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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.