Sunday, February 07, 2010

JAZZ-NOT-JAZZ
Admittedly, that may be the dumbest headline I've come up with yet, though I can't think of anything else which better describes it. Summer Snow is a 2007 release from famed bassist extraordinare William Parker and his usual skin-hitting sidekick Hamid Drake, a follow-up to the equally-great double-disc they released in 2001, Piercing The Veil, and whilst both are well known in the realms of "jazz" (of the avant-garde variety), this ain't a jazz disc. Released on the excellent AUM Fidelity label - the late-20th-century-cum-early-21st-century label of choice for such a glorious racket, this one sees the duo branching out into something different. At a whiff, you could even throw this into a generic "World Music" basket, but such a term wouldn't cover the correct ground which this traverses. Recorded live in a Brooklyn studio in front of a small audience in 2005, it sees Parker playing a variety of instruments: bass, talking drum, Shakuhachi, doson'ngoni (or "hunter's guitar", an instrument which Don Cherry apparently used on some of his classic ethno-psych-jazz sprawls in the '60s/'70s), dumbek and water bowls; with Drake on tabla, frame drum, gongs and regular drums. The feeling is meditative, minimalist and raga-like, only on occasion breaking into a jazz swing, such as the bass/drum duel "Konte". Summer Snow sees Parker and Drake stretching their musical boundaries and delving into a smorgasboard of hypnotic sounds, the result being not a series of musical sketches or jams, but something fully formed and whole. A great bong-hit late-night listen, and anyone who's vibed to the sounds of primo Terry Riley, the otherworldly sounds of '70s Don Cherry and Alice Coltrane or Eno's On Land, will get a kick out of this one. There's about two-dozen or more discs with Parker's name on it which you absolutely need, and this is one of them.

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(photo by Rene Schaefer)

MUSIC-DORK ALERT!! (and that means you!): Music biz vet, ex-Au-go-go honcho and founder and man-who's-done-the-lot, Bruce Milne, has sold his famed record collection. The vast bulk of it went on sale yesterday at Ya-Ya's (a music venue) during a daytime record fair. I attended such an event, my first all-out record-fair dorkfest since 1996. I've reached some pretty low points in my life, moments I care not to share in such a public forum, but there's certain things I just won't do, and lining up to look through some guy's record collection is one of them. Braver and more patient souls did such a thing and walked away with high-priced (but reasonable, I'm told) gems under their arms, probably breathing easy and reaching an unprecedented state of Zen bliss with their new purchases. Despite claims by some to the contrary, and despite the mountains of records, tapes, CDs, DVDs and fanzines clogging up every inch of spare room about 5 metres from where I type this, I'm not a collector kinda guy. Senseless maniac hoarder, perhaps, but the concept of "original pressing" means zip to me. Give me a $30 CD reissue over a $300 original any day. Still, I love to watch the wheels of obsessive geekdom spinning, and if you're happy, I'm happy. And I'm more than happy w/ the $10 Twinkeyz LP I picked up...

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