A Perfect Day, Serious (May 24th, 2018th, MU Recreation Trail)

On the way to and back from our five-mile walk. Shit just gets better; Hendryx and Lucas GET the source material, which shines better than ever:

While writing blog post yesterday. Dallas – Fort Worth brilliance/ give the man props while he’s living: Dennis Gonzalez!

While waiting for my beloved to return from a massage–’68-’70, some very great / fucked years, like our own.

Thank whatever we weren’t there. We might not be here.

On the way to the oh-so-summery ice cream joint. Atlantic, Berns-Wexler, the King of Rock ‘n’ Soul:

Tuesday’s Tunes: Random Rekkids (May 22nd, 2018, Columbia, MO)

No real method to my madness but freely associative listening:

Nilssen-Love, on percussion, and Gustafssen, on baritone sax, justify the seemingly silly title with an enthusiastic conversation of snorts, snuffles, rattles, honks, and grunts–but no calls to move to the guest bedroom.

 

Fat Tony, irrepressible Houston MC, rides synth-throbs and lets loose his girl-crazy mind spray on this charming, catchy, out-of-step platter.

 

You’ll not find a more stunning family-affair jazz session than this, with eminent trumpeter, composer, and teacher Dennis Gonzalez and his sons Aaron and Stefan sounding surprise on 19 instruments, including many upon which they overlap. Dallas-Fort Worth: if you know not, a fertile jazz ground. Pick to click with ya: “Hymn for Julius Hemphill” (a fellow Texan). Here’s a live version:

 

Kevin Gates is a hip hop figure my relationship with whom is complicated, but his first single since he’s gained his freedom from incarceration is pretty…do they still say dope? Also, I hear some contrition in his tone here, if not elsewhere. Chained to the City is just an EP, but it bodes well; I am rooting for the man solely because of an experience I had once at Fat Tuesday’s, a New Orleans daiquiri bar, with TouchTunes, Gates’ “Two Phones,” and one of the shop’s servers.

 

To be honest, after this Cincy band’s last record and recent 45, I was prepared for a letdown. I love their playing, singing, and songwriting, but Forever Sounds now sounds to me like an honorable retreat. Be that as it may, I didn’t finish listening to the whole of their new record–but I loved the first six tracks, the last of which is a cover they’ve been doing for awhile that’s taken on relevance, and resonance. And they’ve been doing for a while. Doing well. It’s rock and roll by adults.

 

Short-shrift Division:

Lightnin

Mr. Sam from Houston town, pretty early, but with spidery, searching style fully formed (click the pic). Hear him on piano, too.

It was Nicole’s last day of school, so when she arrived home for a two-month reprieve from the public school trenches, I was waiting with two a propros tracks:

Note: seekers after discs that just keep on giving through the years might wanna keep their eyes peeled for the one from which that last track came. It looks like this:

Blue falmes

 

 

Still Diggin’: May 13-19

I am still reeling from the realization that my drive to own and hold every great record every made has smashed up against my mortality linking arms with streaming technology. That said, here’s a Spotify playlist of the highlights of my last week of listening:

Plucked from History’s Dustbin (best recent purchase of an old record): Dennis Gonzalez, So Soft Yet. Get hip and give the man props while he’s livin’…

Grower, Not a Shower (old record I already owned that’s risen in my esteem): Digable Planets, Blowout Comb–I now like it better than the debut. More of an EDGE, shall we say?

Encore, Encore! (album I played at least twice this week): Dennis Gonzalez NYC Quartet, NY Midnight Suite

Through the Cracks (sweet record I forgot to write about): Dennis Alcapone, Forever Version; Birdcloud, Singles Only

Sunday’s Children / Today’s Sounds:

Shabaka and the Ancestors: Wisdom of the Elders

African Scream Contest 2

“I Need Fuel!” (May 4th, 2018, MO 63, 54, 5, 44)

I road-tripped to my parents’ home in Monett, Missouri, to celebrate my brother’s birthday–he was home from Dickinson, Texas. Unfortunately, my ace-boon pavement podnah Nicole was under the weather, so I was driving solo.

Also, my vehicle is a ’93 Ford Splash with 88,000 miles on it–I don’t entirely trust it, but it does have a nice stereo that masks those worrisome noises. So I selected some special, time-tested records to keep me fully engaged, and to “study” in “The Lab”–my nickname for the truck cab.

Neckbones: Souls on Fire

If the Rolling Stones were from Oxford, Mississippi, fronted by Richard Hell, and drunk on LAMF. Oh yeah: and cut loose with a week’s pay in a casino. But let me pull your coat on lead singer Tyler Keith. I hate to keep making comparisons, but this is true: if you, like me, are a fan of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club, there’s no reason for you to miss Tyler’s work with The Neckbones, The Preacher’s Kids, and The Apostles. It’s got the same fire, the same sense of spiritual hauntedness, the same immersion in the blues-based rock roll verities with a cerrated edge. What it doesn’t have, I think, is Pierce’s doomed aura–and that’s a good thing. Not something you wanna root for, you know?

I’m getting off topic, but proceed thusly through Mr. Keith’s oeuvre:

1) The Neckbones: Souls on Fire

2) Tyler Keith & The Preachers’ Kids: Romeo Hood

3) Tyler Keith & The Preachers ‘ Kids: Wild Emotions

4) The Neckbones: The Lights are Getting Dim

5) Tyler Keith & The Apostles: Do It for Johnny

6) Tyler Keith & The Apostles: Black Highway

7) The Neckbones: Gentlemen

To prove I’m somewhat objective, I’ve never warmed up to The Preachers’ Kids’ The Devil’s Hitlist or Keith’s kinda-solo Alias Kid Twist, though the cassette-only The Apostle is worth the search. To recap, and I will not have stuttered:  Tyler Keith and his projects equal to, if not better, than Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s.

The Rolling Stones: Some Girls and Tattoo You

A few weeks ago, I was having fun making fun of Mick Jagger’s garb and minstrelsy as modeled in videos from these records. Since then, I’ve come back to the videos, then to the records, to just joy in Charlie’s cracking drumming and Keith’s lewd, thick, buzzing guitar lines–sounds of the gods! Played both albums all the way through, loud, with nothing but a smile–and re-re-replays of “Lies,” “Respectable,” “Hang Fire,” “Start Me Up,” and “Neighbors.”

The Go-Betweens: 1978-1990

Yeah, I only listened to this comp THREE TIMES this week. Simply, the cats from Brisbane are my uncontested favorite romantic pop group–the music can rock or be sensuous and luxurious, with constant surprises: spring rain, pool draining, men o’ sand v. girls o’ sea, white witchery + poetry that’s Irish and so black, getting back up on the pony, period blood, cattle and cane. If this album ended after its first 11 tracks, it’d be an A+; as it is, it’s a solid A. Note: I love Grant, but I’m a Robert guy.

Oh, yes, I did. I needed to feel the breeze blowin’ up me, and be reminded what a moon can do (though I was driving into Monett in broad daylight). I also needed to get in touch with the real me before coming all the way home, and the china pig snuffles? They center me.

Short-shrift Division:

I am strange. I grade research papers at midnight to these sounds.

Dennis Gonzales and his New Dallas Sextet: Namesake–Fabulous, passionate, energetic, long-form jazz, from the genre’s most underrated living composer (and one hell of a trumpeter). Secret weapon: on horns and flute, Douglas Ewart!

Roscoe Mitchell: Discussions–The septuagenarian jazz sensei shows no signs of slowing. Playing puts me in a focused, contemplative, unsentimental mood–perfect for scoring freshman essays.

Q: Who is Your Buddha? A: My Buddha is Punk! (February 27th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

It wasn’t a rekkid but a documentary that I “listened to” and was struck by. Andreas Hartmann’s My Buddha is Punk (2015) delighted me for many reasons. Most important, the film captured in specific and moving detail how difficult it must be to be a committed punk and Buddhist, particularly in war-torn, atrocity-scarred Myanmar (where some “Buddhists” initiate the atrocities). The central figure, 25-year-old Kyaw Kyaw, is indefatigable, driving his ragtag band Rebel Riot through rehearsals, debating with a drunken, slipping peer about punk’s meaning while knocking out a fanzine, attending regularly to his Buddhist rituals, confronting an anti-Muslim Buddhist about his stance, traveling miles and miles by train to sell gear, play music, and promote the band (trying to talk a fellow traveler out of joining the military along the way). This is no cinematic masterpiece; artifice would probably get in the way. If you’ve ever been holed up in a dank cellar, trading sweat with other humans while you listen to raw, rough raging songs of freedom and resistance–or if you have struggled to stick to your principles–you’ll want to check out My Buddha is Punk. We watched it through Nicole’s subscription to tricycle, but I know you all have your ways.

Short-shrift Division:

Still on a Dennis Gonzalez roll. It is criminal that this Texan is not more widely known as a master player and composer in jazz: his achievements in balancing freedom and order, making improvised music accessible, and designing dynamic opportunities for and inspiring his fellow musicians are awe-inspiring. Yesterday’s nutritious, euphonious helpings were Gonzalez’s New York Quartet records Midnight Suite and Dance of the Soothsayer’s Tongue. If you love Mingus’ classic work, folks, you have no excuse not to track these down. They don’t sound like Mingus; they simply share that laudable drive bring structured but emotionally unrestrained music to life. (Note: Mike Thompson, on drums, is a wonder.)

In Walked Budd (February 24th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

Budd Johnson, that is! From the opening notes (just click above, podnah) you know you’re going on a deep tenor sax dive, which is what I did yesterday with Johnson on his Swingsville album, Let’s Swing, and indirectly on Etta Jones’ luxuriously blue Lonely & Blue, where Budd, with assistance from the equally great tenor man Gene Ammons, wraps the singer in thick, slow-swinging swaths of indigo.

Both LPs are simply classic. Both are rendered in Rudy Van Gelder’s stunning sound. Both feature a richness and depth of feeling you’ll have some difficulty finding in a new set today.

Funny: I just read an article on meditation written by Repa Dorje Odzer and published in tricycle, and I’d advise you to listen these in much the way the article advised me to sit:

1) Don’t think about past records you’ve heard.

2) Don’t judge what you’re hearing now (hear it arise and unfold).

3) Don’t imagine where the music will go.

4) Don’t try to figure the music out.

5) Don’t try think about how the music could be/should be different (resist controlling thoughts).

6) “Rest, like a bee stuck in honey,” and let the music wash over you.

Easier typed out than done, but Johnson’s and Jones’ (and Ammons’ and Van Gelder’s) work provides a perfect opportunity to try and merge meditation and fully present listening. I’m trying it in a bit.

Short-shrift Division

Hailu Mergia: Tche Belew(Wow! Truly a master Ethiopian jazz-funk composer–I get the funk now.)

Harlem River Drive (all hail the Palmieri Brothers!)

Dennis Gonzalez’ Yells at Eels: In Quiet Waters (Wow! Truly a master free jazz composer!)

Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band: Melody Reimagined, Book 1 (Doesn’t quite live up to the ambitions of the band name or album title, but it’s swinging and lilting and lively nonetheless. The leader’s on form.

Hypnotized by “The Nile River Suite” (February 20th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

Texas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez, backed by his perfectly named Inspiration Band, released The Nile River Suite in 2004. A look at Discogs reveals one available used copy for a little over $30. This is discouraging, as it is merely one of the greatest–one of the deepest, one of the most moving–jazz albums of the millennium.

Three of the compositions were written by Gonzalez; the miraculous title piece is credited to all the musicians, and…what a lineup: Roy Campbell Jr. on trumpet and flute, the unsung master Sabir Mateen on all manner of reed, “T. A” Thompson on drums, and the legendary Henry Grimes on bass in his first appearance in years. Though these players are accurately associated with the free genre, Nile River Suite is not a work of cathartic expressionism or conversational blips, blats, and blurts (not that there’s anything wrong with those)–it’s a masterpiece of surprisingly quiet intensity, studded with lyrical exchanges you won’t soon forget (between Thompson and Grimes in particular) and arrangements that magically exploit the two-trumpet lineup but also give Mateen the spotlight in which to prove he’s the greatest saxophonist you’ve never heard of. Gonzalez manages to conjure the desert in “Sand Baptist,” and send the listener out in meditation with the closing “Hymn for the Ashes of Saturday”; his writing and voicings made me think of Coleman, Mingus, Tapscott, and Ibrahim, but a sidetrack to two other Gonzalez works (Idle Wild, Debenge Debenge, both of which I also highly recommend) confirmed for me that what’s in play is Gonzalez’s unique vision.

One other note: the album was recorded in lustrous and detailed fidelity, which intensifies the sensation of unified intent and shared emotion the group’s performance generates.

I repeat: one of the greatest jazz albums of the millennium. Good luck scoring a copy, and there’s no audio to share here. But it is a most worthy Grail search.

Check out more of Gonzalez’s work at his Bandcamp page and on his blog. Also, a special thank you to Ken Shimamoto, The Stash Dauber, for putting me on Dennis’ trail. Ken has written some exceptional liner notes for a few of Gonzalez’s records.

Short-shrift Division:

Songhoy Blues: Music in Exile

Oruç Güvenç and Tümata: River of One

Soul Sok Sega–Séga Sounds from Mauritius 1973-1979