Tom Harrell: The Time of the Sun
Tom Harrell, trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone; Danny Grissett, piano, Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Johnathan Blake, drums
High Note HCD7222 (CD). 2011. Tom Harrell, Wayne Escoffery, Angela Harrell, prods.; Joe Fields, exec. prod.; Mike Marciano, eng. AAD? TT: 62:12
Trumpeters use their horns to search for truth. At least that's the folk tale. Somehow, that pure, ringing tone that most strive for at some point in their careerthink Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Miles Davissuggests a quest for deeper knowledge, something closer to the heart. In effect, trumpeters play a knifea blade that can cut through nerve, bone, and sinew to that heart; to realizations, we'd like to think, that force them to be honest.
While it didn’t quite save my life, music, not a D.J., really helped transport me out of a tight situation last week. As we all know, music nerd-dom has its downsidesexcess clutter, disgruntled mates, etcbut every once in a while...
There are a lot of reasons to love Gothammost of them having to do with humans `cause let’s face it there just aren’t many mountain vistas herebut the one that tickles my fancy the most is what Billy Joel (sorry) famously called, the “New York State of Mind.” JayZ would have it “Empire State of Mind,” but you get the idea. After a premiere showing of Sounds and Silence, Travels with Manfred Eicher, the new film about the ECM founder, owner and inspiration, there was a brief Q&A period chaired by WNYC's Julie Burstein (left in JA's iPhone photo). The first hand up was in the back of the IFC Center in the West Village.
Big bands died out back in the 1950s, right? They went away when the jitterbug faded and folks began dancing to music other than swing? And then real jazz fans departed when the bebop soloists came along and made big-band players look clumsy and quaint?
They’re invisible. The person you never see onstage. The essential unseen force that even hardcore music fans have never heard of. In all music, arrangers are the secret weapon who never get the credit they deserve
John Adams Son of Chamber Symphony, String Quartet
John Adams, International Contemporary Ensemble; St. Lawrence String Quartet
Nonesuch 523014-2 (CD). 2011. Judith Sherman, prod.; John Kilgore, John D.S. Adams, engs.; Chris Allen, Tom Gloady, Nathan Chandler, asst. engs. DDD? TT: 54:00
When John Adams was working on his Chamber Symphony (1992), he became aware that his son Sam was in the next room watching old American cartoons, presumably those by Warner Bros. that used music by the great Raymond Scott. Hyperkinetic borrowings from Scott's witty scores made their way into that earlier work, and now into its successor, a fact hinted at by its humorous title: Son of Chamber Symphony. There's even a moment early on in this new work when the distinctive rhythmic rumble of Scott's masterpiece, "Powerhouse," can be fleetingly heard in what is, overall, a short but very sweet triumph.
Many, though certainly not all, musicians of most genres dream of composing, crafting, birthing a hit recordone they will forever be known for, and that will make them enough money that they'll never have to sleep on another hard floor or friend's stained couch as long as they live. Very few fulfill this dream, and those who do often don't know why or just how it happened.
"Sometimes I can evoke the breathless rush of feeling that I experienced the first time that I ever really heard Robert Johnson's music. Sometimes a note will suggest just a hint of the realms of emotion that opened up to me in that moment, the sense of utter wonder, the shattering revelation."Peter Guralnick, from Searching for Robert Johnson (New York: Dutton Obelisk, 1989)
It's an experience that all true blues fans need to savor. Fly into Memphis, drive south on US 61, into Coahoma County, Mississippi, down to the Delta, down to Robert Johnson country. There, on one of those steamy nights when the moon is full and fog, or maybe restless spirits, rise from the cotton fields, you can drive down to his two graves, in two churchyards nearly within sight of each other. You can sit in the dark and listen to the trains that were his constant mode of transportation. And on the way back to Clarksdale, the Delta burgh where Bessie Smith passed, you can go down to the crossroads and judge for yourself. Romantics say you can feel, smell, and even hear Robert Johnson's music, if not his desperate deal, still hanging in the humid Mississippi air.