Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
I received a comment during my latest radio show asking if I was going to play any music by Butch Morris. Morris, the legendary composer, cornetist and group-improvisation innovator had recently died and the listener was, understandably, asking if I was going to be paying tribute. The truth is I have mixed feelings about producing "remembrance" broadcasts. Doing so is a perfectly reasonable thing to do (no station produces better memorial programming than WKCR in New York), and, in fact, I've been moved to present such programs on numerous occasions. But I just can't escape the feeling that this conceit comes tinged with an opportunism that diminishes the sort of tribute I aim to pay my my musical heroes in an ongoing basis.
I experience similar conflicts over the celebration of Black History Month. However worthy the respect and acknowledgment, the formalized segregation of its expression to this one month a year feels like a cheapening to me.
In the spirit of muddling my personal confusion further, please allow me to pay memorial tribute to these magnificent African-American musical genius who left us during the past year...
Butch Morris ~ In Touch…But Out of Reach
(Blog: 9 Grey Chairs)
LAWRENCE D. "BUTCH" MORRIS
February 10, 1947 – January 29, 2013
"…Morris has waxed several other albums that deserve canonization. First, there’s In Touch… But Out of Reach, recorded live in 1978 with a stellar ensemble. It showcases Morris’s more traditional abilities as a cornetist, composer, and bandleader. It’s still adventurous work, but might prove an easier entry for some listeners than the later genre-hopping offerings. In Touch offers key insights into his later work as well as plenty of unalloyed musical pleasure. 'Irin Sun' provides a rare chance to hear Morris as a key part of the band, in a decidedly non-epic setting. Primarily a vehicle for Eubanks, who borrows something of Abdullah Ibrahim’s limpid beauty, the track floats by briskly. It's a lovely, if brief, postcard from Africa. 'Lovers Existing' is a more significant statement, and its shifting arrangements and multiple instrumental combinations suggests the grand experiments in conduction to come. In his typical generous fashion, Morris lays out for much of the track, though his guidance is everywhere evident. Wilbur Morris covers a lot of ground in strong support of Moncur’s long solo, and beneath Morris's late turn about two-thirds of the way in." (Description by Chilly Jay Chill & Prof. Drew LeDrew, at Destination: Out)
John Tchicai & Cadentia Nova Danica ~ Afrodisiaca
(Blog: Poofter's Froth Wyoming)
JOHN MARTIN TCHICAI
April 28, 1936 – October 8, 2012
"A minor classic so unknown that, until this 2008 reissue, it wasn't even listed at All Music Guide, Danish-born of Congolese-descent saxophonist John Tchicai's 1969 MPS release Afrodisiaca is a sprawling, multidisciplinary work that rivals better known works like John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965). No less a personal journey, Afrodisiaca stands, nearly forty years later, as a masterpiece that blends Afro-rhythms and harmonic conceits with improvisation of the freest kind, near-classical microtonalism and innovative sonic experimentation. Its reach as an underground classic is so broad that it's even considered by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore to be 'beautiful, baby, BEAUTIFUL!'" (Description by John Kelman, at All Music Guide)
Byard Lancaster ~ Funny Funky Rib Crib
(Blog: An Ism to Horns and Beats)
August 6, 1942 – August 23, 2012
"You'd have a job categorising this one. While ostensibly it's a jazz record, Lancaster and his ensemble are hardly ones to fixate on a single genre, and so in addition to encountering the straight up swing and flailing funk of 'Dogtown' there's a quality to 'Loving Kindness' that's at once suggestive of George Gershwin and old-time spirituals. Also, there are some truly mindblowing guitar licks on 'Work And Pray' - a real technical tour de force accompanying a contrapuntally languid, bluesy vocal." (Description taken from widely quoted PR copy)
SAMUEL CARTHORNE RIVERS
September 25, 1923 – December 26, 2011
"The album opens in “Circles” with some chewy improv. Thick horns and brittle drumming provide plenty of interplay to keep our wits on a tight leash. Lewis seems the most at home here, providing a bubbling cauldron of likeminded flights. It is the first in a smattering of freer tracks, the others being the slowly building “Solace” and perhaps the most abstract aside, “Images.” This leaves us with a hefty set of rhythm-driven powerhouses. “Zip” tightens the purse strings with an ever-moving tenor for some wholesome, head-nodding goodness. This joint also serves up a heaping drum solo on the side. Our frontman opts for flute in the swinging “Verve” with a renewed spring in his step. Convincing monologues from Holland and Lewis ease into a slow and timid end. “Lines” reprises that contagious soprano sax against an omniscient rhythm section before bowing out for some quality bass time. “Dazzle” brings exactly that, freeing our minds with a Braxton-esque tenor and tap-dancing bass work. Lewis is more than up to the task, scurrying in with Rivers in their joint commitment to going deeper." (Description posted at ECMReviews.com )
David S. Ware ~ From Silence to Music
(Blog: Inconstant Sol)
DAVID SPENCER WARE
November 7, 1949 – October 18, 2012
"So Ware leaves this earth a victor. In a world where conformity is prevalent and privilege from the beginning is usually what guarantees success, he managed to change the history of jazz through authenticity and substance." (Closing paragraph of Matthew Shipp's elegy for David S. Ware)
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