Still wrestling with wedging writing time in between returning to work, compulsively striving to keep up with my reading goals, catching up with Call the Midwife, and simply living. But I’m gonna by-God post every day of January if it kills me….
Like 15-20 other people in this world, I buy and read jazz mags. After scanning about the 50th Smoke Sessions label ad I’ve flipped to in two months, I broke down and downloaded Heads of State’s Four in One, like many Smoke releases a gathering of old pros (two of my old faves here, Gary Bartz and Al Foster) crisply and skillfully playing mostly jazz rep with a sprinkling of originals, and new-to-me Detroit pianist / vocalist Johnny O’Neal’s In the Moment. O’Neal, too, is an old pro who can make the 88s speak several jazz dialects, and he sings a bit, too. I’d love to see him in a little bar. For the record, though neither release breaks any new ground…so what? These players feel the music, the production is smart and clean, and the performances have an immediacy that’s stirring.
Morning: due to Nicole’s enthusiasm for the Carter Family biography Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone, I sneakily bought her (read: me) (no, really, I got it for us) JSP’s endlessly wonderful The Carter Family 1927-1932 5-disc box. We broke it out at 5:15 and listened raptly to the first two discs. Few foolish moves therein, and YES Maybelle plays driving guitar. Also, that Guthrie stole their “When the World’s on Fire” melody for “This Land is Your Land”just gives the latter even more subtext.
Later in the day, driving from job to job in “The Lab” (the ’92 red-orange Ford Ranger that serves as my high-volume listening center), I revisited two old rap faves, Dizzee Rascal and Busdriver. Rascal: I love that early grime sound and I’m a sucker for an MC with a British accent. Bus: I found myself thinking, “This is prog-rap!” an association that would normally force me to separate myself from the music but which in this MC’s case, thanks to wit and humor, passes muster, barely. I was proud of myself for coming up with that label, then remembered that Robert Christgau had, hilariously and quite accurately, compared Busdriver’s delivery to Sparks and Conlon Nancarrow, so I’d probably My-Sweet-Lorded ol’ Bob.
Speaking of, Xgau recommended the new Joey Badass release in his Expert Witness column today, so I dipped my toe in that musical pond. Badass has never moved me much, but his social commentary on All-Amerikkkan Badass was just what the doctor ordered for this dude, who today finished the highly-recommended anthology Tale of Two Americas. Here, listen to the whole thing free!
The weekend has presented itself, so I hope to leave something more coherent tomorrow.
“Rock and roll is about attitude. You don’t have to play the best guitar.”