Amoeblog

R.I.P. Ornette Coleman

Posted by Billyjam, June 11, 2015 11:50am | Post a Comment

Huge loss for jazz and freeform music fans the world over with news breaking this morning of the passing of 85 year old jazz innovator / freeform icon / musical theoretician Ornette Coleman. The groundbreaking jazz  composer/alto-saxophonist, who was instrumental in changing and expanding the concept and path of jazz music, died earlier this morning, June 11th 2015, in New York City reportedly the result of cardiac arrest. In his oft times contentious music career Coleman, who in 1994 was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, completely unhinged and unsettled the conceptions of what jazz is and in so doing opened the genre up to a whole new style into something more avant-garde and adventurous, adhering less the old rules of musical structure, rhythm, and harmony.

At the start of his career his approach and style fit in with the accepted jazz norms but as time went on he began to explore new avenues and questioned the very foundation of what was considered "jazz" as he began to apply his own ideas and concepts. As noted by his Amoeba biographer Coleman developed “harmolodics,” a word and a concept that combine harmony, melody, and movement just as his music integrates them in a radical assertion of freedom for each player in an ensemble, with Gunther Schuller noting that Coleman’s “musical inspiration operates in a world uncluttered by conventional bar lines, conventional chord changes, and conventional ways of blowing or fingering a saxophone...his playing has a deep inner logic.” Consequently Coleman's influence on several generations of jazz musicians is very great.

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10 Essential Albums From Blue Note Records

Posted by Billy Gil, September 29, 2014 06:35pm | Post a Comment

Some of our staff have picked out essential albums from Blue Note Records that should satisfy both the purist and the newcomer to go along with Sonos Studio’s brilliant exhibition celebrating the label's 75th anniversary.

A bit about Blue Note’s history: The label was in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, getting its name from the “blue notes” of blues and jazz, or notes sung a bit lower than the major scale for expressive purposes. Moving from traditional jazz to some bebop (including artists like Thelonious Monk) in the 1940s and hard bop (artists such as Horace Silver) in the 1950s, Blue Note distinguished itself by paying musicians for rehearsals as well as recordings, in order to ensure a better final product. With iconic album artwork by Esquire designer Reid Miles (using photographs of the musician in session, taken by Blue Note’s Francis Wolff), Blue Note made its name as one of the most influential labels in jazz music, later issuing records by free jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and popular musicians like Herbie Hancock, having records sampled in hip-hop records by the likes of Madlib and, now, seeing massive success with mainstream artists like Norah Jones.

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Pat Thomas signs "LISTEN, WHITEY! Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965 – 1975" at The Booksmith in SF, 4/10

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, March 15, 2012 04:46pm | Post a Comment
Listen Whitey Sounds of Black Power Pat Thomas Booksmith Amoeba San Francisco

On April 10, 2012 at 7:30pm, our friends at The Booksmith will host reissue producer/music scholar Pat Thomas for a signing of his new book LISTEN, WHITEY! Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965 – 1975 and the companion album (out now on Light in the Attic Records), which is being called the definitive Black Power aural document!

Over a five year period, Pat Thomas befriended key leaders of the seminal Black Power Movement,Elaine Brown Huey P Newton Black Forum Motown Records dug through Huey Newton’s archives at Stanford University, spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on eBay, and talked to rank and file Black Panther Party members, uncovering dozens of obscure albums, singles, and stray tapes. Along the way, he began to piece together a time period (1967-1974) when revolutionaries like Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis, and Stokely Carmichael were seen as pop culture icons and musicians like Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon were seen as revolutionaries.

LISTEN, WHITEY! chronicles the forgotten history of Motown Records; from 1970 to 1973, Motown’sBlack Forum Motown Records Black Power subsidiary label, Black Forum, released politically charged albums by Stokely Carmichael, Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, Bill Cosby and Ossie Davis, and many others, and explores the musical connections between Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Graham Nash, the Partridge Family (!?!) and the Black Power movement. Obscure recordings produced by SNCC, Ron Karenga’s US, the Tribe and other African-American socio­political organizations of the late 1960s and early ’70s are examined along with the Isley Brothers, Nina Simone, Archie Shepp, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Clifford Thornton, Watts Prophets, The Last Poets, Gene McDaniels, Roland Black Forum Motown RecordsKirk, Horace Silver, Angela Davis, H. Rap Brown, Stanley Crouch, and others that spoke out against op­pression. Thomas further focuses on Black Consciousness poetry (from the likes of Jayne Cortez, wife of Ornette Coleman), inspired re­ligious recordings that infused god and Black Nationalism, and obscure regional and privately pressed Black Power 7-inch soul singles from across America. The text is ac­companied by over 200 large sized, full-color reproductions of album covers and 45 rpm sin­gles, most of which readers will have never seen before.

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"It's the MOST... jazziest tiiime of the yeeear...!"

Posted by Job O Brother, August 24, 2009 01:03pm | Post a Comment

I know it’s probably plastered all over your calendar already, but just in case you didn’t know, this is Jazz Week at Amoeba Music Hollywood. This means that, in addition to our normal, totally tubular jazz selection, we’ve squeezed in some additional, choice inventory, plus we’re hosting jazz-spinning DJ’s and such. I think I saw a colorful banner with the word “JAZZ” in bold letters somewhere, too. I mean, people – come with your party hats on!

The back room of Amoeba Music Hollywood is what we call the “jazz room”, though it hosts many other genres of music*, one of which is the Soundtrack section, where I’m most oft found. Some well-meaning employees once tried to get people to nickname the room “jazzical” for the large section of classical music that frames the opposite side from jazz, but it never stuck, partially because people were so accustomed to saying “jazz room” and partially, I’m assuming, because saying “jazzical” makes you feel like an effeminate fat kid, which isn’t a fresh sort of feeling at all.

“Can I have some more toffee and McMuffins? They’re jazzical!”

Within the soundtrack section are some great jazz albums, which will be the focus of this blog entry. So for those of you hoping for a 500 word exposé on actress Edie McClurg, I’m sorry but this isn’t the blog for you.

The first jazzy soundtrack that comes to my mind is the score, composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, for the Otto Preminger film, Anatomy of a Murder.


This work is significant, not only because it’s the first Hollywood film-score composed by African-Americans in which the music’s presence isn’t “justified” by the appearance of band-leaders or a combo on the sidelines, but because it’s the first and only music that Duke Ellington composed while living in Antarctica. (Ellington and Strayhorn had moved to the polar continent in an effort to cultivate a stronger following there, after accounting records showed very poor sales among penguins, fur seals, and krill.)


"All jazz sounds the same to me."  The Northern krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica)

Probably my favorite jazz soundtrack is Miles Davis’ music for the Louis Malle film, Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud [English translation: Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit].


I love to play this album when I’m taking a hot bubble bath. I light candles, sip a glass of wine – really treat myself to some luxury. Maybe I’ll exfoliate my skin with some lavender oil and salt crystals, or sometimes I’ll place slices of cool cucumber over my eyes and let them soak, soak, soak the stress away. Occasionally I’ll get hungry during these baths and I’ll make a delicious cucumber salad with salt and lavender oil dressing. Sometimes I won’t even take a bath – I’ll just live in squalor and filth, huddled in a corner, chomping on cucumbers and sobbing. Sometimes the dog across the street tells me the name of the Devil and it means I have to kill my grandma again. Miles Davis was a genius!

Another fantastic album is Sonny Rollins’ music for the movie Alfie (the 1966 British version starring Michael Caine, not the 2004 Hollywood re-make featuring Marjan Neshat).


Hoo boy, I love me some Sonny Rollins!

A notable mention is the soundtrack to the David Cronenberg film Naked Lunch, an adaptation of the novel by William S. Burroughs. While composer Howard Shore’s work isn’t a jazz score, per se, it does feature some intoxicating horn blowing by free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman. It’s spooky stuff – perfect for opium dens, rotted whorehouses, or when you’re hosting your next Wiccan blood-letting.


I’d be remiss not to mention Antonio Carlos Jobim’s masterpiece of bossa nova as realized for the film Orfeu Negro (we call it Black Orpheus). Listening to this album is a transportive experience and will flood your mind with rich and hallucinogenic imagery, even if you’ve never seen the film itself. We play it in the jazz room at least once a month. I think it’s law?


There’s other noteworthy recordings on this theme, such as Gato Barbieri’s score for Last Tango in Paris, Herbie Hancock’s score for Blow-Up, or David Amram’s jazz-influenced music for The Manchurian Candidate, plus more besides. I could go on but, fact is, I have to wrap this blog up for now, as I’m practically starving, and I’ve got some cucumber pie cooling in the windowsill. Topped with a little whipped cucumber or a slice of hot, melted cucumber? Yummy yummy yum!

So stop by Amoeba Music Hollywood this week and make a point to embellish your jazz selection at home. Owning Kind of Blue is a good thing, but don’t you think it’s time to delve a little deeper? If you come find me in the soundtrack section, I’ll be happy to help. I’ll be the guy with cucumber skins caked in the corners of his mouth.

Oh, and I’ll be wearing pants.

Happy Jazz Week! ...Oh, and since you've been so well-behaved, here you go:













*To be exact: Blues, New Orleans, Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Pop Vocals, Soundtracks, Lounge, Kids’ LP’s (but not the CD’s – those are upstairs), Experimental, Classical, New Age, Stand-up Comedy, Avant-garde, Opera, Early Music, plus DVD’s for the above genres (excepting Stand-up Comedy, which is upstairs, also) in addition to DVD Audio, SACD, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, 8-tracks, mini-discs, and partridges in a pear tree. Did I get everything?

Target Practice 3: Some Notable Texans

Posted by Charles Reece, April 27, 2008 07:31am | Post a Comment
I was planning on doing this last week, but better late than never.  Here's some video and musical accompaniment to my Texas post:

Benevolent sovereign:


Fort Worth was significant for something:


The definitive version of "Dead Flowers":


My favorite Billy Joe Shaver tune:


My favorite Waylon ballad:
 

Live video of Mickey Newbury is hard to come by, so here's the best I could find:


Even better than Hank Williams:

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