What I’m Listening To

Listening-Recording-DeviceHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

Anybody out there want to know what I’m listening to these days?

… yeah, I didn’t think so either but I got nothing interesting to write about this week sooo, here goes!

GORILLAZ: PLASTIC BEACH

Gorillaz-Plastic_Beach2 I don’t know this band’s music all that well but a friend lent me ‘Plastic Beach’ to listen to with the accompanying remark that “There aren’t really any singles on here. It sounds like they’ve got enough money and they’re just doing what they want to now.” Indeed, it does sound like they were just having fun with some great guest artists. My two favourite tracks are Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach (featuring Snoop Dog and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble) and White Flag (featuring Bashy, Kano, and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music).

MILES DAVIS: LIVE AT THE BLACKHAWK (FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS)

hawk These albums are always in rotation at the Danderfer residence, ever since I bought them (on Kevin Dean‘s suggestion) back when I was about 14. Live albums, beautifully recorded, and the band is such a unit, so in tune with each other after years of touring. Featuring one of the all-time greatest rhythm sections: Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, this album was recorded in Miles’ post-Coltrane but (obviously) pre-Herbie/Ron/Tony/Wayne band. I love pretty much everything Miles’ played but this time period really resonates with me because his playing has the freedom and boldness of his next phase (with Herbie) but still retains the classic swinging sounds of Miles playing standards. As Billy Hart told me Miles said to him: “You can play right on the beat, but it’s gotta swing like a motherfucker. You can play behind the beat, but it’s gotta swing like a motherfucker. Or you can play on top of the beat, but it’s gotta swing like a motherfucker!” God bless Miles Davis!

GLENN GOULD: THE FRENCH SUITES

Bach_Gould_French I really enjoy the music of Bach, especially at the hands of the late great Glenn Gould. Listening to this music, it makes me think how silly it is that Classical music has a period called the “Romantic Period” and Bach isn’t in it. Beautiful recording.

Well, speaking of beautiful, it’s a beautiful Summer day in Vancouver now so I’m going outside. Have a great week everyone! jd

  • Gavin

    Hey James,
    Good listening and wonderful choices. Next time we meet I’ll tell you about being at the Blackhawk on Friday night with my best buddy, the late drummer Eddie Moore. We met the whole band and even Miles talked to us! We also got in for free!!!!!!

  • http://jamesdanderfer.com james

    Gavin! Really!? Are you serious!? YOU WERE FUCKING THERE!? WOW!

    We have to get together so you can tell me about that! That’s awesome!

  • Gavin

    We’ll do that for sure man soon. Also the legal drinking age in Calif. in 1961 was 21. I was 20….UNDERAGE!!!!! Eddie was one year older but he was a big dude, built a bit like Cannonball so no one questioned me about age.

  • cg magik

    How can you talk about that album without mentioning Hank Mobley ? i used to listen to that ALL the time, great album .. although I think i only had one of the nights .. The one with Oleo, I Didn’t etc ..

  • http://jamesdanderfer.com james

    @ cg magik, you’re right that WAS ridiculous to not mention Hank Mobley since that’s the reason I bought the CD in the first place! Hank’s playing is so much more free on that album than on other records I’ve heard and his sound is recorded beautifully. I don’t know if this was the case BUT it seems like the rhythm section had the more free/exploratory vibe from playing with Coltrane and Mobley was trying to get into that a bit, making for an all-around perfect balance of freedom, openness, and hard swing. That’s the impression I get anyways.

  • Gavin

    That rhythm section was wide open and freer than the usual more locked-in groove that was prevelant then. I’ve always been a huge Sonny Stitt fan and follower (talk about underrated) and Stitt for a short period and a few tours replaced Coltrane in that band (Jimmy Heath was Miles’ first choice but because he was on parole he couldn’t travel to gigs)…Stitt came in and was documented on some European CDs with pretty good sound. Stitt played lots of alto and some tenor and as he was a more “four on the floor” type player rhythmically he had to adjust to that rhythm section. Also he took a minute to adjust to the modal tunes….”So What” “All Blues”. As Stitt was basically a loner and liked to work with pick-up bands he left and was replaced by Hank. Those European CDs are worth looking for as Miles plays quite differently and busier I guess due to not having Trane on the front line.

  • Gavin

    This is my last comment on this (y’all can breathe a sigh of relief). The reason this post hit me was because I witnessed one of the evenings on these historic records and it was being able to see bands like this and others (Trane’s band, Cannonball’s group, Brubeck’s quartet with Paul, the MJQ etc.) that confirmed to me that I wanted to pursue music and be able to play it.
    The original LPs were wonderful…great sound quality etc. They are still valued by collectors. However, as generous as they were they were still limited by time constraints. Much of the material was edited..LP Vol.1 only Walkin’ and Blackbird are unedited. On LP Vol.2, So What and Neo are unedited. The edits usually left out Mobley. The first CD issues of this stuff took out the edits on a few tunes and restored only some of the material. The best issues are the Legacy issues put out in 2003.The order of the tunes is restored properly….all of Friday night’s music is in the order of performance as is Saturday night. No edits! Everything is there and much of it previously unissued. Plus a great addition to the notes by Eddie Henderson at whose house Miles was staying during this visit. Eddie’s step-dad was Miles’ doctor. This was the ultimate issue of these dates and they corrected much of what was missing on the original LPs, especially the sequencing.
    You might be shocked to hear this James, but when the LPs came out the critics (Down Beat etc) praised the albums and Down Beat gave them 4 stars. They basically said that with the exception of Hank Mobley the band is great. They said that Hank was pleasantly competent but added little to the group other than filling up space and that his ideas were uninteresting. They lavished praise on Miles and Kelly and the rest. How wrong could they be about Hank. Opinions like that changed my attitude toward those “professional critics and writers.” That’s it, and like Miles says’ “Bye-Bye”.

  • http://jamesdanderfer.com james

    @ Gavin, yeah, that is surprising, that’s some of my favourite Hank ever. I got that album around the same time I picked up ‘soul station’ but I ended up only transcribing the Blackhawk Hank. Beautiful music.