Monday, March 26, 2007

And Tyler too

have been off my game a few days. feeling a bit rusty. have a really nice Charles Tyler track on in the background. trying to thaw myself out a bit. i've found that blogging is very much a momentum thing, or an inertia thing or what have you. it's very much about jumping in and not thinking too much before you start and if you proscrastinate, it's harder and harder to get into it. all i can say is if you like what you're reading, drop a comment in, even just to say "hear hear." feedback is good fuel for the lonely typist.

anyway, enough about "the process." so this is Charles Tyler we're talking about. a very accomplished and intriguing Kentuckian saxophonist who got his start playing with Albert Ayler. there has been some lively discussion of him at late over at the awesome Church Number 9, including a posting of a 1981 album called "Definite, Vol. 1" that i have not had time to dig yet.

wanted to weigh in with a little on what i think is awesome and maybe not so among Tyler's work. believe i first heard of him re: Ayler (he's on "Bells" and "Spirits Rejoice," and that might be it of the officially released stuff), and then began exploring the offerings in the WKCR library. one record i have a vivid memory of despite not having heard it in many moons is "Folly Fun Magic Music" on the French Bleu Regard label. again, it's been ages, but the first track "Ride of the Phantom Politician" made a big impression; i recall it as a ghostly version of "Ride of the Valkyries." alas, this record ain't in my possession. wonder if it's still in print. (am seeing that the BL label does indeed have an active website though it is a bit too not-in-English for my purposes. as far as i can tell, you can actually order titles from the label though. hmmm...)

i'd like to respectfully differ w/ C#9 in recommending Tyler's ESP sessions, a self-titled one from '66 and one called "Eastern Man Alone" from '67. i hate to say it, but i think Ayler's influence is a bit too pronounced on both of these. for one, there's a track on the former called "Three Spirits" that sounds *so* much like Ayler's "Ghosts" that i can't really take it seriously. the opening track on that disc, "Strange Uhuru" is a pretty nice ghostly dirgey kind of a think, but the fluttering vibrato and spooky vibe complete with strings still just sort of add up to Albert on alto. it's not a bad recording; i just don't hear that he's shaken his mentor's vibe yet.

just heard "Eastern Man Alone" for the first time, and it's decent but not as awesome as i was expecting given the super-odd and compelling instrumentation--Tyler plus two basses plus a cello (!). some of the tunes, like the opening "Cha-Lacy's Out East," tap into this sort of free-jazz/funk vibe that Tyler explored a lot. it and the subsequent "Man Alone" are fun tunes, kinda bouncy and vampy, but they grow a little tedious. best track is the very beautiful mournful ballad "Le-Roi." it's a good record, but i can't say i'm in love with it.

anyway, enough of the boring lukewarm crap. i think the true truth is when Tyler rocks the baritone, which is not in evidence on the ESPs. while in Chi-town recently, i picked up a really cheap cut-out copy of "Sixty Minute Man," a 1979 solo (!) Tyler record on the Adelphi label. (go here for exegesis of the title track, a version of an old R&B tune, which appears to be intensely raunchy.) this is some really, really hot shit. i will provide you a link in just a minute, but i want to tell you a few things. there are numbers on both alto and baritone, but the baritones are the real deal.

this one called "A Tale of Bari Red" is especially lowdown and sick. the theme has that kind of marchy free-funk vibe i described above. Tyler really digs into the nasty low end of the horn. a truly volcanic flow and deep swaggering soul. i think that bari should sound a little bit unwieldy even in a master's hands, like the player is wrestling with it, and Tyler captures that grappling vibe. occasionally he fixates on this shuddering, warped sound, like heat-line vibrato or something. don't know how the hell to describe this, but listen at about 7:20 in the mp3 and you'll hear what i mean. it's a sick track. gotta give props to my man Russell Baker (still spinning heads--not to mention primo free-jazz delicacies--on alternate Wednesdays during WKCR's "Out to Lunch" progam.)

so here's that (my first vinyl rip for DFSBP!):

Charles Tyler - A Tale of Bari Red (from "Sixty Minute Man"; Adelphi, 1979)

and another stunning example of Tyler's bari control would be "One Fell Swoop," a fucking rad Steve Lacy Quartet sesh recorded in Paris in '86 and released on Silkheart (believe you can order from the label here!). the soprano/bari combo is an inspired one, first explored by Lacy on "The Straight Horn of..." way back in the early '60s (Charles Davis was the low man on that one), and here with Lacy's standard '80s rhythm crew (Oliver Johnson on drums and Jean-Jacques Avenel on bass), you are in for some free-swinging and highly sophisticated expatriate vibes. there are really no bad tunes on this. the title track is one of Lacy's manic, minimal obsessive figures (anyone know the record "Trickles" w/ Roswell Rudd? talk about some crazily manic, minimal shit. need to post from that methinks...) and there are great readings of Monk's also incredibly minimal and strange "Friday the Thirteenth" and Lacy's gorgeous, fluttering poem "Keepsake" (word up to Lacy's incredible sextet version of this one, recorded just a month later and released on "The Gleam"--do not get me started on Lacy's classic sextet music. suffice it to say that i find anything that contains Lacy, Bobby Few and Oliver Johnson--and by implication Steve Potts, Irene Aebi and Jean-Jacques Avenel--to be among the hippest most joyous most Free jazz i know. that band is true expatriate bliss right there).

anyway, but i'm posting none of that and am giving you instead a brief funky, rompy Tyler-penned tune entitled "The Adventures Of." major swagger and bari/soprano register war here. Tyler squares off R&B style with the completely sick rhythm team resulting in maximum funk, while Lacy does as usual and lilts to his own so-swinging-it-sounds-stiff inner pulse. is he the most unflappable soloist of all time? the dude feels no compulsion to ride the rhythm in any literal sense. abstract soul at its finest and an awesome contrast with our boy Tyler.

so here's that:

Steve Lacy (feat. Charles Tyler) - The Adventures Of

Bleu Regard has a helpful list of Tyler's recordings. i'm salivating b/c there is so much from the '70s, '80s and '90s that i ain't heard. if the two recordings above are any indication, late-career (or at least post-ESP) Tyler is definitely where the shit is at. would love to see some brave blogger undertake a real parsing of all those obscure late Tyler records.


real quick: see "The Prestige." checked it out w/ Laal this weekend and was blown away by how fun and narratively swift and diabolical it was. directed by Christopher Nolan of "Memento" fame but despite being very plot-twisty, it has none of the gimmicky machination of that earlier movie. it's very poignant and scary and the 1800s-London setting is vivid as hell. no one gives a bad or even remotely half-assed performance. dig David Bowie as Nikola Tesla! this movie tells a slowly unfolding and increasingly complex story about rival magicians (how you can not love this subject matter?!?) and you can't wait to see what happens next and everything is poignant and interesting and above all fun to watch. why can't every Hollywood movie be this enjoyable and gripping? SEE IT.


Harris Eisenstadt said...


hear hear. good to bring tyler's work into the light...
and i hear you re: blogging momentum.

Harris Eisenstadt said...

ps saw the prestige on the plane to africa last month. hadn't heard of it, came as a complete surprise. in fact forgot about it till seeing it mentioend here. go bowie!

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Paris. Have loved Charles Tyler for many years. A personal favorite is trio date Collective Improvisations (how's that for an imaginative title?) credited to Wilber Morris and with Denis Charles on drums. It treads a lot of common ground with Wilber Force (a Morris / Murray / Charles trio date on DIW) but there's more space in Tyler's playing though both he and Murray are heirs to the Ayler tradition. Tyler's soloes are not unlike the wind building sand dunes. Coll. Impro. was released on Bleu Regard in 1994 though the session was originally recorded in NYC in 1981. Apparently it's still available. V. strongly recommended.

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