Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carl Stalling - The Carl Stalling Project: Music From Warner Bros. Cartoons 1936-1958

After seeing the Looney Tunes short "Water, Water Every Hare" recently, I decided it was time to post some Carl Stalling. Watching the short and seeing how integral Stalling's music is to the image was something I overlooked as a kid. I don't think I would have ever really looked into Stalling's work alone without reading his praises from John Zorn. The maniac changes in tempo and style are definitely vital to both composers' work. Enjoy this collection and the nostalgia that accompanies it. If there's interest in more Carl Stalling, I'll post the second volume.


1. Putty Tat Trouble Pt. 6
2. Hillbilly Hare
3. Early WB Scores: The Depression Era (1936-1941)
4. The Good Egg
5. Various Cues From Bugs Bunny Films (1943-1956)
6. There They Go Go Go
7. Stalling Self-Parody: Music From Porky's Preview
8. Anxiety Montage
9. The War Years
10. Medley - Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals
11. In Session (1951-1956)
12. Speedy Gonzalez Meets Two Crows From Tacos
13. Powerhouse And Other Cuts From The Early 50's
14. Porky In Wackyland / Dough For The Do Do
15. To Itch His Own


Thursday, October 28, 2010

J.S. Bach - Glenn Gould plays The Goldberg Variations (1955) and The Art of Fugue [Excerpts] (1967)

The great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould stunned the world and rose to instant fame when he released his debut recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations in 1955 (he would do this agian years later upon renouncing live performance). When Columbia asked the newly signed 22-year-old prodigy what he wanted to first record, they were somewhat unsettled to hear the answer "Goldberg." At that time far out of the standard repertoire for any pianist, much less a young one, the the variations became Gould's signature piece for the beginning of his career. In the introduction to the published screenplay of the fantastic documentary Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Denyr Arcand remembers a concert in 1958 and thinks, "Listening to [the Goldberg Variations] played live by Glenn Gould is a bit like losing your virginity with Marilyn Monroe: You never quite recuperate from it." Indeed, Glenn's extreme pace and lightness of finger is nothing but stunning.

I've included also a recording of Gould playing excerpts of Bach's incomplete masterpiece The Art of Fugue. The selection is certainly relevant to Gould, who, like Bach, spent his entire life seeking a contrapuntal polyphonic ideal. The films by Girard and McKellar are also composed in a sort of narrative counterpoint, meant to illustrate the fugal mode in which Gould lived his life and composed his music. One can almost physically feel the intersecting and horizontal movement in Bach's compositions, and Gould seems to inhabit the very intent of the O.G. master of counterpoint. In addition to the piano selections, this recording has nine tracks on organ, which Gould recorded only having ever practiced them on a piano.


The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

1 - 32. Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
33. Fugue in F-sharp minor, BWV 883
34. Fugue in E major, BWV 878


The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080
1-9. Contrapunctus I-IX (Organ)
10-12. Contrapunctus I, II & IV (Piano)
13-15. Contrapunctus IV, XI & XIII
16. Contrapunctus XIV (unfinished)
17. Prelude and Fugue, BWV 898


Monday, October 18, 2010

Charles Mingus - Oh Yeah (1962)

A few things worth mentioning: first, Mingus does not play bass on this recording, but handles piano and vocal duties instead (one of the rare albums in which he does so). Oh Yeah also features two really amazing sax players - (Rahsaan) Roland Kirk & Booker Ervin. I think the album is really carried by their playing as well as Mingus' composition skills. Mingus' singing is great but his intermittent screams really make the perfect embellishments - throughout the album, you're going to hear a lot of "Oh Yeah!"s and other such remarks of encouragement (strange for Mingus, known for his violent temper...) "Hog Callin' Blues" introduces the theme that would reappear on "II B.S." from Mingus 5x. Apologies for the brief CD skips on this track. By the way, is Paul Simon paying homage or biting?


1. Hog Callin' Blues
2. Devil Woman
3. Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am
4. Ecclusiastics
5. Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me
6. Eat That Chicken
7. Passions Of A Man
8. "Old" Blues For Walt's Torin
9. Peggy's Blue Skylight
10. Invisible Lady


Charles Mingus, piano & vocals
Roland Kirk, flute, siren, tenor sax, manzello & stritch
Booker Ervin, tenor sax
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Doug Watkins, bass
Dannie Richmond, drums

Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York City, November 6, 1961

Oh Yeah!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Five Tango Sensations With Astor Piazzolla (1989)

is a Spanish term meaning "spirit" or "gut". Duende is the heart of the tango, a style which itself is the very pulse of Argentina's music and dance. Sensuous, romantic, playful but with some sense of danger, Astor Piazzolla's expansions and variations on the tango tradition are deeply steeped in a sense of duende. These gorgeous, deliberate renditions by the always fantastic Kronos Quartet fully honor the Piazzolla ambience, with the man himself playing the bandoneón. Enjoy!


1. Asleep
2. Loving
3. Anxiety
4. Despertar
5. Fear

Kronos Quartet
David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Joan Jeanrenaud, cello

Astor Piazzolla, bandoneón


Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Stanley Brothers - The Complete Rich-R-Tone 78s (1947-1952)

The more I listen to/learn about John Fahey, the more I realize how much of the fucking man he was, and how he really knew what was up. Not only did he found the fantastic Takoma Records, but also created Revenant Records later on. Revenant's discography is comprised of reissues and compilations of some really choice artists - any label that puts out music by Derek Bailey, Charley Patton, Sir Richard Bishop and Albert Ayler deserves praise. This is a compilation of material from Carter and Ralph - The Stanley Brothers. I didn't know anything about 'em besides what I'd heard from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, but this comp sounds nothing like that. This record is full of banjo-pluckin', fiddle-playin' foot stompers. I love the vocal harmonies in bluegrass, and they are so tight here. I feel like I need to find a really old-timey radio to hear this properly. Really wonderful music, give it a listen.


1. Molly And Tenbrook
2. The Rambler's Blues
3. Mother No Longer Awaits Me At Home
4. The Girl Behind The Bar
5. Little Maggie
6. The Little Glass Of Wine
7. Our Darling's Gone
8. The Jealous Lover
9. I Can Tell You The Time
10. Little Birdie
11. Little Glass Of Wine
12. Death Is Only A Dream
13. Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake
14. Are You Waiting Just For Me?


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul Of Black Peru (1970s & 80s)

I don't normally post compilations, but this short record of Afro-Peruvian folk and pop is just awesome and worth posting. I'm pretty much completely ignorant of Peruvian music in general besides Rossy War, so I don't know if I can say anything particularly enlightening about the artists or culture at work, but the bright, lighthearted rhythms and sing-alongs certainly get my gears going in the best of ways. There's also a super-silly "Lando" cover by David Byrne, of all people. Enjoy!

1. Maria Lando - Susana Baca (1982)
2.¿Yo No Soy Jaqui? - Manuel Donayre (1984)
3. Canterurias - Cecilia Barraza (1992)
4. Samba Malato - Lucila Campos (1974)
5. Enciendete Candela - Roberto Rivas & El Conjunto Gente Morena (1971)
6. Azuca de Caña - Eva Ayllón (1985)
7.Prendeme la Vela - Abelardo Vasquez & Cumanana (1973)
8. Landó - Chabuca Granda (1978)
9. Toro Mata - Lucila Campos (1973)
10. Son de los diablos - Peru Negro (1973)
11. No Me Cumben - Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1973)
12. Una Larga Noche - Chabuca Granda (1978)
13. Lando - Peru Negro (1974)
14. Maria Lando - David Byrne (1981)
15. Zapateo en menor (Instrumental) - Vincente Vasquez D. (1971)


A-Alikes - Live or Die (2004)

I was pleasantly surprised by this record, which I bought in a thrift shop for 50 cents. I recognized the dead prez I-Ching symbol on the record cover, and since dp are one of the only "socially conscious" groups I really ever like to bump, I figured it couldn't hurt to find something like-minded. Though slightly poppier, the record is at times serious, at times fun, but always tight with production done mostly by Baby J.

Maybe I deserve a late pass, but I can't believe that the A-Alikes haven't entered the late 90s/early 00s canon which is so broadly well received by today's hip hop listeners, gangsta and backpacker alike. Enjoy!

1. Nigga Love
2. 2 Sides
3. We Got Room (feat. dead prez)
4. It's Like That
5. Get Out of Jail
6. So Good
7. Gunpoint
8. Drought Time (feat. N.I.M.R.O.D.)
9. Wintertime
10. Trust (feat. dead prez)
11. Stand Up
12. F.T.P.
13. Stop the Madness
14. Guerilla Nation (feat. I.G.)
15. Bonus Track


Monday, October 4, 2010

Roberta Flack - First Take

"It's a good thing that I'd found a seat before she took her place at the piano and sang her first note, because my knees would never have made it standing. Her voice touched, tapped, trapped and kicked over every emotion I've ever known. I laughed, cried and screamed for more. And more came - and more- and more - and more!"

Pianist Les McCann recounts seeing Roberta in the summer of 1968. A year later, she would release her first album on Atlantic. On First Take, Roberta really runs the gamut of emotions. The pessimistic "Compared To What", penned by Eugene McDaniels, is packed with punchy horn hits. I find it very much in McDaniels style, sounding very similar to songs like "Lovin' Man", from his 1971 release, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse. She does a beautiful Leonard Cohen cover with "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye", but does anyone else think the drums are mixed strangely in this song? My favorite track on First Take is her own arrangement of "I Told Jesus" - the piece builds slowly before climaxing in a powerful vocal performance that is just raw spirituality. Roberta's voice is one of the best and her piano playing is lovely as well. The backing band includes jazz veteran Ron Carter on bass and John Pizzarelli on guitar (I'm assuming it's the senior Pizzarelli, now known as Bucky, unless the younger was that much of the man at 9 years old).


1. Compared To What
2. Angelitos Negros
3. Our Ages Or Our Hearts
4. I Told Jesus
5. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
6. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
7. Tryin' Times
8. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men


Nina Simone - Pastel Blues (1965)

Nina needs no introduction, and if you're like me, you can never really get enough of her loose, emotional tenor. This record from the High Priestess of Soul is bluesy (as the title would imply), but is sparse, minimalist and contemplative. The highlights of the record for me have to be the opening and closing tracks, "Be My Husband" and "Sinnerman", the first a field spiritual sounding song by her husband Andrew Stroud, and the last a theatrical ten-minute poem of redemption.


1. Be My Husband
2. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
3. End Of The Line
4. Trouble in Mind
5. Tell Me More And More And Then Some
6. Chilly Winds Don't Blow
7. Ain't No Use
8. Strange Fruit
9. Sinnerman


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Anita O'Day - Cool Heat (1959), Once Upon a Summertime (1963) and Anita O'Day Sings The Winners (1990)

Hitting the ground running on this, my return from summer hiatus. Anita O'Day is one of my favorite jazz vocalists ever. With her supple, shining copper tone and her short, sexy delivery, O'Day is maybe the only white jazz singers to hold her own among her inspirations, heavyweights like Billie and Ella. Beyond her musical talent, Anita was also a strong, sassy, shit-talkin' lady and a survivor of long-term addiction and abuse.

The tunes she sings on these recordings generally stay within the realm of fast playful bebop and swing driven by Anita's fierce coolness and seemingly endless melodic flexibility (you try singing "Take The A Train" a capella sometime!). There is a bit of overlap between the albums and the compilation. The recording is a bit scratchy for Once Upon A Summertime, but they almost heighten the cool ambience of Anita's incomparable "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" or inventive "Girl From Ipanema". Thanks to Adam for this copy of Cool Heat, on which O'Day sings Jimmy Giuffre arrangements. Also, Buns O'Plenty recently put up an awesome collaboration between Anita and vibes player Cal Tjader, which I highly encourage you to check out.


Cool Heat

1. Mack The Knife
2. Easy Come, Easy Go
3. Orphan Annie
4. You're A Clown
5. Gone With The Wind
6. Hooray For Hollywood
7. It Had To Be You
8. Come Rain Or Come Shine
9. Hershey Bar
10. A Lover Is Blue
11. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
12. The Way You Look Tonight


Once Upon A Summertime

1. Sweet Georgia Brown
2. Love For Sale
4. They Can't Take That Away From Me
5. Boogie Blues
6. Tea For Two
7. Once Upon A Summertime
8. The Girl From Ipanema
9. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?
10. Night And Day
11. Anita's Blues
12. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square


Anita O'Day Sings the Winners

1. Take The "A" Train
2. Tenderly
3. Interlude (A Night In Tunisia)
4. Four
5. Early Autumn
6. Four Brothers
7. Sing, Sing, Sing
8. My Funny Valentine
9. Frenesi
10. Body and Soul
11. What's Your Story Morning Glory
12. Peanut Vendor (El Manisero)
13. Whisper Not
14. Blue Champagne
15. Stompin' At The Savoy
16. Hershey bar
17. Don't Be Tht Way
18. Peel Me a Grape
19. Star Eyes