For decades, New York had generally been recognized as one of, if not the, most important centers for jazz in the world. But even during New York’s dominance the music flourished in creatively fertile regional centers such as Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Haven, and Boston. This last city was home to the early fusion group Thing.
Thing, whose members met as students at the Berklee School of Music, was nominally led by alto and soprano saxophonist Arni Cheatham. Originally from Chicago, Cheatham became an influential figure in Boston’s jazz community not only as a musician, but as one of the founders of the city’s Jazz Coalition as well as a music educator and advocate.
The group’s self-titled, self-issued album, which came out in the early 1970s and has recently been reissued by Porter Records, was its only release. The album contains two lengthy live performances, each of which would have taken up one side of an LP, recorded live in Cambridge, Massachusetts in spring of 1972. Both are superior examples of the kind of early jazz-rock fusion that eschewed elaborate arrangements and chord progressions in favor of a more direct, modal improvisation grounded in a funk-rock rhythm. The rhythm section of electric bassist David Saltman, electric pianist Vagn Leick, drummer Kiah “T” Nowlin and conga player Dorian McGee set out infectious grooves and static harmonies that afford Cheatham—on flute as well as saxophones—and trumpeter Wil Letman the freedom to play in or out. The group’s rhythms are complex but intelligible, the solos tight but loose; the performance seems to capture a moment—short-lived, as we now know–that saw just the right balance struck between the conservation of jazz conventions and the importation of the instruments and pulses of rock.
Thing is just one installment in Porter’s continuing series of reissues of archival performances deserving of a second life. Two other releases in the series—Obugumba, the 1972 album by the Ugandan guitarist/vocalist Birigwa, and drummer Joe Chambers’ 1976 New World—are also worth hearing.
Source: Miller Theatre at Columbia University.
Miller Theatre commissioned writer Lara Pellegrinelli to create the program notes for the 20th year of Composer Portraits as well as a series of Q&As with Executive Director Melissa Smey. Here is the first installment, centering around our upcoming Portrait featuring the music of Anthony Braxton.
Source: Can This Even Be Called Music?.
The Phoenix Orchestra, Ben Hedquist, The Fifth Alliance, Dropping Stuff, Forgotten Bottom, and New Age Doom
The Central, Organic Noises, INUS, Mouthbreathr™, Ḥashshāshīn, and Naked Eye Ensemble
Source: Santa Monica Public Library.
MICHAEL VLATKOVICH WIND QUINTET AT SANTA MONICA PUBLIC LIBRARY
Trombonist/composer Michael Vlatkovich brings a unique ensemble to the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium of the Santa Monica Main Library, at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. on Wednesday, September 18, at 7:30PM.
Described by Jazz Review as “the finest improvising trombonist working today,” Michael Vlatkovich is an in-demand studio musician, performing and recording with artists from Peggy Lee and Brian Setzer to Vinny Golia and Anna Homler.
He will be joined by Dan Clucas and Greg Zilboorg on trumpets and Andrew Pask and Bill Plake on saxophones, to form a jazz-inflected version of a brass or wind quintet. Each of these artists will bring a distinctive personal voice to this set of Vlatkovich’s challenging original compositions.
This show is part of Soundwaves, a concert series emphasizing artists who appear on the DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music) streaming service. The Santa Monica Public Library is the first public library to offer this service to its cardholders. Listings of past and upcoming Soundwaves shows as well as sound and video recordings are at SoundwavesNewMusic.com
Admission is free and all are welcome. Seating is limited and on a first-arrival basis. The Santa Monica Public Library is wheelchair accessible. For other disabled services, call Library Administration at (310) 458-8606 at least one week prior to event. For more information, visit smpl.org or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.