Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A milestone

Having been away from my physical cd collection for a few months, I didn't notice right away that I hit a milestone recently. My cd's are held in two shelf units, and as of the second Mingus disc I moved on to the second shelf! Zoiks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's a shiny day and the dog shit smells like strawberries

I think it may be true that every line in 50 Gallon Drum by Buck 65 may make for a good blog title.

Anyway, last week I spent several sunshiny days wandering around Central Park listening to the dozen or so Charles Mingus albums I own. To say that Mingus made some good music is like saying that sex can feel good. "Gee mister, are you some kinda rock-it scientist?" No great surpirses for me, Mingus really has it all. From the raw power of Haitian Fight Song to the heart-crushing beauty of Self Portrait in Three Colours, and sometimes all within one song (Scenes in the City.) The only real discovery for me was realizing how little I knew the album Mingus Dynasty. I was left with one question; How is it that I relate so strongly to the music of a mentally disturbed black man from half a century ago?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Side project

So for a few months I've had a side project that I haven't even mentioned here, but I'm almost done with. This post will be a review of the whole bloody thing.

I got all kinds a' tapes
When I was at WRIU I would frequently tape my shows. As a result I have literally hundreds of hours of these shows. In 2001 I created a show called Last Century in Jazz, the idea being to present a chronological review of the first one hundred years of Jazz. I organized the show by decade, spending a few weeks exploring each before moving to the next. One of the great things about these tapes for me is I used a lot of music from the 'RIU library, so there's a ton on music that I don't have otherwise.

Goodbye Sunny :(
Late last summer, my car died. I was able to borrow a car that only had a tape deck, so I decided to listen to Last Century in Jazz since it represented the chronological approach that I find so interesting. I found it fascinating to listen to the arc and growth of the music over the years. The one thing that seems to expand the most is the over-all variety. Earlier Jazz does have variety, but one needs to listen at a very fine level to hear the differences between artists or sub-styles. Casual listening will only reveal a general rikky-tikky-tik sound. Similarly, as the music drifts towards noisier, free jazz styles, the same subtlety of listening is required to hear more than just skwonk-skweedly-squeal.

To pat myself on the back, I played lots of good shit on that show. That's been the main treat in listening to these tapes. In a world where time is not an issue I would love to back-up and catalogue these shows, if for no other reason than creating a cd/record wish-list. (author goes in search of Marzette Watts...) There have been so many times that I've been blown away by a particular piece of music and then thought "Oh yeah, so-and-so" when I heard the announcement saying who it was.

"Apparently there's some chaos going on out there in the world, so you want to watch out for that.."
My show was on Tuesday mornings, 9-11am. This meant that I was on the air the morning of the Sept. 11th attacks. I had no idea what was happening and went about my show in the usual fashion, i.e. getting stoned at 8:30am on my way in and making inappropriate wisecracks on air "What would a guy with a name like Steve Swallow want for someone to hold against him?" Even after I had some idea of what was happening I still made cracks like the one in bold. This is the show that I listened to most recently and it was extremely hard to listen to. That's pretty much all I can say about that. There are only two more shows before the infamous "Mutha-Fucka" incident, and then this side project is over.

OK, that's all for now. Two blogs in one day after four months of silence should be enough.

What a slacker...

Jeez, it's been awhile. I'm not even going to attempt to talk about any of the music I've listened to since my last post, but I will give an update on where the project is and make a renewed attempt at maintaining this blog, once again!

Prior to the holidays I listened to Olivier Messiaen, including all the discs that Christopher has. I also managed to *coughs*get*coughs* a seventeen disc Messiaen set around that same time. Now, one of the problems with classical-type stuff is ordering things chronologically. It's not as easy as rock records where, say for example, Rubber Soul comes before Revolver, period. First of all individual discs may have compositions from across a number of years. Also, there's the problem of revisions. For example, does one listen to the Turangalila Symphony in 1948 when it premiered or in 1990 when its final revision was published? I ultimately decided to do Messiaen in three chronological sweeps. First up was the four disc organ works set. These disc represented his complete organ works up to the point they were recorded, presented chronologically, so they had their own logical time sequence. Next I went through all of the discs Chris and I have, doing my best to organize them in a reasonable order.

At that point it was mid December and I knew I was a) getting an iPod for xxxmas, and b) moving to NYC but not bringing my cd collection for at least a few months. I decided that I would move the project to the digital realm, starting with the Messiaen set. Since I had a bit of time between finishing the physical Messiaen discs and when I moved to the city I pushed forward with the actual collection. I made it up to Paul D. Miller (better known as DJ Spooky) After I finish the Messiaen set I will resume with the Miller disc, Viral Sonota. (and I'll try to review that one here)

As for Olivier: wow. Truly amazing all the way through. Yesterday I listened to the entirety of From the canyons to the stars.. while wandering around Central Park in the snow. Interesting to listen to music that at times imitates the sound of wind blowing while being outside on a windy day and having to wonder if it's the music or reality. There's also something wonderfully surreal about riding the subway with the sound of organ music blasting directly into your skull. Oh I'll stand clear of the closing door please! Of course, sometimes that doesn't work out so hot, like the time I was trying to listen to a particularly quiet and beautiful passage and a two piece mariachi band set up right next to where I was sitting.