Sunday, April 03, 2011

A pretty good day in Denton

Went up to little d with T. Horn and Matt Hickey to do a Hentai Improvising Orchestra recording for Michael Briggs' Violitionist Sessions, crate-dig at Recycled Books, and eat at Mr. Chopsticks (which came highly recommended by both Briggs and Frank Cervantez).

Had an extremely productive dig at Recycled. Unearthed a surprisingly clean original 1963 copy of Sonny Rollins' Our Man In Jazz, which I'd recently bitched was hard to find here, along with CD copies of Rollins' first LP as a leader, Worktime, and a Roland Kirk two-LPs-on-one-CD that included another album I've been hunting for lately, The Jaki Byard Experience (which I believe was the inspiration behind Jimi Hendrix' name change and band name).

Our Man in Jazz was Rollins' response to the arrival of Ornette Coleman while he was away practicing on the Brooklyn Bridge, and in typical style, he handled the new development differently than some of the other established jazzcats of the time. Mingus took his men to the Five Spot prepared to diss O.C. and wound up asking Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson if they could play like Ornette and Don Cherry. The result was Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, a milestone in the titanic bassist's catalog. Coltrane went in the studio with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell to record a tentative-sounding session where they essayed some of Ornette's tunes. I suspect that The Avant-Garde (which I just bought Richard Hurley's extra copy of last week) remained unreleased until after Trane's death because he was unhappy with the results.

Rollins, on the other hand, just hired Don Cherry and Billy Higgins, said "Fuck the dumb shit, you guys are gonna play _my_ music _your_ way," and booked some dates at the Village Gate that were recorded for Our Man In Jazz. Sonny's theme-and-variations approach was a better match for the Colemanites' freewheeling style of play than Coltrane's obsessive and exhaustive scale-running. The album's highlight is a 25-minute version of Rollins' classic "Oleo" on which the head is barely referred to (did Don know it, one wonders?) before they take off on a series of improvisational gambits, culminating in a slow blues. Throughout, they straddle the line between post-bop and free in a way that Rollins would continue to attempt until 1987's G-Man. I think Our Man In Jazz is my favorite Rollins disc after Worktime and the '57 Village Vanguard sessions.

Mr. Hickey exercised admirable restraint, while Mr. Horn copped CDs by Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock, and Sunburned Hand of the Man. Then we decided to hit Mad World Records, the new kids on the Denton square, before meeting Briggs at Mr. Chopsticks for lunch. As soon as we crossed the threshold, I realized that I was tired of looking at records, and in any event, the selection was less awe-inspiring than that at Recycled; I suspect Mad World caters to a younger crowd, and Briggs says he's shifted more Gutterth product through there than he has through Recycled.

Mr. Chopsticks was a fine 'n' funky little place, formerly located on Fry Street, with some outside seating and a very extensive menu that included Japanese, Chinese, and Thai fare, with lots of veggie/vegan options. Hickey had the marinated tofu dish that Frank Cervantez had recommended, Briggs and Terry had sushi, and I opted for shrimp and veggie tempura because I wanted something substantial. The portions were generous and tasty (although not enough to make me forsake Tokyo Cafe) and it's definitely a place we'll remember next time we're in li'l d.

On the way to Briggs' house, we stopped at Sky Guitars, where Briggs informed us there were 50 cent cords available. We went and stocked up on those, since we lose cords everytime we load in/out, and I picked up strings for my and my oldest daughter's guitars, saving me from having to visit the dreaded GC before next weekend's Stoogeshow. Mr. Horn bought a $30 octave pedal and wants to go back to get a kalimba. A bassplayer friend says that they're not the greatest for repair work, but luckily I have an amp guy I trust and whenever my guitars break, I just throw them out and buy another box of cornflakes.

Briggs has created a very warm and welcoming recording environment in his casa, with scented candles, good coffee, and a plethora of instruments. Hickey and I fooled around a bit with an acoustic 12-string and electric organ in a manner so tonal and Pink Floyd-like that, were it ever heard, it would banish all HIO mystique forever. As is the Violitionist Sessions convention, we recorded three numbers. On the first one, Hickey was on bass and I was on guitar. We'd been threatening to do something with "normal" instruments for awhile, although I still want to hear Terry on bass more than the little bit he played at our last 1919 performance-to-nobody. For the second piece, Briggs suggested a quiet one, and he brought in some birds to see if we could get them to react to what we played. Terry put a contact mic on the cage and we concentrated on percussion, autoharp, and small wind instruments. The last piece had less "intention" than either of the others, and I suspect will be the best one when we hear it. Thanks to Briggs for a great recording experience.

Afterward, we packed up our shit and went to quaff a couple of pints al fresco at a college bar-type place on the square called Hooligans. There were some dance people doing something across the street; later, they scared the shit out of Terry by running at us while we were heading for the car. There was apparently some kind of hootenanny going on at the coffee shop next door to Hooligans. We went back to Recycled so T. Horn could buy a book he'd seen earlier. I almost left my bag o' records where I'd checked it there before he remembered. Hickey had an anxious moment when he forgot where he parked his car, but then he remembered with help from Terry. All in all, it was a pretty good day, and we were home by 9pm-ish. Because I suck, I missed the Transistor Tramps/Pinkish Black gig at the Cellar. Next: Landers Machine Shop for Arts Goggle on Saturday, 5.14.


Blogger Herb Levy said...

you can believe whatever you want, but the Byard album came out a year or two after the Jimi Hendrix Experience's first singles.

10:05 PM  

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