Jazz music, news and views

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Odds and Ends


My apologies once again for the sudden hiatus, which will continue a bit into next week as I travel to Philly. In the meantime, though, I had a few odds and ends that I wanted to put out there:

1) Back in January, Doug Ramsey of Rifftides mentioned an ongoing John Cage composition for organ, "Organ2/ASLSP," currently being performed in Halberstadt, Germany. Cage intended for the piece to last 20 minutes, being played as slow as possible; the John Cage Organ Project decided to interpret him much more literally: this performance of the piece should take 639 years to complete. This past Friday, they changed notes.

2) I added this blog to the sidebar a while back but still wanted to draw your attention to Darcy James Argue's Secret Society. Fans of forward-looking large ensembles and long-form composition drawing on jazz, classical and indie influences will especially enjoy his pieces. Notable "co-conspirators" in the orchestra include Ingrid Jensen, Mike Holober and Donny McCaslin. Full-length mp3s of his group's adventurous live performances are available there in addition to musings on music, politics, musical politics, etc. Also check out HisSpace.

3) This past weekend, I caught a couple great shows:

3a) The Music of Miles Davis at the OCPAC: Eddie Henderson, Steve Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, David Kikoski, Ed Howard and Jimmy Cobb. Solid hard-bop playing from all involved, dipping into the songbook from Miles's first quintet and sextet ("Milestones," "All Blues," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Straight, No Chaser," etc.). I'm particularly fond of Dr. Henderson's dark, bronze-like horn sound. Wilson's clarity of tone was quite powerful, and Escoffery had some very exciting things to say. Kikoski sounds top-notch on record, but seeing him live is quite another experience. He builds a solo like any other player, but it's as much a physical experience as a musical one. He was tipping the piano bench forward, fingers flying over the keys. He has a modern, elastic sense of time, a brilliantly percussive touch (with very hip voicings) and a deep blues vocabulary. And he's got chops to burn. Get a taste here.

3b) David Sills at the Lighthouse Cafe: Sills, Gary Foster, Larry Koonse, Putter Smith and Tim Pleasant. One of the first things Ozzie Cadena said to me when I got there was that it reminded him of some of Lee Konitz's and Warne Marsh's best work. Sills is cool-toned indeed, and Foster's sound fits like a glove, much like the Konitz/Marsh pairing. Of course, they both clearly have more to offer than licks from their predecessors. Foster's tone is simply gorgeous and gives a healthy dose of bebop in his solos without sounding like a Charlie Parker impressionist on autopilot. Sills can either deliver a warm, clean tenor sound or dirty it up for more aggressive statements. Smith and Pleasant sounded great together (the latter had some very tasty solo moments), and Koonse gave a simple but outstanding chord melody solo strummed with all four fingers fluttering. He says, by the way, that he may be recording a new album soon (likely on his own label) with some classically inspired sounds... Very cool.

4) Finally, tune into KJazz later this month for a special 4-part feature on Miles Davis, leading up to his 80th birthday, including interview excerpts from Mike Stern, Dave Douglas, Maria Schneider, Eddie Henderson, Jeremy Pelt and Jimmy Cobb. The features will be posted here in time. In the meantime, check out some thorough posts and podcasts on Miles's evolution from Straight No Chaser.

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