Thursday, April 05, 2007
Get Carter // Two Lost Masters: Robert F. Pozar and Ken McIntyre
hear hear to the goshdang John Carter renaissance. Destination Out has two clips from the stupefyingly great 1982 sesh "Dauwhe" here, and of course they make reference to Steve Smith's handy recap of Carter's whole "Roots and Folklore" cycle. have yet to listen beyond "Dauwhe," but am psyched to do so.
re: "Dauwhe," gotta say that one of the things killing me most, besides the awesomely well-plotted compositional scope of the thing and the ever-lucid soloing of Carter and the Bobby Bradford, is the rhythm section, none of whom i'd ever heard before this disc. Roberto Miguel Miranda, bass; William Jeffrey, drums; Luis Peralta, percussion. anyone know really who the sam heck these cats are? the interplay between the three on the third track (which ain't up on DO, unfortunately) is dazzling, and i'm especially blown away by all the crazy percussive effects employed by Jeffrey and Peralta. maybe these are just your average West Coast geniuses; as proved by Carter and Bradford themselves, it ain't always easy to gain the respect of the jazz world while kicking it out there. anyway, great freaking record.
in other other-people's-sites news...
you need to swing by Swami-Hermitus-Solus (don't ask me; i ain't never seen this 'un before either) and pick up the April 4th posting of Bill Dixon's spectacularly cool and spectacularly out-of-print large-ensemble work "Intents and Purposes" from (i think '66). if you only know Bill for his enigmatic puffs-of-sound improvs, you'll be shocked to hear how lush and orchestral this one is. wow, whatta record.
personnel on that sesh is outta sight, esp. the reedmen. there are two alto players listed, but i believe the solo on the first track is by Robin Kenyatta and it severely smokes. an underrated player for sure. just downloaded the Roswell Rudd record "Everywhere" that he's on and i need to revisit.
other members of the ensemble remind me of the crazy series of records that Bill Dixon produced for Savoy around the same time. Marc Levin, who plays percussion on "Intents," and Robert F. Pozar, who plays drums, each had a leader record out on Savoy thanks to Dixon. (more info on all this can be found by searching within Ben Young's invaluable "Dixonia" tome on Google Books.) don't think i've ever heard the Levin one, "Dragon Suite," but the Pozar is a real oddball curiosity and definitely worth investigating. i need to post some tracks from that soon methinks... actually, why not tonight?
the tracks i'm going to post are both from "Good Golly Miss Nancy," credited to the Robert F. Pozar Ensemble. this is a fascinating record--just a total eccentric curiosity of the sort that reissue geeks would faint over. again, it was part of this Savoy series produced by Bill Dixon in the late '60s. i wish really really much that i could find a scan online of the album cover b/c it's priceless: it's a sketch of Pozar, posed--i think--with hand on chin a la "The Thinker," and his head is neatly sliced open so you can get a view into his brain.
i guess that image is appropriate b/c this is a pretty eccentric, personal, whimsical record. the first tune is called--get this--"The Mechanical Answering Service of Chris and Marta White," and it was inspired by just that, an answering machine that his friends had set up. the personnel/instrumentation is super odd: Kathy Norris on cello, Jimmy Garrison (!) on bass, Mike Zwerin ("Birth of the Cool" trombonist turned expatriate journalist) on bass trombone (!) and Pozar himself on drums. he's a really swinging, incisive drummer and as weird as the ensemble sounds, they have a great group rapport. really sparse and droll, but awesome nonetheless.
here's Keying in Your Bank [this is an LP transfer i did from the copy at WKCR]
i really like this one. it's built around this strange, somewhat alarmed-sounding seven-note figure from the trombone and the other instruments kind of solo over and play off of that. it's a very creepy, sparse and mournful track in spots. incredibly unique stuff.
speaking of that, check this shit out...
here's the title track, Good Golly Miss Nancy
this is a serious, serious WTFx1000 track. you know how George Lewis designed that Voyager software that would sorta improvise alongside him? well i believe that this is a similar thing from like three decades earlier. it's drums and incredibly primitive electronics. for some reason, i remember reading in the liners that the computer/synth was in some way responding to Pozar's live playing and wasn't overdubbed. i could TOTALLY be making that up though. either way, it's like some "2001" type of shit--really dated-sounding, but really fun and adventurous too. dig it!
there's another Pozar record in the WKCR catalog that i also made a dub of, and it's a solo percussion release credited to "Cleve" Pozar, which i guess was Robert's nickname. according to my notes, there's no label or date listed on that one, so maybe it was private press? i haven't listened to that in ages, so i'll try to check it out and report back and perhaps post from it. the tiny pic above is a scan of the cover i found.
i'd very much like to know what became of Pozar but i really couldn't tell you. he was on a few Dixon albums from the late-'60s, including the aforementioned "Intents," and he also recorded w/ Bob James (yes, the one who later became a smooth-jazz kingpin). the last i heard of him was a strange little disc from 1999 given to me by my WKCR brother-in-jazz Ben Young (also the author of the aforementioned "Dixonia" and mastermind of the Ayler box on Revenant, among many other heavy archival projects) called "Let's Try It Again," and subtitled "Bata and 'Bones by Cleve Pozar."
just like it sounds, this is a fairly tame self-released effort pairing Latin drumming with trombones. the tunes are either traditional or standards. very weird stuff, i tell you, but not out-there weird like "Good Golly," for sure.
on the getting-in-touch-with-Pozar front, i emailed Bill Dixon years ago, trying to reach him, but Dixon said he hadn't talked to him in years. strangely, the web address on the "Let's Try It Again" disc, listenfortherhythm.com is now active; i remember trying it years ago and turning up nothing. just dropped a line to ask if i could get in touch with Cleve himself, so we'll see what happens! damn, i'm sure glad i decided to delve back into that mystery tonight.
would like to leave you with a little mix-tape of music by Makanda Ken McIntyre, a really overlooked and underrecorded multi-instrumentalist who died in 2001. i started thinking of him when i was writing about Beaver Harris over the weekend. McIntyre was a key member of Beaver's 360 Music Experience family, and appears on Beaver's fairly straightforward but still really deep 1979 Soul Note disc "Beautiful Africa." here's a track from that
(McIntyre, as; Grachan Moncur III, tb; Ron Burton, p; Cameron Brown, b; Beaver Harris, d)
this one takes a bit to build, but Beaver really starts cooking after a few minutes. just an incredibly fleet and subtle free-time pulse that he and Cameron Brown get happening. McIntyre and Moncur duet for a bit, but once Moncur drops out, McIntyre is just off, completely smoking over the bass and drums. he has a really piercing, singing tone and amazing speed. loves to go way up into the tip-top of the register, a la Sonny Simmons. it's a blazing solo for sure. Moncur's no slouch either, even though he takes his solo at a more midtempo range.
the year prior, McIntyre cut a really cool leader record for Steeplechase, "Chasing the Sun," w/ Beaver on drums and Hakim Jami on bass. here's a track from that one that i ripped from the vinyl last night:
Got My Mind Set on Freedom
McIntyre plays bassoon here and gets a great sound out of the thing. there's some great agitated free jazz at the beginning and then they go into this subtle, simmering, melodic type of thing. McIntyre seems totally comfortable w/ this ax and sounds free and rad. Beaver is, as always, ultrasubtle. his solo is masterful and methodical
[DFSBP note: the section below contains many passages from both the "Chasing the Sun" liner notes and an essay on the recording of the earlier date "Looking Ahead" w/ Eric Dolphy, both penned by McIntyre. before diligently transcribing the lengthy excerpts below, i forgot to check if these texts were online. afterward, i found that they--and tons of other McIntyre writings---are reproduced in their entirety on McIntyre's site. i feel dumb for wasting time, but am very glad that you can read them both b/c there's some pretty deep shit happening in each: "Chasing the Sun" liners, "Looking Ahead" reissue liners.]
am very intrigued by the liner notes of this record, which are written by McIntyre and reveal him to be a very politically minded dude. it's basically an essay about African-American identity vis a vis music. he calls for black businessmen to invest in jazz in order to break the "master-slave" relationship that white labels have to black musicians. considering that these are liner notes, the piece goes into a ton of detail, even delving into how black investors should view funding of avant-garde (and therefore destined to fail financially) artists as a handy tax write-off. overall, it's a somewhat angry piece, but it's also very poignant. consider this excerpt:
"Contradictions abound in our lives. Musicians in other societies at other times have been in the forefront. They were the leaders...in their societies and/or communities...But the African-American continues to wear the yoke of slavery."
from here, he moves on to a very technical explanation of each piece, detailing time signatures and forms and such. this guy is a very serious composer, no doubt. in the interview that appears in the liners to Beaver's "Negcaumongus" LP on Cadence (i just received this in the mail from Cadence yesterday; it's good but not quite as good as you'd think given that Don Pullen, Hamiet Bluiett, McIntyre and Francis Haynes--the steel-drummer from "In:Sanity"--are all on it), Harris alludes to McIntyre's studious demeanor, even revealing that it caused problems in the band:
"Ken had problems communicating with Don, because Don is a straightforward person. Don is the type of player that would perform and ask questions later, rather than ask ones in the midst of performing. That's another pressure to put on yourself. That's like analyzing each note to the extent of getting everything perfect and there just isn't any such thing as your music being perfect. It's just music, you know. So he and Don had a little conflict and I can hear the difference between the personalities."
man, that's some pretty insider shit, no?
i've got another McIntyre essay, which appears in a twofer reissue on Prestige that contains two sessions featuring Eric Dolphy that were led by other players: McIntyre's "Looking Ahead" from 1960 and Mal Waldron's "The Quest" from '61. the reissue is from '78 and i believe that's when the notes date from. McIntyre expresses a lot of admiration for Dolphy and you can see where the latter influenced the former, both in terms of multi-instrumentalism ("I had heard [Dolphy] on record with the Chico Hamilton group and was impressed with his mastery of instruments--alto saxophone, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet...") and in terms of socioeconomic awareness ("Like one of his employers--John Coltrane--[Dolphy] was very much aware of how a segment of society controlled the music to be exposed to the public. He never belabored this point, but did talk about the possibility of leaving the country in order to earn a decent living some time in the future."). interesante, no?
there's a lot of praise of Dolphy as well: "Eric's musicianship was awesome... Anyone who heard Eric in person should have realized his strong commitment to total communication through his instruments." on the 1960 date, there are a lot of pieces where both McIntyre and Dolphy both play alto, which makes for a really cool contrast. [an interesting fact that McIntyre reveals is that Prestige A&R dude Esmond Edward's only stipulation when booking the date was that Dolphy had to appear on it. McIntyre on playing with Dolphy: "Although the date went well for me, personally, I could not at times help feeling a bit left out of all the qualitative nuances that I felt while Eric and the rhythm section were playing."] that contrast is not in evidence on the track i'm posting, b/c Dolphy solos on flute, but it's a really cool piece nonetheless, written by McIntyre. here ya go:
(Walter Bishop Jr. is on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Art Taylor on drums)
the head is really strange and mazelike and cylical. almost reminds me of an Andrew Hill enigma like "Grass Roots" or something. i love McIntyre's sound. it's very round but with some strange hiccups in places and occasionally this odd sort of "hardy-har-har" laughing effect, like around 1:45. the whole thing is kind of methodical and slow-burning and droll and eccentric. you'd never in a million years mistake him for the volcanic Dolphy.
anyway, cool stuff for sure, but check out a bit more of the essay. McIntyre goes on to discuss how Dolphy's great critical success did little for his actual career, and then he delves into the critical reaction to "Looking Ahead" itself. this is really fascinating. McIntyre writes:
"a reviewer for Down Beat wrote: 'don't listen to this record if you have the slightest hint of headache.' later in the review he wrote about our 'libido,' called us the 'terrible twins,' and finally stated 'all in all this is not a bad album.' he rated it at 2 1/2 out of a possible 5 stars. how much influence this had on both our careers i do not really know, but it obviously did not help, because Eric subsequently left the country, and in October 1961 i started my public school teaching career at P.S. 171 in Manhattan."
that's some deep and fairly dark stuff there i tell you. looking over McIntyre's discography, you can see that he did struggle to release his music; there's only ten leader records over a 40-plus year career. has anyone heard these United Artist sessions from the early '60s? there are some tracks with Jaki Byard on there that look very promising (as does anything w/ Jaki Byard). i'm also intrigued by some of the later stuff, including "A New Beginning", released the year of his death.
don't know how to tie all this stuff up other than to say that, as you may have noticed, i'm always interested in the stories--like McIntyre's, like Beaver Harris's, like Robert F. Pozar's, like Charles Brackeen's, like Barbara Donald's, like Walt Dickerson's, like Charles Tyler's, like Booker Little's (who i REALLY need to post about soon), like Grachan Moncur's, even like Andrew Hill's--at the margins of jazz. these are the figures i tend to fall in love with. maybe it a fetishization of rarity, but i'm cool w/ that. i love unearthing the info, poring over the scant discographies, tracking down AWOL artists. yeah, this probably came from WKCR's "Lost Masters" festival too... shit, i owe a lot to that place.