Robbe-Grillet’s discordant modernism

An arts journalism/literary detour: Alain Robbe-Grillet deserves better than the clip job and interview bites the New York Times's Rachel Donadio afforded him on the editorial page last weekend. His cinematic and, yes, avant-garde jazz-like (fractured, abstracted, jagged, nagging, rhythmically repetitious, cool to the point of cruel) writing style and his frequent themes (the impossibility of certain knowledge and danger of pursuing it, the eroticism of violence and chill of eroticism) were breakthroughs in the '50s but moreover exert obvious … [Read more...]

Butch Morris, jazz conductor

(slightly corrected version)Conductor of improvisation Lawrence Douglas "Butch" Morris is an East Village charmer, now-too-infrequent cornetist and internationally-known instigator of large ensemble music made spontaneously in real time by free-from-convention individuals. During a radio interview for the NPR show News & Notes, Butch identifies himself as a jazz musician not by superficial "style" but by inherent lineage, values, procedures and preferences. … [Read more...]

More from Portland

Five unusually sunny days and a sumptuous solo performance by Cecil Taylor before at least 2000 absorbed listeners marked the first weekend of the fourth annual Portland Jazz Festival. Deconstructions by musicians and critics of the words "swing," "jazz," "sound" and "music" demonstrated this was a high ol' time. What should we call it? Propulsive compositional improvisation? … [Read more...]

too much fun

jazz-beyond-jazz fans (that's yours truly!) exult in Ornette Coleman, Myra Melford's Be Bread, the Bad Plus and the overall Portland Jazz Festival … [Read more...]

Rivers’ win: Bad for jazz?

Listeners who like their music strong, fresh, mysterious, challenging might share pride in pianist Herbie Hancock's Grammy Award for River: The Joni Letters -- but some snipe it celebrates moderation more than creativity. What's your take? … [Read more...]

Top 10 2008 — to date

The commercial record industry may be in free-fall, but fresh cds continue to arrive in hopes of review, in undaunted quantity. From the year's first month, these get my attention. … [Read more...]

Me in The Wire online

Rare articles on John Coltrane, Charles Gayle and Matt Shipp -- by me -- have just been posted online by The Wire, an always-worth-reading UK publication that covers jazz beyond jazz and some music beyond even that. Subscribe to Jazz Beyond Jazz by Email … [Read more...]