Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Meet the New Boss

So it seems I haven't muttered a single blog-like sound since frikkin' November 27. These things happen. No real reason, except that I haven't felt the need to say anything. As Harry Partch says bitterly in The Dreamer That Remains, "No messages, too many messages, no messages." On the other hand, "a little message won't hurt," so let us loiter together and know one another.

Of course the year end frenzy of top ten lists, recapitulation, re-assessment, best ofs and so on has already rumbled through most digital presses. When I look back at 2007, it's a wild ride of a year for me personally. So much went down that I'm really incapable of articulating a lot of it. Early sobriety is like that, for one thing. Stunning how much can happen in so short a time. This April 11 will mark merely four years of no booze. Imagine the possibilities if I could just quit smoking, or eating for that matter. Hell, why not get rid of sleeping and breathing. Just music and cacti. Out in a different kind of blaze from the one I was fomenting, the archetypal alcoholic pathos, a boring, infinitely repeated exit involving painful obscurity and liver failure.

It was the first full year of doing the two hour radio show once a week on KSFR in Santa Fe. I'd heard people say that "media devours content," but it's only after doing Inside Out for a while now (17 months in all) that I realize how much devouring is involved. One imagines a two hour show once a week as a piece of cake, but really, it's easy to run out of threads, music, stuff to play, stuff to say. My budget for grabbing new/used material went way down over the summer. Even with the windfall of more than 100 albums from my friend Emery, it's been challenging lately to keep Inside Out fresh. With the perspective of a programmer, one comes into contact with one's collection of music in new ways, with new perspectives. I have way more Miles Davis than I realized, for example. I'm actually a real stick in the mud traditionalist, in many ways. Woefully untutored in contemporary releases. Of course, Inside Out is promoting a basic idea: the music people still insist on calling jazz is neither mainstream nor avant garde but just amazing, when it's good. Making the exact same point every week for two hours has gotten a bit stretched, even for me, demagogue that I am.

So the vast majority of what really got me, musically, was performed and recorded prior to about 1990 or so. My ears have tuned much more sharply. I'm hearing everything for potential airplay. I thought I knew certain things but discover whole new aspects when I listen again, listen differently. Booker Little. Herbie Nichols. Archie Shepp. Duke. Monk. Mingus. Ornette. Cecil Taylor. Miles. Bill Dixon. Sonny Rollins. Roscoe Mitchell. David Murray. Oliver Lake. Henry Threadgill. Max Roach. Alice Coltrane. James Blood Ulmer. Ronald Shannon Jackson. A whole new/old universe. Jelly Roll Morton. Fats Waller. Fletcher Henderson. On and on. It's too much to wrap my head around, even a little bit.

Highlights include interviewing Jane Ira Bloom, Roscoe Mitchell, Sonny Rollins, Oliver Lake, JA Deane.

As a musician, the Duologies have been great. 18 duets in the can, so to speak. Also working with Chris Jonas on Rrake and getting 7 drummers together for High Mayhem to do Traps. Also performing with Ruth Zaporah. Lots going on.

At the same time, moving to Tempe Arizona has been something of a trial. Recently I've noticed a level of irritability, restlessness and discontentment and the light bulb went off: I know! Maybe it would be a good idea to work some kind of program again, eh what? Linking up with some people here will be good. Currently not happening.

But the cactus thing has gone full tilt mad. The fantasy is to chuck everything and start a cactus farm. I know myself and the nursery business well enough to know the pros and cons of that. I think it's a fine idea but might just be the End of the World Hermit Madman settling in for a visit too.

2007 began in a funny little mobile home/"cabin" at a motel in Ajo, Arizona while three feet of snow fell on my adopted hometown of Santa Fe NM. 2008 began on a beach near Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja California, about 400 miles south of Tempe. More about the Baja trip in an upcoming post.

And I haven't forgotten about JAZZ the book, Rex Harris's interesting artifact from 1952. I haven't forgotten about anything really, despite appearances to the contrary.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I too daydream about growing things for a living, although cacti isn't my area of expertise. I've always had a fondness for the patience it takes to nurture an orchid, which is odd considering I was raised in frigid Maine. And I've also always appreciated the naked necessity and practicality of farming vegetables. Alas, my urban gardening efforts have been less than productive.

Happy new year!