Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Master of Harmelodics

Ornette Coleman- Live at New Orleans Jazz Fest 2003

About five years ago, I ventured out to New Orleans to check out one of the most talented and innovative saxophone players in the annals of free jazz history. Ornette Coleman played a huge part in introducing the idea of "free jazz" to the general public in the 60's, after releasing his seminal 1960 album entitled Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. He was also instrumental in formulating his own musical language called harmelodics. Harmelodic theory is essentially Ornette's theory that every instrument has its own pitches and that the same note on a music staff means different notes on different instruments. By exploring this idea, Ornette found a way to give everyone the same melody but with each person exploring various emotions within the context of the tune. If this sounds complex to you, you are not alone. Even though I can't get a handle on the harmelodics theory, I appreciate the intensely beautiful music that is created because of it. He has single-handedly rewritten the rules of jazz.

I intended to record this concert on my minidisc recorder without any interruptions. Unfortunately, a security guard noticed that I was holding a mike up about halfway through the show, and I was forced to stop recording the show. I was grateful that he didn't confiscate the minidisc player and the portion that I had already recorded, because it sounded pretty good.

About 4 years later I was having a discussion with Atanase from the now defunct blog Church Number Nine. He said that he had the entire show and would be happy to share it with me. The sound quality is really great, and it captures Ornette in a rare festival performance. The band lineup is Ornette on soprano sax, Denardo Coleman on drums, Alvin Batiste on clarinet, Ellis Marsalis on piano and someone whose name escapes my memory on bass. There are no titles for these tracks, so they just go by letters- a, b, c, etc. If anyone has any additional information about the song titles, please give me a shout. I hope you enjoy this one!

If you live in Portland, don't miss the rare opportunity to catch Ornette live at the Portland Jazz Festival. He will be playing at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall on Feb 15th. I'm not sure if it's sold out, but it has to be close to selling out.

Link is in comments.

Your comments are always appreciated!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rediscoveries of Lost Gems- Victor Dimisich Band

Sorry I haven't ben posting much in the past couple weeks, but the good news is that I have finally landed a job with a biomedical company in Lake Oswego named Biotronik. It has been consuming my daytime hours, but I hope to be able to post a couple things throughout the week as well as on the weekend.

Recently, I was reading about New Zealand lo-fi garage-punk group the Terminals in the Fall 2007 issue of Signal to Noise. The Terminals were formed from the ashes of previous groups such as the Vacuum,The Pin Group, The Victor Dimisich Band and Scorched Earth Policy. Today I want to focus on the Victor Dimisich Band and their My Name Is K compilation released in 1997 on lead singer Peter Stapleton's Medication imprint. This combines the Mekong Delta Blues cassete released on Xpressway in 1988 as well as the entire Native Waiter EP. As far as I know, this CD reissue is out-of-print, but please let me know if anyone objects to these files being posted here.

Alan Meek, Stephen Cogle and Peter Stapleton from the Vacuum formed the Victor Dimisich Band along with Tony O'Grady and Mary Heney of 25 Cents. The Victor Dimisich Band's first EP was a ready-made classic on the now defunct Flying Nun label. It is a fearless and inventive display of pounding drums, haunting vocals, jittery guitar strumming and droning organs. I would describe it like what would happen if Ian Curtis and Jim Morrison were resurrected from the dead and decided to play adrenaline-fueled, lo-fi garage rock in the vein of Velvet Underground.

Just give it a listen and let me know what you think. I'll be back with some Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor in honor of their upcoming performances at Portland's 2008 Jazzfest. I just located an out-of print album with Cecil Taylor and Han Bennink that i will post as well as something rare from Ornette. Until then, enjoy The Victor Dimisch Band!

Your comments are always appreciated!