“In early 1971 Sun Ra was artist-in-residence at University of California, Berkeley, teaching a course called “The Black Man In the Cosmos”. Rather few students enrolled but the classes were often full of curious persons from the surrounding community. One half-hour of each class was devoted to a lecture (complete with handouts and homework assignments), the other half-hour to an Arkestra performance or Sun Ra keyboard solo. Reading lists included the works of Madame Blavatsky and Henry Dumas, the Book of the Dead, Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons, The Book of Oahspe and assorted volumes concerning Egyptian hieroglyphs, African American folklore, and other topics.”
“Although Rahsaan Roland Kirk and John Cage never actually meet in this film (Cage’s enigmatic questions about sound are intercut with some of Kirk’s more ambitious experiments with it) these two very different musical iconoclasts share a similar vision of the boundless possibilities of music. Kirk plays three saxes at once, switches to flute, incorporates tapes of birds played backwards, and finally hands out whistles to his audience and encourages them to accompany him, “in the key of W, if you please.” Cage, on the other hand, is preparing a work for musical bicycle with David Tudor and Merce Cunningham at the Seville Theatre in London. Cage meets Rahsaan’s music in an echo chamber, and he ends his search for the sound of silence in his favorite spot — the anechoic chamber — where it turns out to be the uproar of “your nervous system in operation.” — Martin Williams, JAZZ TIMES
The William P. Gottlieb Collection, comprising over sixteen hundred photographs of celebrated jazz artists, documents the jazz scene from 1938 to 1948, primarily in New York City and Washington, D.C. In 1938 Gottlieb began working for the Washington Post, where he wrote and illustrated a weekly jazz column–perhaps the first in a major newspaper. After World War II he was employed as a writer-photographer for Down Beat magazine, and his work also appeared frequently in Record Changer, the Saturday Review, and Collier’s. During the course of his career, Gottlieb took portraits of prominent jazz musicians and personalities, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Ray McKinley, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, and Benny Carter. This online collection presents Gottlieb’s photographs, annotated contact prints, selected published prints, and related articles from Down Beat magazine.
“Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse, whose name was also spelled Edgar Varèse (December 22, 1883 – November 6, 1965), was an innovative French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States.
Varèse’s music features an emphasis on timbre and rhythm. He was the inventor of the term “organized sound”, a phrase meaning that certain timbres and rhythms can be grouped together, sublimating into a whole new definition of music. Although his complete surviving works only last about three hours, he has been recognised as an influence by several major composers of the late 20th century. His use of new instruments and electronic resources led to his being known as the “Father of Electronic Music” while Henry Miller described him as “The stratospheric Colossus of Sound”.
“Today’s post is something I stumbled upon in the dark and dusty corners of the Internet, a tape recording of composer Edgar Varèse conducting a workshop of Jazz musicians in the year 1957. Here is the original announcement of the MP3 release of these tapes.
Edgard Varèse conducts a workshop with jazzmen Art Farmer (trumpet), Hal McKusik (clarinet, alto sax), Teo Macero (tenor sax), Eddie Bert (trombone), Frank Rehak (trombone), Don Butterfield (tuba), Hall Overton (piano), Charlie Mingus (bass), Ed Shaughnessy (drums), probably John La Porta (alto sax)… We don’t know who is on vibes…
It might be the first free jazz recording (totally unissued) of History of Music. Varèse might have influenced jazzmen or was he only aware of what was happening on the jazz scene? No matter of the answer, it’s a bomb, as this music is 3 years earlier than Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman! We also know Charlie Parker wanted to study with Varèse in autumn 1954 but the composer flew to Europe to conduct Déserts. When he came back to New York in May 1955, Parker had already died. We also know that Varèse used to listen to John Coltrane at the Village.
Between March and August 1957, these Sunday jam-sessions were followed by arranger George Handy, journalist Robert Reisner, composers James Tenney, Earle Brown and John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham. The organizers were Earle Brown and Teo Macero who will become Miles Davis‘ producer among others. Varèse used certain extracts of the workshop for his Poème électronique.
The original of this tape is at Fondation Paul Sacher.
“Please excuse the crappy audio quality, it is the best we have.”
“John William “Trane” Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.
Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He was prolific, making about fifty recordings as a leader during his recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk. As his career progressed, Coltrane’s music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane, and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist.
He influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history. He received many awards, among them a posthumous Special Citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2007 for his “masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.”
“Sun Ra (birth name: Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony’r Ra; (b. May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his “cosmic philosophy,” musical compositions and performances.”