Jump to content
mizanation

jazz saved my life?

Recommended Posts

i love sanders and alice, too.

mingus, of course.

i live very close to john coltrane's philly residence, sadly, the house is in disrepair, despite having a historical designation. check out this article from 1999:

In 1952, after returning home from the Navy and with funds provided by the GI Bill of Rights, John Coltrane saxophonist, family man, and native of Hamlet, N.C. purchased a three-story brick row house at 1511 N. 33rd St. in Philadelphia. The house was situated within the area known by locals as Strawberry Mansion, a working-class neighborhood populated at that time by families of diverse ethnic backgrounds. The 26-year-old Coltrane bought the `house as a habitat for himself, his mother, his aunt and his cousin a nuclear unit that the same cousin, Mary Alexander, describes today as "the little family."

From the start, domestic life in Philadelphia was unpredictable. Coltrane's aunt died one month before the family's scheduled move into the new home. The man of the house since the deaths of his grandfather, father and uncle, Coltrane was gaining recognition in a profession that necessarily kept him on the road. Still, until 1958, when he resettled in New York City, the young musician made his home base on North 33rd Street.

It was within this structure that he practiced out loud or executed silent finger runs after hours. Here, on the dining-room walls, are two unsigned watercolors that are traceable to Coltrane-the-impressionist only because "Cousin Mary" (for whom he named that special composition) insists that she watched him create them.

Sometimes, while sitting on the living-room sofa, Cousin Mary can still hear and see the jam sessions once held in the family's front room. Occasionally, when she glances up at the staircase, she spots drummer Philly Joe Jones standing on the landing.

Word of her extraordinary inheritance began to spread in 1990, when the Coltrane House was awarded a spot on Philadelphia's historic register. Letters of support abounded. A group of zealous well-wishers offered to rid the house of its bygone spirits. Cousin Mary was nonplused. "They were actually ghost-busters," she says. "I told them, `Well, I don't want anybody to bother my ghosts, because I live with mine.' I'm not afraid of anything in here. I live with good spirits."

This past January, the John Coltrane House was designated a national historic landmark. For celebrators of jazz, the honor places a brilliant artist and innovator on a highly deserved pedestal. For preservationists concerned with turn-of-the-century structures, Coltrane's $5,416 real-estate purchase is a gem that escaped the divide-and-lease metamorphosis that has changed the face of housing in northern Philadelphia.

Many hope that the designation of the Coltrane landmark will infuse the community with a sense of the neighborhood's importance and possibilities. Two doors down from the landmark, a John Coltrane Memorial Garden is being ushered into bloom. And an ambitious, $1 million capital campaign has been launched by the John W. Coltrane Cultural Society. When this organization's goal is met, it plans to transform the house next to Coltrane's into a significant gathering place that honors its namesake, as well as other creators of jazz. Renovation plans for this site include the installment of studio space, an archive, a gift shop, and lecture and performance rooms. "Having the center will make us self-sustaining," says the society's executive director, Cynthia Webster. "We always try to keep the community involved."

These days, Cousin Mary looks forward to the visits that students pay to her family's home. She enjoys telling them about her cousin in this setting that remains modestly true to his life. The backyard concerts held at the house during the summer months have become a local event.

"My whole thing is just to keep his legacy going," says Cousin Mary, "That's what the whole thing is about. But now, this is really important: I always say that he didn't need me to do this; he wrote his own epitaph. However, you can still keep it going--the legacy--you can still keep it alive. And that's what I have tried to do in my own small way, you know? In my own small way.

"This house was really important, because it was the house that he bought, and it was the house that he composed music in. This was really important. That is why I wanted to keep the house."

Cousin Mary has assigned Coltrane's son Ravi the task of deciding which 28 words should inscribe the plaque honoring the life of his father. "I had a couple of friends who wrote things," she says, "but I felt: that it should be from the family, because it will be there for a million years. And you want to say that his son or somebody like that wrote it, so I sent it to Ravi.

"When I think about it, I say to myself, This is really something." She recalls Ravi's response to reading the appointment letter: "He said, `You know, this is the history of the United States of America.'"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

didn't see this thread earlier.

just spent a huge lump of my measly pay this month on CDs since my record store's having a sale.

so now i have a stack of new CDs.

bill evans, herbie, wayne shorter, keith jarrett, chick, gary burton, wes montgomery...

currently listening heavily to chick's Now He Sings, Now He Sobs--not heavily enough to say much about it (apart from really liking it)--but i will listen to some of the tunes closely again sometime.

i'm a violinist but my diet is largely piano-based. bill evans has a huge place in my heart, because he plays with this amazing lyricism that really moves me. that would explain also why after bill, i'm always listening to chick and keith jarrett, not just because they're technically excellent but because their phrasing reminds me of bill (even if keith jarrett keeps moaning), but their touch/tone is different, yet familiar enough.

next to that, the bass is probably the instrument i really want to pick up. the way it can dictate (with a good drummer) the direction of the band, and play up or down particular rhythmic or harmonic ideas...that's something that amazes me all the time. the electric bass is more showy, but the sound of the acoustic upright, slightly twangy and slightly out of tune (microtonality, anyone?) is both emotive and humorous.

i can't stand free jazz, though--i appreciate that the musician has taken time to put in work into the form, and as a musician he has the right to play--but as a listener i think i have a right to like some things more than others... i heard this band play the other night, and i was frankly quite appalled that they could title their concert "a tribute to john coltrane". simply playing far out and incorporating indian motifs does not give them the right to use his name. i'm sure they are great players--in fact i've heard some of the band members outside of this form before and they play very well--but as a form of communication, it didn't move me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mulatu astatke... some ethiopian jazz... i remembered i have som eof it on my computer.... realy good stuff.

i think the soundtrack to "broken flowers" was all him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

nice article ddml.

i really love coltrane.

this is one of my favorite pictures of coltrane. he's very young, playing in jimmy heath's band. bird is playing a crazy solo. coltrane is mesmerized, holding his cigarette--so fixated, he doesn't even notice that he's about to burn his fingers.

*EDIT*

FYI, coltrane is the one sitting in the band watching, not playing. the guy playing is bird.

heath_bird_trane.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ddml--so that's cousin mary.

Mr P.C. is another tune with a great title. can hear paul chambers shuffling about the lines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

glad to see you here, tweeds. hope your playing is going well.

i can't stand free jazz, though--i appreciate that the musician has taken time to put in work into the form, and as a musician he has the right to play--but as a listener i think i have a right to like some things more than others... i heard this band play the other night, and i was frankly quite appalled that they could title their concert "a tribute to john coltrane". simply playing far out and incorporating indian motifs does not give them the right to use his name. i'm sure they are great players--in fact i've heard some of the band members outside of this form before and they play very well--but as a form of communication, it didn't move me.

i didn't understand free jazz until i had a crazy weed induced experience.

maynard ferguson was playing in the background and i had a small four-holed clay flute, the kind that's shaped like a turtle. playing my turtle freely and boldly--juxtaposing its shrill tones over the backdrop of structured big band jazz, i created a new organic sound that was free from time, key, measure, tone, culture and history.

although i don't remember saying this, my friend who joined me on the experience told me i said, "standard jazz is like painting on an empty canvas. free jazz is like painting over an existing painting."

after that free jazz was always cool with me. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That picture of bird/coltrane is great.

Fucking good story from Wolves on the last page as well. It's fantastic when a gig really stays with you like that, I'm sure we've all been to at least one. One from me:

I saw Marcus Miller at the Blue Note in Tokyo a bit over a year ago. Managed to score a seat about 2 metres from the stage, in the aisle that the band walked through to get to the stage. So I shook hands with Marcus even before the gig started...but the music was even better than that. They opened with the funkiest version of Boogie On Reggae Woman I have ever heard.

(I should add that the dudes backing him up were freakin awesome - he had some dudes from the RH factor: Bobby Sparks (?) on keys and moog (fuck yeah!), and keith anderson on sax (who can wail on the alto).

So after an hour or so of great music, I was walking towards the Aoyama subway, and I realised that the trumpet player from the band, Patrick Stewart (who has some mean chops) was walking right in front of me. (I am also a trumpet player). So I went up and said the usual stuff ('great gig', etc), and we ended up chatting shit about gear and gig for half an hour. He was a cool guy.

Anyway, all these things combined - crazy city, great seat, great music, random encounted with fellow trumpeter - just make this gig stick out in my head. It was a fantastic experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

miz - maybe i need one of those similar experiences... ;)

i can understand how it's fun because i love mucking around as well (pretending to play metheny on the violin with the rest of the band completely uncued and all) but actually making people pay for it...i dunno. anyway, respect to the musicians for believing in their music hard enough to want to perform it at our local jazz festival.

watched chick and gary burton play the other night, a duet sans rest of the band, and it was beautiful. completely intimate and personal, speaking like two voices from the same body. it would have been an even better gig had it been in the cosiness of a bar, rather than in a concert hall.

choice genes--have you put out any mp3s of your stuff? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey TIP - I haven't imposed my music on the public yet. I am a total beginner, only have one beat that I would say is close to completion, and a couple more sketches here on my computer. But I'm hoping to spend a bit more time on it when this semester of uni finishes. When I have something I'm happy for people to listen to, I will definitely post it though!

(Derail - I am pretty much set on the Eternals man, just waiting for japanhookup to get back into action so I can get them from bears - I want the red tab).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Roland Kirk (everything)

Eddie Harris (esp. 'Excursions')

trane trane trane

Esbjörn Svensson Trio

Sun Ra (space is the place!!!)

Mingus Ah Hum

Rabih Abou Khalil

Pharoah Sanders

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

choice genes - good to hear.

and miz, i don't know why i haven't actually asked you for some mp3s of your work. i must be daft. :D so...do toss some my way, if you would!

here's a question for everybody: what's your favourite Coltrane album?

mine, i think, is Coltrane's Sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know what's a sick record that I want to say gets overlooked (though again, it's prolly just my lack of depth)? It's this soundtrack by Miles...

Actually, hang on and I'll google that...

Got it.

It's called Ascenseur por L'échafaud which translates roughly as "Elevator to the gallows". The soundtrack is beautiful, and the movie looks like an excellent film noir.

Should check it out...

http://www.vervemusicgroup.com/product.aspx?ob=disc&src=art&pid=10492

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ascenseur por L'échafaud is great. you can really hear the darkness of his tone--at times his horn sounds like a crying woman.

if you like the stuff he did on that soundtrack, check out "sketches in spain".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah man, all that shit that Miles did with Gil Evans is worth a listen:

Birth Of The Cool

Miles Ahead

Porgy and Bess

Sketches In Spain

Quiet Nights

Here's a Miles Record that I listen to from time to time that I recommend:

A Tribute To Jack Johnson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That Miles soundtrack - I've heard it was all improvised. Apparently he got tha band in a room, had someone project the film onto a wall, and they all just played along to what was happening on screen. That might be why it's characterised as being so 'atmospheric' etc. Another record that I have to get into...

DDML - Herbie Hancock, fuck yeh! That guy is a genius, his ideas of extended harmony are brilliant, something that every jazz muso should study closely (not that I have yet...). I especially love his Headhunters era (just after Fat Albert). Headhunters and Thrust are two absolute classics IMO. Man, my band plays literally half the tracks off those albums (which is only two per album...but still). Great compositions and great grooves!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey TiP -

Not too sure about a good Wayne Shorter album, but the original version of Footprints (which is awesome) was on 'Miles Smiles' (60s quintet with Wayne).

A good contemporary take on the tune is by Terrence Blanchard (trumpeter) on his album 'Bounce' - it's in 4/4, and kind of a jazz/hip-hop groove. Do you need the tune for any particular purpose?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Footprints is on Shorters very nice Adam's Apple, now available in an attractive Rudy Van Gelder-edition, and also on the recent Footprints Live-album.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well it's mainly for listening's sake--maybe i'll go and transcribe it sometime as well...

rocco--thanks! the RVG editions are really quite a godsend. picked up a tonne of those on discount recently.

the instability of the 3/4 combined with the groove of the bassline makes this tune really attractive as a little project tune.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I recall correctly, Shorters own version is quite different, but beautiful as well.

I'm addicted to those RVG editions. There are quite a few Shorter titels in that catalogue, and great other stuff as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yep, the only quibble i have is that the spine design is different from all my other records on the shelf. :(

your namesake rocco prestia has one hell of a sense of groove. tower of power just came to town--unfortunately i wasn't able to catch them in concert!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started listening to Jazz about 3 years ago when I became interested in the production aspects of Hip Hop. I liked to find original samples to some of my fave Hip Hop songs, and as a result I discovered some of the great Jazz artists that have been mentioned in this thread. I don't know that much about Jazz but so far I've liked what I've heard from Coltrane, Monk (was the first artist I listened to after Gangstarr / DJ Premier name dropping), Bob James (some of his earlier work), Ellington, and Art Blakey.

Has anyone heard any of the following contemporary artists/groups? I don't think they have been mentioned in this thread yet:

-The Bad Plus

-Yesterday's New Quintet (one of Madlibs side projects).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i actually am a jazz trumpet player who moved to new york to play jazz. started hanging out with a lot of jazz cats that i looked up to and everyone was broke. that's when i figured producing hip hop makes more sense. but jazz is still my first love.

You're a trumpet player?

SO am i...i decided not to do the pro thing because of the same reason you just gave...

Anyways...

Booker little is the man im listening to at the momment.

He only has 4 albums as a leader, but he would be one of the greatest if it wasn't for his clifford brown-sque death. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82iayq015lQ

Mingus is also some next level shit. He strikes that balance of outside and inside that seems right.

Some of you might not be ready for this....but check this out

Coltrane & miles of course, but that should be assumed....

BTW has anybody NOT seen this video?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4FAKRpUCYY

Wayne shorter & lee morgan

LOVE this video...LOVE this shit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhjZd24nWTk just so calm and intense at the same time

My idol in his prime...

anybody also likes jazz dancing...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olrL12XZuq0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HIXxbs2gE0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now