Morning Song/Evening Song: Ben Allison

Another edition of our franchise that asks a musician what he or she listened to before bed and after awakening.  I’ve got requests out to several participants. Responses will float in during the next few weeks.

Ben Allison is a melody man. For the last decade the bassist/composer has written songs for his jazz ensembles to mess with, but regardless of how intricate or inspired their improv may be, it’s near impossible to shake off the essence of the tune they’re working. That’s called “catchiness.” With Think Free (Palmetto), one of 2009’s most striking discs, that thematic expertise comes to full fruition. The album is filled with the kind of pieces that stick around yr noggin for weeks. From “Green Al” to “Fred” (see above vid clip), Allison is refining his writing’s evocative nature. We nabbed him during a busy week for a guest blogger post in the Morning Song/Evening Song feature. Take it, B.

MORNING

Trio of Doom – “Para Oriente”

It’s the band made up of John Mclaughlin (guitar), Jaco Pastorius (bass), Tony Williams (drums). Recorded live at the Havana Jam Festival in 1979, both the tune and performance put me in a good mood. It’s super funky, with a explosive grunge-like quality. And the dynamics are amazing. Tony Williams’ snare fills are like a Tommy gun. There’s a lot of space in between the notes that I really appreciate. I’ve also heard the studio version of this tune but think the live one hits in a better way. I wonder what Cuba was like in 1979? I imagine this festival was a career highlight for the musicians coming from the US.

EVENING

PJ Harvey – “Man-Size”

I usually don’t listen to music at night, unless I’m at a concert or playing.  I prefer silence by the end of the day. But late in the afternoon, before I turn off the stereo, I’m usually into my most adventurous listening. Today it was this track from PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me. Low and tight guitar part in an odd meter on one version, a string quartet on the other.  PJ’s punk rasp makes a strong statement. Psychotic, really. Cool mix, too.

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