Monday, July 27, 2009

TVD Recommends | Jazz Corner of the World 5th Anniversary Party, Wednesday, July 29

You’ll find TVD up at Café Saint Ex this Wednesday night saluting the 5th Anniversary of Saint Ex’s Wednesday night DJ residency, The Jazz Corner of the World.

Joining DJ Birdman and DC Digga will be original partner DJ Fatback as well as very special guests Larry Grogan—Funky16Corners for those unaware—who will be bringing a distinctly 45 slant to the proceedings—not to mention DJ Neville C and DC's own DJ Provoke. Special giveaways and other party favors will be available as well. Also this Wednesday they’re going all night long in celebration of the anniversary, from 7pm til the bartender closes up shop.

TVD asked DJ Birdman to hit us with a little background and some tracks representative of the evening’s playlist...and he did just that:

"One of the best things about a DJ residency is the opportunity to broaden your own musical horizons in an attempt to keep things fresh for your patrons (and yourself). Of course, when you have a Jazz night, as we have now held down for 5 years, often you find yourself digging deeper in an effort to give shine to artists who don't find themselves a likely subject for a Starbuck's CD comp or even as incidental background in an NPR piece.

The names Grachan Moncur III and Herbie Nichols don't feature prominently in the broader histories of the music, and frankly, rarely see much ink in specific histories that focus on Blue Note Records. Blue Note, that most famous of jazz labels, is really all these musicians have in common. That, and the fact that mainstream canonization of their recordings simply never happened, despite their substantial contributions. These are just two of the forgotten men of Blue Note.

Pianist Hebie Nichols is often referred to as 'The Neglected Genius'. Most frequently compared to his friend Thelonious Monk for his modern style, Nichols' trio work in the mid 50s (with greats Art Blakey and Max Roach often drumming on his sides, as well as bassist Al McKibbon) is thrilling to hear. His piano lines are percussive and full of controlled energy and innovative melody that only become more pronounced with closer listening. In his lifetime he only released 2 10" and 1 12" LP on Blue Note, and a handful of dates for other labels, and for vinyl junkies, the best bet is his 2 LP 70s collection, 'The Third World', which is much easier to find than the original pressings.

For a compelling portrait of Nichols and his tragically short career and life, the book 'Four Lives in the BeBop Business' by A.B. Spellman is invaluable. In addition to Nichols, this 1966 tome celebrates the iconoclastic careers of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and fellow Blue Note artist Jackie McLean.

Jackie McLean is the artist that first brought Grachan Moncur III to musical prominence. The trombonist, who plays McLean's perfect foil on the landmark 1963 Blue Note recording 'One Step Beyond', would go on to record only two dates as a leader for Blue Note, the exceptional 'Evolution', and 'Some Other Stuff'. Far more of an avant garde modernist than Nichols, Moncur was of that generation of players who had created 'The New Thing' happening in the early 60s, but were still experimenting within a recognizable structure (ie. still swinging). Though not what may typically regarded as Free Jazz today, his Blue Note material was still very challenging to mainstream audiences and the jazz buyers alike. Light Supper Club Jazz this was emphatically not.

While a leader on only two Blue Note LPs, Moncur did continue into the 70s recording for BYG/Actuel and has released new music with larger ensembles as recently as 2007. His work as a sideman is considered to be some of the most underrated contributions in Jazz, on recording dates by Wayne Shorter, Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Joe Henderson and Sunny Murray.

These two innovative and generally unsung musicians demonstrate just how deep the ocean of Jazz is, and how it's sunken treasure continues to enrich and surprise all these years later."

Herbie Nichols - Cro-Magnon Nights (Mp3)
Herbie Nichols - Amoeba's Dance (Mp3)
Grachan Moncur III - Air Raid (Mp3)
Grachan Moncur III - Thandiwa (Mp3)

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