Sonny Rollins knows life is a solo trip (via NYT)

Sonny Rollins is, by any reasonable estimation, a genius. He is jazz’s greatest living improviser, able to imbue his solos with wry humor, surprise, brilliant logical form and profound emotion. Time and time again, he created something miraculous out of thin air, and he did it until he could do it no longer. The 89-year-old played his last concert in 2012, and in 2014, he stopped playing saxophone altogether, a result of pulmonary fibrosis. That doesn’t mean we’ll never hear music from him again — Resonance Records will release a set of previously unissued performances this fall — but it does mean that Rollins’s colossal record as a musician is a thing of the past. I wanted to know how a musician whose playing was always attuned to the present has forged a new life in the shadow of that stark fact. “‘Happy’ is not the word,” said Rollins, seated on a couch under a large painting of Buddha at his rambling home in Woodstock, N.Y., “but I am the most content I’ve ever been. I have most things figured out.” … Read More

(via NYT)

HT: Derek and Susan

Drum Jam

Perhaps the last of the great classic rock drummers, Rush’s Neil Peart died last week after a battle with brain cancer. Peart’s drumming was representative of the band’s overall approach and sound in that it often was complex, extended, highly technical, and loud. In addition to commanding an always-elaborate drum set, Peart also wrote lyrics for the band’s songs. Whenever I hear his name, though, it’s the instrumental YYZ that comes to my mind.

Friend of the Jam

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can

through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Last week, Robert Hunter– longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator, Grateful Dead lyricist, and early MKUltra test subject– flashed permanently to the linguistic plane in which, one assumes, terrestrial linguistics and DMT have no further use. He was seventy-eight and previously had written the lyrics for basically every Dead song not written by John Perry Barlow, which is to say the majority of them. Like Barlow, who was dispatched last year, Hunter embraced the nascent internet, through which one still may locate many of his uploaded journals that, unsurprisingly, reveal an active and introspective mind.

In the time since his passing, many writers have made reference to “Black Peter,” a song obviously about death, even as one recognized that the song bore meaning as a communication to or about Hunter’s partner, Garcia.

For purposes of this post, I suggest instead we turn to the band’s great suite, “Terrapin Station,” for words more self-referential:

Let my inspiration flow
in token lines suggesting rhythm
that will not forsake me
till my tale is told and done

The storyteller makes no choice
soon you will not hear his voice
his job is to shed light
and not to master

_____________________________________________

Previously
Ashes Jam

Debut Jam

Our Friday Jams probably are the longest-running series on this website. The series began on August 5, 2011, the end of ALDLAND’s first week of public existence, naturally with Space Capone’s “Friday.” It was an appropriately strong debut for the nature and scope of this site, but, as concerns music-related debuts, it didn’t make even a flicker of a blip. In that sense, it’s the spectral opposite of the self-titled debut from The Cars, whose leader, Ric Ocasek, died last week. I have long believed that The Cars, released in 1978, is the best debut album of all time. The case for that claim, simply stated, is that every one of the nine tracks– eight of which are credited solely to Ocasek, and one of which to Ocasek and keyboardist Greg Hawkes– is a hit:

  1. “Good Times Roll”
  2. “My Best Friend’s Girl”
  3. “Just What I Needed”
  4. “I’m in Touch With Your World”
  5. “Don’t Cha Stop”
  6. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”
  7. “Bye Bye Love”
  8. “Moving in Stereo”
  9. “All Mixed Up”

One thing I did not know about Ocasek was that, following the band’s breakup in the late 1980s, he found work as a producer. In that role, he helped to create the successful Blue and Green albums for the band Weezer.

That’s a neat footnote, but, for me, it always comes back to the beginning. That’s why The Cars, in its entirety, is this week’s Jam (videos will play sequentially):

Money Jam

A week ago, Eddie Money cashed in one of his tickets to paradise, leaving this world still awash in his hits. Seventy years old, he recently received a cancer diagnosis. The Brooklyn-born former cop-in-training developed a habit of kicking off his tours at the old Pine Knob outside of Detroit and previously ingratiated himself into Bill Graham’s Bay-Area scene, even joining the post-Janis-Joplin lineup of Big Brother and the Holding Company for a time. It was a recording of a live performance of a lesser-known tune on a Graham-coordinated date at San Francisco’s famous Winterland Ballroom that really hooked me, and it is this week’s Jam:

To What We’re Listening: Vida Blue’s “Analog Delay”

Page McConnell formed Vida Blue with Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Dead & Co.) and Russell Batiste (The Funky Meters) while on a break from Phish in 2001. They released their self-titled debut in 2002 and followed that up with The Illustrated Band, on which the Spam Allstars, an Afro-Cuban sextet joined the core trio.

Today, the band announced the September release of its third album, Crossing Lines, and the first single, “Analog Delay.” The announcement indicates that the new album will feature the original lineup with the Spam Allstars. While the overall feel of the band’s first two albums was quite loose, “Analog Delay” suggests a more cohesive approach to showcasing the group’s full textural depth in a more coordinated or focused manner.

Rumors of a fall tour abound. If true, they would represent the band’s first live performances since 2004.

I Will Take You Jam

Twenty-nine years ago this week, the Grateful Dead performed “I Will Take You Home,” a Brent Mydland song written with Bob Weir friend and collaborator John Perry Barlow, for the last time in a concert at what then was known as Foxboro Stadium outside of Boston. Mydland, the band’s third full-time keyboardist and the longest-tenured in that role, would be dead less than two weeks later following a narcotic overdose at his California home. Mydland was a passionate performer, and his songs seemed to take a more raw, confrontational approach to emotional subjects like spousal separation and parent-child relationships than the often more opaque offerings of his bandmates. “I Will Take You Home” is a song about a father trying to protect and encourage his daughter, and its final performance is this week’s Jam (with bonus Jerry-in-shorts footage):