Alloy's blog

"Are We Still Rolling?"

I have been reading choice bits of Phill Brown's autobiography, Are We Still Rolling, about his years in the music recording business. His resume is filled with legendary sessions but what compelled me to read at least sections of his book is that he was the "engineer" on Talk Talk's last two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, two albums that I hold in extremely high regard (and have written about, previously, and talked about on my weekly radio show). He dedicates a couple of chapters to the rigorous, exhausting, challenging, painstaking, and overwhelmingly creative and satisfying process working on those albums was.

NYTimes Review: Spontaneous Invention From the Jack DeJohnette Trio

Nate Chinen wrote a nice review of a recent performance by the Jack DeJohnette trio at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn. He also pointed out the trio's familial connections to legends John Coltrane and Jimmy Garrison--DeJohnette's trio includes Ravi Coltrane (sax), son of John Coltrane, and Matt Garrison (bass), son of Jimmy Garrison. Also, and perhaps equally exciting, the trio is headed into ECM's recording studio to create an album:

Tennis and Jazz Improvisation w/Fred Hersch

Do tennis and jazz improvisation share similarities? Yes! So says Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch in an excellent and illuminating coversation with Sports Illustrated executive editor and host Jon Wertheim. On Sport's Illustrated's "Beyond the Baseline" podcast,

Glyn Johns Interview in Tape Op

“The net result is that if something is pondered over and farted around with to the extent that it is capable of being done now, digitally in particular, the music becomes clinicized beyond belief.”

The most recent issue of Tape Op magazine features a revealing interview with legendary recording engineer and producer, Glyn Johns (wiki | tape op). Johns, who recently released an excellent autobiography chronicling his history in the music business, is perhaps best known for his work with the Rolling Stones, The Who, Small Faces, Led Zeppelin (in the musical heydays of the 70s). Not surprising, he remains active today, working with contemporary bands/artists like Band of Horses and Ryan Adams. All in all he has worked with a veritable who’s who of rock.

Less-fi: Music everywhere

In an ideal world, my audio dream world, I would have a fantastic system to listen to music. An audiophile’s set-up--one with magnificent studio-quality speakers, preamps, decks of all sorts, buttons and knobs to fiddle with...the whole kit. The reality? Well, let’s just say, that kind of gear and setup is far greater than my very (very!) modest budget. Instead, and perhaps like many of us, I listen to music through my computer and my mobile devices.

DownBeat and Dave Douglas

DownBeat posted a short interview with trumpeter Dave Douglas (@dave_douglas) last week where he talks about a number of things including his most recent releases, Brazen Heart and the controversial (musically speaking), High Risk. The nature of the “controversy” surrounding High Risk stems, in part, from a two-star review DownBeat gave the album.

Inside the mind of Mark Hollis

Last night, while looking for new and interesting material on one of my favorite bands, Talk Talk, as well as one of its principal members and creative forces, Mark Hollis, I found this bonafide gem of a video. Don't know how I missed this in past trips down the internet rabbit hole looking for material about Hollis and Talk Talk. Doesn't matter, really. So glad to have found it now. I am not entirely sure about the history of the video.

"Play a Bill Frisell Set"

It is not everyday that you get to hear new music featuring a full big band playing shoulder to shoulder with a living guitar legend. Such is the case with the latest release on Cuneiform Records, "Michael Gibbs & the NDR Big Band: Play a Bill Frisell Set List" [ iTunes | Amazon | Cuneiform ] featuring guitarist Bill Frisell recorded live at the Uberjazz Festival with the NDR Bigband on October 26, 2013. This is not big band in the traditional sense where the guitar is simply another layer, another texture, another rhythmic voice in the greater mix. No, not here, I am happy to say.

"A Series of Small Serendipities" (show notes)

While pulling together this week's "Alloy" program, "A Series of Small Serendipities," I found a number of interesting things worth sharing:

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center is a terrific resource for viewing live webstreamed, as well as archived concerts featuring some of the best artists in the jazz community. Just this past week they featured four performances by Bill Frisell as part of his "Up & Down The Mississippi" project. Highly recommend joining their mailing list so you are notified when they will featuer their next live performance.
  • I featured a track off Kamasi Washington's new release, "The Epic" a 17 song, 3-disc jazz opus [iTunes | Amazon]. If you want to learn more about Kamasi, hear how the album came together, and see his band play a number of tracks, live, from their album release event, check this out this documentary available on the Jazz at the Lincoln Center site.
  • I played a trio of blues/gospel-ish tunes, kind of a first for "Alloy," and discovered that Sam Cooke felt his classic song, "A Change is Gonna Come" had a kind of ominousness about it. You can listen to the trio of songs I played below:


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