Thursday, September 22, 2011

Steve Dalachinsky: For Billy Bang

a hero’s welcome 2 / the rainbow gladiator
for Billy Bang

america is unkind to its heroes
few streets with plaques
few obscure country roads renamed
i being ignorant historian
will not even bother to name even one
used to be that things used to be that way
like being in a storm with no clouds to blame it on
sketching perfect stories
flag folded into a neat triangle
      beckon / become these strings
                  that thought: lament
    remaining full / brought toward your chin
             blown away
                   expelled / womb
   emptied out of guts & self

& now American hero you are in someone else’s hands
in a system far far away yet connected always to HERE
& the thirst one feels of apprehension when apparitions appear
the thirst one feels / the thirst one has for comprehension
              the death of metaphor but not of soul

if everything we do is in the past then all our conversations are memories about to happen
& though you are gone your spirit has not even begun to touch down rest & reside here in
the present in the past in the future which is your music & your passion your occupation
                                         & your light
so it would seem then that we have unlimited time in the past which is now to gather
& to speak / to make music & to sing
illuminating – warrior – translator of emotions - to those who knew you – soldier
now M.I.A. – unpredictable big sadness awaits us – big joy from your SOUND
your art a postcard of the world – its beauty – its horror – its tenderness - its ferocity
you had a way of opening up the silences from within – cluttering them with form –
                  taming then unleashing language – twisting it in & out –
      your train of thought never drifting from your purpose - the hardship of battle
                                        & the spaces between things

          you no longer wait to be pulled away – the deities claim you now
welcome home hero – to a new birth every day - the clouds & birds possess you now
     all manner of clouds & birds to praise the great upheaval that your music brings
           bottled the way our dreams are - the way things reach us
                    the way we inhale & exhale the lyrical night

the way the music so sweetly assaults us from so many different directions
     surrounding us with an aura of freedom that seeps into our blood
   beyond ailments / pain &; bones - inside our life - as we grow “older”
                      sometimes weeping for the happy crowd

i could sing all day about the passing storm
tiny explorations of the horizon
the way the wind pronounces its name during the aftermath
limping home at war’s end / this never ending war

so march on / march on
a city is only as good as its music
your music filling the city’s voids & chaos’s
city boy from the country this will always be your home
    & the song that sometimes comes out wrong
               is always right -
so you do it your way
                      & i’ll do it my way
               & this way it becomes a thing. mine. yours.
                         ours. memory’s. time’s.

Bonus clips:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Matthew Shipp Duets with Winds.

Between 1987 and now Matthew Shipp has made duets with wind players a recurring pursuit to the point where there are a number of recordings and examples of these focused and fascinating benchmarks of his elaborate participations and contributions.

The earliest recorded one was a document of a collaboration with a friend. Several are projects where Mr. Shipp was specifically engaged to bring his potentials to a colleague.

Others follow the original plan and come from affinities and friendships strikingly shaped as sounds.

The summary of these duets makes the counterpart participants and their various roles the focus. Mr. Shipp is true to his essential outlook and aim throughout so a listener mainly follows the arc of his discoveries and excursions.

It all rests on ground of an easy familiarity with all that has preceded him and rises to seeking with each waking day. It is the search of the intrigued and wonder based outlook where a piece grows from some kernel or other and shifts as a stream runs its course.

He covers drums, bass and a counter voice to his wind rooted counterparts with a powerful and alert suppleness.

The highly portable and concentrated mini ensemble form that is a piano and wind duet has been a Shipp focus since he roamed Jordan Hall, at least. 

The upper floors of Jordan Hall then were full of small piano practice rooms. The most readily available ones are too small for an ensemble or even an upright bass but a horn player can fit in. Matthew generally has a charitable and warm regard for pianos and will cut em slack if they work reasonably well. Sure, in a fair and thoughtful world he’d mainly be working high end Steinways and up but why let a little thing like humble provenance and a bit of wear get in the way?

In a life often reduced to a blur of flights, train trips and bus rides over the rind of the spinning globe, a piano, for Mr. Shipp, is home. When he arrived here on Mothers Day, he embraced the gallery upright the minute he got there so the flow of conversation met a stream of Ellington channeled as a spirit more than a structure.

Where others before him have been known to fuss mightily over breaking through boxes to offer up monumental edifices, he prefers to let the moment make the structure, to let the stream course shape the shore.

And so it was that a Piano and Saxophone duet became a valuable way to model sonic teamwork and ensemble dynamics. Practice room access wasn’t too restricted and the cat herding that attends getting a drum and bass involved was removed as an issue. There may be an early example of these duets from 84 to 85  involving Gary Joynes at the Brandeis Radio Station series, World Class Jazz at the Joint. The search is ongoing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bill Dixon, Vade Mecum. Eric Zinman.

Bill Dixon Vade Mecum 1994 Soul Note/ Milano

Bill Dixon - trumpet, flugelhorn

Barry Guy -  doublebass

William Parker - doublebass

Tony Oxley - percussion

1. Moment - (4'24")

2. Anamorphosis - (12'28")

3. Viale Nino Bixio 20 - (9'16")

4. Pellucity - (9'04")

5. Vade Mecum - (15'51")

6. Twice Upon a Time - (13'12")

7. Acanthus - (13'24")

“ How motion hereby is sensed in the minutae of tones”

“implication dominates how rhythms and pulse function more for their coloristic value than as velocities in a metric framework. Sounds are juxtaposed to intervallic sense, one to another so that the focal point of any passage is its direction rather than a tonal center”

-Ben Young-

“A musicians is more than a person who plays an instrument. The musician is an engineer of sound and should utilize any and every aspect of sound in the production of music"

Musician/Composer Jimmy Stewart-

“every instrument encompasses an orchestra”

-Musician/Composer Bill Dixon –

All these comments summarize concepts that some musicians have been developing since the 60’s. Unlike many of the revivalist tendencies of today, the “jazz musician” (to use a common reference term which still has pejorative implications today) was formerly defined as someone who played the instrument like no one else.

Bill Dixon’s personal approach and mastery of the trumpet is rarely discussed in the United States. His brilliance and purity of sound is compelling. The sudden tutti entrance is a fitting first take. Here are beautiful phrases constructed of fourths and fifths embellished by warm scalar colorings, poignant changes in register, and a modality not unlike the work of Miles Davis and John Coltrane particularly in the way Mr. Dixon can reduce a musical event to one sound or a few slow notes contrasted with evocative silences and compressed phrases.