Screamin’ J

I see that Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s ’90s albums are going to be reissued. Back in the day I had a real mixed response: I was glad they were out there because he could use the moolah; these numbers were just (sometimes good) jokes — his earlier renditions had been both jokes and not-jokes. And this is one of my all-time favorite Hairy Who paintings (very sad to see it is not on display — first discovered it visiting the museum in Chicago):

http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/109886

 

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #64: Catching Up with Brad Mehldau Trio

Seymour Reads the Constitution (Nonesuch) came out more than two months ago, but it got lost in a pile until this weekend. Wish I had the smarts to take it to Montana, or at least Montreal. I thought this same group’s Bach project earlier this year worked as music but was emotionally opaque. This set churns and simmers with the despair, anxiety and outrage apt in these times while it makes the Beach Boys’ “Friends” and Paul McCartney’s “Great Day” into full-bore jazz workouts the way so many others try and fail to achieve, then throws in amazing reworkings of a pair of my favorite players and writers, Elmo Hope (“De-Dah”) and Sam Rivers (“Beatrice”).

But the apex is that the title tune original goes on such a slightly melancholic frolic. You should read Mehldau’s explanation of how the number came about, though it does involving talking about dreams and the death of Seymour Hoffman.

Flashback #1: 2007 Mixdiscs

Usually in the slow days of summer, I get the urge to re-listen to the older homemade CDs I have moldering in the basement. The rock item is a bit ruder and rowdier sequence than I might make now, but I will stick up for all the tracks listed here. (As always, does include some beloved tracks I simply discovered that year.)

ROCK ‘N’ WHATEVER 2007 — PART TWO

  1. Tracy Thorn, “Get Around to It”
  2. The Scoff, “Nasty”
  3. Budos Band, “Deep in the Sand”
  4. Les Savy Fav, “Pots & Pans”
  5. Against Me!, “White People for Peace”
  6. Brakes, “Porcupine or Pineapple”
  7. Rudder, “Squarefoot”
  8. Rilo Kiley, “Breakin’ Up”
  9. Fu Manchu, “Shake It Loose”
  10. Queens of the Stone Age, “Sick, Sick, Sick”
  11. Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
  12. Gore Gore Girls, “Where Evil Grows”
  13. Cafe Tacuba, “Agua”
  14. Loudon Wainwright III, “Grey in L.A.”

 

JAZZ DIARY 2007 — Vol. Two

  1. Nino Josele, “Turn Out the Stars”
  2. Bobby Hutcherson, “The Omen”
  3. Alan Pasqua, “The Anti-Social Club”
  4. Philly Joe Jones/Elvin Jones, “Le Roi”
  5. Benny Carter, “Frenesi”
  6. The Nils Cline Singers, “Caved-In Heart Blues”
  7. Max Roach Quintet, “Ezz-Thetic”
  8. Christian Scott, “Katrina’s Eyes”
  9. Mark Murphy, “Angel Eyes”
  10. Billy Bang Quintet, “Nothing But Love”
  11. Massacre, “Return”

 

If You Don’t Have Everything Bessie Smith Recorded You’re Missing Out

“Blue Spirit Blues”

Had a dream last night
That I was dead
Had a dream last night
That I was dead

Evil spirits
All around my bed

The devil came
And grabbed my hand
The devil came
And grabbed my hand

Took me way down
To that red hot land

Mean blues spirits
Stuck their forks in me
Mean blues spirits
Stuck their forks in me

Made me moan
And groan in misery

Fairies and dragons
Spitting out blue flames
Fairies and dragons
Spitting out blue flames

Showing their teeth
For they was glad I came

Demons with their eyelash
Dripping blood
Demons with their eyelash
Dripping blood

Dragging sinners
To their brimstone flood

“This is hell”, I cried
Cried with all my might
“This is hell”, I cried
Cried with all my might

Oh, my soul
I can’t bear the sight

Started running
‘Cause it is my cup
Started running
‘Cause it is my cup

Run so fast
Till someone woke me up

Reflections on Types of Tech in Music

The end of hectic travel means organizing and sorting CDs and vinyl that have been laying around for months.

Before we get to tech and types, two albums that sounded tremendous on the road:

David Bowie, Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (Parlophone) Bowie was not a driven professional in all senses. I was furious at him for years because I felt he’d become lazy making albums and he mailed in the final time I saw him perform. But, as you know, if he knew something serious was on the line, he could unleash the torrents on stage. These two particular performances (June 30 and July 1) were intended to become a film and fortunately were mixed and produced. Then Bowie decided he couldn’t stand the visuals and the whole project got shelved. The band sound a tiny bit distant at times but that’s the only reason I wouldn’t say get this before Stage even.  Although the material and song sequence are very similar, the impassioned, even slightly crazed vocals here create a stand-alone work.

Gorillaz, The Now Now (WB/Parlophone). Only heard this twice, but let me just cite one marvelous long shot: “Humility” (feat. George Benson) really clicks.

I feel a key richness of design and depth of thought and feelings are lost if the unit of music slides from albums into single songs and playlists. And I’m not some sort of Mr. Natural Sound — I believe the right sort of extensive production can work wonders. But certain things have holes in their soul: almost all piano-roll recordings; new vocals tacked onto the music of dead people; and the latest, hi-tech Frankenstein’s monsters where music from all sorts of eras can be bolted together. Yargh.