Record collection

The cute lady in the Santa hat came into the dining room. Brick, Brick…who is this? I listened. Eric Dolphy. Right! A few minutes later, she comes back into the dining room. Brick, Brick, who is this? I listened again. Tuxedomoon. Right! A few minutes later…Brick, Brick…who is this? Listened a minute. Earl Hines? Yes! Wow! A few minutes later, she’s back, very cute, very determined and very drunk. OK, Brick, we’re playing Stump Brick, who is this? The Pretty Things. Damn. How do you know all this music? Well, they’re my records. Damn, she said, and stomped off.

Pretty Things, “Dream/Joey”, Silk Torpedo (1973)

 The Pretty Things "Silk Torpedo" album cover.

In German that would be one word

When I was a kid I thought Kraftwerk were the lamest band ever. Like this is what happens when you lose two world wars. That kind of lame. But that was a long time ago. I’m more sophisticated now, more worldly, more open to new ideas. And now I think they are just one of the lamest bands ever. But their hipster fans might be the lamest fans ever. Though nothing personal, really.

Saw some guy on Facebook begging for Kraftwerk tickets, screaming really, in all caps. So desperate. Oh man, I thought, get a life. Better yet do away with the one you have. OK, I didn’t actually think that. I just thought how sad. Demeaning yourself in all caps just to be able to sing Autobahn with a bunch of record collecting hipster losers who get a little too excited over silly assed Krautrock shit played by geezers old enough to be their fathers. In German that would be one word.

Ein wenig Hass ist manchmal gut, nicht war?

Desert Island

So someone asked me what ten albums I would take on a desert island with me. I asked if there would be electricity. She said yes. A desert island with electricity? This is more Bob Denver than Tom Hanks, then? Just shut up and write the ten records. Jazz records? Well, if you must, then jazz records. I couldn’t come up with just ten jazz records, I said, I don’t do lists well. Then ten rock records. There must be ten rock records you like. Like enough to take to a desert island? Yes, like if you were going to be marooned on a desert island what ten records would you take with you? Marooned? Would there be native girls? Giant stone heads? Don Ho? Apparently I was no longer funny. I started on the list, came up with four records and got stuck. Not sure why those four. I gave her the list. Where are the other six? I could only think of four, I said. You’d take only four records? I travel light, I said, and someone will have an iPad. No answer. You said there’s electricity. Still no answer. I can think of six songs, I said. I rattled them off. She’d never heard of them. Not even Home is Where the Floor Is. But that’s one of my favorite songs ever, I said. It was HUGE. It wasn’t actually, of course, just in my head. What album is it on, she said. Some comp. I sold it. Then you couldn’t take it with you onto the desert island. You mean I have to actually own the record? There won’t be an iPad? Nevermind, she said. And somewhere, there’s a blog without my list of four records.

Five records. I just thought of another. Tables and chairs and TV and books and other stuff.

Jazz album covers

Just saw a photo of a bunch of jazz musicians–some of the very best in fact–making silly faces. I was taken aback. I mean is the serious jazz picture phase is over? Did someone kill it? I don’t have a jazz column anymore and don’t keep up with these things. I can never keep track. There have been so many phases. I have records from the fifties with these old time musicians grinning like happy drunks. Which they probably were, bombed. A little reefer. Meanwhile the bop guys are all serious, way serious. Suits too. Matching. A little too big but matching. None of them ever cracked a smile. Too many changes. Wild tempos. Pawned horns. Suits were out by the angry album cover era. Dashikis, even on white guys. With their dashikis, long hair, and horn rimmed glasses, the white guys always looked like engineers on acid. The black guys looked angry. Man, were they angry. Scary angry. I once looked at a Pharaoh Sanders album and hid under the bed for three days. I was never comfortable with the 80’s happy jazz picture phase. Sonny Rollins happy was weird. Chick Corea disturbing. I’d listen to the albums but try not to look at the covers. My favorite period was the jazz musicians in bell bottoms and sideburns and leisure suit era. You’d see them on their album covers trying to look like hippies but always looking like heroin dealers. Then there was the everyone dressing like Sly Stone period. Huge hair. Huger flairs. Heels so high they created their own weather patterns. And bling baby, bling that made Isaac Hayes blanche. Sometimes, though, the players looked less like Sly Stone and more like Elton John crossed with an electric chicken. Which wasn’t actually the intended effect. But I digress.

A lot of those albums sure were great, though.

Herbie Mann saving money on clothes.

Herbie Mann saving money on clothes.

Thrift store jazz, Part 1

Listening to the incredible Buddy Rich Big Band LP Mercy Mercy I picked up when the annoying lady in the Santa hat wasn’t looking, and that Don Menza solo was so freaking good I had to listen to it again. And dig that little flurry by Art Pepper. Had to listen to that twice, too. (Lifting up the tone arm and dropping it again, guessing, almost got it right. CD’s are easier.) Buddy is soloing now, going nuts, and it’s 1968, and it’s no “Toad”.

Also got this great collection of sides by aggregations led (supposedly led) by Jack Teagarden and Max Kaminsky, Big T and the Mighty Max. One of the those Commodore reissue things from the ’70’s, with cheap creepy artwork. Aesthetics got very strange in the seventies. No one buys these things, not even for a buck–no one buys anything pre-be bop–and whenever grandpa dies and his beloved record collection gets dumped at the thrift store record bins, his beautifully maintained albums sit there unloved amid the beat up Mantovani and disco and Barbara Streisand. But I’m a sucker for the things. Now, all the older jazzers remember Jack Teagarden, of course, one of the greatest trombonists of all time, and a singer up there, almost, with Louis Armstrong. He was that good. (Check out their priceless duet on Old Rocking Chair to become an instant fan.) Kaminsky is better known to The Swinging Years listeners and he’s blowing hot on this LP. Great bands, in the Eddie Condon style, in fact Eddie is on some of the cuts, sounding old style slick on guitar, and you can imagine the drinking and carrying on. This is mostly World War Two era stuff, and the endless notes on the back cover by some expert or other points out how these barrelhouse jazz bands (I love that term, “barrelhouse jazz”) were stock full of refugees from swing bands who either couldn’t hack the road schedules or just wanted to blow instead of reading charts all night but couldn’t or just wouldn’t adapt to be bop. It’s a forgotten time, in between big band swing and small group bop, but the jazz on here swings like a mothereffer (this is a family blog) and I flipped it over a couple times and let the stuff rock as I prep the house to be trashed all over again. That Kaminsky, he’s on fire here, this must have been his moment. And Teagarden, well I can never get enough of him. Oh yeah, there was the torrid dirty clarinet solo instantly recognizable as Pee Wee Russell. One of the sad little greats, Pee Wee. If I remember right he even did a set with Monk–playing Monk’s music–at Newport. Can’t remember if I saw film of that or have it here in the piles of CDs somewhere, but it was a trip, Pee Wee playing his ass off and thinking in ways guys his jazz age never thought. We laugh but how many of us can do that? We sit surrounded by the past like it’s the present and bitch about the new. Anyway, I picked this up with a random selection of cool LPs at the Out of the Closet in Atwater Village while looking for a coffee table. Nada on the table but the LPs are fun. Considering I sold off so much of my collection to pay for epilepsy medicine before coverage kicked in, I actually have room for new LPs again. If only I had sold off more books. I keep buying them and they’re stacked up here on the floor, all these big thick wordy non-fiction tomes, mocking me. The absurdities of bohemian life.

Buddy at Timothy Leary's pad, grokking with the universe.

Buddy at Timothy Leary’s pad, grokking with the universe before he kicks some hippie trumpeter off the bus.