Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Case of the Missing DVD (Dark Tales of the Black Forest) Part 3

The plot thickens.

CDJapan is now listing a DVD called "Recorded Live At Montreux Jazz Festival/Chick Corea & Return To Forever" as available for pre-order, with a release date of February 18, 2009 - two weeks prior to the scheduled release of the 2CD set. It is listed as a single disc, but at 151 minutes and priced at ¥3800 or $41.29, it may be two discs.

That's the good news.

The not-yet-good news is that here in the States you will need a modified region-free DVD player to see it, because the listing says it is "Region Code: 2 (Japan, Europe, Middle East, and South Africa only)".

Hm-m-m-m. What this means for us Yanks is hard to tell at this point, but as soon as I know it will be published here.

To be continued.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hiromi and Sonicbloom's performance at Berklee to be streamed live New Year's Eve

Hiromi Uehara and her band Sonicbloom are scheduled to kick off National Public Radio's annual live New Year's Eve broadcast tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. EST. Hiromi and Sonicbloom (David Fiuczynski, guitar, Tony Grey, bass, Martin Valihora, drums) will perform live from the Berklee College of Music Performance Center. The performance will be broadcast on Boston's WGBH and streamed live as part of NPR's Toast of the Nation, although local broadcast times on the member NPR stations may vary:

If you miss the live broadcast tomorrow night, the performance will apparently be archived by National Public Radio

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Return To Forever Live CD to be released March 2nd, 2009

Good news! The most reliable of sources at Chick Corea Productions emailed me to say that a release date of March 2nd, 2009 has been set for the much-anticipated CD of live performances from Return To Forever's phenomenally successful 2008 tour. Very soon the info on price and availability will be appearing all over the web. It's not too late to write a letter to St. Nick if you mail it fast. Just tell him you'll fill him in on the details later...
At long last we will get to hear those four incredibly talented jazz/rock virtuosi play their music again, live and loud. Get those speakers and headphones ready for a workout!
No news yet on the DVD, but as soon as I know the date it will be published here.
Stay tuned.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Chick Corea's Five Peace Band: Live In Europe" double CD to be released in February 2009

photo by Noridamar

Chick Corea's Five Peace Band: Live In Europe, a double CD of Five Peace Band's live performances in Europe, is scheduled to be released in Japan on February 4th next year on the Universal Music label. Cost in Japan is ¥3500, $37.91

You can pre-order at these prices from CDJapan. I've purchased CDs from them and they are great - they ship inexpensively and fast in very sturdy containers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stanley Clarke trio (Stanley, Lenny White and Hiromi) studio recording coming soon

What I heard coming from the mixing board late last Sunday night at Mad Hatter Studios was the deconstructed melody line of a very familiar tune. It took me a few seconds after walking through the door before I recognized it as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' tune "Under the Bridge". It got me to smile as I recalled a similar musical incongruity listening to a radically re-arranged tune a few years ago... "We decided when we were planning this tour that we needed to do a standard as part of our set," Lenny White dead-panned as he introduced the number that night. When he put the mic back on its stand and joined Larry Coryell and Victor Bailey in a de- and re-constructed version of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog", the contextual atmosphere of Catalina's Bar and Grill (Hollywood's counterpart of New York's Blue Note) was so completely different from any setting for my previous hearings of the tune that it took me until the refrain to recognize it. And when I did, man, did I listen to it!

Such is the power of well-played music. Finely wrought jazz, particularly in the bop tradition of deconstruction of a familiar tune, can wield this power with great force. This incorporation of popular tunes, interpretation of the simplicities of the everyday into the sophisticated language of jazz, reawakens the senses to the world, and deconstructing a tune, when done with musical precision, results in a kind of musical re-birth that can teach the listener to hear what he's never heard before. It makes the ordinary extraordinary. It wakes the dead. Like John Coltrane's take of "My Favorite Things" or Miles Davis' many renditions of "Someday My Prince Will Come", two songs written for Walt Disney movies and rescued from trite musical oblivion by artistic geniuses, such jazz compositions grab a real listener by the ears and take him through expanded realms of expression. Everything old is new again.

So as I listened to these three geniuses reinvigorating and reinventing "Under the Bridge" the thought came to me, once again, that something truly new was happening. Hiromi's lyrical solo began to soar beyond the sad sentiments of the original song of a junkie's lament into a paen to the beautiful, brave new streets of my home town of Los Angeles. Incredible! Like a magnificent sculpture being freed by Michelangelo's hands from a block of stone, the original's beautiful melody was freed from its maundering lyric by these three masterful musicians and transformed into a jazzer's "I Love L.A....Despite Her Many Serious Flaws". Los Angeles through Hiromi's and Stanley's and Lenny's eyes is a new place, or at least a place I had long forgotten exists. This tune never sounded so good.

Other tunes on t
he recording (barring Mr. Clarke's disapproval, in accordance with his exacting tastes) will include a mind-blowing version of Joe Henderson's "Isotope", "Bass Folk Song," a re-visited tune of his own from the original Return To Forever catalog, a jazzed version of the traditional Japanese song "Sakura, Sakura", and a killer bass and drum duet with Lenny called "Take the Coltrane" -- of which I heard three takes and liked them all. The very last is probably what you will hear when Stanley releases the record, but whichever one it is, you will like it. Stanley's exquisite touch on the bass and Lenny's endlessly imaginitive drum work go different places each time, and I wish you could hear them all. But no matter. This composition has one of those indestructible hooks that sounded good every time Stanley and Lenny played it.

When this recording shows up, you could very well pinch pennies and wait around for some website to post a set of MP3 files for you to download. But my advice is, go buy it. Play it on a real CD player and listen to it through big, fat speakers. This music is alive.

By the way... over the weekend, a confident-ial but unim-peachable source told me that he had just received advance copies of the 2CD Return To Forever 2008 reunion tour compilation and the accompanying performance DVD. He'd been busy and said he hadn't had the chance to see/hear them, but he assured me they now exist. For real. It's only a matter of time before me and thee will have the same chance.

Merry Christmas to all!