Ear Candy

Posted by: Dave Douglas on September 14, 2010 @ 1:25 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

Got myself a couple treats after coming home. First is the Ahmad Jamal box set on Mosaic, nine discs. It’s just inalienably smile-inducing. Even if you have some of the records, there’s so much that’s new here. But maybe most of all to hear The Pershing and related studio dates back to back, one tune after another, one brilliant arrangement following another. The perfect band. Every move crafted effortlessly. Israel Crosby and Vernel Fournier. All the standards, known and unknown, along with a handful of great originals. There’s a quintet date I’d never heard with Joe Kennedy on violin and Ray Crawford on guitar. It has the same timeless feeling as the trio tracks.

Kenny Washington produced the set and presents a great interview with Mr. Jamal for the notes. There are some real gems, for instance KW asks how AJ came up with his concept of less-is-more:

AJ: There’s a discipline in music. There’s an amount of showiness and showing off in front of musicians, which is always a mistake. So I kind of backed off sometimes and I think it’s part of the discipline that I’ve enjoyed through the years… Some people call it space, but I call it discipline. I’ve always been a person that would like to follow some of the rules. I’ve broken a lot of the rules, but I think that everyone should follow at least some of them. You can’t break all the rules. And I think that not overplaying is a rule we should abide by sometimes.

This music makes me so happy. Just wanted to share it and I hope everyone gets a chance to hear this release, or at least pull out some Jamal for a minute. Every new arrangement of a familiar standard I hear from the Ahmad Jamal Trio is cause for celebration. And of course Mr. Jamal is still out there playing and I encourage you to go hear him if you have the chance.

Mosaic (and no, I’m not shilling for them. It’s just ’cause they have the candy.) just released a John Carter / Bobby Bradford three disc set from the late 60s and early 70s. Followers of the Festival of New Trumpet Music got to hear Bobby in NYC last year with David Murray, Baikida Carroll, Mark Dresser, Andrew Cyrille, Benny Powell, and Marty Ehrlich. Bobby is going strong and we hope to have him back in NYC in 2011.

This new box set doesn’t catch the beginning of Carter’s or Bradford’s career, but it represents a real turning point for them and for the scene. This was a cohesive partnership that took ideas about free improvisation that were in the air and partnered them with a deep and powerful formal sensitivity. Sticks and Stones is now a classic Carter composition that shows off his incredible expressiveness and facility on the clarinet. Having played the tune (with Francois Houle) I can attest to the difficulties. It sounds so fluid here. There’s also an unreleased duo session that alone is worth the price of admission. Joyful sounds that are also a snapshot of a particular time and place.

Also have taken this moment to go out and buy a bunch of records by my contemporaries. Lots of great music being made. I just got the box set of my own latest release in the mail, as well. I hope you all are enjoying it, or at least checking it out here at our store. What new gems are you all hearing out there?


  1. Bought the Carter-Bradford Box myself. 2 CDs of out-of-print Bruz Freeman was too much for this Chicagoan to pass up. Besides being Von and George Freeman’s older brother and an absolutely great musician — check out Charlie Parker “In Chicago” if you can find it — Bruz was also a Tuskegee Airmen (and a professional pilot) and one of the first black athletes on the professional Tennis tour. An amazing person really. Of course, music was his main thing. There are several Hampton Hawes records on Contemporary where his understated swing is prominent and even better recorded than on this Box but it’s great to hear him in this context and with these great players. Historic stuff, I agree.

    Comment by Mike Grimaldi — September 14, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  2. Hi Dave

    Many thanks for the reminder re the Bobby Bradford/John Carter set – it will hopefully be winging its way to the UK shortly. There seems to be so many John Carter recordings currently out of print – it would be great if Mosaic could also pick these up?

    Much of my recent listening has been trumpet based… I’ve filled in a few gaps in my Dennis Gonzalez collection over the summer – recent recordings such as A Matter of Blood, Renegade Spirits and Songs of Early Autumn are all really strong sets.

    I caught Peter Evans at Cheltenham earlier in the summer, and bought his new Quartet CD, Live in Lisbon. It is a cracker! That sent me back to Mostly Other People Do the Killing, which then prompted me to buy The Observer by Jon Irabagon, and I’m currently waiting for the new trio disc with Barry Altschul to ship from the US.

    I’ve also been playing the download versions of the new Keystone set, and am really looking forward to the CDs themselves arriving shortly. Plus your visit to the London Jazz Festival, of course.

    Your link to the Taylor Ho Bynum blog has now got me checking his progress on a daily basis – I had no idea such an undertaking was possible in the US. In a similar vein, I’ve just finished reading David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, which had a particular resonance, as I am now the proud owner of a folding bicycle myself (and a confirmed non-car owner!)

    Best wishes


    Comment by Simon — September 14, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

  3. Don Cherry – The Codona Trilogy
    Kirk Knuffke – Amnesia Brown
    Jan Bang – And Poppies From Kandahar
    Toshimaru Nakamura – Egrets

    Comment by Rich Johnson — September 14, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

  4. Mostly a retrospective of African Funk which is worth tracking down and very keenly priced (A beginners guide) – and Zorn’s new albums which I am finding an interesting diversion from the usual Tzadik releases

    Spark of Being of course which I have featured on the radio show a couple of times.

    Coincidentally re AJ I was listening to At The Lighthouse for the first time in a while recently and fell in love with it all over again.

    This week has mostly been about Ken Vandermark and Atomic who have a gig in Manchester at Band on the Wall on Friday.I’m doing a special on them on this weeks show and it’s been great to hear the Spaceways Incorporated Album again.

    Thanks for the music


    Comment by Bob Osborne — September 15, 2010 @ 12:07 am

  5. That’s incredible about Bruz Freeman. Thanks, MG.

    Simon, you might dig the Kirk Knuffke disc mentioned by Rich. Kirk is one of the greats out there right now. And by the way, I enjoy cycling myself — would an acoustic bike tour be easier in the UK? I mean I’ve heard about freehiking, though I probably wouldn’t do it quite that way.

    And Peter Evans, yikes! Amazing.

    So much great music. If interested, check out the comments at Facebook as well.

    Comment by Dave Douglas — September 15, 2010 @ 8:33 am

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    Pingback by Tweets that mention Ear Candy -- Topsy.com — September 15, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  7. Hi Dave (and Rich)

    Kirk Knuffle is a new name to me, but I have the others on Rich’s list (the Jan Bang has been played a lot this year – it’s a pity you cannot see him “dance” when listening to the CD, as my wife Claire was very taken by this when we saw him with Arve Henriksen last year!) so we appear to be on the same wavelength.

    A cycling tour of the UK? Sounds fantastic – for the trumpter in the band at least – not sure about bass players and drummers! I guess my thoughts were along the lines of (a) from what I have read about the States, Europe seems more bike friendly, and (b) the distances are not so immense. However, THOB appears to have found a concentrated pocket (trumpet?) of venues in New England that allows him to do this – realistically, you might struggle here, although it could feasibly be possible to link up Cheltenham, Bristol, Cardiff, Hereford (personal plug) and Birmingham. Perhaps we should discuss with Tony Dudley Evans? I have come across a couple of instances recently of tours on foot of the English/Welsh border country (the “marches”).


    Comment by Simon — September 15, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  8. Oops, Knuffke – sorry Kirk.

    Comment by Simon — September 15, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  9. Just got a blast from Mosaic saying they’re releasing an 8 disc Threadgill set. Indeed.

    Comment by Dave Douglas — September 15, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  10. Rich: Codona Trilogy, YES! Fantastic stuff.

    Some soul for Grimaldi: This Syl Johnson, Complete Mythology box from Numero Group looks pretty sweet.

    Comment by Jim Tuerk — September 15, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  11. thanks for all the blogging, mr. douglas. i really dig brass ecstacy, and your “summit music” from the “mountain passages” album is one of my favorite songs.

    i am a huge ahmad jamal fan, and he sounds as great as ever on this year’s “a quiet time.”

    also digging:
    smithsonian folkways “music of central asia” series
    flying lotus – “cosmogramma”
    charles lloyd quartet – “mirror”
    wadada leo smith & jack dejohnette – “america”
    randy weston sextet – “the storyteller” coming soon! http://www.motema.com/press/thestoryteller/

    Comment by Greg — September 16, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

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