Tag Archives: morning/night

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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Morning Song/Evening Song: Sam Sadigursky

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.

With his rather fetching Words Project records, Sam Sadigursky follows in the footsteps of other luminous poetry meets music titles, including Ishmael Reed’s Conjure discs, Luciana Souza’s investigations into Elizabeth Bishop and Pablo Naruda, and the forever wonderful Lacy/Aebi experiments. Minatures is Sadigursky’s latest, and likely the most vivid, installation, bringing the texts of Kenneth Pachen, Maxim Gorky, Emily Dickinson, and William Carlos Williams to inventive settings. Rather addictive stuff. Thanks to Sam for being our guest blogger.

EVENING

Caroline Hertig – Chalumeau

There’s a staggering virtuosity to the compositions here, and Hartig brings a primal energy to her interpretations of these solo pieces for clarinet, most of them by composers I’m unfamiliar with. There’s such a vitality and edge to the music, all enveloped by Hertig’s amazingly warm clarinet sound. There’s a melodic and rhythmic vocabulary here that I feel really close to, and parallels much of the language of modern improvisers.

MORNING

In the Country – Whiteout

David Doruzka was visiting from Prague last week and insisted we see this group at Le Poisson Rouge the night he arrived. They’re based in Oslo and are quite big in Europe, but virtually unheard of here (they played for a crowd of about eight people at LPR). It’s always so refreshing to hear what can happen when a group of creative and accomplished musicians really commit to an ensemble for an extended period, which seems to happen much more in Europe than it does here. The record has an astonishing depth of sound, logic, and inventiveness – big sections of music seem to roll into one another and solos always feel deeply integrated into the composition. These guys are great improvisers, but they don’t let that stop them from constructing these songs with the care that’s more common to bands like Wilco and Radiohead. Here you have the patience and restraint of an ECM record with a groove and edge that I often miss on those recordings.

Morning Song/Evening Song: Mark Cutler

Another edition of our new franchise that corners a musician and finds out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. You’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.

For the past 25 years Mark Cutler has filled New England rock clubs with the kind of songs that drill into your head. Songs about making hard choices, songs about being afraid, songs about recognizing a glimmer of good where you least expect it. “I’m going to start a church where you can save yourself,” he promises in one tune, and that kind of pithy wisdom crops up time and again in his work. His writing has driven the Schemers, the Raindogs, and several other celebrated outfits. These days he’s in a full-tilt work mode, fronting the Men of Great Courage, and the tiny string band in the Providence area. His new album Red is due out in a month or so. He recently told Shaking Like a Mountain about some favorite “winter” tunes. Here’s what he’s been listening to between dusk and dawn.

EVENING

Last night I had my iPod on shuffle mode and kept skipping through songs but found myself stopping at these.

“What’d I Do Wrong” by Betty Harris (produced by Allen Toussaint) starts with the Meters simmering on a slow burning groove, long mournful horns and a great three note guitar part played by Leo Nocentelli that has “tone plus.” Betty begins in a confessional mode, kinda whispering, kinda low talking, and when she hits the line “I went from riches to rags since I met you…” it’s as if she’s saying  “Don’t you know who you’re listening to?” She doesn’t have to wail for the entire song, she saves her bullets for when it counts. She sings/says, “What did I do wrong?” so naturally, you could be fooled into thinking that she’s just tossing it off. But she’s not tossing it off, she’s delivering it. This is beyond a great performance, this feels too real.

Next up was “Save the Country” by Laura Nyro, produced by Roy Halee; this song starts out as a solo gospel-rock aria performed by a young girl (who knows much more because she was so much younger then) and by the second half it transforms into a Broadway show tune – I can see the dancers with streamers and fabric flowing from their costumes. Laura’s voice is small and huge at the same time. For an agnostic (atheist?), she sure sounds like she’s got the spirit. If she doesn’t believe in God, she surely believes in love.

Then came “Red Dirt Girl” by Emmylou Harris (produced by Malcolm Burn), a sad little tale about a girl who never had the chance to see the world. A key line in the song, “There won’t be any mentions on The News of the World” sadly sums it up.  It’s filled with melodrama but sung with the understated beauty that’s one of Emmylou’s trademarks. When she sings about being there with Lillian when the telegram came from Viet Nam… call me sentimental but that line still makes me well up under the right circumstance. The production is heavy with percussion and mournful guitars courtesy of Buddy Miller. It doesn’t need it; Emmylou can break your heart with just her voice – but you knew that already.

These songs all have a beautiful melancholy quality as well as wonderful arrangements, honest heartfelt lyrics and five star performances. There is not one false note or feeling in the bunch.

MORNING

“Sail on Sailor” and “Girl Don’t Tell Me” by the Beach Boys. I know that there are more epic songs by the Beach Boys  and I love them too, but these two songs nail it for me most of the time. I love the plaintive feel in Blondie Chaplin’s voice – I love that he’s the singer! Carl could have easily done this one,  but they had Blondie sing it and he owns the song now. Ricky Fataar’s drum part is as identifiable as anything Ringo ever did. What a beautiful psalm to the sea. Produced by Carl Wilson!

“Girl Don’t Tell Me.” Now, I love Brian’s voice, but I think I love Carl’s voice a little more and his performance on this one is a prime example of why.  “I’m the guy-eye-eye who left you with tears in his eyes…”  I don’t care what anyone thinks, these songs are gospel music and these songs are soul music.

Morning Song/Evening Song: Ellery Eskelin

Another edition of our new franchise that corners a musician and finds out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. You’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.

Today’s guest blogger is Ellery Eskelin, the intrepid tenor saxophonist with the plush tone and the wide scope of ideas. He’s tipped the hat to Gene Ammons in a fractious session with Marc Ribot, he commandeered an utterly unique trio with Andrea Parkins and Jim Black, and he’s made hay with pals such as Dave Liebman. His latest album is Every So Often, a delicate duet disc with pianist Sylvie Courvoisier. Here he is describing his recent spins.


EVENING

Lester Young – “Polka Dots & Moonbeams” (YouTube video)
Saw Don Byas on a Basie video and was reminded how “on it” he was in his note choices (not to mention sound and delivery).  Saw some of his videos (including one with Slam Stewart on bass (whose sound I recall clearly from listening to my mother’s record collection, on a Dizzy Gillespie big band record).  From there I went to Lester Young and found this one, which I had not seen before.  Essence.

MORNING

Johnny Cash – “The Man Comes Around”
Was reading about what would have been his 78th birthday on Friday, and pulled out Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around.  There’s an essence and vulnerability here.  Very intense without being at all overwrought.  Quite the opposite.

Morning Song/Evening Song: Pete Malinverni

Another edition of our new franchise that corners a musician and finds out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. You’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.

This post belongs to Pete Malinverni. The New York pianist has a great touch, whether getting fierce with the right hand on a bop tune or building a mood with his left on a ballad. Theme & Variations (Reservoir) finds him concocting parallel sketches on self-penned ditties and chestnuts such as Ornette’s “Blues Connotation.” His Invisible Cities band makes a case for just how inventive mainstream jazz can be. Malinverni is known for both passion and candor.

MORNING

The Leipzig String Quartet: FJ Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ.”

As an improvising musician I try have my music include the structural integrity of the greatest “composed” music in history, but in a free and extemporaneous way.  To facilitate that I listen to music I consider as “perfect” as possible, written by people with the benefit of time and erasers.  In this case, I was preparing to write some appropriate pieces on which Steve Wilson and I could improvise between movements of the “Seven Last Words” in concert with the Leipzig Quartet, so I had to internalize Haydn’s themes and recognize some of his compositional techniques.  In so doing I entered the world of a man who was using more chromaticism and interesting textures than I’d previously thought Haydn employed — inspiring and reassuring at the same time. Listen to the piece played live.

NIGHT

Shirley Horn: “Here’s to Life”

My wife, Jody Sandhaus, and I recently began to listen again to this masterpiece of a recording.  It’s Shirley at the peak of her expressive powers, and it features Johnny Mandel‘s arrangements and orchestrations.  The way Johnny envelops the song, clothing it anew without ever distracting from the simple beauty of what Shirley’s doing, is a lesson to all accompanists, arrangers and musicians in general.

First Song This Morning, Final Song Last Night

Time to introduce a new franchise with a simple premise: corner a musician and find out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. Hopefully you’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.

This edition belongs to Michael Attias, the Brooklyn-based multi-reedist who leads Renku, a trio that finds him in cahoots with bassist John Hebert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. Their latest disc, Renku In Colmbra (Clean Feed) assures us that agility is one of jazz’s bedrock traits. The trio’s chemistry allows for all sorts of post-Air excursions. He works with Tony Malaby, Marty Ehrlich, Fred Lomborg-Holm, Amanda Monaco, Ralph Alessi, and a host of others. Hats off to Michael for his participation; here are his thoughts on his recent spins.

LAST NIGHT

Miles Davis – “Prince of Darkness” (Sorcerer)

It’s the incredible modernity of Ron Carter that gets me. We’re still dealing with the implications of the kind of elasticity and rhythmic/harmonic superimpositions at work under Wayne Shorter‘s solo. Hearing the original is always the emotional and physical shock it should be. The Sound of Tony‘s drums and cymbals – a blister of moon cut through black clouds moving. The injunction in this kind of beauty is  Rilke’s “You must change your life.”

THIS MORNING

Charlie Parker – Bird of Paradise (take C) – (Complete Dial Sessions)

Chosen for the intense physical projection of sound, shape, geometry and how singable it is – a sculpture held taut in mid air by the invisible wires of a melody that’s never played (“All the Things You Are”).  Learning to play it from Bird’s sound is about how many kinds of eighth note feels you can inject into your nervous system, how many ways of playing and falling from middle D in a fraction of a second. Things the Omnibook and jazz education cannot teach you, cannot graph into their coordinates. Nor the brutal sweetness of his attack.

renku plays at the cornelia st cafe on march 13

First Song This Morning, Final Song Last Night

Time to introduce a new franchise with a simple premise: corner a musician and find out what he or she listened to before bed and after rising. Sometimes the tunes are deliberately chosen; sometimes they just bubble up as life is being lived. I’ve got requests out to several participants. Hopefully you’ll see responses every few days during the next few weeks.

First up is the forever enchanting Janine Nichols, she of Flutterbox and other ensembles (watch her stop time with Charlie Burnham and Brandon Ross doing “The Gray Funnel Line” above).  She is also a visual artist, making beguiling collages that you can see (and purchase) right here. Because she has a big heart, she gave us two days worth of responses. My thanks to her for kicking off this new deal. Take it away, Janine.

SATURDAY EVENING

tUnE-yArDs, “News.”

This is one of my pal Hal Willner‘s current fave singers, so I was trawling her YouTube videos. Completely engaging. A secret African.

SUNDAY MORNING
Aretha Franklin,  “I Never Loved A Man,” Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul

It’s a demo, and it’s totally on top of the beat. It only got better. She’s a great, totally underrated piano player.

SUNDAY EVENING
James Booker, “Black Minute Waltz.” It’s from Junco Partner (Hannibal), a record I love. How about those Saints? Everything in NOLA changed in one black minute.

MONDAY MORNING
The Louvin Brothers, “There’s A Higher Power.” Luck of the iTunes draw. Such gorgeous pitch and strength and snap and belief.

what’s your favorite morning and evening song? leave a comment.