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 Ch√Ęteauneuf-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 Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape 2005.