Jelly, jelly so fine

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Readers write in

This is from my old buddy S in New York - worked with the greats, Fillmore, Woodstock, managed Muddy Waters, etc. - bemoaning the dearth of fresh expression in today's artistic arena - Now you gen x,Y and Z'ster's can take umbrage but the man speaks the truth - although think about how much shitty music we had to sit through in the mid seventies when the art rock got so corporate. I think the kids have gotten better - just not that outstanding with a very few exceptions - but then again look how we have fucked up dance since our parent's generation - has it gotten any better since the jitterbug? Anyway this great broadside from S :

That bass video is a mind fuck....
did you ever see Jaco live? I did a couple of times. He was discovered by Bobby Columbi, who was the drummer in Blood Sweat and Tears. They did a gig down in Florida somewhere and after the show, they went off to a small club. When Bobby heard Jaco in the club, he flipped out and went back to NY and got him a deal at EPIC. Bobby produced it and within a year, he was playing not just with Weather Report, but with Herbie Hancock and ultimately, fell in with Joni, who I think he played the most beautifully with cause she did not let him show off....and in the end I think he broke her heart.
I saw him opening, near the end of his short life, for Pat Methany....he was over the top but you cannot beat down genius and he tore up the audience as stoned and out of it as he seemed to be.
I also saw Coltrane right before he died. Similar. Genius.
Same with Hendrix....very few people know this and nothing was recorded, but he spent a week with Miles in a rehearsal loft in what later became SOHO. Then, it had no name. MY friend Donny Smith went to Woodstock and didn't get paid. He provided the sound for a small stage on the periphery. So on the MOnday morning, he and his partner loaded all the plywood decking they could, into their truck. They took a lease on a floor in a loft downtown, built double walled rooms and filled the interiors with SAND. I swear...brilliant, messy, and almost free. I am pretty sure they hired someone to scoop the sand off some beach nearby. I stopped by to visit one afternoon in the Spring of 70, and there they were. I came back every day for a week, hoping to hear the next new thing, but nothing ever really happened. they would play a riff or two and look for a drum part and then talk and then nothing for hours...just not a good matchup. They were probably insanely high.
Noel Redding, who I was very good friends with, swore to me that for the entire time of the Experience, Jimi never ever ever ever ever not even once, told the other guys what or how to play a song. He would just start playing and whatever they did was ok with him. Can you imagine? Very few musicians are like that. Funnily enough, Elton John did that with his first band...the core guys. He would sit down at the piano with some new lyrics, and start trying things out and the band would just come in behind him and that was all, the breaks were natural. Nothing worked out. The producer would chop the songs up and add strings and stuff but that was later on...first few albums were just natural.
Columbi did ok, too. After Jaco, he left BST and took a job at Epic in the AnR dept. He took Michael Jackson into the studio on his own for the first time and over the years has discovered and signed some good stuff, most recently that really fine English trumpet player Chris Boti, who I think played with Sting for a while and married Katie Couric...ok, she is cute, but a lousy anchor woman.

enough peripheral mental noise for one night.
there are many in my past....peripheral days and nights, that is.

back to work and bed....see ya soon

part II

cookie cutter stagnation-
In twentieth century music, and this is in every style, there was a continual metamorphosis...
and then it became BIG BUSINESS.
Have you noticed that music has barely evolved since the Fifties?
Look at the music between 1900 and 1950.
There are always great players around....KIng Oliver had a tuba player who would have been equally at home on stage with Stan Clarke etc....but where are the real shakers and movers? Where have the art stars gone?
It is creepy to think that the best band around are the Stones. Not because I don't love em, but they are also the best rock band to a 16 year old...when my folks were still groovin to Benny Goodman and Satchmo in the post war years, I was into the Mothers of Invention and the Dead and the Beatles...it was a long road from one to the other but only took 20 years to metamorph.....
what happened to the cross cultural references....the Mike Bloomfields playing with the Dylans and the Muddys? Where is that mindspring today? Is it in Silicone Valley, writing Grand Auto Theft, or some new editing program for Hollywood? Might be. Just like my Dad, a really well educated and respected NY musician, could not understand the Beatles White Album, maybe I just don't get it. I feel like I am living in a museum of fixed ideas with a very large entourage still hoping to jump onto the financial superhighway to stardom.
Today, a guy like Mitch or Noel or Keith Moon or John Bonham would never get the gig...couldn't read and couldn't keep time...a no no.
Journey are thrilled. they found a kid in the Phillipines who does a perfect imitation of their lead singer, who has dropped out. They found him on U Tube....the implications are more blade runner than creative networking. We used to chuckle in out of the way countries like Norway, on a freezing winter night after a gig, a band in the bar playing great country music-pedal steel, tight harmonies, cute blonde up front or it could have been a in a whiskey bar in Tokyo and she was doing a perfect Peggy Lee, only to discover that these people made a living by doing exact reproductions and usually didn't understand english, not one bit.
Perhaps, as I predicted in what was it, the year Nixon stepped down, I was sitting in a bar on Beale Street in Memphis after a sound check, munching a burger and washing it down with a cold beer as Dicky came on and announced his resignation. Even in the deep south, they were all whistling and shit, and I said to my pal John the drummer, 'the only lesson here is the one Nixon's people have learned, and it is 'learn how to never get caught again.'
They succeeded. Did you read last week's New Yorker article on this Republican operator, Roger Stone? The title is: THE DIRTY TRICKSTER by Jeffrey Toobin.
Maybe all this counter intuitive and immorality has beaten the creative spirit one time too many. Maybe this is where a total upheaval has to occur so a couple of decent paintings or poems or whatevers can be made that have some meaning in the present.
I am not trying to sound dismal, cause I am not. I live in the past somewhat since I am well down my own path, but it was nurtured by exciting cultural and social activities, movements, and great beauty and it looks much the same, but now rehashed over and over by corporate marketing and branding. Nobody branded Elvis or the Beatles or the Big Bopper.
or did they??


1 comment:

Blue Heron said...

I don't think that Elvis was necessarily branded in the beginning - although he certainly became a cartoon down the line, but a case can certainly be made for he, Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis and a host of other cat's repackaging black music for white audiences. Many thought that he was a T-bone ripoff. I love the man and I think he had the greatest voice of our generation and back a ways but do think that he was by and large, packaged.