Feb 28, 2014

Miles Davis at the Fillmore: Vinyl and Now New 4 Disc Bootleg Box Set

Exciting news for March 25th 2014, the Miles Davis Bootleg series releases it's third volume. This time recordings live from the Fillmore East in New York City circa June 1970.

This music was originally released 8 months after Bitches Brew hit the streets, and these live shows featured bands like the Grateful Dead and Santana sharing the bill.

When  I first heard about this release, I immediately thought about Saxophonist Steve Grossman and how he was virtually edited out of the original release, I will be very interested in hearing his tenor sax contribution on these restored sessions.

The title track for Bitches Brew is the glue that holds these sessions together, fact is, it can get a tad monotonous, but it's hard not to enjoy it as rock solid pallet on this double album. I like the twin piano attack of Chick Corea and Kieth Jarret, lets be honest, both of them on the same record, crazy is it not?

Click Photo to Purchase
Corea and Jarrett do a lot of noodling for sure, but they always have something to say, and Miles is really playing well to my ear, in a cocky brash tone. Miles sure has a muscular style from 1969-1971.  After On the Corner, I think the tone becomes more brittle, yet more nuanced.

I think about those solos on A Tribute to Jack Johnson, and the Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, I get that same vibe here, just real good confident Miles in my opinion.

I see a lot of mixed reviews on this Fillmore show, mostly complaints about Corea and Jarrett meandering on and on, but hey I like the searching stuff.

 For me, sometimes the searching for that place to go "is" the place for me music wise. I feel this way about long winded progressive rock too, Yes and Van Der Graaf Generator come to mind, I love the stuff. So when I discovered Miles' electric music years ago it was like a religious experience.

I really am not over analytical about music I listen to, not in a music theory sort of way, I could care less. I am into analyzing moods, textures, and feelings. I am more about what type of emotion is stirred up inside me.

The pictured Vinyl copy still sounds great, and actually I prefer it over the CD reissue. But I will tell you this: With 2 hours of music not heard from the show, and some unreleased Fillmore West stuff thrown in as bonus tracks, I will be there to nab it up.

I also see that the Bootleg Series Vol. 3 has 2 lengthy essays, this time in booklet form, and not the horrid folded poster back notes of Vol. 2. Also the sound quality should be a considerably better than Vol.2. as the original source sound so much better.

Feb 10, 2014

Dee Barton: Clint Eastwood, Stan Kenton and Everywhere in Between

One of the fascinating things about life is variety, after all it is the spice of life.  I also like when that variety intermingles seamlessly with the different interests I have.

One such interest is Clint Eastwood, Only a few movies of his I don't like, his whole persona intrigues me, not to mention how he developed into a fine Oscar caliber actor and a Director on par with the likes of Scorsese and Coppola.

Another interest is jazz, with modern progressive big band being one of my particular focuses. I dig Ellington, and Gil Evans quite a bit, but Stan Kenton has always struck a chord with me. He's not universally loved, or even respected.

I have been listening to jazz since around 1996/1997, and Kenton was one of the bands my dad did not like, he was a swing guy, dixieland and such, didn't have taste for the progressive sounds at all.  It trully didn't mean a thing if it didn't have that swing to him.
Stan Kenton-Left, Dee Barton-Right.

I was fortunate, 2 CD's my dad passed off on me were,  ...Plays the Jazz Compositions of Dee Barton. and Adventures in Jazz, Both fantastic 60's albums from Kenton, both albums do swing some, they find a happy median I think.

OK how does Clint Eastwood figure into this? Well, one of my favorite Eastwood films is Play Misty for Me (1971), his directorial debut, and a chilling ahead-of-its-time thriller, long before Glenn Close was cooking rabbits on stove tops, Jessica Walter was going berserk and plunging long blade scissors into unsuspecting  detectives and housekeepers.

I had long been a fan of the film, it all clicked when the credits rolled, music composed by Dee Barton. I was thinking that's the guy who composed that "Waltz of the Prophets" Track I liked so much, and of course the Compositions of Dee Barton.

I then found out that Barton did the score for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and High Plains Drifter for Clint as well. Here are some cool photos of Dee, one with Clint I believe from the late 70's.

You won't find a whole lot of jazz from Dee beyond The Kenton Band, and some of the jazzier scores for Eastwood, but you won't find much jazz in High Plains Drifter that's for sure.

Dee Barton was born during the month of Sept in the year 1937, and left this earth in December 2001. Dee not only was an underrated film score composer and jazz orchestra arranger, he was also an accomplished trombonist and Drummer for the Kenton band.

 From what I can gather, Dee spent time with Kenton from 1961 to 1970, with a live show from Redlands University being the final release Dee appeared on with Kenton.

 In any event Dee should go down with all the other fine Kenton arrangers, like Bill Holman, Bill Russo, and Johnny Richards. Kenton's 1960's years are quite good, with that balance between progressive jazz and swing.

 I think Kenton's 60's and 70's albums are all worth acquiring. Kenton allowed much more of a counter culture element into the music, playing many standards of the day, and even allowing some funk elements to drift into the style.

If you get a chance to check out that Play Misty For Me DVD do it, there is a lot of nice jazz stuff mixed throughout the film, even a lengthy segment at the Monterrey Jazz Festival, with Cannonball Adderley's early 70's group.

Feb 5, 2014

Dave Brubeck's Time Out: Underrated or Overrated Timeless Classic?

Vintage Stereo LP Cover of Time Out
I used to be in the camp that Time Out was a tad overrated, not grossly overrated mind you, perhaps just not as groundbreaking as it is touted as being.

 The fact it was released in the same year as Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus' Mingus Ah Um, and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, has lead to much discussion about that mythic year, and Time Out is certainly a part of it.

Brubeck was never considered a ground breaker on the piano, was he? Don't get me wrong, he is fine pianist, with a nice classy block chord heavy sound. Was Paul Desmond considered a firebrand on alto? No!

 I know avant-garde saxophonist Anthony Braxton has said Desmond was influential to him, but really we are not talking about Charlie Parker on alto with Desmond.

The hook here is the odd "for the time" time signatures, by today's standards they seem tame and not at all complex or extraordinary. Even in hindsight I don't get excited, a lot of great progressive jazz was being made at the time.

The Exotic nature of "Blue Rondo a la Turk's" 9/8 Balkan pulse, and the pulsating 5/4 rhythm of "Take Five", with Desmond's surprisingly sultry sounding alto is quite interesting.

The world music charms are shining through, but I am not feeling the groundbreaking nature. Parker and Gillespie, and Stan Kenton's bands were playing more complex music than this years before, of course people never give Stan Kenton his due either.

So what do I have against Time Out? Nothing! It's a fantastic album, I have tried to it analyze over and over, it's  simply not as good as Kind of Blue, or Mingus Ah Um, and Ornette's Shape of Jazz to Come.  Comparatively Time Out seems bland to me.

So why do I return to Time Out as much as those records mentioned above? Well for one. Desmond's "Take Five" is just sublime, and could be right at home on Kind of Blue. In fact, I always wished Miles and his second great quintet would have covered it, you know like "Freedom Jazz Dance" and "Ginger Bread Boy" on Miles Smiles?

 Forgive me, I like thinking in my minds eye sometimes what-if jazz scenarios like that.

Time Out is just a damn good album, and really it's pointless trying to pick it apart I suppose. I like "Rondo","Take Five", "3 to Get Ready", and "Pick Up Sticks" very much.

So in the end, Time Out is what it is, critically the 4th best of those big 4 from 1959. I know this though: More people have Time Out in their music library than Anything from Mingus or Coleman... and there isn't anything wrong with that I guess.

P.S. John Coltrane's Giant Steps was released in 1960, not 1959 like many believe, I thought I would mention that before I am called on the carpet for the omission above.


By the way, you can still get nice vinyl copies of Time Out for hardly anything. I have sold more than a few myself for less than 20 bucks, you could probably get a Columbia 2 eye copy for under 10 bucks, and a 70's pressing for 5 dollars.

Just a supply issue the low prices, they are still out there in large numbers. I have both the stereo and mono 6 eye versions, I do prefer the stereo.

Be honest, "Take Five" really holds up well 50 plus years later, even though I feel like the rest of the album is a bit overrated, not by a lot:)

 "Take Five" is one of those Modern jazz classics that even next to Davis' "So What" does hold its own quite well.

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