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Friday, June 27, 2008

TTFN

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 3:47 PM

I had a much lengthier post planned for today, but to be honest, I'm leaving on vacation in t-minus 45 minutes and I've pretty much checked out mentally. So instead, I leave you with this video from ex-Chuch bassist and current Jesus Vanacho member Noah Crowther, recorded last week in Santa Cruz. Enjoy, and I'll see you in about a week . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

And now a word from our sponsors...

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 10:49 AM

I'm not usually one for product endorsement. Mostly because I can't afford any products. But last week I stumbled across a little gem that I thought I should share.

Did you know that there's a pair of headphones that your iPod Shuffle can snap right into so you don't have to use earbuds!?

You do? Oh yeah. I forgot that you're all way more tech-savvy than myself.

You don't use an iPod Shuffle? Oh yeah. I forgot that the new hip is to hate Apple.

In any case, I have an iPod Shuffle. I lose it regularly due to its size. But it is perfect for the gym, where my crazy elliptical running technique has on more than one occasion been known to send a disc-man flying across the room.

Recently my workouts have shifted from running on the elliptical to using the gym's studio space to practice Irish Step Dancing. Yeah, I know. But my sister and I are training to become certified teachers, and with the test only offered once a year and costing a butt-load of money, I better damn well get ready.

When I first started using the studio, I hauled my stereo there with me. You know, because I needed another reason to attract the racquet ballers up from the courts below to see what the hell was going on. A reason other than the tapping feet, squeaking floorboards, and panting of a girl who's wife-beater is soaked through with sweat. Let's call a spade a spade, Woolen Mill. That 'studio' is really just an over-sized sauna.

Photobucket

Anyway, it soon dawned on me that HELLO, why not just program all my Irish Dance music onto my shuffle and avoid piquing the interest of passers by with, you know, bagpipes and stuff? BRILLIANT!

And then, while searching for the perfect Father's Day present for my Dad (who, by the way, is the most awesome of all dads), I found this:

PERFECT!

Now not only can I dance in "silence", but I can also eliminate the risk of strangling myself with my earbud chord on some over-zealous high kicking!

The headphones are available at Small Dog, where I picked up a pair for my Dad, and where you can pick up a pair for me! After all, I'm always up for anything vaguely similar to holding an old school boom box on my shoulder and rocking out.

OK, it's not similar at all.

I'm just still trying to raise the cool factor on that whole Irish Step Dancing thing.

I'll stop now.

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shut The Fuck Up . . . Please.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 2:40 PM

Last night, I swung by Higher Ground to check out indie-folk songwriter Jose Gonzalez. It was one of those increasingly rare opportunities for me to go see live music with my critical brain turned off and simply enjoy the show. I wasn't attending as "Dan Bolles," Seven Days Music Editor. Just Dan, a dude who really likes Jose Gonzalez — deep down I'm a sensitive guy, I swear. And I was really looking forward to it.

Gonzalez' performance was stunning. And yes, I'm writing that statement from the biased perspective of a fan, not a critic. Though I'm typically prone to rolling my eyes when I read some lazy blurb about an artist being "the next" anyone — Dylan, The Beatles, Gram Parsons, etc. — I can almost get behind Gonzalez' designation as "The Latin Nick Drake." If you can get past the fact that he's actually Swedish — though he's of Argentinian descent — the  phrase actually does an adequate job of summing up his sound. In fact, there were moments during last night's show where he could justifiably be accused of aping Drake. Sometimes we  lowly scribes get it right. Sometimes.

Though Gonzalez was a pleasure to behold, the crowd was something else entirely, to the point where actually listening to the music became a frustrating challenge. I don't mean to get off on a rant, but . . .

Why the fuck would you spend 17 bucks to see a show, and then spend the entire evening talking? And I don't mean just whispering to your friends in between songs. I mean full-blown, outside-voice conversations about subjects entirely unrelated to the music (By the way, if some guy named Jordan is reading this, that cutebrunette you've recently started dating finds you too effeminate andisn't really in to the "hugging thing." Sorry, dude. Just something Ioverheard.).

Throughout the night, from the opening act — Twi The Humble Feather, who would likely be a lot of fun to see at a venue like Radio Bean or The Bakery, but were virtually inaudible in the Lounge this night — through Gonzalez' encore, the din of conversational chatter was impossible to escape. It didn't matter where I tried to watch the show. I stood ten feet from the stage. I stood in the middle of the room. I stood on the sidelines and in the back by the bar. Everywhere, people talking incessantly.

I get that people go see live music for vastly different reasons. Some folks go just to be "seen." Others go because it's something different from just going out to the bars. Some people go to meet people with similar tastes. And some people even go just to LISTEN TO THE FUCKING MUSIC. Perish the thought.

At this point, some of you are probably saying to yourselves, "Hey, dickhead. It's my 17 bucks and I'll comport my self however I choose when I go out. This isn't grade school. I'll talk whenever and as loudly as I want." To which I humbly respond, "Go fuck yourself."

Other people pay hard earned money to see shows too. And the reason they're willing to shell out big bucks for tickets and overpriced drinks is because the experience of seeing your favorite artists in person can be transcendent. But only if you can hear it. (At one point in the show, Gonzalez finished a swelling torrent of fiery classical guitar work by descending into an intimately gorgeous bridge. Most of the crowd followed along and for a beautiful moment, the idle chatter ceased . . . except for the massive tool loudly discussing the nuances of strumming open chords in drop D tuning. Thanks a lot, douchebag.)   

Some crowd noise at a loud rock show is no big deal. The raw energy of an ass-kicking live band largely negates it. But mellower shows such as Jose Gonzalez have a subtle, but nonetheless powerful, energy of their own. Too bad so many people there last night missed it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

RIP, George

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 12:07 PM

As most of you have probably heard, the great George Carlin passed away yesterday at the age of 71. I had the pleasure of attending the comedian's performance last October at The Flynn Theater. Little did I know it would be one of his last. What follows is brief piece I wrote following the show that appeared in the October 31, 2007 issue of Seven Days. Given Bridget's last post, I find it an oddly appropriate way to say goodbye to a personal hero. 

*******

If any human being ever deserved to copyright a word or phrase,“fuck” should be George Carlin’s. No single person has explored itsmany meanings and usages as comprehensively as the 70-year-oldcomedian, and few, I imagine, have uttered it with such frequency. From“Fuck Lance Armstrong, fuck Tiger Woods and fuck Dr. Phil,” his openingline at last Saturday’s performance in Burlington, to his graciousfarewell — which, oddly enough, was expletive-free — Carlin expertlythrust and parried his way through an hour’s worth of new material,eloquently wielding the word as if a verbal épée.

In Carlin’s hands, “the queen mother of all swears” is less anobscenity than a tool used to deftly amplify the absurdities ofcontemporary American culture. He was in fine form, surgically flayingsocietal conventions with calculated ferocity. From the pseudo-wisdomof new-age bumper stickers to the illegitimacy of the currentpresidency to the fallacy of religion, no topic was safe, and everyone— and their mother — was fair game.

Like the late Bill Hicks, or even Andy Kaufman, Carlin’s greateststrength is his ability to make his audience squirm. And in between thechuckles and belly laughs, a subtle undercurrent slowly wound its waythrough the aisles of the stately theater: He’s not talking about them,he’s talking about us. In many corners of the theater — including myown — the revelation turned guffaws into gasps. It was brilliant.

Behind Carlin’s veil of blasphemy lies carefully constructed,searing satire. As the adage goes, “It’s funny because it’s true.” Butthere’s another saying, in this case equal in its poignancy: “The truthhurts.” Especially when delivered with a few well-placed curses.

Some artists work in watercolors, others in oils. Some takephotographs, others sketch in pencil or charcoal. George Carlin paintshis portraits in profanity — in particular the “F-Bomb.” And as lastSaturday’s performance unequivocally proved, there are few moments inlife more compelling or satisfying than witnessing a master craftsmanat work.

*******


Well . . . Fuck!

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 9:49 AM

According to an article by Alexis Petridis in the UK's Guardian, Fuck is no longer shocking when used in band's names.

Well, duh.

Still, reading the list of band names that no longer provide any shock value is reason enough to click on that link. Because Petridis is right in that it's not at all shocking. It's just kind of funny. Some examples? Fuckpony, Swamp Fuck, the Fuckin' Shit Biscuits, and Holy Fuck.

In fact, three of the bands up for this year's Mercury Prize (an annual music prize for the best album from Ireland or the UK), include the word in their name. So if the point is to make your band stand out . . . well, that point is now moot.

The idea that a word that held such weight just two generations ago, would now do little to make even a nine-year-old blush, is pretty interesting. I dug a little further into the Guardian website to see if there was any other word on the subject, and found a 2002 article by Jonathan Margolis, exploring the cultural significance of fuck.

Apparently the word first appeared in a 1475 manuscript, and even back then, was meant to be offensive. When the Sex Pistols uttered it on live television in 1976, it still caused an uproar. But then, something shifted, and by 1997, the word had fallen in rank. "When several broadcasting organizations produced a ranking ofwords by severity, fuck only came in third, behind cunt andmotherfucker."

The article continues, "Further verification that fuck is, well, fucked, comes from AndreaWills, the BBC's chief advisor on editorial policy. 'In research, 50%or more people said the words that should never be broadcast are cunt,motherfucker, nigger, Paki and spastic. Young women also don't likewhore, slag and twat. But fuck wasn't on the list.'"

So what's a punk band to do?

Well, if the intention is to shock, you might just be fucked. Although no amount of Vagina Monologues will stop me from cringing at the C-word . . . so maybe that's your key.

Then again, it's hard enough these days to find a band name that's not already taken without wasting time worrying about if it will cause authorities to sweat.

What's next, Fuckin' Shit Biscuits AKA?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Scribe's Tale, Part 2

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 4:48 PM

To say that our young chronicler "plotted" is perhaps a misuse of the term. For plotting often denotes some ulterior or sinister motive. Rather, he simply took stock of his recent body of work, making note of where he had done well and where he could do better. He'd had a lot of help identifying the latter as, has been noted, the citizens of Burlingtonia and its outlying regions were quick to point them out, warranted or not. (There is an aeons olde saying that goes "thou art never as fair or as poor as anyone saith thou art." The young scribe did his best to keep that notion close to his thoughts during this time.)

As Olde Man Winter's long bony fingers gradually eased his stranglehold on the barony and the land once again began to breathe anew, the scribe often found himself strolling along the waterfront with his faithful friend, Lord Buckington. Their conversations were mostly one sided, for Buckington, though a most loyal and sweet companion, was a few bales short of a haystack — and, I'm afraid, prone to relieving himself at most inopportune times, and in public. Still, those daily constitutionals helped greatly to clear the scrollsmiths's thoughts  and focus his mind. He resolved that if given the chance, he would approach Sir Thom, Son of Law directly and attempt to clear the air. All he needed now was an opportunity.

Twas the final night of the great Burlingtonia Carnivale of Jazz, a truly glorious and uproarious celebration of musicks. During those ten days and nights, public houses and taverns across the land overflowed with ale and spirits as revelers from all walks of life basked in the hypnotic sounds emanating from nearly every nook and cranny of the towne. Minstrels from all four corners of the earth — and one even from beyond, it is said — descended upon the realm to the delight of thousands.

It became known to the scribe that Sir Thom's merry band of activists and dictators would be making an appearance that very eve on a most bizarre stage, that of Radio Bean. Though beans were plentiful in those days, few citizens of Burlingtonia were aware of radios and fewer still of "radio beans" — it was assumed they were some foreign legume, not indigenous to the realm, which served to further cloak the haunt in mystery, as did the array of tricksters who frequented it. But questing to Radio Bean would prove a perilous adventure.

During The Carnivale of Jazz, the demands on a musick writer are great indeed, and his presence is requested at many a concert, often several at one time. Though Burlingtonia was a magical realm, even the most powerful conjurers (which he was not, by any means) were still limited by their physical bodies and could only exist in one place at a time — though, were he able to split his self into several selves, it surely would have helped stem the tide of aforementioned critiques.

This particular evening was one of the hottest recorded on scroll. Sky watchers had long been warning that world was warming, perhaps to dangerous degrees — sadly, this claim was refuted by a very small but very loud contingent of powerful fools, many of whom still believed that the world was flat, a ludicrous notion, even in those days.

The scribe began his journey at the Waterfront Pavillion a temporary castle erected on the shores of the Great Lake Champlaigne. There, he was ushered into a secret compartment where many of the Queendom's wealthy and elite gorged themselves on food and spirits — including the towne's Crown Prince, Robert Kyss. Though he felt out of place and a bit guilty to be quarantined from the towne peasants (of which he considered himself to be a member), he quite enjoyed the tribal sounds emanating from The Rubblebucket Orkestra. So, it seems, did the large crowd amassed in the castle keep, judging by their orgiastic rhythmic dances and riotous applause.

From there, he ventured into the heart of Burlingtonia to the palatial Flynn Theatre, the most ornate concert hall in the land for a performance by a legendary musickal warlock, Ornette Coleman. Mr. Coleman bewitched the hall with mysterious and melodious spells. As dazed patrons exited the hall, few could sensibly put their impressions into words, including our young scribe — who is, in fact, paid to do just that. Such was the power of Coleman's captivating magick.

His head still swimming woozily from the sonic spell, he attempted to traverse Burlingtonia's greatest throughfare, the Church Street Market. However, on this evening, the cobbled boulevard was throttled with thousands of debauched revelers, thrilling to the bizarre carnival of sights and sounds that had taken the normally serene avenue hostage.   

At last, he was finally able to find his wits, aided in no small part by the straightforward strains of Led LO/CO, a bawdy band of costumed jesters who were entertaining an enormous crowd of drunken carousers near the northernmost entrance to the thoroughfare — and the road to Radio Bean. It was at this moment our scribe saw his opportunity. With so much activity and chaotic sound, the crowd would provide the perfect cover for him to escape and embark on the final leg of his quest. He would hide in plain sight.

Without a word to his companions or even a kiss for his lady — whom he considered to be the fairest maiden in all the land — our scrivener slipped into the shadows undetected and proceeded to make his way through the crowd. Fortunately, the scribe was slight of build and though he was jostled several times, managed to navigate the throng without incident. He may or may not have been aided by his trusty cap, which was emblazoned with a red "B" and he believed to have some magical powers of its own — none the least of which was to make him indistinguishable from those wearing similar headdresses when he wished to be left alone in public.

He crossed the threshold of Radio Bean and was immediately struck by the oppressive heat and smell of the place. As has been noted, it was an unusually warm night and some Radio Bean patrons, I'm afraid, have less than thorough hygienic practices, which can make for an odorous combination on occasion.

There, on the small stage stood Sir Thom, axe in hand. He was flanked by the legendary  — at least in Burlingtonia — David of Kammelot, who once upon a time was a very famous potato farmer. Unfortunately, the great length of scribe's journey meant that arrived only in time to hear but two tunes. But what tunes they were! Witty and melodic, the band of minstrels had the capacity crowd — which, at tiny Radio Bean is a number much smaller than it appears, truth be told — rollicking and frolicking. The crowd — including the scribe — lustily applauded at the conclusion of each song. Though he witnessed but a brief snippet of the performance, the little he did see evoked fond memories of a happier time when  as a boy he would stand enthralled at the altar of the late, great Club Toast watching his heroes — Sir Thom was but one of many — ply their musical trades.

Following the performance, the scribe waited patiently for a moment to approach Sir Thom. Though he had been absent from the land for several moons, Thom had a great many friends and admirers in Burlingtonia, all of whom wanting to wish him well. Finally, he saw the tunesmith slip away to a doorstep away from the crowd which had gathered on the street in front of the Bean, and sit down to light a stick of tobacco. Seeing a window of opportunity, the scribe excused himself from a rather boring conversation about himself — for whatever reason, folks often want to ask the scribe questions about his work when they encounter him in person — and ambled, somewhat nervously, to where Thom was seated.

"Hi, Thom," said the scribe.

"Dan! How are you?" replied the minstrel with a smile. He motioned the scribe to sit. The scribe did, happily.

I'll not recount for you the particulars of their palaver. Frankly what was said between them remains their business and none of ours. However, a fly on the wall would have overheard a conversation in which two men settled their differences amiably, with no small amount of regret on both sides. Ultimately, understanding was reached, both men realizing how the folly of their actions had affected the other and how silly the whole issue was to begin with and how simply and quickly it could have been resolved. At the end, they shook hands and parted ways, leaving each other to go on about the business of living. And so it is that we leave the hamlet of Burlingtonia — at least for this tale.

I'll not suggest that all lived happily ever after — for who ever really does? And if that conclusion strikes you as boring or anti-climactic, I can only say that I agree. It is. However, if more people would merely take the time to address their problems with one another directly, and with a modicum of respect and humility, we would likely all be a happier lot.

The End

Monday, June 16, 2008

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 7:00 PM

I know you're all anxiously awaiting the conclusion of "A Scribe's Tale" from last week, and for that I do apologize. Frankly, I can't wait to see how it all turns out either. But due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven't had a free moment to put pen to paper and finish the damn thing since I posted it last Wednesday. Tomorrow, all shall be revealed, I swear.

In the meantime, I'd like to offer a Solid State version of "This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse" for you to chew on. Here it is:

Gordon Stone is offering free ring tones via his MySpace page.

Heaven help us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Scribe's Tale, Part One

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 4:58 PM

Many moons ago, in the queendom of Burlingtonia, an enchanted land filled with faeries and hippiegryffs — the latter a strange and hairy beast whose only known weakness was said to be the mystical strains of the electrifyed lyre, the mere sound of which would induce the creatures to ritualistically convulse like a phish on dry land for days on end — a newly minted chronicler offered these words in one of his first ever Sowndebites scrolls:

Last week, I ran a blurb about the Walt Whitman birthday celebration at Club Metronome. The show featured the poetic stylings of several local bands including Cccome?, Swale and Activists/Dictators.Note the “s” at the end of the word “Activists,” because apparently Ididn’t. The following day I received this email from someone in theband:

“Casey and Dan, you fucks. Activists is PLURAL. Activists/Dictatorsare all about EQUAL relationships between opposing forces. If theActivists part of the name were SINGULAR it would be an ADJECTIVEdescribing the Dictators and there would be no need for the /.Seriously, you’re good people but you NEVER get it right. Please comeand rock out with us at the shows but don’t write about us anymore.Love/Hate, Yin/Yang, Life/Death, Create/Destroy, T."

Well, “T.,” my face is red. I goofed. I would have respondedpersonally but, curiously, the return address was blocked and Icouldn’t. I know it’s unusual to respond to an email publicly, but as awriter, I understand how some typos cut deeper than others and Icouldn’t stand the thought of not offering my sincerest apologies andtaking full credit for the mistake. Casey Rea had nothing to do with it — he’s far too busy planning his evil escape. So, “T.” — who is certainly not Tom Lawson — I promise never to write about Activists/Dictators again. However, can I still write about ¡The Pant!?

The scribe, though unquestionably talented and witty (and strikingly handsome), was very young, at least in writer's years, which are quite different from normal years. And as such, he had yet to fully comprehend the true depth and strength of the powers at his command. Though his intent was merely to address his folly with levity, his actions were rumored to have quite the opposite effect, indeed. For you see, Burlingtonia, whilst a fayre and beautiful barony, was also a small and talkative place.

Throughout the local meadhalls and town squayers, whispers of an unseen evil lurking in the shadows leapt from lips to ears, and as weightless notions tend to do, twisted and deformed with each successive telling until finally it no more resembled the truth than a wind-blown feather does the bird from which it came. Though the Dark Lord had recently been banished to the outer realms, it was said he may still be conjuring from afar, using this new scribe as but a conduit to continue his reign, as if some deranged puppet master.

As we've already noted, Burlingtonia was but a provincial hamlet, and it took very little time for these whispers to reach the ears of our young scrivener. Though he considered himself to be quite strong, the allegations saddened him nonetheless. And for good reason.

To begin with, the object of his perceived ire was none other than the young bard's boyhood champion, Sir Thomas, Son of Law. As a squire, the boy greatly admired Sir Thom and his noble roundtable of pants-wearing knights — for pants were quite rare in those days, you see — and kept the melodious odes to their heroics close to his heart in many of his own endeavors. He felt no small tinge of remorse at the thought of offending a personal hero, and moreso at the notion that from that fateful moment on, a spell so powerful had been cast that not even his mighty quill could summon the strength to break.

Secondly, the mysterious Dark Lord, though viewed by many to be a fearsome creature, was, at his heart a kind and generous and misunderstood soul who had bequeathed a great deal of knowledge to the lad during his apprenticeship. (Though in truth, he was correctly assumed to dabble in the dark arts — and some of that knowledge was passed on as well.) Still, those who spake ill of his mentor did so at their own peril, for, as the boy was quickly coming to know, the pen truly is mightier than the sword and perhaps even the axe — though that certainly depends on the axeman or axewomyn.

Summer waxed and waned and gave way to Fall, a truly wondrous time in the Queen's City. The young quillsmith continued to diligently hone his craft and explore the the scope of his abilities, encountering a great many daemons, dragons and ne'er do wells along the way. Sometimes he failed — for which he was often reprimanded by the citizenry. Sometimes he succeeded — for which he was still sometimes reprimanded by certain factions. But such is the way of learning and the burden and responsibility of power. (Such also is the fickleness of the citizenry, truth be told)

As the harvest moon laid its head upon a bed of fallen leaves for the last time, the first snows of Winter began to fly. Winter in Burlingtonia can be cruel and harsh. For many of its denizens, it is a time for introspection. For writers, who are a notoriously self-reflective — and some would say self-absorbed — lot, this is especially true. For writers of musick, even moreso, for Winter also tends to be a quieter time in Burlingtonia, when many of its finest artisans spend the long, bleak eves crafting new sonnets and tunes to offer the world when it awakens.

During this time, our young writer found his own thoughts often drifting to that early letter, and despite his numerous victories — which he took no shame in recounting in great detail, I'm afraid — he very much wished he could go back in time and reverse the events of that day. But as we know, such thoughts are the wishes of fools and dreamers. To slay this daemon, he would need be more brave and cunning than mere boyish fancy allows. He continued to work and play with his art, hopeful that one day he might seize an opportunity to right what had been made wrong. Made wrong by his own hand. And so he plotted.

To Be Continued . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

AC/DC: Watch For Falling Integrity

Posted By on Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 4:31 PM

Howdy Solid State.

I had been planning a recap of my epic Saturday night about town for today. But then I realized that my one year performance evaluation — yes, it's really been a year — was due like, last Friday. Guess I'll have to lower my grade in the "meets deadlines" field. Anyway, I'll fill you folks in on recap stuff — and why I am once again "allowed" to write about Activists/Dictators — tomorrow. Sorry, Brad.

In the meantime, Mistress Maeve forwarded along this Reuters story about AC/DC releasing their upcoming album exclusively through Wal Mart. You read that correctly. Fucking Wal Mart. According to the article, the band joins the illustrious company of Garth Brooks, Journey and The Eagles as iconic pop acts who've sold their souls to that quintessentially American testament to over-consumption. Too bad I already blew my "economic stimulus" check. I could have bought, like, 250 copies. Sigh . . .

Monday, June 9, 2008

Window Seat: At High Altitude With Luminaries of Norwegian Jazz

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2008 at 5:18 PM

In the coming weeks, you'll notice a new voice or two contributing to the cyber-pages of Solid State — in addition to myself and the lovely and talented Bridget Burns. At the moment, we have an abundance of freelance music writers adding their two cents to the the physical manifestation of the paper, and with only two CD reviews per week, the workload is a little light. So in an effort to give the newbies something to do — and to help keep their chops in order — we thought, "why not unleash them on the blog?" We couldn't come up with a good reason not to, so I'd like to introduce Mr. John Pritchard.

Solid State, John. John, Solid State. Welcome to the fray.

DB

*******

Munich-basedimprovisational jazz label ECM Recordsis releasing to some of the most remarkable music being made in the world rightnow. That’s a bold statement, yes. But one that can be made with confidence. Itis perhaps better said that they have beenreleasing remarkable music, several hundred records across numerous styles,incorporating a vast group of artists since their inception in 1969.

Many a friend has shirked at theprospect of improvisational music,let alone jazz from Norway,upon my introduction of the idea. But few have been disappointed afterlistening. I doubt there is a music lover of any genre who would not appreciate the work of the Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen, leader of the eponymous TordGustavsen Trio.

The Trio’sthree ECM releases, Changing Places(2003), The Ground (2004)
and Being There (2007) can unflinchingly bedescribed as melodically groundbreaking
– an apogee in the long evolution ofnot only the piano, but of human sound.

Gustavsen’spiano is ravishingly expressionist – it bends; it levitates. Songs like
“Still There” and “Blessed Feet” off last year's Being There are, in moments, conspicuously traditional jazz. Until they plunge into esoteric lows or ascend to magically biting trebles.

Since its release (and despite its title), I have made the trio's seminal album The Ground my listening choice each time I am on boardan airplane. There is something that correlates the delicate double bass of HaraldJohnsen and cold cabin air; something in Jarle Vespestad's spare but faultless drumming
that is perfect for cruisingaltitude. It is a sound that, although unadorned, manages to somehow embody thevery essence of modernity.

Everyartist on ECM is worthy of exploration, however audio samples are (strangely) notavailable for listening at their homepage. But here are links to some particularlyinteresting ECM artists: TordGustavsen Trio, the ChristianWallumrud Trio and Trygve Seim.

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