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Columns > Dan Alford - Audio Files

Published: 2006/06/22
by Dan Alford

Long, Single Song Jams

Quick Picks:
JGB, 7/20/76- seriously rowdy Garcia
Herring, Rogers and Sipe, 6/3/06- A new super group is born
Phish, Live Phish Vol. 17 – Tweezer > California Love > Tweezer
Sun Ra, The Unreleased Live Album
Miles Davis, Complete Plugged Nickel, Disc 3
Ravi Shnakar, Monterey Pop, 1967
Raga Bhimpalasi
While not well versed in North Indian Classical music, as a devoted follower of Kimock and sometimes student of the subcontinent, I do find that ragas resonate with me. A particular favorite is Ravi Shankars opening piece from the 1967 at Mpop. A 27 minute solo sitar number, it is traditionally a song for the late afternoon and I find it actually does seem to mesh well with a sun sunken in the west. It begins with shifting tones that spread like pallets of buzzy ambience over which Shankar tosses splashes of design. The bulk of the performance centers around strongly voiced, fluid strains- like a continuously unraveling cord, thick and real. This is perhaps a good starting point if youre new to this type of thing, as there are no 50 minute expansions. Plus its easy to place the performance in the context of what Hendrix, Airplane and the Beatles were doing at the time. Ravis liner notes are techy, but useful nonetheless.

Steve Kimock Band, Orange Peel, Ashville, NC 11/14/04
Why Cant We All Just Samba
This half hour Samba is admittedly not that much longer than your average Samba, but it is a personal favorite. It comes from the final Mitch Stein line-up with Leo Traversa on bass. The Alphonso Johnson line-up brought SKB to its current status, with all those untouchable show, so potent and perfectly played, but I actually gravitate to this band in my daily listening because of the variety in approach. You just never knew if you were going to get blazing guitar rock, extreme, heavy darkness, or psychedelic beauty. The quartet took much of the openness from Arne Livingstons tenure, which should have been great and just wasnt, and put it to good use.
This Samba follows a particularly gorgeous (and rare) Point of No Return, beginning with a similarly spacey intro. Lots of long, sinuous notes draw out along the sides of Rodneys patchwork quilt of textures and rhythms- the drummer is the lead man here. Theres a mini raga groove about 8 minutes in that quickly reforms as a clear path to Samba. A stunning, sparse drum breakdown erupts and flows- this is music to turn up loud. Mitchs solo is playful and bright, rocketing along culverts and side alleys. It spirals and spins to a cascading climax. Steves solo, by contrast, is wicked and aggressive. Hes bending and screaming right away, an Appalachian rage. The apex is just outrageous- truly a monster version.

moe., moe.down, 8/30/03
The grand hour long Rebub begins with a rolling Arabian groove that moves through great surges of energy, Al, Jim, Rob and Chuck each stepping to the forefront in turn. Chucks vox lead has a giddy revving up underfoot, the vibes dancing all around the outskirts. The music grows anxious, and when the quintet busts into the composition, its all the sweeter. The improv takes off into a crazed disco section that roars. Al tries to draw it down, but the whole movement implodes instead. A new territory is ahead, open but still within the song. The most impressive aspect of the performance is that it always sounds like Rebub with growing tried or repetitive. The low, quietish area, squirrelly and mellow in turns, leads slowly to the final verse and chorus. After, the band falls into a weird ambient meltdown with throbbing bass and strange effects, finishing the encore with Spine of a Dog > Four. Somehow this performance always seems shorter than it is when I listen, probably because of the overall consistency.

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