Tuesday, August 28, 2012

David Murray Blues Big Band

I've always wanted to enjoy free jazz more than I actually do. But I'm glad people keep playing innovations, whether I like them or not. Eventually, I and/or the artist might come around to an accommodation that I will enjoy.

Such is the case with saxophonist David Murray's work. Throughout his life of squalling and beeping, he has always found a way to rein himself often enough to stay grounded — and he almost always plays in a deep rhythmic pocket.

Decades ago, I had trouble with the extramusical sounds, but now I'd be disappointed if he didn't play them.

Now, he and harmolodic guitarist James Blood Ulmer have teamed up to front a blues big band. From this promotional video, it sounds like the ultimate combination of tradition and extremes.

I assume this video is OK to copy here because of its promotional nature and because Murray's website links to it and encourages embedding.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finally listening to Jennie Scheinman

From left: Jenny Scheinman, Todd Sickafoose, Jim Black and Nels Cline. Photo acquired from Scheinman's online press kit. Photo Credit: Michael Gross

I’ve always had trouble getting into the music of violinist Jenny Scheinman because it doesn’t sound like anything else, and I know I’d have to work at it to enjoy it.

And yet that was the reason I got into jazz in the first place, at about age 10. I’ve become so lazy of late with my music collecting, just falling back on familiar sounds and selecting new stuff only if it resembles old favorites.

So, at last, I downloaded a Jenny Scheinman album, “Mischief and Mayhem,” (her newest) and gave it a serious listen.

Her quartet includes the singular guitarist Nels Cline. He and Scheinman are kindred spirits in that they take totally individualistic approaches to their instruments for striking impact, but they don’t stand out as virtuosos.

In Scheinman, there’s no clear representation of typical violin influences, such as Hot Club, bluegrass or classical; it’s a personal language of melody with a little abrasion. Cline has worked in punk, alt and free jazz, but none of those terms describe his playing.

Instead, they play moods or emotions, in a manner that’s narrative, not static. They often play layers of atmospherics, from spacey (“A Ride With Polly jean”) to spikey (“Blues for the Double Vee) — sometimes folded into engaging rhythms (“The Mite”) that I can hang onto through mysterious excursions.

“Sand Dipper” is a gorgeous melody played against percussion resembling jarring Asiatic bells.

“July Tenth in Three Four” presents slow motion tranquility with rumbling drums and droning guitar.

The other members of the quartet are Todd Sickafoose on bass and Jim Black on drums. They can really drive the band, when the music calls for drive. People who like rock instrumentation and pulse probably can enjoy this album, even though the players improvise in ways that will satisfy jazz listeners.

Here is a clip of “Blues for Double Vee.” I am assuming that this is an authorized post because the author is “JennyScheinman” and it links to Amazon to encourage people to buy the album:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Once again, MOJO delivers

Once again, the Missouri Jazz Orchestra (MOJO) delivers. We took my wife's parents to see Tuesday's first set, and they really enjoyed it. My father-in-law, who played drums in bands as a kid and has continued to play percussion in community ensembles all his life, was thrilled. He said things like,

"Do you realize how complicated that is?"



"I can't believe this is here."

He told us that we're lucky to have MOJO.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who cares about intellectual property?

The recent dust-up between the Romney campaign and Sliversun over the campaign's use of the band's tune, "Panic Switch," highlights an intellectual property issue that I see  more on the Internet than in live settings.

As Huffington Post Entertainment notes, the band charged that the campaign did not secure permission to use the song. The campaign said it used the song under a "blanket licensing agreement." What is that?

I follow several jazz bloggers on Twitter who seem to combine the audio of a tune with the album cover and post the combo as a video on YouTube. How is this any different than e-mailing illegally downloaded mp3's to friends? And why aren't recording companies and artists suing these bloggers in the same way they nailed Napster a decade ago? And why doesn't YouTube block this rampant practice?

This video is an example of the practice: "SeƱor Blues" from "Ray Charles: Genius + Soul = Jazz." It's posted by MrMusicMagic, with this edifying note: "No description available."

This video's integrity is uncertain: "Dark Eyes" from "Terminal 7" by the Tomasz Stanko Quintet. The post, authored by giokat100, claims a "Standard YouTube License." What is that? The artwork with this piece looks like a press-kit photo, so maybe the creator of the video is authorized by the artist or the label. However, the post also directs the user to a Tomasz Stanko YouTube channel "auto generated by YouTube." This channel is packed with tunes by Stanko presented in the same fashion as the first example. So, is YouTube enabling the misuse of intellectual property, or has the artist or label granted permission?

I will look for answers. Meanwhile, if you have any, please comment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Autumn in summer

Finally raked all the leaves that have fallen off the sycamores over the past six weeks — as big a pile as I'd expect in mid-October. Sycamores, like many other trees, shed leaves to conserve moisture. I mulched them into a fine powder and made a small pile in the back corner.

Meanwhile, the "shroud" (partially visible at left in the photo) continues to protect the vines from birds. I've seen numerous pigeons and cardinals land on the covered vines. They seem to be able to identify the deep blue maturing fruit behind the see-through fabric. But they can't figure out how to penetrate it, so they fly away.

I checked the brix twice this week — only 15. Still a ways to go. I also check daily to be sure that the grapes are not falling off the vine, which St.Vincent grapes will do.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Finally bottling 2011 wines

My cat Dexter, an effective opportunist, crashed the photo of the wines just bottled from 2011 grapes.

For the first time in several years, I made Chambourcin and Norton, this time from grapes cultivated by Mike and Kathy Dennis of Tyler Ridge Vineyard Winery, about 10 miles north of Springfield. I have to credit the Dennises for the astonishing results. All I did is all I've ever done — observe sterile practices and avoid oxidation. But this time, the Chambourcin had the signature acids, but they were modified and smoothed out, and the Norton had a little smoky essence even without oak.

It's such a kick to have a tiny stake in America's native grape, whose development dates to Thomas Jefferson's failures and the successes of fellow Virginian Dr. Daniel Norton. For my output, all credit is due to the vineyard practices of the Dennises. If I can get these results as an amateur, imagine what the Dennises are achieving — for just $15 a bottle.

The third project is peach. Last year, I added more fruit to the mix, and the result requires even less sugar added back. In fact, it requires none. It's a dry peach that tastes like peach, not candy.

Aren't the labels classy?