Friday, October 28, 2011

Jazz in the Sixties, Part Three

Miles Davis? I have more CDs by Miles Davis than any other musician. Do I flaunt my wealth by choosing one of those big boxes like Seven Steps or The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel? Or settle for one of the second classic quintet's studio albums. Or show my true colors by choosing one of the rock albums he made when he decided he wanted some of that world. As it happens, I'm a big fan of "In a Silent Way", but it does strike me as a rock album made by a jazz musician. Am I quibbling? Yes - this is an exercise in quibbling. I'd like to vote for the Plugged Nickel as well, but my list is running out of room after only three musicians.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jazz in the Sixties, Part Two

The next case is Saint John Coltrane. Sitting at the top of a large pile of albums is "A Love Supreme", one of the two most famous jazz albums ever recorded. ("Kind of Blue" is the other.) No one would think the less of me if I put it on my list, and it's not like I don't like the album. It's just that I'm a huge fan of the Village Vanguard sessions - the first ones with Eric Dolphy - which have a drive like no other jazz album I know. And then there's the Africa/Brass sessions. And "Ballads". And the Johnny Hartman album. You see where I'm going. There's a cornucopia here even if I'm not the biggest fan of his later questing period. How do I whittle down my choices?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jazz in the Sixties, Part One

I've been thinking about jazz albums and the sixties. Take the case of Duke Ellington. I'm familiar with 5 albums of his from the decade, which is only a fraction of his output. Any of those 5 albums is a worthy choice for any list. There's his session with John Coltrane, which really isn't either of their best work but is quite enjoyable. The same goes for his sessions with Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins, although I hear the weight of history in both of those. Seriously - the weight of history. However, I'm personally a bigger fan of the Duke's encounter with Charles Mingus and Max Roach - Money Jungle - because while Mingus may have idolized Ellington Mingus wasn't above pushing his idol. And then there's Ellington's tribute to Billy Strayhorn: "And His Mother Called Him Bill". It's an album that's resonated through the last forty five years. I don't think I can choose more than one of these...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Unsubscription Blues

There's a school of thought that says never click on an unsubscribe link because you're just telling the #%%$#$%$#$s that you actually exist. I'm of the other school. If I get a piece I don't want and there's an unsubscribe link, I'll click on it. I find it therapeutic. Sometimes it means I have to confirm that I'm unsubscribing (really, you thought I was kidding when clicked the link). Sometimes, I'm asked for my email address and then told I'm not subscribed to any of their lists (right...). Sometimes I'm asked for my reason for unsubscribing (stock answer - I never subscribed). And sometimes they send me a confirmation email to tell me I've unsubscribed, like they can't let me go without one last missive. There are risks. One unsubscribe link today tried to change my default web browser, and I suspect it had further evil in its heart, foiled, I hope, by Groupwise's refusal to run ActiveX. There's going to be a point where I'm just not going to open strangers' emails.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Musical Rankings

Slate recently ran an article claiming the first Strokes was the best album of the last ten years and was very influential. I'm not linking to the article. The whole point of the article was to stir controversy among those who care about such things. I care in that there's no way I'll have lunch with the person who wrote the article, but I don't care what the best album of the last ten years is. Really. I'm not a music critic. I write about music here because I need the practice writing and music is a handy topic.

I participate in the ranking games at the Christgau blog because they're fun. The latest is jazz albums recorded in sixties and the rules can be found here: I don't know how I'm going to narrow down my choices to ten and not look like an idiot. If I have an excellent amateur's knowledge of pop music, I only have a passable amateur's knowledge of jazz. Which isn't to say that I don't have favorite albums. This is a game where the idea is to have fun. And I could use some fun these days.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Dear Distinguished Professionals Online:

If your going to invite me into your little vanity scam, don't send an email on October 2nd with a deadline of August 31st. If you approved my candidacy on July 27th, why couldn't you send me an email on July 28th? Unless you're idiots. Are there people who actually respond to this nonsense?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

1978 Albums

The relistening club has turned to 1978. I'm not going to write about the albums individually because (a) I don't have time and (b) I was much too hard on John Hiatt the last time. I'm simply going to list them in rough descending order. I like and would recommend all these albums, even the hard-to-listen-to ones. The order shouldn't be taken terribly seriously. A more systematic approach would probably yield a different order. I just don't have that kind of time. I also know that this list could be three time as long. I also want to recommend Orchestra Baobab's 1978 Paris Sessions, which comprise one of my favorite albums On Verra Ca.

The List:

Wire - Pink Flag
Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool
The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope
Joe Ely - Honky Tonk Masquerade
X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents
Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy
The Rolling Stones - Some Girls
Tom Robinson Band - Power in the Darkness
Big Star - Third
Mary McCaslin & Jim Ringer - The Bramble and the Rose
Willie Nelson - Stardust
Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food
Television - Adventure
Dave Edmunds - Tracks on Wax 4
Elvis Costello - This Years Model
Lee Dorsey - Night People
Ramones - Road to Ruin
Shoes - Black Vinyl Shoes
The Vibrators - Pure Mania
Blondie - Parallel Lines
Professor Longhair - Live on the Queen Mary
Ian Dury - New Boots & Panties
Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
Patti Smith Group - Easter
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)
Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance
Funkadelic - One Nation Under a Groove
Rodney Crowell - Ain't Living Long Like This
Wire - Chairs Missing
Neil Young - Comes a Time
The Cars - The Cars