Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jimmy Heath, Swamp Seed (OJC)

Every time it rains our new lawn becomes a new bayou. Puddles form everywhere until the whole damn place is just one puddle, a great lake. This probably has to do with the thick clay consistency of the soils in this part of the world, the fact that where once stood cities used to be the bottom of a glacier that once melted, once receded, once left five giant interconnected puddles that some have called inland oceans, some have called the third coast, some have called a perfect place to build a factory, some have filled with rust. The beavers come up from the stream out back and they don't know if they should walk or swim or go on strike, even the small mammifers round these parts long ago joined the wobblies and are now just waiting for capitalism's other shoe to DROP. Rain falls and the water keeps building up around the foundation and I get the vague sensation of what it must feel like to be underwater with your mortgage, drowning. Eventually this will pass. Either the sun will come out and the clay will crack. Or we'll be halfway underwater. In which case we'll have to plant some rice. Don Butterfield's tuba on Monk's "Nutty" will surely help us watch it grow.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Let's not get too fancy with this one, but somewhere definitely south: Grilos Vinho Tinto (Touriga/Tinto Roriz/Alforcheiro), Dão, Portugal, 2007.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis & Johnny Griffin Quintet, "The Tenor Scene" (OJC)

This is one of few reviews of this album on the internet, but you know, this is the best one out there. Once Junior Mance hits his solo on "Straight, No Chaser," you also know something else: classic. And once the tenors start talking... but everything ain't just two dudes talking. My place in time is a big-nada history, but my place with you is shown symbolically.

Suggested Wine Pairing: To put out this fire you will need a fIREHOSE and at least 15% alc./vol.: Bodegas La Cartuja, Priorat, 2007. Me and Mike Watt playing guitar.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blue Mitchell, Blue Soul (Riverside)

Friday night dinner is not on Thursday or Sunday or Monday. Saturday dinner is a formal affair, you have friends coming over so you plan out a five or six course feast using every utensil in the cabinet. Sunday is roasted something or other with potatoes and gravy, just like grandma used to make. Wednesday is the middle of the week and you're tired of leftovers from Monday and Tuesday. But Friday has to be quick and full of flavor, so you went out of your way on your way back home, past the fishmonger's shop (because, of course, every town village and city has a fishmonger's shop that somehow survived out of the 19th century) and you pick up a bag of fresh mussels. You come home, drop off your shit and change, and then you drop, oh I don't know, half a stick of butter in a pot, let that melt slowly. Then throw in some garlic and red pepper flake, then four or five sprigs of parsley. And don't forget some fresh thyme, essential, a few tablespoons of thyme (like Tom Waits say, "And it's thyme thyme thyme for you to love, and it's thyme thyme thyme"). Let that saute up until your whole damn house smells like herb. Next, you throw in all the mussels you just washed and stir them around until they're warm enough, then the white wine, what I don't know, half a bottle of Pinot Gris (drinking the other half in the meanwhile) and enough salt to salt it, and you let it all steam up. You pour it all out into a bowl, cut up some baguette for dipping, kiss your beautiful love, and then -- and maybe this is the most important part -- throw on some Blue Mitchell and let the time ride itself out on this mellowest of all mellow Friday dinners.

Suggested Wine Pairing: If you've got the thyme, you need something to pick up the thyme. That would be La Cattura, Teroldego/Syrah, Toscana, 2006.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Miles Davis, Agartha (Columbia)

Best to observe how the musicians don't play. Of course, you want them to go off, but there's also joy to be found in watching dudes sit out, especially if dude's the leader. Somewhere somehow someone started a thought: The group began to think it out: Once they started thinking the leader put her/his two cents down and now s/he wants to listen to what the others have to say. How are we going to finish this thought? If I were Machiavelli I'd say that the prince must think the thought over for a while before deciding where the rest should go, how they should follow out to an end. Sitting out: it's not just thinking or listening, but rather listening to one's thoughts on thought itself: A second order of thought entirely.

It's never easy to listen though fusion. As great as some albums are from the 70s, the specters of Rick Wakeman dressed in a goofy rhinestone cape in front of his mellotron or Vangelis biting his lower lip and grooving his excess out never trail far behind. Jaco was great, but by the 781,000th note of his 1,000,000 note solo you can probably feel John Tesh warming up backstage.

Then again, you come back to Miles on Agartha and Pangaea, both recorded on the same date in 1975. The funk is lowdown and heavy, bass, synth, and congas laying down long singular ropes of the neverending line, both guitars hitting their wahwahs like drums, all punctured by occasional shreds of Miles' electric organ or trumpet. Sounds like everyone is playing in their own time signature, and yet wild thick and thorny fields open before you. And the amazing thing is, Miles barely plays! Most of the time he's sitting out.

I don't think we ever found out where that thought went. He laid out for the next six years and never quite came back. Maybe thought's still playing out...

Recommended wine pairing: Now it's 2010, and man I gotta tell you, having sat the last year out I'm still waiting on Miles, watching him listen. That's not easy work, and so you'll need something on your palette that smooths and rolls while you're at it: Johnson Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Freedom is Free!!

Well well well... A long time coming. The bad news is that I haven't been able to blog the Jazz du Terroir for many moons. The good news is that I may have discovered how to podcast in the meantime. If this works, you'll hear ten or so of my fave free jazz tracks (or tracks approximating the free).

The list:

Spoken Intro
David Murray, "The Fast Life" (from Ming)
Albert Ayler, "Ghosts: First Version" (from Spiritual Unity)
Andrew Hill, "Unnatural Man" (from Nefertiti)
Ornette Coleman, "Jordan" (from Sound Grammar)
William Parker, "Foundation #2" (from Painter's Spring)
John Coltrane, "Ascent" (from Sun Ship)
Tomasz Stanko, "First Song" (from Balladyna)
David S. Ware, "Alignment" (from The Wisdom of Uncertainty)
Cecil Taylor, "Living (dedicated to Julian Beck)" (from For Olim)
David Murray, "Interboogieology" (from Interboogieology)

Suggested Wine Pairing: Drink whatever you got!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)

Who would we be without ghosts? They don't exist, precisely the point. I'll explain better: Every time Nirmala has read my cards, I realize that I believe not a bit in the Tarot. This makes the correctness of her divinations of my future all the more enjoyable when they come to pass. I have two explanations for this phenomenon. First, in any given situation, there are only a limited number of possible outcomes; but there are just enough possible outcomes that they defy rational comprehension, you can't predict the one outcome because your mind cannot fathom the 297,154 permutations set in front of it. The Tarot: a limited number of symbols that may be arranged in multiple, yet still finite, configurations, just enough to boggle your mind and predict your future. The second explanation is a bit more unsettling: nothing exists without its negation. Which is to say, nothing exists. If a thing exists, its nothing must also not exist. No meaning without nonsense. No life without afterlife. No body (or mind) without ghosts. But, of course, ghosts do not exist. We've come too far as a species to fall back into superstition, material reality is fine by me. Ghosts do not exist, but no mind (or body) without them. This is why we have Ornette Coleman, in all his harmolodic splendor.

Suggested Wine Pairing: You're going to need something tough, thick, and dark to make it back to daylight, something to flood your palatte with life before its tannins and alcohol evaporate into your sinuses. Domaine Berthoumieu, Rouge Madiran, 2004.

Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder (Blue Note)

Some times you need Finnegan's Wake. But not oftentimes. You need Joyce, the world needs Joyce. But some times you want John Updike. Some times you need Eugene Ionesco, but some times you want Tennessee Williams. Some times you need Duchamp, but some times you want John Singer Sargent. Some times you need Vallejo, but some times you want Neruda. Some times you need Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges, but some times you want Jameson's on rocks. Some times you need "Revolution 9," but some times you want "Satisfaction." Some times you need "Hiroshima, Mon Amour," but some times you want "Duck Soup." Some times you need pan-seared fois gras served on poached pears, but some times you want a chocolate shake and fries. Check that. You always need pan-seared fois gras on poached pears. But when you get the chocolate shake and fries it still makes you very happy. Like all things in life. We always need someone or some thing difficult, someone or some thing to show us new ways to see hear smell taste touch, however painful the process. But some times we just want something that is beautifully crafted, and it helps if it's got some serious groove. Some times you need Ascension. Some times you want Lee Morgan's Sidewinder.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Something good to wash down the shake & fries? I'll take Earthworks Shiraz, Barossa Valley Australia, 2007.


Apologies for the delay in getting posts up on Jazz du Terroir. Over the past several weeks I've been secluded for the most part, immersing myself in Walter Benjamin and high-end avant-garde Brazilian pornography. (Alas, there are worse fates.) In any event, as a result this has turned into a slow-blog, and no one likes the slow-blog. New posts later tonite.

In the meantime, might I recommend you open a bottle of your favorite, maybe go through all those Ahmad Jamal records you've been saving for this very occasion...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

John Coltrane, The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (Impulse)

On the way to 2009, Ania and I asked the wine seller to pick the perfect wine to bid farewell to the old year and bring in the new. He landed on a California Cabernet grown on hillside of dark, glassy rock, so steep that it was almost a cliff and nearly inaccessible. This produced gnarled, thorny vine from which very few fruits sprung, thick-skinned and filled with bejeweled incandescent juice. The ridge was so steep that what fruit there was could not be picked by machine, so that every grape had to be picked by a human hand that had scratched its way up the hill and scraped its skin against the trunk of the vine. The result of this torturous process? A wine of such deep color and dense beauty that it will haunt us for the rest of the year, at least.

Coltrane is hand that claws its way up the ridge. Coltrane is the plunge off the cliff. He is the center that holds. He is the train that ties India to Brasilia, Miles to Medieval Europe. The path is almost impossible, almost inaccessible, almost too much to handle, almost perfection, almost bliss. The rock that hits another, chips of glass fly off, carves a an obsidian arrowhead so sharp it pierces your heart instantly. You felt pain, this is true. But you can leave all the torture behind you. It's time to start anew.

Suggested Wine Pairing: There is no point of buying an incomplete "Village Vanguard," because once you start you will be compelled to get the complete 4-disc set. Likewise for the Obsidian Ridge Red Hills Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Henry Threadgill, Spirit of Nuff...Nuff (Black Saint)

Say what? Punctus contra punctum. My man John Rahn (Music Inside Out, 2000): "It is hard to write a beautiful song. It is harder to write several individually beautiful songs that, when sung simultaneously, sound as a more beautiful polyphonic whole. The internal structures that create each of the voices separately must contribute to the emergent structure of the polyphony, which in turn must reinforce and comment on the structures of the individual voices. The way that is accomplished in detail is...'counterpoint.'" It is even harder to improvise beautiful counterpoint. And it is even harder to do that with two electric guitars over two tubas, Threadgill's choice of alto or flute, and drums pulsing zydeco... like baroque chamber music for New Orleans brass band. Historical counterpoint... Hysterical counterpoint.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Hmmm... something unusual but palatable, and a white to go with the guitars (white wines seem to go better with electricity). Ah yes, a Roussane, but one that plays against Grenache and Viognier: Chateau L'Ermitage, Rhone Valley 2006, with thanks to Rachel and Ruth for the tip. Nuff...said.

Charlie Haden, Etudes (Soul Note)

5:30pm. And I wonder where I'm driving. I notice that the time of day has changed. Whereas in summer I would be looking forward to a long afternoon, in winter it might as well be midnight except for all the suits driving home from wherever it is they work. At least they're driving home. They stayed at home all weekend putting up their Christmas tree, hanging round metallic ornaments, and covering perfectly ripe oranges with spikes of clove. I never quite understood the purpose of the clove-encrusted orange, although I admire the way it might rest there in a large decorative bowl in the living room, golden fire behind it, Paul Motian's shimmering cymbals, Geri's Allen's light touch on keys around Charlie Haden's bass, the most lyrically beautiful version of Ornette's "Lonely Woman" ever laid down to tape (including the original, if you can believe that). By the time "Sandino" comes on, I have an urge to throw it into the fire place and watch it burn slowly all the colors of burnt crimson on the cover, releasing the aroma of clove and orange into the winter night. 5:31pm.

Suggested Wine Pairing:
What to go with fruit and spice? Must be a pinot, one as crisp as a fresh apple: Sipino Pinot Noir, Oregon 2006.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wes Montgomery, Full House, Recorded Live at Tsubo - Berkeley, CA (OJC/Riverside)

There was a time back in the 80s when a nothing bespoke class and sophistication more than a glass of Merlot. If Krystle Carrington poured Blake Carrington a Manhattan in 1981, by 1984 she was throwing a glass of Merlot at Alexis. That's class. As in, my American grandmother would have found this all terribly "posh," because you know, "they're millionaires." My dear Grandma also found the Lincoln Mark VI to be the most extravagantly posh automobile to ever hit the roads, something I suspect she knew she would never be able to afford. Bless her heart, child of the Depression, Eleanor Read knew that some luxuries were simply not worth pursuing, unless you truly were a millionaire. Of course, in this day and age, when every statement from TIAA/CREF or United Health Care that remains unopened in our mailbox leaves us with a feeling of impending doom, we strive to overcome our dread by looking down in judgment on the excesses of the recent past, as if we would have never even considered ever going into some cheesy neon-lit bar (wearing shoulder pads no less) and ordering a glass of Merlot. But somebody watched "Dynasty," even in its 1988 death throes. And somebody voted for Dick Cheney, even after his 1988 death throes... and then voted for that undead vampire again in 2004. But that somebody, quite obviously, wasn't us. If you still you feel so superior amidst the onset of the New Great Depression, then consider me this: How life would be so impoverished -- nay, so much less worth living -- if we never had a glass of Merlot to drink in the first place. In that sense, you can get used to neon light real fast, if'n you've got Wynton Kelly on piano, Johnny Griffin (good god, let me repeat that, Johnny Griffin) on sax, and the thumb-picked octaves of Wes Montgomery leading the show. Maybe it won't change your world or put more cash in your retirement fund. But I ain't so sophisticated that I can't ask for another glass.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Why is it I always go back to the mid 80s in these blog entries? Well, there's no time to think of a proper answer when there's a bottle of Montes Alpha Merlot 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile on the table. (Come to think of it, Montes Alpha and Wes Montgomery just might change your world.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Andrew Hill, Nefertiti (Test of Time Records)

Let me tell you something about the earth. The earth is what you pour in your glass. Get it in the right glass, and you can put your nose up to the rim. At first you think, is the glass itself I'm smelling? a known unknown caught somewhere between sand and fresh riverwater? The more it saturates your sinuses, you realize that you are smelling the clay pebbles of some country road in a valley of vineyards. The smell of the earth is so intense you begin to pick small pebbles from your teeth. This reminds you of a definition you read in the OED: [a. F. baroque adj., ad. Pg. barroco, Sp. barrueco, rough or imperfect pearl; of uncertain origin. An etymology of the word. The baroque is not some cathedral in Mexico City or Cuzco, all cherubs leafed in gold. The baroque is the pattern made by a million rough pearls, worn smooth by countless wagon wheels, brushed up by your heels on a country backroad in 17th century Portugal. The blues walked down those roads, too. That's also a description of the sound of Andrew Hill's keys on this record, polished by the wheels of Richard Davis' bass.

Suggested Wine Pairing: For those pebbles in the road, the road best traveled is, without question, the Clos des Brusquières Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2005.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Miles Davis, Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (Prestige)

On a lark I put this CD into our bedroom alarm clock one evening, under the assumption that waking up to the clock chimes of "If I Were a Bell" would instantly put us into the jazziest of jazz moods, everyday from here to eternity. After about a week I realized several things: 1) Waking up to the same chord progressions day after day, morning after morning, snooze after snooze, turns hellish after about 4 days; 2) after waking up in hell, you will be too tired to remember to take the disc out of said alarm clock; and 3) too much of a good time is not a good time, even if you've got Coltrane on your right channel. Put it this way: How many times do you listen to Sgt. Pepper's and still get anything out of it? The grooves in that record been needled through so many times you can just play it all in your head. So put it back on the shelf, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get "If I Were a Bell" randomized on your iPod, and you'll just catch a glimpse of what it was really all about before it was all about that.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Dude, once in a while, whatever's on the rack that's good, might grab you if your head's in the right place. Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2004.

Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage (Blue Note)

Who came first: Tony Williams, or the Ocean? A deceptive question, but think on it a bit. When the waves crash, do they not sound just like Tony's crash? Who or what is your point of reference? While you ponder, I will tell you a story: Once upon a time I washed up on an Honduran island. I don't remember too much about it, other than it being surrounded by barracudas and sea turtles, and swarming schools of tiny jellyfish. I do recall, however, walking back to my hut late one night after several Honduran beers. Alone on the beach, I dove into the water and the phosphorescent algae trailed my every movement. If you'd never been there you would find such an occurrence utterly fantastic or delusional. But if you have been there you could only recognize me as a realist of the imagination. As for me I saw fairy dust falling off my body with every twitch of my fingers, as if I were living through Disney's Peter Pan. I looked back to the shore and realized I had imagineered the closest replica to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland that could possibly exist -- because, of course, I was in the Caribbean. Or put it this way: I'm not quite sure what's on this record, it could be jazz or it could be John Tesh. All I know is that when I put it on I turn into that crazy dude with the knife in Polanski's Knife in the Water. Because I'm on the water, right there with George Coleman and Ron Carter. And Krzysztof Komeda in absentia.

Now, you may return to your philosophical musings on Tony Williams and the Ocean.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Currents are merely saltwater rivers in the ocean. Should you be fortunate enough to share a casual day yachting over them (at least in your mind), think of our mutual friend Herbie and open a bottle of River Road Merlot, Sonoma County, 2004.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Henry "Red" Allen and His New York Orchestra, 1929-1930 (JSP)

Like my friend Paul used to say back in the 80s, "I ain't no connoisseur cat / What kinda sewer is that?"  You know what else he used to say?  "I didn't come here to fight / Hey, unless if that is white!"  By which Paul meant, beer is for breakfast, but wine is for Sunday.  And every other day of the week, too, I'm guessing, even on the skyway.  So what's the "Red" stand for?  It's the historical juncture, a missing link, the time when a trumpeter could still go abstract from the smoky (and smoking) comfort of the corner joint.  Or rather, when the dude could still play the blues and conceptualize Modigliani, it's all right there.  Henry's in the tradition, no doubt, but he's smoothing it out (with his New York Orchestra) in a way that makes Duke inevitable, and how is it I can't stop hearing Parker and JJ Johnson?  The writing is on the wall, written in grafitti in the back stall, reminding us to Let it Be.  And Stink.   Written in red lipstick.  And Jesus right behind me, never got any smokes.   When I was young.  Before I even knew what an Alex Chilton was.  Paul screaming out drunk as John Berryman from the backrooms of the great Midwest was about all that sustained me.  When I was young.  Henry Red Allen didn't invent America, but he may have made it grow up.  It's still a black-and-white thing.  Read all over.

Suggeste Wine Pairing:  Paul don't drink that expensive Eur-O-Peen swill, and he definitely don't pay more than $10 for the privilege.  Corks are pretty much a drag, too.  Purists don't dig Paul, 'cause Paul's a dirty river (the one that runs through Minneapolis, actually).  Paul robs Peter, to pay Tim.  With the best screw-top bottle of red money can buy, I think:  Wyatt Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, California.   

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walter Bishop, Jr., "The Walter Bishop, Jr. Trio" (Prestige)

Ania has a particular kind of wine that's hers. She's not adverse to the super-expensive, incredibly refined vintage, of course. But for day-in day-out sipping pleasure, it's got to be deeply red, rich, full of tannins, smooth, and well, delicious but not so damned refined. This reminds me of the last few times I've played Coltrane's "Sun Ship" or Cecil Taylor Unit, you know, I really love that shit, and when I'm really feeling it I can't think of any higher expression of human passion. But sometimes you just not feeling that shit. There's a certain art to the 3-minute jazz track, a workman-like attitude to rolling through standards, not flashing the keys, just playing the right notes at the right time, not too many, not too few. Totally helps to have Jimmy Cobb riding along the ride. Walter Bishop Jr., dude knows where it's at. Ania's kind of wine.

Suggested Wine Pairing: What's that kind of wine? De Gras Reserva, Merlot, Colchagua Chile, 2006. Riding the ride.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jaki Byard, Blues for Smoke (Candid)

He could play anything he wants, really. Could play cowboys and indians for all I care. In some saloon with a bunch of drunken cowboys, strides up to the piano and takes requests. Some smelly cowhand named Rex asks for a waltz by Strauss, so he plays a few bars, and getting bored with that plays Strauss as if played by Jelly Roll Morton, and not content with that plays Strauss-Jelly Roll as a 9 year-old banging the keys, and then finishes it as Chico Marx acting the 9 year-old. But Hoss shouts out that he always preferred Mahler to Strauss and smashes Rex over the head with a bottle of moonshine. So he plays Mahler for a few bars, but decides he like to hear Mahler as arranged by Nelson Riddle. Pretty soon all the cowboys and their floosies are going wild throwing chairs at one another and shooting their pistols into the air, but he's still there on the piano playing some country blues like he was George Gershwin. He could play anything he wants, really. But what's he smoking? I don't know, but I want some. Just so I could pay him in smoke.

Suggested Wine Pairing: I think Jaki deserves a wine that works. And something with a good deal of smoke to it. Dude gets one of my favorites, the Chateau Fourcas Hosten, Bordeaux Superieur 2003 (one of the all time great vintages for the region, superior superieur, if you dig what I'm saying).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Charles Mingus, Mingus at Antibes (Atlantic)

Not too much Mingus all at once, but then again one can never have enough too much Mingus. Just a quick note for a long, gorgeous, wish it would never end performance with Dolphy, Booker Ervin, and Bud Powell. I could swear Mingus is singing throughout its entirety, but for the life of me I can never figure out exactly what he's singing. Only that he's singing, about passion. If you grab a bottle, the task of decipherment will become that much easier.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Relaxed and easy like a warm summer night under the stars. The show's in France but the wine is California: Montoya Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Napa Valley.

Charles Mingus, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse)

So where does travelling in wine take us today? Sacred profanity or the profane sacrament? Is the path to freedom righteous or leftist? When she walked into church he didn't know what to make of her. Tuba swinging right and left, like the trombone and trumpet throbbing through the right ear, saxes dropping out of left channel. There but for all gods and devils to see. This reminded him of story about something that might have happened to him if he could only remember. Walked into some dark bodega out of the Nogales desert sun, felt like New Orleans but it was really Madrid circa 1887, casks of Jerez stacked up behind the bar and the tender scratching numbers with chalk into the bar. Back then she was a poor sevillana rolling cigarros in burled brown tobacco leaves set out in the morning dew and left out to dry in the baking Spanish sun. How someday the landlord would be knocked down and thrown to hell. But for today the air thickened with the smoke and sherry, and she got up on the table. Tchaikovsky piped through the jukebox and then the jazzfreaks really went crazy, all jitterbugs and hustles and lindyhopsugarplumfairies prancing across their cerebella. Somehow, he never could quite figure this out, it became easier to see what he was doing in this world, as if he had just stepped outside of himself and could see how everyone else saw him. She never did, though, even as this dark corner of the world, illuminated by sunrays through beads of stained glass. Suddenly he awoke, and Jaki Byard told him how they had just performed his dream the night before, as a ballet in six acts, of love, pain, and passioned revolt, then Farewell, My Beloved, 'til it's Freedom Day.

Suggested Wine Pairing: For those travelers among us, only the best will suffice: MINGUS and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Some kind of dance where the stony pebbles don't outweigh the strong note of tobacco, with that smooth texture of bull's blood. This would be, for instance, the Chante Cigale Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Johnny Griffin, The Little Giant (OJC/Riverside)

Let us bow our heads and raise our glasses... There are those for whom life was a promise, one that time (too little) could not keep. For others, though, time took its time. You knew what you needed to do, so you did it. In your own time. If the world does not see what you're doing, you go to Bordeaux. You need to do what you need to do. If the world is olive, you refract. If it doesn't refract, you ask Julian Priester to help you. Or Tootie Heath. Or Blue Mitchell. Or Wynton Kelly. Or Sam Jones. They always said you're hard. They always said you're fast. They're all wrong. You may have been fast, but you took your time. Life if long. Bop is hard. If you're an unsung hero, you're still a hero. If you're little, you're still a giant. Let us bow our heads and raise our glasses... To you, Hero, now somewhere, flying, between Venus and the Moon.

Suggested Wine Pairing: A prayer. Chateau Chante-Alouette la Roseraie, Premieres Cotes de Blaye 2005, GRAND Vin de Bordeaux (with the emphasis on the GRAND, my man).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cannonball Adderley, Somethin' Else (Blue Note)

After the rain... You want music for the first day of fall. Or not fall exactly, but that first day of fall just after summer. But not that exactly either, the first day of fall when it still feels like summer. Not summer exactly, that is, maybe the last day of summer when it still feels like summer and you can feel fall coming on in the air, when you can picture the change of autumn leaves. You've been walking around in t-shirts and flip-flops for months, haven't thought at all about all those sweaters in the closet. How the wool will embrace your skin on that first day of slight chill. What will you do? Maybe you'll pick Ania up from work early one Friday, take walk through Delaware Park just as the first leave are falling, go into the Albright-Knox and contemplate Clyfford Still for a while, all jagged yellow white and black until you notice a slight spot of blue that now jumps out at you. Suddenly it will occur to you that Clyfford's got a cool swing to his work, not unlike that of Blakey's ride or Sam Jones' bass, and how the eminently dignified Hank Jones always seems to strike the right key at the right time. Outside Miles Davis will be that first crisp wind of the new season, crystalline sunlight lends definition to vision, Cannonball Adderley that warmth of a wool sweater. You step over to Muse for a drink.

Suggested Wine Pairing: It's still summer, though, so you will need something else to remind you, full of summer sun on an autumn day yet-to-be: Bodegas Vino Piñol Ludovicus Tinto (Garnacha/Tempranillo/Syrah/Cab) 2005, Terra Alta Spain.

Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia)

It's been hot as hell and you just don't know if you're going to take it any more. The air's so thick with humidity that you have to cut it with a butter knife just to open your refrigerator door. Not that you need anything in there, it's just the only reasonably cool place to lay your head. But you can't do that forever, the machine would inevitably break down that way and you'd look like a fool standing there all day in your boxer shorts bowed down with your head stuck in your refrigerator. So you sit on the couch hoping not to melt. Then for some reason (voodoo? magnetism?) the air changes. Cold wind blows in from the north and hits the hot air of summer. Black clouds roll in and press down on the earth. Day turns to night during the day. When the rain starts it doesn't fall so much scream from heaven and slap the earth. The sheets of rain descend at such an angle against the ground grass pavement trees cars people, all polyphony and polyrhythm you've never quite heard that way. It's getting so dark now you can barely see out your living room window. Then suddenly. Silverwhite electric flash. Thunderroll, calling for all the colors of the prism to fill the sky once again.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Probably more conducive to smoking than drinking. (Check Bennie Maupin's bass clarinet.) In any case, all indications are that Oxumaré's preferred drink is mineral water.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Albert Ayler, Spiritual Unity (ESP'Disk)

Why? The letter pre-dates human history. As in, if you are going to write history, you need something to write it with. That's logical. As logical as saying, if you want to recover history, you may need to shred books and libraries, stripping them down to the mere letter, since the letter is where history began. Why? As in, when Nirmala moved up to Michigan from New Orleans, she could never get over the fact that there were no ghosts up there. She needed to live with ghosts. I would have to agree. I remember Mexico City, how every time we got there my head would be swimming. My parents said it was the altitude, but looking back I now see something else going on. Centuries of souls buried in the ground percolating back up to the surface through the cobblestones of Coyoacán. You never see them, of course, they don't really exist (letters are symbols, with no material weight of their own), but nonetheless living with them is not always pleasant. As in, someone or something walks up behind you on Miguel Angel de Quevedo to nuzzle the hairs on the back of your neck. Turn around it's not there. Why? As in, the back of this record says it's a trio, but it's realy a quartet or quintet or big band. Ghosts on hand in the studio, covered in mud, dressed like poor sharecroppers and Union soldiers.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Bottles in some sense always hold ghosts of the past. As in the Morgante Nero d'Avola 2002, Sicily (dark like plums grown in volcanic soil, harvested by ancient Sicels).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Clark Terry, Color Changes (Candid)

Of anything with a soft glow, a list of my favorites: Ripe peaches, Pacific Ocean sunsets, EL34 vacuum tubes, a snifter of Calvados in your belly on an autumn evening, cheese souffle just out of the oven, chocolate souffle just out of the oven, novels by Machado de Assis, the texture of dark chocolate and/or strawberry jam, the coastal landscapes of Central California, Chile, Spain, or France (Rive Gauche preferably), the way Seldon Powell's flute plays off Yusef Lateef, the burly sound of Clark Terry's flugelhorn inset against Julius Watkins' french horn and Jimmy Knepper's trombone, as if a cluster of deep crimson rubies.

Suggested Wine Pairing: Only something as round and smooth as spreading jam on your morning toast: Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Paso Robles California.