Unquestionably one of the titanic figures of 20th century music, Thelonious Monk composed and performed mountains of material that now has classic status, but during his initial heyday in the 40’s, it was often dismissed as too quirky, too dissonant, too…weird. Well, Monk’s work is indeed all of those things, but in just the right amount. There is an uncanny air of ineffable mystery that permeates his playing that is striking. His style is angular, uses silence beautifully, and is deeply personal and idiosyncratic. Although hugely influential, no one has ever sounded remotely like him.
Great moments in so-called Fusion. Miles pretty much invented it, then along came Mahavishnu Orchestra. The latter’s John McLaughlin is a towering instrumentalist, and is featured also in Davis’s Jack Johnson. Belew and Fripp are gods. But perhaps this music’s most brilliant practitioner might be guitarist Allan Holdsworth. A titan of the instrument, revered by Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, and countless others, Holdsworth’s improvisations induce breath-holding and goosebumps.
Addendum: as this post evolves, more will be revealed. Inserting now some Weather Report, featuring Wayne Shorter. And *now*, Jeff Beck.
And furthermore: Pat Martino. And Larry Coryell.
Eric was simply otherworldly in his approach, especially on bass clarinet and alto saxophone. A number of jazz titans held him near and dear, including Charles Mingus and John Coltrane, with whom some of his most stunning work was achieved. No one sounds remotely like Eric Dolphy. In his improvisations, he could be intensely intimate and tender, or utterly explosive and groundbreaking, or both, often in rapid succession.
Upon hearing of Eric’s death, at 36, Mingus said:
” Usually, when a man dies, you remember—or you say you remember—only the good things about him. With Eric, that’s all you could remember. I don’t remember any drags he did to anybody. The man was absolutely without a need to hurt.”
Dolphy’s shocking death came shortly before the release of his masterpiece Out to Lunch. He was supposedly very interested in playing in Albert Ayler’s group, and was even preparing to play with Cecil Taylor.
Two of the most important and enthralling creators in jazz.
Saxophonist John Coltrane’s impossible power as an improviser simply cannot be described. He provided one of the high water marks in music history with his ground-and-everything-else-breaking work in the 1960’s.
The great McCoy Tyner, a phenomenal, electrifying pianist, first came to prominence as the keyboardist for John Coltrane’s quartet, in 1960. He went on to bedazzle countless listeners as a bandleader himself. Born December 11, 1938, Tyner died today, March 6, 2020. He will be mourned by millions.
A sampler, from upper-echelon practitioners of the art.
A sampler/primer of some of the greats. Some neglected gems. Some masterworks. Some __________.
Titans of improvised music display their immense powers.