Monday, January 2, 2012

Panorama

Since the summer, I've been listening to a lot more music.  This has been a fortunate benefit stemming from choosing to exercise more frequently.  Most days I now look forward to my uninterrupted listening time on the treadmill or stationary bike.

Around the same time, I decided to switch up my listening habits by asking my students for names of their favorite, cutting-edge, modern jazz artists and albums. At one point my iPod was filled only with unfamiliar names. It has been fun listening to albums "blind", without knowing the personnel or having preconceived notions or expectations about the musicians on the recording. Some discs were really enjoyable and downright inspiring. Others... well, not so much. In the next few posts I'll share some of my favorites, beginning with:

Hans Glawischnig - Panorama



I love this album from beginning to end, and it has warranted repeated listening.  For my tastes it has a near perfect balance of raunchy fire and subtle beauty.  Every tune was penned by the bassist leader and there is plenty of variety and interest.  Some of the highlights and standouts were:

  • Line Drive (the opening track), with its rhythmic piano figures and aggressive open fifths in the bass and piano.
  •  His effective use of unison lines (often including the bass!) on many tunes, including in Gypsy Tales and Oceanography, a contrafact melody on How Deep Is the Ocean.
  • Beneath the Waves features some beautiful, interactive / open / loose / out-of-time playing that falls somewhere between early Ornette Coleman and Euro-jazz from the E.C.M. label.  The drums and bass are exquisite here! [This is territory I plan to explore more in my own compositions in the near future.]
  • The ultra expressive arco bass on Orchids and the intro to Barretto's Way.

One of the major disadvantages to digital downloads is not having liner notes.  I'm one of those guys who has always devoured liner notes in an attempt to learn everything I can about the musicians and the music.  I keep them by my side as I listen, to verify who is soloing at any given moment.  It was strange not knowing who all I was hearing.

I incorrectly assumed that the same rhythm section was used throughout, with a few added guests on saxophone and guitar.  I thought I had discovered the world's most versatile drummer and the person I'd be calling for my next recording!  The pianist confused me because I heard Chick Corea-isms, but they weren't consistent from track to track.  I thought it was probably a young pianist under Chick's influence, or that Chick had been practicing some new material and was forced to play differently because he was dealing with someone else's tunes.  I did correctly guess that I was hearing David Binney and Ben Monder on Gypsy Tales.  In fact, the tune sounded a lot like one of Binney's, with its quirky ostinato bass and aggressive, distorted guitar paired with the alto sax.

Just today I checked the internet to confirm the actual roster.  Here it is:

Luis Perdomo, piano - tracks 1, 3-5, 7-9
Chick Corea, piano - tracks 2, 6
Dave Binney, alto sax - tracks 4, 8
Miguel Zenón, alto sax - tracks 1, 3, 7, 9
Rich Perry, tenor sax - track 5
Ben Monder, guitar - track 4
Antonio Sanchez, drums - tracks 4, 8
Jonathan Blake, drums - track 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
Marcus Gilmore, drums - track 2, 6

The album was recorded in 2005 and released in 2008 on Sunnyside Records.

Luis Perdomo will be someone I'll be checking out in much more detail.  What a pianist! --- chops, authority, inventiveness, style and sensitivity all rolled into one.

Miguel Zenón has also been on my playlist since the summer (with his Awake, Jibaro, Esta Plena and Ceremonial albums), so I wasn't entirely surprised to see him listed.  However, the three drummers threw me for a loop.  Listening to the album again with this knowledge, they all offer something special.  I loved how Marcus Gilmore "stirred the pot" and kept things interesting on slower tempos. 

I'm looking forward to a new release by Chick Corea entitled The Continents - Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra.  Gilmore and Glawischnig are paired together again.  It should be another great one!


4 comments:

  1. I too struggle with digital music w/o the marvelous and creative liner notes! Seems like you enjoyed listening "blind" otherwise!

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  2. Spotify has had me listening to a ton of music (yours included!). I love searching for different versions of a tune and using the different versions in class discussions of tempo, style, etc... Game changer for me as a teacher.

    Liner notes I agree with and musician recognition. I think that will come in time.

    Another thing you have to check out is the National Jukebox http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/ Amazing arcival recordings from the Sousa band to early jazz and blues. Great work.

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  3. @ Danielle: I sure did. I took a look at your blog this evening. Its great to see that your dream is still alive! Happy New Year to you and Dave.

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  4. @ Brandt: Thanks for these great tips. I will check these out. Sometimes I find it hard to keep up with the rate of change in technology and music. Just when I think I've got a handle on it, BAM... there's something new to grasp. :) These sound useful.

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