Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jason Adasiewicz-Sun Rooms-Delmark

Jason Adasiewicz-Sun Rooms-Delmark
    "Space Music" is a term of endearment I once heard Sun Ra refer to his own music. Meaning i.e. 'his' music was from 'outer space'. It was endless and timeless like the vastness of the unknown. Esoteric as that might sound to the average or casual listener the music of avatars like Sun Ra was 'heavy', ethereal almost beyond earthly comprehension.
    Despite his other worldliness Sun Ra left a grand legacy and a legion of acolytes. While it would be something of a 'stretch' to call vibist Jason Adasiewicz a Sun Ra acolyte directly it wouldn't be out of the question that his music certainly bares a stark resonance and resemblance to the bygone space man.
    A new offering, 'Sun Rooms' features the nimble handed vibist in a spare trio setting of bassist Nate McBride and drummer Mike Reed. Perhaps the most 'out there' recording coming down from above in some time, over the past decade there has been a burgeoning new movement of creative artists from Chicago. All centering around the late Fred Anderson's Velvet lounge, on the southside and on the north side The Hideout, two of the most visible venues for the new music. Vibist Jason Adasiewicz is head and shoulders amongst that loose grouping which includes artists like Keefe Jackson, Dave Rempis, Josh Berman, David Boykin and others.
    Another interesting note is that just this past year there has been an noticeable upswing in recognition of vibists signaled by the death of iconic vibist Carl Leukaufe, who died at age 76 just this past August. Chicago has had a vibes renaissaince so to speak in mainstays Kathey Kelly and Jim Cooper and in recent months surfacing are Tony Normand, Andre Earls and new comer Preyas Roy.
    But in Jason Adasiewicz we have a visionary vibist. Hence the title Sun Rooms, certainly apropos because each tune on this new Delmark release brings bright moments of shining mystery and vivid wonder. The trio moves and breaths as one organic whole. Reaching back we've already alluded to Sun Ra but what about the arid blue tinge of vibist Walt Dickerson, a man who never got his media due. Adasiewicz solid strokes mirror Dickerson to be sure. None-theless the young Chicagoan like Dickerson is a harmonic forager of sound, color and rhythm. It is not surprising that Dickerson and Sun Ra did meet in the recording studio 40 years ago. So this recording eerily haunts the melodic membranes. Monkish, yes! But more Herbie Nichols-ish. Bassist McBride moves and pulses underneath not so much as a bedrock but as a blood-flow, life giver to the music. He knows Jason's shifty moves and scales all too well. And Reed is the jackknife dancer on drums, pithy and sharp. Reed can tip toe and jump, even stomp! That's the way a drummer should be. Their peak comes by way of the odd metered 'Off My Back Jack', an unearthed tune from the unrecognized Philly pianist Hassan Ali. But there are more delights herein. Each tune is filled with the sun's warmth.
Jason Adasiewicz,vibraphone; Nate McBride, bass; Mike Reed, drums.
1.Get in There 2.Life 3.Stroke 4.Rose Garden 5.You Can't 6. Off My Back Jack 7.Overtones of China 8. Warm Valley

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ahmed Salaheldeen

Reflections on 
Ahmed Salaheldeen
L.A. Emenari, III


    I first met Brother at Malcolm X college in 1971 and was immediately struck by his wearing of the traditional Arabic headdress called a, 'kuffiyah' and most importantly by his very public acknowledgement, his recognition of an audience's applause and appreciation. He would wave or rotate his hands in a circular movement above his head. It was years afterward that he revealed its meaning to me. I never asked because somehow I knew what it mean. Supreme culture is like that unspoken, inbred and imbued.
    After all, Ahmed Salaheldeen termed his music and cultural expression as, 'International Jazz Culture' (and his name - Salaheldeen literally meant: The religion of prayer/peace).
    (Another reason I was attracted to him was because he bore a striking resemblance to my very own father. They both had this smooth round cherubim face. I used to tell him we was probably kin).
    After our initial meeting we became fast friends and he took me into his world  becoming one of my teachers of Islamic, African and International Jazz culture. We had many, many conversations over dinner, drink, laughter and even shed a few tears. Because he shared with me some of his most intimate hurts but more importantly he spoke to me mostly of love. His love of this music we call 'jazz'. He told me of humility. He was a humble being. He'd played with the very top, the elite to those not so elite. I thank him for the many lessons he imparted.
    And of those lessons was his love of Charlie Parker - BIRD. I saw him once play over at the long closed Valhalla in Hyde Park all night long Bird's bebop bounce (hours of music we would broadcast 'live' over radio station WHPK-FM), with pianist Earl DeWitt, Eddie Calhoun on bass & drummer Ajaramu. They'd swing you into 'bad health' as they say. All of them are gone now yet we still hear their sound. Then not to be outdone a week later 'Salahdeen' (as many called him), did another all Bird tribute venue, this time he broke out only his flute and bassoon! Dig that! Bird on bassoon!
    As the Muslims say, Alhamdullilah! 
    But one of the clearest of memories that struck me most about Brother was this.... When you walked into his humble abode there sitting atop his piano was a framed piece of old worn parchment with some seemingly mystic scribble. It was a photo-copy of one of his immediate ancestors Freedom Papers from American chattel slavery, that peculiar institution. He was quite proud of that rarest of documents. Not many could lay claim to such.
    He'd point to it and say, "AllahuAkbar!" (God is The Greatest)
    And now on this day we say 'AllahuAbar' because of the spirit that was sent to us in Ahmed Salaheldeen. Thank you for this jazz man who truly gave us so much of his life and his music. God is truly the greatest!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Hadley Caliman Passes

Longtime saxman out of California Hadley Caliman dies of Liver failure yesterday. I was so blessed to have spoken with him several years ago. I interviewed him for my radio show in 2006. He was very gracious and cordial. I first became aware of him thru one of his Catalyst recordings of the early 70s. He led an exciting but atypical jazzman's life. The entire world of jazz owes him a bit of gratitude.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rich Corpolongo

Rich Corpolongo - Get Happy - Delmark


    Some years ago, it seems like decades I first caught reedist Rich Corpolongo with Marshal Vente's big band. Heretofore only having a vague idea of who he was over the years hence I've come to have a healthy respect for his prodigious abilities as an accomplished musician. Not having heard any of Mr. Corpolongo's prior Delmark recordings I was in for a slap upside the head upon listening to his latest, 'Get Happy'.
    After repeated listening what came to mind was how reminiscent he was of the late Chicago legend, master saxist Joe Daley!
    Then another slap upside the other side of my big noggin when the revelation hit me like a ton of bricks! Well guess what friends? Rich Corpolongo was a Daley acolyte!
    A quick perusal of Rich's web page bore that out. He and Daley were 'thick as thieves'! They were a hot item for some years little did I know. But the history of jazz is abundant with stories like this one. Daley's gone on but Rich Corpolongo upholds his legacy. And proudly!
    "Get Happy" is a tour-de-force in your face, pure jazz sax trio if there ever was one. A master himself Corpolongo joins forces with two other masters in bassist Dan Shapera and Rusty Jones, who at this juncture in history is one of the greatest living drummers around. Highly musical and ever alert, Jones is a lyrical percussion painter who summons the nimble flexibility of a Buddy Rich to the polyrhythmic determinism of Elvin Jones. More importantly he's his own man and is a joy to hear (and to watch).
    Long noted for his alto sax and smaller reeds this time out Corpolongo handles the tenor. And man does he handle it! Could this be a 'tribute' to his mentor Joe Daley? After-all Daley was well known for his tenor-bass-drum excursions. A 'freedom' traveler well versed in the rules of the road Daley could be 'outside' yet possess a grounded 'inside' methodology. To the max degree Rich Corpolongo and his men flesh out a vibrant program of 'standards' that won't disappoint any listener. In the relaxed atmosphere of an acoustic friendly small theatre housed in the Sherwood Music School Corpolongo and crew, swing, swoop and maneuver up and over "Mangoes"; "Dewey Square"; "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" and several others including the title tune. With this superior recording one could only wish more success, notoriety and gigs for a well deserving Dan Shapera, Rusty Jones and Rich Corpolongo. Lord knows they surely can use it. An audience awaits!