22 July 2010

Listening in Roslindale

What does a recovering musicologist listen to after escaping the straitjacket of professional expectations?

Pretty much everything he can get his hands on.

A partial list of my listening over the past two weeks:

Memphis Slim: The Folkways Years, 1959-1973
King Sunny Ade, Seven Degrees North
Champion Jack Dupree, Walking the Blues: Greatest Hits
Charles Mingus, The Complete Town Hall Concert
Charlie Parker, Early Bird (The Best of the 1945 Studio Recordings)
West African Music: The Rough Guide
The Mothers of Invention, Absolutely Free

Otis Redding Sings Soul and Otis Blue
Sam Cooke’s SAR Records Story

Thelonious Monk, The Complete Riverside Recordings, first 3 CDs

Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways
Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways, vol. 2

Lots of wonderful stuff.

I'm slowly working my way through pretty much the complete recordings of Monk in connection with my plan to write a review of Robin Kelley's biography (which is, by the way, on my Amazon wishlist, and is currently selling for a steep discount).  I've been a Monk fan since high school, but had no idea of the range and variety of his pianism.  I'm continually astonished and often laugh in surprised delight as I listen to these.  The album of Ellington covers is outstanding.

I am completely knocked out by both the Mingus Town Hall Concert and the Mothers of Invention, Absolutely Free, neither of which I'd heard.  Mingus at his best was an extraordinary composer, as this concert showed.  Absolutely Free sounds astonishingly contemporary. Perhaps we're finally beginning to catch up to Frank Zappa.

The Rough Guide to West African Music is an excellent sampler, and I love the music.

Memphis Slim is a great blues and boogie pianist of the old school.  I think pretty much every piece on the CD is in C major.

Early Bird was a great nostalgia trip for me; it contains some of the first Parker recordings that I ever heard or owned, back when I was in high school.  Some of them (the recordings with Slam Stewart, for example) I hadn't heard in decades.

Sam Cooke and Otis are, of course, wonderful.

(My life is hardly devoid of classical music: I spend several hours a day playing Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy....)

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