Columbia : 1971
MD, electric trumpet; John McLaughlin, electric guitar; Gary Bartz, soprano and alto sax; Keith Jarrett, electric piano; Michael Henderson, bass; Airto Moreira, percussion; Jack DeJohnette, drums.
Thanks for all the insightful and provocative comments on the previous post. They’ve got us thinking about entry points to the music and the tunes that first got us passionate about this thing more-or-less called “jazz.”
For Chilly, the moment was clear cut. It was buying the box set Miles Davis: The Columbia Years 1955-1985:
Some friends were jazz aficionados and recommended it for the selections from Kind of Blue and the classic 1960s quintet. Making my way through the discs I thought it was interesting but hardly overwhelming. It wasn’t until I reached the last disc that a switch got flipped. The track was “Sivad” and it was like nothing I had ever heard.
What the fuck was it? There were hiccuping spaced-out effects, a bouncing groove, and an electrified trumpet that almost sounded like a guitar. The tune seemed to bound in three directions at once. It only lasted three minutes and I played it over and over. It was thrilling and made my heart sweat, but I couldn’t seem to get to the bottom of it. There wasn’t a category in my mind for this type of music. This was… jazz?
My jazz friends were appalled that I had latched on to something they claimed was obvious crap and not even jazz. They told me I had missed the point. But while they cringed at the idea of Miles playing electrified trumpet through a wah-wah pedal, I couldn’t imagine anything cooler. Plus this was one of his very best solos. Later, I began to thrill to the different pleasures of the Gil Evans collabs and the ’60s quintet, but it never lessened my esteem for the untamed brilliance of “Sivad.”
Above is the three-minute edit of “Sivad” from the Columbia set (for the full length version, see the amazing Live-Evil). If you’re feeling it, tell a friend to check it out, buy the download, etc. etc.
And: What jazz tunes initially lit you up and eventually led you here?
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Some commenters have wondered whether it matters if “jazz ” withers on the vine. This is a not illegitimate question. Obviously it matters to us, otherwise we wouldn’t bother running this site and would keep the tunes to ourselves. From the get-go, we’ve believed lots of people would dig this music if only they were exposed to it. This is our exceedingly humble attempt to push a little more beauty into the world. (See also the fab ongoing series about Jazz Now at the redoubtable Blog Supreme.)
The “Armstrong/Parker/Coltrane continuum” could go away and the planet would keep spinning. Access to (g00d) jazz is not a protected right. There are more important things to worry about and you are free to worry about them. But let’s not forget that most adventurous jazz has thrived only when people stuck their neck out for it – booking clubs, starting labels, hosting loft throw-downs, etc. There’s always been a strain of activism keeping the music alive. Nobody gets rich off this music and it’s a labor of love all around. But it’s important to make sure the musicians get paid for their hard work and creativity. Or not, but what kind of world do you want to live in?
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NEXT MONDAY: Stay tuned for an exclusive preview of the new Henry Threadgill album This Brings Us To, which lands in October. We’ll have two choice tracks and highlights from an interview with Threadgill about his first album in almost nine years some time. It’s an impressive one, too.