The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Jazz Rock/Fusion

The year was 1972. I was moving up from my associate degree at Norwalk Community College to complete my bachelor’s degree at the University of New Haven. It was an exciting time in my life. I enrolled in my junior year classes that fall. Little did I realize that the course I signed up for last-minute, Introduction to Music, would open before me an incredible path of music discovery and direction.

The music teacher started our class by playing sitar in the middle of the room for 30 minutes as he welcomed us to world music and eastern influences. He went on to articulate what he had been taught and experienced as a student himself at Wesleyan University. I was so hooked on what he had to say to us that morning. I decided right then and there that I would minor in music. I took six music classes at UNH, all ably taught by world music professors and alumni of Wesleyan University.

One recording we heard often in my first music class was Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Inner Mounting Flame. The record grew on me as we were permitted uninterrupted, meditative listens during class. I had never heard music so powerfully stated yet so eloquently executed. If it wasn’t for this music class, I may have never discovered jazz rock/fusion at its core from Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Left to right: Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John...
Left to right: Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Rick Laird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I listen to The Inner Mounting Flame 41 years later, still intrigued by its rich textures, that machine gun guitar from John McLaughlin and the powerful drumming of Billy Cobham. The layered effect of Jerry Goodman on violin, coupled with the driving bass and sharp tones by Jan Hammer. A once in a lifetime collaboration. My favorite song on this recording is, “You Know, You Know”.

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The Mahavishnu Orchestra followed The Inner Mounting Flame with Birds of FireI didn’t think it was possible for jazz rock/fusion from The Mahavishnu Orchestra to soar any higher. It took off for the stratosphere on Birds of Fire. I did my college term paper (which I so wish I still had somewhere) on Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. He afforded me a wonderful interview from his Jamaica Queens apartment. We recorded it on high-end reel to reel on a Scully Tape system at the WNHU-FM radio station. Alas that has been lost to me too, sigh.

 Thankfully I saw The Mahavishnu Orchestra live at Staples High School in the summer of 1973. They were very skilful in their concert. I can still visualize John McLaughlin arched to the heavens playing the double neck guitar. I can also see Billy Cobham playing behind his massive plexiglass drum kit.

A Festival of Serious Fun Awaits You In New Haven

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Last night we attended the International Festival of Arts and Ideas season preview which is scheduled to take place June 16-30, 2012 all around New Haven. New Haven continues to figure prominently in my world music consciousness.  I minored in music at the University of New Haven in the early 70s. Many of my music professors were graduates of the prestigious Wesleyan University world music program.

This blog post will highlight the major music events announced that interested us. Please note the entire schedule of events which features 900 artists from 17 countries will be available at the end of April on the  official International Festival of Arts and Ideas Web site.

The music events have two major themes. The Music At Dusk series is a paid ticket. This series will be held at the Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall at the Yale School of Music. The music event that intrigues is 34 Punaladas an Argentine tango guitar quartet. They sound delightful and fresh.

The other major theme will be the free concerts, Headliners on the New Haven Green. We have been to several free concerts at this picturesque, historic setting. Its fun to bring a picnic basket, chairs and a blanket as you listen to live music in the fresh open air.

The free concerts we contemplate are:

  1. Asphalt Orchestra – June 17  (7 pm)- I love their rendition of Frank Zappa’s Zomby Woof
  2. The Carolina Chocolate Drops – June 23 (7 pm)
  3. Red Baraat & Noori – June 24 (7 pm) – Red Baraat is a fiery blend of raucous Indian bhangra combined with funky New Orleans brass
  4. Roseanne Cash – June 30 (7 pm) – I am excited that Roseanne Cash will perform The List, a paean to her father, Johnny Cash.
Now that the Litchfield Jazz Festival and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas plans are announced, I have one more 17th annual Connecticut music festival to learn about 🙂  Monday, April 2nd the line up for the Gathering of the Vibes festival in Bridgeport, Ct will be unveiled. Then I will be able to author my, “How I spent my summer music vacation” paper for back to school in the fall 😉

In Pursuit of More Jazz

One of my 2012 New Year’s resolutions is to include more jazz in my life. In pursuit of more jazz the first two concerts of 2012 were jazz events. We saw Tim Berne‘s quartet at the Rubin Museum in the Chelsea district in New York City and the Lionel Loueke Trio at Wesleyan University (for free) in February.

I am hemming and hawing about catching Vijay Iyer at Birdland and Wayne Escoffery at the Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in NYC in April. We have decided to pass on the Newport Jazz Festival 2012 due to the cost of a hotel stay being out of our price range.

A jazz festival I want to attend instead is the Litchfield Jazz Festival in Goshen, Connecticut. I received e-mail notification that tickets are now on sale for the 17th Annual Litchfield Jazz Festival to be held August 10-12. We’ve been spending more time in Litchfield County the past few years as patrons of Infinity Hall. The Litchfield County environs offer a picturesque setting with a rolling pastures set against the Connecticut hills.

Saturday August 11th looks like the best day of events. I am very interested in seeing the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet play.

2012 Festival Line-Up

StagePage – I Love This App!

This is the app I have waited for! I have attended live concerts for 43 years now. So wish I had the StagePage iPhone app from the beginning 🙂

I read about StagePage at evolver.fm. If you are into music apps (and you know you are…) you must follow the evolver,fm Web site. It is published by the definitive cloud music metadata borg, the.echonest.com 

Now I can complete my long overdue task to document all the concerts I have witnessed. It’s just the tool I have looked for to get r done.

I will begin by using it tonight at the Lionel Loueke Trio concert at Wesleyan University.

I should soon know how close I am to achieving that 500th concert. 😉

Great job on this app Alexcel!

Charles Lloyd – Athens Concert

JazzTimes October 2011 coverI have read a perceptive article about Charles Lloyd, “The Fires Are Still Burning”. The JazzTimes story is authored by my favorite jazz music journalist, Ashley Kahn. (Webzine edition can be found here.)

Ashley Kahn is the author of several pivotal jazz books in my collection. I have come to depend upon him to unlock the inner secrets of jazz legends and he has never failed my expectations. His article expands the depth and vision of Charles Lloyd spiritual saxophonist/band leader.

I saw the Charles Lloyd Quartet at the beginning of this year in concert at Wesleyan University. I wrote about that stellar experience in this blog post. Wesleyan University was so taken with my concert review I was awarded two free tickets to a concert of my choice, anytime in the future.

The year got busy on me and I lost sight of Charles Lloyd’s musical output.  ECM released Athens Concert on September 13, 2011 and I meant to get a copy at that time. The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

Fortunately life provides second chances and as luck would have it I found the JazzTimes article so I ordered a copy of Athens Concert. It’s due to arrive today by parcel post from Amazon. I am eager to delve into this double-disc package recorded live at the outdoor Herodion amphitheater at the base of the Acropolis. Every bone in my body tells me this is a monumental work consisting of 18 well articulated, melodic songs.

I’ve never been to Greece nor have I sat in an outdoor stone amphitheater to listen to jazz under the stars. Athens Concert affords me the rare opportunity to carry out both without leaving the comfort of my listening chair.

I can’t wait to report back to you what I have discovered about Athens Concert. (Reserves this space to share with you what I will learn and absorb shortly…)

Charles Lloyd Quartet - Mirror (Album Cover)

Performance Spaces

Yesterday I wrote about Pi Recordings and the importance of their role with avant-garde jazz music. (see Related articles link) Time did not let me write more in-depth about the focused two-week event that Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang are curating at The Stone. The Stone is a non-profit performance space in New York City, dedicated to experimental and avant-garde, in the East Village.

The events planned  by Seth, Yulun and Pi Recordings at The Stone show a cornucopia of avant-garde talent. If we can get it together we want to attend one of the events 8/29-8/31…

Performance Space Events in 2011

Five of the 23 music experiences we attended in 2011 have taken place in performance space settings. Our association with intimate, well designed acoustic spaces commenced in January. My wife and I attended a winter concert at Wesleyan University by The Charles Lloyd Quartet.

We followed that event with the first of two performance space concerts at Stage One Theatre in Fairfield, Ct with Joe Sample on piano in April (we just saw Jimmy Webb in late July at this space).

The next avant-garde performance space event featured the Anthony Braxton Septet at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT in May.

Then just last week we enjoyed the swampadellic music of 7 Walkers at the Nancy Marine Studio in Torrington.

Fingers crossed we can add to the repertoire of performance space and avant-garde jazz  events we saw with what Pi Recordings is curating at The Stone!

Eric Harland, Jazz Drummer

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Eric Du’sean Harland is the most captivating, innovative drummer I have seen perform live. I am still reeling from watching the magic his percussion made with the Charles Lloyd New Quartet this past Friday evening at Wesleyan University.

Here is a YouTube clip that will give you a taste of what I am sweetly savoring 🙂

Eric has an impeccable sense of timing. His command of the drum kit and the sticks is extraordinary to witness.

Visit Eric Harland‘s Web site, it’s a very engaging experience. I am digging the music loop.

You will be hearing and seeing much more from Eric Harland, trust me, he’s the real deal!