Wednesday, March 07, 2007
My idea of weirdness // Spice guy // Pieces of me // Alto-tude
hello good people. i want to start off by giving you a little palate cleanser. this is "Idea of Fun," a track from the new Stooges album, "The Weirdness," which came out today. my "Time Out" review hasn't run yet, so i'm keeping mum on my verdict. all i'll say is that i love this particular song and i believe that it does justice to the legacy. the vibe is rockin', yet nice and creepy.
maybe it was the pre-"Zodiac" buzz in the air, but for some reason Laal and i caught the serial-killer bug one night about a week ago while futzing about on YouTube. after viewing an incredibly disturbing but also riveting prison interview w/ Jeffrey Dahmer (there used to be a longer clip, but that's been taken down), we quickly scored the mother lode of the A&E Biography on John Wayne Gacy. it's some pretty horrific shit, as much for the wanna-be ominous and strikingly Phil Hartman-esque narration--"John was thrilled at the prospect of becoming a father... But the yearnings he had repressed as a boy were forcing their way back to the surface"--as for Gacy's fucked-up deeds.
[speaking of fucked-up, apologies to anyone who finds it distasteful to be trolling around the net for footage like this. it seems to me though that pretty much everyone is interested in serial killers in some capacity; i'm especially fascinated by watching them speak and explain their deeds "rationally."]
now i'm not trying to make light of any of this stuff, but i've got to share this one tidbit from the Gacy dealie. so during the part of Gacy's first prison sentence, for sodomy in '68, they're talking about how he was really personable and popular among the other inmates and how he eventually became the jail's head cook. from there, they cut to an interview with one Ray Cornell, Gacy's fellow inmate, who has this to say [emphasis mine, obvi]:
"I can say unreservedly that the quality of the food improved dramatically. One thing John was was a very, very, very fine cook. And he understood something that traditionally folks who cook in prisons don't understand: *****He understood the use of spices.*****"
i almost wish i was making this up. i'm not. go to about 9:00 into this clip:
that there's a hard hitter. if anyone's interested, the rest of this doc is easily accessible on YouTube.
thought i'd throw up some links to some of my recent "Time Out" pieces that i was happy w/. i thought the Stooges one turned out well, but that won't be up for a few days. in the meantime:
--> article on Hella's new record feat. Zach Hill interview snippets. boy, what a nice dude, for realz!
--> worshipful--but hopefully remotely level-headed!--review of Deerhoof's latest
--> weirdo interview/impromptu drum lesson with Chico Hamilton. this one was somewhat nerve-wracking to live through, but it made for an entertaining read.
--> preview of last year's Necrophagist show at BB King's
--> preview of a show by Seductive Sprigs (RIP!)
--> review of Xasthur, black metal's favorite blogger!
--> article/interview on Matana Roberts, a hell of a saxist and composer
i just had a extreme and rather ill-advised snack attack, pigging out on way too much Annie's Cheddar Bunnies (you know the Annie's folks who make the mac and cheese? well this is their cheesy baked snack cracker, which tastes a good deal like Goldfish, though not as subtly spiced. they should've hired Gacy to devise the recipe!) and Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake. the latter item is a no-brainer, always has been; i can't stop eating the shit. i also recommend the new Willie Nelson Peach Cobbler varietal. i have no idea what the Red-Headed Stranger has to do with peach cobbler, but my stomach didn't seem to care when i ate the whole pint in a sitting and a half.
i continue to dream of the masters as it were. from Sonny Simmons, it was on to his brother princes of free alto, John Tchicai and Jimmy Lyons. real quick, i just have to point out something awesome that they have in common. nowadays, playing free-jazz sax pretty much automatically implies overblowing or growling or some other histrionic way of "abusing" the instrument. Tchicai and Lyons weren't about that at all.
so on the Tchicai tip, i've been digging the first New York Art Quartet record, an incredible place to hear not only the Danish-Congolese sax hero, but Roswell Rudd and an absolutely smokin' Milford Graves, the latter already kicking up a mesmerizingly virtuosic clatter. but Tchicai is maybe the most impressive. he's deeply soulful and free, but intensely unhurried; he's not an "ecstatic" player. it must have been hard to resist Coltrane's fiery gravitation in '64 when this was recorded, but Tchicai just goes about his business. he works up to some gorgeous moaning and warbling stuff, but mostly he's just swinging to the free pulse. literally playing free jazz, not fire music, per se. this is a deep-ass record for sure.
the other one is the Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Sunny Murray live stuff from '62. this stuff has been released under like 100 different names, but Revenant's definitive edition is called "Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come." this is just some very serious music and some of the earliest true free jazz, period. Sunny Murray is just figuring out his wraithlike approach to time, while Cecil is busy coming off the rails, sounding overjoyed to be playing with a drummer who "gets it." Lyons is the real revelation, though. he blows gorgeous mercurial bop curlicues over this stuff as if it were "I Got Rhythm." i'm tempted to say that he normalizes the music in a way or brings it back to earth, but really he makes it that much more special and foreign by daring to play in a bop-derived style over this new groove and make it totally swing. it's players like Lyons who really connected the dots in jazz, reconciling bop w/ free. again, this isn't free jazz as catharsis; it's free jazz as darting, joyous exploration, as true split-second interplay. what a remarkable trio.
try these, and not just for the saxists in question...
Cecil Taylor (p), Jimmy Lyons (as) and Sunny Murray (d) - Trance (11/62)
New York Art Quartet: John Tchicai (as), Roswell Rudd (tb), Lewis Worrell (b), Milford Graves (d) - No. 6 (11/64)
Braxton and Marion Brown too need to be dealt with. am on a marathon listening kick vis a vis the former for an upcoming article. details on that to come. suffice to say that i feel that Braxton's recent playing is some of his most revelatory ever. he's evolved into an instantly recognizable saxist, with that jagged, ragged rasp married to blazing speed and conceptual sharpness. killin' it.
you don't need me to tell you that "Zodiac" is very very good. word up to my man, Ruffalo. anyone see him in "XX/XY" back in the day? i loved that shit.