I promise I will eventually blog about the Infernal Machines sessions, which wrapped on Wednesday. But honestly I am still recovering from the experience -- three very long, very intense days, fueled primarily by caffeine and sublimated low-grade panic. I am incredibly proud of all of the musicians involved -- they played their assess off. But running these sessions is by far the hardest thing I have ever done and I'm still kind of in shock.
I want to give a big shout-out to the people who kept me from impaling myself on the nearest mic stand -- in addition to all the Society co-conspirators, these include our kickass producer, Sherisse Rogers, our fantastically thorough production assistants, Caitlin Smith and Kelly Fenton, and our superhumanly tireless engineer Paul Cox.
And of course, a huge thank you to all of the people who made all this possible in the first place by contributing to our recording fund. I am grateful beyond words to you all. Of course, if you would still like to make a contribution, your donations are most welcome -- there is still lots of mixing and mastering to be paid for. We will keep the Sponsor a Musician and Be Our Executive Producer options open until Feb. 15, and we will continue accepting donations via Fractured Atlas up until the album's release date in early May.
Blogging will be sporadic over the holidays, although I hope to finish introducing you to all of the amazing musicians who contributed to this recording.
In the meanwhile, here are some things you must read:
- Ethan Iverson on Wynton Marsalis and the various and sundry issues associated with Wynton's public prominence. I believe this is the longest Do The Math post yet, so long that it is broken up into no less than eight different sections. But it is all sensational: incredibly thorough and on-point, an overdue but badly-needed corrective to a lot of the conventional wisdom about Wynton and other Young Lions. You should read the whole thing -- it is definitely required reading for anyone who enjoyed my Jazz Wars piece at NMBx -- but if you do nothing else, at minimum you should listen to Wynton's play-by-play analysis of his famous solo on "Knozz-Moe-King" from Live at Blues Alley.
(Also: I can't quite believe Wynton doesn't think that Thad Jones solo on "Contemporary Focus" sounds like Thad! To me that is absolutely vintage Thad, right from the first phrase. Wynton is obviously hearing something in there that I'm missing.)
- This is a fantastic interview with Ted Hearne, composer of Katrina Ballads:
One big thing is the drum set right now. There are a lot of composers who are trying to incorporate the drum set into classical arrangements. It’s really hard to do that and make a synthesis that makes sense, because people have been using drum sets for a long time. The drum set is a totally oral instrument and everyone has their own feel to it and if you try writing it down it’s very difficult to do and have it make sense. I feel like there are so many concert pieces that have a drum set in it and the drum set sounds so stupid. It doesn’t make sense in the piece. It sounds like someone is trying to make a pastiche of rock music or jazz.
You know John Corigliano? I think he’s a pretty popular classical composer in America, and he has this piece called “Circus Maximus.” It’s this huge piece, for surround sound, he did it at Carnegie Hall, a marching band, people everywhere. It’s supposed to be this great post-modern piece about all the kinds of music. It’s maximal. There is a drum set, and it’s dumb. When the drum set comes in it’s doing this tsss-t-t-tsss. It’s this 30s jazz reference, it’s like the smallest sound bite that can represent jazz. Anyone who likes jazz now would be like, ‘What are you saying?’ It’s like music from the 30s, ok, thanks. Thanks for bringing that little sound bite in there. It’s not meaningful. It’s the same with rock. There are all sorts of interesting things going on in the indie scene, the ways people are using electric guitar; the evolution of rock music is very much alive, very cool shit is happening. But when you see it integrated into classical music very often it’s like, ‘just throw some distortion on the guitar, make it sound like rock music.’
- Aaron Parks is on the cover of this month's Jazziz, interviewed by Phil Freeman of Running The Voodoo Down. Phil has posted the piece to his blog.
“One of the things that I give thanks for is that I didn’t jump into leadership,” Parks says. “It was possible. I’ve been talking to Blue Note since I was 16 or 17 about doing things. But I wasn’t ready then and I knew it. And with my apprenticeship in Terence’s band for five years and in Kurt’s band for the last two years, I learned so much. Without those experiences, I would have never been able to make a record that I can stand behind, like I did with this one. It would have been a record of some standards, with some haphazardly chosen originals – just the new young guy who’s got some technique and whatever. But to me, that’s a pretty boring story. It’s been told over and over, and it’s not interesting anymore.”
“The whole young lions thing, I mean, that formula should have died in the ’80s, and I think it really did die as far as listeners are concerned,” he continues. “They’re not interested in that anymore. But that’s the thing that’s worked in the past, and everybody’s reluctant to abandon it. So everybody’s still looking for the next hot young thing.”