Tag: Jazz

1973, 1975, Music

Pathways to Unknown Worlds (1975) by Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra

Sun Ra was one of the first jazz artists I was aware of (outside of the absolutely most famous ones like Louis Armstrong). And I resolved that I would become a fan, I guess because of how weird he seemed. Well, that never happened and, decades later, this is only my second Ra album. It …

1959, Music

Jazz Portraits: Mingus in Wonderland (1959)

I’m listening to this as part of a compilation which focuses primarily on Mingus’ earlier work in the mid 1950s and I have no idea why this particular live album was included, as it is from a while later both chronologically and artistically. (Licensing is always the answer to these kinds of questions.) At this …

1955, Music

Jazzical Moods, Vol. 1 (1955) by Charles Mingus

This is a 10-inch album from back when those were still a thing. The compilation I have doesn’t include its sequel (Vol. 2), which has been combined with it on an LP in 1957, though I think that LP dropped a couple tracks from both and its sequel. (I mention this because I believe it …

1956, Music

Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956) by Charles Mingus

According to everything I’ve read, the is the first studio album where the Charles Mingus every knows and loves first emerged. He had been a leader on a number of releases prior to it but it’s this record, and particularly its title track, where his unique fusion of music from bop (and earlier) with musical …

1955, 1956, Music

Mingus at the Bohemia (1956)

I miswrote when I stated that The Charles Mingus Quintet & Max Roach was the first of the two parts of this concert released. It is sequenced first on the compilation I am listening to, but it was this record that was released first (years earlier) as far as I can tell. Perhaps that’s one …

1955, 1963, Music

The Charles Mingus Quartet + Max Roach (1955, 1963)

Even though it was the dominant form of how we listened to music for decades, it’s interesting to think about how much LPs affected the way people enjoyed music. Limited to 44 ish minutes, artists had to either curate their recordings and performances, or released more than one LP, the latter of which was just …

1957, Music

Mingus Three aka Trio (1957) by Charles Mingus, Hampton Hawes, Danny Richmond

If you asked me to name my favourite jazz musician, the first person I would probably name, before equivocating, would be Charles Mingus. And yet I’ve heard so little of his discography, really, with my listening focused pretty much entirely on what people would call his prime. Until I listened to this record, I’m not …

2017, Music

Far From Over (2017) by ViJay Iyer Sextet

This is my second Vijay Iyer record, the other one I’ve heard was a trio record which was obviously not as full band as this one. That makes him one of the 21st century jazz artists I’m actually paying attention to, because my popular music podcast has me ignoring jazz basically altogether at the moment.

1974, Music

Winter in America (1974) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson

I knew one thing about Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” And I don’t know it well. So I came into this expecting a record of spoken word with few expectations about the music backing the poetry. All I basically knew is that this guy was regarded by some as the first MC.

2018, Movies

Post-Crash (2018) by Missing Waves

Jazz is at a weird place in the 21st century, like basically every other form of music. Boundaries between jazz and other genres sometimes completely disappear, as they do with this record. At times, I think for sure this is some kind of modern art pop (i.e. not jazz) but then there are tracks when …

1974, Music

Introducing The Eleventh House With Larry Coryell (1974)

This is fusion very much in the Mahavishnu Orchestra mode. In fact, listening to the opening of “Birdfingers,” you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking this was the Mahavishnu Orchestra itself, or perhaps Jeff Beck and the Jan Hammer Group, or something like that. As jazz fusion goes, a lot of it is very much on …

2010, Music

The Element Choir at Rosedale United (2010)

It must be hard to be in the art music field these days. Sure, you’ve got a world of genres to play with – most of them unknown or nonexistent in the recent past – but sometimes having too much choice is worse than having little choice. (Actually, that’s true a lot of the time.) …

2016, Movies

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (2016, John Scheinfeld)

This is a prestige documentary about John Coltrane featuring Denzel Washington of all people reading Coltrane’s own words, as well as a collection of interviews with Coltrane’s children (and step-daughter), critics, historians, biographers, fellow and later musicians and Bill Clinton. But if you are at all a fan of the man’s work, and you have …

1976, 1978, Music

Grupo Irakere (1976, 1978)

So much of what I’ve read about this band focuses on their Grammy-winning North American breakthrough, as if the first time North Americans heard this music was the first time it was really vital and worth listening to. And I do understand that distribution was a different beast in the ’70s, but still, it’s a …

1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 2007, Music

Epitaph by Charles Mingus, conducted by Gunther Schuller, Live at Walt Disney Concert Hall, May 16, 2007

What the hell do we do with Epitaph?

2015, Music

The Bad Plus Joshua Redman Live at the Wintergarden Theatre, Toronto, Occtober 15, 2015

The last time I saw the Bad Plus they blew me away. But with Joshua Redman they are significantly more jazzy, significantly closer to the mainstream, far more within the tradition than I was expecting. It’s not that their old music wasn’t within the tradition – jazz musicians have been covering non-jazz songs since jazz …

1928, 1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1945, 1995, Music

Piano Man! His Greatest Recordings (1995) by Earl Hines

This is collection of 25 recordings featuring Earl Hines – solo, leading his orchestra, with Armstrong, Bechet and some other, less famous bandleaders.  It jumps around a little too much… The title track appears to be the 1939 “Piano Man” (there are four, confusingly) and it’s more of a celebration of Hines’ legend than anything …

2000, Music

Ken Burns Jazz (2000) by Fletcher Henderson

This is a decent one-disc compilation of Fletcher Henderson’s big bands, which are more notable for the featured performers than for anything Henderson did (with an exception or two). Like all single disc compilations of a productive artist, it doesn’t give us the greatest picture of his work. But what it does function as is …

1969, Music

Swiss Movement (1969) by Les McCann, Eddie Harris

The myth-making goes to hilarious extremes in the liner notes – with the writer denying the band had ever played together before this date before then detailing how they played together before the date – but that’s something that’s quite common to jazz (and to music in general) and this band still sounds fantastic for …

Music

Mingus, Songza, and the Problem of Curated Music

So I have been getting to know Songza lately, whether I knew it or not. For the last month or more, my boss has been putting on Songza playlists as our office music. These playlists have mostly replaced internet radio as our workplace soundtrack of late. (I wasn’t fully aware what this was until a …

1993, Music

Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time (1993)

This record should really be called the Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Another Time or the Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Parents’ Time. I didn’t know Wynton had discovered Hargrove; had I, I wouldn’t have borrowed six of his cds from the library. Oops.

2003, Music

Abaton (2003) by Sylvie Courvoisier, Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander

So to make this super confusing, apparently the idea here was to actually credit this trio as Abaton rather than the record, despite the fact that there are at least three other bands in the world with that name. It’s a popular idea, I guess, sleeping in temples…

2004, Music

Camouflage (2004) by Acoustic Ladyland

Coming at an artists backwards is always a big of an issue. Not only as it’s sort of unfair to the artist – we get our notions of what the artist sounds like when they are “mature” and try to apply that to their early work – but also as it’s unfair to the listener, …

1980, 1997, Music

The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark (1997) by Grant Green

This compiles the first three albums Grant recorded with pianist Sonny Clark before the band was expanded to a quintet later in 1962. Interestingly, none of these albums were released until 1980 (in Japan) which, given the quality of the music, it’s really hard to understand.

1993, Music

Birks Works: the Verve Big Band Sessions (1956, 1957, 1993) by Dizzy Gillespie

I recently listened to this band’s performance at Newport and was underwhelmed. It just goes to show you the power of mood. I guess just wasn’t in the mood and I imagined the Newport show as some kind of semi-modernist response to Ellington’s Newport show of the year before. I think I was over-thinking.