Saturday, 20 March 2010

Beware of blogpsot ... NOT to be confused with blogspot (the real thing)!!

Yes, you read it correctly ....... blogspot or is it blogpsot, notice the difference?

A very quick post warning (anybody who reads this) about the blogpsot webscam. Now it's not illegal but I was say it's a dirty trick, and can cause a lot of confusion.

Step 1 :

If you take your blogspot adress - mine being (1) and then change the place of the S & the P your address will be (2), you've probably noticed that I've outlined the S & P in both addresses. Now, if you paste the first URL into your browser you'll get my blog - the one you're reading. If, on the other-hand you paste the second URL you'll get an ultra religious website, that I must admit I haven't really read.

Step 2 :

To make things very interesting ....... now take ANY (or most) blogspot URLs and do the same thing i.e. change the address to blogpsot ex : - becomes -
This to me seems most underhand and certainly not ethical. If the people who run (Google) could do something about it I'd be most appreciative, and besides that it would save a lot of confusion. If you have a blog, tell your friends and maybe make a quick posting such as this to make friends and real users aware. On the other hand if you're just a blog reader, just spread the word, that way people know what's happening.

Thanks for reading this post, I hope it makes sense.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Canadian Jazz, what's that!!

I thought to add a post concerning what I discovered last night whilst quickly reading another CD blog review.  Yes, more music that is beyond belief, and I expect it's everywhere. In fact probably most people know about these bands already and I'm just a little late on the uptake. I'm talking about a few bands to be found on the Canadian 'Drip Audio' label who seem to be breaking barriers between the world of jazz and rock in the same way that maybe the Rune Label has been doing but from another angle. 

First things first though, the groups themselves that I've managed to hear (*) are; The Inhabitants, Fond of Tigers, Tony Wilson 5tet, and there also seems to be plenty more where that came from, there's even a big band (or is it a collective?) called The NOW Orchestra  which I haven't listened to .... as yet!

What's very refreshing to hear (in these groups) is the ability to cross boundaries between various musics. After all, it seems that many improvising musicians nowadays are finding it difficult to place themselves into a musical area, to jazz or to rock etc. Many of them were brought up on rock 'n roll (me included - not forgetting Ray Conniff), whilst at the same time being drawn towards the world of jazz and the likes of Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Monk, Ellington, Lennie Tristano (and the list goes on). Practicing your instrument at college at home you're listening to King Crimson, where can my be-bop scale fit in there? And at the same time what music can I play live? Most musicians brought up learning jazz enjoy playing standards in jam sessions, but unfortunately it seems that it's less and less possible to make a living playing that music. The likes of Wynton Marsalis tell us it's all about tradition and that we should be studying the original masters such as Louis Armstrong. Unfortunately, that's his tradition, but not mine, and it seems not a lot of other people's either. In fact it's groups such as King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Caravan, Soft Machine, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, The Clash, Joy Division, Rap Music and many more that really influence more younger musicians today than 'hep cats' from the 50s. 

Getting back to the above groups. It's refreshing to hear music such as it both stimulates and challenges. The music seems to be a mixture of various styles between jazz, electronica, rock, metal and of course prog-rock and post-rock ..... or as the jazz world likes to call it nu-jazz. From the few MySpace listens  one could place The Inhabitants into a more melodic version of Supersilent and Elephant9 - genre bending groups on the Rune label. On the other hand Fond Of Tigers seems to be taking a different approach. Their area of music seems to lie more with mixing up the sounds of Steve Riech, Tortoise,  Zappa and some heavy metal even. It's a very exciting mixture of sounds and melodies that really  stimulate you and keep you listening. It also fills a gap in what's being produced nowadays and goes nicely with the music of Henry Cow, Gong, Soft Machine and the likes from the 70s. There aren't too many groups able to produce technical and yet 'musical' music and so this is a welcome discovery for me.  Of course, this music probably isn't for Lady Gaga fans to give an example, or maybe it is? 

There are no childish lyrics about found and lost love, or bragging tales of manhood, just good (excellent) musicianship and ideas. In most cases it's about sound and rhythms and not the heroic soloist (**) which is partly what's put distance between the listener and the music in recent years I think. It's also refreshing to discover groups outside of the USA who are not towing the official line and really far more advanced and forward looking than many of their US counterparts (I'll write more about some of the UK jazz groups in a later article blog). 

Other genre bending groups that are currently on the scene could be : Kneebody, Tortoise, Polar Bear, Jim Blacks Alasnoaxis, Tyft, Present, Univers Zero,  Louis Sclavis, Quartet Offensive, Marc Ducret. If you have some more suggestions I'd be interested to hear/read them. I can and will update the list from time to time.

(*) = only via MySpace as yet, CDs will hopefully be affordable later. They're not expensive (check the label site), but as usual discoveries always seem to come 4 groups at a time ........ € ouch!
(**) = an expression I heard from Marty Ehrlich which sums up everything I hate about jazz nowadays AND unfortunately I suspect partly the end result of music education - which is another discussion to be had on this blog and elsewhere.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Blogs the list.

Just a short word and explanation about the 'blogs' list on the right hand side of the page. These are blogs that in general I'm looking at myself ..... but ...... I don't actually recommend them. In some cases I can thoroughly recommend certain such as Ronan Guilfoyle's blog Mostly Music or Free-Jazz blog for a little new inspiration when looking for new sounds. I've just come across Mark Hannaford's blog Dualism Aside which looks very interesting (I have to really check it out in detail to recommend it completely). And when talking about music blogging one can't forget the hours I've sepnt reading the articles on Do the Math the blog of Ethan Iverson and the Bad Plus.

All this to say that the blog list may change from time to time - adding or taking away - a few of the blogs mentioned depending on what I find interesting to follow. This also helps to keep down massive lists of blogs visited.

p.s. Check out Inconstant.Sol for an amazing archive of live (mostly) recordings ..... often of a free-ish nature.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The music's coming back #1 - Elton Dean

Sometimes music comes along that changes your way of thinking, it even stays with you without you noticing it. A couple of pieces - LPs, concerts and the like - have stayed with me and kind of directed (or re-directed) my listening experience and eventually the music I play. In fact the first thing that influenced me was when my parents gave me a small 'dansette' (check out the link if you don't know what a dansette is) at the age of 6. There were two records with it, Rod McKuen 'Sloppy the Cat' and a sounds recording of the series 'The Lone Ranger'. I still remember these records even though they wore out years ago. Anyhow, I'm going to write about a few of these little by little, and after all let's hope I keep bumping into them.

Here's the first in the series - not necessarily in chronological order.

I saw this band at Lincoln Art College back in 1978 when I was studying there. My brother had offered me a copy of Harry Miller's Family Affair. I hadn't really understood the music, but it's underground nature (to me at least) appealed to me and I listened to the album from time to time hoping to find a way in. The way in was via Elton Dean's Ninesense as I was about to discover. This group (the concert and the people playing the music) changed my whole life and I ended becoming a professional musician - whatever that means. The music on these albums stayed with me and I listened to umpteen vinyl copies whilst at music college and in later years. Every-time I heard the first album (Happy Daze) I was amazed at how it kept it's freshness. The solos are without pretensions and the group playing is just sublime ....... and very powerful. Harry Miller, Keith Tippett and Louis Moholo are such a strong sounding rhythm section, very original in their approach. As one reviewer on Amazon put it : 'the rhythm section was awesome! Moholo, Miller and Tippett were exceptional in their ability to generate excitement.'  The first track on Happy Daze 'Nicrotto' is a track which when played live - I hadn't heard the album at that point - sounded as if the band were just tuning up, or doing a sound check. The whole group kind of build up over one chord with a very long crescendo. This creates a kind of wall of sound which then gently includes an ostinato like melody which changes with the chords. The other tunes are equally spectacular and maybe slightly more accessible Seven for Lee, Sweet F.A. and Three for All. These are more swinging tunes Seven for Lee being a hypnotic ostinato riff in 7/4.

The main thing I remember from this concert was the complete power of the ensemble and the way they (looking back on it) switched between free and more mainstream type of playing without making any concessions to either (check out Alan Skidmore's great Coltranesque solo on Sweet F.A.).

I even got a chance to hang with the band afterwards at there hotel in central Lincoln - due to being with a couple of nice looking girls who came along with me to the gig.

The second (in fact the first) album Oh, for the Edge is also excellent but due to the live recording the sound quality isn't so good (although good for the period). It almost translates the power of Ninesense live as I saw it. The tunes are slightly less of a standout, but that's maybe just a matter for the individual to decide. When I saw the group they were 'touring' the Happy Daze album which is way this music has stayed with me in a different way.

As for the music - stylistically - the best way to describe it is modern/free. The music passes from very free moments to strong melodic riffing and solos. Of course anybody who knows anything about the UK jazz scene in the 60s/70s will recognize the players and probably will also of heard this mythic band.

Those who are interested by Soft Machine, Brotherhood of Breath, Mingus etc should get themselves a copy ....... don't hesitate.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Journey - Mujician

The Journey - Mujician (2000)

Occasionally great albums come up that really influence you and change the way you play or think even. I'd heard Mujician several times over the past years, but somehow I'd not really sat and listened as i should have. Music seems to speak to you at strange moments, and of course depends on things such as your mood, your tastes, your age, your life (and so on). What I liked so much when hearing this album so recently was the fact that it almost sounds composed. I have re-thought the direction that my playing (and composing) should take through this album. Hopefully I'll be able to make music that will live up to this groups high standards!

If you enjoy the music from this group have a listen (or download) to the posts here from my improvising  group The OPen Source. We are trying to work a little in this direction, but the best thing is to check out the music and decide for yourself - the posts are here and here.

Here's a review I posted on Amazon : 

It's a long journey as they say, but you won't notice the time pass. Several reviewers have hit the nail on the head when they said that the music is often gentle and melodic, making it quite accessible to the newcomer to free-jazz. In fact what's great about Mujician is that although the music is fully improvised one is transported on (no pun intended) a musical journey. The music passes via very gentle melodic passages and more frenetic 'swinging' post Coltrane type music, but it never becomes a squeak-honk session and so retains the listeners attention, or at least mine.

This group must be really something to see in concert and several of their CDs are in fact recorded in front of a live audience - this one being recorded at the Bath Festival, I think it was a first appearance even!

Fans of music such as Supersilent, Soft Machine, Elton Dean, Harry Miller, may find this an interesting (good listen) also.

If you're interested by this disc and other Mujician CDs don't be put off by the price, have a look round the net as it's still available at very reasonable prices elsewhere. Of course if the price is right here ....... snap yourself up a copy before it's re-deleted!

::: Postscript - February 2011 :::

I was sad to read the other day (Sunday - 6th February 2011) that Tony Levin (watch Tony Levin's interviews on his blog) had passed away after a battle with lymph cancer. Interestingly enough I had the chance to jam with Tony on a few occasions, but in a more straight ahead context. At that period he often spent time in Brussels, Belgium working with Philippe Aerts an excellent bass player and composer. Philippe had a trio composed of John Ruocco  and Tony Levin, and being a young student studying jazz I naturally went often to catch the trio whenever they played in the Brussels region after all John Ruocco was our prophet, or as close as we could get to, when learning about playing jazz and developing 'far out concepts' (*). On those occasions Tony and Philippe would always hang around Le Travers jazz club on Monday evenings, which was 'the' jam of the week. Being as Philippe was always game to play at those sessions it meant that Tony would also get up and play with us and it was always very inspirational. Tony played a VERY heavy swing and pushed you to play for all your worth, and if I remember correctly he could play loud which made you really 'blow'! Years later when discovering Mujician I often thought back to those evenings at the Travers jamming and chatting (and drinking a few good Belgian beers!) with Tony who was a very unassuming character with a big smile and kind words.

*Maybe a small blogpost at a later stage concerning John.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.

Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.

If you've ever been a Wordpress blogger you've probably come up with this at some point. Well, I think it's time to change blogging systems and so will start moving my article and ideas bit by bit over to this blog.

Keep your eyes peeled!
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