- Floyd Gordon, unknown title or date. Found rolling in the back woods of the dirty dirty.
I would ask the queen of the blues what she thinks, but only after Dust Tracks. She might have the right thing to say.
'Member that project w/ devils and the alphabet?* We're at the letter j. Brings us to James Reese Europe. In the face of the re-discovery of Europe, we must just pause to observe a few convergences.
There's the pre-war stuff: hyenawild instrumentation, big groove, yowling bandleader, sexy dancers and an explosive mix of disciplined bandsmanship on the one hand and dionysian improvisation on the other. They've been telling us that we gotta do a re-eval on this period for decades now. You lissen to these few slabs, you can hear the shout: bring us more, bring us more. What's going on? There's a riot going on.
Then there's the Hellfighters stuff. It brings out the devils, too. It's a cauldron of entendres, doubling over. See those notes flying everywhichway? That's cause the boys in the band gointa free the minds of thousands of Europeans who've been waiting for this kind of liberation for, well, maybe centuries.
Get to this, from 1919:
They call it "Jazzola!"
Nobody knows its origination,
It's just a dance full of syncopation,
And if you crave a new sensation,
Come with me,
You will see,
Strange sights from the land of harmony!
Old folks and young folks cry for Jazzola!
It's like a tonic, take it with each meal;
How good you'll feel!
My old granddad heard the news,
Dropped his cane for dancing shoes!
The whole world's going crazy 'bout Jazzola!
Just take your sweetie sweet
Out for a jazzy treat,
And she'll love you like she never did before;
No need of fine wine,
You'll have a much better time,
Get those jazz musicians,
To play it o'er and o'er!
More gangsta sh*t, straight outta the second decade of the 20th c. The second verse is almost Snoop Dogg in it's pleasure principle, and you gotta love how the spirit of jesgrew, one of the real devils @ the crossroads, occupies the first.
It's time to come and get to this short clip for your lissening pleasure.
- James Reese Europe's High Society Orchestra, "Down Home Rag." Do you feel better?
- Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighter's Band, "That's Got 'Em."
- Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighter's Band, "Jazzola."
Our purpose is not to be writing history; we are not wishing to bring back the past. We are talking about what's going on. But sometimes a tear or two falls from our historiographical third eye and leaks into these jottings. From that source, we drop a couple more bullets into the clip, just to make a point. And when we do, voila, the political reappears -- strange sights from the land of harmony.
- Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, "Journey Towards Freedom." Could be James Reese Europe's greatest follower, and without doubt one of our heroes.
- Funkadelic, "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow." George Clinton always makes himself relevant w/out further ink.
† There is so much lore in these two words that wikiologists can only leave a stub behind.
One of the things that our role models have in common is that they all know it's so high you can't get over it, and so low you can't get under it. They are the proof that it goes on and on and on and on... So we are big fans of Noz and the whole movement @ T.R.O.Y. Since they are always on the lookout for that 'nothering place, we will always rep their threads.
We thought we would take the luxury of a free Thursday and a slow Friday to follow in their direction. We gathered up all of the tracks in Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune* and spilled 'em out in alpha order by artist using the magic of music management software. All we wanted was out of the ties that bind when you dig through the crates in chronological order.
We weren't through w/ the letter a when we found that source of inspiration we were looking for: some gangsta sh*t straight outta the dirty south by Alphonso Trent. I put a few bullets in the clip for your edification, and then loaded some Li'l Jon up next to 'em just to put the obvious in front of you more plainly. This is club music @ its best. It is as distinctive as bounce,† or gogo, or music from the yay, or any of those territories we go to when we look for the unnaground.
Here's the all about it, 80 years apart: big crews taking up space and getting loud, call and response, get your stuff off the wall and an excess of move in the groove. And when you get up, you've found your fresh again.
- Alphonso Trent & His Orchestra, "St. James Infirmary."‡ Straight up gangsta. She's dead. He wants to look good when he's in a coffin.
- Alphonso Trent & His Orchestra, "I Found A Brand New Baby." You gots to be heartless to lay her out on a cold white table and then follow up w/ this. As outrageous as anything coming from the club floor these days.
- Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, "Throw It Up."
- Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, "Get Low."
We'll let the scholar's sort out the difference between Alphonso Trent, Walter Page and Bennie Moten. They'll wake up 80 years later and get the book on the differnece between Lil Jon, E40 and Project Pat. You got the point: it's regional music on the move, mang.
And as for that alpha list, we'll keep you posted. Two days in, we're to the letter d.Throughout the procedure, we will rise again and and again w/ new fresh.
P E A C E
† And where is that 10th Ward Buck book, anyway?
‡ There is a long post on this song coming from somewhere. If you make a list of the great songs of the 20th century and this one's not on it, the problem is with the list.
Almost as an afterthought, Marvin throws down the pop quiz @ the end of "Let's Get It On." We find that quiz @ the end of the first track on a slab that veers off into the deep blue every track. Since the question comes at the beginning, we think all of those blue tracks that follow are the answer, and that Marvin's not kidding us.
Marvin's got four albums too big to contain themselves: What's Going On, Let's Get It On, I Want You, and Here, My Dear. There are days when we find In Our Lifetime and Midnight Love in that crate, too. Each one of them is so high you can't get over it & so low you can't get under it. In pieces and in their total, they are each their own hunk of the tower of babel.
And all of 'em answer after answer to the quiz that's the all about of Marvin: "Do you know the meaning of being sanctified?"
Carpetbagging biographers leap out of the cut to take advantage of the facts of his tawdry life, punishing him for not living like a saint, and then sanctify him as a martyr to this or that. It's like that pitcher of him as a ghost we throw up on the head of this post. He's like brovah Nas dead hip hop in that one. It's the wrong way, the wrong way. When stare at him in this fallen condition, it just lives up to the masochism Marvin lived for in the first place.
The first thing to do when trying to come up w/ the answer to Marvin's quiz is undo yourself from the life, undo yourself from the street, undo yourself from the club, even undo ourself from the game. There's too much of that in every other place you look. Marvin's work makes better sense when you go there.
Then you gotta put on the headset. You'll hear the answer Marvin's got to offer, 'cause he offers it again and again. Like when he says "My body wants it," and says "Help me," in the same overdubbed breath.
Or this one, where he's trying to make math in "Just to Keep You Satisfied,"
Can never really outweigh the bad
Oh I'll never love nobody like I loved you baby
He keeps it up w/ the scales 'til he gets to this question, which is just another version of the quiz we been riffing on here:
Have felt their world stand still
Millions never, they never never
And millions never will baby
They never will.
Oh baby, though it be far before my time
I won't die blue, sugar yeah
'Cause I've known you.
The all about it. The what we've been looking for. "I won't die blue." The what it means to be sanctified. Jyeah.
In light of that clear unnastanding, here's a clip of sanctified bullets:
They been running the age old prove-it-jazz-isn't-dead thread over @ Destination: OUT. We left a couple of pennies over there.
Those pennies speak for themselves, and we got nothing more to say about all of this Lazarus stuff. But two things are in order.
First we got nothing but respect for everything happening at the d to the O. We go there for some of our fresh, and we commend the site to you.
Second we wanna load up a short clip to footnote the post.
- Nas, "Money Over Bullshit"
- Z-Ro, "Life is a Struggle and Pain"
- Charlie Haden & Hank Jones, "Go Down Moses"
- R Kelly, "Trapped in a Closet, Pt. 1"
- Pyeng Threadgill, "Come On In My Kitchen"
P E A C E
We were digging for threads through the house -- the devilin archeology, 'spose. In one of the back corridors, under stacks of newspapers, we found a clip of bullets that taught us another thing about the unnaground: You dig deep enough into the ground you reach outerspace; you dig deep enough into the past you find Great Black Music, ancient to future.
We been wanting to tug on this thread for a long time, but we 'a begin in the middle.
We first came across Greg Broussard late* in the game, during M.I.A.'s pre-pregnancy tourstop in Dogtown. It's hard to remember back that far, but the recollection is that the show ate him up: too much space; not enough time. But there was something big, even if it was buried under all of M.I.A.'s momentarily big personality/sound system. And it was good to see him fresh, not packed into some oldies tour like Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.
Chaboy threw down his back in the day tracks. The kids got their feet off the wall a few times. They wanted to hear it, even though they never had the opportunity to remember it:
The women here are Oh so cute
The freaks are on the floor now
Dancing to beats that I compute
We listened hard and heard all this back-to-afro-futurism stuff all at once. It was like Charles Ives, you know: at the crossroads where all the parades come together. You could hear the Sun Ra. You could hear the Earth Wind and Fire. You could hear the Burning Spear, calling the children of the ghosts back to homelands free of oppression.
We are not sure, now that we listen backwards on this clip where that homeland is, but I think it is somewhere on the dancefloor, somewhere near the serpentine fire.
- "Egypt, Egypt," Egyptian Lover
- "Egypt Strut," Sun Ra and Salah Ragab
- "Little Egypt," The Coasters. Listen for the chipmunks coming in at the end. Fo sho, ma bro.
- "Nights Over Egypt," The Jones Girls.
- "'Mid the Pyramids," Clarence Jones.
- "Serpentine Fire," Earth Wind and Fire
P E A C E
* N.B.: We got to admit that when we're devilin' we are always late, we're always falling behind. That's the way.
Tricksta is a book that plays out loose threads of undisentangled, troubling fabric of writing about the panhiphop tradition. He's walking up and down the twelve steps bookwide like they were piano keys and he was Fats Domino, coming back as himself after he can no longer tell up from down. As scholar junky emeritus, or as a character in his own after the fact cash in version of Spike Lee's requiem, it is his willingness to describe the crossroads as the up and down, as well as east and west, and his own play it out as a failed Lazarus that makes the book as lively as it is.
We pour a little liquor on the ground for him and load a couple of bullets in the clip.
- "Hyena Stomp," Jelly Roll Morton. Massively sacred 2n that we'll be seeing again and again on the pages of this commonplace.
- "Rum and Coke," Professor Longhair. The Dr. walks w/ his chicken in his hand. Chea.
P E A C E
Or you can look in the alley, where the Papa Shady pizza workers deliver what you want, not what you think. But of the two glances, this glances right. So we put a bullet in for to commemorate.
- "Lucky Old Sun," Ray Charles. From the hymnody. We always sing, "Amen."
Got your girl on my swagg she lovin them jerkin songs
Like the new ipod just touch it and turn her on
And when the bass start beatin and the waist I'm beatin
We picked this thread up on the car radio some weeks ago. When we heard it, we remembered 50 summers all at once. Could hear some future Nelson George all writing about coulottes and espadrilles 20 years from now, and saying there hasn't been abything this good, this free ever since.
We certainly are not 'bout keeping up -- too old and too much work to do. But this is all over the versionalism tip we put to the paper so many months ago. Chaboy JHawk is the hero in this story, even if the New Boyz and Pink Dollaz steal it, straight up.
All you can do after all these summers is confessing and witnessing. Here's a clip for you:
- A primer in the LAWeekly. We got many props for the brovah Jeff Weiss, especially because he talked to the kids. He's in the clubs asking, "Can I get a witness?" And he does his best work when he lets the kids call out the anti-gangsta for the mixed up fashion statement that it is.
- Our role model, Noz, has been threading this story for months now. And he's always good for a basket of cookies.
- "Never Hungry," Pink Dollaz. The best independent woman track since the first FannyPack biskit was pressed into the free market in '02. This sh*t is as straight up as the raunchiest bouce, pure to the groove.
- "P*ssy Killer," Yg. Eat that chicken.
P E A C E
Last week we cleaned out the closets @ chaboy Slizzard's house. He's always had our respect. Like his colleague Noz, he's a listener w/ an eye for place. 'Specially the place called bounce.
So I started to spin what he left for us, and found the beauty of versionology all over again. There is this promise of keep coming back in the versionist's best work. It's like how Art Tatum comes back, again and again, each time 'nothering the thing.
Today it's simple stuff from the place called bounce. The version is "Triggerman," but somehow every time we come back, it's been 'nothered again into something else. So we'a load a clip:
We'll keep coming back. There's plenty in these closets. When we're there, we're also gonna mark up Nik Cohn's slab on the same project. We'll bring you a magnolia every time.
In putting ideas into poetry, I have tried in each case to use the medium most specific for the purpose. I owe allegiance to no master.
-- Claude McKay, "Author's Word," Harlem Shadows (1922)
This morning we read these powerful words, and we asked ourselves about McKay's use of the word medium. It was powerful, especially in light of our recent move, and our new home, in Our Piece of the Rock. Any trip from here to there needs a guide.
So we offered: made a small pile of flour and placed an egg in it. We asked to see one way to do less* than splain how we do. Our vision is sketched out in the bullets. It is a pitcher of a journey: beginning, middle, end, middle, beginning. It's a homegoing of sorts. It's a fabric of sorts. It's a beauty of sorts. It's, as always, a story of sorts. It's also the way we do the things we do here.
Give this pitcher a listen. Make of it what you will.
- "Ghosts: First Variation," Albert Ayler Trio†
- "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom," Robert Johnson
- "Handwoven," Old and New Dreams
- "Cross Road Blues," Robert Johnson
- "Ghosts: Second Variation," Albert Ayler Trio
* That's 'cause less is more.
† The brovah Gary Peacock deserves some very big ups for hanging w/ this caterwaul, creating groove w/out the bars. Chea.
We never going t'be too explicit, y'all. But in the interest of telling some of the truth some of the time, let's point in that direction. You can follow if you want.
Stage right (our left), you'll find 10 kingz & queenz that lay down the frosty tracks -- places to go w/n you're looking for the creamy filling. I'll lift each one out in the upcoming, but for now:
Go visit your bro King Slizzard over @ Twankle and Glisten. he's rolled up a mighty sweet archive and he's gonna shut it down. Dig into his cookie jar. Make sure you leave a thankyou note. He's doing it for the greater good.
P E A C E
Back here in OPotR. Brushed the dirt of both travel and admin off my shoulders for a day or two, stared into the stacks and found the 'pod pointed to a deep stream. This is cause for two threads. First, as always, is more. Second, is how versioning be.
ONE -- More
The simplest way to get at this is w/ some bullets. I'm not gonna shoot the clip, but the aim is true on these.
- "In Walked Bud," Thelonious Monk. Antipiano version. Or is it the version where the band is the piano?
- "In Walked Bud," Amiri Baraka. Black rage version.
- "In Walked Bud with a Palette," Clarence Major. Chimp eatin' termites version.
- "Blue Skies," Art Tatum. He's the masta versionologist, the refixer, the scientist of the dubscience. He'll steal it from you, sell it back to you and leave you feeling better for the trade. But in't what we're talking 'bout?
- "Blue Skies," Frank Sinatra & Louis Armstrong. Play it on Satch.
- "Blue Skies," Sun Ra, the Lintels. Sing it on Sun.
- "(We've Got) Blue Skies," The Jackson 5. Actually stranger than the Lintels when you listen. When you're off the hits, the J5 is some pretty freaky sh*t. I'm not running it past my family. Are you?
Blue Days, every one of them gone. There's still plenty in the clip and one in the chamber. I'm'a be back on this tip.
TWO -- Versioning
There are about a dozen wotnesses in this house. And someone might say one wotness of this house is to play that dozen into dozens. You following? Good. See, we is Topsy.
Now that's off our chest, we've been about to say that versioning (aka the next number, aka the cover tune, aka the dub) is the way we take was and make it into gonna be again. In other words, it's a way of living.
So when we make a little pile of stones, as we have today, and leave (did we say live, or leaf?) them for you, it enacts that way, just a little bit, so you can pick them up for yourself.
Please feel free to come back by. You can even leave your own stones on the pile. That's the way it works.
P E A C E
"Suddenly," Carmen McRea. OK. It's not Johnny G. More statesmanlike, as a tribute would be. And a narrative better than most cliches. The characters think and act in their own world.
"One Time 4 Your Mind," Nas. The parlayer. Chyea.
Just enough for the trip. I'm'a put up the files when I get back to OPotR.
Until you can find me a biography of Big Joe Williams that is not overrun w/ some made up bluesman story, you better stick to the music. All that wandering and juke joint might as well be in a museum or your ethnomusicology perfesser's textbook.
In the mean time, no one takes"When the Chariot Comes," and versions it all over again into basic gangsta better than Big Joe. While we're stopping on this tip, Thurston Moore might wanna take a look at that 9 string box the man beats on, cause it's further out than 10 Glenn Branca symphonies, even after you take into account the extra points Big Joe gets for getting there way first.
- "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain," Big Joe Williams
- "Elevate Me Baby," Big Joe Williams
- "Rooting Ground Hog," Big Joe Williams
I root both night and day.
Kings and queens!
Been moving. Gotta pray, cause moving has big old mojo.
Left Dogtown for a bigger admin post in Our Piece of the Rock. Spartacus is now my mayor. It's a city of much false acclaim, but for all the rattle of sirens, it's still true blue, on almost every corner. Weren't a subway map for Dogtown, that's for sure.
Gonna rebuild my face here.
P E A C E
- "Hell Hound On My Trail," Robert Johnson
While we're on the devilin' thread, let's make the quick case that chaboys Sacha, Elliott, the Chairman, Gabriel and Brent are a team up ≥ Allen Lowe. They take the slowed down nostalgia for coulottes and espadrilles in Nelson George*and remind us that just 'cause we didn't have the money to by the rekkids during the eight zero area code, or just 'cause we were pimpin the industry (but calling it indie) during the same, doesn't mean we can't listen to more now. How much of hip hop's first 10 years did Nelson miss? I am trying to visualize the circumference of how much he didn't see.
Keep up w/ it. It's a matter of staying close to the truth.
- "Rapping and Rocking the House," Funky Four Plus One
- "New Rap Language," Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three
- "Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Mix)," Afrika Bambaataa Jazzy 5
Yes, yes, y'all. It cant stop and it won't stop. So we'll come back to this, too.
* Let's just confess here and now that Nelson George plays the role of an easy target. I don't want to be a hater, tho. Think of him as the Smithsonian Collection of Classic HipHop. As iffing.
Tomorrow morning there will be reports of throngs. We should ask before the fact: to what end? Without the consequence of something better -- for you, for your neighbors, for me, for my family -- then we do nothing but squander optimism.
Therefore we should keep in mind the words of the Frederick Douglass, who should be thought of today like the ghost of emancipation future and the ghost of emancipation past all tangled into a single figure. Speaking before people of impatience over 150 years ago he gave us today's lesson:
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.
-- An address on West India Emancipation
Today's challenge will be to take this precursory conjuring into our hands -- it's a sacred relic and a mojo that we should spread -- and remake it into our new conjuring of struggle to remake this nation in our image. Thus today is our beginning, when we make ours the consequence of a better world occasioned by the President's inauguration.
Today this President opens our door. We must live up to his faith in us by walking through and making a new politics, one that drops the grievances of the past, especially the immediate past, and one that begins the real work that we have left undone for so many decades.
Reminders from the prophetic tradition:
How much can get undone in one day? That's to be seen. In the mean time, there are already 100s of 1000s lined up to help w/ the work.
An' a city that already looks like America is now looking more like America.
It's that big.
A while ago, at least for those who grew up when Coleman Hawkins was alive, The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz surveyed the circumference of jazz. I can remember sitting in my room nexta the rekkid playa trynta to put every note of songs like "Harlem Air Shaft" to memory in case I wore the groove flat and I could not find another copy. The collection's purpose was simple: You went in looking for giants and you found 'em.
And yet, you'd listen and no matter where you listened there was no room for Maceo Parker next to John Coltrane, or even Skip James next to Billie Holiday. For every "Lonely Woman," there were 100s of other ones not on the tracklist.
Here is where the Art Ensemble of Chicago comes in. The professors offered a course of "great black music, ancient to future." Although many saw the reference looking backward as a creator of a tradition, in my blindness, I always saw it as forward looking. I could see all around, from vaudeville and ragtime and field songs to Bootsy Collins and Malachi Thompson and Kool Herc.
In this time after, chaboy Allen Lowe*has taken 36 discs to fall short in 1950, proving that circumference a.) is too big to measure and therefore, b.) is a dangerous science. He's composed a quirky box that only sends the listener back to gaze in the fire looking for more because so much is missing, even before 1950. It's no longer about the giants; it's about all them devils living in the details.
The work of making history is really the work of making a beautiful story. Every attempt to tell the story from the beginning is never more than a story where you start out from the end. With this understanding, I take my own devilin' view of things as if there is a panhiphop tradition. That's cause there's angels in the details, angels.
So one place to begin might be at the end of 2008, where chaboy Trav @ radio WYDU has left a cookie jar of 200 tracks from the last year. There's more going on here than in any top 10. I'm'a listen for some mo angelin' tunes.
In the mean time, why'on't you stare into this fire:
- Art Ensemble of Chicago, "Nice Guys"
- Bert Williams & George Walker, "My Little Zulu Babe"
- Elzhi, "Motown 25 (feat. Royce da 5'9")"
* I am amused by, but not convinced by, much of what Allen Lowe has to offer as jazz history. He is correct to check Marsalis and Burns for their errors, but he does not always correct them from any vantage point.
In 1983, our hero told Nelson George, "No conflicts are resolved."
But Marvin's life isn't divided at all. The real problem is that it includes everything -- without resolution. Cocaine & prayer & pussy & taxes & Berry & Anna & music w/out writing it & lyrics & hired songwriters & doowop & funk & jazz & soul & interplanetary anger & shootdowns off of the streets. You cannot hear Marvin as segments of opposites. You have to hear all of it at once.
Take on these three, as if they were all done by the same person:
Who's that gigolo on the street
With his hands in his pockets and his crocodile feet
Hanging off the curb, looking all disturbed
At the boys from home.
- Don Cherry, "Brown Rice"
NB: Beginning of a new thread, just taking from what' on the top of the week's stack of listening. Only rule is that it has to have been played more than once in the last seven days. It also solves a productivity problem -- less writing/mo listening.
P E A C E
Jaki Byard was topping the stacks in December, getting air among holiday James Brown recordings. There are times when it feels like the brother Jaki is trying to pack all of history into a single song.
Here's his lesson (delivered to Marty Erlich in a long lost interview): ''I played Bud Powell solos, and that was a phase. Then there was Garner, and that was a phase, and then Tatum, and then finally I decided to put everything together and say the hell with it, this is it.''
Dig these. Two footnotes, one from the beginning and one from the end: