Sunday, April 29, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - April 25/07

As i was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself...New York Latin Hustle is another triumph for Soul Jazz.
This comp explores the roots and branches of Cuban rhythms through the works of Puerto Rican and Dominican practicioners in NYC from the 50s to the 80s. The excellent liner notes trace the socio-economic context right back to the First World War. They weave a compelling narrative to accompany the well curated super diverse selection spread over two discs - which bounces from bomba to disco to mambo to funk. Any comp that mixes Loose Jointz into Machito is all right by me.

soulful drums - idris muhammad (prestige)umoja - nicole mitchell & black earth ensemble (dreamtime)
slow blues - zmf trio (drip audio)
jeden tag - hausmeister (nature bliss)
lacie - theodore & hamblin (moteer)
away without leave - nexus feat. fritz hauser (nexus)
ciew mawele - issa bagayogo rmx by adham shaikh (sonic turtle)
griot ba - ba cissoko (totolo)
oile la la - forro in the dark (nublu)
i wanna hook up with you - jimi tenor (ubiquity)
reflexiones - nilo espinoza (vampisoul)
que equivocao'o - telmary (bis)
locos por mi habana - manolito simonet (egrem)
el bolinski en D7 - charlie santiago & eddie montalvo (soul jazz)
balaio de gato - celso machado (festival)
watcha gonna do about it - mustangs (numero)
these eyes - alton ellis (heartbeat)
swing easy dub - dub enforcement agency (indie)
rhythm collision (mad mix) - ruts dc & mad professor (select cuts)
desiree dub - keith hudson (pressure sounds)

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - April 18/07

I was all set to talk about the great new Soul Jazz comp "New York Latin Hustle", but - damn! I just can't help but fire off a few lines about the song which followed the Latin version of "Ain't No Stoppin Us Now".

Tito Puente needs no introduction to anyone - he was the foremost name in Latin music in the USA for more than 5 decades. The disc that totally converted me was "Puente In Percussion". A few years ago when the Fania/Tico etc. catalog was scattered among several licenses throughout the world, the French label Declic/Globe issued some two dozen titles of greater and lesser known works. Puente In Percussion has been in and out of circulation since the mid 50s when it was recorded. In a way, it relates to the questions I was asking myself in the post about Ziya Tabassian. Here's a drum based record which is predominantly about groove, but given the absence of "tonal" instruments except for Bobby Rodriguez' bass, it's all about the sonic capabilities of timbales, bongos, congas and cowbells.
There's an all-star cast, each one a legend in his own right. Conguero Mongo Santamaria is well known to jazz fans as the author of Coltrane standard "Afro Blue", his version of "Watermelon Man" and damn near causing a riot with his playing in the Fania All Stars Yankee Stadium concert. Carlos "Patato" Valdes is the only participant of this session who's still alive, still grooving into his 80s, responsible for inventing the tuneable conga drum. Most impresive of all is Willie Bobo, who got a 9.6 from Pitchfork. Giants all, but no one outplays the alpha male of Latin percussion, Mr. Puente. He is always on point in every song, heck, with every note, playing with authority and absolutely beautiful phrasing.
Supposedly this session was completely off the cuff, with a bottle of rum being passed around for inspiration. The locked-in rhythms of four percussionists and a bassist riffing off the primary rhythms of Cuba are astonishing. This music is trance-inducing from 15 seconds in. Never is there a desire on the listener's part for some other instrumental sweetener the mix, this is an uncompromising percussion jam which blows away so much of the exotica of the 50s. Perhaps this led to the friction surrounding its release - though Puente was a well established mambo star at that point, this album makes no concessions to pop music forms. "Stick On Bongo", from the last show, is audio testimony of the homicide of a set of bongos. Alternating between mighty wallops and more subtle inflections, each moment says "yeah, I meant to do that".
Here's some You Tube for you - Puente's Latin Percussion Jazz Ensemble (with Alfredo De La Fe on violin!) doing a wicked version of Irakere's signature tune "Bacalao Con Pan"

chtau - co streiff sextet (intakt)
soul to groove - kahil el zabar infinity orchestra (delmark)
urban practise - dell and flugel (laboratory instinct)
next step - zmf trio (drip audio)
steppengraskrieger - reuber (staubgold)
portugal rua rua - glissandro 70 (constellation)
elyoyo - wganda kenya (soundway)
no nos parasan - la charanga 76 (soul jazz)
stick on bongo - tito puente (tico)
parallel views - fuze (wama)
les oreilles de punk - nilan perera (synaptic circus)
moth shaped - tiny hairs (false walls)
agne tolona - hadja kouyate (frikyiwa)
ethiopia - jah beng (cornerstone)
global warning - ras myrdack (minor 7 flat 5)
k2500 - twilight circus (roir)
favi rock - abassi all stars (universal egg) great video showcase!
shine dub - 10ft ganja plant (roir)
i shall be released - freddie mcgregor (studio one/soul jazz)

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Abstract Index Playlist - April 11/07

No playlist this week. The show consisted of interviews on top of CDs on continuous play. The music of William Parker/Hamid Drake, Keith Hudson, the Colombia collection on soundway, the new comp of sounds from Bermuda from the Numero Group set the pace for your generous pledging!

The news this week was yet another successful pledge drive - thank you! The interviews spotlighted a diverse cast of musicians from around the city, with the focus on community radio and how it helps their respective endeavours. I tried to steer the conversations to common themes among people who had never met. For instance, I asked both Christian Saldivia from Son Ache and A Man Called Warwick to talk about their different approaches to Latin music and the possibilities and pitfalls of combining these fan bases. The commonalities seem strong when you think about it: Son Ache is dedicated to hardcore, back-in-the-day son with a touch of jazz, toughened up for a contemporary dancefloor. AMCW's Turning Point highlights tropical rhythms from back in the day, often with jazzy influences, recontextualized for a contemporary dancefloor. Yet these two veteran Toronto musicians had never met, and it's likely that they have two entirely separate audiences despite their similarities - a gig in the making? It's always tough to pull off the band + DJ vibe at one event, the flow can be choppy. But surely there is room for cross-promotion.

The same questions were posed to Rob Piilonen of the AIMToronto. Asked about the links between Toronto and Canada's jazz industry and the improvising musicians in toronto, Piilonen was quick to draw a distinction between two streams that are often lumped together. In fact, he maintained that many of the improvisers in the city want nothing to do with Jazz FM and don't come from a jazz background whatsoever. Nevertheless, the trained instrumentalists who are improvisers have more opportunities for gigs - I could see ace flautist Piilonen being Toronto's Dave Valentin over some Latin band, and in the past I've expressed the desire to see jazz musicians get a chance to get as free as they wanna within an AIMT event.

Finally, superheavyREGGAE's (and likeminded Thymeless mainstays DJ Chocolate, Patrick Roots and Zion Gate) genius is in uniting uptown and downtown scenes with their contemporary but classic sound modern roots plus soundsystem freestyling which has something for every flavour of reggae fan. That resonates with me, because the way I play reggae is to mix it up stylistically as much as possible, from Euro-dub to Studio One, which inevitably generates the most calls from listeners. And the listeners did indeed call on this night - thanks once again for your continued support!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It's time for CIUT's Spring Membership drive. Starting tomorrow and continuing until the 17th, you're sure to find special programming throughout the schedule. The Abstract Index is no exception.

Typically, I don't emphasize live events during fundraising shows, but this time around I'll be joined by a diverse crew who each have exciting events taking place this weekend. It's an odd assortment of guests who nonetheless fit right in to what the Abstract Index has to offer. I'm even going to try to link the interviews together thematically...

The guests are:
6:15 PM: Christian Saldivia of Son Ache - releasing their CD, Aprovechame!, at Six Degrees on April 13
6:30 PM: A Man Called Warwick - hosting Turning Point at the Gladstone, April 14
7PM: Rob Piilonen - part of the AIMT Interface with Rainer Wiens, April 12-14, at the Arraymusic space and the Now Lounge
7:30PM: superheavyREGGAE - with their monthly jam at Thymeless, April 14

I just counted up the CDs to be given away - 34 so far! Tune in and win!

If you read this after tomorrow (April 11), you can still pledge online.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

This Month In Print

This was a good month for Exclaim articles. I have two pieces in the "Points" section of the magazine this month - Autorickshaw and Tinariwen.

The interviews couldn't have been more different. I sat with Suba Sankaran and Ed Hanley of Autorickshaw for over an hour, talking about a wide range of subjects (as befits their South Indian experiment). I spoke with Abdallah from Tinariwen in my increasingly disjointed French (French immersion, why have you forsaken me?), while he was on a mobile driving down the highway somewhere in France. Sometimes it's not good to put snap, crackle, pop into your morning interview.

You can read about Tinariwen here, and Autorickshaw, who release their latest CD "So The Journey Goes" at Lula Lounge on April 11, here.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - April 4/07

Gotta hand it to Ambiances Magnetiques for being such an adaptable label over its 25 year history. I interviewed their prime mover Joane Hetu a few years ago and was thoroughly impressed by her dedication, steeliness, and pragmatism to the difficult business environment of difficult music (and she's a kickass improviser). What's struck me most - and this came up during the interview - was how a loose, anarchic collective managed to keep itself together to forge a sonic identity while still welcoming sounds and participants who have nothing to do with the original collective.

At one point AM was seemingly bound up in the cultural developments of Quebec from the 60s to the 80s. Hetu told me that this was something of a fallacy - the original members of the collective had no explicit national or separatist agenda, and the government of Quebec did not support their early years because this kind of culture was too weird for the the kind of language-centric official Quebecois culture that was being promoted during the 80s. It was only when AM (and the Festival International De Musique Actuelle a Victoriaville) became better known internationally that greater attention was paid to it by provincial funding bodies.

The last ten years have seen the label expand into a distribution concern to market all kinds of experimental music from across the province. Their vanguard status in Montreal has been at least challenged by Constellation and Alien 8 Recordings (though it's an apples and oranges situation in terms of comparing the music), but AM have released new generation artists such as Sam Shalabi, Alexandre St. Onge and others as well as being at least peripherally associated with the incredible binary star venue Casa Del Popolo/La Salla Rosa. They've expanded into distribution which encompasses other likeminded labels from around Quebec. Furthermore, AM have embraced lots of Anglo talent from Montreal and beyond: Rainer Wiens (in Toronto for an AIMT Interface this weekend), Tom Walsh, Lori Freedman and Toronto stalwart Michael Snow. An exciting new wrinkle is the issue of records which expand the Quebec/Canadian paradigm with global-minded improv by musicians such as Wiens, Ganesh Anandan and this week's blog star, Ziya Tabassian.

There’s no shortage of solo drum or percussion ensemble discs in the world. However, very few of these discs attempt to explore their subject matter in such a purely sonic way (I would be grateful to find out about others, though). This marks Tabassian's "Tombak" as an important building block in what will surely become more commonplace in years to come. Recorded live with no edits or overdubbing after the fact, Tombak shows Tabassian in total control of his instrument. He is well known in Quebec as a proficient player of this single headed, goblet shaped drum, but here he eschews pattern-based regular rhythms in favour of scraping, scratching and advanced tonal manipulation of this incredibly versatile instrument. Tabassian capitalizes on the quick and sensitive response of the tightly bound drum head to create everything from pure bass pulses to wind-like howls. Here's a sample:

Seul Devant Soi - Ziya Tabassian

kumisuru 1 - sato yukie/yagihashi tsukasa/higo hiroshi (jabrec)
hibiki - emily hay/marcos fernandes (trummerflora)
seul devant soi - ziya tabassian (ambiances magnetiques)
we see - hat and beard (indie)
song of the highwire shrimper - tim hecker (alien 8)
nr45 - badun (rump)
ache - peder (ubiquity)
maranata - maranata (vampisoul)
chopper 70 - wayne cochran (king/vampisoul)
que nega e esa - trio mocoto (crammed/zirguiboom)
le grand dome - biosphere (touch)
breathe between sleep - christ (benbecula)
jupiter jam - hipsta workaz (ubiquity)
alien - ananda shankar (times square)
los feligreses - luis santi y su conjunto (jazzman)
romaria - lura (times square)
que que tu fez - forro in the dark (nublu)
la samaria - orquestra nunez (soundway)
peace and love - shaumark and robinson (trojan)
jah a de creator - michigan and smiley (soul jazz/studio one)
step to jah dub - nucleus roots (universal egg)
civilization - the dub project (m)

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Radio Active Dub

A bit late on throwing this up on the blog, but here it is.

Live and direct DD and MM (all we need is YYYY?) for the first time EVER in a clubwise and dubwise setting. I've oft expressed admiration for the pungent low end at Thymeless, and we're gonna give it a workout in support of CIUT this Saturday night. The night gets going around 9, 9:30. Please join us!

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