Friday, December 31, 2010

Α very interesting version of Greek national anthem


Μουσική απ' τη ταινία "απ'τα κόκαλα βγαλμένα"

Drink up: Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew Beer is coming

Never underestimate the surprises in the course of history. In college in the early ’70s, I wrote a column predicting that someday there’d be a Charlie Parker stamp, evincing the faith that all that pure light of artistic brilliance would cut through the haze of prejudice and ignorance (low-life music, Negro culture, and wasn’t he a junkie too?).
But that was written more out of hope and faith (Bird lives!) than real confidence. So it was gratifying when Charlie finally did get his stamp in 1995. On the other hand, I recall that a few years later in the 1970s, the saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell told me that someday they’d be selling soap to his music. And I was thinking that was an expression of hisblind faith, not his hold on reality.
Then some years down the road, lo and behold, the Odwalla juice company came along and took its name from a character in a rather spacey poem set to music, words and music both by Mitchell’s Art Ensemble of Chicago bandmate Joseph Jarman, and performed by the AEC. And I recall hearing that Mitchell’s tune “Odwala” — apparently celebrating the same character — was used at one point for radio promotional spots.
Granted,  “Odwalla” is pretty much the Art Ensemble of Chicago at their most accessible; I mean, it is a song of sort, a hummable tune, not a tidal wave of screams and shouts, or a solo saxophone piece that’s as much silence as sound (both of which are within Mitchell and the Ensemble’s scope; and don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff).
But I admit I didn’t see that juicy dollop ofainstream success coming for anything from that Chicago school of the jazz avant garde. The same way I wasn’t ready either for the announcement in my mailbox Thursday of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew beer, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Davis’ pivotal Bitches Brew.
Jazz fusion may have been inevitable, but such a powerfully unexpected statement from a musician of Davis’ or any generation wasn’t. It’s a record that still kicks ass and slithers around the imagination. And like Miles in general, it keeps a kicking and slithering further into the culture. Says the release:
Make sure to tune into the Discovery Channel early next year to catch the premiere of “Brewed,” hosted by Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and featuring Dogfish’s new Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew beer. One episode will be entirely dedicated to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, a beer created to celebrate the 40th Anniversary release of Miles Davis’ famous recording. Although the show won’t be airing until January 2011, don’t worry because the beer and the 40th Anniversary release of Bitches Brew will both be available on August 31, 2010. Click here to learn more about the new beer and the 40th Anniversary CD releases:
If you haven’t checked out the link, and I hadn’t until just a moment ago, you probably have no idea how much merch is out there celebrating and capitalizing on the Prince of Darkness. From a keychain to drinking glasses to coffee mugs to jackets to $2,300 framed prints.

It may be true that consumer society is that which consumes society, but you could do worse than kick back over the Fourth with some Bitches Brew beer in Miles Davis pint glasses and discuss the contradictions of it all. (I’m counting on the beer being worthy of its namesake.)
It may be true that consumer society is that which consumes society, but you could do worse than kick back over the Fourth with some Bitches Brew beer in Miles Davis pint glasses and discuss the contradictions of it all. (I’m counting on the beer being worthy of its namesake.)

Wonder how long I have to wait for Anthony Braxton cognac?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Top 20 best jazz albums of the past year.

1.       Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine cover      
            Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine 
           (ECM) Review 

2.       Tom Harrell - Roman Nights cover     
           Tom Harrell - Roman Nights 
          (HighNote) Review 

3.       Charles Lloyd - Mirror cover    
           Charles Lloyd - Mirror 
          (ECM) Review 

4.       Bobby Hutcherson- Wise One cover     
           Bobby Hutcherson- Wise One 
          (Kind Of Blue) Review 

5.        Paul Motian - Lost In A Dream cover    
            Paul Motian - Lost In A Dream 
          (ECM) Review 

6.         Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrowcover   
            Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow 
           (Concord) Review 

7.        Bill Frisell - Beautiful Dreamers cover    
            Bill Frisell - Beautiful Dreamers      
           (Savoy Jazz) Review 

8.         Herbie Hancock - The Imagine Projectcover    
           Herbie Hancock - The Imagine Project 
          (Sony) Review 

9.        Tomasz Stanko - Dark Eyes cover          
           Tomasz Stanko - Dark Eyes 
          (ECM) Review 

10       John McLaughlin & The Fourth Dimension- To The One cover     
          John McLaughlin & The Fourth Dimension- To The One 
         (Abstract Logix) Review 

11    .  Ralph Bowen - Due Reverence cover     
          Ralph Bowen - Due Reverence 
         (Posi-Tone) Review

12.      Dave Holland Octet - Pathways cover      

          Dave Holland Octet - Pathways
         (Dare2) Review

13.      Jake Hertzog - Patterns cover     

          Jake Hertzog - Patterns 
         (Buckyball) Review

14.      Randy Halberstadt - Flash Point cover    

          Randy Halberstadt - Flash Point 
         (Origin) Review

15.      Jim Rotondi - 1000 Rainbows cover    

          Jim Rotondi - 1000 Rainbows 
         (Posi-Tone) Review

16.       Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes - Double Portraitcover    

           Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes - Double Portrait  
          (Blue Note) Review

17.      Chad McCullough / Michal Vanoucek - The Sky Cries cover     

          Chad McCullough / Michal Vanoucek - The Sky Cries 
          (Origin) Review

18.       Nathan Eklund Group - Coin Flip cover         

           Nathan Eklund Group - Coin Flip 
          (OA2) Review

19.      Richard Sussman - Live At Sweet Rhythm cover    

           Richard Sussman - Live At Sweet Rhythm 
          (Origin) Review

20.      Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider cover     

           Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider 
          (Nonesuch) Review

The adventurous Ten headlines the Voice's Fifth Annual Jazz Critics' Poll

It wouldn’t be exaggerating much to say that Jason Moran’s only competition in the Fifth Annual Village Voice Jazz Critics’ Poll was Jason MoranTen, his first trio album in seven years, won Album of the Year in a landslide, but that’s not all. The pianist figured prominently on the runner-up, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green’s Apex, andCharles Lloyd’s Mirror, which finished fourth—only a surprise No. 3 showing from rising guitarist Mary Halvorson kept him from a hat trick. Add Paul Motian’s Lost in a Dream, on which Moran and saxophonist Chris Potter are virtually the veteran drummer’s co-leaders, and that gives the 2010 MacArthur Fellow four appearances in the Top 10—a fete unprecedented in this poll’s short history and unlikely to be equaled anytime soon.
I wanted this year’s poll to do the impossible, to go some way toward restoring my faith in the democratic process following November’s dismal midterm elections. And in its modest way, it did. With Moran and drummer Nasheet Waits varying the dynamics and dancing around the beat while bassist Tarus Mateen holds fast to it, Ten easily passes the most crucial test facing any piano-trio album: You never find yourself wishing for horns. It’s an extremely worthy winner, and listening to it again as I write, not only do I feel guilty about its absence on my own ballot, I find myself applauding my colleagues for showing smarts I evidently lack.
Since the poll’s 2006 inception, I’ve come to think of my wrap-up as akin to a State of the Union. Starting with that first year’s overwhelming evidence of the mainstream widening to accommodate Ornette Colemanwithout him so much as meeting it halfway, the results of each subsequent poll have revealed an encouraging new trend: in ’07, something approaching equality for jazz women behind winner Maria Schneider; in ’08, how this country’s changing ethnic demographics are letting jazz go global without leaving home; last year, signs of a long-needed infusion of young blood. This year? Well, Ten is the second consecutive piano-trio winner, following Vijay Iyer’sHistoricity, and joining it in the Top 10 areKeith Jarrett’s duets with bassist Charlie Haden, and solo efforts by Iyer and Geri Allen. But a list dominated by pianists strikes me as coincidence rather than as a harbinger of anything in particular.
What might be more significant is that with the majors having all but abandoned jazz until further notice, independents are enjoying a boom, albeit one probably more aesthetic than financial. Pi Recordings claimed four spots in the Top 20, as many as Blue Note and Nonesuch combined placed in the Top 50, the only majors to appear there. ECM enjoyed its usual good showing, although this year’s overall winner might be Clean Feed, a relatively new Portuguese label fast becoming this era’s Soul Note/Black Saint in terms of both quality and prolificacy—a staggering two dozen of its 2010 releases received votes, led by Chris Lightcap’s Big Mouth at No. 12 and Bay Area bassist Lisa Mezzacappa, who tied singer/songwriter Gregory Porterfor Best Debut. But along with the perseverance of these indie labors of love, the logical takeway from a Top 10 featuring two women, as well as four musicians under 40 (including Mahanthappa and Iyer, both native-born Americans of Indian descent), is that the trends suggested by previous years’ results genuinely were trends, not just blips. Which I’d say confirms this annual survey’s worth beyond providing readers and participants alike with a catch-up shopping list.
Quick comments on this year’s Top 10:
1. Jason Moran Ten (Blue Note) Along with dips into the Bernstein, Bert Williams, and Jaki Byard songbooks, highlights include the latest in Moran’s ongoing series of “Gangsterism” pieces reconciling jazz and hip-hop’s different ways of attacking the one, and extended variations on “Crepuscule with Nellie”—virgin territory and maybe even sacred ground, given that Monk himself pointedly refrained from ever improvising on it.
2. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky GreenApex (Pi) Although it’s cross-generational rather than cross-cultural, like Mahanthappa’s 2008 encounter with Kadri Golpalnath, what saves this alto-saxophone confrontation from becoming your typical hard-bop donnybrook are suggestions of Eastern chant that now seem intrinsic to Mahanthappa’s identity, and maybe intrinsic to the 75-year-old Green’s as well, via Coltrane’s direct influence on his generation.
3. Mary Halvorson QuartetSaturn Sings(Firehouse 12) Quartet and trio actually, though it’s the hurtling intelligence of Halvorson’s writing on the tracks with horns that marks her transition from the cutting edge’s favorite sidewoman to one of today’s most formidable bandleaders.
4. Charles LloydMirror(ECM) He appealed to ’60s hippies as Coltrane without the mathematics and perceived black militance. Older and something of a grand mannerist now, he wants nothing more than to break your heart. And damn if he doesn’t on a gorgeous “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and a cover of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No” that might seem like pandering coming from anybody else.
5. Henry Threadgill Zooid This Brings Us to, Vol. 2(Pi) As close as he’ll ever come to permitting a jam, with looping extended solos compensating for less compositional motion and color than on Vol. 1.
6. Keith Jarrett & Charlie HadenJasmine (ECM) Dueting the great bassist holds Jarrett’s mannerisms in check, but thankfully, not his ardor.
7. Steve Coleman & Five ElementsHarvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi) As governed by theories regarding this, that, and the other thing as Coleman’s work from his M-Base enfant terrible days, but rhythmically streamlined (no forced beats now) and harmonically spacious in its voicings for two brass, Jeri Shyu’s colortura, and Coleman’s own surging alto.
8. Vijay Iyer Solo (ACT) Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” is a little frilly, and Monk’s “Epistrophy” a little dense. But together with Iyer’s own angled originals, insightful interpretations of Ellington’s seminal “Black and Tan Fantasy” and proto-minimalist “Fleurette Africaine” make this a successful follow-up to Historicity.
9. Geri Allen Flying Toward the Sound(Motema) I don’t think I’ve ever heard another pianist so closely evoke Cecil Taylorwithout surrendering to his influence completely.
10. Paul Motian Lost in a Dream (ECM) Melody-based chamber improvisation ne plus ultra.
Though I like all of these just fine, my own list is very different:
1. ICP OrchestraICP 049(ICP)/br> Conspicuously missing from the poll’s upper echelons, in what may be a sign of belt-tightening, are large ensembles. But the latest, typically superb effort from this 10-member Dutch outfit, guided by pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink (and dotted with American expatriates like violinist Mary Oliver and saxophonistMichael Moore), fills the gap and then some. As swank and precise as it is rollicking, and knowingly evocative of both Ellington and the wildest and woolliest free jazz—sequentially and then simultaneously on Moore’s arrangement of Mengelberg’s “The Lepaerd.”
2. Dominic Duval & Cecil TaylorThe Last Dance(Cadence Jazz) /br> CT at his most churning, rooted deep in his keyboard’s lower half, as if threatening his duet partner with redundancy if he can’t keep up. But no worries there.
3. Mark RibotSilent Movies (Pi)/br> High, wide, and lonesome solo guitar starring in a revisionist Western set somewhere between Avenue B and Boot Hill.
4. Mary Halvorson Quintet Sings (Firehouse 12)
5. Myra Melford’s Be BreadThe Whole Tree Gone (Firehouse 12)/br> Astor Piazzolla’s ghost smiles benignly on intricate and quietly adventurous small-group pieces that stab with their sense of unfulfilled longing.
6. Paul MotianLost in a Dream (ECM)
7. Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman Dual Identity (Clean Feed)/br> My preference for this stand-off with a fellow altoist near Mahanthappa’s own age comes down to their shared belief in the value of stridency (the legacy of Jackie McLean) and the sharper edge that Liberty Ellman’s guitar lends the rhythm section.
8. Michael Formanek The Rub and Spare Change(ECM)/br> Who knew the veteran bassist was such an impressive composer? Though the most impressive aspect of all might be the ample room his gambits leave for interplay with stellar sidemen Tim BerneCraig Taborn, and Gerald Cleaver.
9. Billy BangPrayer for Peace (TUM)/br> “Only Time Will Tell,” the latest of Bang’s tips of the cap to violin forebear Stuff Smith, is as swinging and vivacious as anything you’re ever likely to hear delivered by a putative avant-gardist, and sets the tone for everything that follows.
10. Benjamin HermanHypochristmastreefuzz: More Mengelberg (Special Edition)(Roach)/br> I say you can never get enough Mengelberg, the greatest living jazz musician never to take up residence in the U.S. But this also makes my list because Herman, a young Dutch altoist, is quite a find. And, to be honest, because his two versions of a Mengelberg homage to Peter Brøtzmann, one studio and the other live, sound like they could be the theme to a ’60s British exploitation flick about rumbling teds and rockers that might show up on public access in the dead of the night.
Honorable Mention: Lucian Ban & John HébertEnesco Re-Imagined (Sunnyside); Evan ChristopherRemembering Song (Arbors); Empirical, Out ’n’ In (Naim); Amir ElSaffar &Hafez ModirzadehRadif Suite (Pi); John Escreet, Don’t Fight the Inevitable (Mythology);Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Jazz); Tomas Fujiwara & Taylor Ho Bynum,Stepwise(NotTwo); Microscopic Septet, Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk(Cuneiform); Joe MorrisCamera(ESP-Disk); Jeremy PeltMen of Honor (HighNote). And Sarah Wilson’s Trapese Project(Brass Tonic), for her vocal on Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” the year’s most inspired cover.
Reissues:Stan Getz & Kenny BarronPeople Time: The Complete Sessions(Sunnyside); The Complete Novus & Columbia Recordings of Henry Threadgill and Air(Mosaic); The Complete Ahmad Jamal Trio Argo Sessions, 1956–1962(Mosaic). Vocal: Catherine Russell,Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village). Debut: Chris DryeBizingas (NCM East). Latin:Guillermo KleinDomador de Huellas: The Music of Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamon(Sunnyside).

Mosaic’s Threadgill box was voted Best Reissue, while Chucho Valdes and Cassandra Wilsontook the Latin and Vocal categories, respectively. This was the second victory for Wilson, who’s become as automatic in polls of this sort as Ella Fitzgerald was in the late ’50s and early ’60s. The surprise was just behind her, where a never-before-issued live performance by Irene Kral, a singer’s singer who died in 1978 without ever gaining a large public following, tied White House/Vogue/New Yorker flavor du jour Esperanza Spalding for second place.
This poll has become my labor of love—my equivalent of social networking, and, for a couple weeks once the ballots start filling my inbox, just about my only social life. Along the way this year, in addition to a hundred or so albums I might otherwise not ever have known existed, I also got word of layoffs and cutbacks, a corneal abrasion, a nagging heel injury, the death of a mother, the birth of a daughter, and the loss of James Moody to pancreatic cancer. Thanks to this year’s 120 participants for keeping me up to date: David R. AdlerScott AlbinClifford AllenA.D. AmorosiLarry ApplebaumChris Barton, Nick Bewsey, Larry BirmbaumPaul Blair,Larry BlumenfeldPhilip BoothMichael BourneShaun BradyMarcia Breton, Christian Broecking, Stuart BroomerBrent BurtonJohn ChaconaNate ChinenFred CisternaTroy CollinsThomas ConradJ.D. ConsidineOwen CordleLawrence Cosentino,Michael CoyleFrancis DavisSteve Dollar,Laurence Donohue-Greene, Alain Drout, Ken DrydenDonald ElfmanSteve FeeneyColin Fleming, Ken Franckling, Phil FreemanDavid FrickeRichard GehrAndrew GilbertTed GioiaLars GotrichKurt GottschalkSteve GreenleeGeorge GrellaJames HaleEd Hazell, Don Heckman, Tad Hendrickson,Andrey HenkinW. Kim HeronGeoffrey HimesEugene HolleyLyn HortonTom Hull,Peter HumRobert IannapolloJosh Jackson,Patrick JarenwattananonWillard Jenkins,Martin JohnsonGeorge KanzlerFred Kaplan, Larry Kart, Mark Keresman, Bill King,Elzy KolbArt LangeWill LaymanDevin LeonardAidan LevyJohn LitweilerMartin LongleySuzanne LorgeKevin LynchJohn McDonoughShaunna Morrison Machosky,Jim MacnieHoward MandelPeter Margasak, Bill Milkowski, Dan MorgensternJohn MurphRuss MustoMarc MyersMichael G. NastosDan OuelletteTed PankenThierry PeremartiBob PorterDoug RamseyDerk RichardsonJoel RobertsChris Robinson,Britt RobsonJim RobertsMichael RosensteinLloyd SachsGene SeymourMike Shanley,Bill Shoemaker, Hank Shteamer, Slim, Chip SternZan StewartJeff Stockton, W, Royal StokesMark StrykerJohn F. SzwedJeff TamarkinNeil TesserLudwig Van Trikt, George VargaAndrew Velez, Seth Colter Walls, Jason WeissMichael J. WestKevin WhiteheadK. Leander WilliamsJosef WoodardRon Wynn, and Scott Yanow. You will be able to browse their individual ballots at