Wednesday 17 July 2013

Weird Nightmare | Meditations On Mingus

Of the three Hal Willner tribute albums I have (posted) this is my favorite. I was searching for a copy of "Beneath The Underdog", a sales assistant at Mole Jazz Records, had warned me off the Penguin edition advising me it was an abridged version.  As the gods would have it, it was republished by Vintage books a few months into my search (around 1991) and this album followed shortly after.
What pulled me in to this recording was the strange instrumentation from instruments invented by
Harry Partch or mores to the point the excellent recording of these instruments. I'm not aware of Partch's instruments given this treatment but would be interested if anyone knows of other recordings of a similar bent. I remember some years later, dragging a girlfriend across London to watch a special presentation and film (can't remember what) on Harry Partch on one of the hottest nights of the year. The sound was irritatingly terrible as was the film presented in a room with no air-con, I think our next date was something along the lines of "it's not you it's me"...
As with the previous Hal Wilner tribute albums the line-up of musicians is pretty stellar.


Producer Hal Willner had created a reputation as a fascinating instigator, organizing homages to composers as diverse as Nino Rota and Thelonious Monk wherein he conscripted the services of musicians from all over the stylistic map, allowing them to bring their unique interpretations and approaches to bear on the subjects. For his Charles Mingus project, his central idea was as inspired as it was loony: to incorporate the amazing instruments invented and designed by another equally maverick composer, Harry Partch, into reinterpretations of Mingus' work. By and large, it works, making Weird Nightmare a strange and wonderful one-off event. There's a central band at work based around bassist Greg Cohen and guitarist Bill Frisell, with guest stars, mostly from the rock world, including Robbie Robertson, Dr. John, Keith Richards, and Chuck D Highlights abound; when Partch's Marimba Eroica is struck during "Pithecanthropus Erectus," the floors of the listener's dwelling may buckle. Elvis Costello's reading of the title song is, well, eerily weird. One special high point is the version of "Gunslinging Bird" where text from Mingus' autobiographical Beneath the Underdog is angrily and righteously declaimed by Chuck D.; it's arguably as pure and forceful as anything he ever accomplished with Public Enemy and makes one wonder why he never pursued this seemingly rewarding path. There are several missteps as well, to be sure. Most egregiously, Keith Richards' sneering condescension on "Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me," as though he had better things to do, is embarrassing. But eventually, it's simply the gorgeous music of Charles Mingus that carries the day, showing itself more than capable of shouldering the ghost of Harry Partch and the wayward inclinations of its interpreters. Most of the pieces glow in these unusual treatments, and make Weird Nightmare a must for any serious Mingus fan.

1. Canon (Part 1)
2. Meditations On Integration
3. Canon (Part 2)
4. Jump Monk
5. Weird Nightmare  
6. Work Song
7. Self-Portrait In 3 Colors
8. Purple Heart
9. Tonight At Noon
10. Gunslinging Bird
11. Weird Nightmare Interlude
12. Reincarnation Of A Lovebird / Haitian Fight Song Montage
13. Open Letter To Duke
14. The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers
15. Oh Lord, Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me
16. Eclipse
17. Pithecanthropus Erectus
18. Freedom
19. Weird Nightmare (Reprise)

Don Alias | Art Baron | Elvis Costello | Chuck D. 
Bill Frisell | Diamanda Galas | Dr. John | Bobby Previte
Vernon Reid | Marc Ribot | Robbie Robertson
Henry Rollins | Henry Threadgill
Full line up info

Composed by Charles Mingus

Produced by Hal Willner

Label: Columbia ‎– CK 52739
Format: 320
Country: US
Released: 1992
Genre: Jazz
Style: Jazz, Avant-Garde

Friday 12 July 2013

Amarcord | Nino Rota

After discovering the Monk album a friend lent me his copy this album which didn't get as much rotation as the Monk but non the less was a good listen. The William Fischer Medley track made it onto a few mixtapes.

This tribute to the music of film composer Nino Rota was the first of Hal Willner's unusual multiartist projects and one of his more jazz-oriented ones. Such musicians as pianist Jaki Byard, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, guitarist Bill Frisell, soprano-saxophonist Steve Lacy, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and bands headed by Carla Bley, Muhal Richard Abrams and David Amram are heard from on these eccentric but very musical adaptations of Rota's themes from Fellini movies.


 1. Amarcord

Arranged By Jaki Byard
Piano • Jaki Byard

2. Interlude From Juliet Of The Spirits

Arranged By Dave Samuels
Vibraphone • Dave Samuels

3. 8½

Arranged By Carla Bley
Conductor, Organ, Glockenspiel • Carla Bley
Bass • Steve Swallow
Drums • D. Sharpe
Engineer • Michael Mantler, Vince McGarry
Euphonium • Joe Daley
Piano • Arturo O'Farrill
Tenor Saxophone • Gary Windo
Trombone • Gary Valente
Trumpet • Michael Mantler
Tuba • Earl McIntyre
Woodwind • Courtenay Wynter 

4. Theme From "La Dolce Vita" And "Juliet Of The Spirits"

Arranged By Dave Samuels
Vibraphone • Dave Samuels

5. Juliet Of The Spirits

Arranged By Bill Frisell
Guitar • Bill Frisell

6. La Dolce Vita Suite

6a. Introduction

Arranged By Sharon Freeman
French Horn, Piano • Sharon Freeman
Steel Drums • Francis Haynes

6b. Notturno

Arranged By Muhal Richard Abrams
Conductor • Muhal Richard Abrams
Bass • Fred Hopkins
Drums • Warren Smith
Flute • Henry Threadgill
French Horn • Sharon Freeman
Piano • Amina Claudine Myers
Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet • Bobby Eldridge
Trombone • Emmet McDonald
Trumpet • Claudio Roditi
Vibraphone • Jay Hoggard

6c. Interlude

Arranged By Sharon Freeman
French Horn, Piano • Sharon Freeman
Steel Drums • Francis Haynes

6d. Valzer (Parlami Di Me)

Arranged By Chris Stein & Michael Sahl
Accordion, Percussion • Charles Rocket
Guitar • Chris Stein
Keyboards • Michael Sahl
Vocals • Deborah Harry
Drums • Lenny Ferrari 

7. Satyricon

Arranged By David Amram
Accordion, Percussion • Charles Rocket
Guitar, Penny Whistle, Double Ocarina, Shanai, Claves • David Amram
Bass • Victor Venegas
Drums • Lenny Ferrari
Flute • Jerry Dodgion
Percussion • Steve Berrios

8. Roma

Arranged By Steve Lacy
Soprano Saxophone, Gong • Steve Lacy
Engineer • Alain Cluzeau

9. Medley: The White Sheik, I Vitelloni, Il Bidone, 

The Night Of Cabiria

Arranged By William Fischer
Conductor • William Fischer
Bass • Ron Carter
Drums • Wilbert Fletcher
Piano • Kenny Barron
Tenor Saxophone • George Adams
Trumpet • Wynton Marsalis
Woodwind • Branford Marsalis

10. La Strada

Arranged By Jaki Byard
Piano • Jaki Byard

Written by Nino Rota

Produced by Hal Willner

Label: Hannibal Records ‎ HNCD 9301
Format: 320
Country: UK
Released: 1982
Genre: Jazz
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz

Tuesday 9 July 2013

That's the Way I Feel Now • A Tribute to Thelonious Monk

One of the many vinyl albums destroyed from a leaking roof many moons ago. Fortunate to find a rip sometime ago but I can't remember where, hope I thanked the original postee.  One of the curses (I find) of music blogs and blogging is that I hardly get time to listen to what I find, even the stuff I have been searching for forever. Gave this a bit of a listen while preparing the post and enjoyed what I was hearing.
• Stylo •

Two years after the death of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, this very unusual and quite memorable double-LP tribute was put together. Producer Hal Willner's most successful project, the 23 interpretations of Monk originals all feature a different group of all-star players and stretch beyond jazz. Some of the performances are fairly straightforward while others are quite eccentric; certainly the crazy duet on "Four in One" by altoist Gary Windo and Todd Rundgren (on synthesizers and drum machines) and the version of "Shuffle Boil" featuring John Zorn on game calls (imitating the sound of ducks) are quite unique. There are many colorful moments throughout the project and the roster of musicians is remarkable: Bobby McFerrin with Bob Dorough, Peter Frampton, Joe Jackson, Steve Lacy, Dr. John, Gil Evans, Randy Weston, Roswell Rudd, Eugene Chadbourne and Shockabilly, the Fowler Brothers, NRBQ, Steve Khan, Carla Bley, Barry Harris, Was (Not Was) and many others. There is not a slow moment or uninteresting selection on this highly recommended set.



Arranged by Bruce Fowler

Bruce Fowler • trombones
Phil Teele • bass trombones

Tom Fowler • bass

Chester Thompson • drums

Little Rootie Tootie

Performed by NRBQ and the
 Whole Wheat Horns
Al Anderson • guitar

Terry Adams • piano
Joseph Spampinato • bass
Tom Ardolino • drums
Donn Adams • trombone

Keith Spring • tenor saxophone


Arranged and preformed by 
Steve Kahn • guitars

Donald Fagen • synthesizers

Blue Monk

Arranged and performed by
Dr. John • piano


Arranged by Carla Bley

Performed by 
The Carla Bley Band

with special guest
Johnny Griffin • tenor saxophone

Carla Bley • organ

Mike Mantler • trumpet

Gary Valente • trombone

Vincent Chancey • French horn
Bob Stewart • tuba

Steve Slagle • alto and baritone
Hiram Bullock • guitar

Kenny Kirkland • piano

Steve Swallow • bass

Victor Lewis • drums

Manolo Badrena • percussion, 
special effects

Hal Willner • the voice of death


Arranged and performed by
Barry Harris • tack piano


Was (Not Was)
David Was • flute
Don Was • guitar, synthesizer, horn arrangement
Sheila Jordan • vocal
Marcus Belgrave • trumpet
Jervonny Collier • trombone
David McMurray • alto saxophone
Michael Ward • tenor saxophone
Larry Fratangelo • percussion
Sweet Pea Atkinson • background vocal
Harry Bowens • background vocal
Carol Hall • background vocal
Donald Ray Mitchell • background vocal

Brilliant Corners

Arranged by Mark Bingham
Mark Bingham • guitar
Brenden Harkein • guitar
John Scofield • guitar
Steve Swallow • bass
Joey Barron • drums

Ask Me Now

Arranged and performed by
Steve Lacey • soprano saxophone
Charlie Rouse • tenor saxophone

Monk's Mood

Arranged by Sharon Freeman
Sharon Freeman • French horn, celeste
Featuring special guest
Willie Ruff • solo French horn
Vincent Chancey • French horn
Bill Warnick • French horn
Gregory Williams • French horn
Kenneth Barron • piano
Buster Williams • bass
Victor Lewis • drums, percussion

Four In One

Arranged and performed by
Todd Rundgren • synthesizers, 
keyboards, guitar, drum machines
Gary Windo • alto saxophones


Arranged and performed by 
Randy Weston • piano


Arranged and performed by  
Steve Lacey • soprano saxophone 
and Elvin Jones • drums

Shuffle Boil

Arranged by John Zorn
John Zorn • game calls, alto saxophone, clarinets
Arto Lindsay • guitar vocal
Wayne Horvitz • piano, organ, celeste, electronics
M. E. Miller • drums, timpani

In Walked Bud

Performed by Terry Adams and Friends
Roswell Rudd • trombone
Pat Patrick • alto saxophone
Terry Adams • piano
John Ore • bass
Frankie Dunlop • drums

Criss Cross

Arranged and performed by 
Eugene Chadbourne • acoustic, electric guitars
Mark Kramer • piano, organ, bass guitar, alto trombone, 
Dad's clocks, tapes
David Licht • drums, percussion


Mark Bingham • guitar
Brenden Harkein • guitar
John Scofield • guitar
Steve Swallow • bass
Joey Barron • drums
Additional horns
David Buck • trumpet
Don Davis • clarinet
Mars Williams • clarinet, tenor saxophone
Ralph Carney • bass saxophone, whistle

'Round Midnight

Arranged by Joe Jacckson
Joe Jackson • piano
Sharon Freeman • conductor
Jerry Little • concertmaster
Melanie Baker • violin
Sandra Billingsles • violin
Karen Gilbert • violin
Cheryl Hong • violin
Stan Hunt • violin
Crystal Garner • viola
Maxine Roach • viola
Muneer Abdul Fatah • cello
Enrique Orango • cello
Lawrence Feldman • clarinet
Steve Slagle • clarinet
Ken McIntyre • bass clarinet
Bob Cranshaw • bass
Buddy Williams • drums

Friday The Thirteenth

Original tracks arranged and performed by
Bobby McFerrin • vocals
and Bob Dorough • vocals
Dave Samuels • vibes, marimba, percussion


Chris Spedding • guitars, arrangement, concept
Peter Frampton • guitars, solo
Marcus Miller • bass
Anton Fig • drums

Gallop's Gallop

Arranged and performed by 
Steve Lacey • soprano saxophone


Arranged and performed by 
Steve Slagle • alto saxophone
Dr. John • piano
Steve Swallow • bass
and Ed Blackwell • drums

Bemsha Swing

Arranged and performed
by Steve Lacey • soprano saxophone
and Gil evans • electric and acoustic pianos

ALL MUSIC COMPOSED BY THELONIOUS MONK Published by Thelonious Music BMI except: "Bemsha Swing" written by Thelonious Monk and Denzil Best 
 "'Round Midnight" published by Warner Bros. Music, and is registered as written by Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams, and Bernie Hanighen 
"In Walked Bud" and "Monk's Mood" published by Embassy Music BMI

Recorded and mixed at
MEDIASOUND STUDIOS through MediaMax Corporation.
Recording and mix engineer Doug Epstien

Produced by Hal Willner


Label: A&M Records ‎– SP 96600
Format: 32
Country: US
Released: 1984
Genre: Jazz
Style: Bop, Post Bop