Thursday, September 29, 2022

Open Strings Eternal: Jean-Luc Ponty 80

Jean-Luc Ponty - Flipping, pt.1

All righty then, it's time we wrapped up September -- and said "so long" to summer -- with this milestone Maestro's big b'day.

He's been around a long, long time, and in the process he's become perhaps the premier exponent of his instrument in this era.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, he brought a kind of be-bop tinge to his phrasing that almost instantly and singlehandedly brought the violin into the post-bop era.

He first recorded with legends Stuff Smith and Stephane Grappelli, but quickly fell into a partnership with Frank Zappa, who would influence him to emigrate to the US.

Recordings with FZ and as a leader followed, and eventually he ended up as part of Zappa's touring group for a time in 1973.

Of course he wouldn't be Zappa if he didn't lose his best players to bigger, more commercially successful bands, so it was inevitable that our birthday boy would split Zappa to join John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1974.

Then he made more records as a leader, and immediately became too huge to be someone else's violinist any longer.

He's led his own multi-platinum bands ever since, and for a time was the rare Jazz artist whose music could cross over to more lucrative pastures on the charts and so forth.

He's still at it, and as far as I know he still tours and records both on his own and with others, playing with everyone from Return to Forever to Jon Anderson.

We shall celebrate the colossus of the violin, Mr. Jean-Luc Ponty, on his big day with a big set that is nearly 50 years old and was in need of a refresh.

This one has circulated for a long time with all sorts of flaws, so I took the time this past week to freshen it up and set it into a more listenable, less bootleggy state.

In addition to JLP, watch out for keys whiz Jasper van't Hof, who just blows up the room using only an electric piano and some sort of organ for dynamite sticks.

Jean-Luc Ponty Quartet
Die Glocke
Bremen, Germany
01 Circles/Open Strings
02 How Would You Like to Have a Head Like That?
03 Flipping, pt. 1
04 Flipping, pts. 2 & 3

Total time: 1:05:36

Jean-Luc Ponty - violin 
Jasper van't Hof - keyboards
Henry Texier - bass
Aldo Romano - drums

mono FM reels from an unidentified WDR broadcast
somewhat declicked, volume adjusted and retracked -- with some dropouts repaired -- by EN, September 2022
301 MB FLAC/direct link

So there goes September with five white guys! I'll return in a couple of days to put the deep freeze on that pattern... as the great Don Cornelius might say, you can bet your last money on it.

Now head over to the big archive folder and listen to Jean-Luc -- born this day in 1942 -- make it so for these 65 minutes of funky fusioneering, will ya?--J.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Extemporal Lobe: Lol Coxhill 90

Lol Coxhill - Sextet

We're back, and we're hoping your weekend was as spontaneous as today's birthday guy.

He's been dead ten years, but somehow I always find myself looking at the personnel of whatever I am listening to and he's on it.

These free improvisers, it's hard sometimes to distinguish them in the non-idiomatic, extemporaneous context, which can often resemble a cacaphonous maelstrom of unrelated sounds to the uninitiated ear.

A few of them are recognizable from a passel of notes or noises, as with Derek Bailey's guitar scrapings or Evan Parker's half-hour-long, circular breathing displays.

None more so than Lol Coxhill, perhaps along with Steve Lacy the primary exponent of the soprano saxophone since Coltrane.... and no, Kenny G doesn't count.

What I adore about the music of Lol Coxhill is the playfulness of it. The free improv stuff sometimes lacks that and takes itself so seriously, but his stuff always retains a sense of fun and of the wonder and joy of being alive.

If I had to boil it down to one word, that word would be humor.

If you love or are at all interested in the free improvising scene -- especially in the UK -- of the last 50 years, it's nearly impossible to avoid him.

Anyway he'd have been a big 90 today, and I've always wanted to have him on here despite the fact that unissued recordings of him are kind of scarce.

But here's one! So well captured by RAI Radio 3 too, with all the elements that make Lol Coxhill a giant in this kind of musical expression.

Lol Coxhill
Centro Produzione Radiofonica
Sala A
Via Asiago
Rome, Italy

01 Solo
02 Quartet
03 Trio
04 Sextet

Total time: 51:45
all titles are fully improvised

Lol Coxhill - soprano & sopranino saxophones
Roberto Bellatalla - bass (Tracks 02 & 04)
Luca Venitucci - piano & accordion (Tracks 02 & 04)
Luca Tilli - cello (Tracks 02 & 04)
Mike Cooper - guitar & electronics (Tracks 03 & 04) 
Fabrizio Spera - drums & percussion (Tracks 03 & 04)

pre-FM reels of an "Il Cartellone - Suite Jazz" broadcast on Italian Radio 3, presumably sourced from the RAI archives
diginoises at the end of all tracks removed by EN, September 2022
337 MB FLAC/direct link

I shall return with one more super milestone birthday -- this one's still alive and kicking! -- towards the end of the month.

Until then, I hope you find this lovely Lol Coxhill tape -- he was born this day in 1932, you know -- your cup of tea, and it finds you Frog Dancing with the stars for the rest of September!--J.

9.19.1932 - 7.10.2012

Friday, September 16, 2022

The Hum of All Spheres


Keith Jarrett - Stockholm Spheres (excerpt)

I know I've covered him something like 677 out of the 705 posts I have done over these last 9 years, but these concerts are too good not to celebrate on their 50th anniversary, so here we go again I guess.

These were taped in September of 1972 and document the destruction when Keith Jarrett met one of his first ancient church organs, as well as one of his first well-recorded forays into the solo piano improvisations for which he would soon become legendary.

I love the organ music of KJ because he is so adamant about his distaste for electric instruments, making a non-electronic pipe organ like this a great middle ground for him to elicit crazy, modern-sounding textures without the use of the power grid.

Full disclosure: my all time favorite album of this guy is Hymns/Spheres, his only all-church-organ platter. When I saw it reissued in the record store they almost had to restrain me.

The idea that this live preview of that LP was captured and broadcast makes me shiver with delight.

And not only did those swanky Swedes at Sveriges Radio pipe out the night of organissimo in question 50 years ago, they had the unparalleled good sense to hump their gear over to the Dramaten -- that's a big, famous theatre in Stockholm -- to grab the man spinning a grand piano on his fingers the next evening.

Spin he does, with a 45-minute whirlwind tour through dynamics that go from a tinkly Bill Evans whisper to a full Fats Waller striding scream and back again.

Then, just when you think he's blown your mind enough, and he's displayed enough talent in one weekend to make Harry Styles think about getting a day job, he returns for an encore with a flute in hand.

All in all, that's two nights and two broadcasts of what music's all about, if you ask me.

Keith Jarrett
Stockholm 1972

(Church of Saint Nicholas)
Stockholm, Sweden

01 Stockholm Spheres

Total time: 42:06

Keith Jarrett - organ

Swedish radio broadcast of unknown generation and capture, remastered and pitch corrected by pervesser goody, March 2022

Stockholm, Sweden

01 Dramaten I: piano
02 Dramaten II: flute

Total time: 50:23

Keith Jarrett - piano & flute

digital capture of a 2015 Sveriges Radio rebroadcast
somewhat denoised, volume boosted +3 dB and retracked by EN, September 2022
248 and 212 MB respectively/direct link

I shall return on Monday with a big birthday bash for someone that gets almost no notoriety, but whose fingerprints are all over a lot of the music I adore.

I'll see you then, after you're through anniversarizing with these stellar Swedish sets of sumptuousness from Keith Jarrett here, who is thankfully still very much alive... and perhaps wondering what show of his I'll be putting up next month, despite my empty protestations of non-repetition.--J.

Friday, September 09, 2022

Ad Ashra: Manuel Göttsching 70

Manuel Göttsching - Shuttlecock

Sorry this is late, but I fell asleep.

But hey! This birthday boy knows something about delay.

Analog delay, digital delay.... he is a delay expert, I'd say.

In fact, his music is among the most, well, loopy of the last 50 years.

For beginning in the early 1970s, he has been one of the foremost practitioners of self-accompaniment our era has yet seen.

He came to attention first as part of a group, which gradually shed members until he went fully solo.

This band -- first called Ash Ra Tempel and eventually simply Ashra -- set the template for the sort of repetitiously sublime, intertwining loopscape sound that we take for granted now, but which then was the bleeding edge of the burgeoning technology and the approach to it.

He's been a part of things since those days -- let's face it, so much of the guitar-looping tech that exists today is a thing because of streams that he began -- and often still tours with others as Ash Ra Tempel in addition to his own solo shows and recordings.

Speaking of solo shows, here's an unusual one for me.

Unusual in that you had to wait 9 years and 700+ posts for me to put up an audience tape!
Of course it was captured by someone who got themselves right up to the front-center of the stage, and they did such a killer job that had I not told you that it was not a soundboard grab, you may never have been the wiser.

Especially after I ran it through the Pixie Dust Generator to get some more highs back into it.

Manuel Göttsching
Supersense Festival 2015
The Arts Centre
Melbourne, Australia

01 Sunrain
02 MG talk
03 Shuttlecock
04 MG talk
05 Die Mulde
06 MG talk
07 Deep Distance
08 MG talk & thanks

Total time: 1:00:53

Manuel Göttsching - guitar, keyboards & electronics

truly exceptional stereo Core Sound mics audience capture from belly-up to the stage, front & center, by Jim Cooke
remastered by EN, September 2022
344 MB FLAC/direct link

I'll return next weekend with a 50th anniversary organ of admittance guaranteed to put your head out among the spheres.

OK? See you then and of course the bestest b'day (and many more) to loopmaestro Manuel Göttsching here, born this day in 1952 and continuously revolving around the sunrain as we all echo off into the inevitable infinite.--J.