Saturday, July 31, 2010

The week in music - in person and (soon to be) in print

Playing right now: Ornette Coleman - The Great London Concert. (Specifically, "Falling Stars," which features both Ornette's trumpet and violin work. He's no Billy Bang, but the fiddle wasn't as bad as I expected.)

It's been a week of writing. I even called off a day from work to make sure I'd get things done. The biggest thing was a piece on Allan Sherman, whose Warner Bros albums are all being reissued in September. Blurt is running a short piece in their fall issue, and I interviewed Allan's son Robert, as well as Dr. Demento, who wrote the liner notes for all the albums. (Weird Al's people gave me a generic "Sorry, no can do.") Both of the interviewees were great. Robert spoke at length about his dad and how his gift for parodies developed. We talked for about an hour. Dr. Demento was also a great interview, very friendly and able to give me some great quotes. The struggle was getting all the info and a couple good quotes into a 300-word piece. (Something longer will appear on the Blurt website.)

I also had to review the new Blonde Redhead and Azure Ray albums by yesterday. And if all that wasn't enough, I had to review four albums for JazzTimes by Wednesday. One of those reviews covered three different albums by one artist, and one was a two-disc set.

Between all that, the Aram Shelton Quartet finally made it to town. (Note: I say that because I thought they were coming a week earlier, and when I discovered there was another week of anticipation, I wanted to see them more.) They came to the Thunderbird, and first let me say that it was odd how much several of them reminded me of people I know or have seen around town.

Three out of the four of them have played in the revolving leadership band Fast Citizens - alto saxophonist Shelton, tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson and bassist Anton Hatwich. Drummer Marc Riordan is the newcomer of the band. This quartet recently released a CD on Shelton's own label (These Times, on Single Speed, from which their set drew pretty heavily.

Shelton is an interesting alto player, influenced a good deal by Ornette Coleman, by his own admission, but the music doesn't end up sounding like Coleman Quartet Worshippers No. 232. In the song "These Times" he started his solo in the lower register of his alto and hung around there for a remarkable amount of time before getting into the more significant trademark alto area. During the same tune, Jackson took a tenor solo that reminded me of John Tchicai, in the way that he played freely - or maybe arhythmically is a better word - over the rhythm section and still managed to interact with them. There were elements of modern post-bop in the music, as well as some more droning moments. Shelton doubled on clarinet, which he really gave a unique voice, thanks to his exploratory nature. Jackson switched to bass clarinet on a couple tunes too. [Note - I took fairly copious notes that night, but I can't find them and don't want to delay this review so this is all I'll write on the topic.]

I tried to get more people to come out to the show and had a few lined up to meet me there, but they all had to cancel out or email me later explaining what was up. Jackson said he might be coming back in October with another outfit, the Chicago Luzerne Exchange, so maybe if that happens I can get some hipsters out to see it.

Last night, Gooski's had show featuring a band from Omaha called Landing on the Moon. I caught about half their set and found them pretty amazing. Very loud five piece with 2 guitars, keys, bass and drums, with the lead guitar player handling a lot of the singing. The drummer did a lot of harmonies too, even while he was tearing out some unorthodox accents.

I was actually there to check out a new local band called Neighbors, on the advice of a friend who I bumped into last weekend. He's tight with the singer of the band, Mike, who I also kind of know. I'm glad I took his advice to check them out. (The recommendation was that they were close to the "noisy pop" description that applied to the Love Letters.) They kind of had me hooked on the first chord, some kind of 7th chord, which made it sound like a Bacharach tune. Overall they had a sort of Jam sound going for them. A band called Satin Gum played third but I split before they went on, only because I was tired.
Speaking of tired I have nodded off about three times since I started this entry. Time to go.


Anonymous said...

it's a little surprising that you couldn't interview Weird Al about Allan Sherman, since he openly acknowledges his debt to him as a parody forerunner. But it might be as simple as the fact that Al's on tour right now, and doesn't have a whole lotta free time.

shanleymusic said...

Yeah, I'm sure that the rejection came because he was on tour, but I clearly told his people that I only wanted 10-15 minutes of his time. I thought the brevity and the subject matter would have made it possible. The thing that really got me was the generic email I received, which was something to the effect of "Thanks for your interest in the artists on Jive Records. Unfortunately we can't accomodate your request."
Translation: "Like, I have no idea who Allan Sherman is, so I'm just going to say no."