Our Scene // Your Scene

Hello friends of the Scene – thanks for tuning in for another Quarantine edition of Our Scene // Your Scene, where we aim to highlight what’s happening in the realm of jazz here in Columbus.

A friendly reminder to those of you who are feeling bored or brave or a deadly combination of both: be careful, think clearly, and consider the health, safety, and comfort of others. And for Bird’s sake, wear a mask!

This week we have a collection of local collaborations, a quote from Gerard Cox about Hasan Abdur-Razzaq, Phil talks about listening, and Dan DiPiero shares his love of the Bad Plus.

What’s Happening? // Alex Burgoyne

Live music venues in town remain silent (save the somehow exempt Blue Velvet Room) and musicians across the city are hurting for a chance to play with friends – but a few have come up with some creative ways in the meantime to showcase their bottled talents. In addition to the many (many) solo performances, practice sessions, and livestreams on Facebook and elsewhere, here are a few notable collaborations.

First, HERE is a great article from Alive featuring Keith Hanlon and Amy Turn Sharp (of newly opened Secret Studio) called “How to livestream concerts without looking like crap and sounding like garbage”. It’s great. Check it out!

Returned from the Big City, George DeLancey (recently minted Park Street bassist) is still making great music with some east coast friends. Check out “Cochise”:

featuring Jonathan Beshay on sax, George DeLancey on bass, and Darrian Douglas on the “pots and pans”

Columbus ex-patriot John Allen teamed up with our friends Lucas Holmes and Sydney McSweeney on a lovely little rendition of “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”

featuring Lucas Holmes on piano, John Allen on bass, and Sydney McSweeney with those magic pipes

Sydney and Lucas ALSO made an appearance on a VERY popular podcast called Lovett or Leave It. What a delight!

featuring Lucas Holmes and Sydney McSweeney

A special edition of Reggie/Derek/Bobby at the Blue Velvet Room (quarantine thumb-nosers) with young pianist Abhik Mazumder. If you don’t know Abhik’s playing (you probably don’t, he’s 19 years old (at the most)) you will soon. Check him out!

featuring Abhik Mazumder on piano, Reggie Jackson on drums, and Derek DiCenzo on bass

Jazz Arts Group are planning their first performance Livestream of the Pandemic called “Music & Memory” as a part of their ongoing Offstage LIVE! series with the afore-missing Bobby Floyd, Andy Woodson, and the Maestro, Byron Stripling. You can check out that stream on their facebook page (HERE) on Sunday at 3:00PM, and all of their other Quarantine content on their YouTube channel.

And finally, I wanted to showcase a video I encountered of 13 year old Shawn “Thunder” Wallace as a part of “New Initiatives for the Arts” filmed in Detroit, 1987. Not only is Shawn the tallest guy on stage at 13, but he’s also already playing like a monster.

Do yourself a favor and check out his YouTube channel, complete with a number of live performances, lessons, curated playlists, “hot licks”. Shawn also started a Quarantine interview series with a pretty impressive list of living jazz legends.

As Phil Sees It // Phil Maneri

Habitual Retrospectives

Many years ago I began this peculiar habit of picking an artist and listening to their entire music catalog in consecutive order of release. I called them Fretshop Retrospectives, after my guitar repair shop.  I would listen and then blog about them on Facebook. It’s a practice that I would recommend to any listener- casual or professional musician.  

I didn’t know what I would find during the practice, but as I did a bunch of them over several years, I started to discover some fascinating tidbits that inform my listening and understanding. I haven’t done any since I finished a Retrospective of the Entire ECM catalog last year, however I’m sure I’ll get back to it.  With the use of streaming services like Spotify many artists full catalogs are easy to locate. 

Some highlights. When you listen to Pat Metheny’s catalog you can see how diverse his influences are, and how they show up at odd times across the arc of his career.  Things morph and change all around him sonically and structurally, but remarkably, he remains himself throughout.  

Miles Davis is a freak. But you already knew that. He changed Jazz several times. If a person is super talented and really fortunate you get to do that once. He led everyone by the nose his whole career. It’s a retrospective trip worth taking.  

Tom Petty is also a freak and you wouldn’t know it unless you listen to everything he did over the course of his forty year career.  Nothing he did was terrible.  Not everyone can say that.  Moreover, on every single record is at least one if not several songs that have become part of the collective consciousness of society.  Not just hits.  Recognizable things that everyone knows. If a musician gets just one of those in a lifetime that’s amazing and super rare.  It makes a career. He did it on every single record.  Crazy.

Frank Zappa recorded way too much stuff. He released so much material that it took two weeks all day every day to get through.  By comparison The Who and Led Zeppelin took two days each. His catalog is fascinating and brilliant but there’s no editing. It’s cheesecake every single meal every single day. It’s insane. He really needed a producer.  

And speaking of The Who, when you listen to the discography straight through you can clearly hear when they hit the Arenas and Stadiums. On “Who’s Next” Their sound changed drastically and the songs became more epic. They graduated from a bar style rock and roll band and were clearly swinging for the fences on that record. 

Similarly, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon” was a pivot point. You hear everything different from that point on. it’s like they became a different band. These journeys reveal clearly how the forces of commerce and fame can affect an artist’s work, for good or for bad depending on your point of view.  Ostensibly, that’s kind of the point. Using another’s career to inform my own.  To maybe learn something from what another artist has done to apply to my own journey. 

In addition I get to know what the artist’s range might be. If you only know “Saturday Night Fever” you might not know The Bee Gees as well as you thought. They had quite a long journey that crashed and burned after they found Disco and coke and money.

I encourage everyone to dig through their favorite artists and notice what you find along the journey. Learn something about them, and something about you.

QUOTE // Gerard Cox on Hasan Abdur-Razzaq

I asked Gerard for some thoughts on Hasan while writing a feature on him from THIS Our Scene // Your Scene. He didn’t get them to me in time, but I didn’t want to leave his kind words in my inbox.

“If you’ve heard lots of people and lots of records and you hear Hasan, then no matter what kind of jazz you’re into it’s going to hit you in a few seconds that he has an elusive kind of classic jazz “sound”. He took a few lessons from Gene Walker and Gene said something to the effect of “So where have you been hiding this SOUND??”

When I first met Hasan I was fairly shocked to hear that he actually hadn’t played free jazz with others for the 20 years he had been in Columbus since moving from Cleveland. A number of us have since built a small but active community based around playing “fire music” and connected to other such scenes in Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. I know I can speak for everybody in this community in saying that Hasan has really been our muse the whole time.

The thing is, it’s one thing to be interested in something because you’ve heard the records and it seems really cool- but when you actually get to interact with someone who has real ties to the history and embodies its ideals in the way he talks and walks and thinks– then that just makes it seem SO much more viable and REAL. When you add to this that he’s always wanting to see the best in people and doesn’t really care about anything other than if you are creative and kind- then you feel that to do anything less than play your butt off and do your part to keep it going would just be really, really lame. Hasan is a griot and he has absolutely been our anchor.”

What’re You Spinning // Dan DiPiero

Dan DiPiero is a drummer, composer, and a fearless improviser. He’s also a scholar, author, professor and a longtime friend of the scene.

This is from Dan’s BLAHG. There’s loads of writing here about music and music related things. He’s also working on a BOOK which is the project he made to finish his PhD called “Contingent Encounters.” I’ve only read snips so far, but if you’re into thinking about music, Dan will lead you down the right path.

HERE is a collection of his recorded music (he also mans the tubs in two of my bands, Small Songs and the ABQ).

Below is my pitch to him (and to you!) about using his already-written material,

“I just love how it feels to read it – it’s exactly how I want to feel when I read what people have to say about a particular album. You LOVE this band and even if I didn’t know you, I’d know that. And that’s amazing and sweet and also really good.”

So here it is. This was originally written and published HERE.

TUESDAY TUNES: SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY?

The bass drum alone is worth the price of admission. That tubby, flabby bonk, produced through a tightly tuned and what I’m assuming is a quite thin drumhead, sounds simultaneously ludicrous and the purest expression of the spirit that animates The Bad Plus. Combined with the metal snare drum, also stunningly resonant, the sound of the band feels as though it has reached, with this fourth album, the heart of what they aspired to do when they began, although they wouldn’t have known it.

I don’t have the words quite to explain what I mean by this. From the first album through, TBP synthesized their music out of a variety of ostensibly opposed musical sensibilities: the avant garde and the popular, the swinging and the rocking, the hilarious and the earnest, the free-wheeling and the delicately arranged, the fun and the devastating. Something about these paradoxical forces is present in the sound of Dave King’s bass drum alone: bombastic and powerful, but also cartoonish, graceful at times, and always landing in the place you didn’t know you wanted it to. The first sound on the album is that one drum, and for good reason.

Are you not convinced? Listen to the intro of “Rhinoceros is My Profession” and tell me that bass drum isn’t animating the entire band. Or else, what about scooting up to 4:30 in “Let Our Garden Grow” and waiting until 5:00 when those two–precisely two– beautiful punches punctuate a momentary and miraculous silence, the eye of the storm that constitutes the unbound collective improvisation in the middle of this track. Did you hear how they flew in that space like they knew it was coming? A clairvoyant bass drum, the sound of deep knowing. While you’re here, why not stick around until the end of this track? There is a drum solo there, and, though briefly, you can hear the whole kit in its full eccentricity, always threatening to clip in the mix.

If I had to guess, I’d say that I learned 34% of what I know as a musician by listening to Dave King play the drums. But of course, what makes him so magical is also the context that he’s responding to, or rather, that he is helping to create. You hear things on a Bad Plus record that you just don’t hear elsewhere. For this reason, they captivated me when I was in high school (thanks, Tom), and to this day, I’m not sure I know any other albums as well as the first three of theirs that I got ahold of.

Have you ever heard a tune like “Knows the Difference”, where the piano and bass seem to move through the song together, but magically so, because there is no tempo, at least not from the drums, which seem off in their own universe, paying no attention to the music that’s happening? But of course, King is paying attention, and magically the music hits together at certain key moments, entirely inexplicably. It’s pure chemistry and experience that gets the band there, nothing more. The song is out of time and chaotic, but it anchors itself every so often, just often enough to ground your ears in a pulse. And then out of nowhere, nowhere at all, two snare hits clue everyone into a beautiful groove. Just like that, after five full minutes of chaos, an irregular but absolutely compelling riff takes hold. The song as it was completely disappears from view, and something new takes over.

Have you ever heard, for that matter, a tune like “Lost of Love”, which repeats its own form indefinitely, where nothing happens on paper but where the emotional affect swells until it’s unbearable? Sure, it modulates upwards over time. But that alone can’t account for the force of this song, this song where nothing and everything happens over 10 whole minutes. This one you can’t skip around. You have to listen from beginning to end, and you won’t get it until you do. The commitment that it takes on their part must be matched by commitment of your own. That’s the only way it works!

No. No you haven’t, is the answer. You haven’t heard a tune like that or anything approaching it. This album is the sound of a singularity. Out of time and in time at once. The silliest and the most compelling sound you never imagined.If you’ve come with me this far, you know you’re going to listen to “Forces”, too. You’ll listen when you know you’re alone, when no one is going to tap you on the shoulder or text you for at least ten minutes. You get six or so for the song, and an extra four for what comes after. Before too long, I bet you’ll be back.

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