27-02-07

The New York Review Of Books

The New York Review Books is a magazine i wish i could get a subscription to but in the mean time i 'm already pleased with the articles on their website and from time to time i buy some article online. I admit it's not the same as having the NYRB in your own hands but you can't have everything.

Athough they publsihed already their march issues on the net i try to read the actual edition, that is of february 15th. Two articles i'll print and read this weekend i guess : One by Ian Buruma on Clin Eastwoods Iwo Jima films (which i haven't seen yet) and another one by Michael Chabon where discusses Cormac McCarthy's latest novel 'The Road'.

In case you don't know what to do with this pre-spring weather, stay inside and read something...

 

26-02-07

Goodbye Art Pepper

Will Friedwald publsihed in the Feb. 13 edition of the The New York Sun a article on Art Pepper and his relation to the Gordon Jenkins composition "Goodbye".

In case the article won't be anymore online here it is :

 

Pepper says a proper goodbye :

Most people first heard "Goodbye" as Benny Goodman's theme song. The clarinetist introduced it at the start of the swing era in 1935 and it remained associated with him for the remaining 50 years of his career. In 1957, Frank Sinatra recorded "Goodbye" on his classic album "Only the Lonely," which is probably the most famous vocal version.

The great bebop alto saxophonist Art Pepper (1925-82) began playing the song, which was written by Gordon Jenkins, during his "comeback" in the late 1970s. Although Pepper never included it on a studio session, "Goodbye" was a famous part of his classic 1977 live album from the Village Vanguard. It's also the centerpiece of a new two-CD set, "Unreleased Art, Vol. 1: The Complete Abashiri Concert, November, 22, 1981" (www.straightlife. info).

Pepper's resurgence lasted from about 1975 — the year he turned 50 and rid himself of a nearly 25-year addiction to heroin — to his death in June 1982. Perhaps out of a desire to make up for lost time (some of which, including large portions of the 1960s, was spent behind bars), Pepper recorded a lifetime's worth of music in his final seven years; so far at least 30 albums of studio and live performances have been issued, mostly posthumously in the compact disc era.

I never met Pepper, but he seems to have been like most ex-junkies whom I've known: Once they get off the stuff, they can't stop talking about it. It's almost as if venting their spleen about using dope becomes a substitute for actually using it. Pepper most famously talked about it in his brilliant autobiography, "Straight Life," which was co-written by his third wife (and eventual widow), Laurie Pepper, who has devoted the last 25 years to issuing CDs of previously unreleased material, maintaining a Web site, and even independently producing a narrative feature film based on the book.

Most important, Pepper talked about his life experiences in his music. They are in every solo he played, never more than in this version of "Goodbye," recorded when the saxophonist had about six months to live. Most of his final recordings, performed in the spring of 1982, were collaborations, including two dates of pianosax duos with his longtime accompanist, the wonderful George Cables, and encounters with saxists Richie Cole, Joe Farrell, and, most important, his fellow modern jazz legend, Lee Konitz.

The meeting with Mr. Konitz (included on the five-CD box, "Art Pepper: The Hollywood All-Star Sessions," Fantasy) is especially informative: Both Mr. Konitz and Pepper skewer the tunes they play, elaborating on the melodies and the harmonies. Both players can safely be called "abstract." The difference is that, as Mr. Konitz once told me, he plays a tune in such a way that he doesn't want the listeners to recognize it. Pepper, conversely, never wanted his listeners to forget what they were listening to. No matter how he elongated the tune or darted through the chords, there is never any doubt that you are listening to "Goodbye."

When Goodman began using "Goodbye" as his ending theme on the radio in 1935, it was very clear that "Goodbye" meant "au revoir": So long until the next dance, the next date, the next broadcast. When Sinatra revived it 22 years later, he intensified the meaning of the song to mean "goodbye to love, this relationship is finished — aloha on the steel guitar!"

When Art Pepper began playing the song in 1977, he meant something even more serious: "Goodbye to life, to planet Earth, to existence." The two 1977 Vanguard performances are touching enough — particularly in the end of the second, when he throws in a quote from the military funeral theme "Taps." (Pepper did serve during World War II, but was never addressed as "Sergeant Pepper.")

But the "new" 1981 recording is all but unprecedented. (The album begins with pianist George Cables's solo already in progress and with the instruments momentarily offmic, and there are occasional audio artifacts of the whole concert having come from a cassette source; after the first minute, though, the sound is fine.) Just when you think Pepper is prepared to stretch the melody as far as it will go, he abandons the rest of the tune and slips effortlessly into an improvisation, returning to Jenkins's tune at the end of the first chorus. He inserts a Tatum-like chromatic run here, a darting phrase there (as does Mr. Cables, the only other soloist on the 11-minute track), but mostly he plays long blobby lines that don't seem to have anything to do with the tune, yet have everything to do with the idea of "Goodbye."

Pepper is continually recontextualizing himself and the song; this is his answer to Hamlet's soliloquy, the debate over the advantages of being and not being. On the album, he plays increasingly intense phrases, both soul-searing and sentimental. Like the spirits at the end of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," he is looking back and reflecting on what he will miss when he leaves the world behind: Farewell to hot dinners and hot chicks, farewell to girls with bad attitudes in tight dresses, farewell to one-night stands of both the musical and personal kind, farewell to forging checks, farewell to fixing with fellow convicts, farewell to practicing and practicing, to studying and absorbing everything he could from Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Benny Carter, to bad pianos and squeaky reeds, farewell to drug clinics and rehabs, farewell to Stan Kenton and Buddy Rich, farewell to groupies and roadies, farewell to the Los Angeles County Jail and to San Quentin.

The other 10 tracks from the 1981 concert include some wonderful boppers (Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning"), blues, and one samba ("Besame Mucho"). There's also another killer ballad, a transcendent version of "Body and Soul" (another very rare tune in the Pepper canon), in which he also seems to be taking the title literally and contemplating the metaphysical. He describes it afterward as "one of the nicest things I think I've ever played in my life … I'm sober and happy because of music." But it's the Jenkins tune that stays with us: Here, in Abashiri, a town that few non-Japanese have ever heard of (can it be a coincidence that Abashiri is best known as the site of the Abashiri Prison?), a great musician is saying goodbye."

11:30 Gepost door Lexman in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (1) | Tags: art pepper |  Facebook |

25-02-07

Raoul Walsh & Errol Flynn (2)

This evening, at 1.10 PM on France 3 will broadcast the last of 4 films dedicated to the Raoul Walsh - Errol Flynn collaboration. "They died with their boots on" is a western on the life and times of General George Custer. It was the final film Walsh & Flynn made together. I recall having seen it a long time ago. I wasn't struck by it but maybe i just had seen to many Sergio Leone's and Sam Peckipah movies. Anyway i'll give it another try. Enjoy!

24-02-07

Sonny Rollins in The Telegraph

Why Sonny won't stop rollin'

 Jazz veteran Sonny Rollins talks to Peter Culshaw about his new album and why, at 76, his playing is better than ever

Sonny Rollins apologises for not having answered the phone when I called earlier.

The legendary 76-year-old saxophonist, who lives alone in rural upstate New York, explains he was shovelling snow that had blocked his front door after the worst snowstorm in the area for decades. As Rollins consents to be interviewed about as rarely as catastrophic ice storms occur, I tell him I'm happy to talk to him at all. Rollins has been described by the American jazz critic Stanley Crouch as "one of the brightest lights in the history of the music... Like Armstrong, he is jazz." After a lifetime of classic albums and awe-inspiring live performances featuring his distinctively pure, deep tones, Rollins continues to be showered with awards: last year he won a Grammy and was inducted into the Academy of Achievement at an event hosted by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Over the years, he has done everything from composing music for the film Alfie to playing with the Rolling Stones on their album Tattoo You. But, as he says, "jazz is the hardest art form in a way because you have to be new every night".

 

And he continues to be new. His latest venture is to launch his own record label, Doxy (this being the name of a famous Rollins composition he recorded with Miles Davis in 1954).

"My wife, Lucille, used to run all the business side of things," he says, "and, since she passed on a couple of years ago, and my contract with my label was about to expire [after 34 years], I realised I had to make the leap." For someone who claims to be anti-technology, he's managed to enter the world of downloads, websites, MySpace and blogging with aplomb.

"Though, to be honest, I prefer to stay at home woodshedding [a jazz phrase which means practising on your own]. I still manage at least two hours a day; it used to be 10."

The first release on the label is a polished studio album called Sonny, Please. This was the phrase, says Rollins, that Lucille, used to say to him all the time. He laughs. "The album is a tribute to her. She's still part of everything I do."

The disc includes his usual eclectic mix of music, ranging from the Noël Coward song Someday I'll Find You to themes from long-forgotten radio shows from the 1930s.

There are also some new compositions, such as Nishi, dedicated to a Japanese friend ("I've been at least 20 times to Japan; they really seem to get the music") and Park Palace Parade, named after a long-defunct Spanish Harlem dance hall where he used to go as a child: "Many famous calypso artists used to appear there."

He says he intends to release some archive live recordings on his label, something which is likely to gladden the heart of fans and critics. Many of them feel that Rollins, though he has made numerous classic albums, is consummately a live performer. The American jazz critic Gary Giddens calls him "a provocatively enigmatic man - there always seem to be two Sonny Rollins, the recording artist and the studio artist". One of Rollins's most intense fans is Carl Smith, who has a collection of hundreds of high-quality bootlegs going back to 1949.

"Many of these performances are extraordinary," says Giddins."I played some of them for sceptical friends, whose jaws just hit the ground. When listening you can't miss the fact that something magical happens when he is on stage."

None of Smith's recordings has ever been released. "The problem was that Lucille hated what she saw as illegal recordings. She would just slam the phone down on anyone suggesting anything like that was released."

Rollins's parents were from the Virgin Islands, and he was born in Harlem in 1930. He "always knew in this incarnation I was to be a musician", but he veered away from classical music when he heard blues and jazz, particularly the tenor sax playing of Coleman Hawkins.

Immediately after leaving school, he was playing with big names such as Bud Powell, Fats Navarro and Roy Haynes.

His first album was released in 1951 on the Prestige label, and he went on to produce a series of now classic records such as Saxophone Colossus. This album included St Thomas, perhaps his best known tune: "It was a song my mother used to sing to me."

As a youth, Rollins was wayward - arrested for armed robbery in 1950, spending 10 months in jail at Rikers Island, and re-arrested in 1952 for breaking the terms of his parole by using heroin.

But, like many of the more long-lived jazzers, such as Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, he cleaned up his act through the discovery of Eastern philosophy.

In the late '60s, he took a couple of years off to pursue this interest and travelled in India and Japan. "There are so many distractions and temptations on the road that you need a positive discipline like meditation or yoga. I still do yoga every day."

With some of his recordings he has included what people see as banal or even silly material, such as I'm an Old Cowhand or There's No Business Like Show Business. Rollins defends this eclecticism.

"The thing about jazz is that it includes everything. It's a natural organic music that reflects life, and you are going to find drama, poetry, tragedy and a lot of humour, even silliness."

Tenor Madness was his only recording with John Coltrane, who, at the time, was a much less well-known figure than Rollins. Does he ever wish he'd recorded more with Coltrane? "Other people seem to worry about that kind of thing. Regret is not something I have much time for."

He does think, though, about the greats he played with, such as Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis. "I think about these people all the time. Since I was blessed to have played with them and since I am one of the few players from that era remaining, I feel a responsibility to keep my music on as high a level as possible in their honour."

So the struggle goes on. "Age has to be served," he says, "and, technically, I may be a little less agile, but I feel I could still become more powerful and potent."

When I ask him what music he's listening to, he says: "I'd like to express myself on a higher level, so I really don't get time to listen to other people's music. There's too much music in my head."

 

10:43 Gepost door Lexman in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: sonny rollins |  Facebook |

18-02-07

Raoul Walsh & Errol Flynn

On sunday nights France 3 has the good habit to broadcast classic movies in its original version, that is in France with subtitles. Nevertheless they didn't hesitate to cut up 'Quien Sabe' and let out a scene it's an inititiative which has to be supported and made known. Nowadays they 're doing a Raoul Walsh & Errol Flynn series of 4. To me they are thos big names of a long gone Hollywood.

'Silver River' i missed but 'Uncertain Glory' i was able to watch on Valentine's day. Tonight at 00.50 France 3 will broadcast 'Gentleman Jim'. Not to be missed!

 

11:00 Gepost door Lexman in Film | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: raoul walsh, errol flynn, gentleman jim |  Facebook |

13-02-07

Larry Willis Benefit

Got this in the mailbox :

 

February 12, 2007
 
Attention Jazz Community...

 
You may have heard that pianist Larry Willis’s house burnt down... so the community is trying to take care of him...

Please Attend and help spread the word...

Larry Willis Benefit St. Peter’s Church

Fazioli Salon presents:

"Pianists Play for Larry"
Monday, February 26th
7-10pm

Fazioli F-278 Concert Grand Piano

suggested contribution $20

featuring

Randy Weston  
Geri Allen
Don Friedman
 
Bertha Hope
Jean  Michel Pilc

Mamiko Watanabe  
Ran Jia  
Kathy Farmer
Matthias Bublath  
Sachiko Kato
Patrick Poladian and others...


For more info contact:
lucegroup@mac.com

10:39 Gepost door Lexman in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: larry willis |  Facebook |

10-02-07

Bird Lives

I got this in the mailbox the other day :

 

"Bret Primack started the first Jazz blog in 1998, Bird Lives, where as the Pariah, he fought a never ending battle for truth in the Jazz biz. Primack was a respected Jazz journalist who was also a web pioneer when he decided to pose as the Pariah and write diatribes directed at the injustices of the music industry.  Bird Lives quickly caught on and became a talked about website, entertaining many, and ruffling a few feathers a long the way.  Several thin skinned record company executives even threatened Bret with lawsuits. But after September 11th, Bret decided to focus on other targets, and he suspended the site.

Now, Bird Lives returns, as Bret's Video Blog.  For the past three years, Bret has produced videos for such artists as Sonny Rollins, Billy Taylor and Joe Lovano. And with the advent of web video, he decided to utilize this new medium to tell his stories in a new way.

The first edition features a Tribute to Michael Brecker, which includes rare interview footage Bret did with Michael, as well as an amazing performance of the Saxophone Summit (Brecker, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano), Live at Birdland in 1999.

Bird Lives also serves as a video portal, and includes Bret's favorite YouTube videos, as well as links to other relevant video on the content the web."

It's indeed worth checking it out. Enjoy!

 



11:30 Gepost door Lexman in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: bret primack, bird lives, michael brecker |  Facebook |