Eyes That Can See in the Dark

a music journal

April 30, 2005 (link)

12:36 PM

I've been meaning for some time to write something about this concert, which I downloaded from Sharingthegroove.org (R.I.P.) sometime last year:

Woody Shaw Quintet, live at Onkel Po's Carnegie Hall, Hamburg, Germany, July 18, 1979. Woody Shaw, trumpet; Carter Jefferson, soprano sax; Onaje Allan Gumbs, piano; Stafford James, bass; Victor Lewis, drums.

In a word, it's hot. The playing is absolutely fiery, committed, sensitive -- as one person said, they have "a real tight group cohesion...crackling stuff". Some of the compositions are better than others, admittedly -- one or two them, though effective vehicles for the improvisation that follows, aren't such interesting melodies in their own right. But when a group is playing this well, it's silly to nitpick.

I'd like to do a track-by-track review of this concert, but right now I simply don't have the time. However, I made up a bunch of notes to myself about what I wanted to say about this show, and since we here at ETCSITD are all about transparency of process, I'll use them as a template to at least write a little bit about it:

-- warming up to him; great show; great rubato piano solo

I've mentioned before that I haven't really connected with Shaw's playing as much as I thought I would. The descriptions I'd read of his musicianship -- strong creative spirit, use of large intervals in his improvisations, very personal and strong harmonic "concept" -- intrigued me greatly, enough so that I've assumed that, if I haven't been connecting with his music, or have remained detached from it, the failure has been mine (not his). (cf. Out to Lunch!)

Well, this concert makes it pretty much impossible for me to stay detached. I was going to write that it makes it impossible "not to get into his music", but I can't necessarily say that: I might well go back to some of the Shaw I've heard (which isn't much!) and still find myself feeling like I just don't have access to it. But man, on this concert, he's playing with every bit as much fire and flash as the likes of, say, Freddie Hubbard -- except that, whereas Hubbard sometimes feels like he's falling back on a vocabulary of technical gimmicks (though he didn't do anything of the sort when I saw him live in Boston in the early '90s -- it was possibly the greatest live jazz set I've ever seen, actually)...

[Update, June 3, 2005: Oh, crap, this entry was unfinished -- I didn't realize I'd uploaded it! I guess I'll follow it up with a second entry sometime soon.]

Current music: [I'm guessing it was Woody Shaw?]

(Comments for April 30, 2005)

April 28, 2005 (link)

1:50 AM

Mystery solved: it's "They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" by the Spinners!

Thanks to JAS for the song ID. It's funny that the lyric turns out to be "Know where to go" -- which explains why my Google searches were all so fruitless.

Current music: The Spinners - "They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" (courtesy of Terrific Music)

(Comments for April 28, 2005)

April 17, 2005 (link)

12:39 PM

Speaking of Popol Vuh, I bought the remaster of Agape-Agape / Love-Love...and it doesn't sound very good! It's especially noticeable at the beginning, when the voices are marred by what sounds to me like damage to the master tapes (loss of oxide), but there's also a general lack of clarity and treble. Does the original LP sound like this?

(Also, the liner notes look disappointingly generic: do all of the reissues come with the same olive-green booklet with the Stephen Malkmus quotation on the inside? If so, I'm feeling less enthusiastic than I had been about picking up Nosferatu, Hosianna Mantra, et al...)

12:32 PM

I love this:

By now anyone remotely interested in Mouse on Mars knows that Glam was originally recorded as a soundtrack for an awful Australian film called starring Tony "Who's the Boss?" Danza but was rejected outright by the producers as being too experimental. I haven't seen the film, but I think the producers probably knew what they were doing. It's impossible to imagine Danza's face onscreen as this music plays in the background. Still, I love the idea that Mouse on Mars approached scoring a straight-to-video piece of shit as if they were Popol Vuh working with Werner Herzog. Instead of tossing something off, getting paid, and going home, they holed up in St. Martin in The Streets and recorded some of their best music.

Current music: Richard Wagner - Overture to Rienzi

(Comments for April 17, 2005)

April 16, 2005 (link)

11:14 PM

"I have no idea what the song means, and I'm not sure if I want to" --

-- or, then again, maybe I do:

Plundering, 12 robbers go from village to village. Urged by their leader Kudijar, they not only steal money and jewellery but also the most beautiful women. Until one morning Kudijar wakes up next to a recently captured young girl and sees the amulet she's wearing around her neck. He realizes he spent the night with his very own daughter from a passionate love of times long past. Kudijar is shocked and leaves his criminal past behind him. He retreats in a monastery and from that day on leads a life full of penance.

Current music: Brian Eno - Neroli

(Comments for April 16, 2005)

April 10, 2005 (link)

12:30 PM

Some random assorted thoughts:

If I were to start a list of "Songs to Whose Chorus One Can Sing the Lyrics to 'Rubber Duckie' with Remarkably Little Effort", it would begin thus:

  • Beach Boys - "Surfer Girl"
  • Wyclef Jean feat. Mary J. Blige - "911"

You know that French novelist* who saw a passing reference to some woman's life in a newspaper (an obituary?), and proceeded to imagine an entire backstory for her, which he then turned into a novel? That's kind of how I feel about the search that, apparently, led someone here.

Sometimes, on my Mac, I'll create an empty folder on the desktop whose name will remind me of a thought I've had, or something I have to do. This is, of course, despite the 31-character limitation; I suppose I could use a sticky -- literal or figurative -- but for whatever reason, I keep coming back to the folder trick. So, sitting on my desktop, I have this note to myself:


I think I jotted this down to remind me to write something about Shuggie Otis's Inspiration Information, maybe with a dash of Smile in there too, and the ways in which work with "unfinished" passages can somehow seem more inviting to me at times. I'm assuming that "masculinebig" means something like "The big, finished work ties in with concepts of masculinity", but that sounds a bit more Alan Sokal than I'm normally inclined to be.

(I know that there was also a thought in there that speculated whether Otis's alleged drug problems -- er, I mean, health issues -- led him to leave things unfinished that other musicians might overburden with "stuff", but that seems way too simplistic and condescending: why not just chalk it up to good taste and subtlety?)

So, instead, I'll just say that, of the albums I've discovered over the past six months or so, Inspiration Information is probably the one I've been coming back to the most. Thanks to J.O., who lent it to me after I overheard her playing it and asked, "Hey, what's that?"

*(Was it Flaubert? I can't seem to find a link, but instead I got a picture of James Joyce's library card.)

Current music: Beekeeper - "Mabel"

(Comments for April 10, 2005)


Current reading:

Tom Jones, Henry Fielding (if at first you don't succeed...)


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