Foghorns,Trombones, Clean Feed, Etcetera.

Bob Burnett: I've recently been wandering around www.emusic.com for some music I haven't discovered before. I'm happy to say I've fallen upon the Clean Feed label out of Portugal. The first discovery I made was a duet album from 1995 by Anthony Braxton and Joe Fonda and that led me to a wonderfully abstract find--Joëlle Léandre/Pascal Contet's Freeway a series of 12 open compositions for contrebass and accordion. Joëlle Léandre is an artist that I've had on my "must explore" list for awhile and I plan to do more digging. She has a John Cage-Morton Feldman-Derek Bailey pedigree and has been weaving within the avant/classic/jazz/improv world for several decades. Freeway is open and exploratory--a very challenging but worth it venture.

Another discovery I made on emusic was the Etcetera label--most notably a John Cage composition I had never heard, Two5: Music for Trombone and Piano interpreted by trombonist James Fulkerson. The composition is a subdued 39 minutes of long tones, subtle piano chords, open space and contemplative resonance. I'm reminded of Stuart Dempster's work with Pauline Oliveros in the Deep Listening Band--you may recall a review I wrote (way back) about their "atmospheric space music".

A further connection I made was with sound sculptor Bill Fontana. In the mid '80s a friend in the San Francisco bay area sent me a cassette tape of a radio broadcast he recorded of Fontana's Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns--a work where 8 microphones were installed in a variety of geographic locations in the bay area to capture multiple acoustic delays of the fog horns on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is an astounding work. Fontana has travelled the world capturing engaging sound environments. His webpage is a great resource where many of his activites are documented with visuals and sound clips.


Erin McKeown: KCRW Presents

Kim Kirkpatrick: Erin McKeown surfaced in 1999 with her self released Monday Morning Cold. She toured, released two more CDs, a few EPs, and was generally defined as a folk singer/songwriter. Her fourth release, We Will Become Like Birds (2005) was produced by Tucker Martine* and this recording revealed an element of alternative rocker in her. Honestly no grunge is included, it rocks in a clean way, with excellent musicianship, and a beautiful recording quality**. All the tracks on KCRW Presents (2005) are from We Will Become Like Birds, performed live in the studio.

Erin McKeown tours incessantly, and because of this daily grind and her love of performing, it could be argued that live is the way to hear her. McKeown and band flex more musical muscle and interact with a wonderful push and pull on this KCRW live performance. The line up includes, Julie Wolf on various electronics/vocals, Neil Clearly plays drums/vocals, occasional vocals from Kris Delmhorst, and Erin McKeown on lead vocals and electric guitar. And she is a fine guitar player, inventive, rhythmically complex, and generally with a slightly overdriven, warm tube sound. Neil Clearly’s drumming is excellent, a fine choice for pushing McKeown’s driving rock songs, or for bringing a light jazz swing to the performance. It is a treat to focus on the interaction between the primary instruments, drums and guitar, not a common experience and one that expresses an up lifting, connected relationship between these two musicians. Julie Wolf’s electronic touches are tasteful and serve to color and fill out the mood of each song.

All of these songs deal with relationships and/or flight, both physical and spiritual. With all the flying and occasional bird referenced lyrics it is interesting to note that Erin studied ornithology at Brown University. It should also be noted this is clearly an intelligent, thoughtful, spiritually positive, young woman (almost 30). Since KCRW Presents McKeown has continued a grueling tour schedule and released Sing You Sinners (2006) a collection of american jazz standards, and in September (2007) will release a live CD called Lafayette.

*Tucker Martine has worked with an interesting variety of musicians including, Bill Frisell, The Decemberists, Wayne Horvitz, and Eyvind Kang. Got your attention now Bob, eh?

(Bob Burnett: Yeah--and with a little digging I found this info: "Producer Tucker Martine and McKeown came together to record We Will Become Like Birds. This album featured duets with Argentine artist Juana Molina and singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey."

** Somewhat relatable to Joan Armatrading’s earlier material, the music rocks but presents a variety of dynamics, and an underlying jazz touch. Similarities also feel right to compare Dave Mattack’s drumming for Joan Armatrading and Neil Clearly’s work with Erin McKeown, but I’ll leave that investigation up to you.


Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions

Bob Burnett: I just received a heads up (thanks Marc) that the next (and supposedly final installment) in the series of Legacy Miles Davis box sets is being released on September, 25.

1972's On the Corner was the release that made many "jazz" fans run the other way. It seems many listeners could tolerate Bitches Brew at arms length as some sort of momentary phase, but On the Corner was too much to handle. I personally love this album and this period of Miles Davis and I am very curious to hear the box set. This was the point when Miles brought together European soundscape concepts with American funk into a Sly and the Family Stockhausen approach. He let the ensemble's sound be the driving and inspired focus--choosing to bury his trumpet in the mix as a layered sound-treated object instead of a "jazz" solo instrument. This album is a hypnotic groove more so than a series of songs---I can't imagine what trip hop would have become without it. This collection is presented as a 6-CD 120 page book effort. It covers material that was eventually found over three Davis albums--On the Corner, Big Fun and Get Up With It.


Joe Zawinul:RIP

There's an excellent obituary for Joe Zawinul in The Independent. It maps out the broad range of music he was involved with throughout his life. He may have been in Weather Report, played with Dinah Washington and wrote "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" for "Cannonball" Adderley however, nothing compares to his composition and playing on, "In a Silent Way" which was recorded in 1969 by Miles Davis. If you've never heard "Silent Way" you've been missing out on a stunningly beautiful composition/album. The album is made up of two album-side long compositions and is like no other music that Miles Davis made. In fact, the closest thing I can think of was Joe Zawinul's first solo album that came out a year later simply titles Zawinul.

I just checked Amazon and Zawinul is still available. It continues the concepts first put in place with Miles Davis and according to some sources, was what set the groundwork for the jazz "supergroup", Weather Report, which featured Zawinul and Wayne Shorter.


Crazy Horse at the Fillmore 1970

Bob Burnett: I finally picked this one up.

I don't know why it took me so long to buy it--seeing as though Neil Young & Crazy Horse happens to be some some of my favorite all time music. It seem as long as I've been listening to music I've had some kind of relationship with this band. To this day, I continue to be in never-cease-to-amaze-me awe at the guitar/vocal interplay the late Danny Whitten and Neil Young achieved--and while I've only spent a short span of time with this album compared to three decades with everything else they did, this one rings to me as a high-water mark in what they made happen during their time together.

The model they created featured Neil out front on lead guitar; his fuzzy, thick tone pushing and exploring sound textures and searching for new sonic space. Danny would be right there too on rhythm guitar; a constant and rich presence. He had a resonant tone that was as identifiable as Neil's bursting, swaying attack. Danny mesmerizes me when I isolate and focus on his guitar playing. He kept a controlled pace, found color and nuance at every chord change or inventive arpeggio in ways that offered Neil an open door to go deeper and deeper into a song.

This Fillmore 1970 recording is an incredibly significant historical release of a band at the top of their game. Mainstay "Horse" members Billy Talbot (bass) and Ralph Molina (drums)--who still make up the spine of the band--are solid and tight. Jack Nitzsche played keyboards and offers quiet, subdued yet steady support. As I listened to the thin, boyish voice of Neil Young from 37 years ago talking to the audience it became apparent that this band considered themselves a band and not just a "pop star" back-up band. Danny Whitten takes over on lead vocals on "C'mon Baby Let's Go Downtown" and draws me further into the possibility this band possessed. I really like this version of "Downtown" (which re-emerged a few years later on "Tonight's the Night", made after Danny's death) with Danny's shimmering chords and strong "push" happening on lead vocals.

There is so much more I could say about this band--what they achieved not only as a band but the personal listening experience they created for me. It almost seems best just to let it speak for itself. To me, this group made magic.

(Added content---I was exploring Neil Young's webpage last night and found an interesting streaming video about this release. I failed to mention Fillmore 1970 also comes in a high resolution(24bit/96k)--not DVD audio--version with a DVD of still photos from the concert and other archival material. Some are screaming "foul" because the DVD doesn't include motion video. The webpage also features a tease for an 8 CD- 2 DVD archival box set Neil Young Archives vol. 1: 1963-1972. This supposedly will be released this year as well as an album titled Chrome Dreams II. Chrome Dreams was the name of the legendary non-released album from the mid-seventies that was the original home for songs such as "Like A Hurricane", an alternate version of "Pochahontas" and others that eventually appeared on American Stars and Bars, Rust Never Sleeps and Comes a Time. )