Monday, April 30, 2012

International Jazz Day

Leave it to UNESCO to take the fun out of International Jazz Day by listing reasons it's good for us, like "Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies." UNESCO probably has an International Reggae Week in January when all the bureaucrats attend a conference at a luxury resort in Jamaica.

Jazz has the musical & spiritual  power to  create before & after moments in one's life.  Right away I can name three records that had the effect on me.

Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra with an all-star lineup of New York-based musicians & arrangements by Carla Bley.  Kurt Weill meets free jazz meets songs of the Spanish Civil War popular front. It's an album that perfectly accomplishes what it sets out to do, musically & politically.

Monk Alone, a two record compilation set, never released on CD, of Thelonious Monk solo piano performances recorded  for Prestige in the 1950's. Album was divided into two sides of Monk originals & two sides of Monk performing a variety of old popular songs, some of them pretty corny but "recomposed" by Monk with respect & humor.  The personal diary of a genius.

A number of Coltrane albums. I'll choose Ascension, a long, intense, dissonant, free work with seven great horn players.  I can't admit to liking the album, only to admiring it, but I really tried, & it stretched my ears to good advantage for other music, including Trane's.


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