Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chain Reaction

And there it was......

Out of the ethers of the internet.....

It came to me.....

Could be true - right there on the cover of the CD - my favorite meter staring at me.... 13-8!!!! A corner of the flugelhorn sheet music to "Chain Reaction" performed by The United States Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors - Legacy of Hank Levy - starting in 13/8 (33223) right in front of me. It was as if it were speaking to the very core of my being and it said, "Wake up sister you are not the only one". Haaah!

Well, well, have your own ears decide, but this is one of the coolest arrangements I think I have ever heard in this style (full jazz band). Yes I might be a bit biased, to the 13 ya know. But, it contains lots of cool parts and instrumentation and I think it goes into 10/8 in one part and visits other meters too and some unexpected riffs that almost sound a little Opeth-ish.

Chain Reaction will be on the next playlist, which is going to happen when I get my new new computer, hopefully this week. But in the meantime, the current list is stuck in a loop and apologies for that, it can get old fast. And in my meantime, I am going to be stuck on this Hank Levy loop.

In 13 land,
-Countess B

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Bad Plus – Prog CD Review

Never have I been inspired to use the words “brilliant” and “musicians” together, that is until now – or should I say once I heard “Prog”. These “brilliant musicians” that I speak of are called “The Bad Plus”, a jazz trio from the Midwest who play almost beyond my comprehension. They are far out, and not in the psychedelic way, but in the outer-space-later-years-of-Coltrane way.

“Prog” is their seventh release and is the first one that I have heard (where have I been, I know). Covering and interpreting Rock and Pop tunes is a specialty of theirs and there are plenty to look for on this CD. It is fantastic what they do with their originals too, I've never heard a 9 quite like this. They are creative with and in meters and I swear they make up their own sometimes, a secret language of musical communication. Maybe they don't always communicate with each other in meters, maybe its something us earthly folks haven't gotten to yet, maybe its in pictures or colors or impressions. They do call themselves a "Collective" ya know, humm. Well you certainly have to be together on this one.

Here are the tracks:

Everybody Wants to Rule the World – 4/4
REM cover – check out the drums on this, I think he goes some where in between Saturn and Neptune, but the piano keeps in close to earth (on this one).

Physical Cites – 5/16, 3/4, 10/8 (that’s what I got) plus their own collective meters
As opposed to the kind of cities in other dimensions that I am sure they visit.

Life on Mars – 4/4
See I told you they were from outer space – Bowie Cover, but they conveniently left out the question mark. Bowie was asking us if there was, I think the Bad Plus knows the truth there.

Mint – 4/4 + their own
(this song is annoying)

Giant – 9/8
Sedately beautiful

Thriftstore Jewelry – 4/4, 6/4, 9/8
(that’s how I counted it anyways, I think there is some collective meters in there) really cool bass groove ending

Tom Sawyer – 4/4, 7/8
Wicked cool deconstruction of this anthem – yep, the piano leaves earth a bit for this one

This Guy is In Love With You 6/8
Burt Bachrach tune

The World is the Same – 4/4

1980 World Champion – 9/8

Who knew jazz could be this fun? If you like just any old jazz, then I am not sure you will be into what The Bad Plus have to say. But, if you like to groove in new realms and if you like to hear true artists challenge your musical comprehension – then please – delve deep into these brilliant musical minds.

Keep Counting,
-Countess B
for more review go to Odd Time Obsessed - Reviews

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2+2=5 Music Minus One - Review

2 + 2 = 5
A Study in Odd Times by Hank Levy
Published by: Music Minus One

Its time to –
Improve your Big Band 70s style odd time skills with the Hank Levy Towson State College Jazz Ensemble

Music Minus One is a teaching concept that is designed to be applied directly to real musical situations. In case you are not familiar with this concept, the first step is to learn the music by playing along with the full recording, then on the next CD, your part is silenced and you take the stage. In this case, I am not sure of how many musicians find themselves faced with odd time charts in a big band/ensemble situations, although I wish there were more. But, for the rest of us, this manual has the potential to help you feel the particular grooves and maybe in a way that you haven’t before.

This manual was first published in 1975 and re-released w/CDs in 2001 preserved with the funky 70s 2-color state university band ensemble feel. It is available for alto sax, trumpet, piano or bass and contains 2 CDs and 24 pages of notated (bass) parts (no no no tab here, this is serious jazz) of six compositions, 5 in odd time, and one in cut time. All of the pieces are composed by Hank Levy and performed by the Towson State University Ensemble, where he was a Professor. Compositions in odd time is a trademark of his and he is the author of “A Time Revolution”, a textbook about the exotic meter concept.

Here are the tracks:

Bob City Revisited – 7/4
Poopsie’s Penthouse - 11/4
A Quiet Friday – 5/4
Pete Is A Four-Letter Word - 7/2
Bread & Watrous – Cut Time - fast Samba
(4/4 cut in half - ? that’s not ODD)
Stillness Runs Deep – 11/4

It was cool to play along with these compositions even after being reluctant at first, due to the school like feeling. I had the most fun with the bass solo in “Pete Is A Four Letter Word”. But, it is still a mystery to me, with all the meters to pick from, why they chose to include cut time – it certainly didn’t feel like odd time.

As for educational value, the meters are a basic start to getting the feels into your groove memory. They safely stick to one meter per song and keep in the quarter (half) note groove. Even if you are quite proficient in playing in odd times, this has the possible potential to get you out of a creative rut if you happen to be in one. Also it is beneficial, when your part drops out, to hear loud and clear any mishaps or un-grooving going on that’s nobody’s fault but…. This will further prepare you for real life odd time playing with real players. So, if you feel like hearing what you might sound like in 11/4, 5/4 etc and/or sharpening your big band quarter note odd time feels and/or coming at your creativity from another direction give it a try. These tracks won’t make you meshuggah but have you safely on your way to odd-dom.

Your Oddness,
Countess B
For more reviews go to Odd Time Obsessed - Reviews

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Randy Graves - Instructional - Review

Randy Graves – Instructional

Your ‘somewhat odd’ Didjeridu Companion

Randy Graves is a didjeridu player, composer and teacher. He has a series of instructional CDs for the didjeridu which range from meditative, mixed up to straight ahead. Now, you don’t have to be a didjeridu player/student to learn from this CD. He breaks down the compound meters first slow, fast then with just sticks. Before a couple of the exercises, he will play a sample from his recorded work so you can get a "real life" feel.

The tracks are as follows:

1 Introduction
1-5 12/8 (3+3+2+2+2)
6-9 10-8 (3+3+2+2)
10-13 7/8 (3+2+2)
14-17 5/8 (3+2)
18-21 5/8 (2+3)
22-25 7/8 (2+2+3)
26-29 9/8 (2+2+2+3)
30-33 11/8 (2+2+3+2+2)
34-37 13/8 (3+3+3+2+2)
38-41 22/8 (3+3+2+2 + 3+3+2+2+2)

These exercises can help you really feel these particular compound patterns of each meter. Once you get the feel of these patterns, then it is easier to experiment with in that comfort. Plus it is neat just hearing a droning instrument playing these patterns. Now I can drone out to 13 instead of 4, very important.

Anybody who teaches odd meters on the didjeridu is way cool in my book. His solo work and former band “Diginus” are worth checking out. He likes to use odd meters and from what I have heard the instrumentation is worth investigating and the writing is capturing.

So if you are looking for some more ways to practice your compound meters, here is a different approach that might take you in a new creative direction.

Check him out on Ginger Root Records

Keeping it ODD,
-Countess B
Odd Time Obsessed