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Sometimes being “chemo sick” robs a person of their creative connections, not always, but often enough so that when those cool, lucid, and inspired moments do occur, I have to take advantage of them.  Hence, a post containing original music.  A first for me here, but after all, it’s all about “call and response.”

The solo was written, recorded, and mixed, using a my 2001 Fender Texas Strat (Humbucker pick up)  played live through my little red Fender 25 R amp, recorded through an Olympus DM-20 digital recorder, HD, and and a omni-directional mic suspended and balanced between live amp and computer backing track.  Reggae style backing track composed using Chord Pulse 2.4 software in the key of Am.  Sound was mixed using Audacity.  All photos edited in Windows Movie Maker, using Google images from “public domain.”

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The great young vibraphonist Warren Wolf playin’ the shit out of the vibes!

Here are some highlights from tonight’s show.

Warren Wolf.  This guy is an amazing vibraphonist; such energy and hard bop swing.  This is a cut from his second album:

“Soul Sister” composed by Wolf from Convergence (2016) on Mack Avenue Records — Warren Wolf, vibes; Christian McBride, bass; John Scofield, guitar, Brad Mehldau, piano, and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts.

Freddie Hubbard.  Authentic hard bop; amazing bowed bass solo from Paul Chambers.

Played. “Asiatic Raes” composed by Hubbard from Goin’ Up (1960) on Blue Note — Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Hank Mobley, tenor; McCoy Tyner, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums

McCoy Tyner.  Tyner’s opening bars are straight blues T-Bone Walker style, but all sweet jazz improvisation.  Listen to this one and then tell me blues is not jazz.  Huh!

“Blues Back” composed by Tyner from The Impulse Story on Impulse — McCoy Tyner, piano, leader; Sonny Stitt, alto; Art Davis, bass; Art Blakey, drums

Oscar Peterson.  A great jazz piano player, full of soul and bebop keyboard runs (jazz music theorists have a word for this).  Scales and chords reek of the blues.  Jazz blues.

“Close your eyes” composed by Peterson from The Jazz Soul of Oscar Peterson (1959) on Verve — Oscar Peterson, piano; Ray Brown, bass; Ed Thigpen, drums

Mose Allison.  Mose is all but known for his vocal jazz/blues, but he is a prolific composer and a piano style that is full of the blues.

“Mojo Woman” composed by Allison from Down Home Piano (1957) on Prestige — Mose Allison, piano; Addison Farmer, bass; Nick Stabulas, drums

Herbie Mann.  Herbie’s popularity began to wan in the seventies after a prolific and successful recording run during the sixties, in spite of the decline of jazz commercially.  Besides Mann’s ridiculously crazy flute work, this particular tune, as well as other cuts on the album, features blues guitarist Duane Allman who takes a couple of rock/blues sounding solos.

“Funky Nassau” composed by Ray Munnings, Tyrone Fitzgerald from Push (1971) on Embryo Records — Herbie Mann, flute, leader; Duanne Allman, guitar solo; Richard Tee, electric piano; Jerry Jemmott, bass; Bernard Purdie, drums

Dave Pike.  A hugely talented, but largely unknown bop vibraphonist.  Mallet madness!

“Cheryl” composed by Charlie Parker from It’s time for dave pike (1961) on Riverside — Dave Pike, vibes, leader; Barry Harris, piano; Reggie Workman, bass; Billy Higgins, drums

Carl Allen & Rodney Whitaker. Carl Allen is a highly respected drummer who has played with hard bop heavyweights Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Art Farmer, George Coleman and others.  Here in teams with Rodney Whitaker for some “soul-inflected” jazz.

“Get Ready” composed by Robinson from Get Ready — Carl Allen, drums; Rodney Whitaker, bass; Steve Wison, alto; Rodney Jones, guitar; Dorsey Robinson, organ

Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller.  For what ever reason, jazz fusion, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Fender basses, the jazz bass of the 21st century has evolved even more into a solo instrument capable.  Two bassists who have been a part of this new evolution of the electric bass, Marcus Miller and Mitchell Coleman, Jr., illustrate the amazing versatility of the instrument.  First Miller (great guitar solo chops from Adam Agati):

“Detroit” composed by Miller from RENAISSANCE (2012) on Concord — Marcus Miller, bass, leader; Alex Han, alto; Maurice Brown, trumpet; Adam Agati, guitar; Fender Rhodes, Kris Bowers; Louis Cato, drums;

Mitchell Coleman Jr.  Coleman takes the “funky” style bass to a new level here:

“So Funky” composed by Mitchell Coleman, Jr. from Perception — Mitchell Coleman Jr., bass, leader; Mochael Bolivar, tenor; Josh Sklair, guitar; James Gadson, drums

Pepper Adams Quintet. 

“The Long Two/Four” composed by Donald Byrd from 10 to 4 at the 5 spot (1958) on Riverside — Pepper Adams, baritone, leader; Donald Byrd, trumpet; Bobby Timmons, piano; Doug Watkins, bass; Elvin Jones, drums

Willis Jackson.

“Crying” composed by Jackson from Mellow Blues (1970) on UpFront — Willis Jackson, tenor; George Benson, guitar; Dave “Baby” Cortez, organ; Earl Williams, congas and drums

 

 

 

 

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round navajo rug

The Warp and Woof: Round Ganado Rug by Master Weaver, Mary H. Yazzie

Complex music, especially jazz, does not always have to be inaccessible.  There are times when the musician is creative or clever enough to combine the complex with the accessible.

Mal Waldron is one.

Man, that guy can really play piano.  You wouldn’t know it though unless you listened closely to his playing because he’s rarely out front, no matter the setting.  Waldron seems to be perfectly satisfied to lay out behind the soloists.  His introverted playing style is full of  Monk-style spaces and brooding chord voicings, but always with swing.

Waldron’s jazz credentials run deep.  New York City born, he cut his chops with tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec and his band, playing the Cafe Society Downtown (the original renamed nightclub post-1940).  This led to working with Charles Mingus and others, but especially Billie Holiday, who he accompanied from 1957 until her death in 1959.

Waldron was firmly rooted in jazz traditions from an early age.  While serving a two-year stint in the army starting in 1943 stationed at West Point, Waldron had the opportunity to listen to the jazz greats of the time playing on 52nd St. and elsewhere in New York City.

Though he had a straight-ahead jazz background, Waldron’s music has slowly evolved into more experimental and complex kinds of music which were not as commercially viable.  Experimental or free jazz recordings were a risk for record companies.  As it was,  jazz records just weren’t selling very well during the 60s and 70s (jazz record sales had a 1.3 % of the total record sales in 1972; see Fabian Holt‘s Genre in Popular Music ).  Despite the economic challenges that faced Waldron, he continued to successfully perform and record.   By 1972 his music had evolved from the bop of his album Mal-1 (1957) to the avant-garde of Mal Waldron with the Steve Lacy Quintet.  Waldron often played strictly duets (for economic reasons as well as creative) with soprano saxophonist Lacy during the 80s and 90s.

As an example, first here’s Mal Waldron’s “Transfiguration” with Idrees Sulieman on trumpet and Gigi Gryce on alto, from the 1957 album Mal-1:

And here’s Waldron almost thirty years later with Steve Lacy in a duet setting, a live recording of Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” at the 1984 Berlin Jazz Festival:

While obviously radically different tonally and rhythmically, there is an experimental quality to the music that they both share.

Scott Yanow describes Waldron’s music as falling somewhere between hard bop and avant-garde.  The thing about avant-garde jazz is that it can scare off jazz newcomers.  Avant-garde jazz with its atonal and grating sounds can rattle the nerves of the most well-informed jazz fan.  With hard bop, at least you don’t need to understand what your listening to in order to enjoy it.  It just sounds good.  But maybe the fact that it “just sounds good” is not the only goal for the musician. Both listener and musician have different jazz expectations.

The other night when I played “Warp and Woof” a Waldron’s composition from his 1961 album Quest it occurred is a good example of how jazz can combine the complex and accessible, like the “warp and woof” of a woven piece of fabric. What Waldron manages to accomplish with “Warp and Woof” is to weave his “experimental” jazz into a context of more traditional jazz stylings.  Listen to “Warp and Woof.”  Mal Waldron is on piano with Booker Ervin, tenor, Eric Dolphy, alto, bassist Ron Carter on cello, Joe Benjamin, bass and Charles Persip on drums:

Jazz thrives on that which is fresh, original, innovating, therefore, ensuring that as an art form, jazz will continue to improvise, to evolve, to change, maybe into something brand new, otherwise, it wouldn’t be jazz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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