Mark Corotto takes a look down the road less travelled.
I'm here to tell you that everything you thought about the making of a modern jazz records is wrong. The notion that there are talent agents selling concepts to record companies--wrong. That bands work on tunes, perfecting them for months before entering the studio--wrong. That jazz musicians make money from records--again, wrong. I had the first-hand experience of observing how saxophonist Pete Mills put together his latest recording Sweet Shadow (Cellar Live, 2014) from conception to release. If you take one thing away from this journey, it is that fish got to fly, birds got to swim, and ...read more
To paraphrase Jeffrey Lebowski, aka The Dude (or El Dudarino, if you are not into the brevity thing), I've had a rough night, and I hate the fucking Grateful Dead, man." Actually, The Dude said the Eagles" (and I guess I'm obliged to agree with him), but for me the Dead seem to always get under my skin. Someone is always saying to me, you dig jazz, check out this Dead concert from..." and then they name some date and muddy field somewhere. I usually listen out of courtesy, or because I'm sitting on their sofa, and I ...read more
This month, at the halfway point in the year of music, we are taking stock, and there have been so many great discs released. Here is my list (in no particular order) of the best albums so far. I predict many of these will make final top ten 2013 lists. Sorry, I couldn't keep my list to ten.The Ex & Brass Unbound--Enormous Door (Ex Records) Federico Ughi--Federico Ughi Quartet (FMR) Rachel Musson/Mark Sanders/Steve Noble--Tatterdemalion (Babel) Matt Parker--Worlds Put Together (BYNK) Petr Cancura--Down Home (Roots To Boot) Hashem Assadullahi Quintet--Pieces (OA2) Frank Rosaly--Cicada Music (Delmark) Fire! Orchestra--Exit! (Rune Grammofon) ...read more
"Would you support an art strike?" That's the question I've been asking musicians for the past few months. Will you agree to stop writing and performing music for one year?" In 1990 the London artists Stewart Home and Mark Pawson proposed that all artists cease to make, exhibit, distribute, sell, or discuss their work" for three years. They also called upon galleries, museums, alternative spaces, clubs, and concert halls to cease operations for that period. Their goal was to draw back the curtain on Art" (capital 'A') and the mystical act of its production, and reveal the truth ...read more
Jazz listeners travel some strange and beautiful paths. It might have all begun with collectors trying to find a legendary Edison cylinder that New Orleans trumpeter Buddy Bolden--some believe to be the very first jazz musician--may (or may not) have recorded in 1904. Fast forward to modern times, a quick scan of eBay and the exorbitant prices bid for long out-of-print Free Music Production (FMP) LPs or alternative releases. $150 for Peter Brötzmann's first solo recording and $175, for the Japanese release of the Lounge Lizards' Big Heart (Absord Music, 2004) (which contains three extra tracks) is what a collector ...read more
In consumer culture, where we are all guilty of looking for the next new thing, the emphasis is always on new releases, and what the next, best, super-improved product will be. It seems that even before this week's movie opens, we are being told about next week's blockbuster.Before we turn our attention fully to 2013, here are some 2012 releases that deserve a listen.Sam Newsome The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 Self Produced 2012When something is as graceful as an athletic touchdown catch or as beautiful as a landscape, it is quite easy ...read more
..."the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..." Jack Kerouac, On the Road (Viking Press, 1957)Bill LaswellMethod Of DeliveranceInnerhythmic2012The very essence of music, and music as communication, has to be folk--the people's music. The original roots music, folk can be defined as sound ...read more
Merzbow MerzbientSoleilmoon Recordings 2012 Are you of the mind, that in the big scheme of things, the really big scheme of things, there are no accidents? That everything happens for a purpose? Call it synchronicity or a Shirley MacLaine cake recipe, and I'm sure Kevin Bacon would agree, that fate or destiny plays a role in everyone's life, even a music critic. What am I talking about? I'm talking about kismet. The revelation, that just as I was about to begin a meditation practice, this huge 18-LP boxset from the Japanese ...read more
Flying over the Grand Canyon on your way to Las Vegas is one way to see that huge gash in the earth, and standing on the banks of the Colorado River is another. From one perspective depth cannot be appreciated, from the other the enormity of it all. Such is the case with modern improvised music. Listeners often maneuver in the dark, catching a glimpse here and a glance there, but to take in the enormity of it is quite impossible.The compiled list below details the some of the best music releases from the first half of 2012. ...read more
Jazz comes at you from so many directions these days, that to rely on just one definition, is not enough. Sure, it can be a blues-based rhythmic music but it is also minimalist free improvisation. Pigeonholing something, such as jazz, always separates and eventually segregates supporters, creating conflicts and in the end lessening the whole.Maybe that's why so many jazz" artists these days eschew the label. Is it also why many jazz fests" have quasi-rock, blues and easy-listening acts? Well, maybe not so much. The festivals try to attract listeners in big numbers, and jazz isn't and has ...read more
I have good news and bad news. The bad news is the big record companies are dead. The good news is the big record companies are dead. Gone are the days of Columbia Records signing trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to a million dollar contract and then promoting the hell out of his vision of jazz, selling his records and supporting his touring. While the major labels were reassessing all forms of music from pop to hip-hop, jazz slipped further and further off the national radar. Sales of jazz recordings fell from 2% of total sales to something like 1%.But ...read more
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