Listen to the Unpopular Music webcast on, Saturdays 12 noon -2pm
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Friday, December 26, 2014

Webcast info for December 27, 2014

No new show this week. I'm out of town and the SCATV studios are closed anyway. So Unpopular music will proudly present a repeat of the episode from May 10th. 

Update: It seems no show aired today. There will be a new live show next week, so please check back.

The playlist is can be found here. This program also features program notes. (I should do that again sometime)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for December 20, 2014

As threatened promised, a program of unpopular Christmas music. (Well some of it may not be actually unpopular, but at least it's, perhaps, less than ubiquitous.) Plus, a few more links than usual for your Christmas stocking.

Don you now your gay apparel, and rest ye merry after the break...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for December 13, 2014

We have a kind of all over the place show today. The second hour features a set of some of my father's favorite recordings to mark what would have been his 100th birthday, so a bit more piano music from the Romantic Era that usual (not that that's a bad thing).

See the whole playlist after the break...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A welcome and triumphant return

One of my radio heroes, Charlie (of Busy Doing Nothing on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio stream) recently returned to the fiber-optic waves after taking a year or so off, and has quickly returned to top form with a show dedicated to the shopping insanity that consumes (no pun intended, but there it is) America all year long, but particularly in December.

Not everyone can segue from Philip Glass to Fannie Flagg without flinching (or causing flinching), but including this in a set that also includes Nat King Cole, the Monkees, Biz Markie, Hank Williams, Paul McCartney, motivational speakers, and an story about the racist packaging of frozen vegetables (among other things),  all while making a sharp sociological commentary, I can only hope to ever do something like this.

Bravo. Welcome back.

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for December 6, 2014

So it's only December 6th, and I'm already fleeing businesses playing either post-Beatles Christmas song (ever grateful that George became a Hindu). You'll have no such trouble with this week's playlist, pretty much a jazz show as I'm not feeling terribly ambitious this week.

Swing along after the break...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music web cast for November 29, 2014

No Thanksgiving, Christmas, Black Friday, food coma, football or even Star Wars references in this show (I even regret referring to them in this sentence), just a relatively jazzy playlist after the break for the last Saturday in November.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence because an international cartel of executives have scientifically determined what shade of green you prefer.

An article by Derek Thompson from the Atlantic  looks into the ways the major media companies use Shazam, Spotify and other digital music services to quantify the audience's preferences, and use them in the marketing, and sadly, even the production of what he calls the "dispiriting sameness in pop music".

I encourage reading it as the article confirms several suspicions of mine. But, I'll break out a few points for comment. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Video for today

DakhaBrakha is a Ukrainian ancient-to-modern group who are playing in Cambridge on Saturday. Here's a performance from Prarie Home Companion. Almost as entertaining as the music are the not impressed audience members (?) in the background, waiting for Garrison Keillor to hilariously (?) expound on potato salad or something wild like that.

Ticket info, and a few more videos are here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Three videos for November 16, 2014

Here are three random videos I came across this week. They're not at all connected and have their own significance, and no relationship between them is implied.

Fist we have an IBM commercial, of all things, directed by Jim Henson, of all people, with music by Raymond Scott (well, he at least is partly known for liking to use machines to generate ideas).

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music web cast for November 15, 2014

Another week, another playlist and not much else I'm sorry to say,

I did enjoy Robyn Hitchcock's performance at the Armory of the Arts on Wednesday. Looking forward to Sarah Cahill's recital at MIT tomorrow and Roomful of Teeth's performance on Friday in the same series.

But enough about me, the playlist is as usual, after the break, along with a link to some classic jazz nerd arguments....

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music web cast for November 8, 2014



Oscar Wilde, here again to remind you that consistency is the realm of the unimaginative.
Today's example, after the break, as usual...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Top 7 for the time since I last did one of these posts

A Better Tomorrow + I Say a Little Prayer by Ground Zero

from Ground Zero Plays Standards

An epic blowout medley of the theme from a John Woo / Chow Yun-fat movie, and Roland Kirk's arrangement of the Bacharach and David number (with a quick Chopin quote for good measure). I'm not at all familiar with this group outside of this record, which is sort of a Naked City or Oranj Symphonette type idea (minus the hardcore screaming). The minute-and-a-half of record noise at the end gives you a soothing chance to wind down.

My Brightest Diamond at The Sinclair in Cambridge MA, September 22nd

Shara Worden is one of my favorite voices in pop music today and a fantastically creative all-around musician. This show did not disappoint. She was even loose and funny (my one reservation about her is that she can be kind of pretentious and theatrical and maybe a little precious in a Kate Bush kind of way). But her music grabs me in a way that Bush's does not (or not enough). All in all a great show (but, everyone, let's keep "Fever" on the shelf for a while, okay)

 Saare piiga laul merest (Island Maiden's Song from the Sea) by Lepo Sumera

as performed by Tonu Kaljuste conducting the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallin Chamber Orchestra

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for October 25, 2014

More writing soon, I promise (not that anybody's really waiting for it, but for my own good)

Anyway here's today's playlist for a particularly noisy edition of Unpopular Music, after the break....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for October 4, 2014


Happy National Taco Day everyone!! I am fortunate enough to do the webcast across the street from a fine Mexican restaurant, but how will you be celebrating? Were you able to get through yesterday's cognitive dissonance of it being both the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and National Smile Day? Did you attempt, like I did, to make your co-workers atone for celebrating National Smile Day in the first place? Were you even aware of National Smile Day? Lucky you.

Anyway, this is one of those kitchen sink kind of shows, a whole enchilada, if you will (no, no, National Taco Day), where styles shift dramatically from song to song and back again. But it's all good and I trust you, the listener, can appreciate it all.

Find today's playlist después de la ruptura.... (FYI, there is no taco related music in today's webcast)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for September 27, 2014

Greetings blog visitors!!

Continued apologies for not having much to offer lately.

There is however this week's playlist after the break...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for September 20, 2014

I'd always been amused since I'd first learned that John Coltrane, Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen all have the same birthday, September 23rd. But, then I did a little digging, I found there were many other musicians, if not as significant as those above, with that same birthday. A quick scroll through IMDB, only because it's easy to look people up by their birthday there, turns up the following - Les McCann, Julio Iglesias, Jermaine Dupri, Ani Difranco,  folklorist John A. Lomax, the guy who wrote "The Sidewalks of New York" James W. Blake, sometime musical theater performers Mickey Rooney and Jason Alexander and the owner of CBGB's Hilly Kristal. There's plenty more.

We only hear from a select few of them in the program (you're welcome), and while I give no credence to astrology (you may if you like), this is kind of amusing.

Blow out the candles after the break...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bottom 2 for September 13th, 2014

The iCloud

I hate the iCloud. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Sure, it's nice to have the possibility of recovering lost files, but the lack of user control over it just increases the feeling that Apple can't relinquish ownership of whatever it sells to you, or let you use it in an a way in which they don't approve. Especially from the iTunes store. I've never been a fan of the iTunes store. I find it difficult to browse, and am still stung by the early days when you were stuck only being able to play it on the computer that downloaded it, or approved devices, and its unique file type that you can't edit of mess around with. There are a few songs from the DRM era that I can't play anymore because I've gone through that many computers.

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for September 13, 2014

Alas, another week where the only post is the playlist.

Here's this weeks show without the panic in the studio, after the break ...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Top 4 for September 4, 2014

Short and sweet today, little if any explanation --

Bad Mango - Dave Douglas and Sō Percussion

from album of the same name, Vol. 3 of Dave's GPS set.

Let's Call This - Thelonious Monk 

from the famous Friday the 13th, 1953  session. One of your better bebop French horn solos. I always confuse this song with "Let's Cool One". This is the trickier and less often played one.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Top 5 for September 3, 2014

She Cries Your Name by Beth Orton

The majestic opening to the Trailer Park album, the haunting voice and the eerie ominous strings, plus a nice dancy beat.

Don't Ever Let Me Know - Bobby Fuller Four

Super catchy pop song bliss. Tambourines and hand claps, six against four, catchy melodies. Nice.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

No. 1 for September 2, 2014

I had toyed with the idea of doing a Labor Day themed program for last weekend, as I had done for Memorial Day and the 4th of July, but I ironically got lazy or too distracted to put together a tribute to the working man (and ladies, too). Have no fear, the wonderful DJ Therese over at WFMU put together a fine Labor Day playlist. I've only had a chance to listen to the very beginning (I'm assuming Sonic Youth's "Swimsuit Issue" is a request from Senator Gillibrand), but perusing the list, it's far better than what I would have presented (and that's why she's there and I'm here)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No. 1 for August 31, 2014

tUnE-yArDs In Concert

From NPR's Front Row series, Merrill Garbus and her current associates recorded at June 13, 2014 Washington DC's 9:30 club. A fine performance, mostly drawn from her new album Nikki Nack. It made me wish we wish I was there.

Check it out here. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Webcast info for August 30, 2014

Since the SCATV building is closed and I'll be doing some traveling, today's webcast will be a rerun of the June 7th program. You can find the playlist here. This program apparently ran a little bit short, so I was able to squeeze in a Labor Day bonus track from Billy Bragg, There Is Power in a Union from the mystery live set that replaces the DVD's when you download the Billy Bragg Vol. 1 box set from emusic.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Labor Day Weekend preview

Market Basket on Somerville Ave, at 2:30, Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014
Labor Day has a bona fide labor victory to celebrate this year. Lost in coverage of the seeming cult of personality around "Artie T." was that one of the things apparently at stake here is a good old-fashioned defined benefits pension program. So congratulations are in order to the workers and also the store-level management (who, let's face it, probably have a better shot at said pensions) for standing up to the corporate greed mongers. The picture above is one result of their action, the much-beloved Somerville Ave Market Basket, that on a Saturday afternoon would normally be overflowing with cars and shoppers. looking pretty much barren.

UPDATE - This, of course, doesn't mean they get to take Labor Day off.

The larger point being, Boston Free Radio's home base, Somerville Community Access Television, closes up shop for the holiday weekend, so this Saturday, no live show, and this time no pre-recorded show either but a rerun of the June 7th episode.

Top 6 for August 28, 2014

Don't know how long I can keep this up, but here goes...

Dvorák's Slavonic Dance Op. 46 No. 1 played by Rafael Kubelik and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

I've often referred to this very vigorous performance of these Romantic Era chestnuts as "the Slavonic Slamdances". A good way to get the blood pumping early in the morning, I tells ya.

Lula - Barney Brigard, Benny Carter and Ben Webster

From BBB, this group of 30's jazz legends recorded in the 60's, playing in the past and present tenses simultaneously, that is, playing old school without nostalgia.

Jodi by The Dodos

A rockin' little tune I downloaded off a free sampler somewhere.

Dart Night at the Willow by the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet

Commemorating the loss of their weekly gig at the Willow Jazz Club to said activity, some furious blowing by the horns in the band - Matt Langley on alto, John Carlson on trumpet and the leader on baritone.

Semi-Simple Variations by the Bad Plus

A knotty piano piece by Milton Babbitt (although far from his knottiest) arranged for jazz piano trio. From the album For All I Care. There's a video, too!

The Rock Concert: Madison WI, April 9, 2005 by the Jazz Passengers

Sponsored by  the University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum to celebrate the Univeristy's possesion of one of the oldest pieces of rock known to exist, this hour long works tells a very shaggy-dog story about the rock's origins in 1950's Brooklyn. A randomly found edition of WFMU's Miniature Minotaurs program. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Top 3 for August 27, 2014

Again today, because consist... oh shut up about that.

Bud Powell  - Chick Corea and Gary Burton

From In Concert - Zurich, October 28, 1979. Recorded, oh... right
Chick's knotty little tune to one of bebop's greats gets a cool but swinging performance in cool but swinging Zurich.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top 5 for August 26, 2014

Haven't done this in a while, but, you know, ... last refuge, blah, blah, blah.

Red Planet  - Eric Dolphy 

from The Illinois Concert, 1963  with a young Herbie Hancock on piano and an Africa Brass type brass ensemble.

Abe Lincoln - Best Friends Forever

from their self titled album. Always intrigued by this band's naive and rough vocals (some dawgs would call it pitchy), but really tight instrumental skills and arrangements.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music web cast for August 23, 2014

I once heard the pianist Larry Willis make a zen-like remark about how when you are playing jazz, you are playing a song, but also not playing it at the same time. Think of that while listening to the second hour of the program.

If you want the playlist, you can find it after the break...

liner note nostalgia

While making an mp3 from this record for today's show, I reread the liner notes for Branford Marsalis' Random Abstract written by his younger brother, album producer, and one-time down-the-hall-neighbor of the blog Delfayo Marsalis, and was reminded, not without nostalgia I'll admit, of the self-confident bullshit one can pour out regarding a subject one feels strongly about when one is in his or her early twenties. (not that he's wrong, necessarily, about any of this.) The paragraph below is a typical example of an attitude common around Famous Music College (site of said hallway) at this time (the late 80's). (At that time your opinion on fusion could either bond or antagonize people the way your opinion on, say, Obamacare for example, will today.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

preview for Saturday's webcast

Oscar Wilde once said "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." Will tomorrow's webcast be more consistent than its usual ad hoc nature? Possibly yes, possibly no.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for August 16, 2014

Bum a ride on the omnibus of art with today's playlist.

Today's opening is taken from Roger Corman's beatnik murder tale A Bucket of Blood. It's a hoot and a holler daddy-o, like wow you know. Here's the complete film. It's barely over an hour long and makes for good rainy-day entertainment.

The show ends with a remembrance of Robin Williams. Despite some of his corny, hammy and maudlin performances, I always remained a fan (I went as Mork for Halloween in 1979, or so, after all).

Become closer to immortality after the break...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for August 9, 2014


I should blog more. I know.

There is, however, a playlist beyond the break...

Find another playlist to be part of

 I saw a link this morning to this article at called "10 Protest Songs to Remember Richard Nixon", marking the 40th anniversary of his resignation. It starts out well with an overlooked Stevie Wonder song and the obvious Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young one before going off the rails with Elton John's nostalgia piece for his early career and a love song to George Wallace which happens to mention Watergate in passing. (I'll even admit the James Taylor one isn't half bad).

Friday, August 1, 2014

Webcast info for August 2, 2014

Since I am out of town for most of this week we're playing a rerun of the April 26 webcast.

For whatever reason, this program has accumulated more views than any other playlist, so to satiate whoever is checking this out, here's a chance to listen.

On a similar note, I've been going through the previous programs, preparing them for archiving on the the site. Hopefully they'll start showing up in a week or two.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for July 26, 2014

[insert snappy introduction to the playlist here]

More inspiration went into putting the program together, I swear. Trust me, after the break....

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for July 19, 2014

This week we pay tribute to the great Charlie Haden. As it turns out, we also have several Ornette Coleman tunes and an array of modern big bands. Plus, well actually included in the above, a couple of tunes dedicated to famous communists.

Lose your chains after the break ...

Chrlie Haden on Democracy Now!

Here's Charlie Haden talking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (heard weekdays at 4PM on Boston Free Radio by the way), including his recollections on being arrested in Portugal in 1970 after dedicating Song for Che to anticolonialist movements in Portugal's African colonies. Quite the tale.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for July 12, 2014

So I was up late last night putting together the jigsaw puzzle which is this show, and then woke up this morning and read the news that the Charlie Haden has died.

Doing this program for about four months now, I've been struggling a bit to avoid the over-repetition of certain artists, Charlie Haden among them. Today's program is a mixed success on that front, but there was no Charlie. I did go back and take out a couple of the more arbitrary choices ("OK, I need an upbeat 2:46 to go before the promo at the bottom of the hour") and replaced them with some Charlie Haden features. I'll surely have some more next week. (Many appearances as a sideman can help get around Live 365's rather arbitrary (IMHO) but strictly enforced rules about playing multiple tracks from the same artist.)

The complete playlist is after the break....

Lie back in your easy-chair and meet my polar opposite

I came across this post on Listverse titled "10 Pieces of Music to Make Your Ears Bleed" in which the author lists 10 "unlistenable" pieces of classical music, almost all of them bedrock staples of the 20th century repertoire (‘Gesang Der Junglinge’ by Stockhausen, Penderecki's Threnody, Berg's Wozzeck, Varèse's Ionisation) and highly influential on later generations.

The post brought to mind the quote from Charles Ives - "Is not beauty in music too often confused with something which lets the ears lie back in an easy-chair?" [from the "Postface to 114 Songs" which can be read here.]

Rather than describing this music as "unlistenable", I would say this is music to which you have to listen, it requires you to be an active listener, to be a participant in the music making experience, not just sit there and passively give up a predetermined  response.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bang on a Can Marathon, June 22, 2014

Listeners of the webcast are probably familiar (perhaps too familiar) with my admiration for Bang on a Can, the New York based organization founded and run by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe to promote their own, and other similarly minded composers' music. Their aesthetic is to basically (and this is my own generalization here) augment or perhaps subvert, various 20th century composition techniques with outside elements like jazz, rock, world and early musics. Besides promoting their own work, Band on a Can serves as a forum for the work of their colleagues, peers, students, teachers and influences.

One of the most visible and popular presentations is their early summer marathon concert in New York City. This is the first year various stars have aligned enough for me to attend, and it was a worthwhile experience. What follows is a brief rundown of the day.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Preview - RIP Messrs. Goffin, Hyla and Silver

I'm plotting out some tributes in this week's webcast for the three great yet diverse musicians who died in the last week or so, the quintessential hard-bop pianist Horace Silver, the brilliant popsong lyricist Gerry Goffin, and the under-appreciated, multifaceted composer Lee Hyla.

Doing some research while trying to decide whether to feature Hyla's bass clarinet or violin concerto, I came across this article which certainly shows some similarities between his and the blog's ideals - the melange of influences, the idea that the audience has an active role in the musical experience, and others. A mutual music biz acquaintance actually tried once to get us to meet and talk, thinking we'd get along well, but it didn't really come off.

Anyway, the bass clarinet concerto is a better fit, the violin concerto is too long, but the first ten minutes or so make a distinct section (including an amazing solo cadenza) which could be cleaved off to fit in. Which ever doesn't get played tomorrow will probably show up later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Peter Serkin endorses the webcast...

... Well not really, but I think this quote from the great eclectic pianist about his own programming is simpatico with a program that will combine Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw with Stravinsky and Berio because they're all using accordions.
I prefer programs which are neither overly ingratiating nor didactic. I think that programs show integrity when there is no attempt to win anyone over at all. We can welcome programs that are somewhat challenging. It is out of respect for the intelligence of an audience that one plays programs that may not be particularly easy to listen to, but that present something genuine, with integrity. Anyhow, how can one possibly determine what is “easy” or “difficult” to listen to for someone else—is Beethoven really easier to listen to than Wolpe or Wuorinen? In any case, we do not need to shirk from that which may be more outrageous and provocative; people do want to hear interesting music.
You can find the whole interview here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Preview / Warning

June is National Accordion Awareness Month, something I can hardly let go uncelebrated. Therefore a large part of this week's webcast will be devoted to increasing your awareness.

Choice of repertoire was capricious and arbitrary, as usual. No attempt at comprehensiveness was made. I kept coming across the same Frankie Yankovic CD at one of my regular thrift shop stops, but I was able to resist, and not buy it just to put it on the webcast (your welcome). There will be no polkas or Lady of Spain. There will be Berio, Ligeti, and Stravinsky among others. There's an Astor Piazzola that might not make the final cut. Nor is there any Weird Al. Nor that Who song.

My criteria were
  • 1.) Does this have an accordion on it? 
  • 2.) Do I like it?
If the webcast doesn't satiate you, the Somerville Arts Council is sponsoring Squeezebox Slam 2014, featuring accordionists strolling around the city before gathering in Seven Hills Park (behind the Davis Square T-Station) for a performance.

Tune in and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Makanda Project with Oliver Lake at the BPL, Dudley Square, May 30, 2014

The Makanda Project is dedicated to performing works by the late saxophonist and composer Makanda Ken McIntyre. The pianist and band leader John Kordalewski was given access to many unperformed tunes and scores, and has assembled a band featuring several of Boston's best musicians (among them John Lockwood, Charlie Kohlhase, Kurtis Rivers, Yoron Israel and Jerry Sabatini), plus the occasional special guest, to bring them to life. Their home base is the drab but cozy auditorium at the Boston Public Library's Dudley Square Branch (beautifully lit up at night), in the desire to present the music in the community where McIntyre grew up.

Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage, together at last!

Here's something right up my alley, that you all may also enjoy -- the pianist David Greilsammer alternating pieces by Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage recorded live at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Courtesy of Q2, the fantastic new-music internet radio station in New York.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Link to the missing link

Even though I'll play it next week, you can go here to hear The Minutemen's The Price of Paradise, inadvertently left off the Memorial Day playlist.

Program notes for the Unpopular Music webcast for May 24, 2014

Sun Ra always insisted he was an angel from Saturn, so on this Saturn's day we will devote some time to honor his 100th birthday. Herman Blount was born on May 22, 1914, and started going by Le Sony'r Ra somewhere around 1950. Sun Ra is one of those musicians who seems to be able to call up any point of the jazz tradition at any given moment, and has a band full of musicians who can do the same. (As with Duke Ellington's orchestra, several men spent the bulk of their adult lives playing in the Arkestra, even, unlike Duke's band, living communally when not on the road.) Like I say on the show, the over simplification is that he harks back to the Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie type of (black) swing bands from the thirties, with a broader (not “better” like I said) sense of harmony and counterpoint, and also a greater influence of African and eastern rhythmic concepts. Kingdom of Not and the whole of the Supersonic Jazz album demonstrates this. The other strain is the free-jazz type, influenced by African and Eastern mythology (particularly Egyptian). The Magic City album, from which the Shadow World is taken, is mostly made up of conducted improvisations.

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for May 24, 2014

Commemorating Sun Ra's 100th birthday and Memorial Day Weekend. Read the program notes here.

See the playlist when you push that button...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Playlist for the May 17, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

Gather, round people, wherever you roll...

(sorry best I could come up with to fill this space right now)

playlist after the break .....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Top 5 for May 15, 2014

In my time of dying – Led Zeppelin, from Physical Graffiti

Oh let's see here, the label says this is an original composition by the four members of the band from 1974. Um, wait, didn't Bob Dylan record this song twelve years earlier? I mean this song was probably 100 years old, but by this time Jimmy Page's habit of putting his name on other people's songs was well ingrained. And, after all, you get paid a lot more for writing a song than for arranging one. This is what Homer Simpson is talking about when he call Page “one of the greatest thieves of American music” (And to think he was recently honored by the institution that once granted me a degree in composition.)

(Sure, Dylan's capable of this too, but he's usually pretty blatant about it, as if he wants to get caught in order to promote the source. His recording says “traditional arr. Dylan” but he probably copped the arrangement from Dave van Ronk or somebody).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An underappreciated time in jazz history

After following a link for a different post, I found this list of great jazz records from 1973 to 1990 on the blog of the great music critic (and new Boston Globe hire) Steve Smith. It's a response to a similar list compiled by Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson. It's a period on which I've been focusing a bit, myself, And since I can only play so much of it on the webcast, I'll use this venue to share it with you.

These dates supposedly represent a fallow period for jazz (those various fusions again), especaially to the "Jazz Establishment" of the time (and later times). They were certainly considered as some kind of dark age during my time at Famous Music College in the late '80s - early '90s, an advent to the neo-classical age in which we were then living, ranging from the Marsalis camp at one end with the far-out edge being are Pat Metheny and John Scofield. (Well, there were some of us into Bill Frisell and John Zorn*). But now, 25 or so years later, I keep finding it too be a rich and underappreciated time in America's greatest artform.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Program notes for the May 10, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

The blog seems to have gotten away from “top [fill-in-the-blank] of [today's date]” format, which was really the format of the (off-line) music journal I'd been keeping for myself, largely as a writing exercise (itself, largely as an effort to “just do something”). The process of singling out a song, or two, or five, or whatever to write about has largely been replaced by adding said two-to-whatever songs to the playlist for the next webcast. So now, to get some more writing done, and, let's face it, create some more “content” for the blog, I'm going to try (at least this week) to write some “program notes” for the webcast.

I first heard Katie Lee singing Real Sick Sounds on a compilation called “Beat Jazz - Pictures from the Gone World volume 2” and enjoyed it's depiction of the lover of dissonant and off-beat music. Further research led me to the album “Songs of Couch and Consultation” a sort-of song cycle of psychologically themed songs which also include The Will to Fail, the Guilty Rag, Shrinker Man, and others, collectively a hoot-and-a-holler.

Playlist for the May 10, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

Posted at the time of broadcast since I wasn't up for recording too many mic breaks

after the break...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Playlist for the May 3, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

For your post May Day, pre-Cinco de Mayo enjoyment, in which I somehow talk myself into a corner where I need to make the clarifying statement "Nazi's suck".

after the break

Thursday, May 1, 2014

More thoughts on genre

Oy, I've been neglecting the blog a bit!

Well. I just finished putting Saturday's show together, and it's a bit all over the place, as usual, I guess, but perhaps a bit more so.

A last minute search to clear up some foggy notes I had made for last week's show led me to look up the liner notes for John Schott's Shuffle Play album which contains the following statement from the composer

For a brief moment at the birth of recording, before the existence of the recording “industry,” notions of style, genre, and even taste evaporated. Sound was documented pretty much at random, with a quasi-democracy characteristic of the New World.

Now we find ourselves perhaps at the other end  of the recording "industry" I think some of these notions of style, genre, and taste are (or at least should be) changing. So if Franz Liszt and Julius Hemphill and Billy Bragg can share space in my head, perhaps they can in yours too.

Anyway, the notes as whole are pretty interesting and a pretty much in line with my own thinking, and you can check them out here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Two Nights at the Regattabar

Dave Douglas' Riverside, April 17, 2014

It took a bit of convincing myself to go to this show. I mean Dave Douglas, sure. Steve Swallow, a definite plus. But who are these other guys? Well, the Times speaks highly of this Chet Doxas fellow. Oh, but the group is an homage to Jimmy Giuffre? OK, let's go!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Playlist for the April 19, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

A pre-recorded show for the Easter/Patriot's Day/Boston Marathon/Record Store Day/Earth Day weekend (hence shabby sounding, bedroom recorded mic breaks)

After the break...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Down with Poptimism!!

(in which I lapse into grandiosity)

For those of you lucky enough to receive the Somerville Community Access TV newsletter, you read a blurb for my program (not written by me) which I think made it out to be more exclusive and snobby than I intend it to be. (and this is mostly my fault since I've been terrible at describing the show, I'm not mad at anyone over it) To be clear, I'm not aiming for the select few, but I (and I'm sure everyone on Boston Free Radio) am trying to bring forward an alternative to pop radio hegemony. I certainly don't want to be one of those dj's who are too cool to even like the music they play.

Which brings me to

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Catching up, Part 2

Remanence: Monstrance/Remonstrance at the ICA Boston (March 29, 2014)

An extravagance presented by the artist Matthew Ritchie and the musicians Bryce Dessner, Shara Worden, David Sheppard and Evan Ziporyn. We began in the lobby of the ICA facing a large mural by Ritchie with light projections above and seated on the floor on foam rubber pads sharing the same amoeba-like design (for serious lack of a better description). The musical component, a collaboration between Dessner and Ziporyn titled "Propolis", a sort of structured improvisation for violin, trombone, bass clarinet, double bass and highly electronically manipulated electric guitar, transformed by Sheppard's sound design, emitting through speakers on all sides and above the audience. The audience is immersed in sound, also somewhat amoeba-like in shape, as Sheppard records the ensembles playing, manipulates it, creating loops and such for the players to respond further etc, etc. Some very fascinating, beautiful, scary music ensued.

Playlist for the April 12, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

Commemorating (but not celebrating) the 50th anniversary of the Senate (eventually overcome) filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  (and other things too)

Find the playlist after the break...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Playlist for the April 5, 2014 Unpopular Music webcast

In which I manage to not play anything with Bill Frisell (except for the theme). Next week we'll try Joey Baron (except for the theme).

Playlist after the break

Jason Moran's Fats Waller Dance Party

Just a couple of thoughts on last night's somewhat enjoyable, somewhat maddening performance of Jason Moran's Fats Waller Dance Party at the Berklee Performance Center.

First of all, as a performer, you don't always get the audience you want. That's the way it goes. It's your job as a professional, though, to find a way to engage the audience (without resorting to pandering) or failing that, perform for your own pleasure, and if the audience doesn't catch up, it's their loss. I, however, despise being implored by someone on stage to react to the performance other than how I am, especially when it's not the person whose name is on the ticket.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Correcting Bob's grammar

I don't really go around being a persnickety grammar enforcer, but every time I hear Positively 4th Street, I cringe at "you know as well as me, you'd rather see me paralyzed", not only for the grammar, but for how "I" would rhyme with "paralyzed". I guess "me" makes an OK internal rhyme with "see", but it's not worth it.

Someone might argue "no man, he's saying the guy knows he'd rather see Bob paralyzed as well as he knows Bob", but it's just time to take that person in out of the sun, cause obviously Bob is arguing that this person doesn't know him very well at all.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Catching up, part one

Some real life (let's call it) stuff over the last couple of weeks have kept me from my already erratic blogging schedule. Here's the first part of stuff I've been meaning to write about.

Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing) – Benny Goodman Orchestra from Live at Carnegie Hall (1938)

Pretty much used to signify “old people music” these days, give it a close listen sometime, it's quite a bit more modern than you'd expect, especially once we move part the point where the original 78 ends (around the 3:45 mark). After a tenor sax solos over punchy brass and Krupa's tribal syncopations, some tight canons in a somewhat Arabic sounding scale weave their way along to a rapid fire trumpet solo by Harry James. After an ensemble passage, Goodman solos again with active interplay with Jess Stacy on piano and Krupa's drums. The playing is freer and more improvisatory than the big bands of that time are usually given credit for (especially the white ones). Stacy's solo in particular is revelatory. And Krupa's drumming, constantly coming up with subtle shifts and variations of the famous pounding introduction, fuels this performance as the climax of a triumphant evening.