Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
Though I hardly avoid using it, I really do dislike the term "free jazz." For adherents to the Marsalis orthodoxy, the term is often just a snide reference to some musicians' assumed lack of formal education; for more open-minded artists and enthusiasts, the arbitrary label "jazz" is itself insufficient to signify the full omniverse of improvised musical expression—and, to me, adding the qualifier "free" only doubles down on the rigid compartmentalization. (I mean, what could be freer than the earthy but untethered majesty of Louis Armstrong's Tight Like This. [mp3]) Many creative improvisers from a certain generation have always found the term to be insulting. "About the only thing 'free' associated with my music," I remember hearing one artist grumble, "is that I'm expected to play for it."
That said, Mining the Audio Motherlode mourns the passing of extraordinary saxophonist and "free jazz legend" Noah Howard, who died suddenly this past Friday. Born in New Orleans in 1943, Howard performed with hometown hero Armstrong as a young man. If by "free" we mean filled with joy and the insatiable desire to express it musically, then Noah, like Louis, was free as a bird.
First a requiem, and then joy...
Resurrected from out-of-print ignominy briefly last year with a limited-edition reissue, Noah Howard's sublime opus from 1969 sounds to my ears wise and beautiful, not "propelled throughout by an almost incoherent rage," (as described in the liners). Arthur Doyle makes his recording debut here.
Filling dance floors for over two decades, this horn and guitar outfit from Guinea (originally named the 22 Novembre Band commemorating a dastardly raid by Portuguese commandos on that date in 1970), made a trio of tremendous records for Syliphone. This one is the third. Their second LP, Venez Voir!! was featured in Volume 12 of Mining the Audio Motherlode.
Dejan's Original Olympia Brass Band ~ "New Orleans Street Parade"
(Blog: Magic Purple Sunshine)
Everything Is Lovely
With the death, in February, of saxophonist Ernest Watson, and then Grand Marshall "King" Richard Matthews, in May, Olympia's second line finally came to the end of the line. At the height of it's powers, this crew of mighty conjurers traveled to distant Berlin in 1968 where this recording was made.
Os Diagonais ~ "Os Diagonais"
From the album: Não Dá Prá Entender (mp3)
Moving toward full-blown funk with its release of Cada um na Sua in 1971, Os Diagonais—which employed solo star Hyldon and songwriter Cassiano, and served as Timi Maia's backing band—was still pumping out groovy samba pop/soul with this 1969 debut LP. Inexplicably, the download for this record, posted at the tremendous Loronix all the way back in 2006, is still working.
Bill Evans w/George Russell Orchestra ~ "Living Time"
(Blog: Bill Evans)
Among the Living
I'm guessing that most of Bill Evans's most fervent devotees despised this unclassifiable record when it came out in 1972, but I think it is thrilling and gorgeous. Reportedly, Columbia Records has been pressuring Evans to deliver more accessible material, and this rockish collaboration—with an insanely talented large ensemble under George Russell's direction—surely got a few pink slips delivered to red-faced suits in the label's boardroom. (Bonus: If you adore this like I do, you'll also love Gil Evans's There Comes a TIme.)
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