Sunday, May 30, 2010

Time machine and namesake: Dazzling Killmen, live '93

I've often pondered the ever-fun "time machine" query, i.e., what one band or artist whom I never got to witness live would I go back and catch if I had the chance. John Bonham and Walt Dickerson are both near the top of the list, but neck and neck are Dazzling Killmen, one of my most treasured musical entities.

Above is the next best thing. In a fortunate turn of events, a pristine Killmen bootleg vid that I've had on my hard drive for ages has recently found its way to YouTube. This to me is the ideal of rock music. Better than metal, better than prog, better than hardcore -- internalizing the lessons of all while avoiding their pitfalls.

This is probably my favorite Killmen track ("In the Face of Collapse," which starts at about 9:15 in the video above), the epic centerpiece of their 1994 desert-island masterpiece, Face of Collapse, which I was unlucky enough to discover just after the band had broken up. Now is as good a time as any to reveal that this song, "In the Face of Collapse," is the namesake of my blog. "Dark forces swing blind punches" is simply a misheard lyric from this song (listen closely around 13:10), which I liked enough to let stick. For the record, the line is actually "Don't force it / Swing blind punches," as verified by frontman Nick Sakes, currently living in Brooklyn and prepping his latest project, Xaddax. (Guitarist Tim Garrigan now works as a rootsy solo artist; bassist Darin Gray plays in On Fillmore and various other projects; and drummer Blake Fleming can be heard in Future by Now.)

Anyway, listen, watch and marvel, and as a bonus track, here's another recently surfaced Killmen vid from an earlier vintage, crazy cable-access style:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Richard Davis at 80, part II: The archive

[Update, August 2018: Please go here to download the Jazz Profiles episode mentioned below, and please contact me if you would like access to the rest.]

I'm very pleased to announce that the aforementioned Richard Davis 80th-birthday radio tribute, which aired on WKCR on May 9, is now available for download, in a tidied and considerably spruced-up version. What you'll find below: the three-hour original program (featuring various clips from my recent interview with Mr. Davis), my colleague Russell Baker's three-hour preview show--an entirely different set of music--and a selection of bonus tracks and interview clips that were intended for airplay but omitted due to time constraints.

As you can see from the track list that follows this post, we played a few well-known classics, but overall, our focus was on some of the more obscure entries in Davis's vast discography. Even with over seven hours of music, we barely scratched the surface. Any hidden RD gems that I missed? Post them in the comments. Also, NYC readers, don't forget that RD plays live at Symphony Space with Lisle Atkinson's Neo Bass Ensemble on Friday, June 11.

First, the links:

Richard Davis - Jazz Profiles - WKCR - 5.9.10, hosted by Hank Shteamer and Russell Baker:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Richard Davis - Out to Lunch (preview show) - WKCR - 5.5.10, hosted by Russell Baker:

Part I

Part II

Richard Davis - Outtakes:

Bonus tracks


A few quick notes:

1) The main tribute show ("Jazz Profiles") is presented podcast-style, as several lengthy MP3s, while the preview show ("Out to Lunch") and bonus tracks are split up into individual tracks. For these latter programs, I did my best to format everything for optimum iTunes use, but there may be some inconsistencies. Check the track list below for the intended running order.

2) Richard Davis and several of the other featured musicians participated in the making of these programs. (Thanks to L.D. Levy, A. Spencer Barefield, Barbara Barefield, Joel Futterman and Frank Hiehle for their assistance.) Thus, it seems fully kosher to post all of this material for archival review. If anyone feels differently, please drop me a line.

3) These files should be available for a month, i.e, through June 17, 2010. If you find your way to this post and the links are broken, contact me and I'll try to re-upload.

4) Some of the discographical info below is sketchy or incomplete. Let me know if you can fill in any blanks or if you see anything amiss.


The tracks:

Jazz Profiles: Richard Davis

Part I

- Walt Dickerson and Richard Davis - "Always Positive"
Divine Gemini, 2.9.77
RD (b), Dickerson (vb)

- RD on Walt Dickerson

- [Announcement]

- RD on Sarah Vaughn

- Sarah Vaughn - "Stairway to the Stars"
At Mister Kelly's, 8.6-8.57
RD (b), Vaughn (v), Jimmy Jones (p), Roy Haynes (d)

- Ronnell Bright - "The Champ"
The Ronnell Bright Trio, 6.5.58
RD (b), Bright (p), Art Morgan (d)

- Ronnell Bright - "Easy Listening Blues"
[Same as above]

- [Announcement]

- RD on Alan Dawson

- Booker Ervin - "Number Two"
The Space Book, 10.2.64
RD (b), Ervin (ts), Jaki Byard (p), Alan Dawson (d)

- Jaki Byard - "Hazy Eve"
The Jaki Byard Experience, 9.17.68
RD (b), Byard (p)

- [Announcement]

- Eric Dolphy and Richard Davis - "Come Sunday"
Iron Man, 7.1.63
RD (b), Dolphy (b-cl)

- RD on Eric Dolphy

- Andrew Hill - "Premonition"
Compulsion, 10.8.65
RD (b), John Gilmore (b-cl), Freddie Hubbard (tp), Hill (p), Joe Chambers (d), Nadi Qamar (thumb piano), Renaud Simmons (percussion)

- RD on Andrew Hill and Dolphy's encouragement of his arco playing

- [Announcement]

- RD on Heavy Sounds

- Elvin Jones and Richard Davis - "Summertime"
Heavy Sounds, 6.19.67
RD (b), Jones (d)

- [Announcement]

- RD on Astral Weeks

Part II

- Van Morrison - "Sweet Thing"
Astral Weeks, 10.15.68
RD (b), Van Morrison (g, v), John Payne (flute), Jay Berliner (g), Connie Kay (d), Larry Fallon (string arrangements)

- RD on Bruce Springsteen

- Bruce Springsteen - "Meeting Across the River"
Born to Run, ??.??.75
RD (b), Springsteen (v), Randy Brecker (tp), Roy Bittan (p)

- [Announcement]

- RD on L.D. Levy

- Richard Davis and L.D. Levy - "Little She-Bear"
Cauldron, 1.13.79
RD (b), Levy (flute)

- Andrew Hill - "Blue Black"
Nefertiti, 1.25.76
RD (b), Hill (p), Roger Blank (d)

- [Announcement]

- RD on David Young

- David Young - "Pisces on the Cusp"
David Young, ??.??.71?
RD (b), Young (ts), Sonny Fortune (flute), Virgil Jones (tp), Harold Mabern Jr. (p), Idris Muhammad (d)

- RD on John Lewis

- John Lewis - "Games"
P.O.V., ??.??.75?
RD (b), Lewis (p), Mel Lewis (d)

- [Announcement]

- RD on Song for Wounded Knee

- The Richard Davis Trio - "America the Beautiful?"
Song for Wounded Knee, ??.??.73?
RD (b), Joe Beck (g)

- The Richard Davis Trio - "The Rise and Fall of Tricky Dick"
[Same as above]
RD (b), Beck (g), Jack DeJohnette (d)

- Richard Davis - "Fancy Free"
Fancy Free, 6.30/7.1.77
RD (b), Joe Henderson (ts), Eddie Henderson (tp), Stanley Cowell (electric piano), Billy Cobham (d)

- [Announcement]

Part III

- Richard Davis and Joe Henderson - "On the Trail"
Way Out West, 6.30/7.1.77
RD (b), Henderson (ts)

- Richard Davis - "Oh My God"
The Philosophy of the Spiritual, ??.??.71?
RD (b), Chick Corea (p), Sam Brown (g), Bill Lee (b), Sonny Brown (d), Frankie Dunlop (percussion)

- [Announcement]

- Richard Davis and Tine Asmundsen - "R&T"
Madison, 10.20-21.07
RD (b), Asmundsen (b)

- Richard Davis and John Hicks - "Skylark"
The Bassist: Homage to Diversity, ??.??.01?
RD (b), Hicks (p)


Preview show

Part I

1. Don Friedman - "Wakin' Up"
Metamorphosis, 2.22.66
RD (b), Friedman (p), Attila Zoller (g), Joe Chambers (d)

2. Don Friedman - "Spring Sign"
[Same as above]

3. Don Friedman - "Troubadours Groovedour"
[Same as above]

4. [Announcement]

5. Charles Lloyd - "Sweet Georgia Bright"
Discovery!, ??.??.65?
RD (b), Lloyd (ts), Friedman (p), J.C. Moses (d)

6. Charles Lloyd - "How Can I Tell You"
[Same as above]

7. [Announcement]

8. Clifford Jordan - "Dick's Holler"
These Are My Roots, 2.1,17.65
RD (b), Jordan (ts), Roy Burrowes (tp), Julian Priester (tb), Cedar Walton (p), Chuck Wayne (g), Albert "Tootie" Heath (d)

9. Clifford Jordan - "Take This Hammer"
[Same as above]
add Sandra Douglass (v); omit Wayne; omit Walton

10. Clifford Jordan - "Goodnight Irene"
[Same as "Dick's Holler"]
omit Burrowes; omit Walton

11. [Announcement]

12. Ricky Ford - "Loxodonta Africana"
Loxodonta Africana, 6.?.1977
RD (b), Ford (ts), James Spaulding (as), Oliver Beener (tp), Charles Sullivan (tp), Janice Robinson (tb), Jonathan Dorn (tb), Bob Neloms (p), Dannie Richmond (d)

13. Ricky Ford - "Blues Peru"
[Same as above]

14. Ricky Ford - "My Romance"
[Same as above]

15. [Announcement]

16. Eddie Harrs - "Smoke Signals"
Silver Cycles, ??.??.68
[Personnel announced after the tracks]

17. Eddie Harris - "I'm Gonna Leave You All by Yourself"
[Same as above]

18. Eddie Harris - "Little Bit"
[Same as above]

19. [Announcement]

Part II

20. Earl Hines - "Bye Bye Baby"
Spontaneous Explorations, 1.17.66
RD (b), Hines (p), Elvin Jones (d)

21. Earl Hines - "Smoke Rings"
[Same as above]

22. Earl Hines - "Shoeshine Boy"
[Same as above]

23. Earl Hines - "Bernie's Tune"
[Same as above]

24. [Announcement]

25. Ben Webster and Joe Zawinul - "Too Late Now"
Soulmates, ??.??.63
RD (b), Webster (ts), Zawinul (p), Philly Joe Jones (d)

26. Ben Webster and Joe Zawinul - "Come Sunday"
[Same as above]

27. [Announcement]

28. Eric Kloss - "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise"
Grits & Gravy, ??.??.66
RD (b), Kloss (as), Jaki Byard (p), Alan Dawson (d)

29. Eric Kloss - "You Don't Know What Love Is"
[Same as above]

30. Eric Kloss - "Milestones"
[Same as above]

31. [Announcement]

32. Andrew Hill - "Two Lullabies"
Lift Every Voice, ??.??.69
RD (b), Hill (p), Carlos Garnett (ts), Woody Shaw (tp), Freddie Waits (d) + vocal choir conducted by Lawrence Marshall

33. Andrew Hill - "Love Chant"
[Same as above]

34. Andrew Hill - "Ghetto Lights"
[Same as above]


Bonus tracks

1. Elvin Jones - "Everything Happens to Me"
Dear John C., 2.23.65
RD (b), Jones (d), Charlie Mariano (as)

2. Dizzy Gillespie - "Birk's Works"
Live at the Village Vanguard, 10.1.67
RD (b), Gillespie (tp), Pepper Adams (bs), Ray Nance (violin), Chick Corea (p), Elvin Jones (d)

3. Thad Jones/Mel Lewis - "The Waltz You Swang for Me"
Monday Night, ??.??.68
RD (b), Jones (flugelhorn), Lewis (d) + full personnel here

4. Richard Davis and Freddie Hubbard - "Muses for Richard Davis"
Muses for Richard Davis, ??.??.69?
RD (b), Hubbard (tp)

5. Richard Davis - "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise"
[Same as above]
add Roland Hanna (p), Louis Hayes (d); omit Hubbard

6. Richard Davis - "Julie's Rag Doll"
Dealin', 9.14.73
RD (b), David Spinozza (g), Paul Griffin (organ), Freddie Waits (d)

7. Phil Woods - "Samba du Bois"
Musique du Bois, 4.14.74
RD (b), Woods (as), Jaki Byard (p), Alan Dawson (d)

8. Richard Davis - "Take the A Train"
Harvest, 5.3,16.77
RD (b), James Spaulding (as), Marvin Hannibal Peterson (tp), Ted Dunbar (g), Bill Lee (b), Billy Hart (d)

9. David Murray - "Santa Barbara and Crenshaw Follies"
The Hill, 11.29.86
RD (b), David Murray (ts), Joe Chambers (d)

10. A. Spencer Barefield - "Raise Four"
After the End, ??.??.87
RD (b), Barefield (guitar), Oliver Lake (as), Hugh Ragin (tp), Andrew Cyrille (d)

11. Joel Futterman - "I Never Knew Her Name"
Vision in Time, ??.??.88
RD (b), Futterman (p), Joseph Jarman (ts), Robert Adkins (d)

12. RD on Booker Little

13. RD on Coltrane, Ayler

14. RD on Stravinsky

15. RD on the Retention Action Project

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Now's the Time: Richard Davis at 80 [revised]

[Below is an expanded version of the original Richard Davis post of Thursday, May 6.]

I couldn't be more excited to announce that my friend Russell Baker and I will spin five straight hours of Richard Davis recordings on WKCR, this coming Sunday, 5/9, from 2pm to 7pm EST. [UPDATE--Sunday, 5/9: The first portion of the broadcast has been preempted by a Columbia University baseball game; we should be underway by 3:30 or 4pm EST. If you tune in and hear play-by-play instead of Richard Davis, please check back soon afterward.] Listen at 89.9 FM in NYC, or tune in online here. We'll hit Out to Lunch!, Astral Weeks and as many points in between as we can. Plus, we'll play excerpts from an interview I conducted with Mr. Davis on April 25.

A preview is up now at Destination: Out, featuring rare tracks from Davis's 1973 curio classic Song for Wounded Knee and a clip of him discussing the session.

For the record, Richard Davis is one of my very favorite musicians. I've been a Davis fanatic since college, when I discovered his beautiful mind-meld with Andrew Hill during the '60s, a partnership that yielded a run of some of the most distinctive jazz albums I know: seven full-lengths in all, from '63's Black Fire to '65's Compulsion. Learning to love Astral Weeks around the same time, and realizing what a crucial role Davis also played on that holy record--this is not received knowledge; get past the "iconic rock album"-ness and try develop a personal relationship with this inexhaustible document--upped my fascination exponentially.

Who was this rare bassist, I remember thinking to myself over the years, who always seemed to leave a mark on the proceedings? In my mind, I have called him Spider-Hands, for the way he weaves these thick, sticky, creepily intricate webs of notes when playing pizzicato. It was almost as if the instrument were smaller, more pliable in his hands, something to be manhandled rather than merely tamed. And then the arco work of unthinkable solemn dignity and depth, and also bow-hair-shredding grit. ("Wailing Wall" from Hill's Smokestack was the kicker there.)

And the discography, shockingly vast. It's been a joyously Sisyphean task trying to make sense of it all, but Russell and I have been trying our best. You could do five days' worth of Richard Davis rather than five hours and never get bored, but we'll try to make our show worthwhile and fitting. You'll hear some of the Davis you know and love, and (hopefully) some you never knew existed. Happy 80th birthday, sir, and thank you for transcending style for so many years, for being yourself and simply playing.


Some great Davis reading and watching:

*A recent and very lengthy Davis video interview from Wisconsin public TV

*A nice 2005 Davis profile/interview by Andrey Henkin, via All About Jazz

*A comprehensive Jazz Times piece from right around the same time

*And lastly, probably the greatest thing on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4 videos of Richard Davis and Elvin Jones live in Japan in (I'm educated-guessing) the deep '70s


One question that keeps coming to mind as I research RD: Are there any recorded documents of his classical work, e.g., perhaps this Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky set? Dying to hear what he sounds like in that context, but I imagine it would be hard to pick him out of an orchestra.