Over the years, I’ve given Weather Report a number of gos. Heavy Weather, in particular, I’ve tried to get along with several times, in a few different formats. I’ve even tried with their bassist extraordinaire, Jaco Pastorius. All to no avail. So why keep beating my head against this fusion wall and pick up a 1980s Nice Price EX++ re-issue of their 1971 début for one pound at a Hythe charity shop last Friday? Well, a lot of it has to do with the musical history immediately preceding this release; starting with Joe Zawinul’s excellent mid-60s Atlantic Lps Money In the Pocket and Rise & Fall of the Third Stream and continuing with his, and WR co-leader Wayne Shorter’s groundbreaking electronic work with Miles Davis in the late 60s.
My hope was that a bit of the grit and magic of those performances (missing, at least as far as I was concerned, from the later WR music I heard) might still linger, so much closer to the source.
Unfortunately, I’m waiting for a new turntable, the ol’ Pioneer seems to be giving up the ghost, and so have no way of enjoying the vinyl collection. Don’t worry though, things should be sorted by Tuesday night and I’ll let you know the verdict on Weather Report some time after then.
UPDATE: Much more like In A Silent Way than Heavy Weather. Gets my vote.
Giles Peterson may have time for this sort of thing, but I’m afraid I don’t. No question about the band’s chops, but cheery jazz-funk ain’t my bag. This only cost me a pound last week at the thrift store, so I don’t feel too aggrieved, but I still had to listen to the Wailers’ Burnin’ Lp straightaways after just to get the taste of LOTW’s oh-so-tasteful take on “I Shot The Sheriff” out of my ears.
It takes some cojones to tackle John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, but that’s exactly how Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin kick off their mega-spiritual Love Devotion Surrender. The pair goes on to bookend side one with a likewise heavy spiritual jazz response to JC’s anthem called “The Life Divine”. What must Santana fans have made of this?
Santana is, of course, no stranger to overplaying, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is, given its jazz-rock impetus, an all out note-fest at times, with none of the pop flavour of his titular band. And yet, in the context of a prayer offering to both the Divine and John Coltrane, such indulgence makes perfect sense. Something of a transmutation to the guitar of Coltrane’s “sheets of sound”, Love Devotion Surrender is held together harmonically by organist Larry Young, who allows Devadip and Mahavishnu to launch into note torrents, particularly on side two’s joyful “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord”. And there is time for respite in the form of “Meditation” and another Coltrane cover, “Naima”; with what comes previously, both have the feel of post-coital cigarettes. A challenging and rewarding listen.
I have some sympathy with Mingus’ sentiment (recently highlighted in the Basement Tapes Complete box set), both in its original intention and as a music enthusiast. Practically, this means that over the years I’ve played in classical, jazz, punk, folk and electronic bands and can listen to Sandy Denny, Studio One reggae or the Stooges and say to myself, ‘This is my favorite-ever music’ and mean it in each case. Or, indeed, in the case of this Pacific Jazz compilation which is not only 100% great, but features a complimentary range of smooth and spiky soul jazz from 1950s California. It is my favorite-ever music. Mean it. And only for £1 a couple weeks ago in Hythe.
Some collectors will grumble that it’s the 1986, digitally-remastered, non-gatefold, redesigned-typeface version of Gil Evans’ classic, but not me. Even though I’m a big fan of his work with Miles Davis, which just preceded this release, I’d never felt compelled to venture into Evans’ catalogue as leader. Out of the Cool it not the blissed-out state of affairs suggested by the title, nor is it, without Davis, as punchy, edgy or as grandly orchestrated in the uniquely updated big band style of Miles Ahead, et al. As thoughtfully arranged, dynamic and melodic as those earlier records, Cool remains, if anything, a slightly bluesier enterprise, with plenty of space for some fine improvisation. Reminiscent of Charles Mingus’ Columbia sides. In the end, it is, simply, a terrific listen.
Three quid from Oxfam in Folkestone.
The presence here of Coltrane sideman/multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was enough to secure £1 purchase today of this piece of early Sixties exotica. In fact, Dolphy blowing in a manner suggestive of the free jazz, raises this a cut above your average loungecore pandering (the silly “Cha Cha King” excepted). Highlight: a polyrhythmic romp on Dizzy’s evergreen “Night In Tunisia”.
High-calibre party music showcasing the Crescent City’s ‘R&B Spectrum’, masterminded by Allan Toussaint and abetted by a crack house band.
Featuring live performances by Toussaint himself along with local legends Irma Thomas, Earl King, Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, Robert Parker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Professor Longhair, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 has the feel of a revue.
Interestingly, the performances by King, Dorsey and Parker had to be re-recorded in a N.O. studio due to some technical glitches with the live recordings on the day. It’s possible that sponsors Schlitz (whose flagship beer [‘the beer that made Milwaukee famous’] had, by this point, lost a lot of its lustre as a result of some fairly brazen manufacturing costcutting) had ponied up for a 2-album set and so post-production was thus required. Ex++ condish double Lp, only a pound!
Notice how I didn’t resort to writing N’Awlins at any point.
This soundtrack to Paramount’s Three Tough Guys composed, conducted and performed by Isaac Hayes features more jazzy blowing than other 70s black action film music I’ve heard. Given that Hayes (who also starred in the film) is generally considered in possession of a pretty weak solo catalogue, it is a surprisingly engaging listen; better than the overly-lauded Shaft soundtrack I would have said. Rhythm by The Movement, strings by The Memphis Symphony Orchestra. 8/10.Gatefold, nicked at the top, otherwise NM condish, it cost one a pined when out thrifting yesterday with the elder of the two junior Asbos.