Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Deep Jazz Writing & An Art Pepper Download

Found this jazz-based quote from Sartre's great first novel Nausea. There's a bit more to the original quote but sadly I don't have a copy to hand to extend it. Ever since I first read these lines ten or so years ago, they have been central to my understanding of what jazz is.
It is, of course, not Jamie Cullum, it is, literally, 'improvised music'. Music of that specific moment in time, space, gravity and electro-magnetism, of that one, specific unique combination. I've been attending blues jams at the Black Note (incidentally my second DJ session was a non-starter but, don't worry, I'm going to kill it on the third) and, to me, this music (blues) is what jazz is to many - OK, sure, but always the same.But for me jazz is alive with possibilities.
It doesn't have to use brass of any kind (in fact, I'm always looking for non-brass jazz to get diversity in my listening). Any instrument can be used in jazz. As the late, much-missed Alice Coltrane showed, it could be a harp. Stephane Grappelli used a violin. Everything is jazz. Great rock is jazz. Anything where people are laying things down, expressing themselves or expressing something with music is jazz. And I don't see the use of technology as limiting the scope of jazz - its not all cynical Hed Kandi type crap out there. Check out what Four Tet and Moodymann are doing for instance. One day I'll have to contribute to the Great Offering myself. Maybe. As a selector, anyway, I do what I can.

Anyway the quote from J-P S...

'For the moment, the jazz is playing; there is no melody, just notes, a myriad tiny tremors. The notes know no rest, an inflexible order gives birth to them then destroys them, without ever leaving them the chance to recuperate and exist for themselves.... I would like to hold them back, but I know that, if I succeeded in stopping one, there would only remain in my hand a corrupt and languishing sound. I must accept their death; I must even want that death: I know of few more bitter or intense impressions.'

And something from Jack Kerouac's amazing On The Road. As has been discussed, his style of writing is itself similar to the improvisations of jazz. Indeed for me it forms a trilogy of C20th American classics of the modern age with Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson. All three are (relatively) unpolished works, clearly the result of periods of almost uncontrollable inspiration. We get some of the electricity of what they were feeling in those moments through the miracle of language. As Sartre himself said 'I must let my pen run on, without searching for words...'

'Dean and I went to see Shearing at Birdland in the midst of the long, mad weekend. The place was deserted, we were the first customers, ten o'clock. Shearing came out, blind, led by the hand to his keyboard. He was a distinguished-looking Englishman with a stiff white collar, slightly beefy, blond, with a delicate English-summer's-night air about him that came out in the first rippling sweet number he played as the bass-player leaned to him reverently and thrummed the beat. The drummer, Denzil Best, sat motionless except for his wrists snapping the brushes. And Shearing began to rock; a smile broke over his ecstatic face; he began to rock in the piano seat, back and forth, slowly at first, then the beat went up, and he began rocking fast, his left foot jumped up with every beat, his neck began to rock crookedly, he brought his face down to the keys, he pushed his hair back, his combed hair dissolved, he began to sweat. The music picked up. The bass-player hunched over and socked it in, faster and faster, it seemed faster and faster, that's all. Shearing began to play his chords; they rolled out of the piano in great rich showers, you'd think the man wouldn't have time to line them up. They rolled and rolled like the sea. Folks yelled for him to "Go!" Dean was sweating; the sweat poured down his collar. "There he is! That's him! Old God! Old God Shearing! Yes! Yes! Yes! And Shearing was conscious of the madman behind him, he could hear every one of Dean's gasps and imprecations, he could sense it though he couldn't see. "That's right!" Dean said. "Yes!" Shearing smiled, he rocked. Shearing rose from the piano, dripping with sweat; these were his great 1949 days before he became cool and commercial. When he was gone Dean pointed to the empty piano seat. "God's empty chair," he said. On the piano a horn sat; its golden shadow made a strange reflection along the desert caravan painted on the wall behind the drums. God was gone; it was the silence of his departure. It was a rainy night. It was the myth of the rainy night. Dean was popeyed with awe. This madness would lead nowhere.'

And Wooodenelephant is officially a sharity blog now. Here's a great, life-affirming set from one of my big favourites, Art Pepper. As you can read in bios, he had an eventful life and was a colourful character etc. He was a heroin addict and though the costs of this are usually extremely high, all the evidence suggests it opens people up to an expansive appreciation and experience of this mystery called Life. This exuberance, this joy, the lived-ness of his life really comes through in his playing and this awesome set from 68. Few can improvise so daringly and still completely rock the joint. Two tracks on this selection (I don't have anymore of this set, which is itself a download from EMule) - Groupin' and Lover Come Back To Me. They're both over 20 minutes though.

The link is at the end of the post. This will be standard with any download I provide. Link at the bottom, with the post tagged with 'download'. This will be the standard til I start to run into the problems other sharity bloggers have run into which has lead them to use passwords, post the links in comments etc etc...

By the way, the CENSORED blog seems to have downloads not of the highest sound quality - at any rate with the two I obtained - Blakey's Ritual and Coltrane & Wilbur Harden's Mainstream, particularly the former. I've discovered another great blog though. More Brasilian gems here...


Check out the three volumes featured here of the Favela Chic compilations. Almost as good as Gilles' Brasilian selections...


And download this!!!


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