Tuesday, September 23, 2014

John Coltrane - Offering: Live at Temple University,1966 (Resonance, 2014)

Today is my Holy Day, my only holy day. Sept. 23, 1926, my hero, John Coltrane,was born, and there is no better gift to the world than a never before released live concert. This show was unearthed in 2005 and sees its first proper christening today by (Resonance Records).

Recorded just months before his death, This Philly show saw Trane pushing all limits. His health was declining and he knew the end was nigh. Mind you, this is a year or so after McCoy Tyner told someone that Trane was playing so hard that blood was spewing from his mouth. At one point, he removes the sax and begins chanting, and changing vocalization by beating his chest. This was at the point where he felt he had pushed the instrument to its furthest extent, and the only maneuver beyond was to cut out the middle man and push from the depths of his diaphragm.

As far out as he gets here, with Alice Coltrane, Rashied Ali, Pharoah Sanders and a crew of Philly based percussionists, he returns to finish with his rendition of "My Favorite Things", a fan favorite. The drastic departure from the extremes to finish with this was FOR his fans. He never forgot that his spiritual quest could never have launched and finished without those people that loved him.

Trane's body was dying, and the end was soon. He didn't succeed or fail, because,as he would have told you, there is no beginning or end, just the journey.

Recorded November 11, 1966
Mitten Hall, Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Featured Artists: John Coltrane – soprano & tenor saxophones, flute & vocals

Pharoah Sanders – tenor saxophone & piccolo

Alice Coltrane – piano Sonny Johnson – bass

Rashied Ali – drums

Additional musicians include: Steve Knoblauch, Arnold Joyner – alto saxophone Umar Ali, Algie DeWitt, Robert Kenyatta – percussion

Resonance Records, which is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation, will contribute a portion from every sale to the John Coltrane Home (www.thecoltranehome.org), an organization devoted to the preservation of Coltrane’s former home in Dix Hills, New York.


Disc One
01. Naima (16:28)
02. Crescent (26:11)

Disc Two
03. Leo (21:29)
04. Offering (4:19)
05. My Favorite Things (23:18)

Side A
Naima (16:28)

Side B
Crescent (26:11)

Side C
Leo (21:29)

Side D Offering (4:19) My Favorite Things (23:18)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nils Frahm - Screws (Erased Tapes, 2012)

I'm welcoming autumn with this wonderfully melancholy piano album from a very gifted composer. In fact, I've listened to it a dozen times today.

 Just before it was released, Nils Frahm had broken his thumb. In the despair and fear that naturally came from such an incident, he set off to record a piece each night, before bed. Over the course of nine nights, with nine fingers, and a single microphone, he overcame the seemingly monumental setback, resulting in an improvisational opus of extraordinary beauty. These sparse and intimate portraits, spanning a mere twenty-eight minutes, are powerful, combining the spirit of Satie with some of the best new age piano recordings in the modern compositional canon.

Though he initially released the recording as a free download, not thinking it was worth much at all, he couldn't have been more wrong. I'm deeply moved by this half hour of troubled and beautiful sketches. I hope you will be too.

Below, I've also included some of his other work, so as to showcase his versatility. Be sure to watch the last video, "All Melody" to appreciate his electronic sensibility as well. Enjoy.

New Album Coming from One of My Favorite Artists on My Favorite Record Label.

As you may know, I have a Modern Love addiction. The Manchester label has been running my life for the past few years, and I've just come to accept it. Their somewhat commercially successful artist is Andy Stott. His last album, "Luxury Problems" was my favorite album of 2012.

The new album (Nov. 17) is to be a similar outing in aesthetic, but will include some vocal pop structure more traditional than on the last record. The press release states: “straddles analogue club music and vocal pop songs, somewhere between Ron Hardy, Prefab Sprout, Dome, Actress, Cocteau Twins and Arthur Russell.”

I'm enjoying the sample track. See what you think:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

R.I.P. Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014)

The great Canadian jazz trumpeter has passed away. His work in the 90's moved me heavily, particularly with the album "Angel Song", a masterfully melancholy outing released by ECM. He was joined by Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz and Dave Holland, a lineup that, for my money, couldn't be beat. I cherish this as one of my all time favorites. With the sadness of his passing, no music could be more appropriate.

Survival Unit III: Game Theory (Not Two, 2013)

"Joe McPhee: Not selling out since 1967". This was something I jokingly said to a friend a few years ago. Luckily, it still stands. McPhee is 74 years old and continues to shine. He is one of the oldest American jazz icons. You many know him from his work with a multitude of musicians: Pauline Oliveros' "Deep Listening Band", Peter Brotzmann, William Parker, Ken Vandermark, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafson, Jeb Bishop, The Thing, etc. He is a good example of the effect American jazz has had on Europe. Due to his success there, he's never had to sign to a major American label.

With the latest project, he continues to explore. This time, in a phenomenal trio that includes Michael Zerang on drums, and Fred Lonberg-Holm on electronics. "Game Theory" is four tracks of predominantly reserved and controlled experiments. Though intense and busy, it still comes across as meditative, i.e., minimal on the "Brotzmann Bursts". These three know each other extremely well and they definitely push the limits of control. Forward thinking music doesn't get any better than this.