Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Kingdom to the Keys

Welcome to Sunday, and as promised a tribute to a revolutionary figure who passed away at 89 earlier this month, after essentially altering the DNA of the mind of the world.
To say that today's honored guest stood apart from the entirety of not just his contemporaries, but from all musicians in all of music history, sounds like hyperbole. Sometimes when I say stuff like that it is. Today? Not so much.
I was introduced to his music during my first weekend in California in 1990, when I stayed in the house of one of his most devoted disciples. Who regaled me with tales of following the man around the country, seeing every single concert he gave for years.
There's no argument that this music is not for everyone and you're not gonna see the Aguileras and the Fergies covering his tunes anytime soon. In fact, it is not an exaggeration in the slightest to say that today's honoree made Art that ranks high on the list of All-Time Most Challenging Shit.
The thing is, it becomes less so if you change your perspective willingly when you come to it. If you make up your mind that what you are hearing is not someone trying to "play the piano" in the normal ways we have all been taught are correct, but who is approaching it from the idea that it's an 88-keyed tuned percussion orchestra.
Yes, an orchestra as played by Thelonious Monk, if you transplanted the brain of Anton Webern into his head with a new, miracle surgery technique.
He used to say he realized early on he'd not be copying anyone. Over a career spanning seven decades, he didn't. Even once.
I find it sad that our world stopped producing iconoclast icons like this guy, and the music industry can't accommodate anything outside the lines of a toddler's coloring book anymore. Oh well, at least we still have 44 different kinds of Cheetos in the grocery store. That's what's really important, right?
Truthfully I could never really get into his ensemble material; it's got too much going on for even me to follow and I suspect it will take millennia for humans to evolve their consciousness to where it will seem comprehensible.
For me, it's his solo improvisational concerts that fly the flag of other worlds and universes. If you're interested in really honing in on the nuances of his conception and melodic/rhythmic choices, that's the place to go IMO.
And that's why I chose only black and white pictures for this post: the color of the keys of a piano. Because if you're gonna pay homage to a legendary lion of sound like Cecil Taylor, who redefined perhaps the most difficult instrument to render cliché-free into an almost brand new and distinct idiom all his own, then I think that's a statement worth making.
Cecil Taylor
Gro§er Sendesaal des WDR
Köln, Germany

01 Behdet/Falling Leaf/Stasis/Aha (Attacca)
02 Chorus Sud/Bells Wept at Crossing/Perspera

Total time: 1:51:57
disc break goes after Track 01

Cecil Taylor - piano

delicious and exquisite pre-broadcast reels from German WDR radio
This is two hours of the real... for my non-existent money it's likely the best unissued CT solo excursion, and it's recorded real swell by the art of German engineering at the WDR as well. What is so hip about this one is the propensity he keeps showing for slipping in these quaint, still, sort of lyrical passages into the maelstrom.
There are points in this immaculate concert -- probably one of my 20 favorite bootlegs of all time -- where it sounds as if someone scored out the music in Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert, tore it up into one-note pieces, and reassembled it back together at random.
So this concludes April for me, but I shall return to you soon -- provided the 101 degree fever I've had since Tuesday doesn't boil me alive -- and we shall dance about the Maypole to a heady tune or twelve. But for now you better get on your knees and thank Providence the Universe produced someone like Cecil Taylor.  And that your lifetime somehow, of all the lifetimes that ever were, found a way to overlap with his.--J.
3.15.1929 – 4.5.2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

Ace Odyssey

Hey there, sports fans! I know this isn't what's expected of me, but honestly fuck what's expected of me. In the ass. With several, simultaneous chainsaws.
I pride myself on this sort of thing, you know. The only music blog on the web that gives you unissued material from artists so unrelated they may as well be from different planets.
Wait, did I just say different planets? Somehow I feel this leads well into today's very special birthday spaceboy.
I remember well the day in 1983 he drove his new DeLorean past my old house, the wrong way, on the Grand Central Parkway. If you'd have told me then he'd live to be 67 years old, I'd have asked where you had got a hold of that newfangled freebase stuff.
But he was cognitive enough to figure it out, and he ended up making that day the first one of the rest of his life.
It's very telling to me, that this guy was and is the only KISS alumnus to have a shred of solo success. Very many of their best tunes are his as well.
It makes sense, as his songs were easily their realest ones. The only ones with vices -- Cold Gin and black leather, for instance -- other than groupie sex anyway. I am of the mind, and have been since we were kids and they were everywhere, that they only got out of the Diplomat Hotel Ballroom because of his playing and writing.
He was smart about quitting them, too. He made a deal that as long as he did not release a solo record before 1985, he would get a quarter share of the profits from their music and ubiquitous merchandizing.
I mean, anyone who can jack Gene Simmons out of that much cash has to have something happening between the ears, amirite?
When he got sober and put a band together, he was immediately rewarded with, as I said, the biggest and most consistent solo success of any of his former bandmates.
And today he is 67. Shock me, indeed.
I bet he has some of the most interesting and hilarious rock-n-roll stories of almost anyone currently still alive.
All part of the Rocket Ride that has been and is the life and times of Paul "Ace" Frehley, born this day in 1951 in The Bronx and ever rocking on, thankfully.
Hey, he's even got a new number about his birthplace, the same one as my parents! I think this just came out today, for his b'day.
For sharing today we have pulled out, dusted off and cranked up a full 1987 Frehley's Comet set from the Summerfest in Milwaukee.
Frehley's Comet
Milwaukee, WI

01 Rip It Out
02 Stranger In a Strange Land
03 Something Moved
04 Cold Gin
05 Love Me Right
06 Into the Night
07 New York Groove
08 Rock Soldiers
09 Breakout
10 Shock Me/Ace solo
11 Calling to You
12 We Got Your Rock
13 Deuce
14 Rocket Ride 

Total time: 1:17:19

Ace Frehley - guitar, vocals 
Tod Howarth - guitar, vocals 
John Regan - bass, vocals
Billy Ward - drums 

master FM cassette capture
I shall return soon with something completely different, because that's all I want expected of me. But for today, let's get in the New York Groove with the Space Ace and celebrate his big day like true Rock Soldiers, shall we?--J.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Perfect Tenor: Ode for Joe

OK, let's get back to it with this 81st birthday tribute to one of the all-time Jazz titans ever to blow.
Today's honoree is someone I saw play countless times when he was here, and who never failed to even appear as if he was gonna fail to deliver the goods.
How many sessions did he play on? How many LPs did he lead? I would tell you but I can't count that high, either.
One thing I have always adored about Jazz is the quotes a soloist references, little melodic fragments of other tunes they work into their expression. This guy may have been the All-Time Galactic Champion of that... we called him Jukebox Joe and he probably knew how to play every song ever written.
Easily one of the most elegantly lyrical and melodically masterful soloists on any instrument in any kind of music, I can recall several shows when people were reduced to tears in his presence. The good kind.
He's been gone more than 15 years now, can you believe that? I remember the last time I saw him, at Kimball's East in Oakland for a benefit to buy a new liver for Billy Higgins. That was a night for the ages.
There isn't a whole lot more to say except that Joe Henderson -- born this day in 1937 -- was and is one of the five greatest tenor saxophonists in the history of Jazz.
The others, like 'Trane and Newk and Bean and Prez and them, might be more prominent and have cool nicknames to distinguish them. 
But Joe is Joe and he belongs in their conversation, because IMO he took what they had laid down as foundation and synthesized it into a 360 degree expression of the possibilities of the tenor sax that straddled all the lines between the Bop, Hard Bop, Soul Jazz and even the Free strains that predominated his heyday.
For his 81st I have assembled what else but a pair of hourlong radio concerts from way back in 1977, that see Joe and his cohorts setting the standard in real time.
Joe Henderson
1977 FMs
Hermosa Beach, California

01 Leonard Feather intro+band introductions
02 Black Narcissus
03 'Round Midnight
04 Relaxin' at Camarillo 
05 Invitation 
06 Leonard Feather outro 

Total time: 59:32

Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
George Cables - piano, electric piano 
Steve Erquiaga - guitar 
Ratzo Harris - bass 
Mike Hyman - drums 

master reel of one of the first NPR "Jazz Alive!" broadcasts, verrry slightly remastered by EN
De Boerenhofstede
Laren, The Netherlands

01 Afro-Centric
02 announcement+band introductions
03 Good Morning Heartache
04 announcement+JH interview
05 Recorda Me/announcement

Total time: 55:52

Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
Steve Erquiaga - guitar
Ratzo Harris - bass
Mike Hyman - drums

mono capture of an original 1977 Dutch Radio broadcast, verrrrrry slightly remastered by EN

both shows zipped together
I shall return on Friday with something really unexpected and loud, but for now it's time for you to spend your Tuesday in the company of Joe Henderson, who'd have been 81 today but whose influence on other reed-shattering players will last another 81,000 years.--J.
4.24.1937 - 6.30.2001

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I Wanna Be Your Blog: Stooge Is In the Heart

All right, I'm not wearing any clothes right now, so this should be good. This page doesn't just give you Symphonic Prog one day and its avowed arch-enemy the next, it gives it to you all sexy like.
Can you believe this motherfucker is 71? With the body of a 21-year-old. And the soul of a galaxy of shirtless, buffed out warrior princes.
Really he has lasted this long in this sort of pristine condition for a lot of reasons, but getting off hard drugs in the 1970s and several stints since hasn't hurt. 
Both he and Bowie -- he's somewhere hidden in these words, see if you can find him -- would surely not have seen 30 if they had not teamed up to kick their demonic powder enthusiasms back then.
But back to the beginning... I'm buck nekkid and distracted right now, and have been pecking away at this post like bits of antipasto at the buffet for several hours, so we need to keep this shit linear right now.
So once upon a time Rock was born and soon there came the Hippies. They were somewhat of a tawdry lot, and muttered a whole lot about concepts of social healing they had little real intent of following through upon, beyond not being sent to be vaporized in a steamy jungle hellscape so that rich and unattractively hefty men could become fatter and yet wealthier.
These regularly unwashed denizens were to be found in every city at one time about 50 years ago. Even Detroit had them. They sang songs and played music about peace, love, and a state of human harmony the world had never seen. And still hasn't. And won't.
Some of the less easily-deluded young people back then began to become annoyed with the blathering, Utopia-before-4:20-today Hippies. They were more inclined to sing about subjects by which the Hippies were simultaneously repulsed and fascinated, because the Hippies were as phony and as quintessentially human as the annoyed singing people thought. And more.
Long story short, the annoyed folks started to roll the spiked ball down the road and it eventually became this thing called Punk Rock. 
It's probably saved the lives of more disaffected young people since the ball was first rolled, by annoyed folks like today's birthday boy -- notably born the day following 4/20, like an answer to the question of what happens when the happy Hippie herbs wear off -- than any musical genre or social movement you could name. Only Hip-Hop comes close for sheer grassroots, you-can-do-it ethos and effect.
There are a few who sit in the "Irritated By The Hippies And Not Shy About It" Hall of Fame. There are fewer still who can legitimately lay claim to have not just rolled the ball first, but invented the ball.
 This guy is in that conversation, and has been since he initially picked up the ball and tried to peg the Hippies in their smug, patchoulied faces with it 50 years ago or so. 
He still does it at a level that would surely instantly kill a man less ready to die for Rock 'n' Roll than James Newell Osterberg, of course known by his considerably more concise stage name of Iggy Pop.
If you aren't an animated corpse dead at 25 and buried at 75, you know who he is. I've just spent the last several days prepping this little tribute aggregation, so it's time to divide by eleven, cut the chatter and spin the platter once again.
Iggy Pop
Agora Metro Cirkus
Agora Ballroom
Cleveland, OH

01 Raw Power
02 1969
03 Turn Blue
04 Sister Midnight
05 I Need Somebody
06 Search & Destroy
07 TV Eye
08 Dirt
09 Funtime
10 Gimme Danger
11 No Fun
12 I Wanna Be Your Dog

Total time: 52:22

Iggy Pop - vocals
David Bowie - piano, vocals
Ricky Gardiner - guitar
Stacey Hayden - guitar
Hunt Sales - drums
Tony Sales - bass, vocals
Scott Thurston - synthesizer, bass, guitar, harmonica, piano, keyboards, vocals

possibly a preFM cassette, sourced from an unauthorized 2004 CD "Sister Midnight" on Anarchy Records; 
slightly remastered by EN, April 2018 
Cabaret Metro
Chicago, IL

01 WXRT/Bill Cochran intro
02 Instinct
03 Kill City
04 1969
05 Penetration
06 Power and Freedom
07 Shake Appeal
08 High On You
09 Five Foot One
10 The Passenger
11 Easy Rider
12 1970
13 Search & Destroy
14 Cold Metal
15 Squarehead
16 No Fun
17 I Wanna Be Your Dog
18 WXRT/Bill Cochran outro

Total time: 1:04:54

Iggy Pop - vocals & guitar 
Seamus Beachen - keyboards, guitar & vocals
Alvin Gibbs - bass 
Paul Garisto - drums 
Andy McCoy - guitar

master DAT of a WXRT-FM "Budweiser Sunday Night Concert" broadcast from the Krw_co collection;
start of Track 02 & end of Track 13 patched by EN using a master cassette FM capture
Stockholm, Sweden

01 No Shit/Español 
02 Raw Power 
03 Search & Destroy 
04 Real Wild One 
05 I Wanna Be Your Dog 
06 I Felt the Luxury 
07 Home 
08 The Passenger 
09 Cold Metal 
10 TV Eye 
11 I Got a Right 
12 No Fun 

Total time: 54:22

Iggy Pop - vocals & guitar 
Hal Cragin - bass 
Alex Kirst - drums 
Whitey Kirst - guitar
Pete Marshall - guitar

sounds like a master DAT or digicapture from analog FM; slightly remastered by EN, April 2018

all three shows zipped together
These burning, committed radio sets -- remastered and repaired by me -- tell the tale in increments of 11 better than my naked ass ever could in increments of 1, so click that link if you wanna get into some of that Raw Power like only Iggy can plug into.
I shall return Tuesday with something entirely different yet somehow kind of the same, but if you're not The Idiot you'll pump these puppies down and let 'em fuck up your weekend real nice, trust me. And obviously it's all in homage to Iggy Pop, born this day in 1947 and still searching and destroying.--J.