Playlist: September 14, 2011

KZSU, 9:00 a.m. to noon. Full playlist can be found here.  Some notes:

Bunky Green — “Tunex” — The Salzau Quartet Live at Jazz Baltica (Traumton, 2008)
Bunky Green — “Playin’ for Keeps” — Playin’ for Keeps (Cadet, 1966)

….. Playing tribute to an old cat while he’s still alive. I probably should have spun a track off of Apex, his CD with Rudresh Mahanthappa, but I really wanted to spotlight just Bunky. “Tunex” is a jumping bebop tune that quickly gets into the other-dimensional soloing that makes Bunky an artist worth watching. The older “Playin’ for Keeps” (from KZSU’s vinyl collection!) is closer to a traditional form but with a riff that I think is in an odd time signature. My older posts about Bunky can be found in these places:

Claudi Scolari — “Movement Inspiration” — Colors of Red Island (Principal, 2011) ….. Interesting album that pains widescreen lyrical backdrops, as in the prettier albums on ECM, and puts almost rock drumming over them. Interesting combination, and closer to serene than bombastic. This track has some lingering Tangerine Dream moments before the vibes and crazy drums steop in; another track called “Variation of Movement” includes some strong trumpet playing over a very ECM-like backing.

Agusti Fernandez and Mats Gustafsson — “Critical Mass 1” — Critical Mass (Psi, 2005) ….. The improv world is full of these arbitrary pairings, with so many recordings available that it’s easy for some to get lost or buried. This was a nice one to resurrect. Dark piano and prepared piano to go with Gustafsson’s punk sax attack. This track starts out all quiet and exploratory but later drags us through buzzy, noisy terrain. Cool.

Branford Marsalis — “Xavier’s Lair” — Bloomington (Columbia, 1993) ….. Selected this one because we had tickets to give away for Branford’s Yoshi’s appearance (Sept. 21 in San Francisco). Branford’s isn’t a name associated with the avant-garde, but still. The polished precision (sometimes with unexpected twists buried inside long, fast scribbles), the quilted pillowy sound — there’s something to be said for all that. Eva, a KZSU DJ very into avant-garde music, reviewed this one for the station in the ’90s, noting Marsalis had talent and ideas but didn’t say that much, and I can see that argument. I also miss an element of rawness in the playing, as I noted on a review of mine for Footsteps of Our Fathers, where Marsalis covered an Ornette tune. Still, it’s good to be reminded that some of these big-name players really did do something to earn their names.

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