Site Report: 7/17/08

How’s it spinning, fellow listeners? Recent additions to this site include a Mahavishnu Orchestra page that could have spun into a full-bore musicological analysis, but I kept that in check. I’ve got a few other reviews starting to gestate that will appear sometime in the hazy future. Steady, smooth sailing for the rest of 2008, that’s the plan.

One thing I miss is my personal “age of jazz discovery” that I went through about fifteen years ago with a few friends. It started in college when our musical explorations started to move from rock and fusion to straight jazz like Miles, Monk, Trane, Herbie, etc. One of my stepping stones was Joe Henderson, for the reason that my (now late) uncle was a sax player, and he sat me down to listen to Joe’s Lush Life album, which I liked. So I’d then find myself buying In ‘n Out and Mode for Joe and whatever else. The same applied to almost every artist; I’d hear Bill Evans as a sideman and decide to try one of his albums as a leader. Then I’d say, hey, I like this Philly Joe Jones character, let’s see what else he’s drummed on. It was a process of building up clues and listening experience, recognizing common tunes and so on, to where I could go to the record store, study the back cover of a disc, and try to discern if it was calling or not. If I needed a further nudge, there were a couple of knowledgeable jazz guys working at the store who would be happy to chat. Sharing discoveries and exchanging information with friends was part of it; I remember one buddy turned me on to Jack DeJohnette’s New Directions, which opened the ECM door, and of course certain books were helpful, too. Another friend of mine had the old Len Lyons book 101 Best Jazz Albums that got passed back and forth a few times in our jazz education. This fed numerous trips to a particular store to snag Columbia Jazz Masters titles on the cheap and the occasional bulk order from the Fantasy/OJC catalog.

I still get glimpses of that “newness” feeling when listening to various recordings. It’s rare but wonderful when it happens – reliving the joy of hearing Coltrane’s Atlantic recordings for the first time (the boxset was a gift from my mom in 1995), or Miles’ 1960s quintet and Bill Evans’ trio at the Village Vanguard, or trying to decipher just what the heck was going on in the average hardbop solo. I know a lot more nowadays but I try to cling to the feeling where the music can take you to a special place and unfold something you’ve never heard before.

This is more of a confessional than a report. In lieu of any real news, there’s my personal ramble for this installment. Maybe I’ll resume the story in a ‘My Musical Evolution’ essay. In the meantime, have a cool rest of the year, and Go Cubs.

Back to Essays