Sunday, August 02, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: The Path from Heaven to Minneapolis

Olivier Messiaen: Messiaen Edition [box set] [disc 2]. 2005. Warner Classics: 2564 62162-2.

La Nativite du Seigneur (1935) - Neuf Meditations pour orgue
Le Banquet celeste (1928)
Apparition de l'eglise eternelle (1932)

Marie-Claire Alain: organ

This is the sound of devotion. Organ music born of faith and an expression of Messiaen's Catholicism prior to the trials of his faith that were in store after these pieces were composed. These are also prior to his discovery of bird song as a source of melodic inspiration. The sense of devotion that would carry Messiaen through those trials is already audible. Such faith has an other worldly quality. Without the talented composition and skillful performance by Marie-Claire Alain it would be hard to imagine the particular nerve this music touches.

Miles Davis: The Complete On The Corner Sessions [disc 1]. 2007 (recorded in 1972). Sony BMG Music Entertainment: 88697 06239 2.

Miles Davis: trumpet
Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone
Chick Corea: synthesizer
Herbie Hancock: electric piano, synthesizer, organ
Harold Ivory Williams: organ, synthesizer
John McLaughlin: guitar
Colin Walcott: electric sitar
Michael Henderson: electric bass
Jack DeJohnette: drums
Don Alias: congas, percussion, kalimba, African percussion
Badal Roy: tablas
Billy Hart: wood block, cowbell, percussion, drums
Carlos Garnett: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet, flute
Dave Creamer: guitar
Lonnie Liston Smith: electric piano
Al Foster: drums

After such a heavy dose of spiritual edification, On The Corner pulls the body along with unedited master takes of some large ensemble, improvisational funk. Also an expressive necessity no more or less threatening than the devotion of Messiaen. This music created a stir among the jazz intelligentsia and critics of its day. Today it feels incredibly vital and absolutely necessary. A reminder of how aesthetic movements will counter-balance past excesses and gleefully leave behind those not ready to find the road (traveler, there is no road). These deep grooves are to rhythm what Kind of Blue's modal jazz was to harmony. A simplification that reveals incredible potential and an awesome beauty offered to the open ear. The physicality of a sound that invites dance and movement with a gravitational pull of Dionysian abandon.

Happy Apple: Youth Oriented. 2002. Sunnyside Records: SSC 3006.

Erik Fratzke: bass guitar, guitar
Michael Lewis: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, double bass
David King: drums, toys, waterphone, megaphone, mellotron

Great band. I appreciate the lines Michael Lewis spins through these tracks. The solid bass lines put down by Erik Fratzke. And David King is the same incredible drummer he is with The Bad Plus. You put these three together to realize their own creative compositions and out comes a complete winner like Youth Oriented. The range of textures out of this trio is remarkable. From the punkish energy of "Salmon jump suit" to the protracted open spaces of "Drama section" complete with a multi-stylistically informed range of gleeful genre-bending sounds in between. In a more just world this trio would be an overwhelming presence on the radio and tour circuit.

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