Willie Nelson – To Lefty From Willie

To Lefty From Willie

Willie NelsonTo Lefty From Willie Columbia KC 34695 (1977)


For those who don’t know the story, Willie Nelson got his first big break in Nashville in the early 1960s as a songwriter, penning big hits for Patsy Cline, Faron Young, etc.  He also maintained a career as a solo performer, but with less commercial success.  Labels like RCA signed him more to gain access to his songwriting than for his performing abilities.  After some period of years, he developed associations with New York based record labels, relocated to the Austin, Texas area, and brought together the conservative, redneck country music crowd with the liberal, hippie rock crowd.  He struck gold with The Red Headed Stranger, his first album for Columbia records, in 1975.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Willie’s idea for a follow-up to the smash success of The Red Headed Stranger was to record a tribute album to honky-tonk legend of the early 1950s Lefty Frizzell, To Lefty From Willie.  The record executives in New York City didn’t agree with the choice, and shelved the album.  Willie went back to the studio and recorded the excellent — if under-appreciated — The Sound in Your Mind, which was released in 1976 as the proper follow-up to The Red Headed Stranger.  Columbia also released a gospel album in late 1976 recorded way back in 1973 for Atlantic Records, The Troublemaker.  After editing out a squeaky drum pedal from the recordings, Columbia eventually released To Lefty From Willie in 1977.  Willie sings alright, if not at his best, and his sister Bobbie provides some excellent honky-tonk piano, but it’s hard not to see that the New York executives had a point in balking at the album.  It’s a fairly low energy outing, held back by unambitious performances by the backing band, especially the persistently cartoonish bass of Bee Spears.  This was recorded with Willie’s touring band, who sometimes lacked both musical muscle and finesse.  It’s a fine enough album, in the end, but hardly the best Willie could do at this point in his career.  Choice track: “Railroad Lady.”

Herbie Hancock – Crossings

Crossings

Herbie HancockCrossings Warner Bros. BS 2617 (1972)


Herbie Hancock’s brief tenure on Warner Bros. Records was somewhat akin to Thelonious Monk‘s tenure on Prestige Records.  Both tend to be relatively overlooked periods tucked in between more widely known recording periods.  For Monk, his early recordings for Blue Note Records have become as highly regarded as any recordings of the 20th Century, and later albums for Riverside are fan favorites.  Yet that middle Prestige period was a fertile one that debuted many classics of the Monk songbook.  For Hancock, his early recordings for Blue Note Records have long been the subject of the mainstream jazz hype machine, with a couple of those early albums — like Maiden Voyage — frequently mentioned alongside works as well-known as Kind of Blue, and then his decades-long association with Columbia Records producing some of the best-selling jazz of all time with Head Hunters and the like.  But the middle period on Warner Bros. Records was when he radically changed his musical vision.  He reached out into fusion territory.  While Hancock’s vision wasn’t unprecedented, drawing heavily from pioneering work by Miles Davis, it was distinct.  And his early fusion recordings displayed more genuine experimentation and creativity than the near-pandering qualities of some of his later fusion efforts.

Crossings was recorded with Hancock’s Mwandishi sextet, which also recorded Mwandishi and Sextant.  Compared to its predecessor, Mwandishi, the musical approach of Crossings is quite similar.  Though if anything the band goes out a little further here.  The word most often applied to this music is “atmospheric”, and there is probably no question about that description.  Rock-oriented showiness is nowhere to be found.  What distinguishes this music from most other fusion of the day are its long-form conception and its slow, smoldering tempos.  The balance of collective and individual improvisation was key to the success of the album’s mellow yet searching tone.  An enjoyable listen, and surely among Hancock’s very best recordings, even if Sextant proves to be still better.

De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead

De La Soul Is Dead

De La SoulDe La Soul Is Dead Tommy Boy TBCD 1029 (1991)


De La Soul is lionized as one of the great hip-hop groups.  Their debut is acknowledged as a classic, and their sophomore effort De La Soul is Deal is occasionally mentioned as being as good or great an achievement, even if as a dark horse.  What I hear on this evidence is something entirely different.  I came to this while reading Thorstein Veblen‘s The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).  Taking Veblen’s theory as a starting point — and if you’ve ever read him you know it becomes hard not to! — what I hear on De La Soul is Deal is an exercise in demonstrating affluence.  This is a group that spends more time crafting in-jokes and distracting skits than they do forging proper songs.  It becomes clear that much of what they are doing is posturing.  In some eyes it was a refreshingly different type of posturing.  Nerds in hip-hop!  But this was also a middle class type of posturing, which reflected the decadence of having time to goof off and make dumb jokes rather than toiling away at activities that provide sustenance.  In Veblen’s terms, it’s conspicuous waste.  I listen to this and can’t help feeling impatient that they seem to avoid getting to the real music.  They do get there, eventually.  But I’m left with what seems like a lot less than an album’s worth of artistic craft.  Listening to this along with fellow Native Tongues group Jungle Brothers‘ finest achievement (Done By the Forces of Nature), this pales.

Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger

Red Headed Stranger

Willie NelsonRed Headed Stranger Columbia KC 33482 (1975)


After garnering his first taste of real success as a recording artist by switching to Atlantic Records in the early 1970s, Atlantic promptly closed up its fledgling country division.  This left Willie to find a new label.  He landed at none other than Columbia, home of Johnny Cash.  As Columbia pondered what to do with Nelson, he showed up with a complete album he recorded off on his own, Red Headed Stranger.  His third wife Connie had suggested he record a song he sung to his children and that he had often performed when he worked as a radio DJ prior to any success in the music business.  From that beginning, he crafted a loose concept album around the story of an Old West preacher who kills his wife and a romantic rival.  Willie had garnered his recent success by fusing elements of rock and soul music, and elaborate suites of music.  Red Headed Stranger was something else entirely.  Stripped down to just the barest accompaniment, this was music that reached back more than looked forward.  Most of the music dwells in the same rural, time-worn songwriting of The Carter Family, that has the feel of being written, sung, rewritten, sung again, and lived in for years.  These are songs about dealing with the vagarities of life and its inevitable tribulations.  There are touches of western swing added at times.  Sometimes this reaches even further back, as with “O’er the Waves” (“Sobre las Olas”) the famous Mexican composition from the 19th Century.  There are some slower, romanticized passages too, that give this a modern sheen.  For the most part, though, this album could well have been recorded in the early 1930s.  This is hard country.  But it’s also the best kind of country music: plain and from the heart.  This is the album that made Willie a superstar and a household name.

Flipper – Public Flipper Limited: Live 1980-1985

Public Flipper Limited: Live 1980-1985

FlipperPublic Flipper Limited: Live 1980-1985 Subterranean SUB 53 (1986)


Flipper was one of the great rock bands of the 1980s.  Often times the alternative and grunge rock scenes of the 1990s are described as a group of young people rejecting a bourgeois lifestyle.  This is most pronounced when young adults choose to be downwardly mobile from a middle or upper-middle class lifestyle to a lower-middle or lower class lifestyle when options to be more upwardly-mobile were available — this explains some hostility to “hipsters” (doing the same) by those who aspire to what the hipsters reject.  Anyway, Flipper was there first, of course.  There is definitely something aggressive about Flipper’s quite explicit indifference to all expectations.  “Ambition” is like a foreign word.  But this all has a point.  Flipper present a very political approach to life that is an alternative but equally “violent” tactic as Mahatma Gandhi‘s civil disobedience.  Some explanation is due.  Modern thinkers can call Gandhi “violent” in the sense that he challenged the “structural violence” of a society that was premised on exploitation and disenfranchisement of many, in other words a social structure that accepted and indeed promoted as a base foundation the conditions of sweatshops, extreme poverty and other deplorable conditions.  Flipper’s aesthetic built upon the rejection of that “structural violence”.  What made them great though, was that they built up a whole new vocabulary of sleazy, indifferent, non-cooperation that didn’t rely on the regular features of pop and rock.  When on “Life” they sing repeatedly, “Life is the only thing worth living for,” it recalls Motörhead absurdly singing, “Killed by death,” but more daringly turns new age positive thinking into a kind of empty, meaningless slogan.  Awesome.  Major record labels, like all big businesses in their own ways, are dependent upon the creative talent of musicians to exploit it and turn a profit.  By expressing no viable “talent” in the conventional sense, Flipper could exist outside of that system.  Yet, they were very talented, because you’d have to be to come up with a song like “Sex Bomb,” and because there is such a creative consistency in what they did through the 1980s.  But it was a talent that was useless to the big music industry.  Like the slogan on the band’s touring van, “Flipper suffer for their music – now it’s your turn.”  Most of the world couldn’t image why anyone would subject themselves to this music.  That’s only because of a lack of imagination of their part though.  So, of course, Public Flipper Limited is an inspiration to the rest of us.

Ole Bjerg – Making Money

Making Money: The Philosophy of Crisis Capitalism

Ole BjergMaking Money: The Philosophy of Crisis Capitalism (Verso 2014)


With Making Money, Ole Bjerg presents a philosophical — and psychoanalytic — analysis of contemporary economics and finance.  He draws explicitly from the theories of Slavoj Žižek. What he delivers is one of the most coherent offerings yet on the nature of contemporary economics.  The first parts of the book map out the basic philosophical/psychoanalytic concepts being applied, and briefly traces their roots.  Primarily, these involve assessments of the “orders” of the Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary.  These are concepts that Žižek imported directly from French psychiatrist/philosopher Jacques Lacan.  From that foundation, the theories are applied to explain the origins and conception of money itself.  This is among the most enlightening parts of the book.  Many others have explored this topic (notably, David Graeber‘s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2010), among others).  But this telling is rather concise, with much of the space in the book devoted to a theory of money that is scrupulously consistent with a single theory, rather than just a patchwork of isolated, if compelling, commentaries that stop short of articulating a unifying theory.  Then, in the final parts of the book, Bjerg tackles the elements of the recent crisis in the financial/banking sector, and concludes, briefly, with essentially a single policy recommendation.  Overall, he’s written one of the most compelling and cohesive accounts of modern economics and finance.  Although, no doubt, his reliance on the continental philosophy of Žižek for his analysis will rekindle all the usual disputes about the utility of continental philosophy.

The title of the book derives from the observation that banks are quite literally given the nearly unique privilege (aside from increasingly impotent governments) of “making money” from thin air.  In order to clear accounts between clients, and between themselves, banks use “fractional reserve” policies to loan out far more “credit money” than they possess (reserves) in terms of government-issued cash, gold, or the like.  This is sort of the basis for Bertold Brecht‘s quip from The Threepenny Opera, “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?”  Bank (credit) money now dwarfs government (fiat) money.  But in that empirical shift toward credit money, Bjerg also detects a philosophical shift.  Credit money fuels derivatives trading — the practice of banks and financial institutions making bets (default swaps, futures, etc.) derived from the “risk” associated with other financial activities (price movements on bonds or stocks, etc.).

The key narrative is an explanation of how money serves a symbolic function, and the modern world permits banks to create “credit money” independent of governments and ordinary citizens.  This narrative allows Bjerg to offer some quite substantial commentary on one of the most fundamental (and fundamentally unresolved) questions of economics: what is “value” and how is it determined?  Applying Žižek, Bjerg concludes that there is economic “value” that is a hard kernel of an unknowable truth (the Real), represented only by purely symbolic representations of “price”.  In the contemporary age, the imaginary “fantasy” in finance and economics is of “being in the market”, which posits that the mere ability to offer (symbolic) prices in the a market is the desire (ideology – in the imaginary order) that drives the economy. In neoclassical economics, statistics (math) and the “efficient market hypothesis” are the dominant ways that “being in the market” is expressed.

Bjerg faults “efficient market hypothesis” models for what Žižek has called (in In Defense of Lost Causes, referring to a Donald Rumsfield speech) “unknown knowns” in the four-part schema of kinds of knowledge: “known knowns”, “known unknowns”, “unknown unknowns” and “unknown knowns” (the last being the one that Rumsfeld neglects to mention).  The “unknown knowns”, according to Žižek, are “the disavowed beliefs and suppositions we are not even aware of adhering to ourselves.” This recalls Charles F. Kettering‘s quip, “It ain’t them things you don’t know what gets you into trouble, it’s them things you know for sure what ain’t so.”  Bjerg states that “risk management” embedded in models built on the “efficient market hypothesis” disavow the existence of systemic risk, and refuse to acknowledge the volatility and risk that they engender in the really-existing economy of the present:

“The knowledge that the model does not conform to the nature of actual reality is not incorporated into the model itself.  It remains an unknown known.”  (p. 229).

More specifically, Bjerg states:

“the unknown known of financial markets [is] the notion that prices in financial markets behave in a way that makes them subject to probabilistic reasoning.  This form of reasoning in finance presupposes the distinction between known unknowns (the direction of future price movements) and known knowns (the historic price volatility of an asset).  The unknown known is the very distinction between these two categories of knowledge.”  (p. 228).

This offers a strikingly clear explanation for how neoclassical economics can create complex mathematical formulas to model economic activity that fundamentally break down due to a lack of connection between their variables and the real world — an effort to act as if the symbolic is the real, in Žižek’s/Lacan’s terms.  The denial of the ideology that desires “being in the market” facilitates and reinforces financialization of the economy.

There is a kind of dual causality in modern finance and economics that places money further away from “real value”.  Symbolic constructs (financial derivatives) are piled on top of symbolic constructs (prices, risks), with the “belief in being in the market” seen as the endgame.  This sort of thinking ties the two symbolic constructs together such that each legitimates the other, while marginalizing the role of “real value” (production, etc.).  The inherent limits of “real” production imposed by scarce labor and raw material resources is sidestepped to allow theoretically unlimited “credit money” creation.  This sort of thinking also basically sidesteps the notion of conscious political objectives beyond the mere creation and maintenance of “a market”.  A few examples in the book highlight this.  Right after the 2007-08 financial crash, Ben Bernanke claimed that “we won’t have an economy on Monday” without a government bailout of the financial sector, which reveals a mode of thinking that only recognizes a desire for financial markets to exist (“being in the market”) and no discernible desire for other political ends, such as equality, public health and welfare, etc.  Rather than an explicit discussion of the desires that political processes should pursue, the desire for “being in the market” is disavowed — assumed away.

The analysis in Making Money is meant to be a purely philosophical proof.  This is the book’s single greatest strength.  If you come to it looking for a catalog of citations to other writers, particularly economic ones, who have reached the same (or different) conclusions, then you are looking in the wrong place.  There have been, indeed, quite many economists who have reached essentially all the same conclusions as Bjerg (Veblen, Hudson, Keen, Hossein-zadeh, Nasser, etc., etc.).  But many critical economists, all “heterodox” ones who work almost entirely outside the realm of mainstream recognition, sometimes have an unfortunate tendency to write griping tracts that wallow in a sort of “sour grapes” mentality.  They bemoan that how no matter how correct they are, no matter how logically superior their arguments, no matter how many facts support them and contradict competing theory…no one listens — going so far as to even suggest that mainstream economists get where they are precisely because they are wrong.  Bjerg cuts through all of that.  He provides, in a sense, an independent proof.  He is able to step partially outside the fray, and describe the key aspects that bound the fray, because he resorts to psychoanalytic techniques.  Making Money places continental philosophy and psychoanalysis alongside anthropology (Graeber), sociology (Bourdieu), physical science (Soddy), and maybe a few other academic disciplines lining up against neoclassical economics, which is looking increasingly isolated from all other academic disciplines and rather nakedly aligned with the finance/banking sector and their political parties in a strictly partisan way.

That recommendation Bjerg makes at the end of the book?  Well, Bjerg arrives at the same conclusion that Nobel prize winning chemist Frederick Soddy arrived at almost a century ago: elimination of fractional reserve banking.  This sole policy proposal is about denying banks the ability to create “credit money”.  However, Soddy is not mentioned here — nor, for that matter, is Marx and Engels‘ demand in The Communist Manifesto: “5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.” Instead, Bjerg cites Irving Fisher‘s “100 percent reserve” proposal, and latter-day economists who endorse Fisher’s proposal (which was adopted from Soddy).  Whatever Bjerg’s reasons for citing the people he cites, this has the implicit effect of downplaying Soddy’s reputation as a “crank” and accentuates Fisher’s status as a respected pillar of conservative economics, thereby allowing Bjerg to proffer a grand compromise between politics of the left and right to reform finance.  More than likely, Bjerg will be ignored just as much as Soddy, Veblen, and all the others.  That is too bad, because at a conceptual level this book is far more compelling than anything dealing with economics that touches the bestseller lists.

But there is something else useful about Bjerg’s critique.  His appeal is at the level of psychology.  He is not directly politically attacking the captains of finance as being “bad actors”, though the result of his proposal would be to completely remove the greatest windfall privilege of the banking and finance sector and thereby decimate the finance sector as it really exists today.  Rather, he is trying to reveal what the banking sector desires through their economic theories.  At this level, anyone can ask: is that what I desire too?  It is hard to change desires.  But psychoanalysis posits that it is possible.  Bjerg is suggesting that it is better to work to desire something (anything) in the “real economy” of production than to merely desire “being in the market”.  The elimination of fractional reserve banking would be the most direct policy approach in making such a change.  It would allow the question of how money is created to be politicized, that is, put forward as a topic for explicit political debate.

Collection of Modern Jazz

Collection of Modern JazzWelcome to a “virtual” compilation album of jazz from 1960 to 2009, intended to be an introduction to jazz music from that time period for anyone with an interest.  It is generally meant to be a follow-up to a compilation like The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, with a focus on a later time period.  In moving into more modern periods of jazz history, the listening experience can be more challenging for many because there begin to be marked departures from familiar modes of musical practice.  With regard to literary practice, the Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovskii wrote of “laying bare the device” and the technique of “defamiliarization” (or “estrangement”), which are key elements underlying most modernist art movements that, as a general rule of thumb, all rely on a fairly high degree of audience sophistication.  The same holds for modern jazz.  The music here does get quite challenging at times, and is more along the lines of serious, intensive listening music than casual background or dance music.  That is as much a reflection of trends in music history as a reflection of choices among the trove of great recordings that could easily replace the selections here.  Every effort has been made to take that into consideration in keeping the overall set as accessible as possible for relatively novice listeners, but without shying away from important recordings that make for challenging listening.  All that said, listening to this compilation should probably be prefaced with some understanding of the roots of jazz prior to 1960.  The criteria in making selections has been to attempt a reasonable sketch of the musical innovations of modern jazz, with attention also paid to historical trends in the sense of well-known sub-genres.  Songs — and some artists — already represented on other compilations like The Smithsonian Collection, have been excluded here to avoid redundancy.  It is important to note that this compilation does not track only popular, heavily marketed trends in a rote manner, and so anyone who believes the mainstream account that “jazz just died” at some time in the 1970s should probably look elsewhere for a more sanitized overview that pretends jazz hasn’t kept on surviving at a smaller scale via independent, underground, and publicly-subsidized outlets.

This collection is arranged roughly in chronological order by recording date, though it is not strictly chronologically arranged.  For each song selection, the songwriting credits, first release, recording date/location, and personnel are listed to the greatest extent possible, though precise information is not available in every case.  Compiler’s notes are given for each selection as a guide for those seeking clues as to suggested musical elements to listen for, as well as to provide reasons for the inclusion of certain tracks.  This collection is not comprehensive and exhaustive, of course, and so it does make some omissions of many great and worthy artists and recordings.  Moreover, numerous popular movements like “smooth jazz” and “acid jazz” are not represented, as some argue those are not properly called “jazz” at all, at least in the sense that their audiences tend to be outside those historically associated with jazz as such.  In order to allow a greater number of different recordings to be represented, while still allowing the collected material to hypothetically fit on a reasonable number of compact discs, many selections are presented in edited form.  While those selections deserve to be heard in their complete form, the difficult decision to present edited version seemed necessary given the length of most modern jazz recordings.  In earlier eras jazz musicians were limited by recording formats that only offered a few minutes worth of recording time.  With technological advances, recordings could be made of indefinite duration.  Many musicians have taken advantage of that fact.  With the advent of digital music, listeners programming this collection electronically can perhaps ignore the suggested time edits, which are merely a byproduct of the limitations of physical media.

Anyway, the primary objective of this collection is to serve as an educational tool to introduce new listeners to modern jazz.  It is hoped this will be a a launching pad for the exploration of the wide and varied interstellar universe of modern jazz.  It is hoped that listeners will follow up a careful review of this collection with explorations of other jazz music.  The personnel lists, record label listings and compiler’s notes hopefully provide some suggestions for additional listening.  But don’t stop there.  For more introductory jazz resources, see Jazz Resource Guide. Continue reading Collection of Modern Jazz

Iggy Pop – Préliminaires

Préliminaires

Iggy PopPréliminaires EMI 50999 6985782 9 (2009)


Iggy Pop has had a fascinating solo career.  He burst on to the scene in the late 1970s as a shell-shocked hard rock survivor who crashed the disco-era party with his unique brand of ironic electro-pop/rock.  From there, he veered all over the place, from more hard rock to palatable pop/rock but always gravitating toward rock music of some sort.  As he got older, his act just seemed more and more absurdist.  Here was a guy well into middle age still thumping away with the kind of music rarely associated with anyone over thirty.  Even at his worst moments, there was always intrigue in the sheer train-wreck quality of the spectacle of it all.  He just kept on being the same Iggy Pop…a character that fit Hunter S. Thompson‘s description of the “Brown Buffalo” Oscar Zeta Acosta in a memoir published in Rolling Stone Dec. 15, 1977: “one of God’s own prototypes–a high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production.”  In that one could laugh at his music being used in ads to sell cars and oceanliner cruises.  Something did change later on.  Almost, at least.  Iggy released the disastrous Avenue B in the late 1990s, which was leaden with despairing lyrics and hinted at some kind of bongo-laden electro-pop that didn’t rock very much.  But it looked like just a blip on the radar as he moved back to familiar hard rock with his next recordings (even if hindsight reveals at least potential in the likes of “I Felt the Luxury”).

Fast forward to 2009 (right past a horrifying reunion of The Stooges).  Iggy releases Préliminaires.  Just a few seconds into the album it is clear something is very different.  The opening “Les feuilles mortes” could pass for Leonard Cohen.  Being sung in French, comparisons to Serge Gainsbourg wouldn’t be out of place either.  The rest of the album goes off in other directions, even to spoken word (like Avenue B).  It largely stays away from rock, moving instead within the ambit of more adult-oriented pop, blues and the like.  This raises the question: why now?  It would seem that if he was going to commit to a new and different direction, he would have done it long ago.  Iggy never had a voice that could be called impressive.  Here he goes about as far as his abilities permit.  But he’s very clearly trying to push himself.  And, surprisingly enough, it all works.  Then again, maybe that’s not so surprising considering that this is just another example of Iggy being a creature of his own making, and when he does something that flies in the face of reason and common sense he’s completely in his element.  What differs most of all from his earlier failed effort at something new is that he goes for it all the way here.  He just dives in.  He also focuses on what he likes in life, instead of wallowing in hurt feelings, and he runs with musical ideas he’s probably harbored an interest in for a long time.  So no wonder this may just be a late-career classic.

Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

Wayne ShorterSpeak No Evil Blue Note BST 84194 (1966)


You don’t have to know thing one about jazz to enjoy Speak No Evil. As party jazz or a stepping stone of mid-sixties post-bop (that leans ever so slightly towards the avant-garde), this album seems to appeal to everyone who hears it.

Wayne Shorter made a name for himself as a brilliant songwriter. Speak No Evil even features one of his most beloved standards, “Infant Eyes,” which is the song that often brings people to the album. The mistake some make is to only think of Shorter as a songwriter. His sax style was his own, with a smooth melodic style like Freddie Hubbard only much mellower. In 6/4 on “Wild Flower,” Shorter’s lines create graceful motions. Hubbard and Shorter mix vibrato perfectly with the dance-like melody.

The horns sound bright even though, when you get down to it, the harmonies are unusual. Take the swinging 32-bar number “Witch Hunt” or the robust blues ballad “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum.” Shorter makes each song a classy affair. The album is somewhat eclectic in the songwriting, but it floats so effortlessly off the disc that there is no trick to taking it in its entirely. “Speak No Evil” is among the more distinctive tunes. Its medium tempo falls perfectly between a casual lope and a driving jaunt. Shorter steps outside his usual self. He soloing is more textural. Against precisely executed dissonant intervals Shorter and the band make themselves right at home. Again, as interesting as the compositions and improvisation is, there is no need to understand any of it to enjoy it all. Wayne Shorter as a bandleader gave opportunities for each of the stars in his band to shine. There was a lot of shining to be done.

Herbie Hancock slides in and brings along much of the style of the Miles Davis Quintet.  He is relaxed enough that his piano performances jump out from the rhythm section without having to force it.

Of course, the entire band is brilliant. It’s that something extra a bandleader can’t plan for. The December 24, 1964 recording session had everyone stealing the show simultaneously.

Classic jazz doesn’t get any more classic than Speak No Evil. No matter how or what you like in music, you can find it all here. Dig it now rather than later.

Cultural Detritus, Reviews, and Commentary