Listening to CharlesMingusis my definition of a cathartic experience. I can name only a few artists whose music can cut to the core of me in the same way that his does. It is an earthy, roots-based, bawdy expression of life's emotional range - rapture, euphoria, despair, contemplation, anger, indignation, desire, and on and on.
It's not just the melodies and harmonies that accomplish this, it's the human element of performance personality that solidifies these ideas. It is the musical gestures and shapes. It is the way his musicians embraced production noise as a tool of expression. It is the way the community of performers in the band didn't hold back if they felt compelled to yell, or sing, or vocalize in any capacity during a set. It is an expression of life. Sometimes it is sloppy, seemingly disorganized, and even cacophonous, but Mingus's pen had a direct line to his soul, and his musicians performed with every ounce of vim and vigor they could muster.
Chet Baker (1929-1988) was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist. I once heard it said that concert promoters were not sure whether they should bill him as one over the other, so they just started booking him as the handsome guy. Either way, Chet had an ability to live on the back end of a beat that was unlike anyone else I've ever heard, and his conversational phrasing was always informed by his skill as a vocalist. Nevertheless, he was also the controversial king of the California Cool School of jazz where his drug habit was just as well known as his musicianship. He was in and out of jail, relationships, musical partnerships, and was perhaps nothing more than a slick con man with a cool smile and a good story to tell. In 1988 he was found dead outside of a Dutch Brothel and although no foul play was suspected, it is presumed that Chet was simply too high and fell out of the window to his death.
If all this sounds like the makings of a good story it's because it is. In 1988 writer and director Bruce Weber complied the story of Chet Baker into a documentary entitled Let's Get Lost. This film is a collection of interviews and footage with Chet's ex-wives, friends, and associated musicians in an attempt to paint the full picture of the man. Watch the documentery and then dig into itunes for some further Chet Baker knowledge. For my money, the album It Could Happen To You is Chet's best work and absoluetly one of my all time top five favorite albums ever. Check it out, you dig?
Andrew Kolbhas illustrated himself right into my heart with his visual interpretation of David Bowie's classic Space Oddity. This simply put is wonderful. The children's book spin on this song seems so appropriate it's a wonder it took this long for it to happen.
The story is linear, engaging, and allows plenty of room artistic license. The only thing it is missing is animated hand claps.
Sadly, Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson died yesterday at the age of 89. With him goes a wealth of knowledge, technical facility, and musical authenticity that the steel string guitar has seldom known. The New York Times has written an absolutely wonderful obituary here which both lauds the man, and gives new comers to his work a succinct history of his importance. I highly recommend reading their eloquent account of his life.
Tomorrow Andrew W.K. embarks on a special headlining tour to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of I Get Wet. He'll be performing the album in its entirety. To mark the occasion, I am inducting "She Is Beautiful" into the Shrine of Dig. It is time to party, so we will party hard!