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An Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the Arts.pdf

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10/22/14 10:53 PM An Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the Arts Página 1 de 8 http://tedpanken.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/an-uncut-blindfold-test-with-paul-bley-around-2002/ Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the Arts APRIL 1, 2013 · 8:27 AM An Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 I’m not sure exactly what year Paul Bley agreed to sit with me for the DownBeat Blindfold Test, but given the t
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  10/22/14 10:53 PMAn Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the ArtsPágina 1 de 8http://tedpanken.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/an-uncut-blindfold-test-with-paul-bley-around-2002/ Today Is The Question: TedPanken on Music, Politics andthe Arts  APRIL 1, 2013 · 8:27 AM  An Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 I’m not sure exactly what year Paul Bley agreed to sit with me for the DownBeat Blindfold Test, but given the track datings, it was probably 2002. He was playing the Blue Note, staying in an apartment on W. 9th Street with a questionablesound system. We’d become acquainted not long before, when he and Gary Peacock joined me together for a few hours on WKCR, which is a show I have retrieve and transcribe some day. Anyway, it was fun to do, and hopefully the transcript will be both entertaining and illuminating.* * * *I have something to say as a little preamble. Mike Zwerin, a number of years ago, invited me to review records, thinkingsince I was so poor at the time that I might be able to make a little pocket money. He was living in New York in New York at the time, so you know how long ago that was. He handed me a giant stack of LPs, maybe 20 LPs, and I said, “Wow, thisis going to be fun; I’m looking forward to it.” So I got home, put on LP-1, listened to it, and by about 10 LPs… He wassitting with me actually. I had nothing to say. He said, “You’ve heard all these LPs and you haven’t said anything.” I said,“there was nothing worth talking about.” That was the end of my disk jockey career. I think I ga ve him one paragraph. By that time he was playing the organ trios, the Prestiges… [LAUGHS] How am I going to talk if you bring records that don’trequire any talk? So I hope this is not going to be the same situation.1. Ornette Coleman “Mob Job” (from SOUND MUSEUM: HIDDEN MAN, Verve/Harmolodic, 1996) (Coleman, as; Geri Allen, p; Charnett Moffett, b; Denardo Coleman, d) – (5 stars) W ell, I’m not a fan of tempo medleys. It started at one tempo and proceeded to another. There  was no reason not to havethe written material be in the same tempo as the track was going to be in. [ALTO SAX ENTERS] Definitely OrnetteColeman, of course. Well, it’s a waste of time with the pianist. There’s a good reason he doesn’t use piano. See, the hornplayer can make the transitions to wherever he wants to go at any time, but the piano player actually has to change theirmindset to get rid of the key center.  [Any idea who the pianist might have been?  ] I don’t care.  [Did you think the pianist worked as successfully as possible under the circumstances?]   I’m not really concerned about the pianist.  [How manystars?]   Stars! [LAUGHS] Anything with Coleman deserves 6 stars.  [When do you think it was from?]   It sounded like ahome recording.  10/22/14 10:53 PMAn Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the ArtsPágina 2 de 8http://tedpanken.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/an-uncut-blindfold-test-with-paul-bley-around-2002/ That was fun! I had my own label. But I couldn’t afford myself.2. Ahmad Jamal, “Aftermath” (from OLYMPIA 2000, Dreyfus, 2001) (Jamal, piano; James Cammack, b; IdrisMuhammad, d) – (5 stars) Wonderful trio, very exciting, they played really well together. My comments are not really about this trio. Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of what we’re talking about. Music is language. It’s conversation. If it’s language andconversation, it should not be repetitive..repetitive..repetitive..repetitive. You got it the first time I said that word. Thenext three times I said it was adding to a level of redundancy…redundancy… Now, we’re not talking about profundity.  We’re talking about language, and aspiring to be ideas. Not profundity. We haven’t gotten anywhere near that. That’s noteven on the table. So if it’s language, let’s remove all repetition, because it’s insulting to the listener…insulting to thelistener. You get my drift? Anything you play twice is once too much. I loved it. I loved the drummer. I loved the bassplayer. I loved everything. It was on a very high level. 5 stars. Ahmad Jamal would be my guess. He’s come a long way. He’s a good friend, by the way, but I don’t really know his recent work. But we’re very close, because we have been in hotelrooms all night in Bologna, Italy, etcetera, etc.I’ll tell you a funny story, which may or may not be included. It was 5 in the morning in a hotel in Bologna, and Ahmadhad just got off the phone. I said, “Ahmad, you’ve been on the phone a very long time.” He said, “Yeah, I just blew theamount of money I earned tonight on the phone.” I said, “Well, Ahmad, doesn’t that indicate it might be time to go hometo Chicago and do it in person instead of on the phone?”3. Tommy Flanagan, “How Deep Is The Ocean” (from SEA CHANGES, Evidence, 1997) (Flanagan, p; Peter Washington, b; Lewis Nash, d) (no rating)May I have this dance? The last time I asked somebody to dance was the opening night of Ornette at the Five Spot,playing opposite Benny Golson and Art Farmer. They sounded really good, and they played the first set, and it’s a wonderful band and way out there. And then Ornette went in and did his first New York set ever. And I thought, “Wow,everybody’s completely blown away.” But then Art Farmer and Benny Golson went back on the stage and did the secondset, and I asked the bartender to dance. Today is the second time I’ve ever asked anyone to dance. Ornette had turnedBenny Golson into the orchestra at the roof of the Taft Hotel on 7th Avenue and 51st Street overnight. A single set.  [Unlike most of the people in the room, you knew what you were in for.]  4. Keith Jarrett, “Prelude To A Kiss” (from WHISPER NOT, ECM, 2000) (Jarrett, p; Gary Peacock, b; Jack DeJohnette,d) (5 stars) What is the real meaning of the initials NEC? I’ve had a lot of fun with that at the school. Oh, what’s the real meaning of ECM? Do you know that? Easily Castrated Musicians. We can do this all day, Ted.  [You're good at it.]   Thank you. Icollect them. Poor Duke.  [You're tough. Unlike most musicians, you are not imprisoned by tact.]   Poor Duke. [LAUGHS][Do you play Ellington's tunes?] I know all of Ellington’s tunes. I knew them all when I was in short pants. But when amusician dies, it’s time to give other guys a chance. [  But you still play older things from the songbook.]   Oh, if you pay me,I will play…  [So if I paid you whatever your fee was, you would do an Ellington...]   Absolutely. Of course. We aim toplease, as they say in the bathroom urinals.The problem with the recording of bass is it’s the least accessible instrument to listen to. God forbid somebody in theaudience coughs, or there goes the solo. You ask yourself why is the bass so possible in that standard format, that trioformat. The trio format is flawed. If you’re going to put three musicians, it should be because they’re three musicians,and the fact that one plays the trombone and the other plays whatever is not the point. You’re hiring individuals. Any   10/22/14 10:53 PMAn Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the ArtsPágina 3 de 8http://tedpanken.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/an-uncut-blindfold-test-with-paul-bley-around-2002/ format is already dead. Big band, string quartet, piano trio. The fact that it already preexists the occasion means thateverything is uphill. Because it’s not an srcinal format. So you talk about lack of srcinality.  [Doesn't the logic of that lead that you eventually run out of formats, and nothing will be srcinal?]   There are no formats. There’s only greatplayers. [It's only the individual.] A collection of great players. We’re in a new century now. It’s time to give all the oldideas a rest. They’re no longer valid just because the century changed. Your time is up. It’s expired. You know, if a 7-year-old played only white notes, they could sound this good. It’s called modal. The Aeolian mode, inparticular. Ah, a modulation. It’s very nice, and she will go to bed with you. Whoever you’re listening to this with.  [Is it recent? Older? Older musician? Younger musician?]   First of all, all eighth notes are not created equal. It’s a little toosimplistic rhythmically. He’s doing a very good job. He’s a very fine pianist, and it’s a very nice track and so forth. But it’snot worth discussing. I’m looking to be offended.  [It seems the things that offend you are things like this.]   No-no, I meanoffended in a good way. [LAUGHS] I think it was very well done. I’d give it 5 stars. For what was attempted, it was a bigsuccess.  [No idea who it was?]   No. It could have been anybody working on 8th Street.  [It was Keith Jarrett.]   Oh. Well,I’m sorry to hear that.  [It's his post-illness record.]   Well, he certainly has bounced back recently, kicking ass with the trio. Boy! He has my 1964 date, “Turning Point” on Improvising Artists, the one with Gary and Gilmore… He’s got that downpat with Gary! He took over that. That’s a big step for him. He went out of standards all the way to 1964. And whoknows, we’re looking forward to 1974.5. Kenny Barron, “Beneath It All” (from SWAMP SALLY, Verve, 1995) (Barron, p., keyboards; Minu Cinelu, percussion)– (5 stars)I love this recording. This is the first new information you’ve brought me today. The town crier in the old days used tostand in the town square, and say, “Hear ye! Hear ye! I’ve come to inform you.” And if he had nothing to say or saidsomething that the town already knew, they would get upset, because he summoned them into the town square and toldthem something they already knew. It’s wonderful! The piano player did not need the rest of the band. But they weregreat, the way they went into what I call a second CD’s worth of music. We’re really talking about two separate issues. The piano player did not need help. It engaged everybody in their curiosity minimally, and there was no way to predict where he was going to go. And the fact that we happen to have this wonderful band hit and do great things was just a wonderful plus. But I personally could have stood a lot… I could have heard a CD worth of the piano player, and Iprobably wouldn’t have interrupted it with this conversation. I loved it, and I loved the second part. It just goes to show that you’re going to have to go to a foreign country to get some fresh input in jazz. You need foreigners. You need people who speak a second language to be added to the stream of music. It’s such a wonderful situation now, where the world hassent everybody… Airline tickets are so cheap, that you can hire a band where every player comes from a differentcontinent, a different city, and they can play together at the drop of a hat — and they all live in Brooklyn Heights. It’s justa wonderful situation! When anyone talks about jazz not in a great period, it’s just that they’re not widely enoughinformed.  [So you thought that the piano player was not American?]   Well, certainly the band didn’t play this good off of  being a bebop band. So I assume that he comes from the same country as the rest of the players. So I cannot guess whothis is.  [Well, it was only two musicians.]   Ah.  [It was Kenny Barron and Mino Cinelu.]   Wow!  [And Kenny was playing piano and synth.]   [LAUGHS] Wrong! Wrong like a mother! No wonder Kenny is as loved as he is. A monster! Kenny’s amonster! Six stars. [LAUGHS] Fuck you, Kenny Barron! I hate him. I’m going to tell him that next time I see him, too.6. Hampton Hawes, “Soul Sign Eight” (from HAMPTON HAWES AT THE PIANO, Contemporary, 1976) (Hawes, p; Ray Brown, b; Shelley Manne, d) (5 stars)There’s no need to go any more. It’s beautifully done, well-played, etcetera, etc., but it’s nothing that harmonically andrhythmically wasn’t done in the ’50s. If you’re going to redo something, redo a style where your triads are quite simple, you’re staying within a key, you’re not adding anything to the literature of the music… I mean, the purpose of making a  10/22/14 10:53 PMAn Uncut Blindfold Test With Paul Bley, Around 2002 | Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the ArtsPágina 4 de 8http://tedpanken.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/an-uncut-blindfold-test-with-paul-bley-around-2002/ record is not to redo your own stuff or somebody else’s stuff. The purpose of making a record is to add to the literature of the music, which means you’re bringing in some elements that are not widely available, and you’re indicating to othermusicians that following along the suggestions that you’re making with this recording of yours might be of some interestand it might be of some utility to somebody who is playing. If the record is already in existence… My rule is that if it’salready for sale at Tower Records, buy it. Don’t make it up.  [And you have no idea from the sound or the touch or thestyle who this might be.]   First level players. It could be one of a number of people. And I was very happy for them. It’snicely recorded. But, my first record on Wing Records in 1953, contained this information. I outgrew it, and I hope thispianist does the same. [AFTER] [One reason I played this is because it was a person who developed his own sound and was doing it in the '50s, and so the sound, therefore, from my impression, would be unto him.] For Hampton Hawes, it’s a big accomplishment. This is a big accomplishment. It’s the best Hampton Hawes I’ve ever heard — by far. Stillcontaining no new information, but well-played. 5 stars. It a big accomplishment. I love Shelley Manne in rhythmsections. The rhythm section was nice, man. “Way Out West,” Shelley Manne? Wow. What an imaginative drummer. I worked with him. We played the Antibes Festival in France. But I’d rather let that track rest.7. Gonzalo Rubalcaba, “Oren” (from SUPERNOVA, Blue Note, 2001) (Rubalcaba, piano, keyboards; Carlos Henriquez, b;Ignacio Berroa, d) You know, it’s a similar situation here to when someone wants to tell you a joke. You start before they start the joke withan open mind and a positive frame of mind, willing to accept the premise of the story and looking for the punchline at theend, and so forth. But as the story keeps going on like the beginning, just continuously, time is the enemy of the joke. Because you’re waiting for the punchline. It’s called the suspension of disbelief. I’m sure you know the term in poetry. It was suspended. I enjoyed the high production values. The pianist had a very nice touch. The fact that it had only onechord in it was a little abrasive, and that that method was going to run out of time even faster than it would normally. Because one chord is one chord is one chord, etcetera. As the country-western musician said, “Three chords and the truthis the definition of country music.” I thought that was nicely coined. But this one only had one chord! And it wasn’t evenCountry-and-Western. I prefer to wait for the movie.  [Any guesses?]   I’ll have to see the film and be reinterviewed. Itcertainly wasn’t worth listening to without a film accompanying it. Well played. No disrespect to the musicians. And apretty melody, by the way. An srcinal melody. It’s like the organ trios. The only question is why.  [Pleasing the people.]  [LAUGHS] Oh, by the way, pleasing the people is the exact wrong premise for young musicians…  [I've heard you saythis.]   Thank you. You know all my rants.  [I think you have your contradictions. Would you care to bestow stars?]   Stars.  As I said, when I see the film and listen to this film score, I’ll be happy to rate it at that time.  [Well, I need to play it a littlemore, because I can't print anything you've said if you won't give it stars.]   [LAUGHS] You may not have brought enoughrecords. If you had brought a real package of records, we could have done this and been out of here in 40 minutes. I couldhave said, “Forget it, keep it…”  [Can't you just please me and give some stars here? You can even give it a pro forma fivestars.]   No-no, five I can’t give. You need a star system that says “I have nothing to say.”  [Then you can say for the way it was played, such-and-such stars. ]   But how about unrated? They do that in porn movies. Unrated it.  [This isn't a pornmovie.]   Well, it gives you a license to make an escape without…  [Not according to my editor.]   Oh, he wants stars, huh?  [He wants stars.]   Have we run out of alternatives. Is that the problem? It’s not possible for me to deal with this level of…I’m very loathe to give somebody a very low rating. Which is why you need to be able to interviewee a pass.8. Vijay Iyer, “Atlantean Tropes” (from PANOPTIC MODES, Red Giant, 2001) (Iyer, p; Stephan Crump, b; Derrek Phelps, d) – (5 stars)I’ll give it 5 stars. The plusses far outweigh the minuses. The plusses are of no use to the musicians. When somebody comes up to you at the end of the set and says, “That was great,” there’s no new information. We know that was great. That’s why we played it. Let’s talk about the minuses. I always prefer to couch profundity in humor. Someone was
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