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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for June 27, 2015

Another week, another American musical legend is gone. This time it's composer, conductor, educator, hornist, and musical philosopher Gunther Schuller. It is mostly the philosophical role that's influenced me, the idea that jazz could be as serious and sophisticated and "classical" music, and certainly not to be considered a lesser art form. His attempts to meld the two worlds, the so-called "third stream", were perhaps bested by others, although his contributions are not easily dismissed. (And, as Ethan Iverson points out, the third-stream identification distracts from his status as an premier modernist composer.)

Image result for gunther schullerI'd been listening to Ran Blake's excellent new album Ghost Tones, itself a tribute to the late George Russell, when I heard the news. Blake and Russell were Schuller's star hires for what was at the time New England Conservatory's Third Stream department (now known as the Creative Improvisation department), and both men have created works of substance and innovation, bringing academic ideas into jazz, as Schuller imagined. And so, that album became a jumping off point for this webcast. I tried to make some connections from these three, and other musicians associated with Schuller as well - Miles Davis and Gil Evans (Schuller played horn on Birth of the Cool and Porgy & Bess), Ornette Coleman (whom Schuller tried to tutor until Coleman felt he was being led from his instincts), fellow Birth of the Cool alum Gerry Mulligan, Joe Lovano (with whom Schuller collaborated on the fantastic Rush Hour album), Stan Kenton, who had his own third-stream ideas, object of admiration and inspiration Duke Ellington and one time NEC professor Jimmy Giuffre. (I couldn't find the right Mingus selection).

See the playlist after the break ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lonlier Woman


There are days when I'm afraid this is tuning into a WFMU fan blog. And I can't deny it's influence on the webcast, even if it's just in a "I heard it there first" way or even in a "if they can do that, I can too" way. But I must admit I had no idea last summer when I had the notion to devote most of the second hour of the program to five versions of Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman that the November 23, 2012 episode The Long Rally with Scott McDowell devoted it's whole three hours (minus the theme) to twenty such performances. Four of my five choices are included, along with the Kronos Quartet version I forgot about.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I don't want to work, I just want to Bang on a Can all day

Outsized Dented Beer Cans

That's how that song goes right?

Any I almost forgot to post the link to watch the video feed of the Bang on a Can Marathon, the self-described "annual incomparable super-mix of boundary-busting music", like I said would, here t'is.

I also recommend downloading the sampler they have posted. (or you can wait to hear the inevitable inclusion of at least some selections on future webcasts).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for June 20, 2015

This was supposed to be a good show. I had all week to put it together, yet here I am, Friday at midnight, finishing it up. I hope you enjoy it regardless. (I also "finninshed it up" by including a song sung in Finnish, ha, ha! ... oh yeah, time to get some sleep.) We also have some a bit too on the nose observations of Father's Day and the first day of summer.

By the time you read this, the show will be over, and I'll be feeling much better about it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ornette Coleman, RIP

I barely have time to write this, but I must mark the passing of Ornette Coleman, one of the most significant musicians of the last, or perhaps any century. As the headline to Ben Ratliff's obituary said, he rewrote the language of jazz, and, as Ratliff later writes, "widened the options in jazz and helped change its course... [making jazz] less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm".

I'll write more, but I'm currently overwhelmed at the other end of musical history,  but I've hastily arranged for my 85th birthday tribute to Ornette to be this week's webcast.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Playlist for the Unpopular Music webcast for June 6, 2015

Image result for A little something thrown together

A little something thrown together at the eleventh hour (well, slightly after midnight actually), a musical cheese plate for your enjoyment. (Hopefully not too cheesy.)

See the playlist after the break...