viernes, 21 de octubre de 2011

Ran Blake

Ran Blake (born April 20, 1935) is an American pianist and composer from Springfield, Massachusetts. In a career that spans five decades, Blake has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. With a characteristic mix of spontaneous solos, modern classical tonalities, the great American blues and gospel traditions, and themes from classic film noir, Blake's singular sound has earned a dedicated following all over the world. His dual musical legacy includes more than 30 albums, as well as nearly 40 years as a groundbreaking educator at Boston’s New England Conservatory.
Blake first discovered the dark, image-laden and complex character-driven films that would so influence his music at age 12 when he saw Robert Siodmak’s The Spiral Staircase. "There were post-World War II musical nuances that if occasionally banal and as clichéd as yesterday’s soap operas, were often so eerie, haunting and unforgettable," Blake would later write. "After more than 18 viewings in 20 days, plots, scenes, and melodic and harmonic surfaces intermingled, obtruding into my day life as well as my dreams."
Long before the invention of virtual reality, Blake began mentally placing himself inside the films and real-life scenarios that inspired his original compositions like Spiral Staircase, Memphis and The Short Life of Barbara Monk. The influence of the Pentecostal church music he also discovered growing up in Suffield, Connecticut, combined with his musical immersion in what he terms "a film noir world," laid the groundwork for his earliest musical style.

That early style would become codified when he and fellow Bard College student and vocalist Jeanne Lee became a duo in the late 1950’s. Their partnership would create the landmark cult favorite The Newest Sound Around (RCA) in 1962, introducing the world to both their unique talents and their revolutionary approach to jazz standards. This debut recording would also show the advancing synthesis of Blake’s diverse influences with its haunting version of David Raksin’s title track from the movie Laura and his original tribute to his first experience with gospel music, The Church on Russell Street.
The Newest Sound Around was initiated and informally supervised by the man who would be come Blake’s most significant mentor and champion, Gunther Schuller. The two began their 45-year friendship at a chance meeting at Atlantic Records' New York studio in January 1959. Less than two years earlier, Schuller coined the term "Third Stream" at a lecture at Brandeis University. Schuller was recording on Atlantic, helping to define his term in musical practice with future jazz giants like John Lewis, Bill Evans, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette Coleman. Blake came to the label to accept what he calls "a low-level position" that allowed him to be near the music of inspirations like Chris Connor, Ray Charles, and Harlem's famous Apollo Theater. Blake's long association with Schuller and modern classical music began here, and was forged by years of friendship, collaboration and innovation.

One of the only people in the music world who could see the potential of Blake’s unorthodox sounding musical style, Schuller invited Blake to study at the Lenox School of Jazz in the summers of 1959 and 1960. While in Lenox, also home to the classical music mecca at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts, Blake studied with the jazz giants who formed the faculty of this one-of-a-kind institution, Lewis, Oscar Peterson, Bill Russo, and many others, and began formulating his style in earnest. He also studied in New York with piano legends Mary Lou Williams and Mal Waldron.
A year after Schuller became president of Boston’s New England Conservatory in 1967, Blake joined his mentor and many one-time teachers and inspirations, including George Russell, as a faculty member at NEC, the first American conservatory to offer a jazz degree. In 1973, Blake became the first Chair of the Third Stream Department (now known as the Contemporary Improvisation Department), which he co-founded with Schuller at the school. He held the position until 2005.
Blake's teaching approach emphasizes what he calls "the primacy of the ear," as he believes music is traditionally taught by the wrong sense. His innovative ear and style development process elevates the listening process to the same status as the written score. This approach complements the stylistic synthesis of the original Third Stream concept, while also providing an open, broad-based learning environment that promotes the development of innovation and individuality. Musicians of note Don Byron, Matthew Shipp, John Medeski and Yitzhak Yedid have studied with Blake at NEC.
Although Blake’s teaching career would soon become the second half of his dual musical legacy, his career as an influential performer and wholly individual jazz artist is his main source of fame. Following Jeanne Lee’s departure to become one of the premier vocalists in the burgeoning avant-garde, Blake recorded the prototypical Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano (ESP) in 1965. The recording showed a clear refinement of Blake’s style of reinventing popular standards by incorporating his other influences from film noir, gospel, his favorite pianist Thelonious Monk, and composers like Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Messaien. His reputation as the major Third Stream pianist, and later an educator, soon followed, as he could improvise just as easily on a jazz chord progression as a twelve-tone row.

From 1965 on, Blake worked primarily as a solo pianist on more than 30 albums. Although most of the music was primarily informed by his film noir perspective, many of his most acclaimed recordings are tributes to artists like Monk, Sarah Vaughan, Horace Silver, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington. These tributes merged with his teaching career by inspiring an annual summer course he still teaches at NEC, thoroughly exploring the music of a single artist. He has also recorded with Jaki Byard, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Houston Person, Enrico Rava, Clifford Jordan, Ricky Ford, Christine Correa, James Merenda, David "Knife" Fabris, and others, including a 1989 reunion with Jeanne Lee. 2001’s Sonic Temples (GM Recordings) featured Schuller’s two jazz musician sons, Ed (bass) and George (drums) and was his first recording in the standard piano trio format. 2006's All That Is Tied (Tompkins Square), a solo recording, earned a crown in the Penguin Guide to Jazz and appeared on many critics' Best of 2006 lists.
Blake continues to teach at NEC and record and perform. In November and December 2007 he toured France, Germany and Italy. In January 2009, Tompkins Square released Driftwoods, an album of solo piano that pays tribute to vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson and Hank Williams. In December 2010 he toured Spain, Lithuania, Italy, and Portugal.

Ran Blake (Springfield, Massachussets, 20 de abril de 1935) es un pianista y compositor de jazz, norteamericano
Tras un primer periodo de estudio de piano clásico, Blake contacta con el jazz en 1956, tras conocer a Jeanne Lee, con la que forma un duo quse mantiene varios años. Más tarde colaborará con los escritores LeRoi Jones y Susan Sontag, y con un periódico de activismo negro, llamado "Bay state Runner". Estudia con Oscar Peterson, Mal Waldron, Gunther Schuller y John Lewis. En 1963 hace una gira por Europa con Jeanne Lee, aunque a su regreso se separan. En 1967, se traslada a Boston y trabaja en la enseñanza, apoyado por Schuller, director del Conservatorio de Nueva Inglaterra, quien lo pone al frente de un departamento específicamente dedicado a la Third Stream, donde permanece hasta 2005.

En los primeros años 1970, toca habitualmente con un grupo en el que está también Ricky Ford. En 1975 realiza una nueva gira por Europa, esta vez en cuarteto con Paul Bley. Será en Francia donde realice varias grabaciones en duo, con Anthony Braxton, Jacki Byard y otros músicos. Graba también con Enrico Rava, Steve Lacy y Clifford Jordan. En la actualidad sigue realizando giras por Europa al frente de su banda.
Blake es un músico muy sensitivo, un maestro modificando las tonalidades más conocidas de los grandes escritores de la música popular norteamericana; las desgarra, rompe y fragmenta, trasplantándolas a un nuevo mundo diametralmente opuesto al original. Aúna influencias de Thelonius Monk y George Russell, con Bela Bartok, Charles Ives o Igor Stravinsky.

jueves, 20 de octubre de 2011

Leroy Carr

Leroy Carr (March 27, 1905 – April 29, 1935) was an American blues singer, songwriter and pianist who developed a laid-back, crooning technique and whose popularity and style influenced such artists as Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. He first became famous for "How Long, How Long Blues" on Vocalion Records in 1928.
Carr was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Although his recording career was cut short by his early death, Carr left behind a large body of work in his blues recordings. His partnership with guitarist Francis Hillman "Scrapper" Blackwell combined his light bluesy piano with a melodic jazz guitar that attracted the sophisticated urban black audience. His vocal style moved blues singing toward an urban sophistication and influenced such singers as T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ray Charles among others.
Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing used some of Carr's songs and Basie's band shows the influence of Carr's piano style.

His music has been covered by notable artists such as Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, Big Bill Broonzy, Moon Mullican, Champion Jack Dupree, Lonnie Donegan and Memphis Slim.
Carr died of nephritis shortly after his thirtieth birthday.

Leroy Carr (27 de marzo de 1905 – 29 de abril de 1935) fue un cantante, compositor y pianista de blues estadounidense cuya popularidad y estilo influenció a varios artistas como Nat King Cole y Ray Charles. La canción que le hizo famoso fue "How Long, How Long Blues", grabado por la compañía discográfica Vocalion Records en 1928 y para el cual compuso la música.
Carr nació en Nashville (Tennessee) en 1905 y creció en el área negra de Indianápolis (Indiana). Colaboró con el guitarrista de jazz Scrapper Blackwell, aportando esta colaboración una influencia urbana distintiva de las voces y guitarras rítmicas de acompañamiento de los músicos blues del Misisipi; Carr fue uno de los primeros músicos blues del norte de los Estados Unidos de importancia. La compañía discográfica Vocalion Records le grabó en 1928, siendo un éxito inmediato su primera canción "How Long, How Long Blues"; así mismo, en esta canción aparecieron innovaciones como el acompañamiento sofisticado de piano y guitarra. La música experimentó una transición del guitarrista solitario en los campos al espectáculo y entretenimiento de los clubes nocturnos.

El éxito de su primera canción propició que se realizaran más grabaciones con la misma discográfica. A pesar de la depresión de la década de 1930, la cual ralentizó el negocio de las grabaciones de discos, el éxito de Carr se mantuvo, llegando a tener en 1934 varias de sus canciones en los primeros puestos de las listas. Su repentina muerte en 1935, a los 30 años, estúvo rodeada de rumores y misterio; a día de hoy, la mayoría de los historiadores creen que falleció por una inflamación de riñón como consecuencia de su alcoholismo.

lunes, 17 de octubre de 2011

Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler (July 13, 1936 – November 25, 1970) was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.
Ayler was among the most primal of the free jazz musicians of the 1960s; critic John Litweiler wrote that "never before or since has there been such naked aggression in jazz" He possessed a deep blistering tone—achieved by using the stiff plastic Fibrecane no. 4 reeds on his tenor saxophone—and used a broad, pathos-filled vibrato.
His trio and quartet records of 1964, like Spiritual Unity and The Hilversum Session, show him advancing the improvisational notions of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman into abstract realms where timbre, not harmony and melody, is the music's backbone. His ecstatic music of 1965 and 1966, like "Spirits Rejoice" and "Truth Is Marching In" has been compared by critics to the sound of a brass band, and involved simple, march-like themes which alternated with wild group improvisations and were regarded as retrieving jazz's pre-Louis Armstrong roots.
Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Ayler was first taught alto saxophone by his father Edward with whom he played duets in church. He attended John Adams High School on Cleveland's East Side, graduating in 1954 at the age of 18. He later studied at the Academy of Music in Cleveland with jazz saxophonist Benny Miller. He also played the oboe in high school. As a teen Ayler played with such skill that he was known around Cleveland as "Little Bird," after virtuoso saxophonist Charlie Parker, who was nicknamed "Bird."

In 1952, at the age of 16, Ayler began playing bar-walking, honking, R&B-style tenor with blues singer and harmonica player Little Walter, spending two summer vacations with Walter's band. After graduating from high school, Ayler joined the United States Army, where he jammed with other enlisted musicians, including tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. He also played in the regiment band. In 1959 he was stationed in France, where he was further exposed to the martial music that would be a core influence on his later work. After his discharge from the army, Ayler kicked around Los Angeles and Cleveland trying to find work, but his increasingly iconoclastic playing, which had moved away from traditional harmony, was not welcomed by traditionalists.
He relocated to Sweden in 1962 where his recording career began, leading Swedish and Danish groups on radio sessions, and jamming as an unpaid member of Cecil Taylor's band in the winter of 1962-1963. (Long-rumored tapes of Ayler performing with Taylor's group have finally surfaced as part of a ten-CD set released in late 2004 by Revenant Records.) The album My Name Is Albert Ayler is a session of standards recorded for a Copenhagen radio station with local musicians including Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Ronnie Gardiner, with Ayler playing tenor and soprano on tracks like "Summertime".
Ayler returned to the US and settled in New York assembling an influential trio with double bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, recording his breakthrough album Spiritual Unity, for ESP-Disk Records, 30 minutes of intense free improvisation. Embraced by New York jazz leaders like Eric Dolphy, who reportedly called him the best player he'd ever seen, Ayler found respect and an audience. He influenced the gestating new generation of jazz players, as well as veterans like John Coltrane. In 1964 he toured Europe, with the trio augmented with trumpeter Don Cherry, recorded and released as The Hilversum Session.
Ayler's trio created a definitive free jazz sound. Murray rarely if ever laid down a steady, rhythmic pulse, and Ayler's solos were downright Pentecostal. But the trio was still recognizably in the jazz tradition. Ayler's next series of groups, with trumpeter brother Donald, were a radical departure. Beginning with the album Bells, a live concert at New York Town Hall with Donald Ayler, Charles Tyler, Lewis Worrell and Sunny Murray, Ayler turned to performances that were chains of marching band- or mariachi-style themes alternating with overblowing and multiphonic freely improvised group solos, a wild and unique sound that took jazz back to its pre-Louis Armstrong roots of collective improvisation.

The new sound was consolidated in the studio album Spirits Rejoice recorded by the same group at Judson Hall in New York. Ayler, in a 1970 interview, calls his later styles "energy music," contrasting with the "space bebop" played by Coltrane and initially by Ayler himself. This approach continued with The Village Concerts and with Ayler on the books ESP had established itself as a leading label for free jazz.
In 1966 Ayler was signed to Impulse Records at the urging of John Coltrane, the label's star attraction at that time. But even on Impulse Ayler's radically different music never found a sizable audience. Coltrane died in 1967 and Ayler was one of several musicians to perform at his funeral. An amateur recording of this performance exists. Later in 1967, Albert's brother Donald Ayler had what he termed a nervous breakdown. In a letter to The Cricket, a Newark, New Jersey music magazine edited by Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal, Albert reported that he had seen a strange object in the sky and come to believe that he and his brother "had the right seal of God almighty in our forehead." Although it is reasonable to assume the Aylers had explored or were exploring psychedelic drugs like LSD, there is no evidence this significantly influenced their mental stability.

For the next two and half years Ayler turned to recording music not too far removed from rock and roll, often with utopian, hippie lyrics provided by his live-in girlfriend Mary Maria Parks. Ayler drew on his very early career, incorporating doses of R&B, with funky, electric rhythm sections and extra horns (including Scottish highland bagpipe) on some songs. 1967's Love Cry was a step in this direction, studio recordings of Ayler concert staples such as "Ghosts" and "Bells" with less free-improv and more time spent on the themes.
Next came the R&B album New Grass, which was generally reviled by his fans, who considered it to be the worst of his work. Following its commercial failure, Ayler attempted to bridge his earlier "space bebop" recordings and the sound of New Grass on his last studio album Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, featuring rock musicians such as Henry Vestine of Canned Heat alongside jazz musicians like pianist Bobby Few.
In July 1970 Ayler returned to the free jazz idiom for a group of shows in France but the band he was able to assemble (Call Cobb, bassist Steve Tintweiss and drummer Allen Blairman) was not regarded as being of the caliber of his earlier groups.
Ayler disappeared on November 5, 1970, and he was found dead in New York City's East River on November 25, a presumed suicide. For some time afterwards, rumors circulated that Ayler had been murdered. Later, however, Parks would say that Ayler had been depressed and feeling guilty, blaming himself for his brother's problems. She stated that, just before his death, he had several times threatened to kill himself, smashed one of his saxophones over their television set after she tried to dissuade him, then took the Statue of Liberty ferry and jumped off as it neared Liberty Island. He is buried in Cleveland, Ohio.

Albert Ayler (13 de julio de 1936 – noviembre de 1970), nació en EEUU. Fue un músico de jazz avantgarde, destacando como saxofonista, cantante y compositor.
Nacido en Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Ayler recibió sus primeras lecciones de saxo alto de su padre Edward, con quien tocó duetos en la iglesia de su ciudad. Fue al Instituto de Juan Adams, en el lado este de Cleveland, graduándose en 1954 a la edad de dieciocho años. Más adelante, estudió en la academia de música en Cleveland con Benny Molinero, saxofonista de jazz. También tocó el oboe mientras estaba en el instituto. Siendo adolescente tocaba ya con tanta habilidad que lo conocían en los alrededores de Cleveland con el sobrenombre de "pequeño pájaro," rememorando al virtuoso saxofonista Charlie Parker, que fue apodado "bird" (pájaro).
En 1952, a la edad de 16, Ayler comenzó a tocar en bares con el músico de blues, cantante y especializado en harmónica, Little Walter, pasando dos vacaciones de verano con la banda de Walter. Después de graduarse en el instituto, Ayler se unió al ejército de Estados Unidos, donde conoció y tocó junto a otros músicos alistados, incluyendo el saxofonista Stanley Turrentine. También tocó en la banda del regimiento. En 1959 lo destinaron a Francia, donde estuvo expuesto más a fondo en la música marcial, que sería una influencia base en su trabajo posterior. Después de su marcha del ejército, Ayler recae alrededor Los Ángeles y Cleveland intentando encontrar trabajo, pero su estilo, cada vez más iconoclasta, que se había movido lejos de armonía tradicional, no fue bienvenido por los más tradicionalistas.

Marchó a Suecia en 1962, donde comenzaría a grabar discos, liderando grupos suecos y daneses en sesiones para radio y uniéndose a la banda de Cecil Taylor en el invierno de 1962-1963. El álbum My Name is Albert Ayler es una sesión estándar grabada por una radio de Copenhagen con músicos locales, entre los cuales estaban Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen y el batería Ronnie Gardiner, y con Ayler playing como saxo tenor y soprano en canciones como "Summertime".
Ayler volvió a los EEUU y se instaló en Nueva York, formando un trío influyente con el contrabajista Gary Peacock y el baterista Sunny Murray, y grabando el disco Spiritual Unity, 30 minutos de improvisación de intenso free-jazz. Arropado por varios líderes del jazz neoyorquino (como Eric Dolphy que, según se dice, lo calificó como el mejor interprete que había visto en su vida), Ayler empezó a encontrar respeto y audiencia. También comenzó a influir en la nueva generación de músicos de jazz que se estaba gestando, así como en veteranos músicos, como John Coltrane. En 1964, dio una gira de conciertos por Europa, con su trío habitual, pero ampliándolo con el trompetista Don Cherry. De la gira, se grabaría el disco The Hilversum Session.
El trío de Ayler creó un sonido definitivo de free-jazz. Sin embargo, el trío todavía era reconocible en la tradición del jazz. Las series de grupos siguientes de Ayler, con el trompetista Donald Brother, erían una salida radical. Comenzando con el álbum "Bells", un concierto en vivo en Nueva York con Donald Ayler, Charles Tyler, Lewis Worrell y Sunny Murray, Ayler dio una vuelta a los funcionamientos del jazz con un sonido salvaje y único.
El nuevo sonido fue consolidado con la grabación en estudio del álbum Spirits Rejoice, e interpretado por el mismo grupo en Judson Hall, Nueva York. Ayler, en una entrevista en 1970, llama a su último estilo musical "música de la energía," poniéndolo en contraste con el bebop interpretado por Coltrane e inicialmente por Ayler mismo. Este posicionamiento continuó con The Village Concerts y también con Ayler en los libros temáticos. Para entonces, Ayler se había establecido como una etiqueta e icono del free-jazz.

Gene Ammons

Eugene "Jug" Ammons (April 14, 1925 – July 23, 1974) also known as "The Boss," was an American jazz tenor saxophonist, and the son of boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons.
Ammons began to gain recognition when he went on the road with trumpeter King Kolax band in 1943, at the age of 18. He became a member of the Billy Eckstine and Woody Herman bands in 1944 and 1949 respectively, and then in 1950 formed a duet with Sonny Stitt. His later career was interrupted by two prison sentences for narcotics possession, the first from 1958 to 1960, the second from 1962 to 1969. He recorded as a leader for Mercury (1947-1949), Aristocrat (1948-1950), Chess (1950-1951), Prestige (1950-1952), Decca (1952), and United (1952-1953). For the rest of his career, he was affiliated with Prestige.
Ammons and Von Freeman were the founders of the Chicago School of tenor saxophone. His style of playing showed influences from Lester Young as well as Ben Webster. These artists had helped develop the sound of the tenor saxophone to higher levels of expressiveness. Ammons, together with Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt, helped integrate their developments with the emerging "vernacular" of the bebop movement, and the chromaticism and rhythmic variety of Charlie Parker is evident in his playing.

While adept at the technical aspects of bebop, in particular its love of harmonic substitutions, Ammons more than Young, Webster or Parker, stayed in touch with the commercial blues and R&B of his day. For example, in 1950 the saxophonist's recording of "My Foolish Heart" made Billboard Magazine's black pop charts. The soul jazz movement of the mid-1960s, often using the combination of tenor saxophone and Hammond B3 electric organ, counts him as a founder. With a thinner, drier tone than Stitt or Gordon, Ammons could at will exploit a vast range of textures on the instrument, vocalizing it in ways that look forward to later artists like Stanley Turrentine, Houston Person, and even Archie Shepp. Ammons showed little interest, however, in the modal jazz of John Coltrane, Joe Henderson or Wayne Shorter that was emerging at the same time.
Some fine ballad performances in his oeuvre are testament to an exceptional sense of intonation and melodic symmetry, powerful lyrical expressiveness, and mastery both of the blues and the bebop vernacular which can now be described as, in its own way, "classical."
"Answer Me, My Love" written by Fred Rauch, Carl Sigman and Gerhard Winkler, performed by Gene Ammons, is featured on the soundtrack for Romance & Cigarettes (2005). He played on a Bb Conn 10M tenor saxophone with a Brilhart Ebolin mouthpiece.

Ammons is considered a major influence on the style of popular jazz tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman.
Ammons died in 1974, at the age of 49, of cancer.

Gene Ammons (Chicago, 14 de abril de 1925 - Chicago, 6 de agosto de 1974), conocido por Jug, fue un saxofonista (tenor) y teclista estadounidense de jazz. Sus estilos fueron el bop, el soul jazz y el hard bop.
Hijo del pianista de boogie woogie Albert Ammons, trabajó a los 18 años con la orquesta de King Kolax.
Su primer instrumento fue el teclado, con el que alcanzó la fama tocando en la orquesta de Billy Eckstine entre 1944 y 1947, destacando su acompañamiento a Dexter Gordon en la grabación del famoso tema de Eckstine "Blowing the Blues Away".
Trabajó también con el tercer conjunto de Woody Herman en 1949 y con Sonny Stitt a dúo a principios de los cincuenta. Con todo, su trayectoria musical fue habitualmente individual, colaborando con distintos conjuntos.

Determinados problemas con las drogas lo llevaron a la cárcel, de forma no continuada, entre 1958 y 1969. Al regresar al mundo de la música, tanteó el jazz de vanguardia.