Sunday, January 31, 2021

Art of Glass

As promised, we're finishing off the year's opening month with the second of two Phils.

Today's birthday person was born in 1937, and is thankfully still a force.

He is a testimony to what can happen if you're lucky enough to grow up hanging out at your dad's record shop, which when he was a child was the hippest spot in Baltimore.

And also if you're fortunate enough to spend a good chunk of the 1960s studying composition and composers with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

Upon return from Europe, he began to fashion compositions built from repetition.

As this movement grew around him, it came to be called Minimalism.

Now, decades later, this is a fully functional genre of music, and has spread its influence across many different forms where less can be called upon to be more.

In those intervening decades, Philip Glass has scored multiple films -- including classics like Mishima and the Qatsi trilogy -- as well as ballets, TV shows, operas, and of course his very distinctive Ensemble pieces.
Almost universally thought of as the most influential composer of the second half of the 20th Century, it's nearly impossible to conceive of modern music at all without his contributions and the framework he made permissible.

Let's celebrate his 84th b'day with this incredible concert he gave in Vienna in the early 1980s, as part of the big record company push to get his music crossed over to huge sales. It almost worked!

The Philip Glass Ensemble
Großer Konzertsaal
Vienna, Austria

01 Dance 1 (Field with Spaceship) (from "Einstein On the Beach," Act II, Scene 1)
02 Floe (from "Glassworks")
03 The Grid (from "Koyaanisqatsi")
04 Rubric (from "Glassworks")
05 Façades  (from "Glassworks")
06 Act I: A Gentleman's Honor (from "The Photographer")
07 Act III (from "The Photographer")
08 Spaceship (from "Einstein On the Beach," Act 4, Scene 3)

Total time: 1:23:21
disc break goes after Track 04

The Philip Glass Ensemble: 
Philip Glass - synthesizer
Michael Riesman - keyboards & bass synthesizer 
Marin Alsop - violin 
Jon Gibson - flute & soprano saxophone
Jack Kripl - flute, piccolo, soprano & baritone saxophones
Dora Ohrenstein - soprano & Emulator synthesizer
Richard Peck - flute & alto & tenor saxophones
Brian Zeger - keyboards
Kurt Munkacsi - live sound mix
Dan Dryden - sound assistant & recording

sounds like a master off-air FM reel of the complete broadcast, deglitched and denoised by an unspecified soundperson

This performance sees The PG Ensemble in absolute, commanding full flight and features some of the man's most iconic and representative compositions. 
It's also about as delicious an off-air FM capture as you're gonna get, especially since someone (not sure who) took the effort to clean it up into its Sunday best.

So that does it for January! Now I'm off to figure out February, but before I go I wanted to thank you all for reading my page and wish Maestro Philip Glass the greatest of all birthdays!--J.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Septuagenesis: Phil Collins 70

Let's start the last January blasts with back-to-back Phils.
We'll kick it off with one of those figures that gets a bad rap sometimes, but for all the wrong reasons.
There was a time when this guy was everywhere. You'd tune the radio, and every song would be him, whether on his own or as part of Genesis. You'd put on the TV and there he would be, on Miami Vice.
I think that ubiquity is what drove the antipathy towards him. But -- latter day pop radio saturation notwithstanding -- don't let popularity deter you from the mark of obvious and lasting quality.
It wasn't always that way. In a way he's the Karen Carpenter of Prog Rock, and might have rather been left to the security and comfort of the drums.
Like her, they had to pry him out from the backline, originally. No less than 400 singers were auditioned when Peter Gabriel bailed on the (just beginning to break through to big success) band for his then-prematurely-newborn twins, and fully zero made sense.
He had no inkling of where the move out front would lead; he was just trying to save the group he was in, whom the music press had pronounced all but dead.
Poor guy keeps getting hurt too, had to retire from drumming a decade plus ago. Then he fell in the bathroom and almost broke his face.
At age 20, he lounged in Gabriel's parents' pool like a tiger waiting to strike, memorizing the whole record they wanted him to play to whilst letting all the other auditioners flail their way off the gig.
Now, 50 years later, he's 70 and still one of the most recognizable faces in the world.
But for me, what sets Phil Collins -- born this very day in 1951 -- apart is what he did behind the kit.
His drumming in Genesis is what made them anything at all. Those early records would have had no drive, no funk, and no chance without his wildcard, Big Band-on-psychedelia percussion factor.
Then there's those Brian Eno albums.
Originally sent to the studio for Eno to play with as payment for dude semi-producing several tracks on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, what ended up getting to tape for those LPs is now considered some of the greatest music ever made, and that's in no small part due to what our b'day boy is putting down.
Here's probably the greatest unissued concert of him, from the first tour he was on his own. All the great divorce songs, played by a motherfucker band and broadcast on King Biscuit.
Phil Collins
Perkins Palace
Pasadena, California USA

01 I Don't Care Anymore
02 I Cannot Believe It's True
03 This Must Be Love
04 Through These Walls
05 I Missed Again
06 Behind the Lines
07 You Know What I Mean
08 The Roof Is Leaking
09 Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away

01 band introductions
02 The West Side
03 In the Air Tonight
04 Like China
05 You Can't Hurry Love
06 It Don't Matter to Me
07 Hand In Hand
08 ...And So to F... 
09 People Get Ready 

Total Time: 1:35:31

Phil Collins – vocals, electric piano, drums & percussion
Daryl Stuermer – guitar & banjo
Mo Foster – bass
Peter Robinson – keyboards & vocoder
Chester Thompson – drums & percussion
The Phenix Horns:
Rahmlee Michael Davis – trumpet, percussion & vocals
Michael Harris – trumpet, percussion & vocals
Don Myrick – saxophones, percussion & vocals
Louis Satterfield – trombone, percussion & vocals

the spectral analysis goes way above 20 kHz, and it's totally devoid of vinyl surface noise 
this could be a CD of a complete pre-broadcast source of this DIR "Supergroups In Concert" program, minus the FM DJ chatter
first broadcast 4.16.1983, although there might have been a live FM broadcast as this show happened
microgaps at start and end of tracks removed by EN, January 2021
I will be back in 24 hours with Phil #2... and no, it isn't Phil Manzanera, even though he and Phil Collins were somehow born on consecutive days.
So this is a weekend to get thy Phil, and I hope this vintage pre-broadcast-sourced show starts it off in fine fashion. Oh and of course Happy Birthday PC!!--J.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Derek B. Is President

We'll follow the birthday of one paradigm-shattering guitarist with another, then.

The two could not be more different: one played all the notes, where this one tried to break the instrument free of the concept of "notes" entirely.

As extreme an avatar of the 1960s cultural revolution as ever existed, today's b'day boy began as a traditional Jazz guitarist before deciding that the role and expectations of the instrument were just too facile and limiting.

He began to explore a music completely broken from traditional forms, which as the Sixties progressed came to be termed non-idiomatic improvisation.

Flowing alongside the Free Jazz sounds of the time, these explorations created a whole tide of experiments in totally free improv that continue to the present day... essentially an entire genre of music sprang from the brain of today's hero.

In 1980, he set his ideas down in a book, which became a Bible for improvisers of all stripes from regular 1-4-5 Blues people to Jazz cats to everybody else.

It was translated into a whole slew of languages and is now a textbook in music schools and even in some high school music programs. I read it in my 20s and it changed my whole perspective on what music was and could be.

His music isn't for everyone. It might be the least tonal music ever attempted on an instrument usually prized and fetishized for its easy access to tones.

A great pathway into the universe of Derek Bailey -- born this day in 1930 -- is to be exposed to him in a more traditional context, where he can be heard doing his (recognizable by one scrape) thing surrounded by sounds a bit more familiar to the ear.

Take this (omg!! it's a beastly bitch) hour of insanity, stemming from one of bass & producer supremo Bill Laswell's rotating projects of the 1990s.

This one has Laswell himself manning the low end, plus his pal DJ Disk scratching away at the contents of his trusty vinyl crate and drum deity par excellence Jack DeJohnette supplying the grooves... with Derek Bailey going out of his mind over the top of it all for the whole set.

If I had to describe this show, I'd say this is what it might have sounded like if DB had been the guitarist on Bitches Brew, and not John McLaughlin! I hear you laugh, but you ain't gonna be laughing long once you paste your ears to this particular brand of marvelous mayhem.

Bill Laswell's Transmutations
28th Deutsches Jazzfestival Frankfurt
HR Sendesaal
Frankfurt, Germany

01 What's the Day Today? I
02 What's the Day Today? II
03 What's the Day Today? III
04 drum solo
05 What's the Day Today? IV
06 What's the Day Today? V
07 What's the Day Today? VI

Total time: 53:56

Bill Laswell - bass
Derek Bailey - guitar
Jack DeJohnette - drums
DJ Disk - turntables

448/48 audio extracted from a digital satellite TV broadcast on the Alpha channel
spectral analysis goes strong to 20 kHz, so this is equivalent to a preFM source
converted to 16/44 CD Audio and tracks (arbitrarily) indexed by EN, January 2021
this music is 100% improvised

This headnodic hour has circulated for years as a hissy FM capture missing the first few moments of the set. But because it deserves better than that, I took the liberty of busting out the .ts file of a capture of the accompanying video, which was broadcast on European satellite TV and had an alternate audio stream that went to 20 kHz in the spectral analysis, making it essentially equivalent to a pre-FM source.

Before I forget, in 1992 the Improvisation book was made into a four-hour BBC-TV series that is seriously hard-to-find, and begs for a real reissue harder than a crackhead at the rock spot. This (yes, it's indispensible to the power of essential) show can be watched here.
Anyways like I said, if you don't know Derek Bailey -- he'd have been 91 today -- this is a great set to wet your toes. If you already know him, this is a superior-sounding document of one of his finest -- and funkiest --  hours. Either way, it's the perfect thanks for the life of this seminal player and theoretician, who in turn enriched the lives of so many people with his unprecedented and essential ideas.--J.

1.29.1930 - 12.25.2005