Wednesday, April 27, 2016


ON DECK FOR NEW MUSIC BOOKS IN MAY: Bruno Ceriotti's exhaustive e-book My Little Red Book: Love Day-By-Day 1945-1971 charts the L.A. cult band's tumultuous rise and fall. Premier punk press PM publishes the second edition of George Hurchalla's Going Underground: American Punk 1979–1989. He's not dead, so you can still read Philip Norman's Paul McCartney: The Life without crying to a Spotify playlist. Rolling Stone editor Mark Binelli reanimates a gonzo R&B singer in his 'What If?' novel Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits. David Toop has written some of the most sublime books on the holistic effects of sound and music; now he just may top himself in Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom Before 1970. Honestly, we're getting kind of tired on books about the "World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band," but Rich Cohen's The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones examines the group through the contradictory lens of journalistic fandom. (Be forewarned: Cohen, along with Mick Jagger, is one of the co-creators of HBO's execrable Vinyl, so bring along a couple grains of salt.) John Troutman excavates an underrated and misunderstood instrument in Kīkā Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed Modern Music. Ex-Grantland scribe Steven Hyden brings a kind of Monday Night Football blow-by-blow commentary to classic musician rivalries (Biggie vs. Tupac, Stones vs. Beatles) in Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life. (Read an interview with Hyden here.) Since the turn of the millennium he's been a tireless booster for the West Coast, but in his memoir PorcelainNYC, 1989-1999 technopop auteur Richard "Moby" Hall looks back on his early DJ career in Urinetown. Yale University Press's twin volumes Conversations In Jazz and Music in the Air aim for reappraisal of the pioneering jazz writer Ralph J. Gleason. (Read The New Yorker's take on Gleason here.) Happily, the prolific Ted Gioia, who wrote the introduction to Conversations in Jazz, also has a new book, the accessible primer How to Listen to Jazz. (The Washington Post reviews it here.) Minnesota University Press collects the rare and unpublished essays of jazz and blues critic Albert Murray in Murray Talks Music. (The LA Review of Books reviews it here.) And rounding out the month for you Geminis are two very different titles from Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series: Jovana Babovic's Sleater-Kinney's Dig Me Out and Rolf Potts' The Geto Boys' The Geto Boys.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

There is a woman who sits
All alone by the pier
Her husband was naughty
And caused his wife so many tears
He died without knowing forgiveness
And now she is sad, so sad
Maybe she'll come 2 the park
And forgive him
And life won't be so bad
In Paisley Park

Monday, April 18, 2016

Eddie Becton Schools A Young 'Un

Eddie Becton (L) with Chet Hanley and Leroy Downs

I was kicking back having a glass of wine and listening to some classic Duke Ellington and reflecting on a discussion with a young cat in my jazz history class years back:

Young 'Un: Eddie B! Hey man, I know you dig jazz, but doesn't it get boring? A lot of it doesn't have lyrics, so it doesn't really tell you anything. Are you STUCK on jazz?

Eddie B: (resisting the urge to plunder the young lad, YET conjuring the spirits/sentiments of Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus, among others) I tell you what. Listen to these cuts. Start out with Ellington's cut, "Gong." Listen to what Duke says throughout, but especially to what he does in the background as much as the foreground. Peep his lines from 2:47 to 3:07. Tell me what you hear.

YU: Damn! They're chillin', but it sounds like they're having a conversation, even though there were no vocals! It's like Duke was responding to whatever they played.

EB: Okay, cool. Now, listen to this cut, "All Blues," by Miles Davis. What do you hear?

YU: It's a different vibe, but it also sounds like they're having a conversation. The band seems to be feeding off each other. I dig how mellow and cool this cut is!

EB: Okay, I dig you. Now,watch this clip from by Funkadelic, "Cosmic Slop" live. What do you see/hear/feel?

YU: Damn! They're killin' it! You see how many people were on stage? Parts of it sound like rock, but it has that funky vibe to it. Everybody is having a conversation and feeding off each other. You could even feel like the people in the audience were probably going off!

EB: (laughing my head off!) Man... okay, okay. Now, listen to this cut by Dr. Yusef Lateef, "Juba Juba." Was there ANY connection between all the cuts?

YU: WOW! That cut is POWERFUL! I heard the literal voices and musical voices. It's like the cut encompassed, in some ways, the history of black music in America. All the cuts sounded good, for different reasons, but I dug them all. If there was anything across all, I guess it was they all seemed to be having a musical conversation, but the Lateef cut was like a summary of them all, if that makes sense.

EB: Exactly! When you understand the culture and the music, you FEEL it, and can relate to the band's conversations amongst itself AND the audience! While each cut you listened to might have had a different vibe, they were ALL talking to you, just using different words. ALL of it felt/sounded good, and for different reasons. It's like spirituals, work songs, blues, jazz, etc., they all speak to you, it's just that they may, in some cases, use different words to tell the same story!

YU: Ahhhhh, I didn't really think about that.

EB: Man, don't you EVER tell me that music with no verbal lyrics is incapable of telling a story! The voice is an instrument as much as a sax, but that doesn't mean they both can't talk and/or tell a story. The history of black music IS the story, man, LISTEN, and if you listened to the music at any period in history, you'll get a sense of what was happenin' at that time!

YU: Thanks, Eddie B!

EB: No problem, and remember this: Life can be much more fuller and wonderful when your ears are bigger than your mouth. Listen, son, listen!

[Eddie Becton is a professor of African-American Studies at Loyola Marymount University and hosts Eddie B's Jazz Journey on KXLU 88.9-FM. The above FB post was reprinted with his permission.]

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our Cruelest Month (of Links)





25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music is Going





















Thursday, March 31, 2016

SOUNDPRINTS (April Edition)


Michelle Cruz Gonzales details the '90s moshpit in The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band. (Read an interview with the author here.) James McBride follows his bestselling memoir The Color of Water with Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul. (Read Rick Moody's NYT review here.) NPR's Bob Boilen interviews the likes of Regina Carter, Jimmy Page, Hozier, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Brownstein and St. Vincent on their musical inspirations in Your Song Changed My Life. (Read an interview with the author here.) In 1750, poet Thomas Gray stood in a cemetery on the English countryside and wrote a famous elegy for all of the unknown and unfulfilled talent buried there ("Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest"). 266 years later, Ray Robertson does something about it in Lives of the Poets (with Guitars): Thirteen Outsiders Who Changed Rock & Roll. (Read an interview with the author here.) There's a reason classical musicians call it "the Pit"; now, in Sticking It Out, percussionist Patti Niemi reveals the cutthroat world of big-city symphonies. Adding to a recent spate of "music as nostalgia" memoirs, Erik Spitznagel resolutely declared Old Records Never Die! (Check out the "book trailer" featuring Wilco's Jeff Tweedy here.) He used to be named John Ravenscroft and his radio show on SoCal's own KMEN influenced the Anglophilia of the '60s Sunset Strip rock scene. Later he moved to England and became John Peel. In Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life, David Cavanaugh pays tribute to the bearded, laconic tastemaker. (Read The Guardian's review here.)

England's Dreaming author Jon Savage commemorates the 50th anniversary of the cultural-shift year of 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded. (Check out the book's accompanying playlist here and
another cool list of the year's top rock albums here.) Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series continues with Buzz Poole's The Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead. (Read a Q&A with the author here.) They just finished what may have been their last tour, now the proggy Canucks called Rush have their own volume of fan fiction with 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush. We've been waiting for his reminisces between film roles, X bassist John Doe has finally obliged with Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk. (Read an interview with Doe here.) Albert Einstein = Albert Ayler? Stephon Alexander thinks there might be something there in The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe.

Now that we know the new Twin Peaks reboot will be more music-related than we could have ever imagined, editors J.C. Gabel and Jessica Hundley provide contest in Beyond the Beyond: Music from the Films of David Lynch. Having just announced an upcoming biography of The Stooges, Third Man Books also has published photographer David James Swenson's Pictures From Unknown States as part of its Vault Package #28. The book documents Jack White's recent acoustic mini-tour.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Los Angeles Needs A Jazz Film Festival

"Happiness is a nice wet Rico reed."

"I've never done a gig in a hash bar," notes the guitarist, an older Englishman named Jon Dalton. "I spent my teenage years on the festival circuit in tents and vans. I cooked curry in a hubcap one night."

Welcome to a marijuana dispensary with the James Ellroyish name of L.A. Confidential Caregivers.
Located on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, the space played host to a group of jazz artists who met for a couple of years there for informal Sunday-night jam sessions. It's something that used to happen in into the wee hours of the night, every night, all over the L.A. basin. Hungry young players would run it like a circuit. Then the clubs started dying on the vine and the sessions became limited to Sundays. And during the day to boot.

Hal Masonberg's sensual, understated documentary Jazz Nights: A Confidential Journey (2016) makes a case for jazz returning to the night. And not just the literal night but the night of alternative spaces and word-of-mouth, of music free from club and record label skulduggery and allowed to breath again. In the Uber and App-driven world, this could be a new trend in urban America: "Weed Dispensary Jazz." It's a strangely apropos setting, hearkening back to jazz's semi-legal origins. As the spirited saxophonist Geoff "Double G" Gallegos, who looks like he should be playing bass for Metallica, offers: "To be a criminal you have to improvise, and there's no better training for crime than jazz."

But herb is beside the point -- not all the cats in this racially and generationally mixed octet even like to get high. Between intimate musical interludes of the group easing into standards like Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower," Toots Theilmanns' "Bluesette" and Harry Warren's "There Will Never Be Another You," they banter about how the dispensary gig freed them from the Sisyphus-like existence of jazz players in LA-LA Land. Before he wandered in the front door, guitarist Emil Porée drove a bus and cab in Pasadena to avoid the traditional studio-session work that his father was famous for. "I wanted to experience the music the way I wanted to: No veil between me and actual art."

(FYI: If you wish to see Jazz Nights in its entirety, its world premiere will be April 23, 2016 at the Newport Beach Film Festival.)

Over the last few months, the Beast had had the privilege of being contacted by a few filmmakers about their various jazz-related projects. Beside Jazz Nights, another one that stood out was Turn the Mics On, a 2011 film by L.A. guitarist Matthew Ritvo about the making of his 2009 album with local luminaries Michael Session, Roberto Miguel Miranda, Bobby English, Rahmlee Michael Davis and the late, great Woodrow "Sonship" Theus.

Add to this are three (!!) recent biopics about jazz: Don Cheadle's Miles Ahead, Howard Budreau's Born to Be Blue and Cynthia Mort's Nina. Each has been subject to its own set of criticisms, but honestly the Beast cannot remember a time when filmmakers could even dream of making any jazz-related project that wasn't a documentary (The Case of the Three-Sided Dream), a delivery-system for junkie porn (Low Down) or just plain lazy (Whiplash). This dates back to the mid- to late-1980s, where the documentary form seemed to outpace the fictional. There was the majestic Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser and the bizarre glitterscummy Chet Baker: Let's Get Lost (both released in 1988), and the dutiful but seemingly incomplete The World According to John Coltrane (1990). For the fictional field, things started off hopefully with Bertrand Tavernier's elegiac 'Round Midnight (1986) -- which garnered its star, L.A.'s own Dexter Gordon, an Oscar nomination -- and ended with a resolute thud by Clint Eastwood's Bird (1988), a noble failure that managed to make jazz more boring than Ken Burns' Jazz.

But thanks to IndieGoGo and Kickstarter -- not to mention these go-go days of online D.I.Y. mini-documentaries -- jazz on film is coming back hard. (Cheadle partially used an Indie GoGo campaign to fund Miles Ahead, as did the filmmakers of Fire Music, Jaco and I Love John Coltrane.) In fact, the Beast did a tally of L.A.-related jazz films and came up with about 30. This doesn't include films currently in production: L.A. rebellion filmmaker Barbara McCullough's film on Horace Tapscott; Mitchell Kezin's film on pianist/vocalist Bob Dorough, Tom Paige's The Gathering (which features decade-old footage of this young kid named Kamasi), Paul Sabu Rogers' Jazz in the Rainforest as well as docs on Shelly's Manne-hole and saxophonist Warne Marsh.

In short, we realized: There's enough material here for a L.A.-centric jazz film festival. Don't believe us? Here's a rundown of what could be. (Of course, if there's anything we've missed, please add to our knowledge.) Yes, much of this can be see online or on YouTube, but let's not lose the chance of seeing these images on a BIG screen surrounded by actual breathing human beings.

(1986; 2 hrs., 13 min.)
Special 30th Anniversary Screening!

(1977; 1 hr., 45 min.)
Larry Clark's docudrama student film from UCLA, featuring
Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra.
Read the Beast's take on the film here.

(1997; 58 min)
An account of the 1996 Central Avenue jazz festival, directed by S. Pearl Sharp.
(2002; 60 min.)

The Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra: Live at Moers
(1995; 1 hr., 7 min.)
Titanic, earth-shattering set from Horace Tapscott's guerrilla jazz orchestra.
Arguably their finest filmed performance.

The Silence Is Broken
(2010; 1 hr., 49 min.)
AIDS/HIV docu-concert film from pianist Patrick Gandy.

Soul To Soul
(1971; 1 hr., 36 min.)
World Pacific Jazz record honcho Dick Bock's documents a landmark 1971 concert in
Accra, Ghana featuring Les McCann, the Staples Singers, Ike & Tina Turner, Santana
and the Voices of East Harlem.

A Tribute to Charles Mingus: Past, Present and Future
(2009; 60 min)

Film from Paul Sabu Rogers that includes interviews and performance excerpts
from heavies like Ndugu Chancler, Buddy Collette, Patrice Rushen and Nedra Wheeler.

The Vinny Golia Large Ensemble: 20th Anniversary Concert
(2002; 100 min)

Approximately…Nels Cline
(2012; 30 min.)

Steven Okazaki portrays the intrepid avant-guitar star from West L.A.

Art Pepper: Straight Life
(2007; 180 min.)
Laurie Pepper's three, hour-long troika of surrealist sketches of her late husband,
the postbop saxophonist Art Pepper. Go here for an NPR profile of the project.

Barry Manilow: The Making of 2am Paradise Cafe
(1984; 60 min.)

DON'T LAUGH. Follow the link above and you'll understand.

Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog
(1998; 1 hr., 18 min.)
Directed by Don McGlynn and produced by McGlynn and Mingus' widow Sue.

Charlie Haden: Rambling Boy
(2009; 1 hr., 25 min.)

Reto Caduff examines the free jazz bassist's Americana roots.

Dexter Gordon: More Than You Know
(1996; 52 min.)
Don McGlynn portrays the bop saxophonist-turned-Hollywood-actor.

Electric Heart: The Don Ellis Story
(2007; 1 hr., 13 min.)
John Vizzusi makes a case for the underrated
"psychedelic big band" leader and pioneer of World Jazz.

Eric Dolphy: The Last Date
(1991; 1 hr., 32 min.)

French documentary from Hans Hylkema and Dolphy biographer Thierry Bruneau.

Ernie Andrews: Blues for Central Avenue
(1986; 60 min.)
Lois Shelton's film on the underappreciated vocalist is credited for sparking
the reappraisal of L.A.'s African-American jazz history.

The Good Ear
(2009; 67 min)

Steve Rudolf's film follows club owner/promoter Rocco Somazzi
and L.A.'s creative jazz/improvised music scene.

I Stand Corrected
(2012; 60 min.)
Andrea Meyerson's timely document of left-handed jazz bassist John Leitham's
gender transition to Jennifer Leitham.

Jazz on the West Coast: The Lighthouse
(2006; 78 minutes)
Kenneth Koening on the groundbreaking Hermosa Beach jazz club.

(1980; 60 min.)
Carole Langer's gritty portrayal of the tormented bebop pianist who recorded with Charlie Parker.

(1986; 30 min.)
Short film about the avant-garde duo by Peter Bull and a
pre-Going Clear Alex Gibney, then a film student at UCLA.

(2014; 1 hr., 24 min.)
Alan Hicks' masterful biography of the late trumpeter.

The Legend of Teddy Edwards
(2001; 1 hr., 25 min)
Don McGlynn's film of the bebop saxophonist.

Leimert Park: The Story of a Village in South Central
(2006; 1 hr., 28 min.)

Jeannette Lindsay documents the 1990s cultural renaissance in this SoLA 'hood.
Read the Beast's take on the film here.

Life Is A Saxophone
(1985; 58 minutes)
S. Pearl Sharp's short film on "jazz poet" Kamau Daaood was recently
given a 28th anniversary reissue with 14 minutes of extra footage.

The Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story
(2014: 1 hr., 24 min.)
N.C. Heikin's portrait of the tumultuous career of the saxophonist and Jefferson High alumnus.

(2008; 97 min.)
Ava Duvernay's film on the melding of hip hop and jazz at the seminal Good Life Cafe in Exposition Park.

(2008; 90 min.)
Doug McIntyre & Penny Peyser portray the trumpeter and vocalist with the most recognizable voice.

(2008; 1 hr., 41 min)
Denny Tedesco, son of famed session guitarist Tommy Tedesco, filmed this love letter to the jazz musicians who supplied American youth with its necking-and-petting soundtrack.

The iconoclastic saxophonist from Memphis is more associated with Big Sur and Santa Barbara,
but he got his start in L.A. in the late '50s and was part of the local scene until he moved north
for his "wilderness years." Lloyd was also a vital link between the jazz and rock worlds of the '60s. Amazingly, he's had no fewer than FIVE films made about him, almost all by his wife Dorothy Darr. (Our blog bud Greg Burk previews a few of them here.) And oh man, if we could get them to show up for a live Q&A with our pal Dr. Jeffrey Winston? Sheeeiiiit...

(1995; 60 min.)

Ben Ingram vs. The State of Mississippi
(2009; 1 hr., 50 min.)

Film about Charles Lloyd’s father.

The Monk and the Mermaid: The Song of Charles Lloyd
(2009; 60 min.)
Italian documentary from Fara C. & Guiseppi de Vecchi.

Charles Lloyd: Arrows Into Infinity
(2012; 1 hr. 53 min)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Jazz On RSD

Next month, Record Store Day 2016 will again be upon us, and although the genre of jazz is woefully underrepresented, we still unearthed some prime finds:

Originally released April 23, 1976. Transferred from the original tapes. Limited to 4500 copies.
Grammy winner Glasper and singer-songwriter Bilal re-interpret the classic Miles Davis song 'The Ghetto Walk' with the new track 'Ghetto Walkin'' from Glasper's upcoming Miles Ahead-inspired project.

A newly discovered Bill Evans studio album recorded by the legendary MPS Records producer and label owner, Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, at his studio in Villingen, Germany (aka "the Black Forest"). Recorded literally five days after Evan's legendary Grammy-winning live performance at the 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival, Liner notes to include new historical essays from jazz journalist Marc Myers and German jazz historian Friedhelm Schulz; interviews from participants Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette; plus rare and previously unpublished photos.

Reissue of Dizzy Gillespie's ground breaking bebop album of small group recordings from 1951-52 with guests Milt Jackson & Percy Heath (who went on to later form the Modern Jazz Quartet), Stuff Smith, Bill Graham and some of the earliest sessions by John Coltrane."

These seminal recordings, originally issued under 'The Milt Jackson Quartet’ launched what soon became the elegant chamber jazz of the MJQ.

The third and last installment of Thelonious Monk's final recording session as a leader features Monk on six solo performances as well as five numbers with bassist Al McKibbon and drummer Art Blakey.

Recorded in the summer of 1958 at the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver,

Receiving its first ever vinyl release for RSD16, Spaceways features live performances by Sun Ra and his Arkestra in New York City in 1966 and 1968.

Lester "Prez" Young classic features the tenor master at his peak and includes what would become his lifelong theme song "Blue Lester."

Features some of the most iconic and hard-to-find drum breaks, legendary samples, and a who’s who of players and producers including: Bernard Purdie, Isaac Hayes, David Axelrod, the Lafayette Afro Rock Band, the Blackbyrds, Pharoah Sanders, and more.