I’ve recently found myself with some listening time I can count on each day, so I figure it’s time to pay more focused attention to a handful of tracks and put together another of my Subway Playlists (that’s a set of tracks I listen to every day for a few months, to try and absorb on a deeper level than random listening allows, so named because I originally listened to them on my subway ride–some more background here). This one is a little long (although I like iTunes’ option to set markers for the beginning and end of playback on a track–I won’t tell you where I’ve done that, to protect those bass players fine musicians whose solos were sacrificed for time). Here goes:
- Steve Lacy/Roswell Rudd – “Think of One” (from Early and Late, 1962) A recently unearthed studio recording from the “School Days” band, which is one of my all-time favorite groups, period. The sound! The swing! The ideas! The counterpoint! The Monk! (I would kill to take a time machine back to when these guys were playing every night, but I was lucky enough to see Lacy & Rudd in New York in the 90s–read my memorial post for Lacy here.)
- Donny McCaslin – “Recommended Tools” (from Recommended Tools, 2008) I first saw Donny in the 90s in NYC, but recently got into his playing in a big way after reading about a workshop he did at Banff–was able to see him tear it up with his current trio at SFJAZZ and take a quick but really informative lesson (in which he walked me through how the melody for this tune came to be). What I like about this track: ideas, ideas, ideas!
- Keith Jarrett – “Semblence” (from Facing You, 1972) Still possibly my favorite Keith album for sheer inventive energy. This is a tricky tune I first came across on Gary Burton’s 70s classic Times Square, presented here in a much more loose and organic way. (I play this sometimes with the Quintet when we’re in the mood for a workout.)
- Charlie Haden/Jan Garbarek/Egberto Gismonti – “Cego Aderado” (from Folk Songs, 1979) Came across this album in a used record store in Portland; it promptly sat in my “to listen” pile for 2 years, but since I finally put it on I’ve been wearing it out (along with its slightly more ethereal follow-up, Magico). Outstanding writing, blowing, interplay. This group has been accused of being too new-agey but I don’t hear it; this is joyous, serious improvisational music, and Gismonti is an underappreciated badass.
- Conlon Nancarrow – “Player Piano Study No. 43” (from Juergen Hocker’s YouTube channel) Have been a fan ever since I saw a retrospective by Continuum in college; recently came across the whole amazing player piano series on YouTube. Lorin Benedict mentioned that his favorite was #43, so I picked that one, but they’re all great.
- Keith Jarrett – “Spiral Dance” (from YouTube–Hannover, 1974?) More Keith?! I know, but this one is totally different! It’s the Euro Quartet, burning on a live version of the Belonging hit–on the studio version, only Palle D gets to blow, but here everyone gets a turn. (I confess I cut out the 5-minute free intro, which is interesting, but not something I need to hear every day.)
- Hank Jones/Joe Lovano – “Budo” (from Kids, 2007) After Hank Jones passed away in May I made a mental note to pick up a record of his, and this was the first one I came across in the used CD bins. It’s a keeper–Hank managing to sound simultaneously stately and burning, JoLo once again convincing you that even if he was standing there with no horn in his hands, somehow the same sounds would be coming out. (I need to learn this tune.)
- Thad Jones – “Yes Sir That’s My Baby” (from Mean What You Say, 1966) Another Jones brother: this was recommended to me by my friend and former teacher Bill Kirchner. The head is mock-corny in that Thaddish manner, but the solos are happening. People focus on Thad’s writing, but I’ve been meaning to dig further into his individualistic and unpredictable playing for a while.
- Steve Coleman & The Five Elements – “Ascending Numeration” (from Alternate Dimension Series I) This tune was introduced to me by Lorin B. and Eric Vogler, both of whom are longtime followers and/or collaborators of Mr. Coleman (they also recorded a fantastic variation on it with their new band The Holly Martins). It’s extrapolated from Coltrane’s “Countdown,” and involves inverting the root motion as well as each chord’s interval structure, with the added bonus of a wild metric pattern. Someday they will force me to play it, so I’ll take any head start I can get.
- Kurt Rosenwinkel – “Flute” (from The Remedy) I was late getting to this album, after OD’ing on his previous 4 studio records, but there is a lot going on here. Like slash chords? This is your bible.
- Ornette Coleman – “EOS” (from Ornette on Tenor) I’ve listened to the Ornette Atlantic box a ton, but the person I, uh, borrowed it from somehow left out the disc with this album on it, so I heard it for the first time just recently. Classic early OCQ with everyone in fine form; as I get older, I find Don Cherry gets more and more inspiring.
Not a lot of early jazz in this one! No Louis, no Bird, no Bach, for a change (though they’ll probably be back in the next one). Suggestions for my next edition? Leave ’em in the comments.