Saturday, May 22, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Of Baroque and Free Jazz

Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach Edition [disc II-2]. 1999. Brilliant Classics: 93102/25.

Leon Berben: harpsichord/Cembalo

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I BWV 846-870

Prelude & Fugue No. 13 in F sharp major
Prelude & Fugue No. 14 in F sharp minor
Prelude & Fugue No. 15 in G major
Prelude & Fugue No. 16 in G minor
Prelude & Fugue No. 17 in A flat major
Prelude & Fugue No. 18 in G shar
p minor
Prelude & Fugue No. 19 in A major
Prelude & Fugue No. 20 in A minor
Prelude & Fugue No. 21 in B flat major
Prelude & Fugue No. 22 in B flat mino
Prelude & Fugue No. 23 in B major
Prelude & Fugue No. 24 in B minor

Bach's grasp of harmonic centers is completely at the focal point of these works for solo keyboard. The cycle itself makes that abundantly clear as he tackled the creative rigor of fashioning preludes and fugues for each major and minor key. Within the relatively narrow timbral confines of the solo harpsichord these deeply Baroque pieces with their canonic melodies and churning rhythms give off the sense of precision time keeping devices with all their gears in motion. These works have since become a massive head water from which so much music has flowed. It's a good idea to swim in these waters from time to time.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost (box set) [disc 8]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Albert Ayler interview with Birger J
orgensen for Afterbeat program - December 1964, Copenhagen, Denmark

Albert Ayler interview with Birger Jorgensen for Afterbeat program - November 11, 1966, Copenhagen, Denmark

Albert Ayler interview with Daniel Caux for France Culture - July 27, 1970, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

The verbal side of this uniquely American artist and jazz musician. Putting into words his experience as a creative and sensitive soul puzzled by the hostility and resistance expressed toward what he knew to be his honest expression. One can hear the voice of a man torn between multiple worlds. And for the first time I can appreciate the importance and value of Mary Parks' role in his life. Something that isn't easy to do when listening to New Grass. The need he felt for acceptance within his "own tribe" in America pitted against the acceptance he found throughout Europe along with the responsibility of caring for his own brother in the midst of forging his own creative voice all had a hand in his tragic demise shortly after the interview in France.

The passionate sense of "this is the only way" expressed in the Jorgensen interview with regard to the strain of free jazz he was pioneering speaks volumes about the era he was living through.

Marshall Allen & Lou Grassi: Live at The Guelph Festival. 2007. (Recorded September 8, 2001). Cadence Jazz Records: CJR 1192.

Marshall Allen: alto saxophone, flute
Lou Grassi: drums, percussion

A much appreciated documentation of Marshall Allen's brilliance as a reedsman. Given plenty of space to shine in this duo format with the incredible Lou Grassi propelling things along. Or in Grassi's own words: "...get into that spiritual zone and stay there for an hour or two." These two players - nearly strangers at the time of this performance - find that zone early on in this set. Allen's playing moving seamlessly between introspection and fiery blurs that holds to a sense of open dialogue. His considerable time and energy spent with the Sun Ra Arkestra has somehow managed to eclipse the soloistic attributes that make Marshall Allen such a great jazz treasure. This disc truly is a welcome addition to the rotation.

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