Amoeblog

Happy Birthday Cecil Taylor

Posted by Whitmore, March 15, 2009 01:31pm | Post a Comment

Sometime in my mid-teens I started reading about this mad pianist; how his flying elbows and insane musical gyrations splintered keyboards, whose uncompromising musical destination was one part tsunami, one part Armageddon. I was actually warned about Cecil Taylor by a music teacher of mine, "It isn’t really music … it's ugly … beating the hell out of a keyboard isn’t musical.” My classical guitar teacher also went so far as to bring god and the devil into the conversation; you would have thought I was asking for directions to the crossroads. 
 
I eventually made my way over to Platterpuss Records on Hollywood Blvd near Vermont Ave and with some change stolen from my mom’s piggy bank I bought an old used copy of Taylor’s 1966 album Unit Structures. I ran back home and threw the LP on my ridiculously crappy turntable with the flashing color pin-wheels and as predicted … the music scared the holy shit out of me. Except for one thing-- although I understood little of what was going on, I was mesmerized. Later I heard beyond the chaos and ferocity, and began getting clued in to improvisation, tone clusters, polyrhythms and all the other intricacies layered in Cecil Taylor’s music, like spirituality, a sense of history and oddly enough -- and contrary to my teachers' way of thinking -- beauty. A couple of weeks later I traded in a bunch of pop records at Joe’s Records on Hyperion Blvd and bought a used copy of Conquistador. From that point on I had a significantly different take on music. Happy birthday Cecil Taylor!
 
“Practice, to be studious at the instrument, as well as looking at a bridge, or dancing, or writing a poem, or reading, or attempting to make your home more beautiful. What goes into an improvisation is what goes into one's preparation, then allowing the prepared senses to execute at the highest level devoid of psychological or logical interference. You ask, without logic, where does the form come from? It seems something that may be forgotten is that as we begin our day and proceed through it there is a form in existence that we create out of, that the day and night itself is for. And what we choose to vary in the daily routine provides in itself the fresh building blocks to construct a living form which is easily translated into a specific act of making a musical composition.” - Cecil Taylor


Carnival of Light

Posted by Whitmore, November 21, 2008 06:52pm | Post a Comment

"Carnival of Light," the long-rumored, almost mythical 14-minute experimental Beatles track, may soon see the light of day. Composed and performed only once for an electronic music festival in 1967, Sir Paul McCartney earlier this week confirmed that the recording exists, and the piece once thought to be too experimental for mainstream tastes might actually see a release date sometime in the near future.

In the 1990’s while preparing the Anthology collection, the Beatles plus producer George Martin vetoed its inclusion, deeming the track as being "too adventurous" for release. But McCartney feels the public is ready for the psychedelic/avant-garde inspired tune, which is said to include improvised distorted guitar, church organ, gargling, backwards tape sounds, random cacophony and band members shouting words or phrases like "Barcelona!" and "Are you all right?"

First though, approval from the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison, plus permission from Ringo Starr and George Martin would be required.

I found a video on YouTube that claims to contain actual  "Carnival of Light" music. Of course if this is a real Beatles tracks, it's brilliant! If this is in fact not a recording from he Beatle's, it  just  becomes ... more stuff.

Raymond Scott

Posted by Whitmore, September 10, 2008 02:07pm | Post a Comment


One hundred years ago today the weirdly brilliant American composer and one of the pioneers of contemporary experimental and electronic music, Raymond Scott, was born. While his name may not be instantly recognizable, his musical compositions are, and though Scott never actually composed music specifically for cartoons, most anybody -- any age, anywhere -- who ever watched an old Warner Brothers’ Bugs Bunny cartoon or a Ren & Stimpy episode or even the Simpsons or Animaniacs would recognize some of Scott’s extraordinary pieces like “Powerhouse” and “The Toy Trumpet.”

He was born Harry Warnow in Brooklyn, New York, September 10, 1908. After graduating from The Institute of Musical Art (later renamed Juilliard) in 1931, Scott was hired as a staff pianist with the CBS Radio network orchestra conducted by his brother Mark Warnow; he took the name Raymond Scott specifically to avoid talk of nepotism. Scott soon began presenting his own bizarre and quirky compositions like “Confusion Among a Fleet of Taxicabs Upon Meeting with a Fare.” By the mid 1930’s these unexpected eccentricities started creeping into the CBS Radio broadcasts and the American subconscious. For the next four decades he would go on to record for several major labels including Brunswick, Columbia, Decca, MGM, Coral, Everest, and Top Rank. He always managed to sell records, even with such Duchampian-like song titles such as "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals", "Reckless Night on Board an Oceanliner", "New Year's Eve in a Haunted House", "Bumpy Weather Over Newark", "Celebration on the Planet Mars", and "Siberian Sleighride".

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Eric Dolphy

Posted by Whitmore, June 20, 2008 04:04pm | Post a Comment

80 years ago today, in 1928, the legendary jazz musician and groundbreaking force of nature Eric Dolphy was born in Los Angeles. He was one of guiding forces who piloted the "new thing" of jazz though the late fifties and the 1960’s. His unique improvisational style intoned wide intervals, extended techniques, scorching intensity and unexpected sonic explorations on alto sax, clarinets, and flute. Such sounds were seldom heard before and seldom sound as accomplished since.

Educated at Los Angeles City College, he walked the fine line between traditional/mainstream jazz and the avant-garde like few musicians could. Though his work is often classified as simply “free jazz,” Dolphy’s playing was more then just his own idiosyncratic personal voice. He touched on the history of most jazz styles, from New Orleans to bop to third stream; he experimented with various non-Western music and 20th century classical ideology, pioneering extensions as both a soloist and as a jazz composer. His influence is still felt today.

During his short time on the scene Dolphy played with almost every great jazz musician of the day including, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Chico Hamilton, Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, Gerald Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, Gunther Schuller, and Andrew Hill. In his own bands Dolphy included the likes of Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Woody Shaw, Richard Davis, Ron Carter, Jaki Byard, Roy Haynes, Mal Waldron, Booker Little and Freddie Hubbard.

At the age of 36 Eric Dolphy died in a diabetic coma in Berlin on June 29th, 1964. Dolphy was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame shortly after his death.

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Bebe Barron 1925 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, April 29, 2008 12:37pm | Post a Comment

One of the pioneers of electronic music and co-composer of the first all electronic film score, Bebe Barron, died this past April 20th of natural cases at the age of 82. She along with her husband, Louis Barron, who passed away in 1989, composed the sound effects / soundtrack to the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet.

Charlotte May Wind (her husband nicknamed her Bebe) was born in Minneapolis in 1925. She earned a degree in music at the University of Minnesota then moved to New York, where she worked as a researcher for Time-Life. Soon after, she met and married Louis Barron in 1947. As a wedding gift the Barrons received a tape recorder and began delving into the world of musique concrete (music created by sounds other than musical instruments, often referred to as “real world” sounds). In 1948 Louis Barron was inspired by the book Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, by MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener. After studying Wiener’s equations, Louis began building electronic circuits to generate sounds. That combined with recorded tape, created a unique and otherworldly aural experience. After moving to Greenwich Village, the Barrons built a recording studio and became entrenched in New York’s burgeoning avant-garde scene. In their studio they recorded the likes of Aldous Huxley, Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Tennessee Williams reading their work; they also recorded and worked with many like-thinking composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and David Tudor. In addition, the Barrons scored their first soundtracks to several experimental short films by Ian Hugo, husband of Anais Nin.

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