Interesting music history tidbit here. Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed And Confused,” as one might imagine, is somewhat of a ripoff. Just like other Led Zeppelin songs, Jimmy Page “borrowed heavily” from one Jake Holmes.
Jake Holmes opened for The Yardbirds in the late 60′s and played his song “Dazed And Confused,” which Jimmy liked and wanted to do an arrangement of. It appeared on a live Yardbirds album called “Live Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page” as “I’m Confused” and also uncredited.
And, as we all know, Led Zeppelin did their own version on Led Zeppelin I after that. Jimmy wrote new lyrics and credited the whole song to himself. Jake Holmes didn’t go after him till the 2000′s, when in 2012 there seems to have been a settlement.
Jake Holmes’s version:
The Yardbirds’s version:
Led Zeppelin’s version:
More info on Wikipedia.No comments
This is a remarkable book. It’s one of the best pieces of writing that I have ever read, and it’s not just because I love Jazz. The approach of the writing is what I’d call unconventional because it claims to be neither fiction or non-fiction, which is a safe tack for the author to take. Even though, the book is not diminished by the author telling the reader all of this out in the preface; he says, point-blank, that it’s what he’s doing. He is attempting to tell the stories of a handful of jazzmen. These are intimate looks into the lives and feelings of these men, rendered in poetic and impressionistic prose, that would be impossible to represent as purely factual. However, the stories are meant to faithfully represent these men in factual and probable ways, but, again the story is told as if it were fictional. Meaning, some parts are written in the first person, others in the third, delving deep into the inner thoughts and desires of the person. Knowing what I was getting into I was not troubled by this tightrope walk between fact and fiction (as I feel I may have been had it been presented as non-fiction, or vice-versa, perhaps). It stayed far clear of anything like the “A Million Little Pieces” ‘scandal.’ As Dyer puts it in the preface, “As a rule, assume that what’s here has been invented or altered rather than quoted. Throughout, my purpose was to present the musicians not as they were but as they appear to me.”
The stories were moving and the writing poetic. It brought me into these people’s lives. I learned, at least, how Dyer imagines these men’s lives to be. And from what I knew about some of their personal lives, he attempted to render them (mostly) accurately.
Not only is the body of the book exceptional, the afterword is also some of the best critical music writing I’ve ever read.
I will most definitely read what else Dyer has written, no matter the subject. A most excellent book.
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Last night I attended night two of four nights of performances at the newly reopened Roulette performance space. Roulette has a long history dating back to a Soho loft in the 80′s and beyond and has recently relocated to Brooklyn. It’s a great space with a nice, big stage and a wrap-around balcony. I’ll definitely be going back there from time to time.
I leapt at the chance to see Anthony Braxton perform. I’d never seen him perform before and, from what I know, he performs fairly rarely within my reach. I’ve been listening to his music for many years now, and admittedly, it took me a while to get into it. It’s firmly in the avant-garde of jazz and can take a bit of getting used to. I still don’t even come close to understanding how it always works but I do like what I hear.
I chose to attend night two because of the format of the evening. He’s done some music for dance as well as some choral music, both of which are being presented on other nights of the run, but I am primarily interested in the instrumental type, which really makes up the bulk of his oeuvre. The program for the night was in two parts. The first set was a performance by the Diamond Curtain Wall Trio and the second set was a performance by the Tri-Centric Orchestra.
The Diamond Curtain Wall Trio is comprised of Anthony Braxton playing reeds of all sorts (last night he played five saxes: alto, soprano, sopranino, baritone, and bass), Taylor Ho Bynum playing brass of all sorts (I couldn’t identify everything but included were cornet, flugelhorn, trombone, and other sizes of trumpet-type things, one of which was gigantic), and Mary Halvorson on guitar (she played only one guitar).
The performance was basically an extended improvisation over the course of 45-50 minutes, timed by an hourglass which was ritually overturned at the start of the performance. They were, in fact, most likely playing a composition entitled “Composition 323c.” A similar composition is pictured here:
Composition 323c is described by Taylor as such:
In the DCW Music, Braxton combines intuitive improvisation with interactive electronics. The musicians in the ensemble respond both to the evocative graphic notation of his Falling River Music, and the unique and responsive electronic patches the composer designed using the SuperCollider programming software. Both the rich graphics of the Falling River Music and the complex algorithms of DCW Music’s SuperCollider patches are extraordinary examples of how Braxton has continued evolving into his fifth decade of music-making.
What this meant in practice, as I saw it last night, was a long and interesting improvisation. At times all three performers were playing and each subset of two played together at times, and each person had his or her own solo time. This wasn’t set up and planned, but flowed more or less organically as the performance unfolded. Anthony would, at times, decide to change the electronic music’s program and turn it up or off entirely. Some highlights for me were: Anthony on bass sax engaging in a one-sided argument, simultaneously screaming through and playing the beast of a saxophone; Taylor blowing water into his flugelhorn; Anthony on his soprano sax in a fit of circular breathing, emitting waves of rising notes over Mary’s support; Mary’s solo sections were also quite great. It’s hard to describe it past this. You can download a recent performance by the trio here. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The second set saw the Tri-Centric Orchestra, which consisted of Jason Hwang, Sarah Bernstein (violins), Renee Baker (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello); Nate Wooley, Chris DiMeglio (trumpets), Mark Taylor (French horn), Dan Blacksburg, Chris McIntyre (trombones), Anthony Braxton, Daniel Blake, Dan Voss, Matt Bauder, Salim Washington, Josh Sinton (reeds), Angelica Sanchez (piano), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (percussion), Taylor Ho Bynum, Jessica Pavone, Aaron Siegel (conductors).
It was a large ensemble capable of creating some great noise.
You may notice that there are three conductors in the group. This is where it gets interesting. The orchestra was separated into sections: the strings and piano were the territory of Jessica Pavone; Aaron Siegel mostly manned half of the woodwinds and some brass as well as the drummer and guitar. Taylor was the “main” conductor who had control of the whole orchestra.
The program consisted of a few compositions (including 100, 134, and 92) along with “GTM” and “language music improvisations” (GTM stands for Ghost Trance Music). This is how it worked: Taylor started the set by the ritual overturning of the hourglass and started with what I think was language music improvisations. He made an “O” shape with his two hands together, showed it to the ensemble, then in a series of instructions, showed a number of fingers to the ensemble to indicate what I’m guessing was a type of language improvisation, like 1, 4, 7, etc. After showing the number, say 1, he’d then count off and conduct the group to play. 1, for example, was a staccato note that was to be played on his cue. 4 was a legato note, also to be played on cue. It seemed as if the note could be any note the player chose. He also would section off the ensemble and instruct just a section in a certain way. He could, say, section off the strings, have them do something, then have the woodwinds do something else. He could also set sections off on their own, for example, he had the trumpets playing staccato notes the motioned to continue that as he moved to instruct another section. So, after a few language improvisation instructions, he then would take up a small dry-erase board, write a composition and section, say “100 G1,” show it to the group (or subset of the group) and count of for that section of that composition to be played. Again, he could conduct subsections in different ways, having the brass play one section and the strings another.
After some of this, the other conductors took charge of their own destinies. Jessica Pavone, put down her violin, rose, and turned to face her string section and proceeded to conduct them in an entirely different composition. Aaron Siegel would also do the same. In this way, there were multiple compositions and improvisations occurring at the same time. The conductors would work in such a way to not make it too messy, and it somehow would make sense. There were some parts that also seemed a bit like John Zorn’s “Cobra” game piece, where players could be instructed to follow the cues of another player, basically imitating them. To further the confusion, some sections could sometime autonomously break off and play some composition or improvisation, as often did happen. Taylor had the power to call an end to any of this activity, as his instructions seemed to take precedence over anything that was happening at the time. If this sounds like a giant mess, you could be right. I know a lot of people would not really tolerate the sounds that were emanating from the stage, but I was enthralled. It was beautiful, challenging, grating, inspiring, soothing, exciting, and happy all at different times or at the same time.
Anthony Braxton is an amazing musician and composer. I’m glad I was there last night.No comments
Two nights ago I went to MoMA with Hillary, Dan, and Nicole to see Kanye West perform at the annual Garden Party after party. It was pretty epic.
The beginning didn’t start of so great though. The line to get in stretched down 53rd street, up 5th avenue and back around and up 54th street. We arrived at 9:00, when the event was supposed to begin, and, fortunately, Dan and Nicole were already there in line somewhere on 53rd street. The line took forever because it seemed that MoMA had never planned an event before. But, as you can tell by the adjective, “annual,” above, they have done this before. More on this, below.*
We finally got into the garden and made a bee-line for the bar. I got two bourbons and two glasses of wine as Dan simultaneously got four bourbons. We consolidated our drinks into three bourbons and a wine and made our way to the stage.
At exactly 11:01, Kanye took the stage.
I have to make a disclaimer. I don’t own any Kanye records or even that many hip hop records beyond Beastie Boys, The Roots, Run D.M.C., or . I’ve also never been to a hip hop show, so this was all new to me, besides the fact that have heard some of Kanye’s songs. How could I not have. Hillary and Nicole are way into it and Nicole, in particular, loves My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I’d heard “Monster,” “All Of The Lights,” “Lost In The World,” “H.A.M.,” and more that I can’t name. So I knew some of what I was hearing, bit definitely not all of it.
Kanye had a “band” of one DJ and two nerdy white guys who played keyboards and a guitar. (They spent most of the last song videoing the action on their iPhones.)
Kanye played a bunch of songs from Fantasy and probably some others too. It was great and I really loved it. For an introduction to hip hop shows, this probably was a good one.He had a lot of energy at times and was more melancholy at other times. Between songs he shouted out to some in the crowd who must have been in the museum upper levels and then shouted out to the homes across 54th street and their “free show.” He definitely put a lot into the show. Towards the end he did an ad-libbed sing/talk coda in “Lost In The World” about how hard his life is and how he’s persecuted for being an asshole. He mentioned accusations of racism talked about his mom. It prompted me to send a twitter photo entitled “He’s sorry if he was an asshole ever to you.” Poor guy.
After the rant/cry a very special guest joined Kanye on stage: Jay-Z!
They did “H.A.M.” and then “Empire State Of Mind.”
Jay-Z was young-looking, had longer hair, and smiled the whole time. The crowd was really amped up and it was great. Jay-Z is a much better rapper than Kanye (imho) and really took the show to a whole new level. What a way to end!
I give the whole thing an 8 of 10. I’d do it again.
* Apparently, last year they mailed the wristbands to the people who bought tickets and they were able to just show up and walk in. No, not this time, that seemed to have worked too well. This time they decided to create 5-6 lines in the lobby ordered by a section of the alphabet. You had to find your line (which really wasn’t easy since they were formed at a slant to the counter) then a volunteer would flip through a box of envelopes until they found the one with your name on it. There was no indication whether all the wristbands bought together would be in the same envelope or in different envelopes. There also was no indication whether the wristbands would be in an envelope with your name on it or with the name of the person who bought the tickets. Nobody told us because those who knew, didn’t know we didn’t know. This is why the process–once you got into the building–took so long. And that was why the line moved so slowly. I just wonder whether the people at the end of the line got in before Kanye started. It sounds like I am a complainer now, but it was really infuriating at the time–not least because it could have been organized so much better.No comments
This book was simultaneously one of the more interesting and the most difficult book to understand. And that’s fitting.
After returning from my honeymoon in Indochina, where we visited more Buddhist temples than I can count, I wanted to learn more about Buddhism. Asking a friend’s Buddhist brother, I was recommended this book. It turned out to be the perfect book for my purposes. The author is an American Buddhist and the book is written pretty much precisely for people like me: westerners with an interest in Buddhism.
The book is organized as the life of Shakyamuni Buddha (aka Siddhartha, the Buddha) can be organized. We learn about the Buddhist conception of the world and the mind. We learn what nirvana, Dharma, samsara, Bodhisattvas, mean and are. It discusses the (many) different lineages of Buddhism, from Therevada and Mahayana to the sub-lineages thereof. Some of which I’d heard of like Tantric and Zen.
But most of all, and the hardest part to understand is the idea of the Buddha. Some lineages see buddha as something that is inextricably part of every person which is both the same and not the same as us. This is where it gets hard to understand. We just have to understand that we cannot understand. Nirvana has a similarly confounding description: it can’t be described because we can’t understand it, but it’s attainable. And furthermore, it won’t be disappointing. It’s illustrated with a little story that helps it make sense.
Tadpoles are swimming around in a pond. Eventually one grows into a frog and leaves the pond for dry land. He comes back to report to the rest of the tadpoles about what’s out there. He says, “There is air out there.” “What’s it like,” they ask. “Well, it’s like water but it’s not wet.” “How can water not be wet?” “Well, it’s all around you but you don’t swim in it and you walk on the dry ground.” “How can you not swim in water, and how can it not be wet?” These are concepts that the tadpoles have no capacity for understanding, since they only know “in” the pond and cannot conceive what “out” of the pond could be like.
This is like life for us. We live in samsara and can’t conceive what nirvana is like. And those who have attained it cannot explain it in terms that we can understand. But it’s there.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about Buddhism as a philosophy and religion.
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This photo has been making the rounds on tumblr lately. It’s something that hasn’t happened with one of my photos before, as far as I know, so that’s pretty cool.
It looks like a tumblr called “volturius” found it first. I guess there are a lot of tumblr folks out there who just add photos from flickr, among other things, to their blogs (regardless of copyright status, but I’m not worried about that now). Then people like or reblog them. (Yes, you may already know how tumblr works.)
I like the photo, so that’s good too.No comments
Last night I went to see Tame Impala at Webster Hall. It was the first time in a long while that I’d been to Webster Hall for a show. Hillary and I were discussing before the show what we’d seen there and I remembered Modest Mouse and The Shins and I’m not even sure about those. In any case, last night’s show was great! A friend working the dorr got our crew VIP badges so we had access to the section on the balcony (Thanks!).
A band called Yawn opened the show and we caught the last two or three notes, so I can’t comment on them. Yuck was the second opener. I had heard good things about them so I wanted to get there to check it out.
I had listened to some of their songs on Hype Machine earlier in the day so I recognized some of their music at the show. The lead singer had a curly mop on his head and sang out of the corner of his mouth. The rest of the band consisted of a male lead guitarist/backup singer (who sang lead on one song), a female bass player (playing an Ampeg microstack, which was super cute and sounded great), and a male drummer with a magnificent fro. The songs were song-y and catchy at times. They had a good vibration, sometimes getting a but 90′s alt-rock. I commented that one of the songs could have been played in the credits of a Dawson’s Creek episode, had they existed then. I give them a solid 6 out of 10.
Tame Impala was altogether a different story. They are also a four-piece with one lead singer/lead guitar, bass, drums, and a rhythm guitar/keyboard player. The singer, Kevin Parker, is squarely in charge of the whole affair; it’s clear he’s running the show.
They play music that is self-described as “psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music,” which is pretty apt, except for the “hypno” part. They are in my group of bands I keep in an iTunes playlist called “psych-today,” contemporary bands that are playing psychedelic-type music. Their style is more polished, tighter, and less gritty than some of the other bands doing that sort of thing (like Dead Meadow, Black Mountain, White Hills) and have a more happy-tinged mood as well. They have a tendency to jam and stretch things out but they never really get lost or messy. Some of their best songs, “It’s Not Meant To Be” and “Desire Be Desire Go” got live-show embellishments that were welcome in my book. They took the form of a new, semi-related coda riff or an extended section to provide for slight improvisation. They didn’t really jam in the way that a jam band like Phish would, but they did extend parts of songs longer than their recorded versions. I was into it. Many of the songs featured segue-ways between them, some of which seemed like they could have even been mini-compositions in themselves. I’m a big fan of that kind of thing. Song, song, song, without stopping is a good way to keep the energy up.
The elliptical pattern on the backdrop was actually a camera facing the screen of an oscilloscope which was being fed by various instruments at different times. Sometimes it was the guitar, other times the bass or snare drum. I thought that was a good effect. There was a time when Kevin just sat on the stage playing random guitar notes in en effort to evoke different patterns on the screen. That was interesting for about 30 seconds and could have lasted longer had he played something more interesting than a scale. So, they were a but self-indulgent at times, but, on the whole, it didn’t detract from their performance.
A final aspect that served to keep them good in my book (and especially Martin’s) is the no-encore policy. Before the last “suite” of songs Kevin announced the policy and said that after the next group of songs they would stop and leave the stage and not come back. Here is a good article about how silly encores are. Tame Impala gets an 8 out of 10 for me.1 comment
Really? Immediate attention required? Condé-Nast, can you please take it down a notch? What would happen if we all acted as if there were other things going on in this world other than just the stuff we’re doing and we care about? Can we put things into context here? Think about what might be important in someone else’s life, not just in your own little sphere. This piece of correspondence might be important to Condé-Nast, but it’s probably not as important to the recipient as they’re making it out to be.
When seeing this letter, the recipient is to be compelled to open this immediately. But it can wait. It has to do with a magazine subscription, probably. It’s not that important. If the recipient cares a lot about their magazine subscriptions, they will open the letter in due time. But this is presented as very important correspondence. Here are some examples of actually important correspondence: Tax-related documents; letters containing checks, credit cards, or other money; a social security card; wedding certificate. Magazine subscription notices are not as important.
Why do I care about this? Well, if the ante keeps getting upped, how will we know what’s actually important? Will the IRS have to send letters with blinking LEDs attached to get our attention? If Condé-Nast recognized it’s place on the importance scale, they would just send a letter with a to: address and a return address. Simple. I’ll get to it, eventually. It’s just that I feel like we’re living in a world where companies are interested our attention so much that they are all competing to get it, no matter what it takes. I get sick of all the ads in my face all the time and this feels like the same kind of attention-invasion. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it. But then, again, maybe Condé-Nast will send their next letter in a hot-pink envelope with stinging nettles on it, so I really take notice, and “ow!”-activated glue on the outside, so I can’t put it down. Then it will automatically open and a picture of a naked lady will emerge, singing a jolly jingle about the benefits of some kind of magazine arriving at my mailbox on a monthly basis.
On the urging of a friend, Brad, I went to Union Pool last night with a soon-to-be-married friend, Hank, for the third night of a three night stand of Harvey Milk. I wasn’t disappointed.
Harvey Milk, and heavy, metal-ish music is not something I am all that familiar with. Lately, the closest thing to metal that I can claim honest appreciation and love for is the band called Earth. Brad had given me some of Harvey Milk’s music a couple years back and it sat, unlistened-to, in my iTunes until the announcement of these three shows. They’ve been around since the early 90s and I really didn’t know much about them other than some kind of cult-like following and Brad’s recommendation. I decided it was a thrice in a lifetime opportunity that I should take.
The opener was Luke Roberts. He played West Virginia Front Porch style music with an acoustic guitar and voice. His songs consisted of one progression repeated on the guitar and his singing. There was only ever one guitar part to the songs but the vocals and lyrics created verse and chorus. He was pretty good and at the end of his set had H.M. as his backing band for about three songs.
Harvey Milk was loud and quiet, angry and sweet, up and down. There were metal riffs, classic rock riffs, guitar solos, guttural vocals, and as-sweet-as-he-can-manage vocals. There even was a quiet period with an orchestral backing track. The ride was unpredictable and great. I was surprised at all turns. I was exhausted with jet-lag and was planning to leave early but after each episode of the show I was intrigued enough to stay for the next. The “Lord of the Strings” tee shirt was a clincher for me, too. All in all I like Harvey Milk.
So there you go, the second metal-ish band that I like. (That doesn’t count listening to Metallica while mowing the lawn at age 13.)No comments
Last night Martin joined me at Le Poisson Rouge to see a performance by Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. It was awesome.
I took a photo of the stage before they began. This is over the drum set towards the percussion setup. the band consists of Nik Bärtsch on piano, Kaspar Rast on drums, Björn Meyer on electric bass, Andi Pupato on percussion, and Sha on bass clarinet and alto sax (yes, “Sha”). Four of the guys are from Switzerland and Björn is Swedish.
The music is self-described “Ritual Groove Music” and is sometimes called “zen-funk.” All the compositions are “modules” titled Modul 48, Modul 52, Modul 27, etc.I choose to ignore these names and descriptions and focus on the sound of the music. To me, it’s a bit of jazz instrumentation and style combined with the repetitive rhythms of Steve Reich with a lot of mathyness in the way of polyrhythms and odd time signatures. It’s right up my alley. I discovered this music though a route I can’t remember anymore in September 2009 (thanks, last.fm, for keeping track for me) and was amazed as what I’d found. It seemed to be the perfect mesh for my sensibilities and I was instantly hooked. I’ve been waiting for the band to come to New York ever since.
The band was extremely tight and played perfectly. They weren’t reading music and had the music internalized. Live, the music is much like it is on record, but it was fascinating to watch it being created live. The percussionist and the drummer were so connected that they seemed to be two people playing one part. There were so many times that their parts complemented each other perfectly. They showed restraint when it was called for and went all-out when that was called for. Andi, the percussionist played a lot of different instruments and it was a lot of fun to watch him.
Here is a good photo (aside from the annoying watermark) of Andi at his setup. The thing hanging on the left is, I think, a waterharp or a waterphone. It must have water inside as well as a microphone. He would hit the ball part with a stick or his hand, and sometimes he’d rake a stick over the vertical things sticking up from it. It had an echoey, etherial sound that would add a cool tention to the music at times. The UFO-looking thing in front is a drum of sorts. He’d play it with a stick or his hands. Once, he rigged up a mallet on a fulcrum so that he could set it bouncing while playing other instruments. It would bounce progressively faster like a super ball dropped on the floor. that was a cool effect too. He played shakers of many kinds and chimes and the large frame-drum behind him, which was very bassy.
Björn played some extremely fast and busy basslines at times and at other times hung back and supported the groove. Sha would alternate between melodic passages and repetitive lines, sometimes laying out altogether. Nik, the composer and bandleader, played piano. Often, one or both of his hands would be inside the piano flicking or muting strings to good effect. His parts were arpeggiated and fast and sometimes just harmonic support. Each instrument had its role at any particular point in the music but those roles would change quickly and often. It was easy to zone out and just let the music wash over me.
Nik is inspired by the idea of a ronin, the name of this band. On his site, it says “There are two paths a samurai can walk: that of a clan member, and that of a ronin, a lonely warrior.” I guess Nik sees himself as that lonely warrior going into territory where nobody else has gone. He wore Japanese-style clothing at the concert.
They are also a perfect fit for the label that has put out their last three records, ECM. The production values of Manfred Eicher work well for this music.
I would highly recommend this music to anyone who has an inclination towards anything I’ve mentioned above (mathyness, jazziness, Steve Reichyness). I will most definitely see them next time they come to New York.No comments