It’s been an exceptionally hard winter. And I’m not talking about the weather. One of those times where I’ve been feeling cast adrift and left flailing for anything that might provide solace. Weirdly Bob Dylan has ended up being that solace. I say weirdly because I grew up with his music around me (my parents are life-long fans), but I’ve never had the slightest interest in his music. I’ve heard a ton of his music and none of it ever moved me in any direction, positively or negatively. Then this winter I started feeling a compulsion to listen to his songs. I have no idea where this compulsion came from, but I tend to follow these notions when they strike me since finding certainty in this life is a rarity. I have only a handful of his records (about 5), so I’ve just started with those: Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind, John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. I can’t say all of these records have given me the company I craved, but a couple of songs have really stuck out. “You’re a Big Girl Now” is one of ‘em. I like how for the first 5 seconds you almost think it’s gonna be some 70’s Marvin or Stevie soul jam, and then that weird clumsy guitar fill comes in and you know it’s gonna be something else. Dylan’s got really incredible phrasing here, pivoting from his croaking croon to that trademark yowl in a blink of an eye. And the lyrics are really terrific. Sometimes I find his rhymes claustrophobic, but they work here.
I’ve met these guys. They’re the kind of nice, quiet guys that you can tell are up to some weird shit when they’re out of eyesight. The video’s really dope and the song’s a pretty terrific slice of 21st-century Brooklyn pop music. I like how no matter how strange the song gets (like the breakdown from 2:00 - 3:00), you can tell this is a really carefully structured song. In a lot of ways it’s like a Brian Wilson tune but one that takes more risks. The mix is super-tight as well, one of the few times where putting the vocals behind the band sound works beautifully. You all should check these guys out as soon as you can.
I CAN NOT STOP LISTENING TO THIS. I really, really can’t. It’s one of the most mesmerizing and captivating things I’ve found in a long time. I blame Tomas Fujiwara. He posted this on his Facebook page over a year ago and since then this has been in regular rotation for me. It’s an unbelievably deep and simple (and therefore even more deep) groove. Mos Def’s tympani playing might seem like a cheap stunt, but it really, really works. I can’t imagine the tune without it. And that’s Chris “Daddy” Dave on drums. No, seriously, let that sink it: Chris, Daddy, Dave. Dude has chops to burn. He could be playing all sorts of crazy busy stuff, but he absolutely refuses to do that. What he does is play something so stripped down that one wonders how much technique he actually does have. And he does this because it’s what the music demands, it’s what makes the song really work.
Ingrid Laubrock posted this on her Facebook page a couple of months ago. I clicked on it and when I saw how long it was, I assumed I would just check 5 min. of it and then be on my way. 32 minutes and 16 seconds later I finally got up from computer. This track has everything I desire: groove, weirdness, mystery, distinctiveness, risk taking that makes you question the ability of the players. This is from my favorite period of Rollins playing. I have a bootleg of this group playing in Stuttgart and that combined with this might make them one of the greatest jazz bands in the world to me (along with 60’s Ellington, 50’s Charlie Parker, late 70’s Steve Lacy, early 90’s Braxton, etc.). You can never guess what decisions these guys are going to make, but every decision they make is just so right.
For this last pick I almost chose Future Island’s Letterman performance of “Season (Waiting on You),” but I think they’re getting enough play these days (n.b. if you have not checked that performance, you have to do that right now) and these guys are friends of mine and I want all of you out there to know about them ‘cause they’re all kinds of awesome. Dan is the saxophonist Dan Blake and Leo is madman keyboardist Leo Genovese. They made an album together a couple of years ago and it’s great hidden gem, kind of like getting Anthony Braxton together with Hermeto Pascoal in a villa owned by Ornette Coleman and Joe Zawinul. They’re music’s really organic, which is to say it’s an honest and homemade kind of weird, my favorite kind of weird. “Rat Cave” isn’t actually my favorite tracks, it’s my 2nd favorite. My favorite is “We are there” but you can only hear that one if you buy the CD. So yeah, you should probably go and do that. Buy the CD.
Josh Sinton :: composer, performer, student.