Thursday, September 29, 2011

50 going on 70

“Volver” (“Coming back”) a very famous tango says that “twenty years is nothing”, but poetry is just a very polarized reflection of reality. Twenty years is actually what the Council of the EU has decided to expand the copyright on phonographic records. In other words, and in principle, this is the end of the countless cheap reissues of music published, as of today, before 1961. All classic rock'n'roll, including early Elvis, will require the permission from the owners of the original masters to be reissued. Same goes for classic Sinatra and a big load of jazz and pop classics recorded after 1941. As an example, Charlie Parker's whole output as a leader, in the public domain for a few years now, will go back in its entirety to its lawful owners.

That's the theory. In actual fact, anyone with a connection to the internet has almost immediate and free access to almost any music they may want. And sound quality doesn't seem to be an issue: we're in an age where arguably, for the first time ever, the widest spread standard of sound quality (mp3) is actually lower than the previous one (CD). If we take together Spotify, MySpace, YouTube, audio file exchange, blogs offering downloads, etc., the problem today is not getting access to the music, but having the time to listen to it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ray Gelato in 2011

Last Saturday, the musical offerings in London were as rich and diverse as usual, in almost any genre you might think of. Nevertheless, Ray Gelato and his Giants were at the 100 Club, an occasion that, at least in principle, it's not to be missed. The club itself was started by the great Victor Feldman's father (the composer of "Seven Steps to Heaven" was present as an 8-year old drummer) in right smack in the middle of WWII, and its history is so rich (see this and this) that it's almost obscene. Nowadays, it lacks the solemnity of other clubs, but still keeps an aura that seems to rub off on whoever takes the stage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More rare Eddie Costa... with Gigi Gryce

Fred Baker was an underground film director, and a big fan of dance and jazz, so much so, that his first endeavour behind the camera, On the Sound, was a short film combining those two disciplines. Sadly, Baker died on June 5, 2011, aged 78 (obituary).

As Baker told here, he first approached Mingus, whom he knew, for the soundtrack to his project, but Mingus declined and recommended multi-instrumentalist and composer Gigi Gryce. From what Baker says in the Vimeo page and in Cohen's & Fitzgerald's biography of Gryce, it seems that he took some recordings made by Gryce for the film, had the dancers dance to the music, filmed them, and then edited the whole thing down to about eight minutes.

As rare as it may be today, this short film won the USA Golden Eagle for 1963, and was selected to be screened at the 1963 Edinburgh and Berlin International Film Festivals and the Biennale in Venice.

The music on this film is relevant because, together with Reminiscin', the LP for Mercury, and what's been rescued by Uptown in their recent CD, it is one of the very few recordings by the Orch-Tette, Gigi Gryce's last working group before his untimely retirement from music. As Cohen & Fitzgerald explain in their book,"the score contains music that were found in Gryce's recordings, particularly in the two movements based on the blues, but also shows the influence of free music with an extended vibraphone solo over bass and drums with no pulse". I would add that the two vibes solos by Costa are among the highlights of the film.

According to Gigi Gryce's discography, also by Cohen and Fitzgerald, this was probably recorded in the summer of 1960, definitely at Bell Sound Studio, New York City, by Richard Williams (trumpet), Gigi Gryce (alto sax, clarinet, flute), Eddie Costa (vibes), Richard Wyands (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), and Mickey Roker (drums).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Musicians' quotes: Milt Buckner on jazz

"It must have a beat and it's got to have soul"
(Milt Buckner on jazz)