Duke Ellington’s America

Posted by: Dave Douglas on January 11, 2011 @ 9:43 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Music

Isfahan – Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges with Ellington’s band in 1965.

I just finished reading Duke Ellington’s America by Harvey G. Cohen and aside from simply enjoying the story and the context of Ellington’s life, it enriched my love of the music and deepened my awareness of some periods of his work I did not know as well. I recommend it.

I’m still partial to the 60s. The above clip from The Far East Suite shows (unintentionally?) the fraught fifty year relationship between these two masters. And yet the beauty of the performance supersedes any questions as to why Ellington is holding up the music and why Hodges doesn’t seem to want to look at it.

All that harmony! And yet it’s often just single lines or diads — no one is playing the piano. We’ll never know how much or which parts of this music Billy Strayhorn wrote. At least according to Cohen it was a relationship that neither of the collaborators ever discussed with anyone. Does it matter?

20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and even into the 70s with the Sacred Concerts. In a way Ellington offered one of the more radical, and yet most enduring, views of America.


Search and Restore: Funding successful

Posted by: admin on December 7, 2010 @ 1:16 pm
Filed under: Events, Music, Music Business News

Yesterday, we were happy to hear that Search and Restore met and surpassed their funding goal of $75k. A big CONGRATS to Adam and all the others. It’s folks like S&R that are helping bring jazz and experimental music into new millennium, gaining exposure for really great artists.

We’re all looking forward to the killer content that they are sure to deliver with the added cameras, equipment, man-power, and new site.

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Sitting Back Easy with Patto

Posted by: admin on August 30, 2010 @ 11:23 am
Filed under: Listening, Music

A few weeks ago, I had a brief tweeting with @billforman. He did an interview with Nels Cline — no secret we’re fans of Nels around here — in which Nels mentions his and Jeff Tweedy’s mutual admiration for the band Patto. You can read a lot about Patto over at Wiki. Ollie Halsall is one of my favorite guitarists. My band also covered this tune from the unfinished record Monkey’s Bum once (great horn chart).

But anyway, their self-title debut has been at the top of my lists of records I’ve wanted on wax for awhile. So after that conversation, I checked out eBay. Two years ago, they were going for $50-75. Now, it’s hard to find one under $200. Ridiculous that a record would cost that much, in my opinion. But, one chilled-out Sunday morning, I put in a bid on an auction just as it was ending, and to my surprise… I won. $22.43 later, it just arrived. I have to nominate for Steal of the Year.

Patto on desk

If you haven’t heard these guys, you should. Seriously. Highest recommendation.


Bill Dixon: An Appreciation

Posted by: Dave Douglas on June 18, 2010 @ 5:53 am
Filed under: Music

Taylor Ho Bynum writes warmly of the late Mr. Dixon.

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Nels on Miles

Posted by: admin on May 27, 2010 @ 11:19 am
Filed under: Listening, Music

A cool new podcast just posted over at jazzonline.com with Nels Cline talking about his introduction to Miles, the electric years with John McLaughlin, and it’s lasting influence on his own playing. Always great to hear artists talking about artists. Especially when it’s one of my favorite guitar players talking about my favorite Miles period.

And that reminded me of a post from awhile back that Dave wrote on the Complete Cellar Door recordings — one of my favorite of the Artist Thoughts posts. The archives of this blog have 5 years worth of these great posts. It’s been on my list of things to do to go through and repost some of these. Here’s a start anyway.

Illuminations on the Cellar Door
April 25th, 2006 | Author: Dave Douglas

I was listening to Miles Davis’ 1970 recordings from the Cellar Door, a space in Washington, DC. These recordings went into making the album Live Evil in 1970. It is an absolute classic of an album, and yet it falls in that controversial zone that separates lovers of early Miles from those entranced by the second half of his recorded tenure, the electric years.

Much has been said about Miles Davis and his music. Sometimes too much, and for that reason I have hesitated to jump in. But in the words of trombonist George Lewis, music doesn’t speak for itself. We have to talk about it because it doesn’t talk. I imagine Miles having the last laugh because like it or not everyone is still talking about his music. I’ll at least try to be concise.

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Lester in Schwaz 1986

Posted by: Dave Douglas on April 26, 2010 @ 7:33 am
Filed under: Brass Ecstasy, Music

This picture came to me from a friend in Amsterdam. It’s from a concert by Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy at The Heremitage in Schwaz, Austria in 1986. The Heremitage is a tiny restaurant/venue where a lot of artists play because it’s in the small Tyrolian town where one of the main European booking agents is located. Incredibly, preposterously intimate venue, and always filled with friends and partisans.


Vincent Chancey (not pictured) was on this tour and here’s what he had to say when I sent him this photo.

That photo is from Brass Fantasy 1986. The other players are Malachi Thompson, Stanton Davis, and Rasul Siddik. That is the year we took the uniforms to the dry cleaners in Schwaz, and the people at the cleaners said “Hooray, the circus is in town.” The band had a number 1 song on the pop radio in Austria, so we did an 18 city tour only in Austria. The song was “No Shit.”

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Spring winged fling

Posted by: admin on April 5, 2010 @ 9:31 am
Filed under: Listening, Music

A Blog Supreme caught my eye and ear this morning with a recording of Misha Mengelberg’s Eeko from his album Epistrophy. It was a perfect tune for this morning — my windows open, just after a fresh night rain, and the birds outside joining in. Further bird-related jazz music at another NPR post called Jazz Is For the Birds .

That reminded me. Oliver Messiaen has a pretty extensive group of compositions inspired by bird calls. After listening to a few I have on a box set of his works, I stumbled on this page that compares a few bird calls that Messiaen used with how he used them.

Alright, enough sunshine and tulips. Back to work.

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Brit Jazz, Junkyard Trance, and Alt Country

Posted by: admin on March 30, 2010 @ 8:04 am
Filed under: Listening, Music

A few links to pass on this fine Tuesday.

Destination:Out, unequivocally my most treasured source for discovering new jams, has a new post today following up a great post last week. The band, Amalgam; the record, Prayer for Peace. New Konono The two tracks posted are killer. Great way to start the day. Or end it. Really any time.

Next, a new Konono No.1 album was announced. Details via Pitchfork. The album titled Assume Crash Position hits the street June 8th. Here’s hoping for a stream to come soon. Info on a new Congotronics vinyl box with included Assume Crash Position LP over at the label site (Crammed).

Last, La Blogotheque (found via TwentyFourBit) is featuring a Wilco performance of “Country Disappeared.” Pretty cool performance — quiet, stripped-down, no vocal microphones. Definitely check it out.


Read, Music Biz Handbook; Listen, New Music

Posted by: admin on March 24, 2010 @ 10:48 am
Filed under: Listening, Music, Music Business News

A good read at BerkleeMusic.com. The Music Business Handbook is a downloadable PDF you can get by giving them your email — which I believe is part of the second chapter, Direct To Fan. It’s a good overview of what kind of marketplace up-and-coming artists find themselves.

Some new music hit the web this month that I’ve been listening to — as I take a short break from my Alphabetical Listening Project. Definitely worth your time.

Brad Mehldau’s Highway Rider through Nonesuch. One of my favorite producers, Jon Brion, who did Largo, did a bang up job throughout.

Dave Holland’s newest, Pathways, for Octet sounds great. I’ll be picking that one up shortly. Check it out here.

Last, some reissued, remastered boxed sets from Black Saint / Soul Note are available now. I’m specifically excited about picking up the Charlie Haden box, but the others are on my To-Buy list as well. All are available here.

Anything I’ve missed? Pass on what’s found it’s way to your ears in the comments if you’d like.


Spring Forward Monday

Posted by: admin on March 15, 2010 @ 8:41 am
Filed under: Events, Listening, Music

For those who need more than just the usual Americano on this Spring-forwarded Monday morning, a few links…

First, Darcy continues his Composition Vivisection feature with his second post. For those interested in nerdy music analysis, these posts are not to be unclicked.

Next, check out the exclusive track stream of Vandermark/Haaker Flaten/Wiik from the forthcoming Gray Scale at Peter Margasak’s blog. This came after three performances with Atomic — shows that I regrettably missed, but heard were amazing (even when the weekend patrons at the Mill wouldn’t keep quiet).

D:O posted a great Max Roach and Archie Shepp track last week in case you missed it.

Last, a service delay prompts NYC Subway patrons at the Times Square stop to form an impromptu chorus as a busking band performs The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”.

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