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About Ornette Coleman (1930–2015)

Posted in Ornette Coleman, Uncategorized with tags , on July 3, 2015 by crownpropeller
by Armin Büttner

The history of jazz can be read as a story of men who seemingly came from nowhere and made everything that came before  look terribly old. It all began in the twenties with Louis Armstrong who literally invented the jazz solo. In the fourties it was Charlie Parker who made a whole generation lay ever more complex chord structures  over  the good old harmonies. Everyone wanted to be like Bird, including his heroin addiction.

Ornette Coleman who passed on June 11 aged 85  was such a singular figure. Coleman as well as tenor saxist John Coltrane were central to the free jazz revolution of the early 1960s. When Coltrane died in 1967 he left behind an army of epigones trying to get ever closer to the creator by means of exotic scales. Looking back the heritage of Ornette Coleman is much greater: It is not about doing justice to the expectations of the critics, the audience, or to the musical conventions of one’s time. It is about relying on oneself as a thinking, feeling and intuitively creative human being.

 

Is the future bound to squawk?

«Something Else!!!!», «Tomorrow Is the Question», «The Shape of Jazz to Come», «Change of the Century»: The future is here,  announced the titles of Coleman’s first LPs released between 1958 and 1960. These titles  – invented by the record company – let people expect a poser and pretender.

John Lewis, the Modern Jazz Quartets pianist, had brought Coleman from Los Angeles to New York City in 1959 and introduced him into the important jazz circles. But a lot of the established musicians could not get what Coleman – the shy man with the seemingly wrong notes, the wrong technique and the false sense of harmony – should have to do with the future of jazz. And that squawky plastic saxophone! And why did Don Cherry, Coleman’s partner in crime, play such a funny pocket trumpet?

But many influential critics, fans and musicians heard where Coleman was coming from musically, heard where he wanted to go – and were enthused. Instead of imitating his playing, they let themselves be inspired by his attitude: Do what ever you think is musically right in any moment, throw your creativity in a pot with other people’s creativity – and you will reach an “unison”.

 

Ways into the wonderful

Ornette Coleman was born into a poor family in 1930. Already as a teenager he tried to earn some money playing r’n’b in the blues bars of his home town Fort Worth. Because of his often strange sounding playing – autodidact Coleman had misunderstood important parts of classic harmony – he was thrown out of several bands. After a gig in a small town somewhere he was battered by a bunch of dissatisfied white people, they also smashed his instrument.

Coleman was not willing to give up, his initial harmonic misunderstanding had opened wonderful worlds for him that he decided to never leave again: dissonances that do not sound ugly but intuitively right. Tone sequences against doctrine that are of a surprisingly forceful logic. Abstractions which are full of – however veiled –the communicative powers of Texas blues.

Ornette Coleman’s music is easily recognizable, no matter if he is composing for an orchestra or a string quartet, grabbing trumpet or violin or if he leads his free funk band Prime Time. «Harmolodics» is  what Coleman called his system with which he tried to give equal importance to the elements harmony, melody, tempo and rhythm.  When Coleman talked about it this concept his speech was filled with metaphors and oscillating terms («unison», «love») that he left the critics more confused than undelighted.

The logic of intuition

When in 1987 a german TV reporter asks Coleman what the term «Harmolodics» means, he replies that it’s an attempt “to transfer human logic into music”. This may sound like a construction plan for a cold and rational music. In reality it’s a fitting description of Coleman’s friendly, universalitic and deeply humanistic music. Because human beings do not think in bits and bytes, but in analogies and associations, mental connections. And they have feelings that tend to dance with their logic, they are intuitive.

For Coleman the latter never meant to just blow as if there is no tomorrow. He did not like the term “Free jazz” – again the invention of some record company’s PR person.  «I am a composer», Coleman says to the TV-Reporter, «everything I do is based on a thought out concept.»

With his concept Coleman revolutionized jazz like Picasso did with painting or James Joyce with literature: Nobody’s  music has ever sounded like Ornette Coleman’s music. But without Coleman countless musicians would not sound the way they do. Coleman had shown them that it’s possible to leave the system.

Again! DJ Crown Propeller meets Herr Wempe!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 30, 2014 by crownpropeller

Why, you might ask, why is this Crown Propeller guy promoting a little DJ gig in a little club in this little country called switzerland on the internet – where billions of people can see it?

wempe2bkl

The answer is: No matter where you are, it’s definitely worth the trip to the Helsinki Klub this Saturday! Because Herr Wempe (aka DJ Soul Sonic) and DJ Crown Propeller (yours truly), the most beloved vintage black music DJs in town, will be soothing your soul with fine swing, bop, r’n’b, soul, funk and blues roughly from the years 1940 to 1970.

Get dressed, they are doing it again!

Hope to see you (bar opens at 20h)!

DJ Crown Propeller meets Herr Wempe!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2013 by crownpropeller

First: Sorry for the empty last post – here comes the second try:

Since I guess I have about 3 1/2 readers in Zurich, I rarely advertise my own DJ gigs here. But surely this one has to be an exception:

imageFor tomorrow night  Herr Wempe (aka DJ Soul Sonic) and DJ Crown Propeller (yours truly), the most beloved vintage black music DJs in town, will for the first time ever swing and funk up the Helsinki Klub – home turf to both – together! You can’t miss that!

Enjoy!

 

Clifford Jordan at the Tin Palace 1979

Posted in documents, jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2012 by crownpropeller

Just because it’s so much fun to put Otto’s photos from his trips to New York up on this blog together with some music from the concerts he witnessed, here is another one. On October 2, 1979, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan (1931–1993) was  playing at the Tin Palace – with two different rhythm sections.

On the first set (at least on the first set Otto recorded), Jordan was accompanied by Walter Davis on piano, Walter Booker on bass and drummer Jimmy Cobb (click on photos to enlarge):

Clifford Jordan at the Tin Palace, N.Y.C., October 2, 1979.
Photo by Otto Flückiger  Continue reading

Dallas Bartley with Bill Martin: You Fine And Healthy Thing (1945)

Posted in clips, King Kolax, R'n'B, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2012 by crownpropeller

In 1940 bassist Dallas Bartley (1916–1979) joined Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five. After he left Jordan in 1943 he formed his own band, Dallas Bartley’s Small Town Boys. With his band he recorded for Coral (September 1944), Cosmo (1946) and National (1947). His band also can be seen in a couple of soundies filmed in 1945.

Here they are playing “You Fine And Healthy Thing”:

The reason why I exactly choose this Dallas Bartley clip to present here, is my interest in Chicago trumpet player King Kolax who in jazz circles is mostly known because young John Coltrane played in his big band for a while in 1947 – you can find more about Kolax at the Kolax page at the Red Saunders Research Foundation. While googling around for Kolax material, I found out that it was composed jointly by Bartley and Kolax!

But what about the personnel?

Although different discographies say that the trumpeter player and singer is Walter Fuller, it definitely is Bill Martin, about whom you may learn more on the Hy-Tone page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation.

What about the alto player?

Les Fancourt’s and Bob McGrath’ “Blues Discography 1943–1970″ suggests that it is Porter Kilbert. Below you see a picture of Kilbert taken from a 1961 Quincy Jones concert clip. I would say it is well possible that it is the same man – 16 years later.

“Blues Discography 1943–1970″  does not mention the tenor player:

Who can this be? A possibility would be Joshua Jackson, who according to “Blues Discography 1943–1970″ recorded with Bartley for Cosmo. Does anyone have a photo of Jackson and could compare it to the one above?

Following “Blues Discography”, the pianist is Bob Mosely, is that true?

Unfortunately I can not extract a better picture from the clip. So what about the drummer?

According to “Blues Discography 1943–1970″  this is Jack Parker. But if you look  at the bass drum you see a logo that seems to be made from the letters H, L and B. This points to the drummer being Hillard L. Brown, who according to this page, was a member of Bartley’s band in 1945. He later had his own band, which Bill Martin joined later.

Count Basie in Zurich 1959

Posted in clips, Count Basie, jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by crownpropeller

As in 1956, the Count Basie Orchestra also visited Switzerland in 1959. The concert they gave at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on February 6 was filmed – probably for the swiss television company. In Otto Flückiger’s archives I found a VHS tape with the TV broadcast from the Kongresshaus. Since I noticed that “The Midget” from this concert already can be found on youtube, I decided to offer you something else. So here you have the opening part of the TV broadcast. The orchestra starts with Basie Boogie, and after that they play Neal Hefti’s Lil’ Darlin’.  The latter is especially remarkable because it offers the rare opportunity to hear as well as see a solo by  Wendell Culley (1906–1983), as Basie usually gave most of the trumpet solos to Joe Newman or Thad Jones.

The personnel on this date: Wendell Culley, Thad Jones, Snooky Young, Joe Newman (tp); Henry Coker, Al Grey, Benny Powell (tb); Marshal Royal (as,cl); Frank Wess (as,ts,fl); Frank Foster, Billy Mitchell (ts); Charlie Fowlkes (bar); Count Basie (p, ldr); Freddie Green (g); Eddie Jones (b); Sonny Payne (dr).

Enjoy!

Photo identified: Daisy Mae and her Hep-Cats

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 6, 2011 by crownpropeller

In another post, I asked if somemone knew who this lady might be and who the four fellows beside her are:
unknown five piece band

Now I found the unedited photograph and it turns out this is … Continue reading

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