i've been off from work since yesterday, and i don't have to go back till tuesday. and this afternoon, rain arrived like a candygram from the gods to hopefully wash away the choking blanket of pollens and hydrocarbons that's been irritating the eyes and sinuses of virtually everyone i know here in the fort these past three weeks. yesterday, kat and i went on a movie binge, watching rashomon
, the n.y. dolls reunion doco (thanks tommy and marissa), tank girl
(love those rippers), dazed and confused
(which i'd never seen in its entirety, so i didn't realize that ben affleck, whom i've always despised, was the film's most loathesome character), and clerks
in a single 12-hour span. tonight, it'll be crusader rabbit vs. the state of texas
, my fave childhood cartoon which my big sis in jersey generously sent as a b-day gift.
inasmuch as most of my fave music remains on homemade cd-r, i've been spending more time than usual lately listening to store-bought music for various reasons. went looking for some old burning spear to fill out a reggae compilation for a coworker of kat's and came home instead with the easy dub all stars' dub side of the moon
and the 35th anniversary reish of gentle giant's free hand
. the former's a reggae spin on the pink floyd alb that by all rights i had my lifetime quota of listens to back in the summer of '73, even before "classic rock" radio overexposure should have consigned it to the dustbin of history. and yet, and yet...the melodies continue to beguile the ear, and yes kids, it's wizard of oz
-approved (of course it is...as damien points out, part of the dub methodology is, um, playing along with the record). gentle giant, on the other hand, was prolly the most interesting of the english prog bands from the standpoint of presenting their ridiculously complex contrapuntal melodies with a flair for non-bombastic showmanship (e.g., having various bandmembers exchange instruments mid-song without missing a note). plus i have a sentimental attachment to this particular rekkid that stems from my having discovered it (at a friend's apartment in albany, during a post-dropout visit there) on the same night when i first read bukowski.
besides that, my dtr bestowed me with a new copy of charles mingus' tijuana moods
-- possibly my favorite mingus rec after the black saint and the sinner lady
, which fact didn't prevent me from giving my last copy to a muso bud, foolishly thinking that it'd still be easily available locally (object lesson for jazz aficionados: major label jazz catalog is as ephemeral as the most sporadically distributed indie; get 'em while you can). then a coupla days later i was in half price books, looking for the tupelo chain sex record i had surreptitiously slipped into the back of one of the bins (from whence it vanished without a trace; instant karma? _you_ decide!!!) when i stumbled on a steal: the three-cd comp of sides duke ellington cut between 1940 and 1942 with the blanton webster band
(blanton being jimmy, the man who invented the bass as a solo jazz instrument, while webster refers to ben, a highly distinctive tenor sax voice, echoes of whom i hear in the work of occasional black dog jammer kwazi vann). true, this particular reish omits the ellington-blanton duets (including "sophisticated lady" and "body and soul") that grace the most recent edition, but that sucker sells for 30 bucks used, while this one was on offer for half that. you can't be as enamored as i am of mingus without digging you some duke, although i will admit that my feedback-scorched ears can't really hear the classic ducal recordings from the '20s and '30s as well as these and subsequent ellington sides -- probably the result of having grown up watching '30s cartoons that used swing era toonage as soundtrack fodder. oh well. or i can try making myself look cool by saying i prefer the billy strayhorn era of dukedom. whatevah.
however, my favorite rekkid of the moment isn't actually a record at all. au contraire, it's the recording of the 5/15/05 edition of the lee allen-carl pack wednesday night wreck room jam, which andre edmonson's been documenting on vhs tape, the audio portions of which he burns to cd-r's for the edification and enjoyment of the participants and interested civilians (if you see andre and ask him nicely, i bet he'll burn you one). on the particular night in question, the cosmic tumblers were all in alignment: not only did dre get his most balanced recording mix to date, all of the participants (including guests brian sharpe on trumpet and flugelhorn and jeremy hull on bass alongside usual suspects like violinist steve huber and wildman metal shredaholic gtrist darrin kobetich) played their asses off. right now, my favorite bits are the "speed-metal" version of herbie hancock's "chameleon," which jeremy kicked off at land-speed-record tempo; chick corea's "la fiesta," on which darrin played a solo like a damn scirocco blowing out of the sahara; and a piss-take attempt at the old status quo-via-camper van beethoven hit "pictures of matchstick men," with delicious back-to-back solo statements from confusatron's john stevens and darrin. the heroes of the piece, though, are damien stewart, a drummer's drummer who knows how to let the grooves breathe, and reluctant bandleader lee, whose in-the-moment direction can transform a potential clusterfuck into something transcendent.
in all honesty, i gotta say that it ain't always that way, which is part of the gig's appeal: you never know what's gonna happen. this past week, f'rinstance, some combination of illness (at least three participants that i'm aware of were suffering weather-related sinus maladies), fatigue (especially on the part of the bandleader, who took a much more laissez-faire approach than usual, after introducing the command "clusterfuck!" -- upon hearing which the jammers are all supposed to stop whatever it is we're doing posthaste), and the phases of the moon conspired to make the jammage seem more like a shouting match on different topics between barroom drunks (or maybe the "parallel play" of a room full of 4-year-olds) than the multi-leveled conversation that it can be at its best. for sizable chunks of the evening, it seemed like everyone was soloing at once, and anytime a groove threatened to break out, the velocity of the music would accelerate, squashing any attempts at interplay. feh. i know they can't all be diamonds, and i look forward to being proved wrong once the tale of the tape is told, but i suspect that ain't gonna happen. all of this is even more regrettable in light of the fact that there were more people in the audience than on any jam night yet. hopefully they all thought it sounded like gold and will come back, bringing all of their friends. ya mo be there. maybe you too? (especially the not-regular jammers, gtrist mark deffebach and drummers caroline collier -- thanks for bringing the cymbals! -- and joe cruz.)
high points of the evening for me: seeing darrin show up nattily attired in his new "religion kills folks dead"
t-shirt and listening in on the post-jam discussion between the bar staff and various friends 'n' hangers-out on such non-rock'n'roll topics as pasta sauce. in general, service industry folk tend to accumulate a repertoire of jokes, stories, mannerisms, etc. (to fully understand this, you need to see graham richardson imitating someone else imitating him: "oh, right, so _i'm_ the asshole here!"), in much the same way as a muso accumulates chords, scales, riffs 'n' lixxx. it's part of their stock in trade. get a bunch of 'em sitting around and the resultant convo can be a masterpiece of improvisational art akin to the most rarefied jazz. proof positive (as if anymore were needed) that entertainment is truly where you find it.