Sun Ra And His Arkestra ‎– In The Orbit Of Ra (2014) FULL ALBUM – YouTube

This is a great album, only released in 2014. It includes alternate recordings of tunes recorded and released elsewhere, representing the best of what Marshall Allen has dug out of the vast, legendary archive. Long live Marshall Allen! Long live Sun Ra!

MILES DAVIS (Kind of Blue) – YouTube

I haven’t posted anything to this blog in quite a while. I need to make sure I do so more often.

I played parts of Kind of Blue for my students the other day, and it reinforced for me just how accessible this album is. Personally, I think the accessibility comes from the simplified modal structures of the harmonies – long single-chord phrases with few changes per tune. “So What” is the classic example with just two chord-centers for the entire composition, just a half step from one another. I love the contrast between Davis’s and Coltrane’s solos, Davis working with simple motifs in the pocket while Coltrane takes a motif and bends and twists and extends it as he was wont to do. A beautiful composition, full of ideas but built on such a simple framework. read more

Fela Kuti – J.J.D. (Johnny Just Drop!!) – YouTube

“Johnny Just Drop,” in Nigeria, is a person who visits and/or studies in Europe, drops back into Nigeria, and now promotes European values at the expense of Nigerian values. This reminds me of Fela’s other composition, “Gentleman,” in which he describes a Nigerian who promotes European values to an absurd degree, dressing in a three-piece wool suit and hat in the tropical heat to the point where he smells like piss and faints away. Fela’s lyrics are always a sly take on the absurdities and indignities of post-colonial/neo-colonial life in Africa. read more

NewBlackMan (in Exile)

The Digital Home for Duke University Professor and Left of Black host Mark Anthony Neal

Prof. Mark Anthony Neal
Prof. Mark Anthony Neal

Source: NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Check out this blog by Mark Anthony Neal. Not only highly substantive, but also visually stunning. I love Neal’s writing about music, and I’m glad to see he is a committed blogger. I’m going to spend a lot of time on this one.

George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars: Tiny Desk Concert : NPR

Source: George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars: Tiny Desk Concert : NPR

George Clinton

Groovafunkinliciousness. Yaaaas. Check out this episode of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts featuring George Clinton and (some of) the P-Funk Allstars. Strip it down to an office-friendly mini-group and it still hits the groove like a funky freight train on it’s way to Saturn. George Clinton is a groove conductor, for sure.

The Richard Davis Trio – Song for Wounded Knee (1973) [vinyl] – YouTube

The first tune is essentially “Blue Monk,” though it feels more like “A Blues for Monk.” This is a great album, featuring Davis with Jack DeJohnette and Joe Beck. Davis’s tone and intonation are spotless, and DeJohnette is at his spare-space best – never overwhelming. Beck is like a blues guitarist on a half-tab of acid, fluidly moving from the B.B. King mode to a shape-shifty jazz-ish thing. I love this album, even when it is straight up free improv. I’ll be listening to this one for a while. read more

Bias in the news media

I thought for a change I might comment for a moment on media and news sources. I found an excellent new blog titled All Generalizations are False, in which the author, Vanessa Otero, systematically breaks down news sources according to their relative biases and level of analytical thought. Below is the third iteration of her chart. Also check out her original analysis of the chart as well as her update.

a playlist of some of my music

I host a number of recordings on in order to share some of what I have composed. In the future I hope to post a lot more, but I have not always been consistent in recording my compositions.

Please note that I barely play the piano. As such, “Livingston at Deception” is a midi rendering using some really nice piano samples. The four-part composition “Mpho” is also a midi rendering using samples, though there is no piano in these pieces. “Mpho” is meant to include improvisation, so the recordings of these pieces are only a rough estimate of what the entire composition should sound like. read more