Afro-American Music

If you were expecting more Garage Sounds, forget it as we are heading into serious listening today. I suppose I should provide some context. Having been called out by the resident troll keyboard psychopath Cookie Monster as a Black Dude intent on the deflowering Sino-sisters #81 over at Peking Duck, it is a timely moment for a retrospective on some of my great moments in Black Music. Apologies for the youtube limitation, since I no longer have a vinyl collection for fact checking, etc.

We all have seminal moments which changed out musical directions and interests. One of mine took place in 1972 when I was walking home thru an inner city suburb of terrace houses in Sydney in the wee hours. The city was at peace, the garbage was out awaiting collection and the street cats had settled in for the night.

Passed a door and was stopped mid-step by a cacophony of very intense sound. Being in another cultural epoch, I knocked on the door and made inquiries. Mine host, far from being taken back, ushered me into the lounge room, offered me a cup of tea, a weapons grade spliff and cranked up the stereo. This was the track by John Coltrane – from In Transition recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1965. The John Coltrane Quartet was unquestionably the most powerful jazz unit to ever grace a stage. Afro-American Wagner powered by Trane’s tenor sax and Jimmy Garrisons polyrhythmic drumming.

Most jazz, or should I say the best jazz pianists, treat the piano as a percussion instrument. Wood, springs, hammers and a soundboard, and this is not surprising given the role of drums, marimbas and the mbira in traditional African music, and after the period of colonisation when some European instruments were appropriated.

Mbira or thumb piano

More images of this DIY instrument from google HERE.

One has a great choice of pianists, some of whom are even white, such as Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Lenny Tristano, Keith Jarrett, Randy Weston, Dollar Brand and the truly brilliant Thelonious Monk to name but a few.

In the absence of Jitney Silent Tongues – Live at Montreux, here is a similar piece by Cecil Taylor recorded in Italy 1968. Demanding listening true, and it exemplifies my point about the percussive qualities of the piano. Taylor, whom I was fortunate to see in the 90’s is well represented on the net, if he becomes your pianist of choice.

Choosing something by Miles is a hard gig as his playing went thru so many reinventions. While In a Silent Way was probably my period of choice, due in part to Tony Williams awesome drumming, lets look for something from his later Jungle Funk period.

And if your Chinese neighbours are really pissing you off, try Mile’s Tribute to Jack Johnson. Micheal Henderson’s bass playing will bring the chanderliers down on their ill-mannered heads.

To be finished later this ave, and with a change of direction.

2 Responses to “Afro-American Music”

  1. Mike Cormack Says:

    Good calls on Miles Davis – IASW is probably my favourite album (closely followed by Miles Smiles), but his jungle funk period doesn’t get the attention it deserves!

  2. kingtubby1 Says:

    Thanks Mike. I am just beginning to mine my jazz background, and it is extensive . Good to see you you back online. Cheers KT

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