Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Eighth (and Perhaps Ninth) of Many Installments of Me

Lavelle / Mateen / Zappa Clarinets at WKCR 2009, track 1

Lavalle Mateen Zappa Clarinets at WKCR track 4

Did everyone have a beautiful Christmas? Truly the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone getting ready to have a fun filled New Year's? Gonna watch Dick Clark's Balls drop with Ryan Seacrest? Rocking, balls dropping, Times Square...isn't winter grand?

Speaking of the city of piss, these little numbers were recorded therein, again at the wonderful and totally unpisslike WKCR.

All you need to know about this session can be found at Brilliant Corners (a Boston Jazz Blog) in this post about Matt Lavelle--who was one third of the enclosed clarinet trio.

When conceptualising this trio, I had hoped for 3 alto clarinets. That didn't happen and I was very pleased in the end with the various configurations of Bb soprano, Eb alto and Bb bass clarinet as played by Matt, the fantastic Sabir Mateen and your host, me.

I played a segment from this session at Soundlines, (sort of written about here.) The promises of follow-up future group hugs from that event have desiccated, sloughed off and gotten lost in the easy to clean synthetic low pile industrial carpeting with the sensible pattern, leaving only vague and empty memories of hope for a meaningful and equitable relationship between the academy and improvisers. While it was happening, the attached pieces of music did get the attention and kudos of one Ron Coulter, who himself gave a very compelling presentation at said event.

(Ron, these are for you!)

Unfortunately, meaningful documentation of the presentations (and the presenters) has vanished from the ICASP website; yet another virtual disappointment in a long line of cyber sadnesses emanating from our beloved interwebs with regards to the documentation of that red-headed stepchild of a music, Crazy Experimental Freedom.

Regardless, the session was a joyous one. Time spent at WKCR playing Crazy Experimental Freedom Music with musicians of such high calibre is time well spent. Enjoy.

More thinly veiled swipes and semi exasperated expressions of disappointment coming your way in the next installment of the many installment of me!

copyright © 2010 Stanley Jason Zappa

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

copyright © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

A Christmas Message from Rev. Branch

To view on YouTube, click the above image. To watch via Vimeo, see below.

For more by Reverend Branch, visit his website,

© 2010 Rev. Raymond Branch, Wyatt Doyle

Friday, December 24, 2010

copyright © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Graven Images

copyright © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

"Silent Night" by Rev. Raymond Branch

To view on YouTube, click the above image. To watch via Vimeo, see below.

Recorded at the Heavenly Rainbow Baptist Church, December 2010.

For more by Reverend Branch, visit his website,

© 2010 Rev. Raymond Branch, Wyatt Doyle

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hells Jeah End Of Year List

Let's be honest; #1 on the 2010 end of year list?  Watching you-tube!

A few things came my way this year.  Our friend Max sent this delicious gem.

That's right, all of Billy Joel's greatest hits played all at once.  And indeed, this is without any question the greatest, greatest-hit of Mr. Joel's career.

Visit and say thank you.

Bill Joel not your speed?  How about Huey Lewis?

No? Abba maybe?

I'd sit through Mamma Mia if that was waiting as the grand finale.  Wouldn't you?

Speaking of sitting, hopefully you're sitting down when you listen to Lin Yu Chun's performance of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.

I know I know, what feeling to feel first?

Speaking of Chinese renditions, I got a soprano saxophone in 2010.  An Antigua Winds--you know Embrace the cold, play with fire.

Antigua Winds...who thought that up?  (Embrace the cold, play with fire...who thought that up?  Like, what the fuck can that possibly mean?)  Was it someone born and raised in North America?  If so, what demographic were they aiming for?  File that one under "do words mean anything."

It's a fine horn.  It came with a Yamaha 4c mouthpiece.  Don't call it Mr. Right, call it Mr. Right Now.  Evan Parker suggested I try the Selmer Super Session--because really, who doesn't love lots of words in a row all beginning with the same letter? 

Mr. Parker told me that at the 2010 Vancouver Jazz festival, where I saw him play with the Alexander Von Schlippenbach trio.  That was quite a thing...Paul Lovens is reverberating particularly clearly in my memory, but everyone played great.  A fantastic evening of music.  Thank you 2010.

Significant, but in a horrible way, 2010 was the year we lost Bill Dixon.

We also lost Gregory Issacs

Two very different and very beloved musicians.  NO thank you 2010.

2010 will also be remembered as the year I organized my cassette collection.  Anyone out there still rocking cassettes?  Anyone out there know an easy, "supported" hardware/software combo for digitizing cassettes using Linux?

No?  I didn't think so--but we're not going to let that stop us from loving two cassette rediscoveries.

The first features goats

The second features dogs.

If memory serves correct, 2010 was also the year Stop Requested and Black Cracker made their debut on the New Texture pan-media super corporation.  But you knew that, and probably already have copies of both, right?  I mean, Jesus H. Christ, it was on Dangerous Minds!

2010 is also the year that my electronica recording 88888888 was released.  You can buy it on CDBaby.  You can also purchase it as a download at this juncture, if that's your thing.  If it isn't, the actual "product" is a hand made edition of 33, about five of which have been foisted upon friends and disinterested music industry types.  There must be a pony somewhere, right?

2011...more digital days.  January 1, 10, 11 as well as October and November 1, 10 and 11.  November 11, 2011 should be a fun one.  Or it should be the same old nonsense.   Who can say?  What does it matter?  12-21-2012 is just around the corner!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Seventh of Many Instalments of Me

Certainly you all remember (and cherish) your time listening to The Sixth of Many Instalments of Me.  In that post, I promised you the duo 2 years later.

And here it is.  The Skrowaczewski Zappa duo, 2008.

Skrowaczewski / Zappa at Zappanale #19, Rehearsal 2008

Zappanale was many things, none the least of which being an opportunity to make more music with the wonderful Nick Skrowaczewski.

This track was recorded in the basement of the Zappanale headquarters right there in beautiful Bad Doberan Germany.  It was recorded using Nick's Edirol hand held recording device.

The basement as I recall was your typical basement rehearsal room, complete with numerous posters and empty bottles of soda strewn everywhere.  (Zappanale was a very soda-forward festival.  Nick and I got 12 2 litre bottles of soda upon arrival.  A mix-n-match pack if you will.  My favorite flavor was the no flavor flavor.  It had quite the sturdy bubble without any color or taste.)  Maybe there was also a small childrens bicycle and a dryer in the rehearsal space?  Anyhow, a real comfortable back-at-home-in-11th-grade kind of feeling.

No one was present for this recording (it was a rehearsal) and in retrospect, this might be some of the strongest work from that wee blip of productive time there in Germany.  Which makes me think about the history of music, particularly how  most of it is only known to the musicians making it.  Rehearsal are often much hipper than the actual performance.  How many rehearsal have you been to?


And with that, we wait with bated breath for the Eighth Instalment of Many Instalments of Me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Tell Me (When Jesus Was Born)" by Rev. Raymond Branch

To view on YouTube, click the above image. To watch via Vimeo, see below.

Recorded at the Heavenly Rainbow Baptist Church, December 2010.

For more by Reverend Branch, visit his website,

© 2010 Rev. Raymond Branch, Wyatt Doyle

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Sixth of Many Installments of Me

Skrowaczewski / Zappa live at WKCR 2007 by Stanley Jason Zappa

Interstellar Space...Papyrus...The Nick Skrowaczewski Stanley Jason Zappa duo? Stakes are pretty high with the duo.  It's an instrumentation that lends itself well to embarrassment and humiliation.  Unlike in the large(r) ensemble, there's no hiding in a duo.

On the flip side, the duo is a great way to share some feelings in no uncertain terms--perhaps even more so than the solo.

This track was recorded live at WKCR by Ben Young in 2007.  The three or four of you who read this blog are no strangers to the joy and awesomeness that is WKCR and it's helmsman Herr Young.  Live to 3 track?  Maybe 1/4" reel to reel tape was involved?  How soon we forget.  What was I saying again?

Music making with Nick Skrowaczewski (drums on this one) is always a pleasurable, continually morphing reality.  Next week (in the seventh of many installments of me) I'll post another duet from 2009.  Will you hear a difference?

Stay tuned to answer that question for yourself!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Josh Alan Friedman's "The Elevator Ride"

Gus was an elevator astronaut, perhaps, soaring, soaring through the 35-story heavens high above, driving his Otis car on its vertical route, o’er electrical cable and chain...

"The Elevator Ride," a short story by Josh Alan Friedman. Click here to read it now at Black Cracker Online.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Remembering Danny" by Wyatt Doyle

I learned I lost a friend today. I wish you could have met him.

Danny was a sweet old guy I meet through my kid sister. She’s a singer—she sings like an angel—and she frequently performs at senior citizens’ centers and hospice care facilities. Danny was a resident at the same place our grandfather passed his final days, and everyone there sure knew Danny. You couldn’t miss him: he used to sit out front, the unofficial greeter, enthusiastically welcoming and seeing off all who came and went. And despite the certain sadness inherent in even a fine senior living facility, a friendly hello from a cheerful soul like Danny can’t help but take some of the edge off. Not that I believe Danny thought that way; I think he just really liked people.

He adored my sister, and she was wild about him, too. She knew he and I would hit it off, so she made a point of introducing us the first time I tagged along to one of her shows there. After praising her voice and beauty to the skies, he informed me he was also a singer; and when I asked him what kind of music he sang (placing bets in my head whether it would be gospel or jazz), he surprised me by answering country and western…and also some classical—but acknowledged that was a long time ago.

I liked Danny a lot; it was near impossible not to. Confined to a wheelchair, his teeth were mostly gone and he was deeply critical of his appearance. His hearing wasn’t very good at all, and you usually had to repeat things several times before he picked up on exactly what you were saying. But he was rarely less than fully engaged—and fully engaging. Abandoned by his parents, he’d had a tough time from the very start; by his account he’d spent a lot of his life unloved and unwanted. But he didn’t dwell too heavily on the bad times, no matter that there’d been plenty of them. Maybe having survived them was more than enough; why spend the rest of your life reliving them? And while he was charming and funny and loved to talk, what really stood out was his apparently boundless joy and enthusiasm; he had an infectious laugh, and he seemed absolutely delighted by everything.

The spring before I saw him for the last time, my sister had phoned me after performing a show at Danny’s hospice. “I have some Danny news for you,” she told me. (I was always eager to hear how he was doing.) She went on to explain that as she finished her show, Danny—her #1 fan—asked if he could sing something. She always encourages her audiences to join in on the songs, so she presumed that’s what he intended. But Danny didn’t have a sing-along in mind; he wanted to solo. And before it could even occur to anyone to try to talk him out of it, solo he did, launching into an epic rendition of—wait for it—“Bali H’ai” from South Pacific. But he didn’t merely sing “Bali H’ai”; he belted the bejeezus out of it. “Bali H’ai,” loud as he could bellow. “Bali H’ai” to call the cows home. “Bali H’ai,” elongated and expanded, with new, improvised lyrics and scatting fills. “Bali H’ai” until the other residents were actually crying out, demanding he stop at once! “Bali H’ai,” no holds barred. Hearing the story I howled, and wished I could have been there. I could picture his hospice neighbors, groaning from their wheelchairs for Danny to stop, and Danny, up at the front, center stage in his wheelchair, head tossed back, singing his happy heart out. Unable to hear a word of their protests, showboating his way to his very own Bali Ha’i, wherever that may have been.

Last Christmas, I was back East and got to see Danny again. I’d been looking forward to it. We were able to sit and talk for a while after my sister’s show. He was fascinated that my camera could also capture video, and I asked him if he wanted me to record him singing something.

“What should I sing?” He asked me.

Problems viewing? Click here to watch on YouTube instead.


Later, remembering his love for country music, I asked if he wanted to do a country and western number. His poor hearing prevented him from understanding my request the first, second and third times. After the fourth, he responded, “Oh, you want me to sing a
gospel song!” (His tickled reaction to his own performance at the end of this clip makes it particularly special.)

Problems viewing? Click here to watch on YouTube instead.

copyright © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Los Dinosaurios de Perris

copyright © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Make it a BLACK Christmas!

This holiday season, why not make it a Black Christmas for the crackers in your life? Signed copies of Josh's BLACK CRACKER are available NOW for immediate shipment! Click here to order.

You'll be in excellent company, as our Xmas book trailer attests...

click image above to view on YouTube, or below to watch on Vimeo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Fifth of Many Installments of Me

Hall Skrowaczewski Zappa Trio track one, 2005 by Stanley Jason Zappa

The Hall Skrowaczewski Zappa Trio...kind of rolls of the tongue like Medeski Martin and Wood. Like MMW, the HSZ trio trafficked in rollicking good fun.

Evidence again more Studer trickery. And why not? If it kind of worked once, keep using it again and again until it is tired and old and a nuisance. Culture does the same thing all the time--why shouldn't I?

On this track, Nick Skrowaczewski plays both vibes and drums (though not at the same time). I'm guessing that the vibes were overdubed over the existing trio. There might be two vibes going at once, come to think of it.

As far as I'm aware (and for the 6 to 7 of you who visit this site, please fill in my blanks), multi-tracking hasn't really enjoyed quite the same centrality in "this music" as it has in rock.

I know Dixon used it to great effect on Octette #1 from Vade Mecum II and...that's all I can think of! Who else? Help me here!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Fourth of Many Installments of Me

Here's a real thigh slapper!

Jon Van Wie There (2004) by Stanley Jason Zappa

This fun little number was the "midcourse" for that Kings Of Dispassion (or was it Friends Family Disease Death) record that never came out. 

It is (duh) dedicated to the late great Jon Van Wie, who not only taught me (and countless others) how to play the guitar, but who also made me two mouthpieces--one for the tenor and one for the baritone.

I still play the one for the tenor--a modified Hite, that one.  The other I dropped on a cement floor, shattering it, along with my psyche.

Getting back to Jon, it's fair to say that no amount of words will ever really do justice to his genius, the gifts of "knowledge and overstanding" he freely gave, or the huge crater of sadness and loss left in the wake of his passing.

It's probably also fair that the above little number doesn't do justice to any of that either.

It was, however, another occasion to have fun with a gigantic Studer tapedeck.

I do remember playing this for Bill Dixon.  His reaction: "the out of tune piano thing isn't working."

Agree?  Disagree?