Saturday, April 23, 2011

So, were you expecting a BIG BLOWOUT OF A POST just like the one you got last weekend? Sheesh, after that bornado I woulda thought you'd at least give me a li'l break! Besides, I had more'n enough to tickle my fancy and blabber on about a good seven earthspins back---today I'm just lulled out by the upcoming warm weather throb thrills to merely eke out this pittance of a post, so in the words of Chuck Eddy "Be thankful, Pongo" and maybe if the spirit moves me more'n Ex-Lax I'll have a really humongous blowout from the bowels of my mind next weekend!

Oh yeah, 'n HAPPY EASTER, you sniveling amoral humanist types as if you cared in the least!

Sheesh, I'm actually old enough to remember when Braxton was ruling the roost as the uncrowned king of jazz as a new atonal blurch during the mid-to-late-seventies. Maybe you are old enough as well, and if you are then you might remember that those days were a strange time for all sorts of free sounds and especially jazz. This was when the original wave of jazz avant garde gave way to the second generation of beyond off-the-wall acts that were crawling outta the woodwork from all quarters, and here was Braxton, a guy who had spent the late-sixties and early-seventies holed up in the jazz ghettos of Paris and Tokyo, all of a sudden getting a major label contract and loads of press in both the jazz and pop magazine of the day. No wonder Richard Meltzer thought that he along with Keith Jarrett were the new heralds of college boy bopster cooldom, and Prince Pudding didn't exactly mean that in an approving way like those beardos with the affected black bop speech patterns hawking jazz albums at the flea markets did!

But like I said, it was a strange time. And a great one too, because this was right before such things as vinyl shortages and switcheroo market strategies put an end to things like major labels footing the bill for custom companies like Freedom, Novus and Horizon let alone the idea that acts such as Braxton or the Revolutionary Ensemble could even THINK of recording for any of the same labels who were footing the bill for everybody from John Cage to Sun Ra for a longer period of time than their accountants could have imagined. But hey, we were heading into the squeaky clean eighties when the most daring act any of the biggies would consider signing were the Del Fuegos, and frankly if it weren't for used record shops or the New Music Distribution Catalog I dunno what a fellow with my musical tastes could do outside of find a new hobby like pressing flowers or hammering out ashtrays from sheets of metal...something more akin to my own autistic nature 'stead of trying to act all high-falutin' pseudo-intellectual as if I actually KNOW about the deep-seated behind-the-sound message and meaning of any of this music outside of getting an immediate, visceral buzz from it all.

Another amazing thing about the seventies was that relatively picayune labels such as Inner City and Muse could get their wares stocked into major record chain emporiums nationwide, and as far as I can remember this particular platter was no different. Recorded somewhere between his Parisian romps and the Big Arista Contract, SERIES F's a pretty fine recording of solo Braxton playing at some of his free-blast atonal with a few surprising actual nods to melodic jazz forms of yore. Like most of the Braxton catalog this ain't exactly gonna tickle the Leonard Feathers amongst us but it definitely fits in with the entire 60s/70s Braxton modus wafting between post-Ayler splat and what was rightfully considered part of the same New Classical scene as John Cage or Harold Budd. And although I'm sure that more than a few of your elderly aunts'll think this is nothing but some crazy guy just making random noise with his musical gear all I gotta say is...maybe if it were I'd still like it on the same level as I do listening with my jazzbo "third eye" in place. But then again, maybe not.
Mia Theodoratus-"Apache"/"Miserlou" 33-rpm 7-inch single

No label on this 'un, but I guess if you scour the web hard enough you'll be able to get an actual vinyl copy for your very own. Either that or you can download it here, there, or perhaps even a dozen other places where you'll have to pay upwards of 99-cents to hear this Hanuman Ensemble harpist take on Jerry London and Dick Dale and do it her way! If you liked Mia with or without the Ensemble (who did some pretty find free play back during the days of the CBGB Lounge Freestyle Series you'll probably LOVE these two sides. I gotta admit this single does remind me of the better days of self-produced vinyl obscurities that seemed like such a radical idea when they first started to proliferate a good thirtysome years back, and although I am showing my stodginess I will say that hearing it on actual vinyl sure connects me back to the days when I was a kid spinning "Washington Square" repeatedly while marching around the room. It sure is nice to know that some things don't change in my obviously "blinkered" way of approaching music, if not life!
The New Yardbirds-1969 LIVE RARITIES LP (After Hours bootleg)

Gaw! Was I fooled by the New Yardbirds title thinkin' this was gonna have selections from that obscure twilight zone between the Yardbirds' final croak and Led Zeppelin revelation! Turns out this record is nothing but low-fidelity '69 Zep tracks recorded at Winterland and the BBC which have probably been upgraded a hundred times since whenever this platter was originally thrust upon a music-starved populace. For ultra-serious Zep fans and those whose hearing went bust to the point where it all sounds like a Cetron C-60 assembled in Mexico.

In typical fandom-based bootleg fashion After Hours did show some ingenuity in their use of specially-created labels, not only because they were trying so hard to make their product look legitimate but because the eighties generation of bootleggers were so homage-laden that they just hadda include little historical references and asides regarding their wares in order to prove they were just as fan-crazed about it all as the goombahs gobbling up their product. Y'see, in typical latterday boot fashion After Hours decided to pay tribute to Zep not by utilizing ingenious replicas of the Atlantic label (which would have been too obvious), but by whipping up an inaccurate but I guess decent looking enough facsimile of the old Excello one, they being the home of many a blues artist of whom the likes of Page and crew continually swiped from to great money-making effect! I dunno if this was done strictly as an underhanded way to credit the originators of the form or to poke fun at the group's own perhaps dishonest raiding of past accomplishment, but it does seem fitting for people ripping off Zep to take aim at Zep's own ripoff practices in a manner such as this!
Billy Bang-VIETNAM; THE AFTERMATH CD (Justin Time)

Bang's recent passing (see last weekend's post for more details) made me feel guilty enough to actually dish out upwards of $20 for this heralded release, the first in a series (of two?) dealing with the violinist's experiences while fighting for somethingorother over in SE Asia in the late-sixties. And y'know, it's a pretty good 'un too. Of course it's nothing of what I expected, screeching violin and beyond-wail sax trying to capture the madness and agony of armed combat, but traditional far east melodies mixed in with a more post-bop sound and even some pseudo-funk (on the aptly-named "Saigon Phunk") that doesn't sound as pushy as many of these other free jazz takes on Asia numbuhs had at times. It ain't exactly what you're expecting in a concept disque about serving in Vietnam made by avant jazzmen, but then again the element of surprise is always needed in battle.
I might whip up something mighty tasty for the mid-week, though what I eventually will deliver might be something much less enthralling, like a toss-off review or perhaps my impressions of somethingorother in the food and spirits category. But whatever, be sure to tune in this Wednesday (give or take) because as you already know I'm the sort of guy who dares to be the point of alienating and offending both the casual internet cruiser and the longtime reader but then again what else did you expect?

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