[JPL] Of Trombones and Trumpets, of Drums and an Electric Jug

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 29 17:32:48 EDT 2007

October 28, 2007
Of Trombones and Trumpets, of Drums and an Electric
Jeremy Pelt

The sound of the album “Shock Value: Live at Smoke”
(MaxJazz), by the jazz trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and his
band Wired, comes from early electric Miles Davis,
late ’60s and early ’70s, when his bands were more
concerned with melodic development and before they
were building a kind of dense, percussive graffiti.
The setup here is tolling electric piano, shredding
electric guitar, bass, drums and Mr. Pelt’s trumpet
run through a wah-wah pedal. One track even features
the folkish singer Becca Stevens. For sure, a bit of
it sounds like an exercise in style. But there’s art
here too. The constant volume and droning resonance of
the band drive the players to focus and intensify
their work, to make it matter; everyone’s playing,
especially Mr. Pelt’s, is wise and serious.

Joe Fiedler

A jazz trio led by a trombonist equals hard work for
the trombonist. That’s especially true when the
group’s sound and strategies are up to date, such that
everyone’s more or less soloing all the time. Joe
Fiedler, a New York trombone player who is genuinely
all over the map — you’re equally as likely to see him
playing with salsa bands as in free-jazz festivals —
has made an excellent new record, “The Crab” (Clean
Feed), with the bassist John Hebert and the drummer
Michael Sarin. Even with so much to play, Mr. Fiedler
doesn’t flag. And yet you don’t get tired of his
sound, which is big and gritty. You can hear salsa
trombonists like Barry Rogers in his playing, as well
as the jazz improvisers Albert Mangelsdorff and
Roswell Rudd. 

Roy Haynes

“A Life in Time: The Roy Haynes Story” (Dreyfus), a
three-disc set plus DVD, is pretty unusual. Even great
drummers usually don’t get the box-set treatment, with
tracks licensed from all the other people’s records
they played on. (There’s still no career box set for
Max Roach or Elvin Jones, for example.) This is
probably because drummers tend to work slowly toward
becoming bandleaders. For good stretches of their
lives they work when and where they can, “playing for
the benefit of the band,” in the phrase of the New
Orleans drummer Baby Dodds. Their sessions, put end to
end, can make a very crooked road. Well, so what? Mr.
Haynes’s story begins here in 1949, with a Lester
Young recording called “Ding Dong,” and his
commanding, hectic, smacking sound was identifiable
even then. It threads through Parker, Rollins and
Monk; Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan; John and Alice
Coltrane both; Stéphane Grappelli and Andrew Hill;
Stan Getz and Chick Corea; and, after 1972, lots of
his own groups. The presence of Mr. Haynes on a record
has been a pretty good guarantor of quality, and it’s
as nice to listen to him across 50 years as it is to
marvel at all the things jazz has been. 

Tyshawn Sorey

And from the most kinetic, whirligig young jazz
drummer of the newest generation, what kind of first
album do we get? A minimalist meditation in which the
drums are severely played down or barely touched. The
drummer, Tyshawn Sorey, is a composer who doesn’t want
to be limited by his chosen instrument. In his notes
for the double disc “That/Not” (Firehouse 12) he
writes that he has “no desire to prove anything.” This
music “simply is,” he writes. “It does not want or
need.” Much of the music here is written for a quartet
with drums, bass, piano and trombone, and some tracks
(like “Sacred and Profane”) use all of them at once,
working in something like the post-’60s, jazz-vanguard
tradition of small gestures, open space and European
classical harmony. But there’s also “Permutation for
Solo Piano,” right out of Morton Feldman’s world: 42
minutes of a slowly changing four-note chords and
their overtones. 

13th Floor Elevators

A rind of unsubstantiated myth has formed around the
subject of the ’60s Texas band the 13th Floor
Elevators and especially around its singer, Roky
Erickson, who survives today as an emissary from a
spectacularly messy age. Why did they make only two
good records? What was with their lyrics, titles and
visual symbols? Why Austin? What did the San Francisco
hippies think of them? What was up with the guy in the
band who played the electric jug? The writer Paul
Drummond has a lot more answers than you think you
need in “Eye Mind,” his book just published by
Process. Mr. Drummond has talked to sisters and
brothers and cousins, and cops who busted the band. He
shows you how psychedelic drugs advanced on Austin —
first a rumor off in the distance, then flooding the
city in 1965. He shows you the band’s controlling
philosopher king, Tommy Hall (the guy with the
electric jug), and exactly what books he read. At a
certain point the story becomes too depressing for
words, flattening out into madness with daily LSD
ministrations, trial transcripts, religious
visitations. But it’s valuable cultural history; you
inevitably become less interested in these guys as
musicians than as Texans, or even Americans, from a
certain time in history.


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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