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Archive for the ‘excellent grooves’ Category

more jaap blonk than any human can handle

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June 3, 2018 at 4:01 am

ornette in rome

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May 27, 2018 at 4:01 am

good weekend music

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May 20, 2018 at 4:01 am

not bad for a college town free jazz mini-orchestra (black acid arkestra)

+++++++

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May 13, 2018 at 5:10 am

deafhaven

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May 6, 2018 at 4:11 am

the one and only hans reichel

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April 22, 2018 at 5:06 am

unit structures, or how i miss cecil taylor already (1929-2018)

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April 15, 2018 at 4:01 am

go ahead, it’s ok, sing along (4 julie andrews)

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April 8, 2018 at 4:11 am

midori takada’s through the looking class

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April 1, 2018 at 4:01 am

joanna brouk

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March 25, 2018 at 4:01 am

du pre, dvorak

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March 18, 2018 at 4:11 am

piccolo tpt gershwin

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March 4, 2018 at 5:07 am

sesame street jam

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February 18, 2018 at 5:15 am

the elements

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February 11, 2018 at 5:01 am

physical education

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February 4, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Ibarra + kulintang

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January 7, 2018 at 8:14 am

social position and the flatness of autobiography: the case of hancock’s possibilities

I recently read Herbie Hancock’s Possibilities, his autobiography. Co-authored by Lisa Dickey, the book is a fun and engaging recounting of an amazing musical career. After reading it, I consulted the reviews. Casual readers, musicians and jazz fans I presume, pretty much give it a standing ovation. More literary audiences – book reviewers – find it well written but not gripping.

What explains the divergence? The fans want a fairly straightforward text. They want stories of a great man doing great things. Given Hancock’s insanely successful career, that is pretty easy to do. He played with almost every major jazz giant of his era, from Miles Davis to Eric Dolphy, but invented the jazz-funk band and even won a Grammy for Rockit, which brought scratching to a wide audience. This book fits the book.

The critics want something different. They want a text that’s interesting, and innovative. That’s very hard to do, especially for Hancock. On one level, it’s a matter of personality. To write something interesting, you have to take a subject and look at it from an interesting perspective. You have to step out of yourself and reflect on things. Hancock has a very “matter of fact” personality. He admits at multiple points that he doesn’t dwell on things and doesn’t let things drag him down. He’s also a technical guy, even studying engineering. That’s a personality type that doesn’t lend itself to highly emotive writing.

There is a deeper reason for the flatness of the book. It has to do with being a successful person, especially a hyper-successful one like Hancock. After a certain point, things happen at you. Once you become prominent, things just start falling in your lap. It doesn’t mean that you work less. You still must struggle and you still have to put in the time. But you are doing a different kind of work – analyzing and assessing the opportunities that present themselves.

In modern social theory, we might say that Hancock has occupied a central position in his social field – music. And when this happens, there is an emotional transformation from struggling person who must create their world to the person who exploits their world.  Once Herbie becomes established, he just asks for things – and they show up. Funk musicians? Check. Hip hop DJ? Check. Oscar award? Check. Being at the center of music is what Hancock is about. Explaining what is interesting about the successful Herbie, in comparison to the struggling Herbie is hard.

The real challenge of the successful person writing an autobiography is to get away from just listing off all your gigs. This is why political autobiographies are usually horrible. It is easy for a politician to mechanically go through what happened to them without taking the times to reflect or offer up any real insights. Hancock’s book is not really that bad and it does have a few surprises, such as a chapter about his drug addiction, but still, it still falls into a rut.

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Written by fabiorojas

January 2, 2018 at 8:00 am

The OA modern dance flashmob

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December 3, 2017 at 5:01 am

rachel yoder/new york counterpoint

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November 19, 2017 at 5:14 am

bill evans plays israel

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October 29, 2017 at 5:46 am

more crumhorn consort (die vie branlen)

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September 24, 2017 at 4:01 am

axum, newton (= beastie boy fight)

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September 10, 2017 at 4:01 am

mister rogers v. electronica

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September 3, 2017 at 12:01 am

free at last, mal waldron (1970)

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August 27, 2017 at 12:01 am

mal waldron review at the nation

The Nation continues to be an excellent source of commentary on jazz. From a new article by Adam Shatz about the pianist Mal Waldron:

Waldron’s style is invariably described as “brooding”—almost all of his pieces are in a minor key—but it could also be described as analytical. Most jazz pianists work to create an effect of outward motion when they improvise. Swing, after all, is a musical analogue of dance, and its aim is to make the body more expansive and supple. Waldron’s music appears to work in nearly the opposite direction, burrowing ever more deeply into its materials: He seems to be on an inward journey. In “The Blues Suite,” for example, the slow, winding song that takes up more than a third of Meditations, there’s an extraordinary moment where Waldron plays a descending figure in the lower registers of the piano; as it recedes, a sample from the Negro spiritual “Wade in the Water” rises in its wake, suggesting a shadowy recollection, or the previously erased layer of a palimpsest.

Waldron “played every piece as if he were X-raying it,” as Edward Said once observed of Glenn Gould. He turned to music as a kind of mental exercise, a way of figuring out what he thought; his pieces were almost all “meditations.” “I want to be able to see what I am doing,” he explained, “and in order to be very clear in my mind where I am going I have to repeat it.” His search for what he called the “one note that goes for the entire piece” gives his music an almost uniquely obsessive sense of propulsion—the feeling of being in a trance.

The article also provides a great biographical overview of this beloved artist. Read the whole thing.

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August 24, 2017 at 12:01 am

to bolivia

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July 30, 2017 at 4:38 am

morricone/theremin

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July 23, 2017 at 4:35 am

the root of things

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July 16, 2017 at 4:37 am

hearing is believing – a documentary about rachel flowers

I recently saw the documentary “Hearing is Believing,” which is about the musician Rachel Flowers. The movie focuses on how Flowers, who has been blind since birth, became a musical prodigy. Like many films that focus on talented people with disabilities, Hearing is Believing tells you about the challenges she faced as a young person and her success as a musician.

The film is fairly conventional in many ways. Description of the condition that deprived her of sight and testimonials from the family about how they will do the best they can for her. Like many musician documentaries, there’s a lot of talk about how at a very early age (4!), Flowers could accurately play complex classical music. By her teen years, she masted piano, guitar, and woodwinds at a professional level and had begun composing. In the film, she shows mastery of an amazing range of styles, from church organ music to bebop to progressive rock to Hawaiian ukelele.

I agree with critics that the movie rambled a bit and needed a bit more context, but I still liked it. First, Flowers has an inner joy. She loves music and spends much of her time doing workshops with students and she loves it. Second, I think it was fun to see her dabble into the many nooks and crannies of American music. I only think a musician would appreciate, for example, how she was able to replicate Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic” on her home keyboard, or how she could drop in on jazz trumpet master Arturo Sandoval and jam.* It’s also interesting to see how she built a reputation by putting her performances on youtube.

Finally, she’s built a real life and that’s impressive. You may think that Flower’s life is just jam sessions with Dweezil Zappa (yes!) and premiering her orchestral works. But she still goes to a Braille school and needs an enormous amount of help just getting around. Life is hard, but she has a gift and she’s doing the best she can. And maybe that’s the sweetest note she can play.

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* I thought it was interesting that Sandoval was the only person who was really on her level. In true jazz style, they seem to have a cutting session and Arturo gets the upper hand and she just laughs with joy. Later, he actually shows her a little bit about how to improve her piano technique. Neat!

Written by fabiorojas

June 27, 2017 at 4:16 am

allman brothers, jessica

 

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June 4, 2017 at 12:17 am

miles davis, little church (1973)

Trippy, man. Golden, though.

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May 28, 2017 at 12:01 am

galway, irlandaise

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May 21, 2017 at 12:29 am

wes montgomery

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May 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm

jane bunnett and maqueque

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May 7, 2017 at 12:03 am

andrew hill, solo performance (1975)

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April 23, 2017 at 12:00 am