Part 2 of 2 & comprising softer, kinder-gentler Jazz, Ether-Jazz & Experimental/Ambient sound…crimped, smashed & treated so as to fit the ‘elements‘ mix moniker & brand. Aural Jazz tapestry!
Presented for your listening pleasure.
01 Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang & Tigran Hamasyan – Traces X
02 Travis Theo & Robert Fripp – The Silence Beneath
03 Bersarin Quartett – Einsame Wandeln Still Im Sternensaal
04 Otto Lindholm – Isophare [excerpt]
05 Tomasz Stanko Quartet – Suspended Variations VII
06 Wolfert Brederode Trio – Black Ice
07 Otto Lindholm – Nilindigo [excerpt]
08 Eberhard Weber – Delirium
09 David Torn – So Much What
10 Lyle Mays, Marc Johnson & Jack Dejohnette – Lincoln Reviews His Notes
11 Marcin Wasilewski – Oz Guizos
12 Jan Garbarek Group – Gautes-Margjit
13 Jack DeJohnette, Matt Garrison & Ravi Coltrane – Serpentine Fire
14 Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile – Modul 5
I can’t remember the last time I listened to an entire album from start to finish.
I simply don’t do that…anymore. I used to – when I was 16 & had just bought a new Bowie or Robert Fripp album – I’d listen to the whole album – but then one track would remind me of the guitar riff by another artist…or the bass line would be similar to another song…and I began making cassette mixes (non-segued @ that time) on my TEAC double cassette deck. At the time, I’d hand draw the mix cover-art & passengers in my car would marvel at the creativity it took to put everything together in an enjoyable music mix for the road trip we were on.
And I’ve been making mixes, on & off, ever since (Round 1: 1974 ~ 1990). I had taken a break for a few years – when out of the blue, my 10 years younger brother sent me a cassette mix he had made as a way of thanking me for “saving” him from a Village People fate in which his peer group was immersed. That mix, made with a dual turntable & a mixing board, contained songs from his generation (The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Sugar Cubes, Pixies) & mine (David Bowie, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Ian Hunter) and we labeled it P.H.A.C. – Progressive Hits / Alternative Classics. The series went on for 11 more editions (and, as a side note, I’m restoring a few of them by recording the tape to a digital source). Then Eric enrolled in the Peace Corps and shipped off to Nepal (where he eventually met his wife) and I shipped him 3-4 more editions of ‘After the P.H.A.C.’ – adding acts like Monty Python into the music stream as well as narrated portions using a microphone.
That brings us to, roughly, the year 2000…when I mixed one of my all-time favorites, ‘Lanterna‘ (a tribute mix to the Henry Frayne album by the same name): initially onto cassette, then CD-R in 2004 and digitally in 2014. And I’ve never listened to the entire Lanterna album in toto – only by way of its mixed iteration.
Lanterna can be downloaded free here: Ambient Landscape’s Bandcamp, & will give you an entree into my mixing style.
That mixed reignited the art of making mixes within me, purely as a pastime, (Round 2: 2000 ~ Present) and I stumbled across the Art of the Mix website & joined their online community – posting under the moniker ‘g.a.b. l@bs‘. The site got glitchy after several years (though is still up & running), but the core group of elite mixers to which I palled around with began to fall apart. But I had had a nice run of things from 2000 through 2010 & resigned myself to posting purely on my blog & cross posting to Facebook (our FB account is no longer).
In 2015 I found Mixcloud, a streamlined version of Art of the Mix with better categorization & a worldwide membership of world-class mixers…within all the genres I participated & a lot more – and have been posting there ever since.
Mixes are, for me, the ONLY way to listen to music. When I purchase or download a new album – it goes on my phone only long enough to determine what songs I like & which ones I’ll utilize to craft a new mix…usually within the same genre – but not always (my ‘elements‘ series (Jazz) is a border-crossing mixed bag of classic Jazz, European Jazz (a la ECM) & Ambient…even Classical.
Albums are categorized into folders on my hard-drive, from whence I derive my mix play-lists & the final deliverable which is then rendered with cover art & uploaded to my phone & Mixcloud.
To my ears albums are boring – too much of one artist & not enough derivation. In fact, when shopping for music, one requirement is that it be different enough to warrant my listening attention…yet similar enough to garner inclusion for the next mix project. Thus albums, CD’s & digital collections sit idle until the master (that’s, uhm…me ; D ) hand selects compositions from same as the new mix is crafted.
There are, however, 2 albums which do reside on my phone’s hard-drive & will probably never be deleted:
…just because I consider them near perfection (within their respective genres).
Bottom line is: I love these 2 albums in the entirety! And I’m sure the reader also has his or her favorite.
So there you have it. The plastic & waxed shape of one man’s opinion on the topic of listenable forms of music. The mix is the thing: taking the creative input of artists & reshaping them into something better, something finer, something able to be shared without violating the artist’s creative world…AND, at least within the genres I mix…a final product that actually grants increased exposure of the artist & their work.
Thanks for reading and, if you have a differing opinion…please share it with me. I’ll read it…when I’m not tilting my head sideways to peruse the spines of stacks like these; in search of the perfect tune.
–listened to this earlier in the week – fabulous (earning a permanent spot on my automobile’s memory-stick play-list!)!
On Naim Records (to be released on 12, May 2017)
Yazz Ahmed has been making serious waves in the Jazz world after storming onto the scene with a commanding performance at Ronnie Scott’s with her quintet in 2010. With her next release ‘La Saboteuse’ Yazz looks set to join an pioneering group of artists such as The Comet is Coming (Leaf Label), Kamasi Washington (BRAINFEEDER), Yussef Kamaal (Brownswood) and Naim Records’ Sons Of Kemet who are flipping the jazz world on its head and breaking through to the forefront of the UK music scene with a vibrant and exciting approach to their art.
Yazz has performed with creative goliaths including Lee “Scratch” Perry and Max Romeo as well as touring worldwide with These New Puritans and laying down the Flugelhorn on Radiohead’s ground-breaking ‘King of Limbs’. Her second full length release ‘La Saboteuse’ explores the creative process and the demons that can exist within. Yazz’s transformation of this into a unique blend of psychedelic Arabic jazz is intoxicating, compelling and sonically outstanding.
Naim Records have teamed up with emerging Bristol illustrator Sophie Bass Illustration to craft a stunning visual aesthetic for ‘La Saboteuse’. Sophie’s work explores human nature and our sensual relationship with the world we occupy. Through an exploration of her Trinidad heritage Sophie developed an appetite for native art and the mythology and symbolism encompassed within, these themes are beautifully displayed in Sophie’s unique, culturally rich and symbolic style.
With La Saboteuse Naim Records will break away from the traditional model of release with the album being dropped as four chapters across streaming services in early 2017. Each chapter will have an individual cover crafted by Sophie which when combined will form the gatefold cover housing the heavyweight double LP. The vinyl and CD will be released concurrently with Chapter Four and the digital release of the full album, all landing in May 2017.
Yazz Ahmed – flugelhorn, trumpet, quarter-tone flugelhorn & Kaoss Pad
Lewis Wright – vibraphone
Shabaka Hutchings – bass clarinet
Samuel Hällkvist – electric guitars
Naadia Sheriff – Fender Rhodes & Wurlitzer pianos
Dudley Phillips – bass guitar
Dave Manington – bass guitar (sponge bass on Bloom)
Martin France – drums
Corrina Silvester – bucket, bendir, darbuka, krakab, riqq, pins, gongs, waterphone, sagat, frame drum, ankle bells & drum kit
Hungarian guitarist Ferenc Snétberger made a lot of new friends with his ECM solo debut In Concert (“a beautiful, assured performance” – All About Jazz) and will make many more with Titok, which features his trio with Swedish bassist Anders Jormin and US drummer Joey Baron. Recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in May 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher, it’s a warm and involving album, with an emphasis on intensely melodic improvisation and interaction which draws the listener gently into its sound-world.
The rapport between Snétberger and Jormin is evident from the outset, as both guitar and bass explore the contours of Ference’s compositions. Throughout, Joey Baron’s drums and cymbals provide shading and texture with restraint and subtlety.
Hungarian guitarist Ferenc Snétberger leads a trio with Swedish bassist Anders Jormin and US drummer Joey Baron in this warm and involving recording, produced by Manfred Eicher in Oslo, and intensely melodic improvisation draws the listener gently into its sound-world. The gracefully flowing guitar (Snétberger has a way of making even complex phrases seem effortless), the enveloping rhythmic undertow, and the highly creative playing from all participants captivate throughout Titok. There is soloistic brilliance here and high-level interplay, and the music takes the time it needs to unfold, breathing very naturally. The compound sound of the trio, with Ferenc’s acoustic nylon-string guitar partnered by bass and drums, is special. Joey Baron shades and colours the music with great subtlety using brushes, stick and hands, and the rapport between Snétberger and Jormin is evident from the outset, as both guitar and bass explore the contours of Ferenc’s compositions. “The dialogue here between classical guitar and Anders’s way of playing the bass seems to me unique,” observes Ferenc Snétberger. “Anders has a special ‘voicing’, a special way of entering into my music. And, together, he and Joey offer inspirations which are mirrored in my playing. Manfred’s participation was also inspiring – without his ideas, and his choice of pieces and the sequencing of them, the album could not have existed in this form.”
Titok is the second ECM album by Ferenc Snétberger. It follows the critically-acclaimed In Concert, recorded at Budapest’s Franz List Academy of Music (“A beautiful, assured performance” – All About Jazz).
Anders Jormin and Joey Baron have appeared on many ECM records, but Titok marks the first time they have played together on a session for the label (they have periodically crossed paths in live contexts – playing for instance in trio with the late John Taylor). Jormin has made several albums as a leader for ECM, most recently Trees of Light, with singer and fiddler Lena Willemark and koto player Karin Nakagawa. His other discs include Xieyi, In winds, in light, and Ad Lucem. A long-time member of the Bobo Stenson Trio, he also appears on albums with Don Cherry, Charles Lloyd, Tomasz Stanko, Sinikka Langeland and others.
Joey Baron has been John Abercrombie’s drummer of choice for two decades and appears on the Abercrombie Quartet’s newest release Up and Coming. Baron is also currently a member of the trios of Jakob Bro (album: Streams) and Gary Peacock (albums: Now This and the forthcoming Tangents, due this autumn).
Plans for further Snétberger concerts with Jormin and Baron are currently being worked on. Meanwhile, Ferenc also fronts an admirable trio with British bassist Phil Donkin and New York-based Hungarian drummer Ferenc Németh, which recently brought some of the Titok repertoire to Europe’s clubs and concert halls. In October 2017 Ferenc Snétberger will tour in trio with Anders Jormin and Ferenc Németh.
1. Cou Cou Ferenc Snétberger, Anders Jormin, Joey Baron 02:53
2. Titok (Ferenc Snétberger) 02:18
3. Kék Kerék 04:01
4. Rambling 07:22
5. Orange Tango 05:13
6. Fairytale 05:24
7. Álom 07:05
8. Leolo 05:53
9. Ease 05:23
10. Renaissance 05:14
11. Clown 05:09
12. Rush 01:53
13. Inference 02:16
Jazz & Ether-Jazz…and a [semi] return to the roots (more Jazz than Ether) of the ‘elements’ series & a look at Jazz as an ethereal/audiological force. Calling on some favorite, traditional artists (Miles Davis, Christian McBride, Sun Ra, Jan Garberek, Nik Bärtsch), some newer acquisitions (Arve Hendiksen, Teruyuki Nobuchika, the Anat Forte Trio), as well as some curves (Reto Bieri, Oene Van Geel & I-Ching), the goal was to craft a listenable & enjoyable, Jazz-oriented mix. An aural Jazz tapestry!
Tracks 2, 3 & 4 comprise a mix within a mix; with Takemitsu’s composition straddling the Metheny & Van Geel pieces.
01 Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang & Tigran Hamasyan – Traces IX
02. The Pat Metheny Group – Distance (interpolating Litany for Piano)
[03. Toru Takemitsu – Litany for Piano]
04. Oene Van Geel – Hephaestus [excerpt]
05. Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto & Bryce Dessner – The End
06. I-Ching – Prayer
07. Richard Stoltzman – Serenity
08. Reto Bieri – Carter_ Gra
09. Kronos Quartet – Euphometric (1916-1919)
10. Jan Garbarek Group – Arc
11. Miles Davis – It’s About That Time [excerpt]
12. Teruyuki Nobuchika – Into The Silence
13. Anders Jormin – Matutinum – Clausula
14. Wolfert Brederode Trio – Conclusion
15. Christian McBride – Little Sunflower
16. Sun Ra – The Beginning
17. Jack DeJohnette, Matt Garrison & Ravi Coltrane – In Movement
18. Trio 3 w/Vijay Iyer – Suite for T #II: Fallacies
19. Anat Fort Trio & Gianluigi Trovesi – Not The Perfect Storm
20. Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile – Modul 8_11
So what makes a good mix?
What separates a “mix” from a collection of songs? And why do some mixers resonate with their genre while others simply record a few similarly constructed tunes onto a playlist?
Here, in my opinion, are the beginning components of what it takes to make an outstanding mix – regardless of genre.
Experiment! I can’t tell you how many mixes I have either scrapped, left on the drawing board or left to sit while i searched for the proper compositions to accompany the “feel” of the mix.
Also – take good notes! This begins with organization in file folders:
Note the tracks you use (partials, excerpts, revisions, etc). I usually make a mix, listen to it, then revise or re-script/re-order the tracks. Once I’ve listened to the final product twice, do I even consider deleting the .aup file created by the software. After numerous revisions, you’ll forget what you mixed-blended-treated, etc. I take notes in note-pad:
Audacity (mixing software) is what I use to craft all my projects. It can do everything listed above as well as rip the output to different file formats (e.g. Bandcamp prefers FLAC files) and excerpt portions of songs for times when you just don’t wanna’ use all 27 minutes of a long-form composition ;- ] (and it’s free!)
And, finally, mix for yourself! If you like it, chances are others will too. But, if not…at least you have something listenable that you can enjoy.
What do spinning tops have to do with ambient music (one might ask)?
Well…one could field-record their rotating gyrations/machinations & turn that into an extended drone…(I suppose).
But I like them. They aid contemplation, as do ambient wave-tables & sound-slabs.
I ordered 2 for Christmas from ForeverSpin: one Titanium & 1 Stainless Steel. I keep one of them in my trouser pocket (usually the lighter Titanium), and spin them for clients (while instilling leadership content – not simply for the sake of the spin ; D ).
They’re beautiful though; wrought from a single piece of metal…and great for developing strategy & patience. Sometimes I spin them two to three times a day…& sometimes I simply ignore them (go figure!)
An Ambient-to-Jazz excursion & younger/shorter kid brother
to ‘b l a c k elements’. I had just ordered & was listening
to ‘Black Ice‘ by the Wolfert Brederode Trio & not thinking about mixing
when an email from Belgium arrived with a promo copy of some solo
Jazz improv – and the wheels began turning once again . . .
(& a shout-out & thanks to Dirk Serries for the promo copy of
.Etched Above The Bow Grip‘).
01. Ambient Landscape mix: A Compact Broken Story (Eno/Serries)
(featuring treated slices of A Compact Forrest Proposal & track 2)
02. Dirk Serries – The Broken Story End
03. Wolfert Brederode Trio – Olive Tree
04. Colin Vallon – Le Vent
06. Dave Holland Quartet – Processional
07. David Virelles – Biankoméko
08. Vijay Iyer Trio – Mystery Woman
09. Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile – Modul 18
10. Trio 3 – Shave
11. Ornette Coleman/Pat Metheny – Word from Bird