Monday, January 31, 2022

He Called Me Michael - Remembering Jerry Weber

Sweatshirt from Jerry's Records, circa early 2000s. Note the records in the pile -
all but Herb Alpert would probably sell quickly these days. 

Shootout at the Fantasy Factory by Traffic.

If memory serves, that album was my first purchase at Garbage Records, a used record store that sat one flight up from Forbes Avenue in Oakland and was run by a mailman named Jerry Weber. I bought it somewhere between late 1981 and early 1982. My friend Gene had loaned me a copy of it  during 8th grade and, though it wasn't a great album, I couldn't pass up the price, $2.83 - or $3, when tax was figured in. 

Like many people in Pittsburgh, the memories of Jerry have come flooding back because he passed away on Friday, January 28. He was 73. 

The memories have a similar pattern. You shopped at Jerry's (a few years after opening the store he changed the name from "Garbage Records" to the more palatable "Jerry's Records."). Jerry got to know you. Eventually, he would start finding albums that he thought you'd like and would put them aside for you. If you ask him for something unusual, it's possible that he'd find it, even if it took a year. Short of cash? He'd give you a good deal for records you needed to unload in order to make rent. You're putting out a record? Congratulations. He'd buy it from you and sell it for that price, profit be damned. Not buying anything today? Jerry might still have a good story for you about a customer or an album that came in which he'd never seen before.  The man loved his work. And he loved people. Even the ones that drove him crazy.

Customers at Jerry's Records - which moved from Oakland to Squirrel Hill around 1994 - weren't always limited in musical interests or backgrounds. A female friend said that she never felt like the guys at Jerry's talked down to her, thinking that a girl didn't know about music. If you bought music, you knew your stuff. Businessman from Japan would visit a few times a year and buy up an armful of albums. I'm pretty sure Jerry told me a lot of them bought easy listening albums back in the '90s, which he was more than happy to unload. (On that subject, he once joked that he could build a house out of all the copies of Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream and Other Delights which lined his overstock shelves.) 

Young DJs worked for him, bringing in their musical knowledge and swapping it with the older crew that worked there and with customers. Next thing you knew, everybody was fluent in a whole range of musical styles. 

It's hard to think about it now without sounding maudlin or too wistful, but Jerry represents a kind of shop keeper that doesn't quite exist anymore. Of course the store itself still exists in Squirrel Hill, under the management of Chris Grauzer. The warehouse-sized shop still has a magical quality to it as you walk through. Pittsburgh also has several other independent shops in town that can satiate the desires of music fans, like the Attic, Eide's (still going strong after the passing of its namesake) and Government Center.

But there was something about Jerry himself that was unique. My mother, who had never been in the Oakland store, ventured up the rickety steps one weekend, looking for a copy of Ray Anthony's version of "The Bunny Hop" to play for her elementary school class. One of the guys who worked there found it for her. I always wished I had time to stop in on Christmas Eve to imbibe in a shot of liquor along with the crew. (Their staff holiday parties were the stuff of legends.) If the tributes I've seen online are true, you didn't always have until Christmas Eve for a nip either.

The empty album covers that lined the wall at the Oakland store always left me in awe. Especially the cover of the Monkees' Head which, unlike the dime-as-dozen status of the first couple Monkees albums, was next to impossible to find. Every time I went in the store I'd look at it with musical lust. Every so often, my timing was right and I'd come across something that qualifies as a treasure. In the Oakland store, I found original pressings of John Coltrane's Ballads and Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz on the same day. The latter turned out to be a mono copy, which didn't divide the octet between two channels, like the stereo version. Neither Jerry nor I even noticed that during our exchange. He just made me feel lucky that I got it.

When I had to write a feature-length piece (called a Take Out) for my newswriting class in early 1993, I decided to profile Jerry. (The article is posted below.) Reading it again, it proves to be quite a time capsule. CDs were taking over for records. Keeping track of them was "too much like work," Jerry groused. In sticking to his vinyl guns, Jerry seemed like a bit of eccentric at that time. Within a year, he would move all the records from Oakland to Squirrel Hill, up yet another flight of stairs, which made me realize yesterday why he probably needed double-knee replacements when he retired in 2017. The Oakland shop became CD only, eventually turning into Dave's Music Mine. Squirrel Hill was all records (though the occasional CD did pop up over the years.)

But as time went on, what was antiquated and novel became a valuable resource. For some of us, it always was, but for others who didn't grow up with records, or got rid of them and started to regret it, Jerry's was the place to rediscover them. All those classic rock albums that he stocked in his short-lived dollar store were now in demand. It was typical for whoever worked the counter to knock a buck or two off the final price too.

It wasn't just the locals or the Japanese businessmen stopping by either. Jerry once introduced me one of the founders of Rhino Records, who grew up not too far from the store. The story of Robert Plant stopping by has been repeated lately but little mention has been made of what albums sat on top of the stack that he bought - lounge singer Jack Jones (best known as the vocalist of The Love Boat theme and the horribly offensive Bacharach/David tune "Wives and Lovers.") Jerry told me with amusement that Plant confessed, "My mum always wanted me to sing like Jack Jones." If Bob ever does an American Songbook album, we know who to thank.

I last saw Jerry in June of 2021. It was Saturday and I had the day off so it was time to visit Vinyl Man's Clubhouse. That was the name the now-retired fellow gave his Swissvale warehouse, where he sold the massive stock that hadn't gone to the store. Everything had old-school prices ($5-$7). You had to walk around the back of the building, following the arrows, entering through a dank basement with piles of records in various states. Some 78s, many with no covers. Albums you had seen before that weren't yet "extremely clean," as many clear sleeves would state after they were polished up. These were all records that somebody thought could be a hit, or deserves to be unleashed on the listening public. If there was a real record graveyard (to borrow the name of the first store that Jerry had), this might be it. 

But down the hall, through another door, there were racks of albums to explore in some slightly cramped aisles. A few tables sat at an awkward angle, since they were on the ramp that lead to the garage door just a few feet away. To the left of the entrance, Jerry always sat, near the turntable, always pricing another stack of records. There were always more. Some people might go crazy with a never-ending task like that, but Jerry seemed to love it. He was only open once a week, so could work at his own pace.

On one visit, he threw an original Savoy pressing of  Introducing Lee Morgan on the turntable. He probably knew he'd get a rise out of me because I love Lee Morgan. Maybe he was hoping I'd beg him to sell it to me, so he could play coy. You see, while he could make recommendations, Jerry could also keep you in suspense. This happened at the Squirrel Hill store once when I spied a copy of Thelonious Monk's Complete Black Lion and Vogue sessions on Mosaic Records. It's a limited edition that was long out of print and coveted by jazz collectors, as nearly all Mosaic sets are. One copy had gone for $400 in an eBay auction. (Someone made out and someone got suckered in that case.) After telling me that this set wasn't going to be cheap, he sold it to me for $50. Actually I think I traded him back a Sidney Bechet Mosaic set and paid the difference in cash.

That day I wasn't feeling like buying an album I already had either on disc or in a reissue. (I couldn't remember which.) The typical inventory didn't yield much on the level of the Lee Morgan record. It was more like common stuff priced at levels that make you want to buy them. 

On that June visit, I knew there were plenty of things to listen to at home, albums with which I'd like to spend time and review on this blog. But I couldn't walk out empty handed. No, I didn't need a Jimmy Durante album, but why not. I love the Schnoz. Rusty Warren had just died, so why not grab a copy of Rusty Rides Again. It's probably funny in a bawdy, outdated kind of way (my favorite kind of humor). Plus that cover shot of her on a motorcycle in a sparkly jumper was worth the price. 

And there was one album among that batch which I never bought during my pre-punk days that I decided it was time to own - Traffic's Welcome to the Canteen. So the very first album and the very last album I bought from Jerry were by the same band - Traffic. 

Thanks for everything, Jerry. I have a story for almost every album I've bought, just like you.

Friday, January 28, 2022

CD Review: Andrew Cyrille, William Parker & Enrico Rava - 2 Blues For Cecil

Andrew Cyrille, William Parker & Enrico Rava
2 Blues For Cecil

Cecil Taylor did play the blues. In the early part of his career at least, he wasn't above working within the 12-bar structure that so many others had done. But "Charge 'Em Blues," from his 1959 debut Jazz Advance sounded nothing like what Horace Silver was laying down around that time. The rhythm section kept to a loping vamp that followed the chords. Drummer Denis Charles even traded fours with Cecil. But the pianist's solos, and even those by soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, didn't let bar lines or chords help to anticipate where they were going. The two soloists were aware of the sound beneath them, but chose to fly just above it. 

That type of forward vision has lead many skeptics over the years to think that purveyors of "the new thing" or free jazz or whatever it might be called, don't know how to play something as traditional as a 12-bar blues. "Blues for Cecil No.2" from this album should put any thoughts to rest. Bassist William Parker - who can create some intensely vicious music with his instrument - lays down a slinky walk that gets right in the pocket with drummer Andrew Cyrille, who keeps it simply but sly. Enrico Rava, the sole horn on this whole session, unleashes some warm, bluesy lines, along with some upper register flutters. The whole thing could get heads shaking in rhythm at your local jazz festival. Don't ever say these guys aren't connected to jazz conventions. 

All three of these players have connections to Cecil Taylor's Units. Cyrille came to prominence during the 11 years he played with the pianist, from 1964 to 1975. In recent interviews, Cyrille has explained the way he put his drum experiences to use in different ways when playing with Cecil, which has provided greater understanding for Taylor's music. Parker also spent 11 years with the pianist, from 1980-1991. Rava met Taylor in the '60s but didn't perform with him (in a few of his larger orchestras) until the '80s. The trio convened at the opening for the Whitney Museum's 2016 exhibition Open Plan: Cecil Taylor. After performing in a tribute to the late pianist in late 2020, they recorded this album.

When paying homage to an individual like Cecil Taylor, his music is rarely used. Not so much because it could be hard to interpret (though it surely is) but because Taylor was such an individual devoted to new. personal expression who would likely prefer to hear new ideas rather than new takes on his older ones. Or, as Parker states in the liner notes, "Cecil was a spokesman for individuality, a musical warrior always operating on a high level." 

For that reason, 2 Blues for Cecil is made up largely of compositions by the performers. Four are group improvisations. "Blues for Cecil No. 1" sticks closer to a groove rather than an actual blues but it retains that spirit. The tracks simply titled "Improvisations" are loose but still feel like a deep three-way conversation between the players. Rava, for one, opens the album with some rusty squeaks and flutters from his horn, but he spends a lot of time using a rich, dark tone, sometimes touching on the simple expression of Miles Davis. 

Of the composed works, "Ballerina," a Rava piece that he first recorded in 1991, has a free bop melody that darts over Cyrille's gentle cymbals and snare rolls. "Top, Bottom and What's in the Middle," by the drummer, builds on individual statements by each player, which includes Parker utilizing his bow. (Cyrille created a similar piece in the '80s with saxophonist Jimmy Lyons.) The bassist's "Machu Picchu" consists of a 6/4 vamp where the other two players respond spontaneously with spirit and drive.

The album closer with that oft-repeated chestnut "My Funny Valentine." Like Chet Baker when he sang it, the trio plays one simple chorus with little embellishment. Again, Rava's delivery recalls Miles Davis' version on the album of the same name for Columbia, in which he stretched the melody out, bending phrases with moody tones. Cyrille gently brushes in the background, Parker's plucking might either be maintaining the structure or acting as a low harmony. It's a surprising end to such an individualist set, but this music is all about surprise.

It's easy to wonder what Cecil Taylor would think of this set. (He'd probably chastise my Miles comparisons, of course.) He was in attendance for the trio's performance at the Whitney. Most likely, he would approve of their sense of adventure and the places to where it leads them. That feeling is what comes across most prominently here. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

My Gullible Ear Blog Post, on the Five and the Late, Great Bill von Hagen

Time to redirect you, once again, to another blog for which I have the courtesy of writing a piece once a month. Will Simmons edits  The Gullible Ear, a weekly blog in which various friends sound off on one particular song per entry. Sometimes liberties are taken by some writers and more than one song will come into play, but that's the idea. 

Lately I've been thinking back on my life as a high school freshman, the feeling coming in large part because my son is that exact same age. With each passing year, I find myself looking back on where I was when I was his age. At this point in the school year, I was coping with the loss of my great aunt, barely six months after losing her sister. Both of them were like surrogate maternal grandmothers to me, since my mom's mom had passed a year before I was born. The aunts' two room apartment, cramped as it may have been, nevertheless provided a refuge from the homefront, as well as cold cans of pop and some sort of junkfood. 

Now they were gone, which was really driven home by the one day over Christmas break when I was enlisted to help clean out their apartment. My 14-year old brain couldn't put words to the way I was feeling, but being in that apartment without either of those ladies there just seemed weird. The one amusing part of that task came when my mom found the envelopes of money that my aunt's had stashed under the refrigerator and dresser. It's funny looking back on it. But at that time, I was blasé about it, having known all along that it was there.

I've written about this time period before on this blog, and how punk rock was becoming a big part of my life. But my recent Gullible Ear entry deals with the first record by the local band the Five, which was a game changer both musically and socially. If that qualification sounds odd, just go to the link and read it.

But before you leave this page, I have to mention the second part of the post. A few days before I started writing about the Five, I heard that Pittsburgh had lost one of the driving forces of the first wave of local punk rock - Bill "Bill Bored" von Hagen. Not only that, he was a great guy too, so I had to pay my respects to him. We're losing to many folks too young. Bill was 66 and that's too damn young. 

Here's to those who have broken ground and made the city safe for next batch of musicians.

(Note: This post did not originally have the link to the Gullible Ear. That oversight has been corrected.)

Monday, January 17, 2022

CD Review: Sara Schoenbeck - s/t

Sara Schoenbeck
Sara Schoenbeck

Sara Schoenbeck has been staring at me with one eye from the cover of her newest album, which has been sitting on a pile of music. That eye (which looks like it might be green) insists that I remember her set at Winter Jazz Fest 2020 in a duo with pianist Wayne Horvitz. It was one of those sets that was great for reasons that felt hard to put into specific words. The music was all by Horvitz, an original and fascinating composer. There have been other jazz bassoonists, but Schoenbeck had a lyrical approach that was different than others I've heard before. So from the cover of her new self-titled album, her left eye has been dropping hints. 

The eponymous disc features Schoenbeck in duets with nine other musicians, in moods that range from pensive to pointillist, with the added bonus of an indie rock cover (the one track not written by either of the people playing). If some of the duets feel easier to latch onto than others, the questionable ones provide enough musical intrigue to inspire return visits. 

To those who hear the bassoon rarely in the setting of jazz or improvisation, the huge double-reed instrument can sound like a baritone saxophone with a head cold, rich in the low end but a bit nasal. Schoenbeck smashes such misconceptions out of the gate. "O'Saris," a duet with drummer Harris Eisenstadt, begins with her growling overtones on her axe (that slang sounds appropriate considering how she plays) while her comrade punctuates the raunchy sound with toms and gentle cymbal splashes. The melody that eventually takes shape feels simple but she keeps it dynamic, at one point singing in the back of her throat while blowing. 

Together with guitarist Nels Cline, Schoenbeck interprets "Lullaby," a song originally by the slowcore band Low, who takes volume and tempo down to a very deliberate level and forces the listener to revel in the beauty of it. Jazz and indie rock can make strange bedfellows (even when one of the interpreters is the guy from Wilco who's also a free improv master) but these two know how to pull it off. 

For the first half of the eight-minute track Cline plucks the lonely notes of the chords, which almost sound like a spaghetti western, while Schoenbeck blows freely over it. When the guitarist begins strumming, five minutes in, it provides a beautiful release which, in some ways might be hard to top. Contrast is everything on this album, as the following track "Chordata" features a brief improvisation with Roscoe Mitchell that Schoenbeck describes as "the contained development of granular ideas." Her attack almost sounds like smears on a brass instrument, no small feat on a double reed.

Improvisations with Horvitz (piano, electronics) and Peggy Lee (cello) feel loose but inquisitive, while "Auger Strokes" a duet with pianist Matt Mitchell (who also wrote the piece) features a lot of open space and quick stops. Ironically (or perhaps intentionally), "Suspend a Bridge," with Lee, opens with what sounds like an amplifier buzz, but it's actually Schoenbeck, again exploring the sonic qualities of her instrument. 

The album closes with pianist Robin Holcomb playing piano and adding some vocals to her "Sugar." While things feels a little out-of-tempo at first, the bassoon quickly becomes as central to the melody as Holcomb's vocal. What was initially uncertain feels as welcoming as the melodies to "Sand Dune Trilogy," the engaging duet with flutist Nicole Mitchell, earlier in the set.  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

CD Review: Matthew Stevens - Pittsburgh

Matthew Stevens

Pittsburghers, natives or longtime residents, like to put the city down. Nothing happens here. What does happen here is lame. There's no support for new artists. (I'm not one of those people, let the record show.) Like most things, part of these comments are grounded in truth. There could be more support for upcoming artists, rather than continuing to celebrate people who are worthy but who often get all the recognition, based more on longevity. And yes - enough with the sports teams and sandwiches with French fries on them. But the locals are often more willing to sit back and complain - pandemic or no pandemic - than to go out and discover things, which once lead my wife to fashion a new slogan: Welcome to Pittsburgh. No one's going to spoon-feed you.

Visitors, on the other hand, are often enthralled with what we have to offer. There have been a number of times that musicians - of the more experimental or edgy type - have commented on how amazing it feels to play to a small-but-pretty-full room of attentive listeners on a weeknight. That isn't something that can be expected in a big place like New York City, they remind us. Combine that with our proclivity to chat with musicians after a set, making them feel like they're one of us, and it might inspire one in a small crowd to relocate here. Or else, they don't shoot down the idea when a family transition might point towards a move to the Steel City.

That kind of criteria may or may not have factored into Matthew Stevens' relocation to our fair town. (Though his wife grew up here.) But the guitarist, who has played on Esperanza Spaulding's albums Emily's D+Evolution, Exposure and 12 Little Spells, is one of us now (last time I checked) and named his set of solo works after his new home. The 11 tracks aren't necessarily inspired by sights around town, but more of a way to represent where he landed following his departure from the Big Apple and a shift from electric to acoustic guitar. 

Pittsburgh came together as something of a silver lining of a cloud. After falling off a bike and breaking his right arm, Stevens began playing his Martin 00-17 acoustic guitar as suggested therapy. The results stand up as less restorative exercises and more as a fully developed works, with the mood and scope resulting in a varied set since they changing with each track. For instance, after the long melody of "Can Am,"  built on a single string line that never stops flowing, he transitions into "Foreign Ghost," a ballad marked by gorgeous chords and strong crescendos. The low galloping bass notes in "Blue Blues" seem to carry on a conversation with the upper register melody. "Purpose of  A Machine" might attempt to sound mechanical but Stevens' arpeggios keep the strings resonating over all the octaves, suggesting something more organic. 

The vintage Martin acoustic produces string scratch on a few cuts, evoking visuals of Stevens' left hand moving around on the fretboard. But it accentuates the music rather than distracting from it. His right hand seems to have recovered well from his accident too. In closing he also deserves a hat tip for using a photo by Pittsburgh native Charles "Teenie" Harris and most importantly acknowledging the Harris Archive at the Carnegie Museum of Art. (A lot of people used Harris' legendary shots over the years without proper credit.)

Friday, January 07, 2022

2021 Turns into 2022, or Look Forward In Anger, Plus Thoughts on that Lee Morgan Box

The snow is on the ground as I type and we're almost a week into 2022. It's a snow day so the kid is doing remote learning from home and I don't have to give him a ride to school. Only now do I have a free moment to look back on the previous year of music and try to look ahead and think about what's coming out.

I had big plans to head to New York City next week for Winter Jazz Fest and catch as many live performances as I could. Of course, that ain't happening. That virus that was supposed to magically go away, according to the last person who occupied the White House, isn't going anywhere and has been affecting more people. I say "affecting" because it keeps encroaching upon us. Even if it hasn't made someone like me sick yet (knock on wood), it's coming damn close. And it pisses me the hell off. 

The good news is, there's no shortage of music to hear and write about. I still have albums that are several months old that I would like to cover here. My particular neurosis comes when I wrestle with the idea of writing about an album that's several months old vs. skipping it altogether, feeling too late to the party and trying to focus on something newer. I'm not one to give an album a quick half-listen before I fire off a set of paragraphs about it. (Publicists and musicians might be happy to hear that.) So it takes me a while to feel like I'm ready to write. The number of times I've been thanked for detailed reviews is enough positive reinforcement to keep that approach going.

I still have five days of work at the day job before what will now be a staycation starts, and I'm trying to be strategic about how blog posts will factor into that. If I make one resolution for the year, I hope to do more blog posts throughout the year. 2021 had the lowest count on entries in a while. 

But first a look back, with some links. I was once again hit up by Francis Davis and Tom Hull to participate in their annual Jazz Critics Poll. It had a home for the last few years on the NPR website, but this year it has moved to The Arts Fuse, an online arts magazine that focuses on the Greater Boston area but also, clearly, has national coverage as well. The poll results can be found here. If you're interested in what I liked over the past year, that can be found here. Just scroll down until you see my name.

As Francis Davis points out in his opening statement, it was a year that catered to the shut-in jazz enthusiast, with a huge number of box set releases. It wasn't simply rara avis releases either. Pi Recordings released six CDs by Snark Horse, a mini orchestra lead by pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Kate Gentile, who penned a series of one-bar compositions for various configurations of that group. (I just picked that up a week ago and made my way through the whole thing a few days ago.  Intriguing stuff, though I want to revisit it to get a better handle on it. Suffice to say, it's good music to listen to while driving.)

There was more William Parker than you could shake a stick at. I didn't get to hear Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World, the bassist's 10-disc set of vocal pieces. (I've come around a bit on vocals in experimental jazz, but I'm still cautious) But his dual small group albums, Mayan Space Station and Painter's Winter were both strong sets. He also released Village Mothership, a reconvening of the trio with pianist Matthew Shipp and drummer Whit Dickey. Shipp also had a fruitful year of releases on his own and with other musicians. His good pal Ivo Perelman put out a six-disc set Brass and Ivory Tales, with a series of pianists. (I wonder if he knows that Doc Severinsen and Henry Mancini did their own Brass and Ivory album once, which was quite different from Perelman's.) That one is still waiting for me to play, not due to lack of interest but lack of time.

2021 marked the first year that the jazz cognoscenti and I all agreed on the best album of the year. I'm glad they followed my lead (heh heh) on James Brandon Lewis & Red Lily Quintet's Jesup Wagon. I've spoken about that album at length here on the blog, and was lucky enough to see Lewis live (twice!) this year (not even Francis Davis can make such a claim, as he laments n his introduction). The saxophonist deserves every bit of that recognition because he's an incredible player and composer who is just getting started. 

But there were plenty of significant historical releases that came in large packages. The Julius Hemphill box set, The Boyé Multi-National Crusade for Harmony hasn't hit my doorstep yet but I'm hoping to get ahold of it soon. (Incidentally, while I'm not opposed to downloads, listening to a big set like that simply as downloads detracts from the overall intent that the producers had when creating the package, in my opinion. It's like getting a cassette dub of Sgt. Pepper without ever seeing the cover art.) 

It was no surprise that John Coltrane's A Love Supreme Live In Seattle took top honors in Rara Avis, because.... it's John Coltrane. Sure it was a great performance (though lacking not in fidelity but in balance of instruments), but for sheer jazz sweat equity, you can't beat Roy Brooks' Understanding. Click the link for my review.

The day I bought the Coltrane set, I also decided I couldn't live without Lee Morgan's Complete Live at the Lighthouse box set. The original two-record set has a permanent spot on my shelf but I never picked up the expanded 1996 three-disc version. All the accolades about this quintet being quite possibly the best band that Morgan ever lead in his massive career were pointing in the direction of a purchase.

Many know that Blue Note released Lighthouse in vinyl and CD formats. The former is geared towards retired jazz fans, or those so well-off, they wouldn't bat an eye at the price. Who else could sink $350 on the 12-disc set? (Apparently enough people because a current check of the Blue Note website states that the set is sold out.) $80 for an eight-disc set is relatively more reasonable, and a worthy purchase at that. 

The set focuses almost exclusively on newer material that Morgan's quintet was working up, knowing that they would be recording live and didn't want to rehash music that he had already released for the label. One version of "The Sidewinder" did make it to tape, which adds some punch to what was originally a more slinky groove, giving it a fresh take. But that's a major exception.

Much of the new material was penned by Morgan's bandmates, Harold Mabern (piano), Bennie Maupin (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, flute) and Jymie Merritt (whose electric Ampeg "Baby" bass has a smooth low end almost like a bass guitar at times). In an interview with Mabern in 2004, the late pianist told me that Morgan was a leader who was open to playing a lot of music by his sideman, which is borne out by this set.

It's often said that unlike other jazz musicians, Morgan didn't exactly evolve with the times, maintaining a more traditional, acoustic sound. However, it becomes clear in listening to Lighthouse that Morgan wasn't too far removed from Davis or Freddie Hubbard for that matter, in terms of writing. Most of the pieces on the set are built on grooves, with only a slight bit of chordal movement. Mabern's "The Beehive" had a knotty melody line with stops and starts, but harmonically it was pretty straightforward. Maupin's "Something Like This" or "416 East 10th Street" might have been a little more complex, but those tracks didn't make it onto the original album. "Neophilia" did, and Maupin's deliberate piece, with bass clarinet and flugelhorn, gathers a lot of exciting even as it moves as a slow pace. 

If you compare this to Hubbard's Straight Life, which was recorded for CTI just a few months later, the only difference is electric piano, as that album's title track is also a 16-minute vamp with solos. No one will mistake Morgan's group for Miles Davis' group but Morgan clearly had an eye (or an ear) to use a simple structure and get more out of it. 

In closing, the title of this entry is a bit of a hat tip to Mort Sahl, who we lost in 2021. The first album I ever bought by that wiseguy comedian was called 1960 or Look Forward In Anger. As long as there are idiots out there who disregard the safety of their neighbors in favor of their own convenience, the anger will continue. But so will the music. So keep listening.