How does one find inspiration? It depends on the individual, really. I’ve been listening to some Sigur Ros off and on over the course of the past week or so, and such things often inspire my show selections. Of course, another frequent source of inspiration are the current events that surround us. Of course, with the labor tensions that have surrounded Carbondale residents for the past few weeks, inspiration can be found in things that help us relax, especially during stressful times. Sigur Ros is good for relaxation. We started with something from their most recent album með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, a song called með suð í eyrum. We also heard Vaka (an acoustic performance of a song originally released on (), from the double ep that they put out in 2007, then went back to með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust for inní mér syngur vitleysingur (translated: “Within me a lunatic sings”). Also from the ep, we heard Hafsol, then we completed the set with popplagið (translated: “the pop song”).
(BTW: The title of today’s blog entry is a trick question. If you research Sigur Ros lyrics, you’ll find a reference to Massey Ferguson tractors. They don’t attempt to translate it, they just leave it straight.)
I take great pleasure in listening to music that was made with great pleasure. An infectious attitude that permeates the music, from the vocals through into the instrumental performances. This is exactly the sort of vibe that one gets when you listen to Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Their music hearkens back to a day when things were wide open, a day when country bandleaders brought saxophones into their bands, instrumental solos were called for on the spot, then whipped out with a twinkle in the eye. Wills‘ band was not the only “Texas Swing” band of the day, but his music definitely withstands the test of time. We started our set with Take Me Back To Tulsa, then heard his rendition of Faded Love (a Wills composition that was later given a classic reading by none other than Patsy Cline). We also heard Miss Molly, Three Guitar Special, then closed the set with Right or Wrong (note the trumpet and multiple saxophones that you hear during this song). After listening to material like this, one cannot help but think that the spirit of jazz improvisation was not limited to jazz, at least in Wills’ eyes.
This same sort of enthusiasm can also be heard in the work of Charles Mingus. He wasn’t engaging in the same sort of bandstand jive talk that was Wills’ calling card. But you can hear that same sort of enthusiasm expressed in his selection and naming of material (how can you not be joyful when quoting Yankee Doodle within a jazz solo?), and in the passion in which he performed it, something that he demanded from all of his musicians. He could at times be difficult to work with, but he ended up with a group of regular collaborators, people who shared not only his skill with music but also his passion and joy. Eric Dolphy was one such collaborator, and tonight we returned to something that we’ve been playing off and on, the live set from Cornell 1964. Dolphy was there (this would be the last tour before his untimely diabetic demise), as was Johnny Coles, Clifford Jordan, Jaki Byard and Dannie Richmond. From this beautiful recording, we heard Byard solo on piano with ATFW You, then a bass/piano duet on Sophisticated Lady (a true demonstration of Mingus’ instrumental brilliance). This led to Fables of Faubus, an extended workout that features Dolphy on bass clarinet.
We finished the show with some live Led Zeppelin (I was about to call it “classic live Zeppelin, until I remembered that the live Zeppelin recordings that have been issued are pretty much all classics, even if Jimmy Page has micromanaged them a bit). We heard a few songs from How The West Was Won: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, and Black Dog.