Monday, April 16, 2007

Hell's Kitchen mixes up a true delicacy

When I first purchased this album, it was mainly due to my interest in Brotzmann and Cherry tracks. Little did I know, Odean Pope can really get it going! I think the first track, his Improvisation 1, has become my overall favorite from this disc. He really establishes a solid groove to explore from. I shamefully admit that despite how much I enjoy this track, I have not gone in search of any of his other efforts. Can anybody shed some light on this guy? Is he worth checking out?

About the Brotzmann track, it doesn't disappoint either (despite the fact that it is quite an adjustment from the first song). About halfway through it, I could have sworn I heard some hints at "Lonely Woman" mixed in there. Things get back to some chaos and then again, at about the ten minute mark, Brotzmann grinds through the first couple notes of it. I could be wrong (I REALLY like "Lonely Woman"--maybe it was just wishful listening?), but I thought it was pretty cool anyways. For a true version of Brotz wrenching out LW, I'll have to post the track from his 14 Love Songs album. A very powerful interpretation! (Wait, is anything he puts out not powerful?)

The next two tracks from Brackeen and Blackwell are fine, but nothing really to write home about in my opinion.

Which leaves me with the Don Cherry tracks, actually recorded in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky (US).(That's actually him on the front of the album with his spelunker hat on) Art and caves have been linked for some time now (the above picture even has a stick-guy with a drum--I thought it was fitting) but Cherry really brings it to the next level. This is some creative and earthy stuff. The reverberations and echoes from the stalagtites (the ones on the ground, right?) throughout the cave provide a powerfully haunting vibe. This is definitely something to listen to late at night when the lights are low and everything is quiet. His flute music on the sixth track is brief and not all that ground-breaking, but you can hear the running (dripping?) water in the background if you listen carefully. What I would have given to have been there! The following is from the liner notes (by Ann Mayo -reprinted from the Village Voice, November 13 1976) and describes much of the experience:

"On a morning in early October I watched the great free jazzman Don Cherry as he scaled a ledge high on the sheer wall of the Longest Cave in the World and played rocks like a xylophone. Far below, our guide had fired up two kerosen lantersns so that we were able to doff our miner's hats.

"Cherry, on the ledge, gave off vibes of the leopard-spirit of the Ngbe tribe as he improvised a roller-coaster of sound.

"Throughout Cherry's performance, producer Verna Gillis sat on the cave floor, at one with her Stellavox tape recorder, earphones like a ceremonial headress, flashback to Wild Cave Woman taking part in the first of the lost Adena Indians who inhabited proto-Kentucky a thousand years ago.

"Adjusting the AKG mircophone, in overalls with wispy hair and beatific smile, a hippie farmer, was sculptor Bradford Graves.

"Cherry darted from one rock to another, striking them with two hickory branches he'd brought along at the guide's suggestion.

"The Cherry/GIllis expedition guide, Joe McGown, realls, "Some people are just scared of caves." Grraves had been spelunking in the cave for many years and gave Gillis the idea for this unique expidition and it had taken Gillis two years to wheelde permission for his happening from the National Park Service. Gillis has been interested in silence as the other side of sound since she was 16 years old. "Here in the cave, Don is playing a kind of duet between himself and the echo."

"When Cherry played the rocks, he'd made a stronger human statement than anyone else. He also drew out an ancient Taos Indian block flut that he had borrowed from the Dartmouth College Museum and translated his breath into its sound.

"The flute/whistle sound seemed imprisoned in the cave, calling to be set free. Ancient music of this continent, it spoke of the upper regions and seemd to carry us up the steps. The journey to the end of night was over. The door swung open and we saw the late afternoon sun. Cherry broke into a grin. "I wouldn't have missed that for anything. Can hardly wait to hear the tape. But I'm not going back in any cave, not me. Once is enough."

Interesting stuff for sure. Enjoy!

Live from Soundscape: Hell's Kitchen
Various Artists
128 Rate AAC Files (Equivalent to 192 rate mp3)

Tracks and Credits:

Odean Pope Trio [Odean Pope, tenor saxophone; Gerald Veasley, bass; Cornell Rochester, drums]:

1. Improvisation 1 (14.23)
Recorded 26 February 1983.

Peter Brötzmann Trio [Peter Brötzmann, tenor saxophone; Harry Miller, bass; Louis Moholo, drums]:

2. Improvisation 2 (18.49)
Recorded 28 November 1980.

Ed Blackwell, drums; Charles Brackeen, tenor saxophone:

3. Improvisation 3 (09.20)
4. Improvisation 4 (05.45)
Recorded 16 February 1980.

Don Cherry, stalagtites (5), flute (6):

5. Improvisation 5 (08.18)
6. Improvisation 6 (02.59)
Recorded October 1978.

All recorded at Soundscape, 52nd Street, NYC, apart from (5) and (6), recorded in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.


glmlr said...

Thanks J-Bombay! Good post. Odean Pope has done a lot of fine things, including his work in Max Roach's band in the 80's on Soul Note. All well worth investigating. Plus his own "Saxophone Choir".

Mr Weird said...

I have a CD with this same Odean Pope Trio, called Out for a walk.

If it's OOP, I may be persuaded... ;-)

J-Bombay said...

Mr. Weird,

Man, I can't believe the stuff that seems to be coming out of the woodwork. I looked the Out for a Walk up and--brace yourself-- it IS out of print! As an Uzbeki law enforcement official (what an interesting read your profile was), I am sure you are trained to avoid any form of bribery, but how else might we be able to persuade you to up it? Let us know...


The Ghost of Jerry Reed said...

Dang, Mammoth Cave never sounded so good! Don Cherry was nuts, and the greatest! Thanks for the post. This made my Friday...

Mr Weird said...


I thought it had probably fallen off the radar...

What say I FLAC it sometime and send it your way for sharing with your readership?

J-Bombay said...

Mr. Weird,

A million thanks in advance! What would this place be without all of the great stuff being shared in the comments? The visitors here are the best!


atanase said...

yeah, i would be interested in that odean pope cd as well. he's done some great albums, some are questionable, but all in he's an interesting player. one of my favourite albums is "philadelphia spirits in new york" with byard lancaster on cimp... thanks for this one, been a long time since i listened to it.

djh said...

Thanks for this, I came for the Don Cherry, yet another holw in the man's enormous output, but enjoyed everything. What was it with the weird phasing on ed Blackwell's cymbal?

Reza said...

Hi Thanks for this

Here are all 4 "Catalyst" albums from whom Odean Pope was the main man ...there all killers, well worth the DL :)

J-Bombay said...

Hi Reza,

Thanks for the Catalyst albums. That is definitely some funky stuff.

As for Mr. Weird's "Out for a Walk" contribution, do you think he forgot about us? Heaven forbid!


H&H said...

I dig the Ed Blackwell part !
Thanks a lot, J-Bombay !

Peter said...

this looks like an embarassment of riches, as they say. brotzmann, blackwell, miller and don cherry banging rocks. what more can be said? thanks so much.

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Anonymous said...

quite interesting read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Oh, to have been a fly on this wall...

Oh, to have been a fly on this wall...
For those of you who don't know, this is a photo of Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker and Anthony Braxton, reed gods incarnate.