Morning song

David_Murray

David Murray-Morning Song-Black Saint records 1984 (cover photo ‘Poem for Catherine’ by Ming Smith, 1979)

I’m feeling somewhat nostalgic this moring. In the early 90’s I was introduced to the music of David Murray by my manager at The Record Exchange on Avent Ferry Rd in Raleigh, North Carolina. At that time Mr. Murray seemed to represent a convergence of the jazz components I held and continue to hold an affinity towards.  These include improvisation, traditionalism, harmony, post bop modernism, and in a broader sense the nature that sound must be projected acoustically by masters bold enough to voice their art from small ensembles all the way to large orchestras. In a sense these were the markings of the jazz purist methodology that branched into what I began to refer to as ‘musique actuelle’.

My appetite for this type of music was quite insatiable and I saw Mr. Murray perform several times. There was the concert at the Artscenter in Carborro (there could’ve been a few others), then there was the concert in Charlottesville, Virginia where David Murray and Archie Shepp performed the Coltrane and Dolphy record ‘Live at the Village Vanguard’. Then, perhaps equally as memorable was the 4th of July Concert in Washington D.C. on the National Mall. I also saw Mr. Murray perform a few times with the World Saxophone Quartet and to witness a concert by them is second to none.

An eager collector, I treasured finding the recordings by a variety of artists on the Black Saint and it’s sister Soul Note record labels. Particularly the classic titles such as Morning song.

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BSR0075 Milano, Italy (back cover painting by Oolong Smith)

At that time I would often search for records like this one at all of the local used record stores and found quite a few of them by Mr. Murray and his contemporaries. When I was lucky enough to run across one, they were never more than $4.99 in the used bins. I would research the artists and learn which titles were the most recommended and sought after.

This title somehow eluded me, that is until now. I’ll admit even though I occasionally look for things online I rarely buy old records like this online. This is for a variety of reasons including the difficulty to verify condition, shipping costs and insurance. So when I found this title at Logos  last week in VG+ condition I just had to buy it. Over the years the prices have gone up a bit for an item such as this, but I was willing to pay $15 to hear what had been missing from my collection.

The lineup is top notch, including Ornette Coleman alum Ed Blackwell on drums, John Hicks on piano, and legendary bassist Reggie Workman who worked with Art Blakey and John Coltrane in their prime.

This album is simply amazing with some insightful versions of Fats Waller’s ‘Jitterbug Waltz’ and a version of ‘Light Blue Frolic’ by the late coronetist and founder of Conduction Lawrence “Butch” Morris. Murray and Morris were collaborators in some fashion until his untimely death nearly one year ago. Mr. Morris conducted David Murray’s Big Band on the DIW label.

Mr. Murray is a bay area native who was born in Oakland, Ca. He continues to perform with a number of groups and although his tours are perhaps less extensive than they once were, his compostions such as Morning Song represent a powerful component of the jazz archive.

Record care 101- making love to a phonograph

Alright so I just bought a pretty decent stash of reocrds. Somebody just offed alot of titles ins my genre and I was listening to that first Defunk record for the first time in about 20 years. There’s a song on there that has the lyrics “making love to a photocopy” which I thought was apropos for the ritural of record cleaning and so that’s what’s going on there with that title.

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The materials needed to make a record cleaning board are a strong piece of wood (approximately 12″X12″X1″), some velvety fabric, and small nails to hold the fabric to the board.  First, you must wrap the fabric around the board and cut it just like you would to wrap a Christmas gift.

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(hint-decorative nails work best to hold the fabric down and have rounded heads so they will allow the board some movement on most surfaces)

After you’ve successfully tacked down the fabric you’re now ready to clean your wax. Slap the vinyl down and use any of the many types of cleaning kits available or make your own solution with one of the many suggestions out there. I’ve been using 4 parts water to 1 part isopropyl alcohol with 7 drops of dishwashing detergent without additives.  See http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/fluids.html for other solution recipes.

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This is the basic idea of what you should be looking at before you start to clean your records

Add several drops of cleaning solution to the discwasher hand cleaner (or old t-shirts work just as well).

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Rotate your cleaning device around the record in a way that flows with the grooves of the record.  You’re now ready to place your record on your turntable and put the needle on the groove!

New Store Review: Econo Jam Records

Econo Jam Records in Oakland, Ca.

Econo Jam Records in Oakland, Ca.

Vinyl enthusiasts now have yet another store to call home in the east bay.  Econo Jam Records opened a little over 2 months ago and the store on Telegraph Ave adds to the resurgence of record collecting.There’s much to love about this new store whether it’s the tons of new and used records, some affordable record cleaning kits, or the shopper friendly printed labels of the album title and condition. One thing I really like about this store is that they don’t wrap packing tape around the plastic protective sleeves like some record stores do.  I mean, personally I could care less about protecting the celophane that covers a record, but when I’m forced to ruin or damage a perfectly good 3 or 4 mil poly bag sleeve I just shrug my head in dismay.  WTF other record stores? Just figure out an electronic way to showcase your titles and keep them behind the counter if you’re that paranoid about protecting your inventory.  

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 So I’m not quite so sure about the name of this store though.  Seriously, is any record store that economical these days? Most records cost around 17-$28 new. So, while I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that you probably can find a few titles on the cheap compared to Amoeba or Rasputin’s in Berkeley, I don’t see that they’re any more affordable than say 1,2,3,4  go records around the corner. But, who cares right, it’s just a name?

Blind Lemon Jefferson- I want to be like Jesus in my heart- Monk records (Italian import)

Blind Lemon Jefferson- I want to be like Jesus in my heart- Monk records (Italian import)

I picked up a pretty cool Blind Lemon Jefferson record out of Monk records in Italy. Again, it isn’t quite economy since I paid $17 for it, but it didn’t really have any hiss and you can tell the recordings were remastered so it’s a good find in some ways. There was a pop or skip on one side (which always makes me think this is why someone sold it) but playing records on different turntables can sometimes yield different results so I think I would consider keeping it even if I lived in the city I bought it in and had the option to return it without facing that long drive back.

Nonetheless, this is a good store and if you’re looking for a good place to find a curiosity that aren’t seeing at the other local stores I’d be encouraging you to go check them out.

A few recent aquisitions

 

Cecil Teylor - Dark to themselves- Inner City Records

Cecil Taylor – Dark to themselves- Inner City Records 1977

Cecil Taylor- Segments II/Orchestra of two continents- Soul Note Records-1985

Cecil Taylor- Segments II/Orchestra of two continents- Soul Note Records-1985

Cecil Taylor-Air above mountains (buildings within) Inner City Records 1978

Cecil Taylor-Air above mountains (buildings within) Inner City Records 1978

Revolutionary Ensemble - Enja Records 1977

Revolutionary Ensemble – Enja Records 1977

Z'ev-Bust this- Dossier records- 1988

Z’ev-Bust this- Dossier Records- 1988

Billie Joe Becoat-Reflections from a cracked mirror- Fantasy records 1969

Billie Joe Becoat-Reflections from a cracked mirror- Fantasy Records 1969

Groove with perfection

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I wouldn’t consider myself much of a record advocate if I didn’t voice listening with a  new stylus as frequently as possible. This is just something I pick up at a local store. Certainly not trying to appear like a commercial or something as much as just to note products like this keep my collection in the best possible condition.

Calling it the 8th

On the 8th day God created...

On the 8th day God created…

Cecil Taylor has long been one of my favorite pianists. I’ve seen him perform at the Library of Congress in Washington D. C., Quebec, Canada, and in San Francisco. I already had a copy of this record on CD, but when I found the LP version at Criminal Records in Atlanta I just couldn’t resist. I mean, it’s not really collectable to own something on CD in my opinion and any Cecil Taylor record with Jimmy Lyons on it is classic stuff. It contains the original postcard insert with a picture of Mr. Taylor. Here’s What All Music had to say about it:

Recorded live in West Germany in 1981, THE EIGHTH is an aptly named Cecil Taylor concert. Listened to casually (though it’s hard to imagine this music listened to casually), one hears four virtuosi–Taylor on piano, Jimmy Lyons (alto sax), William Parker (bass), and Rashid Bakr (drums)–playing maelstroms of dense music. Closer listening reveals symphonic ambition, mystical leanings, and the magic of numbers. The eighth can also refer to an octave, one of Taylor’s favorite intervals.

The opening hour-long piece starts with a ritual: hands drum the outside of the Bosendorfer piano as voices shout/sing in the background. As in almost all Taylor compositions, the players quickly bring themselves to a point of no reserve. Lyons and Taylor spin and flutter notes over Parker and Bakr’s shifty rhythms. Although there are some striking moments (Cecil plays an avant-garde ragtime to a bell) the piece never really sheds the formality that its name implies.

The second piece, 10 minutes long, opens with references to 19th-century music. Within a few minutes, the players transform themselves into a tornado, wrecking all pretense and making full-blown and satisfying music. The opening motifs return, this time with a humorous, gospel slant.

 

What’s in a name

I’ve had my share of aliases over the years; Guido and Sweetbottom to name a couple. The name Strangeblood was actually given to me by the drummer in Venus Flytrap circa 1991. We were at band practice and were messing around and the late Chris Whitson (guitarist and songwriter) would say “That Curtis just isn’t normal, he doesn’t do normal things and doesn’t listen to normal music”. One time Tom (our drummer) said, “I think I’m going to start calling you Curtis Srange”, and then he asked “have you heard of that golf player Curtis Strange?”  The name Curtis Strange followed me around for a few days and then it somehow turned into Curtis Strangeblood. Back then Tom used to always accent the A’s a bit and so it always came out as Curtis Straaangeblood. That used to follow me around quite a lot back then. Chris would always be saying “Curtis just isn’t normal” and Tom would follow that with “Curtis Straaangeblood”.

The rest is history I suppose. I only ever DJ’d three or four times, so leaving out the Curtis and inserting DJ is just a sort of novelty to give everyone the impression that you’d be lucky to have me blast a set at you’re latest gathering, but as some of those reputations precede me, you might be unlucky depending on how obscure the mix is. Just a warning for those of you thinking of hiring me

Strangeblood’s Best of 2013


This year had some surprises and alas I decided to make a list of the top 15 records of the year.  Maybe I still left  a few great ones off but I believe there’s some great artists on here that help me want to get up, get dressed and start my 50 minute commute (where I listen to alot of the records I end up hearing). Enjoy, and bring on 2014.

1. Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano-The Raw and the cooked – Palilalia records

2. The Thing- Boot- The thing records

3. Electrophonic User’s Guide- Bits and Pieces- Electrophonic Users Guide records

4. Red, Hot, and Fela- Various Artists- Knitting Factory

5. The Dead C/ Rangda- Split 12″- Ba Da Bing Records

6. The Men- New Moon- Sacred bones records

7. The Strokes- Comedown Machine- RCA records

8. Sister Iodine – Blame- Premier Sang records

9. Kurt Vile- Wakin on a Pretty Daze- Matador records

10. Magik Markers – Surrender to the Fantasy- Drag City records

11. Bilal- A Love Sureal- eOne records

12. Robert Glasper Eperiment- Black Radio Vol. 2- Blue Note Records

13. Ty Segall- Sleeper- Drag City Records

14. Henry Kaiser Requia and Other Imrovisations for Guitar-Tzadik records

15.Bl’ast- Blood- Southern Lord Records