Amoeblog

A CRY For CECIL TAYLOR, My Avant Gardfather, 1929-2018

Posted by Rick Frystak, May 8, 2019 07:57pm | Post a Comment

Photo by unknown/illustration by Rick Frystak
 

Welcome back to The Choice Bin. It's 1973, UCLA's Royce Hall, a few notches up from what it is today satus-wise as there just weren't many halls to showcase serious music in '73. Big deal anytime or place, these artists in L.A. then, (like say, Stevie Wonder) so the town was abuzz. Cecil Taylor is here to play a solo piano recital. Lee has Rhino stocked. Lingerers linger. Jivers jive. Clowns clown. There's a festival vibe, it was called Newport Jazz Fest west or whatever. This night is just Cecil.

The concert begins. Each note, chord harmony, repetition, arpeggio, triad, cluster, question-and-answer; a sensation of logic and emotion. To some,''noise''. This man went to the New York Conservatory. Cecil is here in UCLA playing a huge 10-foot Bosendorfer piano and the paint is already coming off the walls. Folks are on the edge of their seats.

OMG, it's Cecil my main man, my idol in the ''out'' music. I have "all" his albums. I'm in the SAME ROOM with him! Tonight, Cecil has come from a whisper (he hadn't begun dancing out to the piano yet) to a brilliantly built mountain of sound.

It's getting more and more and more intense when all of a sudden, a man sitting almost dead-center STANDS UP,TAKES OFF HIS SHIRT and begins dancing and...YELLING!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing for a split second, but then that same feeling came over me, but I stayed in my seat. It was like a shot of adrenaline, more exciting than ANYTHING I'd ever heard, right then and there...the physical manifestation of the sounds we were hearing, driving us to yelling!

Some critics were not impressed. “Anyone working with a jackhammer could have achieved the same results,” wrote jazz critic Leonard Feather, in the L.A. Times.

Mr. Taylor left this planet one year ago this month. Cecil was respected around the world, winning grants and receiving fellowships year after year. In 2013 Cecil received the Kyoto Prize, a huge honor in Japan, equivalent to a MacArthur Genius Award. (Cecil is a past recipient of the MacArthur award). Alas, the Kyoto Prize, which amounted to $500,000, was embezzled and swindled from Cecil by a man posing as Cecil's business manager. Leonard Feather should have known that jackhammer operators don't usually receive half-million-dollar cash awards from foreign countries. Leonard had what is known as a,"chip on his shoulder" regarding music such as Taylor's, and the avant garde in general, but the Los Angeles Times dug his jazz criticism for many, many years, for their own reasons. Mr. Taylor had a huge impression on my own appreciation of music and all art, especially the avant garde that was outside the mainstream. I still get a flash of inspiration when I see even his photograph.

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Another "Best Of" 2017" from The Choice Bin/Rick Frystak

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 18, 2018 01:45pm | Post a Comment

 

This album, My Foolish Heart by Ralph Towner, could be my favorite release of 2017. Jazz meets classical concepts via virtuosic nylon string guitar impressions of Bill Evans' work. Bravo! Here's more:

Allan Holdsworth - The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever

A 12-CD box set of all of Allan’s original domestic releases in mini-LP style covers and exclusive 40-page booklet in the box! The most beautiful, terrifying and harmonically fascinating jazz fusion electric guitar and guitar synthesizer playing you will ever hear, sometimes a caged animal roaring to be released, sometimes like a butterfly landing on a lover's tear, with sensitive and sensational accompaniment. Allan passed away 2 weeks after this release, and I know he loved that it had come out and been made available. This music will go backout of print, so enjoy this while you can. A 12-LP vinyl box is out soon!

Thomas Newman - Thank You For Your Service [Soundtrack)]

Another instant classic from Tom, a real thinking man's "ambient" score in the mold of Ry, Johann and others, just moody as hell with it seems to just hang in the air. Every cue another fleshy variation. You know what Tom can do. This may only be a download as of this writing.

I REMEMBER JOHN ABERCROMBIE, 1944-2017

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 4, 2017 02:12pm | Post a Comment


-photo Doug Proper

by Rick Frystak

Guitarist John Laird Abercrombie passed away of heart failure last week at the age of 72, too young an age for an artist who had so many more years of creativity left. John was one of my all-time favorite guitarists, one of only a handful of unique, tasteful ''jazz-rock'' guitarists who managed to create his own style and mature with it for all the years that he was active and making records.

John's playing had a swing, a lilt, perhaps a swaying effect that was captivating and had me eagerly anticipating his notes to see where he would go with a tune or a solo. His songs were quite often effectively moody and dark which I loved, but alternately funky, and always a good melody but left room for discovery. When he really let go, as he soon highlighted on his early solo records and the Billy Cobham big band records he could bring the house down. But when he turned inward, it was like telling a secret or a heartbreaking whisper. And his compositional directions were such an amalgamation of the old standard beauty and a new, ear-bending edginess.

I first heard John on the small, independent Oblivion label album, Friends, featuring Marc Cohen playing a searing electric alto sax, inspiring John to higher highs of energy I'd rarely heard outside of heavy rock, the whole group developing music that would be years ahead of it's time. Then came his first of a 43-year ECM Records relationship, the immortal, iconic Timeless, with Jack DeJohnette  and Jan Hammer (fresh out of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Billy Cobham's fantastic Spectrum album),which took the heaviness and beauty and made some of the most intense trio jazz since Tony Williams' Lifetime. He excelled in the trio format, and in his group with Peter Erskine and Marc Johnson they swung hard, burned.  He released his last ECM record this year, Up And Coming, which would be, as the press kit notes, his first album played without a pick, just using his fingers. This sound seems more buttery and lyrical, perhaps like a fine scotch,  the tempering of John's later-career approach and character.

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GOODBYE, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH. Remembering A Guitarist Like No Other.

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 20, 2017 05:48pm | Post a Comment

by Rick Frystak

On April 15, 2017, I was very saddened to be told that guitarist / violinist / composer Allan Holdsworth had passed away, leaving behind a legacy of recordings and for me, countless live performances I witnessed that will live forever in my soul. Along with being shocked, I just did not believe my brother's text that this news had happened. Fake? It was then that I was pointed to Facebook, where Allan's daughter had quietly and thoughtfully revealed her father's death.

The timing of his passing was, and is absolutely spooky. 2 weeks previously we had  seen Allan perform a celebratory gig to mark the release of a project in which I had participated in the production, and my brother Peter had provided photographs for: a huge, 12-CD box set of almost all of his albums,The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever. and a 2-CD set, Eidolon, of his ''best'' songs selected by Allan himself. I was grievously perplexed. I have to remind myself now that Allan had to be happy to see that the CD projects were on the store shelves. Dan Perloff, producer of the CDs for Manifesto Records, has said that the box set is already sold out. 

I first heard Allan while he was a member of the group Tempest., and their album Tempest. We knew immediately that this man was no ordinary guitarist. 

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An Other 'Best Music of 2016' List

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 31, 2016 01:45pm | Post a Comment

 


by Rick Frystak


Here in The Choice Bin, the wealth of superior new music that I get to be exposed to is just staggering.
The wealth of music around this whole planet is astounding, limited only by one's desires, with each new release or deep-dug reissue a shiny object for us to be drawn to. Walk into an Amoeba, an indie record store or check into some genre-specific internet radio and real college radio and you'll know what I mean. And this year was no exception for those who actively seek out new and old sounds and enjoy doing so.

As a youth I was glued to my AM and then FM radio, listening to Rock, Soul, Jazz and 20th Century Classical revelation. Some hosts would even compare hi-fi gear live on the air, using the latest LP cuts. We waited impatiently for stuff we'd heard to arrive at the 3 or 4 record stores in the vicinity. Then I rode to the record shop and bought my favorites, back then in mono for $1 cheaper, and later driving into Westwood for some small-label LP or expensive import that was a must-have. 

With the passing of many of our heroes so devastating, each moment of immersing oneself in their language and legacy is a precious one. And of course, there are the highly talented younger artists that bring a fresh, but well-informed element to their work and sometimes usher in new eras. Compelling, unfamiliar music seems to be discovered by me daily. Then to hear someone say, ''...nothing's happening musically now'', just sounds goofy. 

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