2001 Theme & Deodata

I got on a 2001 kick and this where I ended up, the jazz arrangement of the theme for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddyssey (the fanfare of Also Sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss). From Eumir Deodata’s album Prelude (1973).

This arrangement made a big impression on me from the movie Being There (1979), in the scene where Peter Sellers’ character walks out of his house for the first time in his life (below).  But I hadn’t realized what an all star lineup was on this track, including Eumir Deodata (keyboards), Stanley Clarke (bass), Billy Cobham (drums), John Tropea (guitar), Airto Moreira (percussion).

 

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Bitches Brew & Miles Davis

From the eponymous album (1970).

Miles Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone), Bennie Maupin (bass clarinet), Joe Zawinul (electric piano-left), Chick Corea (electric piano-right), John McLaughlin (guitar), Dave Holland (bass), Harvey Brooks (electric bass), Lenny White (drums-left), Jack DeJohnette (drums-right), Don Alias (congas), Jumma Santos (shaker).

From All Music‘s review by Thom Jurek:

Thought by many to be among the most revolutionary albums in jazz history, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew solidified the genre known as jazz-rock fusion. The original double LP included only six cuts and featured up to 12 musicians at any given time, some of whom were already established while others would become high-profile players later, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Airto, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Larry Young, and Lenny White among them. Originally thought to be a series of long jams locked into grooves around keyboard, bass, or guitar vamps, Bitches Brew is actually a recording that producer Teo Macero assembled from various jams and takes by razor blade, splice to splice, section to section. . . . Bitches Brew is so forward-thinking that it retains its freshness and mystery in the 21st century.

I reacquired this on CD recently. It holds up real well . . . if you like this kind of stuff! Album art by Mati Klarwein:
375px-BitchesBrewGatefold

Jack DeJohnette & Steppin Thru

This is one of my all time favorite jazz-fusion cuts, by the New Directions group that Jack DeJohnette assembled to do this album, New Rags (1977, ECM), a pretty obscure album. The guitarist is also one of my favorites.

Jack DeJohnette (drums), John Abercrombie (guitar), Alex Foster (tenor saxophone), Mike Richmond (bass). I’ve been waiting a long time for this to show up on the Toobs. It used to be one of my most often played tunes on vinyl, then later when I transferred it to cassette. I also love the cut “Flys” on this album, which has been posted here. I hope to reacquire this album on CD.

“Steppin’ Thru” is exactly the right title to describe what happens with the music here at a few key spots (0:50, 3:27, 4:46, 7:16, 8, 34). Steppin’ thru to the primal and frantic, then to the moody and contemplative, then primal again, the contemplative again, then finally primal again but with a strutting fade-out that is . . . primally contemplative? There are a lot of things I like on this cut: DeJohnette’s cymbal work in the quiet parts, Abercrombie’s apocalytpic guitar in the frantic segments and ambient echoes in the contemplative segments, and Alex Foster’s primal scurries and blasts on saxophone.

Can any music person tell me what the saxophone is doing (for instance, between 0:53-1:30)? What mode is he playing in? Is it a whole tone scale? Is he playing up and down some kind of arpeggios? What’s going on? I’ve been wondering since the 1970s.

Jaco Legacy & Barbary Coast

From the fantastic tribute album Jaco Pastorius Big Band: Word of Mouth Revisited (2003).

I’ve acquired two Jaco tribute albums recently, and posted from the other one here. Both albums reveal the love of other musicians for Jaco and the extent to which he reshaped the bass and music itself. The tribute album represented in this post, Word of Mouth Revisited, revisits in particular a late stage of Jaco’s music in the early 80s, when he was writing, arranging, touring and recording with his big band Word of Mouth.

But this was also the period when Jaco was beginning his deep slide into the bi-polar disorder that would end in his death not too much later at the age of 35, in 1987. (Jaco more or less provoked a fight with a bouncer and got badly beaten up, the injuries resulting in a coma, then shortly thereafter death.)

I have a few of Jaco’s recordings with the original Word of Mouth band, the best known being Invitation (1983). What is notable about this tribute album is that it is actually better than Invitation, in my opinion. This is because Jaco, losing control of his mind, was also losing control of the music, at least in terms of leading a large ensemble. Though the original band definitely had the drive and energy of Jaco behind it, it also lacked tightness and tended to get muddy and even cacophonous. The re-united band in Word of Mouth Revisited is able to realize (and also reveal), what must have been Jaco’s vision for the arrangements and the band sound, more than Jaco himself could have done in the 80s. The playing is tighter, the tone clusters clearer and brighter, the changes crisper.

The album also has superb, informative liner notes, explaining all the cuts. And on the album the cuts are interspersed with recordings of Jaco’s comments, made during recording sessions or rehearsals with the original bands. This album is definitely a labor of love.

From the liner notes:

Jaco Pastorius’ ascendence in the 1970s was a singular phenomenon in the evolution of jazz, with an impact that continues to reverberate among his disciples more than a decade after his untimely passing.

Beginning with his solo debut, Jaco Pastorius, and through his work with Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Weather Report, and subsequently his own Word of Mouth bands, Jaco single-handedly shattered the boundaries of the electric bass and redefined its potential across all idioms of music.

“Jaco Pastorius was, without question, the Charlie Parker of the electric bass,” says Christian McBride. “If you play the saxophone, you have to come through Charlie Parker at some point. If you play the electric bass, you have to go through Jaco. Nobody has ever innovated on the instrument like he did.”

But the question remains, who could possibly play bass on an album like this? Who could step into Jaco’s shoes? The answer is about ten masters of the bass from jazz and fusion (including McBride himself). All are deeply influenced by Jaco, and each plays a signature Jaco cut on the album, paying loving and reverential tribute to the man whose playing so informed their own. For this cut, “Barbary Coast,” the bassist is Gerald Veasley.

All of the bassists on this album display an uncanny ability to channel Jaco, but it doesn’t feel like imitation or mimicry. Their playing here shows that Jaco didn’t just have a “style” or a particular kind of virtuosity, but a musical language, which these bassists have thoroughly learned and internalized to the point that they can play it back. (By the way, they are not sycophants. In their other work, these bassists have their own styles.)

Jaco’s bassline changes more than just the bassline. Rather than holding the music down, the bass drives it forward and at the same times weaves in and out and around it. This has the effect of giving the other instruments a different texture. So, Jaco’s total vision comes out here, a new kind of arrangement, a new kind of band sound.

On woodwinds, Billy Ross, Ed Calle, Gary Keller, Mike Brignola. On brass, Jeff Kievett, Jason Gardner, Ken Faulk Dana Teboe, John Kricker. Michael Levine on keyboards, Randy Bergen on Guitar, and Mark Griffith on Drums. Peter Graves directs.

Enjoy! This can be acquired here, and is a worthy musical investment that will reward many re-listenings. Two thumbs up.

A Remark You Made & Jaco Tribute Cover

From the tribute album to Jaco Pastorius, Who Loves You? (2000).

Bill Evans–no not THAT Bill Evans–(tenor sax), Mike Stern (guitar), Gil Goldstein (keyboards, accordion), Mark Egan (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Don Alias (percussion), Kevin DiSimone (additional keyboards). This fantastic and little known tribute album was made mostly by musicians who played with Jaco. There’s another, even better tribute album out there called Word of Mouth Revisited (2003) which is a tribute to Jaco’s big band music, and features about 10 giants of the bass who were deeply influenced by Jaco, each one doing homage to the man that reshaped the bass and reshaped music. I’m going to posting from that album sometime soon. Both of these splendid albums were sitting in the discount bin at a used CD place.

Marking the Double Nought Milestones

My blogdaddy Nightsky hit 200 posts, for which the only appropriate response is a full length movie.

By uncanny coincidence, Whud Yuhd Faye is also hitting the double noughts at the same time. Five double oh, people. Yes, this post is the big five double-a-rooni. Five. Oh. Oh.

In this epic but pathetically doomed Oedipal struggle, yours truly, the miscreant son, has been trying to outdo Dad with all that manic posting, especially in the initial months of this blogging adventure. Predictably, the results have been questionable in terms of quality . . . but, by gosh . . . THERE’S NO QUESTION AT ALL IN TERMS OF QUANTITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And like Nightsky, we celebrate by playing with numbers. In our case, we will start with five and lay on the zeroes one by one until we get to 500. Let us begin!

OK, I’ve never been a huge Brubeck fan, but he definitely had his moments and this was one of them.

“Take Five,” with Paul Desmond (sax), Eugene Wright (bass), Joe Morello (drums). The album Time Out (1959) was the first jazz album to go past platinum. I just remembered: I was also told Brubeck took a spiritual direction with his music later in life, which is something we’ll have to investigate for our Sunday selections.

Anyway, Wikipedia tells me Dave Brubeck suffered a serious spinal injury after diving into the Hawaiian surf in 1951. (Hey, fifties!) Not good for Dave Brubeck. But who knows what graces came out of it, including a life path that led to the first jazz album to go past platinum? One good thing that definitely came out of that incident, though, is that it gives me a nifty little segue to the next clip, which may be among the top five, certainly the top ten tv show themes EVER!

And now, all we need is one more zero, which we find supplied by none other than Chick Corea and Return to Forever.

“500 Miles High,” from Light as a Feather (1973). Chick Corea (keyboards), Flora Purim (vocals), Joe Farrell (sax), Stanley Clark (bass), Airto Moreira (percussion). (I want you to know that I wrote all that album info from my head, and when I went back to check the only thing I got wrong was that Joe Farrell has two “l”s at the end of his name, not one.)

Let it also be known that my other blog associates, that zany, rollicking hippie commune that has come to be known as The Blog of Funny Names, also hit the big 5-0-0 not too long ago. I’m only a little behind.

Flora Purim & Mountain Train

Over in his quadrant of cyberspace, my blogdaddy Nightskyradio has initiated his second annual Rocktober countdown!!!!!!!!!!!! with a new twist. Back over here, we have not shifted into Halloween mode yet, or even halfway out of our blog hiatus, but I do have a little music lined up which is also a blast from the past. This is a cut from Stories to Tell (1974), which I used to have on vinyl.

Flora Purim (lead vocals), Airto Moriera (percussion), George Duke (keyboards, synthesizer), Oscar Neves (acoustic guitar), King Errisson (congas), Ernie Hood (backing vocals, zither), Larry Dunlap (piano). Some time back, we featured one of the best ever versions of “How Insensitive” from that same album.

Pat Metheny Group & Bright Size Life


Pat Metheny (guitar), Richard Bona (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Vienna, 2002. Richard Bona channels Jaco Pastorius nicely here on fretless bass! (Jaco was the bassist in the original 1976 recording, which is the first track on the eponymous album, considered one of the best jazz albums of all time.)