Archive for 2013

Archie Shepp 1998 and 2013

Posted in Archie Shepp, clips with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2013 by crownpropeller

shepp1Archie Shepp at Rote Fabrik, Zürich, November 29, 2013

When I began to listen to Free Jazz in the early eighties one of my favourite sounds was the hoarse wail of Archie Shepps saxophone. I remember afternoons where I listened to his version of “The Girl From Ipanema” from the “Fire Music” LP again and again and again, turning the volume a little more up after every chorus. I loved – and still do – the mixture of tunes deeply rooted in african american popular culture (ok, not the case with “Ipanema”) with Shepps aggressive but soulful cry. In those days I listened to Shepp when I needed something more earthy than Coltrane or Albert Ayler, my other favourites of that time.

When I was still living in germany, I had the chance to see Shepp every other year, mostly with his quintet. This changed when I moved to Switzerland in 1991. From that point on I saw Shepp only three times. The first time in Bern, sometime in the early nineties. This was a duo concert with Jeanne Lee. This started great with some solo songs by Lee, a tenor long solo by Shepp and a true duet number. After that, things got a little weird because Shepp had brought a tape along featuring drums, bass and piano. The latter was played by Shepp himself. It was nice, but rather devoid (naturally) of sontaneous interactions between Lee and the virtual band.

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Archie Shepp at Rote Fabrik, Zürich, November 30, 2013

The next time I saw Shepp was on July 31, 1998, when he played at the Aktionshalle of the Rote Fabrik in Zürich with his quartet featuring Richard Clements, Wayne Dockery and Steve McCraven. I remember that concert as having been great and a listen to the soundboard tape that someone gave me much later tells me I am right. I went to this concert with my friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger . As followers of this blog may know, Otto tried to document – on tape and later on video – every jazz concert he witnessed. He filmed parts of the concert, sometimes only one minute long, sometimes longer. Amongst all the footage I only found one complete track. Since the audio from Ottos camera was not too good, I decided to synchronize the video with the sound from the tape.

So here’s Archie Shepp and his quartet in 1998 doing “The Reverse”, a little rap inspired tune by Shepp. If you want a nice regular issue of this track, be sure to check the three versions of this tune (two of which feature Hip Hop legend Chuck D. of Public Enemy fame) that are contained on Shepps 2CD “Gemini” released on his own label, Archiball.

And then finally two weeks ago Shepp played at the Unerhört! Festival with pianist Tom McClung. This took place at the Rote Fabrik again, but this time at the Clubraum, another Hall of the cultural space that used to be a factory.

shepp3Tom McClung at the Rote Fabrik, Zürich, November 29, 2013

 shepp4Tom McClung and Archie Shepp at the Rote Fabrik,
Zürich, November 29, 2013

I filmed only parts of the concert because I realized that handling the camera all the time keeps me from enjoying the music  – which I did very much. As with the Matana Roberts concert last year, it looks like a witnessed a totally different concert than the reporter from the smaller of the two local newspapers, who wrote about Shepp’s “intonation problems”. If there were any, they did not disturb me at all.

So here are Shepp and the great pianist Tom McClung playing “The Stars Are In Your Eyes”, a tune of which Shepp announced that he did write it for Sarah Vaughn, but never had the opportunity to give it to her:

The next clip gives you the duo playing Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” with Shepp also singing. I did not film this song, but made up a little picture show accompanying the audio recording:

I took up the video camera again only to catch the encore, a beautiful version of Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” – which in fact it was when the concert ended:

Enjoy!

Curtis Fuller in Zürich (2013)

Posted in clips, Curtis Fuller, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2013 by crownpropeller

Oh, how I love to get some authentic live hard bop! Even better if this happens on a tuesday, the day of the week on which I spent almost twelve hours in the office usually coming home tired and beaten. But last tuesday was different, as Jazzclub Moods, which is just around the corner from my office, presented a concert with legendary trombonist Curtis Fuller (born 1934) and his sextet. Fuller is of course mostly known for his work on several sessions with John Coltrane (e.g. “Blue Train”) and for his work in the Curtis Fuller / Benny Golson Jazztet. I think that Fullers 1950s and early 1960 sessions for Blue Note and Savoy belong to the best hard bop sessions of their time.

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Curtis Fuller at Jazzclub “Moods”, Zürich, Switzerland, February 12, 2013.
©Armin Büttner (click to enlarge)

Besides Fuller the band consisted of young(er) men. The other horns were german tenor saxophonist Ralph Reichert and trumpeter Joshua Bruneau from Vermont. Continue reading

James Blood Ulmer in Zürich, 2013

Posted in Blues, clips, James Blood Ulmer, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by crownpropeller

During all of the 1980s, one of my favorite musicians was guitarist James Blood Ulmer. At that time he was playing with his band Phalanx (with tenor saxophonist George Adams) as well as with his “Odyssey” Band, featuring violinist Charles Burnham and drummer Warren Benbow. I managed to see Phalanx live several times then, but I never got to see the Odyssey band.

I lost my interest in Ulmer a little after his 1990 release “Blues All Night” which in my ears was totally overproduced and sounded much too clean. Although I bought the Music Revelation Ensemble’s 1994 CD “In The Name Of” when it appeared (a great album by the way), I never came to see Ulmer live again since 1989 or so. So it really was a nice surprise when I opened up the morning paper last wednesday and noticed that James Blood Ulmer’s “Black Rock Experience” was to play at the Moods Jazz Club in my town that night. The band as announced was to be Ulmer with bassist Mark Peterson and drummer Grant Calvin Weston and singer Queen Esther. I somehow had the feeling that the music might be in the vein of the “Blues All Night”, which I relistened just before going to the gig only to find out that I still do not like it too much.

Much too my surprise the personnel for this evening turned out to be Ulmer with the old Odyssey band: Charles Burnham and Warren Benbow. And featuring Queen Esther. And it turned out to be a great evening of deep Blues from earthy to abstract, splashed with dots of free funk, and salted with harmolodic spices.

I made some nice photos during the concert, which was started off by Ulmer doing a slow and melancholy – nearly painful – solo rendition of the U.S. National Anthem.

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(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

After that he brought the band on:
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(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer and Warren Benbow at “Moods”,
Zurich, January 23, 2013. © Armin Büttner

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(click to enlarge) Charles Burnham at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

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(click to enlarge) Queen Esther at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

I had a tele lens on my camera, that is why you never get to see the whole band at once.

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(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer and Warren Benbow at “Moods”,
Zurich, January 23, 2013. © Armin Büttner

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(click to enlarge) Charles Burnham at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

I would have loved to hear more of Queen Esther who really has a great voice. One of the evening’s highlights was her acapella rendition of “We’ll be Together Again”.

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(click to enlarge) Queen Esther at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

While drummer Warren Benbow had an indifferent look on his face during the whole evening and never even had a faint smile on his face (absolutely no indifference in his playing though), violinist Charles Burnham got really involved:

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(click to enlarge) Charles Burnham at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

Although I originally did not plan to – else i would have taken a small tripod – I filmed parts of the concert. I had a very unconvenient standing position so you might get seasick when watching the three tracks I have edited down from the footage. I would say that the nauseating shakiness takes any commercial potential out of this clip, but if someone with the right to object objects against this video being on youtube, I’ll be taking it down in a hurry.

I managed to come a little closer and take some nice shots of Ulmer after the concert when he was selling and signing CDs from the stage.

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(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

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(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

Enjoy!

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