Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sundries: DC, CS, WSQ, THB, CB, JN



an old drum instructor i had told me that "Ionisation" by Edgard Varese was like a litmus test for percussionists: those who were truly badass could play it and those who were just so-so would crash and burn in attempting to do so. anyway, i have done some field research and have found the math-rock equivalent: the opening drumbeat to "Don Caballero 3," the first track from Don Caballero's "What Burns Never Returns."

this beat became a joke when my band was on tour this summer b/c we heard like six different drummers warm up with it--everyone thinks it's the most awesome beat, but few can really kick it out. the hard thing about it is that it's got this triple stroke thing on the bass drum that you sort of have to spasm your foot to execute. anyway, it's really fun to play and really hard--on a good day, i can sort of do it (thus making me sort of badass...).

in the era of a dude like Zach Hill (of Hella), who does multiple bass-drum strokes on like every beat, this Don Cab thing seems kind of passe, but i still think it sounds really awesome. thanks to Damon Che for this godly figure--it is our "Good Times, Bad Times."

***



have to listen to nothing but Cat Stevens for the next few days b/c i'm reviewing his new record. ok, it's Yusuf Islam's new record, but same diff. it's his first "pop" disc since the late '70s apparently.

***


very psyched about the World Saxophone Quartet's classic lineup of Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Oliver Lake and Hamiet Bluiett. four master improvisers/composers who know ALL of jazz and will throw it all down at once for you to dig in one quick piece. on the recording i've been loving, "Steppin'," the saxes are nicely panned into the L and R channels so you always know who you're hearing--just wonderful soul and virtuosity abounding. makes me wish more jazz groups were collectives, b/c the polyphony and democracy of voices, both between compositions and within the improvisations, is astounding. truly celebrational, jazz-loving sounds. check out the last track on "Steppin'," called "R&B," for some amazing trading of fours, which sounds pretty awesome w/out a rhythm section.

***

would like to direct y'all to some other sites here. first off, check out Taylor Ho Bynum's Spider Monkey Stories blog, featuring an awesome account of the same Cecil Taylor set i wrote up below. Bynum is a brass wizard who has played extensively with Cecil and offers some cool commentary informed by that experience.

second, please visit my friend and colleague Cristina Black, a master of the elusive Time Out New York "opener" feature, many strong examples of which can be found on her Subnoto site.

***


by the way, thanks to Cristina for encouraging me to give the new Joanna Newsom CD a chance. i'd sort of dismissed her b/c i hate bandwagons and her last disc obviously set a huge one rolling. but i sort of had a sense that she was something to be reckoned with b/c the consensus was just too, uh, unanimous. anyway, i've only listened to two tracks of the new one so far, but i was kind of amazed. don't know that i'm ready to say that i like it yet--it's more that i'm just impressed (god, what a critic-like thing to say...). the intricacy of the compositions, arrangements and lyrics is totally incredible. the pieces are really catchy too in this weird way. the presentation is almost overwhelmingly affected--it's like she thinks she's this fairy princess or something--and i'm still in the process of letting down my guard to it, but i find it very exciting and fresh. it's another entry in the category of hugely ambitious and grandiose avant-pop records released in '06, a few others being Scott Walker's "The Drift" and Xiu Xiu's "The Air Force," the latter of which is particularly stunning and one of my very favorite CDs this year.

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