|Trouble playing tunes?|
– SET I (tracks 1-8) –
– SET II (tracks 9-16) –
– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#44 + #45+ #46 + #47 + #48)
MMW @the Bowery Ballroom, Jan 13-17, 1999. What can I say? LOTS! Read below – HA! But honestly, *listen*. Just do yourself a favour and soak up EVERY NIGHT OF THIS RUN. Then, *YOU* tell me which is the best of the run – huh? I can’t decide! I’ve listened to all these gigs, so many times … and just did again, a number of times over the past few weeks. Again, was blown away, heard some sounds I hadn’t noticed before or had forgotten about, and simply had a VERY rewarding time listening through these 5 nights. We get a taste of so much different MMW, and the guys have gotten nothing but stronger as a trio by ’99 so bringing in the guests finds them wielding their trio power underneath with perhaps a little more control than we hear, by comparison, in the edgy sounds of the ’96 SHACK PARTIES — not that one run is “better” than the other, just different. Listen to both! But for now, let’s dig into these ’99 MMW sounds, and the audible space they shared so joyously with their musical guests on this 5 night Bowery Ballroom run in mid-January ’99 …
** WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 1999 **
– Wig Wise to start is a nice way to get the 5-night Bowery Ballroom run underway as it echoes back to an earlier time in jazz history, and thus Blue Note history — the run’s impetus being a celebration of Blue Note’s 60th anniversary. It’s a Duke Ellington tune from the album MONEY JUNGLE, played by a trio of Ellington on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums — it’s not a Blue Note album, but it is an old school jazz album we know the trio loves, is in some sense modeled after, and Billy has professed his love from the stage for the album — CHECK IT OUT if you haven’t! But here’s the Ellington trio playing Wig Wise:
– Then we jump ahead to the late ’90s and the full electric MMW sound with a darkly sinister improvisation — these next 10min or so are insanely tight and groovy with the trio just locked right in, leading to a Bass’n’Drums breakdown that takes us into the first known performance of Note Bleu — really cool to hear, and they play it each night of the run along with a few other tunes they focus on, but which is also a perfect example of how the band can play the same song each night and really make something new of it, for real.
– Latin Shuffle, followed by some Drum work that opens into another Improv section, with again the trio riding high together and taking us to the sweet sounds of Brigas Nunca Mais, a short percussion Improv, and then a KILLER Start/Stop to close the set — they really know how to work this tune by this time, and Logic adds a nice layer.
– 2nd set opens with some very loose open space exploration — I always wonder what’s going through the musicians’ heads in these sections? Especially some of the guests … ? I love following through these open improvisations into the more solid grooves and spontaneous compositions the band creates, but if they didn’t *lead* somewhere, I’m not sure I’d be as big of a fan … like, if this is all the band came out and did … well, maybe once in a while, but if this was there main “thang”, I couldn’t dig in as much, I don’t think. The beauty and fun in the grooves is what I love those open spaces helping to find.
– Toy Dancing comes out of the opening improvisations, and is another tune that’s featured each of these 5 nights, and we should be glad it is because EACH VERSION of this tune over the run is INCREDIBLE. Start with this one and move forward … Daniel Carter on sax is extra cool on this one …
– More Open Improvisation follows, along with some more groovy vibes, before we get what I’ve labelled as a Whatever Happened To Gus Improv because it’s not quite the tune, and it doesn’t utilize the alternate melody that the other versions do over the course of this run. Love that bassline …
– Buster Rides Again moves us into a Drums’n’DJ jam, which stops and then Psychedelic Sally (another run staple) launches out in groovy form (what happened to this tune? They don’t play it beyond spring ’99 … ?), another short Improv, leading to some further Drum and Bass work, and finishing us on a gospel vibe, as they do each night of the run (although with a different tune for the other 4 nights), we get treated to a lovely cover of Sly’s Everyday People.
A legendary historic run by some of the greatest improvisers to hit the live stage. MMW were helping Blue Note celebrate its anniversary, but now we can use these recordings — THANK YOU TAPERS!!! — to celebrate MMW any time with 5 outstanding shows, 10 sets of music, splattered with musical guests who all seem to be of like mind … yeah, a good way to start your Friday Afternoon In The Universe …
enjoy the grooves,