(Final?) Followup on Carl Craig’s “Versus”

Checked out Debussy done by Les Siecles, directed by Francois-Xavier Roth. Because I wanted to hear something else by the ensemble that worked on Versus. Turns out much like the more familiar numbers on the Francesco Tristano piano-duets album: smart and lots of fun, but I can live without. With the added limitation that I don’t hear anything more in Versus after hearing this. Just (“just”) a sprightly modern classical ensemble.

Looks like that’s a wrap.

Followup on Carl Craig’s “Versus”


Tristano is one of the prime collaborators on Craig’s techno-classical fusion marvel. This is a set of piano duets from 2014 (don’t these two look like they’re straight from central casting?). It features three familiar works arranged for piano duet by the composers: “Le Sacre du printempts” by Stravinski, “The Story of the Kalendar Prince” by Rimsky-Korsakov and “La Valse” by Ravel. These are lots of fun, but I could live without them. What you have to hear is Tristano’s original, “A soft shell groove.”

The revelation is his phrasing, structures, sequences that seem to conclude but perfectly not quite. In short, his musical language, which you then can go back and discern most vividly on the Versus tracks. Tristano’s skill at immersing himself in Craig’s work seems even more remarkable to me now.


Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #58

Julius Eastman, Unjust Malaise (2005)

Just getting into this, but man oh freakin’ man, Eastman is undeniably as fascinating and inventive as Alex Ross and NY Times’s Woolfe proclaim (though it’s interesting they differ about “Feminine,” which is not on the Unjust Malaise overview).

Anyway, the most gripping and overwhelming new classical composer I’ve heard in I don’t know how many years. A must.

Birthday Weekend Soundtrack

Played nothing but masterpieces or at least some of my favorites done by masters that enraptured me in the years before I turned pro, when I was another young music crazy. Hardly definitive in any way — the only rule was to look through interior and exterior catalogues and obey impulse — I will stick up for all of these as immortal. (Well, except for the Mailbox Moratoriums, of course.)

Glenn Gould, Bach — Goldberg Variations (CBS, 1955)

Duke Ellington, The Essential Collection — 1927-1962 (Columbia) (Sadly, does not include the relative obscurity that, for whatever reason, suddenly made me understand Ellington’s language back in 1975 — “Harlem Air Shaft.”)

John Lennon, Anthology (Capitol, 1998, Disc 1). Gets his personality mixed with artistry across as well as anything I know.

Otis Redding, Live at the Whisky A Go Go — The Complete Recordings (Volt, 2016) Selected program from discs 5 & 6.

Thelonious Monk, The Unique Thelonious Monk (Riverside, 1956) Holy Trinity: Monk, Pettiford, Blakey. All standards that all sound like originals. Not a duff moment.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions, This Year’s Model (Deluxe Edition, Hip-O, 2008). Nothing but Action.

MAILBOX MORATORIUM, PT. ONE (new releases — or at least new to me — that arrived on Saturday)

David Bromberg Band, “The Blues, The Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues” (Red House). I think I like the new Stones blues album a bit more than Bob C., but he’s right — this is a better, blusier, more confidently American-idiom album than theirs. A music friend has been bugging me to to go Bromberg shows for years and I’ve always grunted and demurred. Now I think I screwed up.

Populous, Night Safari (Bad Panda). Arty labels like they hardly make no more scores another one.


Jelly Roll Morton, Jelly Roll Stomp (Tradition, 1999). No, not his best recordings by a long shot. But the only ones done when he was a “youth” and the king of his world in NOLA.

Svatoslav Richter, At Carnegie Hall, October 28, 1960 — Part II (Columbia). Rachmaninoff, Ten Preludes, encores by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Debussy and Prokofiev. The selection of encores in particular is absolutely phenomenal.

David Bowie, Blackstar. The first day after my birthday in my life that David Bowie wasn’t around to  celebrate his. You pick up more death references every time you listen.

Parliament, Mothership Connection (Casablanca, 1975) Vinyl version, side 2 only. “Night of the Thumpasorus People,” man, as elegant as deep-down-dirty funk gets.

Funkadelic (The U.S. Funk Mob), Hardcore Jollies (Warner Bros., 1976). Turned loads of people on to this by playing in the Boston record store where I worked the first year I moved. Sat. Nite Fevah, sure, but check this out.


Shabaka and the Ancestors, Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood Recordings) Multi-ethnic mix roughly amounts to current South African jazz jam with political edge, sometimes party sometimes pointed. More listens needed.


Various, Journey Into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story (Rhino, 2006). Let’s get this party started and make it pretty.