirk playing flute on “Funk Underneath” with Brother Jack McDuff on Hammond B3 organ. (Kirk’s Works, 1961)
Mark Helias, “Police Story Blues” from 1989 Enja LP “Desert Blue”
Trombone Shorty, “Hurricane Season” (2010). Break out the air trombone.
Pierre Dorge and the New Jungle Orchestra, “Nuages”. Waterfall guitar of Dorge on Django Reinhardt song. From Brikama (Steeplechase, 1992)
Gabor Szabo “Reinhardt”. Django, the Basque gypsy guitarist, remembered by Hungarian guitar player Szabo. From 1973 CTI LP “Rambler”. Transition for Szabo from jazz with a rock/pop touch — which was interesting — to full-scale sell out, which wasn’t.
Dexter Gordon, “Soul Sister” from Dexter Calling (classic early 60s Blue Note).
David Sanborn, “Again and Again” from Hideaway (1980). Session dude leads jazz date.
Don Cherry, “Dedication to Thomas Mapfumo” from MultiKulti (1990). Former Ornette Coleman sideman one of the best at bringing together jazz and “world” music.
Corey Wilkes, title track of “Cries from Tha Ghetto” (2008). Top trumpet dude playing around Chicago. North side, south side, inside, outside — he’s got it all.
Bela Fleck “Oddity”.
(archived Pete’s Place playlists at http://peteplace.wordpress.com/)
I take a great deal of pleasure in placing focus on those artists who push the musical envelope, those whose willingness to take risks and experiment with their sound resulted in a positive change in our musical environment. Sometimes such efforts resulted in great fame and profit, but this is not always the case with great art – in fact, I’d say that such is seldom the case.
But it certainly was the case with Pink Floyd. We started off with a few songs from their early days, when Syd Barrett was singing, playing guitar and doing much of the writing. An interesting album cut, Bike, from Piper at the Gates of Dawn began the set, then we heard two non-album singles from that same era, Arnold Layne and Apples and Oranges. After this, we proceeded to the full Dark Side of the Moon album, uninterrupted and uncut.
Sometimes progress comes from the sort of constant experimentation that Pink Floyd built their entire catalog upon. Other times it comes courtesy of a happy accident. Such was the story behind Marty Robbins‘ Don’t Worry, from 1960. A studio pre-amp malfunctioned during the recording of Grady Martin‘s guitar solo, but Robbins and producer Don Law liked what they heard and left it intact. The result is an early example of “fuzztone”, harnessed distortion, although various guitarists had been experimenting with ways to harness distortion. But this incident caught the attention of other performers – the Ventures, in particular, worked to recreate the very sound that Martin achieved here, and these efforts directly led to the invention of commercially-available fuzz-boxes (where would Jimi Hendrix be without that?). Also from Marty Robbins, we heard Smoking Cigarettes and Drinking Coffee Blues, Singing The Blues, and A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation).
We then took a trip out to the Harlem Square Club for a January 1963 date featuring Sam Cooke. We don’t hear the silky Sam Cooke here – he is passionate and sweaty, maybe just a bit hoarse, traveling with his normal guitarist and drummer, and playing with a band led by r&b saxophonist King Curtis. He is obviously feeling right at home, inciting the crowd before ripping into Feel It (Don’t Fight It), Chain Gang and Cupid.
Next, we heard a set of three piano pieces from Arnold Schoenberg, his Drei Klavierstücke, Op. 11. Written in 1909, it is generally recognized as the first attempt at a completely atonal composition, either by Schoenberg or anyone else, and is considered to be a major milestone in Schoenberg’s writing career. It really was a logical extension of a trend of composers stretching the rules of tonality to the bursting point, given the work of contemporaries such as Richard Wagner (consider Die Walkyrie), Richard Strauss (Ariadne auf Naxos), Gustav Mahler, or even Schoenberg’s own previous works (i.e. Verklärte Nacht). But even though we can say that Schoenberg was only doing the inevitable, music such as this really sets the stage for the interesting points of musical experimentation that was to come much later in the 20th century, be it jazz (Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, etc) or rock (Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc.).
We finished the show with a song that, in my opinion, owes a debt to the advancements of Schoenberg et al – Directions, from Miles Davis Live at the Fillmore East, from March 1970.