Sunday, February 18, 2007

deserts, oceans, reissues

An ancient barrel (Ferocactus cylindraceus) just south of El Rosario, Baja California Norte.
Rancho Santa Ynez, near Catavina in the Central Desert. Sign by Gary Larson.

Playa Saldamando, off the toll road from Tijuana to Ensenada, with tent sites right on the Pacific. Typical of off season experiences, we were the only people camping. There are a couple hundred tent sites.

Dizzy Gillespie reissue on Prestige called "In the Beginning" now spinning. Double album with recordings from 1945 to 1950. There seem to be errors in the titles and personnel, so I'll have to dig a bit. Some tracks seem correct, including early work by Dexter Gordon, Al Haig, others. Dizzy's world is a flashing mix of adventure and entertainment. There are some funny moments of sudden transitions on here, including some discordant and ballsy big band performances followed by stuff like Oop Bop Sh'Bam.

Cut to Arthur Blythe's "Illusions," from Blythe's Columbia period, 1980. This is a Behearer selection and I can instantly hear that. I didn't catch much of what Blythe and some of his colleagues were doing in the late '70s/early '80s, as I was more focused on Cecil Taylor and the FMP stuff at the time. I was tired of explicitly composed music and suspicious of the Columbia catalogue in general. I'm deeply admiring of the playing by the personnel on here: James Blood Ulmer, Steve McCall, Fred Hopkins, Bob Stewart, Abdul Wadud. It seems funny that I thought of this music as "commercialized" at the time. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but the larger aesthetic impacts get lost in elitist judgments such as the ones I used to make with great certainty.

With the wisdom of hindsight what amazes me is that a major American label put this music out at all.


Julia said...

Were you yelling, "I'm the king of the world" while the shirtless photo was snapped?
Look awesome... Baja, I mean.

peter breslin said...

heya- I think I was yelling "thank god I have the Pressbot (tm) Nalgene (tm) French press coffee maker.

It even gets the approval of Army Times magazine:

(my favorite passage: "Just spoon your favorite ground coffee (or tea, if that's your thing) into the bottom of the Nalgene..." Part of the "don't ask/don't tell" policy perhaps....)

yes, Baja is awesome. Maybe if we're lucky with this here Global Warming thing New Mexico will someday look just like that...