In the Vanguard


One of the high points of taking part as both witness and participant at Soul In Buffalo. A Curriculum of the Soul, was the music provided by pianist Kevin Doyle, as I presented an experiential learning moment, .Playing With the Gods, An Experiential Learning Moment in the Curriculum in the Soul, as the last event of the conference. (“A three-day free conference, will celebrate and explore Charles Olson’s legacy and extension through A Curriculum of the Soul, a series of poetic essays published as fascicles edited by Albert Glover and John C. (Jack) Clarke.”

Kevin essayed classic after classic on his portable acoustic keyboard. He very likely didn’t know several things about me. First, I’m a completely devoted jazzbo for almost 40 years, and, I’ve never done squareONE experiential learning to a jazz soundtrack. There’s a large section of my mostly private thinking about adult experiential learning which, in different ways, refers to improvisation in music, and, obviously, this in turn is anchored to my experience of jazz.

Another highlight happened when a group of us went to Casa-Di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo on Friday night. Poet, scholar. musician Charles Palau regaled our end of the table with stories of his living the jazzbo’s life in the seventies in NYC. I remain in awe, and come close to experiencing envy–an emotion I otherwise am not configured to feel–to hear about nights spent at the feet of the masters. Those lucky persons always know how fortunate he or she was, yet, because I spent my formative jazzbo years in Vermont rather than in the jazz clubs of New York, I always find the recounting of more direct experience moving.

(It occurs to I might in a future post explain how lucky I was to land in Vermont–where I figured out another approach to jazz.)

Most incredibly, there is a final, third connection to the jazz atmosphere of the Olsonian karass. The first time I heard lived jazz was in my parent’s living room sometime in the sixties. The player was Jack Clarke, himself a student of Charles Olson, a poet, and as I learned in November, an artist for whom jazz was a touchstone. I didn’t realize I had this connection until a week before the conference when I asked my mother if the “Jack Clarke” who played at parties at my childhood house, was the same John Clarke who was a professor of American literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and, a poet, and, crucially, one of Olson’s deepest students; although, initiate might be the superior term.

My mother couldn’t pin down the chronology, but it may be that Clarke was in Cleveland at Western Reserve University at the same time my mother was there, teaching English.

This strange, almost circular, connection would have more profound ramifications were I more familiar with the fascinating milieu of Olson, The Black Mountain School, and, its consequential counter-the-consensus culture turn. A turn made as the influence of Olson, Creeley, Glover, Clarke, and others, rippled through a series of east coast generations, ending up soulfully centered in Buffalo.

I had a thorough, transformative engagement with counter-culture elements, roughly during its third generation, that comes to roll on the tracks of this revealed circular connection. For, it did happen that jazz sonics entered my environment with Jack Clarke, and then, something like forty years later, the hippie-cum-hipster comes to taste a bit of the Olsonian soul.

As for John Clarke, I’d like to point you in the direction of a description by poet Steve Ellis, of the thrust of Clarke’s explorations.

It blooms off of this stem:

His poetics begins with an opulent persistence of materials in mission. He takes these out of their “natural” context, believing that they belong in propositions and that a nonpropositional storehouse of poetry has no real claim on poetic materials.

He considers poetry not as a “criticism” of life, but as one of life’s alternatives. He’s not involved with the ethics and accuracy implied in diagramming such an alternative so much as he is drawn towards a recognition of those periods in which he is committedly living and using it — by which poetry comes to an effectiveness which is neither commercial, classic nor aesthetic. (continued)

…something like this approaches the devotion to jazz-making. (Charles Mingus: “In my music, I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.”)

source: JFK’s Head Blown Out from a Cosmic Inflationary Spiral: Stephen Ellis on Poetry, Jack Clarke, Palestine, Position-Taking, the End of the World, and Cyberpoetry –

(The Jack in jackmagazine is Keruoac. However, the beat is universal.

Jazz Gems, Modern Mainstream, 2010

When I hear somebody I don’t know is a jazz fan, I almost always ask him or her ‘how are you dealing with the cornucopia?’

Earlier I highlighted some rock records from this year that have earned more than my attention.

With jazz the challenge in doing the same is, for me, longstanding. There’s just way-too-much artistry moved to crank out recordings I want to deal with. It’s funny too because I’ve largely finished dealing with the music’s history–a 20+ year task. Yet, the music just keeps rolling in. Unlike it is with pop and rock music, the number of jazz artists whose artistry beckons me to deal with every last recorded note is–how to put it–legion.

The following four records are all Five Star moments. I could have listed many more in the mainstream mode. I’ll follow up with a few choices from envelope pushers.

Dave Holland - PathwaysDave Holland Octet
Dare2 Records

More goodness in the post-bop modern mode from the ever-consistent, ever probing master bass player, composer, and auteur of the modern jazz ensemble. review at allaboutjazz

Keith Jarrett-Charlie Haden - Jasmine Keith Jarrett – Charlie Haden
ECM Records

The pianist and bassist present their latest argument for the existence of musical ESP. review at allaboutjazz

Warriors - The CookersWarriors
The Cookers
JIP Records

Collect giants of modern hard bop and modal jazz together and you get this: stirring and masterly essays on the state of the art. Billy Harper (tenor sax), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Craig Handy (alto sax/flute), George Cables (piano), Cecil McBee (bass) and Billy Hart (drums)

Jessica WilliamsJessica Williams
Jazz Focus Records[/td][td]No surprise here: the gifted pianist for the umpteenth time demonstrates her probing genius in another daring recital.
review at allaboutjazz

Dub Collision Mix: Blues for Harvey Pekar

(see, if you wish, my recollections of my brief, but crucial, encounters with Harvey Pekar, while working at a record store in the mid-seventies.

1 Fats Navarro-Lady Bird 2:52
2 Bud Powell-Wait 3:05
3 Thelonious Monk-Introspection 3:12
4 Art Pepper-Surf Ride 4:42
5 Max Roach & Clifford Brown-Sandu 4:59
6 Thelonious Monk-Let’s Call This 5:07
7 Miles Davis-Tadd’s Delight 4:31
8 Art Pepper-Arthur’s Blues 15:22

Moholo-Moholo – African Lion

Louis Moholo-Moholo is a South African drummer, who has spent most of his career playing both in ensembles led by illuminaries of the European jazz community, and, leading his own distinctive groups. He turned seventy on March 10. His career stretches over sixty years, with most of it centered in the United Kingdom, his home, after he arrived in 1964 with the crew of self-exiled South Africans, until 2005, when he returned to South Africa.

It would take pages to recap the highlights he has provided in recording with the likes of Evan Parker, Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, Harry Miller, Irene Schweizer, David Murray, Keith Tippett, and many many others, as well as his singular work with The Blue Notes, The Brotherhood of Breath, Chris McGregor, and his own groups–over four decades. It is enough to say that he is the finest trap drummer an entire continent, Africa, has yet produced. His signature drumming qualities are, to me, two: stirringly organic, and, shockingly creative.

Last year, his recording with the pianist Marilyn Crispell, Sibanye, struck me as yet another peerless throw down with a piano-playing peer. The record is brilliant of course. It can’t really be dealt with unless the listener visits its virtuoso territory again and again. The same can be said for his outing with Stan Tracey, Khumbula (2005.)
An Open Letter to My Wife Mpumi. The record seems to me to nail his vision for his own music. Moholo-Moholo’s music sounds a clarion song of liberation within its rigorous structures, and can be said to be freedom music, not free jazz. His bandmates, most of whom is has been working with for some time, form one of music’s most thrilling groups right now.

[Video Removed]
Pino Minafra’s MinAfric Orchestra featuring Keith & Julie Toppett and Louis Moholo-Moholo

Louis Moholo-Moholo – when free jazz means freedom

for further investigation:
Tony McGregor’s The Blue Notes: the South African Jazz Exiles


Cadillac Records (Ogun)
Dusty Groove America | The Jazz Loft

Jeanne Lee – Ran Blake 1963

something's coming (L. Bernstein – S. Sondheim)
Uploaded by aldezabal. – Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Jeanne Lee | Ran Blake

The internet is amazing. take it away if you must, but leave the jazz videos, eh?

Jeanne Lee left the mortal coil at the too young age of 61 in 2000. I object to the Wikipedia’s description, ‘she was one of the foremost exponents of free jazz in the vocal application,’ (but I also don’t like the term free jazz much at all.) I have no idea where the wikipedian got the idea a fuzzy informal term could cover the taut and extremely focused inventiveness Jeanne Lee expressed right from the beginning of her career.

In the early sixties Ms. Lee, Sheila Jordan, Abby Lincoln, and Helen Merrill, (and a little later Betty Carter,) all strove to break through out of the Lady Day-Sassy-Ella-Chris Connor models. They went forth differently and succeeded too. They did free jazz singing from those heavy duty antecedents. But, there’s no cogent answer to the question, ‘what makes Jeanne Lee a free jazz singer?’

She sang freely. Hers was the most ambitious experiment of them all.

Dub Collision Mix – Sax Gladness

Years ago a fellow jazz fanatic asked me what my favorite instrument was ‘in jazz.’ I blurted out “saxophone.” He told me I had to narrow it down. I thought for a minute, and gave him the correct answer, “Piano!” What had I been thinking initially?

Still, I can’t narrow it, the saxophone, down. You wish for me to weigh preferences between Coltrane and Parker and Lacy? Nocando. . . .between David Murray, Jackie McLean, and Hamiett Bluiett? Idontthinkso.

SAX GLADNESS unissued live recordings

1 The Heath Brothers f. Jimmy Heath – Prince Albert 14:23 (Dec. 1, 1983, Tokyo)
2 Benny Golson – Whisper Not 9:34 (1988, Kyoto)
3 Lucky Thompson – On Green Dolphin Street 6:35 (Nov, 22, 1968, Rotterdam)
4 Dexter Gordon – Society Red 16:17 (Sept. 13, 1988, Tokyo)
5 Booker Ervin – You Don’t Know What Love Is 8:13 (Feb. 18, 1966, Hilversum)
6 Sonny Rollins – Night & Day 11:31 (1965, Stockholm)