The Bunky Green Challenge

I’m going to accept the challenge Ethan Iverson puts forth on his Do the Math blog.  I’m going to find out more about Bunky Green.

Iverson’s thoughts on Green’s 2006 album, Another Place, which includes Jason Moran on piano: “Wow!  They still make jazz records like this, full of this kind of grease and fire?”

Then there’s this, about Green himself:  “He turns 75 in two days and Steve Coleman wouldn’t exist without him.”

And I like that Iverson uses the word “futuristic,” the same word I use to describe that kind of other-plane soloing Coleman is known for. (And Green, apparently.)  The kind that’s not simply outside the changes; it’s using an unorthodox math to create a specific, deliberate sound, a new structure around the changes. Iverson’s choice of the word makes me feel a little bit proud, like I’ve gotten the answer right on a hard quiz.

From the sound snippets on Do the Math, taken from Green’s work on the Elvin Jones album Time Capsule, Green and Coleman do have a lot in common — the major difference being their eras. Green plays against rich, post-bop backdrops, traditional sounding stuff until his solo opens the dimensional portal and lets all the aliens in.  Coleman benefitted from a 1980s era obsessed with new things and new technology, where M-base could thrive and define some of its own rules. I remember getting so happily lost in Coleman’s Black Science album — funky, driven, and complex, but without a compass during the improvised sections.

Another descendent of Green and Coleman might be the geometric, steel-and-glass sounds of musicians like Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa. And hey look — the thing that started Iverson talking about Green was the band Apex, which includes Green and Mahanthappa and apparently recorded last week, a session to be released in the fall on Pi Recordings. Check out Ben Ratliff’s review of their show in the New York Times.


The start of baseball season always affects my musical life, partly because of baseball itself and my Rotisserie team, but also because, coincidentally, work piles up at that time — both at the radio station and in real life.  It’s been a more crowded schedule than usual this year, so I’ve done little musically. Haven’t even sought out the new Nels Cline Singers album yet, even after writing about it.

But I’m still here.  I attended a couple of very good shows on Thursday last week that I should write about. I’ve even got blurry pictures.  Polly Moller and Moe! Staiano did an interesting duet around the concept of “spoetry;” Rent Romus and Bob Marsh backed poet Robert Anbian; and I did catch one set from Scott Amendola’s Ornette Coleman cover band.

The radio show continues too, Thursdays at 6:00 a.m. Pacific.  Yesterday I played a lot more old stuff than usual, which felt good. I prefer playing newer music, but there’s such a wealth of free jazz that’s untapped.

Consider this post a placeholder, just because too many blank spots on the calendar gets embarrassing.  I’ll try to pick up the pace.  Don’t forget Record Store Day tomorrow.

Scott Amendola’s Week

Some interesting upcoming shows featuring drummer Scott Amendola:

Thursday, April 8 “The Good Life: The Music of Ornette Coleman.” Part of  SF Jazz’s Hotplate series, where local musicians delve into the catalogue of one of the greats.  Amendola (drums) has assembled a quartet of Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Trevor Dunn (electric bass), and Rob Sudduth (sax) for the occasion. Held in San Francisco at a cozy Mission District bar called Amnesia.

Goldberg, Dunn, and Sudduth all used to play together in Graham Connah‘s bands in the ’90s.  Good stuff.

Friday, April 9 — At the Starry Plough (Berkeley), a double bill.  First, Amendola vs. Blades, a funky duo with Wil Blades on organ.  Check out the review in the L.A. Times.  Then, a reprise of the aforementioned Ornette quartet.

Saturday, April 10Kinhoua, noted in this old post.  This is one of the Larry Ochs not-jazz projects, teaming up Ochs on sax, Amendola on drums, Korean vocalist Dohee Lee using her voice as a wordless instrument, and one more person — previously a cellist, this time Trevor Dunn on bass.

It’s going to be a rewarding show covering more abstract territory than the Ornette or Blades shows. The show also marks Kihnoua‘s debut CD release, on the Not Two (or is it NotTwo?) label.

Kihnoua performs at the Jazzschool in Berkeley — where I think I previously saw Kinhoua with Okkyung Lee on cello. Kinhoua then goes on for a tour of Europe starting in late April.

UPDATE 4/7, 5:00 p.m.: A message to Larry Ochs’ mailing list says the new Kihnoua CD will be available at the show for $10.  It won’t be in retail until May and will likely cost a lot more at the time, so you’ve been notified.

Radio Show: Thursday Morning Wake-Up Call

My KZSU-FM radio show is being moved this week, to Thursday mornings, 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Pacific.  Set alarm clocks accordingly.

There is every chance I’ll be taking a month or more off this quarter, but I’ll keep doing the blog. So, basically, you get fewer chances to actually hear the music but the same number of chances to read my blather.  What a deal.

Photo nicked from Flickr user EureekasWindow.

Nels Cline Anticipation

I like the promo being put behind Initiate, the upcoming (April 13) album from the Nels Cline Singers.  There’s a spiffy new front page at  And Cryptogramophone is running a contest: Answering a trivia question will make you eligible to win all four Nels Cline Singers CDs, a T-shirt, a tote bag, and a poster.  (The only caveat is that the winners are being drawn on April 31. You might have to wait a while.)

(And no, they didn’t scrub the trivia question answer from the Web. Go scout around, and along the way, you’ll pick up some interesting names  and facts from recent L.A. free-jazz history.)

For the uninitiated, the Singers are a singerless trio that plays a wide swath of outsider jazz.  Cline’s guitar runs jazzy and jangly on some tracks, with shadows of prog rock here and there, but each album also tends to have at least one rockin’, indie-sounding instrumental, and at least one drifting, tetherless, seemingly formless piece. The rich variety is all the more reason to put out a double album — Initiate being a package of one studio disk and one live disk.

And it’s the Singers who augment ROVA on the new album, The Celestial Septet.

Cline’s on guitar, of course, with Devin Hoff — formerly of the Bay Area duo Good for Cows and a host of jazz projects — on bass, and versatile mercenary man Scott Amendola on drums. (Amendola has some interesting shows coming this week. More on that tomorrow.)

Pre-ordering for the CD is available through the IndieJazz Web site — or, if you want the T-shirt and tote bag, the Wilco site.