28 July 2009

Cosmic Jazz

1 Kull-i-Shay, 9 Vahid - Year Vahhab

I've been listening to some of Pharoah Sanders' early 70s records lately. Sanders guested on a lot of John Coltrane's later albums and continued 'Trane's forays into Afro-centric psychedelic jazz, much like Alice Coltrane, John's widow.

Sanders recorded the seminal Karma album in 1969. It wasn't his debut, but it was a much of a style-changer as Bitches Brew was to Miles Davis. He followed "Karma" up with a string of records, released on the Impulse label, though the early to mid 70s. The tunes would be lengthy jams, featuring African percussion and Sanders' soulful vocals. At times, he would warble and ululate, almost yodelling. Sanders would fire off sheets of sax notes, much like Coltrane's playing on Om or Sun Ship. His band would compliment the melodies - all of them seeming to operate, like most exceptional groups, on a 'wavelength' of collective thought. Cecil McBee's deft double-bass playing keeping a steady groove and Roy Haynes' drumming adding detailed flourishes to the mix.

Here is a home-made vid for Astral Traveling, from the Thembi album, released in 1971. It's a sweet, mellow instrumental that kicks off the record. I like the way that the critter who made the vid left the vinyl crackles in.

Lonnie Liston Smith, who played keyboards in Pharoah's band, left in 1972 to form his own group, The Cosmic Echoes. Their debut, Astral Traveling (familiar title there), was released in 1973. Smith also recorded several mellow/cosmic jazz albums throughout the 70s.

Here is a vid for I Mani (Faith) from the "Astral Traveling" record. It's very close, style-wise, to 'Trane/Pharoah's sound:

Both Sanders and Smith are still around and still playing. I haven't heard any of their newer offerings, so I can't give an accurate description. I'd like to think that they're still creating cosmic grooves for us to enjoy.

14 July 2009

1,2,3,4 - What Are We Fighting For?

22 Tammuz - Year 5769

Have you heard the news, young critters? It's now your patriotic duty to go and fight in Afghanistan, so says Gordon Brown. The casualties have been mounting, but the U.S. and UK armed forces are 'committed' to fighting the Taliban and are in it for the 'long haul'.

According to G.B., the war in Afghanistan is blocking a chain of terror (nooooooooo! not the chain of terror...I mean, I could accept a rope of terror..) from causing havoc in the UK. I don't have all of the facts, but are a lot of hard-core Taliban-types really looking to invade Britain? You would think that it's not really their kinda scene, what with women allowed to step outside, not wearing full burkhas. There's also films and music readily available and even small Buddha statues being sold in some shops.

What was that Hermann Goering quote again? :

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

You'd think that the above has been passed around enough times that political speeches would at least try a different tack to keep support for a war alive. Nope - it seems that advances in politics take hundreds of years to happen.

Barack Obama is increasing U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, with a plan to drive the Taliban back to the border of Pakistan. And all the chicken-hawks thought he was a leftie-softie. Nope, he ain't called "Bad Ass Barack" for nothin'. O.K., I made that last bit up--but it seems he's still under this "War On Terror" spell. And how long will the troops be there? No-one seems to know - there's vague rumblings about 'a long time'.

Let's see the track record for armies invading Afghanistan in the last 200 years. The British-Indian forces driven out after three wars. The Soviets invaded in 1979 and over 10 years fought a losing occupation war, eventually retreating with a battered army and thousands of casualties. Incidentally, the U.S. support for the mujahedeen fighters provided training for Osama bin Laden and other future al-Qeada leaders. The U.S.-led 2001 invasion may have suffered less military casualties, but the number of Afghan civilian losses definitely appears to be much more. Brown's speechwriters may want to proclaim that "we're winning and the sacrifices are worth it", but they seem to be struggling to hold on to Helmand province.

Don't worry, though - this 'liberation' of Afghanistan will go as well as the one in Iraq did. If you want to find out what's really going on in Iraq, check the blogs, like Last Of Iraqis. It don't seem to be too hunky-dory to me. But hey, c'mon kids, as Country Joe MacDonald said once: "Put down your books and pick up a gun, we're gonna have a whole lot of fun." Your country needs your healthy limbs to be ground up in their war machine to make hero hamburger. Don't you want your coffin draped with a flag?

01 July 2009

New podcast episode!

10 Tir - Year 1388

That's right, kids! I've finally got round to creating a new episode, after all of my previous shows were wiped by MyPodcast (accidentally, of course..of course). It took a bit of time, as we had computer troubles and then program installations to get through. After all that, though, it's finally ready...so get over there and have a listen.

The Kaleidophonic Stroboscope Switches On...Again!

...and for a little bit extra, here's a vid of the Sunroof remix of Can's Oh Yeah track. "Oh Yeah" was first released on the Tago Mago album in 1971. Sunroof were (are?) Mute label boss Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones. Their remix was released on the Sacrilege double-disc set in 1997. "Sacrilege" was a collection of Can re-workings by the likes of Brian Eno, The Orb and Sonic Youth. I suspect it's still available. If not, try and score a used copy. The Sunroof track is my favourite on the whole collection. Enjoy!