Jes' grew (fall 2020)

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Fall 2020 (Northern hemisphere)

Wynton Marsalis' latest opera
cover: Jessica Benjamin
(liner notes in pdf)

As this issue was in preparation, Maria Schneider's Data Lords release was so widely covered I was able to hear not just the first but also the last song of the double album on France Musique,[1] in addition to the short extracts at her website. For the moment, I'm not going to say much more than that I love the title and that this level of digital inaccessibility is a surprisingly rare thing. I learned while making this page that ECM held out until almost three years ago before "finally" dropping their catalog into the bitstream.[2]

However, and there's always a however, that album struck my admittedly already fatigued ear (good reader, please forgive me) as being exactly what Alex Dutilh calls it, music "inspired by the conflictual dialectic of... ", which reminded me of Leonard Harris once asking me if I was still jumping through them di'lectical hoops, as I was off to testify on the yen and yawn of Sartre getting gifted Mauss.

In short, I'd much rather see Wynton Marsalis get yet another Shiny Grammar Prize for his "Ever Fonky Lowdown" full concert from 13:25, released on Blue Engine Records than to see Data Lords rake all the cake (& ice cream) off the big game board.

O pieuvre, œuvrez ! How this is worth a time! Like Blood in the Fields 25 years ago, but Cassandra Wilson retells that story best...

Now I may go back to those Mahlerian textures of the Data Lords with fresh ears, but what is sure at the moment is that

Trombone.jpg Wagner once said, “Don’t look at the trombones, it only encourages them."[3]

And then the Word said, "Let there be paperclips" and there were trombones.

Bob Moses, When Elephants Dream of Music, 1983.
musicians include Barry Rogers (trombones), Chris Rogers (trumpet), Doc Halliday, Jim Pepper, David Gross (sax), Howard Johnson (contrabass, clarinet, tuba), Terumasa Hino (cornet), Bill Frisell (guitar), Steve Swallow (el. bass), Michael Formanek (ac. bass), ...

& then... the shells got bouncing

Steve Turre, "Morning" (Yusef Lateef), 1995.

... & the cat fused

Hitoshi Suzuki, Cat, 1975.
Hiroshi Suzuki (trombone & keyboards), Takeru Muraoka (sax), Kunimitsu Inaba (bass), Akira Ishikawa (drums).

off to Nubia (where there was only a mellophone)

Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra, "Ethio", 2011.
with Michael Leonhardt (trumpet, mellophone, cornet, vibraphone).

"No Fear !", Jaco'll save us !

Béla Fleck & Edmar Castañeda, Live at Big Ears Festival, 2019.
(with a banjo & a harp) Praise be.

Monkey God and Lizard Queen

Mosquito Coast
The Sorcerers, In Search of the Lost City of the Monkey God, 2020.

A well-spent hour at Banzzaï (France Musique) led me to this memorable title,[4] which is apparently the soundtrack to a documentary about the (re)discovery of ancient ruins in Mosquitia.[5]

With unexpected citations and funny deformations throughout—wait! what are you doing to Antônio & Luiz in the trunk, there ?!—this made for a great entry into a unique blend of sounds (bass clarinet/baritone sax, vibes & flute, in particular, with an excellent drummer). (bandcamp)

Sons of Kemet, Your Queen is a Reptile, 2018.
Shabaka Hutchings (tenor sax) Theon Cross (tuba), Joshua Idehen (poetry), five drummers. Congo Natty (jongleur)

Chess in your head

Arve Henriksen, "Patient Zero", 2017.
from a CD called Towards Language which gets thumbs up from the maskèd many. The bamboo sound of his mouthpiece-less trumpet[6] sent me looking in the time machine for Steve Turre. I found him back in Vienne in 1997 making (very different) sounds with his sanctified shells.
Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran, "Hagar's Lullaby", "Prayer", "Sand Rhythm", NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, 2016.
The first piece is from Hagar's Song (part V of "Hagar's Suite") (2013). Charles Lloyd apparently isn't only referring to the Biblical character but also to an enslaved forbear (his great-great-grandmother was taken from her parents at 10 and sold upriver at a slave market).[7] I have little common ground for a story like this as my distant forbears were likely more familiar with serfdom than slavery and I don't know Old World family stories. As a result, I remember in the mid-nineties being very perplexed about growing into 21st century "America". First there was "Call me Ishmael," then Mr. Reed, then "Lawd, lawd, wad'nat a fish"? "The Old Wives' Whale" is from that time. For some presumably good reason I did some Bib la study back then, and was encouraged to write a poem rather than an essay to prove I hadn't just been chewing on the corners of The Booktm.
The structure of Lloyd's suite and the choice of Monk's "Bolivar's Blues" (named not for Simón, but for a Manhattan hotel) as the next-to-last piece makes you wonder what exactly is being named.


Artemis, "The Sidewinder", Artemis, 2020.
Both the Rolling Stone reporter covering the Newport Jazz festival in 2018[8] and the president of the Blue Note magic department took note of the spellbound crowd.[9] With such star power the solos are short and the textures are deep. Lee Morgan & Joe Henderson's famous piece (§) is the last song on the album. It is cut in half, slowed down and reworked into what Sketches of Spain might have sounded like with a bass clarinet, a sax, and a round piano fused into the brew. It conjures up slitherin' sidewinders getting on very nicely with their sunny day.
Eliane Elias, "A Ra (The Frog)", 2009.
Eliane Elias (piano + vocals), Marc Johnson (bass), Rubens de La Corte (guitar), Rafael Barata (drums)
Tomoko Omura, "Revenge of the Rabbit," Branches, v.1, 2020.
Tomoku Omura (violin), Glenn Zaleski (piano), Jeff Miles (guitar), Pablo Menares (bass), Jay Sawyer (drums).[10]
Michael Leonhart & Avaramina 7, "Theme for a Jaguar Shark", The Seahorse & the Storyteller, 2010.
19 credited & most creditable musicians. :) There is a Steely Dan/War (-ish) feel to at least one song ("Dreams of an Aquarian") on the non-instrumental version of the album.
Camille Bertault, "A quoi bon", Le Tigre, 2020.
Camille Bertault (vocals), Jacky Terrasson (piano), Christophe Minck (D. Bass), Donald Kontomanou (drums), Minino Garaï (perc.), Stéphane Guillaume (winds), Michael Leonhart (producer, brass & perc.); "Tous ego" is a fun reminder that the tiger is the boss of its carosse, even in "Le Tube".
Rabih Abou-Khalil, 1) "Maltese Chicken Farm", The Cactus of Knowledge, 2001. . . . 2) "Is there wine?", The Flood and the Fate of the Fish, 2019.[11]
. . .
1) Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud), Eddie Allen & Dave Ballou (trumpet), Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet), Antonio Hart (alto saxophone), Ellery Eskelin (tenor saxophone), Tom Varner (French horn), Dave Bargeron (euphonium), Michel Godard (tuba), Vincent Courtois (cello), Jarrod Cagwin (drums), Nabil Khaiat (frame drum)
2) Rabih Abou-Khalil (composer, oud), Kudsi Ergüner (ney), Jarrod Cagwin (percussion), Gavion Murgia (cantu a tenòre, launeddas)

Under Cover

Lonnie Smith, "As the World Weeps", Rise Up!, 2012.
Lonnie Smith's original studio version finishes with a choir somewhat reminiscent of Donald Byrd, A New Perspective, but over the rebellious voices, there's also a rebellious saxophone.
Anat Cohen Quartet & Paquito D'Rivera, "As the World Weeps", Claroscuro, 2012.
Anat Cohen & Paquito D'Rivera (clarinet), Jason Lindner (piano), Joe Martin (bass), Daniel Freedman (drums), Sixth & I, Washington DC, 2011.
Arguably closer to the original than the Artemis cover of "The Sidewinder" above,
it unarguably brought down the synagogue made the crowd Rise Up!
(Quod erat factum.)
The album version also features a trombone -- (what else?) -- making -- let's say -- occasional sounds, which gives a very different feel to the piece.
Mulatu Atsatke, "Yèkèrmo Sew", 1972.
It's pretty likely you will hear some echoes in this piece. :) RIP Ellis Marsalis. Warm memories of Snug Harbor.
Matt Gordy (arr.), "Petroushka (Stravinsky) for Jazz Nonet", 2016.
Mike Rocha & Jonathan Dane (trumpet), Sara Andon (flute), Rob Lockart (tenor sax), Ido Meshulam (bass trombone), Erik Hughes (trombone), Bryan Pezzone (piano), Chris Colangelo (bass), Matt Gordy (percussion, piano, conductor)
Matt Gordy, here conducting with a hammer at the Blue Whale in L.A., says that one of his seminal influences on piano is Bill Evans, which perhaps explains why I kept waiting for one of the themes in his arrangement of Petroushka to erupt into Manuel de Falla's "Canción del fuego fatuo" (the second track (16:24) on Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain in the section below).
As it turns out, Falla had been in Paris when Stravinsky's ballet premiered in 1911 (four years before writing the song), and was later commissioned to write El Retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter's Puppet Show §) by none other than the countess Edmond de Polignac (Winnaretta Singer, the famous Parisian salonnière, daughter and heir of Isaac Singer).[12]
It is unclear whether or not this was an effort to re-popularize (sock-)puppetry or to sell more Singer sewing machines. :D

In Memoriam

Ryo Kawasaki, Juice, 1976.
as described on the label
Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) Concierto de Aranjuez
Ryo Kawasaki (1947-2020), 1981. (guitar)       Dorothy Ashby (1932-1986), 1984. (harp)      Miles Davis (1926-1991), 1960. (trumpet)
Chick Corea & Hiromi Uehara, 2006. (pianos)


Ox on the Roof

Darius Milhaud, Le bœuf sur le toit, 1920.


Dominique Guiot – L'Univers De La Mer, 1978.
most excellent prog food :)

some bob-foolery

overheard at the 2020 Wikiwiki BotSlam gala,[13] from Easy Rider (1969) (lyrics)

Roger McGuinn, "It's Alright Ma, I'm only bleeding" (Bob Dylan), 1969.
This is what happens when you ask Gogol about Kiev.


Alexa tells you: Kyiv's the word.
Cf. Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery" (1948) & then "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35", 1966.

overheard in the tower of song

Марини Круть, "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen), 2018.
Quite a few otherly-whirled gospel postings grew this season over at Genderdesk, including "Women playing bandura".
What's the word?
Is Kyiv the word?
or is it kobza?[14]
Johnny Cash, "Custer", Bitter Tears, 1964.
written by Peter Lafarge

All Hallow's Eve

Frank Zappa, Civilization: Phaze III, "Beat the Reaper", 1994.
Naïssam Jamal & Rhythms of Resistance, "Almot Wala Almazala", 2016.

2020 US elections

Ray Charles, Montreux Jazz Festival, "Georgia on My Mind", 1997.
h/t Democracy Now!

What could possibly go wrong?

Mary Halvorson / Bill Frisell – The Maid With The Flaxen Hair: A Tribute to Johnny Smith, 2018.[15]
video removed
I'm one of those people who had never listened to Mary Halvorson until someone who shall remain nameless got me looking into prolific women in jazz. I've included the subtitle, so the title doesn't mislead you into thinking this CD is all about Debussy. In fact, it is a tribute to a guitarist who once taught Bill Frisell "old fuddy duddy corny schmaltzy stuff". Frisell has since recanted this view and has dedicated songs and now, along with Mary Halvorson, an album to him. Described as a case study in "the bankruptcy of modern jazz guitar",[16] it's ipso facto worth a listen, or even several. :)
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels, "Vanished Gardens", 2018.
Charles Lloyd (tenor sax), Bill Frisell (guitar), Eric Harland (drums), Greg Leisz (dobro, pedal steel), Reuben Rogers (bass). The album also features Lucinda Williams (vocals) on five of the ten tracks (including "Dust"). "Vanished Gardens shows how the many currents of American music all flow into a single stream",[17] maybe somewhere between Cairo, Memphis and the Atchafalaya.

Previous issues


  1. Alex Dutilh, Fabien Fleurat, Emmanuelle Lacaze (24 August 2020), Maria Schneider, connexions naturelles et déconnexion numérique, Open Jazz, France Musique.
  2. John Pareles (17 November 2017), "ECM's Catalog is Finally Streaming. Here are 21 Essential Albums.", NY Times.
  3. Sebastien Scotney (24 July 2020), "Album: Maria Schneider Orchestra: Data Lords", The Arts Desk.
  4. Nathalie Piolé, Fabien Fleurat & Emmanuelle Lacaze (25 Jun 2020), Les ombres amis, Banzzaï, France Musique.
  5. Douglas Preston, Dave Yoder (2 March 2015), Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rain Forest, National Geographic.
  6. John Lewis (1 June 2017), Arve Henriksen: Towards Language review – pushing the trumpet's sonic capacities, The Guardian.
  7. Tryan Grillo (9 March 2013), Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran: Hagar’s Song, ECM Review.
  8. Hank Shteamer (6 August 2018), Newport Jazz Festival 2018: 14 Best Things We Saw, Rolling Stone.
  9. Alex Dutilh, Fabien Fleurat, Emmanuelle Lacaze (11 September 2020), Artemis, sept déesses chez Blue Note, Open Jazz, France Musique.
  10. JT Video Premiere: “The Revenge of the Rabbit” by Tomoko Omura, 4 September 2020, Jazz Times.
  11. Alex Dutilh, Fabien Fleurat, Emmanuelle Lacaz (13 September 2019), Rabih Abou-Khalil, les suds de l'oud, Open jazz, France Musique.
  12. Adélaïde de Place (2007), Livret de Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), Mirare.
  13. Lev!vich (4 Aug 2020), "well that didn't go as planned, 2020 WikiSlam Bot Bracket, InedibleHulk's TP. (IH himself encouraged early study of Toxic Waste.)
  14. Genderdesk (12 October 2020), Women playing bandura, published in GD Cat: Music.
  15. Alex Dutilh (17 September 2018), L'actualité du jazz : Mary Halvorson, la guitariste aux cordes de lin, Open Jazz, France Musique.
  16. Martin Schray (28 January 2019), Mary Halvorson / Bill Frisell – The Maid With The Flaxen Hair: A Tribute to Johnny Smith (Tadzik, 2018) The Free Jazz Collective.
  17. Hank Shteamer (27 June 2018), Review: Charles Lloyd and Lucinda Williams Fuse Jazz and Roots on Vanished Gardens", Rolling Stone.