Showing posts from September, 2007

81: A Birthday Letter to John Coltrane

To John , Today would’ve been your 81st birthday. It’s actually beautiful out: sunny, 81 degrees, blue skies around. The warmth hasn’t prevented the leaves from starting to turn, falling gently onto the pavement with every gust of wind. Those first few notes of “A Love Supreme” perfectly sum up the air out there. It would’ve been a good day for you to celebrate, lots of candles for you to blow out…with your sax. You weren’t even 40 when liver cancer took you. You had to be on the brink of SOMETHING. I listen to what you were doing. I try and put myself back then, mind blown by something powerful, sounds so extreme they were simultaneously pummeling tradition AND fracturing the sound scaffold. Even forty-two years after Ascension exploded into the jazz scene, it’s still captivating. It’s still pure. It still begs discussion and consideration whenever ears come in contact with it. What were you trying to do? How far would you have gone had you not died so early? I always

The Album In My Hand Is My Reward

Marnie Stern In Advance of the Broken Arm Kill Rock Stars Released 2.20.07 Rating: 9 out of 10 Upon first listen, and it’s been literal months of listening, Marnie Stern ’s In Advance of the Broken Arm isn’t the easiest thing to absorb. Ponder the idea for a moment that someone like Stern remembers every record she’s ever heard and wanted very badly to mash them all together like a protein shake of her greatest hits, figuring that that would make for a unique experience. Guitar-wise, she’s anywhere between Eddie Van Halen and D. Boon . Vocally, a cheerleader tapped her vein while reading Plath , maybe gleaned a couple inflections from The Fall ’s Mark E. Smith and fell in love with studio filters. Rhythmically? Too structured for Free Jazz; too chaotic for Prog. In Advance of the Broken Arm is, in a word, “unfocused.” It’s also one of the most original albums you’ll ever hear. I’ve been dreading this review specifically because it’s been a trial coming up with

Thank You, Corporate America, For Putting Some Sincerity Back Into Punk Rock…

Pissed Jeans Hope For Men Sub Pop Released 6.5.07 Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Punk rock sucks. Why? I’m glad you asked. The tycoons, all the business minded professionals of the world are still living in that place so long ago when they were slamming into like-minded leather jacket wearing spikeheads, flipping off Ronald Reagan and swearing that they would never, EVER, go into that Wall Street abyss where the money runs the show and humanity resembles a remarkably intricate apparatus that keeps the economy running. Of course these people would age and eventually find their way into that world. Of course they would be nostalgic for when they could boast about never being a part of it. And, of course, it would make perfect sense for dull, white, corporate cruise ships to be advertised with Iggy Pop belting out “Lust For Life” in the background. Misses the point, granted, but still perks up the ears and makes shuffleboard look so much more bad ass. Basically, the spirit goes bye-bye, l

Joe Zawinul

Today, I heard of Joe Zawinul ’s passing. Cancer. Age 75. After having just finished his last tour with his band, The Zawinul Syndicate . He was an Austrian born organist, instrumental in the development of Jazz Fusion. He is probably best known for his founding electric jazz pioneers, Weather Report . The opening bass notes of “Birdland” are permanently etched into my grey matter, the result of my father’s excited devotion to Weather Report’s Heavy Weather , probably Joe Zawinul ’s best known contribution to electric jazz. “Listen to THAT!” he’d say, raising his finger to the ceiling of whatever domicile we were standing in, just so I’d know what to listen for. Prominent in his radar were those distinct fretless bass lines by Jaco Pastorious . Otherwise, he was all about Zawinul, always commenting on how brilliant the guy was. I could appreciate Zawinul, but I’d never really taken to him. That changed though the first time I heard Miles Davis ’s In A Silent Way , an album wh

Very Mundane Awards

As I’m typing this, the MTV Video Music Awards are in full swing. Performers and musicians are winning little astronaut statues, thanking god that their video captured the attention of the American youth market and following up their insipid and insincere speeches with mediocre performances of their big hits. Just like every year. Making a major appearance tonight on the program is Britney Spears , whom, I’m guessing is performing for the following reasons: 1). Attempting to disprove the opinion that she’s “lost it,” y’know…like her panties. 2). Attempting to take the public eye off her criminal lack of parenting skills. By the way, who was watching her fucking kids while she was on stage? 3). Attempting to remind her fans that, before she was a train wreck, she actually sang a couple songs; forgetting of course that her fans are now ten years older, and hopefully wise enough to leave her bullshit on the shelf. 4). Attempting to see how memorable she’ll be WITHOUT the aid of open-m

John Stanier: Battles with a Tomahawk

Consider Helmet to be one of the best bands you’ve ever heard in your life, even if you don’t really like them. Bringing jazz syncopation into their brand of experi-METAL if you will, Helmet essentially paved the way for the slew of worthless groups that live and die by the Drop-D. Not a winning endorsement for sure, but their records, In The Meantime and Betty in particular, kick the shit out of any nü-metal dance riff. Consider John Stanier to be one of the best drummers you’ve ever heard in your life, even if you’ve never really listened to him. Adding depth to sometimes one-note riffs with his belled snare and that colossal kick drum, Stanier would take unforeseen opportunities to expand on a song’s rhythm, filling any empty space with a pound. Next time you hear In The Meantime ’s title track, or “I Know” from Betty , you’ll understand what I mean. Consider 2007 to be an interesting year for John Stanier, even if you have no idea what I’m talking about yet. Two releas