Jazz It Up
by Thomas Schulte
Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.
Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.
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With Earthworks, drummer Bill Bruford has built up an image for himself in the
land of jazz to rival his profile in prog rock (Yes, King Crimson). Such artistic
success in jazz requires constant performance with the same set of musicians
so that the entire group is comfortable and completely inside the material.
This is especially true for instrumental jazz written by the members of the
group, as is the case for all tracks on this CD. Mostly relying on music previously
released on CD by the current edition of Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, the 2-CD
set Footloose and Fancy Free (DGM) captures the group performing well-rehearsed
material at the comfortable conclusion of a two-night appearance at the Pizza
Express Jazz Club, London 2001… Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii offer a concept
album in Clouds (Libra Records). Each of the six tracks takes its name
from a cloud species, as in “Cirrocumulus.” Like the protean, fantastic nature
of these denizens of the atmosphere, the free trumpet-piano compositions, lacking
a true rhythm section, are unfettered, floating. Like in mind-inspired cloud
busting, these pieces form into impressionistic melodies and than break apart
in sputter improvisation only to reform elsewhere… For Mexican-American jump
jive spicy as a habañero, do not miss Pachuco Boogie (Arhoolie).
Featuring the work of Don Tosti, this compendium of original recordings features
brisk Mexican raps in blistering barroom boogie with other assorted swinging
Mexican swinging forms. This is an excellent time capsule of the post-World
War II Mexican zoot suit culture… David Klein uses his Quarter to explore the
cool jazz possibilities of tunes from Marilyn Monroe films on My
Marilyn (Enja). After selling
30,000 copies in Europe, this disc is now available in the United States. The
exquisite collection use the pieces as launching points into sophisticated jazz
while vocalist Miriam Klein is on hand to assure none of the sexuality is lost
in the swinging cerebral sounds… Percy Jones helped map out the jazz-fusion
formula as bassist and founding member in Brand X. Percy now plays behind the
vibes trio Tunnels. The remainder of the group, Marc Wagnon on vibes and drummer
Frank Katz were also in Brand X. On Progressivity (Buckyball
Records), John Goodsall appears as a special guest reuniting with his Brand
X band-mate in a post-fusion progression of instrumental jazz-rock. Progressivity
is an exciting recording of innovative electric jazz…
Super Furry Animals announce a competition coinciding with the release of their
critically lauded new album Rings Around The World (XL/Beggars Group).
Chief prize in this on-line competition is unique DVD player, hand-painted by
artist Pete Fowler. Pete Fowler is the artist behind SFA’s sleeve design. His
Monsterism dolls are available only from his Website.
The DVD player will come complete with a signed copy of the Super Furry Animals
interactive 5.1 Surround Sound DVD of Rings Around The World. This is
a collection of 18 specially made films. To enter the competition, go here.
There the rules explain how to use Pete Fowler’s animated moonscape to find
the 5 multi-choice questions that must be answered correctly for a chance to
win. All entries need to be received by June 30, 2002.
Disaster Records, the label of foremost
skate-punk personality Duane Peters, releases May 6th the Punk Skate comp Concrete
Waves. This contains brand new studio recordings from three acts. JFA formulated
skate rock and spread the word through constant touring. On recording hiatus
since vocalist Brian Brannon went to work in 1990 at Thrasher Magazine
as music editor, these five new songs are the first additions to the JFA discography
since No Blossoms (1988). Recent inductees into the skate rock are Blue
Collar Special, also appearing here. Blue Collar Special appeared on Old
Skars & Upstarts 2001 with the final group appearing here, The Worthless.
This up and coming group has a 7″ and LP on Taang! Records and the singer is
Duane’s nephew. You can hear an MP3 of JFA’s “Skateboard Anarchy” at Alive.
Scooch Pooch Records recalls original punk waves out of Detroit with the release
of a Best Of by The Sillies entitled America’s Most Wanton. Spanning
a quarter-century history on a CD and LP release, this 12-track compilation
is due out June 17. Included are their earliest live performances and rare, unreleased
studio tracks. Criminally overlooked after their 1977 debut show with the MC5,
Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys described The Sillies as “Detroit’s Best Live
Band.” Missing several opportunities for greater notoriety, like a possible
1978 Detroit show with the Sex Pistols, The Sillies went on to share the bill later
with The Damned, The Cramps, The Dead Boys, and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.
This anthology includes a 1980 recording of “Punk Rock Girl.” This song features
Dennis Thompson with Wayne Kramer. This is the first time they have appeared
on a recording together since The MC5 in 1972. After the release, The Sillies
will tour. The Sillies have always been a revolving cast behind core members
singer/guitarist Ben Waugh and keyboardist Kurse-10. Slated to join the tour
are Lunachicks drummer Becky Wreck and former fire-breathing Nashville Pussy
bassist Corey Parks.
TO DISTRIBUTE IUMA CD SALES
CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com) announced its distribution agreement with IUMA, part
of Vitaminic Group, the leading European platform for the promotion and distribution
of digital music over fixed and wireless networks. IUMA has now outsourced the
distribution of all CD sales from its site
to CD Baby’s warehouse and distribution system. This is transparent to users
of the IUMA site, who are still able to buy CDs from the IUMA site, but CD Baby
completes and ships the orders. IUMA no longer requires a warehouse and shipping
staff. This is a boon to the artists featured on IUMA, as they are now featured
on CD Baby as well. CD Baby currently has an increasing customer base selling
over 4,000 CDs per week. One third of these are international orders. CD Baby
pays over $20,000 weekly to independent artists for CDs sold, and has paid over
$1,200,000 to independent artists in its four-year history.
ESTATES HONORS MOTOWN LEGENDS
A new residential community in Detroit, the Woodbridge Estates, features streets
named to honor Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Supremes, Martha Reeves
and the Vandellas, The Miracles, The Contours, The Four Tops and the late Marvin
Gaye. Artists and their families attended a celebration marking the naming of
the new streets. Woodbridge Estates salute other Motown musical luminaries later
this year by naming parks in their honor.
Woodbridge Estates, a $97 million residential development, is a 47-acre, mixed-income,
mixed-ownership development, benefiting from a public-private partnership between
Scripps Parks Associates, and the Detroit Housing Commission.
Here are some recent releases of their Motown hits by the honored artists:
My Girl: The Very Best Of The Temptations
to or Buy at CDNow
The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart – The Complete Recordings
Listen to or Buy at CDNow
The Four Tops
Listen to or Buy at CDNow
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
The Best Of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
Listen to or Buy at CDNow
Let’s Get It On (Deluxe Edition)
Listen to or Buy at CDNow
REVIEWS OF READABLES ***************************
Sound Collector Audio Review
Sound Collector Magazine, POB 2056, NYC, NY 10013
Sound Collector Audio Review is a newsprint periodical for serious music
enthusiasts. Breaking itself from the hold of label release schedules, the magazine
offers lengthy, in-depth recording reviews of not only new releases, but also
any recording in existence SCAR feels is in need of recollection and/or analysis.
Reviews run into a couple feet of column inches as passionate and articulate
writers provide exegesis on such albums as Thin Lizzy Vagabonds of the Western
World (Decca/London, 1973). Graphics artists such as Joshua
Krause provide art for the articles. This is another way SCAR breaks from
the music journal mold as we are presented with less reproduced album covers
or publicity stills. It gives this music enthusiast great pleasure to see that
such recent (but not new) and noteworthy recordings as The Strokes Is This
It? (RCA, 2001) are given just due in the same publication that still remembers
the criminally underappreciated The Only Ones’ Special View (Epic, 1979).
A subscription to Sound Collector Audio Review is among the best education
in full spectrum pop and rock appreciation available.
The Walls Came Tumbling Down
New Falcon Publications
Robert Anton Wilson wrote this film script in the late ’90’s while settling
into a new environment (Los Angeles) and recovering from a collapsed film deal.
Wilson waited nearly a decade before publishing it. This is not one of Wilson’s
better works. Wilson’s books of philosophy and social criticism shine with brilliance,
wit and a clarifying debunking. Praise of these points festoons the covers here,
but it is not The Walls Came Tumbling Down that earns that lauding.
In the story Michael, an academic scientist, is so barraged with hallucinations
and the paranormal that his entire reality is upset for reality only to emerge
as a world run by a controlling shadow government with an extraterrestrial treaty.
The quick scene changes and short dialogues threaten to unseat even the reader.
The Golgotha imagery, folk hallucinogens and parallel universe theorization
is a grab bag of alternate reality models that may have been advanced in the
late ’80’s. However, it now reads as predictable, unexciting and not revealing
at all. Certainly a necessary addition to the library of the Wilson completists,
but a better entry point into his wisdom can be found in Reality Is What
You Can Get Away With or Prometheus Rising.
& Larry Dunlap, Editors
The All-Jazz Real Book
The All-Jazz Real Book is a sturdy, well-constructed volume. The strong
plastic, large-diameter spiral binding allows the book to set open and legible
on any page whether on the music stand or piano. The durability of the binding
guarantees a long life for even the most referenced copy. The charts in this
C-version use chord notation from Standard Chord Symbol Notation (Brandt
and Roemer). These large-print symbols are easy to read off the page. Lyrics
are provided for songs that have them.
This is a hip jazz book that goes beyond the expected. Do not look for “Caravan”
or “Embraceable You” here. Instead, the carefully selected tunes fall into three
genres: classic jazz (Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, etc.), international
forms (Jobim, Eddie Palmieri, Orlando “Maraca” Valle, etc.), and contemporary
jazz. Some examples of contemporary jazz, which fills half the book, are Astral
Project, Kurt Elling, and John Scofield. Indexing is by title.
Additionally, an appendix lists the source albums or sheets.
This book has the distinction of being the first such volume to include
a CD. Both an excellent practice aid and good listening, the disc has 37 tracks
performed by an electric or acoustic combo as appropriate. Chuck Sher points
out that the songs on the CD are mostly those “people might be hesitant to try
to play upon first glance.” This is definitely the jazz fake book for the jazz
student looking to expand his or her horizons.
Metaphors for the Musician: Perspectives from a Jazz Pianist
With a quarter-century of experience teaching jazz piano, Randy Halberstadt
approaches the subject of learning music (music in general, not merely jazz
piano) sagely and philosophically. While the book’s kernels of wisdom can be
of benefit to any music student, there does remain a focus that makes Metaphors
primarily a useful adjunct to the study of jazz piano.
remembrances, framed to showcase lessons learned, invite the reader to benefit
from his experience. Through colorful, imaginary examples, Halberstadt seeks
to jumpstart the brain into degrees of freedom required for a successful jazz
state of mind. Along the way of fun and prose come well thought-out examples.
Embedded in these sophisticated studies is the knowledge of years that makes
practice more productive. Halberstadt’s method moves away from rote rehearsing
simple building blocks into shorter steps of logical progression that add variety
to the learning process. To bring it all together, the volume includes sheet
music for several tunes, among them “Embraceable You”, “How Long Has This Been
Going On?” and “My Foolish Heart.” From fast fingerings to proper professionalism,
Metaphors is a cornucopia of talent catalysts.
This documentary plots the lives of the guiding members of Star Walking, an
Australian Star Wars fan club. Leading up to the Australian release of Episode
1: The Phantom Menace, the appreciation society puts on two conventions,
one before and after. Besides chronicling the heights of obsession and the lifelike
costuming exhibited by these people, the film works as a study in the reaction
of hardcore fans to Episode 1. The film’s message, which seems to echo
in the administrative changes in Star Walking after viewing the film, is how the
16-year wait for another Lucas chapter in the saga resulted in a build-up, euphoria
on first viewing the film, and subsequent deflation as that hardcore fan, the
fan that lived through the releases of the first three films, analyzed Episode
1, and found it wanting. (3)
Time’s Up Live
Time’s Up Live marks the first public performance in England by Genesis
P-Orridge since he felt compelled to leave that country and reside in the U.S.
Not only does Genesis perform with Psychic TV, but with Thee Majesty in this
DVD. Eight Psychic TV songs are shown: “She Touched Me,” “Riot in the Eye of
the Sky,” “Seduce Me,” “Jigsaw,” “I Like You,” “Feet of Broken Glass,” “Godstar”
and a diabolical version of The Rolling Stones’ “Play with Fire.” However, this
is just a portion of the 1999 Royal Festival Hall event. Also performing were Scanner,
? & The Mysterians and Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats. We get one song from
each group along with a segment from The Master Musicians of Jajouka. Actor
Quentin Crisp introduces each group and an additional feature of the DVD is
a talk between Crisp and Genesis, mostly about why they both find life better
in New York. Additional bonus material is videos for “Godstar” and “Scared to
The New York Post ran the headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” The article
underneath described how a “maniac” forced a patron to decapitate the tavern keeper.
This loose frame and gruesomely vivid metaphor is the foundation for this brutal
and direct film. Much like a play, the film relies on dialogue, characterization
and a single setting, or scene, to tell the story. That is, rather than a single
episode of splattering gore or running violence, the makers of this film chose
the more difficult path of a conflict largely in words and situation to which
the murder is incidental. Fortunately, the cast contains the talent and experience
to pull this off: Raymond J. Barry (Dead Man Walking, Year of the Dragon),
David Selby (Dying Young, Falcon Crest), Taylor Nichols (Barcelona,
Congo), Jennifer MacDonald (Dream On, Red Shoe Diaries), Rustam Branaman
(The Rapture) along with composer (turned actor?) Paul Williams (Picket
Fences, The Doors). From these actors we are invited to watch the twisted
circus run by a ringleader who is an ex-con with such a fetishistic desire
to leave no forensic evidence at the scene that he walks out with a head and a
box and every other head left behind gasping in garbage bags. Stripper Candy not
only watches her life complicate as her john, a corporate lawyer with a taste for
rubber, meets her lesbian lover, who is also a mortician with a sense of humor,
but finds her near-naked advances rebuffed. Apparently, that is because the M.C.
here is more stuck on recalling his own rapacious homosexual prison experiences
summoned forth by one of the young men attending the bar. Also here is a wheelchair-bound
man of tragedy who, along with others, participates at gunpoint in the killer’s
probing game of “Nazi truth.” Headless Body In Topless Bar is a street-level
film with the added dimension of gritty urban stereotypes that reveal more intricate
ELECTRIC, ECLECTIC WOMEN
With spring comes a cornucopia of recordings featuring female artists gathered
into a bright garden on this reviewer’s desk. Ginny
Owens, on her sophomore release Something More (Rocketown
Records), showcases a clarion pop voice with blues and folk hues that could
be an Ani DiFranco – Sheryl Crow alloy. Owens adds a hip-hop-inspired use of electronic
effects to her music… The live self-titled album from Norine
Braun and the Mood Swings exhibits this jazz-styled vocalist in ballad and
more rocking settings… Kathy Compton
veers from bluesy ballads to gutsy rock tunes on Recovering Humans (Frosty
Orange Records)… Jana McCall opens Slumber (UP Records) with an indie rock
dirge called “Eyes Aglow.” As a former member of Dickless, she has roots in the
Seattle grunge scene and that tough core sometimes arises here, but in the melancholy
mood, strings and slide guitar is a more reflective, mature artist… With a name
like The Booty Olympics, you can expect
over-the-top hormone-fueled rock antics from the female trio on Boystyle.
You get some of that, but this is not just an explosion of hard rock femmes fatale.
(You can get that for all it’s worth on the new self-titled album from Tootsie.)
The delivery is actually more restrained and song-oriented here. This is something
that recalls 80’s power pop and that early and most unpretentious indie girl group,
The Avengers… For exquisite, ethereal vocals listen to the serene, atmospheric
pop songs on Into Heaven by Sun
Palace (Drake Ent.). The multi-tracked vocals of singer-songwriter-keyboardist
Andriette Redmann already garnered her popular success in Italy. Working through
the tragic loss of her parents led to the introspective and hopeful lyrics here.
Her talented band includes co-producer and guitarist John Rokosny (Smithereens,
Carry Nation), drummer/percussionist Mark Brotter (Billy Idol, Hem) and as lead
guitarist, Discipline Global Mobile artist Tony Geballe. Along with the title track,
a feature track here is the free rendition of the Jethro Tull classic “Skating
Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day”… Also featuring keyboards and atmospheric
vocals is Queenie’s debut self-titled CD. Samples can be heard at http://www.mp3.com/queenie.
Her lyrical content is inspired by the fantastic: science fiction and fairy tales.
Her piano melodies, especially in their ornamentation, derive from the classic:
Renaissance motets and film scores… Joanna Connor was a performing blues singer
as a teenager. At 22 she relocated to Chicago and begin working with James Cotton,
Junior Wells, and even Buddy Guy. Her original songs and guitar work is featured
on The Joanna Connor Band (M.C. Records)…
Cee Cee Michaela has a face familiar
to many as Yvonne on the UPN comedy Girlfriends. Now she exhibits her
vocal talents, too, on her soulful urban pop Everbody’s Talkin’ (DBV Records)…
Emma McGlynn has a breathy, honest and aching vocal delivery like the most neo-folk sounds of Ani DiFranco. In this, she also recalls the sounds of
Australia’s Diana Ah Naid. Emma plays guitars and piano on this album, an exquisite
four-song EP of post-folk songwriting that rises above coffeehouse amateurism
into a very sophisticated and memorable realm. (4)
Eels take the style of orch-pop, but leaves the sap behind. The group takes the
aggression of neo-punk, but leaves the pretentiousness behind. The marriage bed
for this fusion is mostly hard funk rhythms, but leaving the discotheque behind.
The result of this formula is a highly developed and sophisticated rock sound
that transcends trends. Songs like “That’s Not Really Funny,” the two-part title
track and “Fresh Feeling” update the dark carnivalesque sound of The Doors and
recall the later Detroit aggro sounds of Laughing Hyenas as well as ferocious,
third-wave garage rockers. In the primitive, visceral rock styles artfully woven
together, Eels merge quite effectively such contemporary approaches as sequenced sounds
and synthesizers. (4.5)
As American pop singers look back to blues for an authentic, rootsy approach,
so do Swedish songwriters harken back to romantic folk songs of the early 1900’s.
The title of this album translates to “Dearest You,” taken from one of the included
songs. Taken from that body of work created by and for maids and farmhands and
given an easy, bluesy base of instrumentation, these songs in Swedish breathe
and compel with genuine emotion. Originally released on BMG Sweden in 1996, this
CD reissue is an excellent opportunity to begin exploring the rich body of work
from this Swedish chanteuse. (4.5)