Thursday, June 20, 2024

Picker Perfect: Chet Atkins 100

Chet Atkins - Don't Monkey 'Round My Widder (with Doc Watson)

Would you just behold that? The Blogger code is apparently repaired, so let's get down to centennial time, wanna?

Today's happy hundred belongs to a guitar slinger for the epochs, imitated by all but equaled by few.

Heralded as the man who brought Travis picking into the pop and rock guitar vocabulary, this Country Gentleman from Clinch Mountain, Tennessee was a central luminary figure in the foundations of what we now call Americana.

Back in the day, at its infancy, it was called The Nashville Sound and it helped bring Country music into the modern communications age.

Idolized by innumerable guitarists of all genres, from Paul McCartney to Steve Howe to Danny Gatton, his relaxed yet devastatingly precise -- and always, always funky as a junebug's underwear -- playing defined a whole area of guitar for millions.

His whole life changed one night listening to the radio in 1939, when the budding guitarist heard Merle Travis and his then-revolutionary picking style, that became an essential approach across so many musical worlds.

He began his ascent on the radio dial in the early 1940s in Knoxville and then Cincinnati, eventually signing to RCA in 1946 after debuting on the Grand Ole Opry with The Carter Family.

Soon he was put in charge of the RCA Nashville studios and began a second career as a sought-after producer, in addition to the myriad hits he had on his own during the 1950s, when his star really took off.

One of the first musos to have his own studio in his home, his career exploded to the heavens after an appearance at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, beginning to cross over into more than just Country climes.

As much a Jazz musician as a Country picker, his Django-inflected stylings affected a whole galaxy of players across the second half of the 20th Century as almost no other.

He passed in 2001 after a career spent seismically altering the fabric and the DNA of the sounds around us.

How do you properly honor a player as far-reaching as Chet Atkins? I've spent the last week working this thing up because 1) there's precious few unissued/archival recordings of him and 2) I remember watching these shows in the 1980s, when they aired.

Chet Atkins
Nashville Now
Gaslight Theater
Opryland, USA
Nashville, Tennessee USA

01 Ready for the Times to Get Better (with Paul Yandell)
02 Harlequin Romance
03 Rocky Top  (with Paul Yandell)
04 Don't Monkey 'Round My Widder (with Doc Watson)
05 Country Pickin' (with Doc Watson)
06 Gallopin' Guitar (with Mark O'Connor & Paul Yandell)
07 House of the Rising Sun (with Mark O'Connor & Paul Yandell)
08 Pickin' with the Wind (with Mark O'Connor & Paul Yandell)
09 Sweet Georgia Brown (with Paul Yandell & Jerry Douglas)
10 Help Me Make It Through the Night
11 Alabama Jubilee (with Bela Fleck & Jerry Douglas)
12 Wildwood Flower (with Steve Warner)
13 Yankee Doodle Dixie
14 Danny Boy
15 The Orange Blossom Special
16 Mr. Bojangles (with Mark O'Connor)
17 Birth of the Blues (with Bela Fleck & Jerry Douglas)
18 Classical Gas 
19 Sails (with Steve Warner)
20 Would Jesus Wear A Rolex?
21 In the Good Old Summertime
22 Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) (with Don McLean)
23 Steeplechase Lane
24 Meet Mister Callaghan
25 Jethro's Tune (with Paul Yandell)
Total time: 1:19:34

Chet Atkins - guitar & vocals throughout, with myriad guests on various stringed instruments and occasional vocals
announcer is Ralph Emery, who if I'm not mistaken was a drug store, truck drivin' man 

320/48k mono audio extracts, from an HD YouTube file, of Chet Atkins' 1980s "Nashville Now" appearances on The Nashville Network
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, compiled, tracked, denoised, repaired & remastered by EN, June 2024
I apologize, but the tape chew issues in a few of the tunes were essentially unfixable 
spectral analysis goes to 20 kHz, so this is more or less equivalent to a preFM source
352 MB FLAC/direct link

These suffer from occasional tape chew in a few places, for which I apologize, but overall the music is exquisitely gorgeous and elegantly rendered, so I strove to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good in this case. You'll note the MC is Ralph Emery, immortalized in song by The Byrds after a notorious 1968 Nashville run-in with the man.

More great than good, these performances illustrate as well as any just what sort of towering figure of the guitar Chet Atkins was and remains, even a quarter century gone. And remember, don't you monkey 'round his widder when he's gone, or he'll haunt your ass!--J.

6.20.1924 - 6.30.2001

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Praxis: Bold As Love

Praxis - Bent Light (The Interworld and the New Innocence)

Hello again and welcome to the June swoonings, whilst I try to navigate the broken Blogger code that has lost almost all normal functionality.

We'll keep this to the point, as this is a group I've covered both individually and collectively before.

This show was issued in 2007 in a completely transmutated, reimagined way, with roughly a third of the music retwisted into a totally different iteration by Bill Laswell, but the raw, 2 1/2 hour opus is so balls-deep intense that it needs to be heard IMO.

There's no need to introduce these four players; they're all galaxy-class voyagers in sound and the noise they make in consort is really like no other aggregation.

I mean Bernie (Worrell), Buckethead, Brain and Bill (Laswell), come on. I remember when the first Praxis record came out and it sounded like it was recorded 1000 years in the future.

If I had to describe this music in words, I'd say it was Miles On The Corner of Titan and Saturn's rings.

So without further adieu, let's cut the chatter and spin the platter of this bad boy's 20th anniversary.

Bonnaroo Festival
Manchester, TN 

01 Bernie Worrell intro
02 Seven Laws of Woo
03 Crash Victim
04 Bent Light (The Interworld and the New Innocence)
05 Spun
06 Magus
07 Buckethead's dance interlude
08 Broken/Fractal (drum solo)
09 Guitar Virus
10 Machine Gun
11 Bernie Worrell organ interlude
12 Maggot Brain
13 Chopper
14 Night of the Slunk
15 Haunted
16 Optic
17 Vertebrae

Total time: 2:26:38
disc break goes after Track 09

Buckethead - guitar
Bill Laswell - bass
Bernie Worrell - keyboards & throne
Brain - drums
Lili Haydn - violin

seems like an unknown gen DAT of the complete concert, recorded from the soundboard
edited for applause, retracked, denoised and remastered by EN, June 2024
858 MB FLAC/direct link
this show was available for a time as a FLAC download back in 2004 on the Bonnaroo website
in 2007, the tapes of this concert were reworked by Bill Laswell into a completely different, reconstructed version, 
which can (and should) be purchased here

I'll return with a wild centennial celebration in a little over a week, by which time I hope against hope this interface will be cured of its disease and I can post normally again. I won't hold my breath, but we can dream, right?

In the mean time, do digest and enjoy this 146 minutes of utter mayhem, courtesy of a truly superb supergroup, and remember: Praxis makes perfect!--J. 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Saturn Day Sun: Marshall Allen 100


Sun Ra Arkestra - Love In Outer Space

We'll end the month in the grandest possible style, with the first centennial I've ever posted on where the person is not only still alive, but constitutes a still-viable creative force in the world even at that advanced age.
I keep wanting these cats to form a band, all the over-90s form their own gang with Roy Haynes on drums, Sonny Rollins on tenor and this guy on alto.
His mentor -- who'd have been 110 three days ago -- has been gone over 30 years now, but don't tell our hero of heroes here, who's ever since been carrying the flame of the music and philosophy of Sun Ra forward into the current millennium as if nothing was amiss whatsoever.
I guess we could say Marshall Allen -- born this day in 1924 and still, somehow, playing gigs all over the world -- has been a pretty significant success as CEO of Outer Spaceways, Inc.
It takes a lot to leave a loudmouth such as I speechless, but this guy summons adjectives that just kind of land where they are, like "unbelievable" and "unprecedented".
I mean, you lead one of the most beloved bands in Jazz history into your hundreds??? What the actual fuzz! They just don't make them like Marshall anymore.
For me, it isn't just that he's still around and playing, that would be insane and stunning enough.
It's that what is still coming out of his horn is as fresh as what someone a third or less of his age might supply. That, my friends, is the kicker.
I saw our centenary sire play live once -- no, twice! -- once at a benefit at the Village Vanguard for Sun Ra's medical expenses back in the early 1990s, and once at Central Park Summerstage in NYC... that was when Sun Ra was still alive and the Arkestra opened for Sonic Youth! For free! Again that adjective of "unbelievable" rears its hyperbolic head.
What do you do for an occasion such as this? Most humans get nowhere near the 100 mark, much less Jazz musicians after a lifetime of recording, touring and surviving and so forth.
I'm sorry, I just can't get my mind over how someone of this vintage leads a huge band that people are invested in for decades upon decades, and handles the touring and musical logistics and so on for the thing as its acknowledged leader and arbiter. I'm past "unbelievable" and 'unprecedented" and I'm afraid I'm headed for "utterly astonishing" territory.
Anyway in a blog page that emphasizes milestone birthdays I dunno I'll ever detail one as milestone as today's, so in honor of Marshall Allen's unquantifiable achievements I have endeavored to introduce three different broadcasts of the Arkestra into audiological circulation. Of course I could put up commonly circulating things, but what fun would that be? And what would that do to distinguish today's guy from all the others? So let's get way down with a deep triple play from the planet Saturn.
The Sun Ra Arkestra
under the direction of Marshall Allen

Nancy Jazz Pulsations 2009
Nancy, France

01 Space Idol
02 Millennium
03 Big John's Special
04 Dreams Come True
05 Wish Upon a Star
06 Velvet
07 medley: It's After the End of the World/I'll Wait for You/Space Is the Place/Greetings from the 21st Century
08 unidentified title
09 In Between/We Travel the Spaceways incl. band intros

Total time: 1:01:38

Marshall Allen - alto saxophone, flute, EVI & vocals
Michael Ray - trumpet & vocals
Fred Adams - trumpet
Knoel Scott - alto saxophone & vocals
Reynold Scott - flute, alto & baritone saxophones
Dave Davis - trombone
Elson Nascimento - percussion
Juni Booth - bass
Farid Barron - keyboards
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr. - drums
Dave Hotep - guitar

256/48k audio extracted from a DVD of digital satellite broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, edited & remastered by EN, May 2024
431 MB FLAC/link below

A38 Hajó
Buda Bridgehead
Budapest, Hungary

01 You'll Find Me
02 unidentified title
03 Somewhere/Greetings from the 21st Century/No Hiding Place Down Here
04 Nuclear War
05 Interplanetary medley: Second Stop Is Jupiter/We Travel the Spaceways/Journey to Saturn/Next Stop Mars
06 Hit that Jive, Jack outro & fade

Total time: 49:21

Marshall Allen - alto saxophone, flute, EVI & vocals
Fred Adams - trumpet
Michael Ray - trumpet & vocals
Dave Davis - trombone
Knoel Scott - alto saxophone & vocals
Yah Yah Abdul-Majid - tenor saxophone
Charles Davis - tenor saxophone
Danny Ray Thompson - baritone saxophone, flute & vocals
Dave Hotep - guitar
Juni Booth - bass
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr. - drums
Elson Nascimento - percussion

384/48k audio extracted from a DVD of a digital satellite broadcast of an event broadcast from a ship anchored in harbor
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, edited & remastered by EN, May 2024
355 MB FLAC/link below

Livingston Studios
London, UK

01 Marshall Allen interview + introduction
02 Queer Notions
03 Sun Ra speaks
04 Space Chord
05 Wish Upon a Star
06 Saturn
07 Sun Ra speaks
08 Love In Outer Space
09 Dancing Shadows
10 Swirling incl. Sun Ra speaks
11 Sun Ra speaks
12 Discipline 27b
13 Sun Ra speaks
14 Angels and Demons At Play
15 Enlightenment

Total time: 1:19:57

Marshall Allen - alto saxophone, EVI & vocals
Tara Middleton - vocals & violin
Knoel Scott - alto saxophone, percussion & vocals
Charles Davis - tenor saxophone
Shabaka Hutchings - tenor saxophone & bass clarinet
Danny Ray Thompson - baritone saxophone, percussion & vocals
Cecil Brooks - trumpet
Vincent Chancey - French horn
Dave Davis - trombone
Farid Barron - piano & keyboards
Dave Hotep - guitar
Tylor Mitchell - bass
Elson Nascimento - percussion
Stanley Morgan - percussion
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr. - drums

preFM capture, of indeterminate origin, of the 2014 BBC3 "Jazz On 3" broadcast honoring the centennial of Sun Ra & the 90th birthday of Marshall Allen
repaired & remastered -- with dead air very slightly trimmed to fit a single CD -- by EN, May 2024
first aired 6.30.2014
513 MB FLAC/direct link to all 3 shows in one folder
That's 3 hours and 10 minutes in testimony to what makes Marshall Allen as extraordinary a player and a person as I will ever cover here. Me? I'm already figuring out June, and I'm gonna try to make it as badass as May.

But I wanted to close out the month with an extra special tribute to an extra special cat, so I hope you'll receive it in that exact spirit as we celebrate the incredibly superlative centennialist Marshall Allen. Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta get Charles Lloyd and Roy Haynes -- he better stay alive til 2025, cuz he's next on the 100 list! -- on the phone and finish assembling my 90+ Superband!!!--J.

It's after the end of the world.
Don't you know that yet?

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Art for Art's Sake


Art Pepper Quartet - Yours Is My Heart Alone

We're brightening Sunday with the first anniversary post in a long time, stuck in birthday land as I have been since March.

How I've never covered this dude before, in 10 1/2 years of this page, I can't say. It's an awful lie of omission, and it changes today.

Did anyone see the HBO documentary series about Synanon? This guy was in it for a quarter of a second.

As notorious for his heroin-related jail stints in San Quentin as he was for music, today's honoree achieved his goal of dying as the world's foremost alto saxophonist.

He's gone 42 years now, can you believe that?

Having been raised by his abusive and alcoholic asshole parents before being exiled to grandma's, he was able to rip hearts from chests from a tender age, using only his trusty sax.

Another of those rare players we laud on here -- the ones that you know it's them after a single note or phrase -- he's as beloved and as influential on Jazz as he ever was.

There's this other music blog I frequent, and half the posts are of him, or at least it seems that way.

He's a little like Lee Morgan, in that he featured astonishing technique coupled with a sophisticated but universally basic and translatable emotional quality. Usually it is one or the other, but the rare cats have both.

The poor guy only made it to 56 -- drugs and traveling made sure of that -- but in the sense that matters his music is eternal and he can never die.

Take as an exemplar this delicious, full concert France Musique (FM for short) rebroadcast a couple of years ago, recorded in Paris in 1981 at the end of dude's run.

That's the thing about Art Pepper: no matter what sort of pharmaceutical depredations he put himself through, his playing never suffered.

Art Pepper Quartet
Espace Cardin
Paris, France

01 Ophelia
02 Mambo Koyama
03 Here's That Rainy Day
04 Landscape
05 Yours Is My Heart Alone
06 Avalon
07 Patricia
08 Rhythm-A-Ning
09 That’s Love

Total time: 1:45:20
disc break goes after Track 05

Art Pepper - alto saxophone & clarinet
Milcho Leviev - piano
Bob Magnusson - bass
Carl Burnett - drums

digital capture of a France Musique rebroadcast from 2021
some applause transitions smoothed -- with volume boosted +3 dB throughout -- by EN, May 2024
719 MB FLAC/direct link

This one was a little chopped up between tunes, with the applause skittering hither and yon. I inserted a few transitional tags to smooth some of these out, and cranked it up 3 dB also. Nothing else was changed.

I'll be back on the weekend with something so cool: the first centennial I've ever done for an alive person! And a stellar 100 one to boot.

That's coming, but Art Pepper blowing up the Cardin using only his horn is here and now! I'll get him again on his big birthday next year, but I didn't wanna wait that long to let Art imitate Life as only he could!--J.
9.1.1925 - 6.15.1982