Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bitches Brew Meets the Experimental Cinema

Tomorrow my collage of the experimental cinema will be screened at Joiners Arms, as Shura Greenberg Sextet is playing materials from Miles Davis' late 1960s period. Two one-hour films are a celebration of the works by Oskar Fischinger, Joseph Cornell, Joris Ivens, Hollis Frampton, Henri Chomette, Walter Ruttmann, D.A. Pennebaker, Pierre Hébert, Bert Haanstra, László Moholy-Nagy, Margaret Tait, and Sally Potter.

The Electric Miles Project features fresh takes on the music of Miles Davis circa 1969-72. Using the material for inspiration and improvisation this quintet (fea. the trumpet of Steve Sincock, alto sax of Chris Williams, Fender Rhodes of Gareth Wilkins and the bass/drum team of Shura Greenberg and Craig Tamlin) will take you on a musical journey into this electric voodoo world.

Sunday 25th September 9pm-11.30pm
The Joiners Arms, 116-118 Hackney Road, E2 7QL.
Tel: 07976892541 (for venue information).
Free entry. Licensed bar.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Radio Hawkins#6 [Miles Davis Special]

برنامه ششم
مايلز ديويس

شامل آثاري از 1947 تا 1972 با همراهي تلانيوس مانك، جان كلترين، ميلت جكسن، چارلي پاركر، بيل اونز، جرج كولمن، وين شورتر، رد گارلند و ديگران

با كيفيت متناسب با سرعت اينترنت ايران و به صورت دو فايل بيست مگابايتي

Friday, September 9, 2011

Musicians on Musicians#1: Shura Greenberg and his 5 bassists

Greenberg at Oliver's, Greenwich, London. May 2011.

Shura Greenberg is a freelance musican from London. He rides an old horse (a Volvo from 1980s), spacous enough to carry his acoustic bass around the metropolis. When you're a bassist, and you're gigging in Richmond, and next day you have to be in the northeast of town, you need a good horse like that.

Shura is capable of traveling around, participating in various groups (trios to bigger formats and jam sessions), and also leading and directing some of these sessions. I had the privilege of accompanying him in some of his gigs, among them, his arrangements of Bitches Brew materials for a sextet (performed monthly in a crazy club in Hackney), and also a project named Dexterritory, apparently a tribute to Dexter Gordon by playing tenorman's compositions with a quartet at Greenwich.

He is a graduate of Guildhall School Of Music in London, and as a result of academic background and his own passion, he has spent some time on studying classical music and the techniques of composing. His principal bass teachers have been LSO co-principle Colin Paris and freelance classical bassist Beverley Jones (both of whom taught him bow technique). In jazz Shura has benefited from studying with Steve Watts and the late Jeff Clyne (both highly considered on the London jazz scene). He also spent some significant time and circumstance with the American bassist Curtis Lundy (widely recorded U.S bass player and band leader). And yet Shura is in many respects a self-taught musician especially in regards to jazz. His interests in music range from the cantatas of J. S. Bach to the serial works of Arnold Schoenberg. In jazz Shura is just as likely to be listening to the recorded music of Albert Ayler as he is to Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis or Duke Ellington. The emotionality of music is ultimately what interests and inspires him. And that elusive quality we call 'SWING'.

I asked him about his five favorite bassists...

"This list is highly personal and only reflects the way I feel today. Tomorrow I might come up with a totally different list! This is important because it stresses the way in which our tastes and influences change. The many great bassists I have omitted are endless: Charles Mingus, Percy Heath, Wilbur Ware, Buster Williams, Scott La Faro, Gary Peacock, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland. The list just goes on and on.... Perhaps in way of explanation I could say that these listed bassists cover the art of playing within the rhythm section as much as they do soloing. Not to say that the bass solo is without merit. But principally the bass is a functional, supportive instrument and operates in tandem with the drums to propel the music rhythmically and harmonically forward. In this respect these 5 bass players, in their different ways, are acknowledged masters of their instrument"

Paul Chambers. An immense player from his work as a teenager with Miles Davis in the mid-50's through to his death in 1969. His sense of swing phrasing at all tempos is unsurpassible. In fact he so clearly, in my opinion, defined bop bass playing through this era that every subsequent bop bass player is indebted to him to some degree or other. His solo work with the bow was also significant and showed great facility. Some have commented that Paul spent more time working on his solo concepts than he did the art of accompaniment. To some degree this is true. He was a monster soloist who could go on chorus after chorus. But his playing within the rhythm section is not to be underestimated. His work alongside drummer Philly Joe Jones as example is one of the highlights of late 50's jazz. To sum him up: He was a great team player who could also solo alongside the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane with distinction. His playing had enormous warmth and swang like crazy!

Ron Carter. This was the player who replaced Paul Chambers in the Miles Davis group. At his best in the 1960's Davis Quintet his work displayed an astonshing control of pure sound on the bass (this length of tone is pretty much his signature sound). Add to this his ability to manipulate rhythmic time and superimpose harmonic variations within a piece of music and you get what I'd call a 'Scientist of the bass'. His work circa '63-69 is an encyclopedia of bass techniques within a small group. Ron had an almost atomic and molecular understanding of the nature of bass sound. In this respect he is unparalled. A player less well known for his solo work. His great legacy is his playing within the rhythm section. In this respect his playing displays the function of the bass in its traditional sense i.e being in a supportive role. In this area he is quite superb and highly influential.

Reggie Workman. This bassist brings a emotionally consistent quality to all the work he has laid down since coming on the scene in the early 60's with John Coltrane and Art Blakey. Beautifully poised even when the heat really turns up in the music. His playing maintains discipline and yet is highly imaginative at the same time. His strengths range from the avant garde to the mainstream. And yet in all styles and situations he is unmistakeably himself. There is a certain dark richness to his tone which distinguishes him from, say, Ron Carter (whose tone is lighter and more airbound). With Reggie the element I hear most strongly is 'Earth'. Also has developed a highly original concept of tone on the bass (his use of vibrato and portamento on the bass is very distinct). His ability and love of more adventurous musical playing (avant garde) has also developed the imaginative side of his playing to great effect. Even in more straightahead situations he still retains a freedom of expression with respect to rhythmic daring and melodic invention. Altogether a  highly developed musician. And deeply expressive.

Larry Gales. I have a particular appreciation of bass players who enjoy expressing themselves within the rhythm section rather than as front line soloists. Well, this guy could do both but its principally his hard-swinging within the Thelonious Monk group for several years that really gets my attention. The principal job of the jazz bassist in mainstream jazz is to produce a walking bass line that underpins the top line or solo. Larry Gales could do this song after song, night after night, year after year with the Monk group. And at all times swinging the band into orbit! Someone once calculated that a certain bassist played several hundred unadorned crotchets while playing with Monk. Well they could have been talking bout Larry. This commitment to straightforward no nonsense hard swinging is a hallmark of his work. But in fact its this very simplicity that often makes it go un-noticed and less considered. There's nothing flashy here. Just swing plain and simple, but with a buoyancy that lifts the music into another dimension. Well that gets my vote every time! Still if you thought that was all this guy could do just check out some of his solo work with the high priest. You'll hear both lyrical and bop sides to his soloing that are also deeply impressive. Monk had the habit of often totally laying out for large parts of horn solos and generally also for the bass solo. This places a particular requirement for the bassist to really lay it down and be rock-solid. Well Larry Gales was the man for the job.

Ray Brown. Really in some ways this gentleman should be at the top of the list. If out of respect for his pre-eminence amongst jazz bassists if nothing else. For over half a century his playing defined the totality of mainstream bass playing in jazz. With Ray you get the perfect combination of virtuoisity and supportive play. Listen to any of the classic Oscar Peterson recordings and you'll hear it. Even a simple walking line with Ray gets transformed into a skipping, dancing counterpoint to the solo line. The hallmarks of his work are a sophistication, subtlety and elegance. Ray was a musician equally at home playing at a White House function for royalty as he was playing a small jazz club in NYC. This total command of the language of jazz (and the bass in particular) allowed him to continue to play at the highest level right up till his passing. Perhaps one aspect I would highlight of his work would be his ability to play the blues. More than any other bassist mentioned in this list, Ray had that quality of blue sensibility throughout his playing. And its this which links him to the very earliest exponents of the art of jazz. Like all the great masters of the form you truly feel the ancient and the modern in his work. One might rightly call him the father of contemporary jazz bass. Ray, because I feel of his supreme virtuoisity, was more at home in a trio setting where his solo expertise and ability to interplay was more showcased than it would be in a quartet/quintet. All the bassists listed above owed him much in terms of inspiration and direction.

Radio Hawkins#5

زندگي بسيار چيز عجيبي است. آن ها فهميدند كه به طرز عيجبي در باران خيس مي شوند، در زير آفتاب گرم مي شوند، شكايتي ندارند اما نمي دانند هر روز صبح كه بيدار مي شوند چرا چيزي جز هوا براي نفس كشيدن نيست و يا چرا وقتي به آينه نگاه مي كنند چيزي جز مو براي شانه كردن وجود ندارد. سؤال هاي اين فيلسوفان شكاك تا بي نهايت (چرا در صحرا فقط شن است و در دريا فقط آب) ادامه پيدا مي كند. اين فلاسفه لويي آرمسترانگ و لويي جوردان هستند كه آهنگ «زندگي چيز عجيب و غريبي است» را در برنامۀ امروز ما اجرا خواهند كرد.

برنامۀ پنجم از هفت قطعه تشكيل شده است. در ابتدا بخشي از كاري ناتمام از چارلي پاركر را مي شنويد. بعد كاري آوازي لويي آرمسترانگ و لويي جوردن را خواهيد شنيد. دكتر يوسف لطيف و تركيب اعجاب انگيز موسيقي شرقي و موسيقي جاز و سپس تلفيق موسيقي عربي و جاز توسط احمد عبدالملك كارهايي هستند كه بسياري از وجود آن ها بي خبرند و مي شود در اين برنامه به آن ها گوش داد. در ادامه آنيتا اودِي، ارل هاينز، ليونل همپتون و استن گتز ديگر موزيسين هاي برنامه پنجم خواهند بود.

برنامۀ اين هفته

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jazz at British Pathé

From the archives of  British Pathé. Click on the images to watch the video.
One minute with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra in Cotton Club, New York. Incredibly good quality footage from the archives of British Pathe. 1933

Dutch Dig Benny Goodman! 1958

"Nikita Khruschev didn't like jazz," Benny Goodman says, and he chats to President Kennedy.

Johnny Dankworth, Zbigniev Namyslovski, Memphis Slim, Jacques Pelzer. 1964

Duke Ellington in Paris. 1958. Silent

Ella Fitzgerald sings and sweats. Ellington swings and Harry Carney appears for a second. Munich. 1967

Berlin Jazz Festival with Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Julie Driscoll. Silent. 1968

Woody Herman, John Coltrane, and Roger Moore! Comblain, Belgian. Silent. 1965

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Willis Conover's House of Sounds

A search under Willis Conover's name to find any official recording with his presence (as a presenter, or with his voice), probably will guide us to this obscure recording from 1953. Actually it has nothing to do with Willis, at least musically. He has just introduced a band that was playing in Washington in the years he was doing his famous radio show. There is only a tune, from total 12 tracks, recorded for this session that is named after Willis Conover, and it is composed/arranged by Bill Potts, another Washingtonian whom later accompanied Lester Young in his legendary Washington sessions.

"Nobody did more for jazz on the radio than Conover," says Richard Cook in his Jazz Encyclopedia. That could be true, not only because in the 1950s he took jazz to the other side of iron curtain, but also because of the musicality and intonation of his voice that was inseparable from the music he was playing. What was the first words I heard about Thelonious Monk? They were Willis Conover's, when he introduces the pianist in the legendary 1958 Jazz on a Summer's Day documentary: " of the complete originals of music. A man who lives his music. A man who thinks his music, and it is possible to say that he lives and thinks of little else. We can't describe him exactly as daring because I think he is unconcerned with any opposition to his music. He concerns himself with such elements as quarter tone which he doesn't find in our western scale, so he strikes to adjoining notes, two adjoining keys, on the piano, to imply those missing notes in between. Ladies and gentlemen, Thelonious Monk!" And those words stayed with me.

Like many other recordings that I heard in my teenager years, this House of Sound came from my uncle's collection. This was his note, attached to the record:
"...[This] orchestra was named 'THE Orchestra' and enjoyed limited local reputation, though there were many marvelous instrumentalists like Ed Leddy or Walp or Swope brothers, and great reed players like Nimitz and James Parker in it’s ranks. Most of its members had a long period of play with famous white big bands of those days like those of Gene Krupa, Boyd Raeburn, Woody Herman, Elliot Lawrence and Charlie Barnet amongst others. Here again we have the pleasure of listening to some beautiful trumpets and trombones and a very fine tuned drum work of Joe Timer, who died two years later at the age of 32. Timer was a fine composer and arranger. He was very much in Klook’s tradition. In the present session he leads the orchestra. I enjoyed mostly the trumpet section and especially the lead trumpet of Ed Leddy. There is also the very fine arrangement of The Song Is You by then very young arranger John Mandel, who later enjoyed the fame of being one of the most sought for score writers for movie industry. Markowitz has a beautiful solo on Moonlight..."
I must add one more thing to the history of this interesting, and sadly forgotten orchestra that when Charlie Parker was in Washington, DC, they accompanied him in "Club Kavakos" in February 22, 1953. I hope in one of the last Sundays of the summer, you enjoy listening to this record:

Willis Conover's House of Sounds Presents THE Orchestra

Joe Timer & THE Orchestra (AKA Joe Theimer - see available Charlie Parker discographies from 1953)
Recording date: 1953, (probably Washington D. C.)
Release Date: Aug 21, 1953
Total Time: 46:00
Reissue on Vinyl by Jasmine, JASM 1016 (Jasmine was a London-based label, established in 1982, and apparently still working on the reissue of jazz classics.)

Bob Carey, Ed Leddy, Marky Markowitz, Charlie Walp (tp) Dan Spiker, Earl Swope, Rob Swope (tb) Jim Riley (as) Ben Lary, Jim Parker, Angelo Tompros (ts) Jack Nimitz (bars) Jack Holliday (p) Merton Oliver (b) Joe Theimer (d, cond)

Side A:
1 I've Got You Under My Skin (Composed by Cole Porter; Arranged by Ralph Mutchler)
order of soli: Markowitz; Riley; Holliday.
2 One For Kenny [Clark] (Composed & arr. by Joe Timer)
order of soli: Markowitz; Carey; Leddy; Walp; Holliday.
3 The Song Is You (Composed by J. Kern, O. Hammerstein II; arr. by Johnny Mandel)
order of soli: Earl Swope; Walp.
4 Pill Box (Composed and arr. by Bill Potts)
order of soli: Holliday; Robbie Swope; Earl Swope; Nimitz; Walp.
5 Light Green (Composed and arr. by Bill Potts)
order of soli: Holliday; Oliver; Earl Swope; Walp; Tompros

6 Flamingo (Composed by Ted Grouya, Edmund Anderson; arr. by Joe Timer)
Solo: Walp
Side B:
1 Something to Remember You by/Taking a Change on Love/Blue Room (Composers Schwartz, Dietz/Duke, Fetter, Latouche/Rodgers, Hart; arr. by Joe Timer)
2 Sheriff Crane [AKA Jack Pot County] (Composed & arr. by Jack Holliday)
order of soli: Tompros; Holliday; Walp; Earl Swope; Timer.
3 Playground (Composed and arr. by Bill Potts)
order of soli: Tompros; Robbie Swope; Riley; Walp; Markowitz; Leddy; Holliday
4 Tiger (Composed & arr. by Harvey Leonard)
order of soli: Markowitz; Earl Swope; Tompros; Lary.

5 Moonlight in Vermont (Composed by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf; arr. by Jack Holliday)
Solo: Markowitz.
6 Willis [Conover] (Composed and arr. by Bill Potts)
order of soli: Holliday; Earl Swope; Tompros; Markowitz; Nimitz.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Radio Hawkins#4: Billie Holiday Podcast

 (Billie Holiday podcast (in Farsi

چهارمين برنامۀ موسيقي جاز ما، به زندگي و آثار بيلي هاليدي اختصاص دارد

زندگينامه كوتاهي از او را در اين جا بخوانيد