Friday, June 04, 2004

It Takes Me Back...

I've been kickin' it old school music-wise, twice in as many days.

The first time came about yesterday (OK, Wednesday, which technically isn't yesterday anymore, but I call the current day "today" until I go to bed), during a day of what Dingus would call "class-A hanging" with Halfling, when we went to the CD Warehouse behind Chipotle after dinner (almost any class-A hang would of course include the large burrito). Looking in the "new arrivals" jazz section, I happened upon something by the "Michael Brecker Band." I'm not sure he's ever actually called a group by that name, but it was also on a tiny little label (Jazz Line) that I'd never heard of before.

I've often spoken of the legendary bootleg tape that one of my friends made when we saw Brecker at Caravan of Dreams during my college days. I haven't busted it out in a long time, because most of my listening is done in the car, and nobody's car has a tape player anymore. So I was quite psyched to find out that this CD came from the exact same tour (in fact, it could have even been recorded at Caravan, as no recording location is listed). It only has three tunes on it, but one of them is the very-much-extended version of Original Rays, which was worth the price of the CD all by itself.

Original Rays, from Brecker's first solo CD, was already a nine-minute epic in the studio, but the live version was expanded to magnum-opus proportions. Most of that was done by Brecker alone on the EWI, a wind-driven synthesizer with saxophone fingerings. The studio intro included some cool stuff, such as the technique that Frank Mantooth called "parallel planing" (the use of a single line that's harmonized exactly at several set intervals), but it was fleshed out to around ten minutes on the tour. He would "tease" the melody every once in a while and then go into everything from Mozart quotes to full orchestral swells. In the middle, he kicked a switch on a box on the floor which provided a rhythmic accompaniment to his solo, which at that point sounded like an electric guitar (that rhythmic thing was a major influence on the riff that I came up with for the Foosball cadenza that Halfling and I did).

It was great to hear this version again after so many years (we even drove around the block so we could listen to the EWI portion uninterruptedly). Suddenly, in my mind, I was there again at Caravan, at the front table (close enough to get spit dropped on us from Brecker's bell, I always joked) with my college buds, experiencing a most amazing concert. I told Halfling that I wished we could find a time machine so that he could go back with me and hear this live too, though there would have been some weirdness if now-me had run into then-me while we were there. I'll have to email my friend who made the bootleg and tell him about this one.

The other take-me-back moment was on the way to The Day After Tomorrow tonight (don't think about that too hard), when Micah brought his Earth, Wind & Fire mix along for the ride. Dingus had never heard EWF before (he really dug it), and I was having flashbacks to almost every college marching band party I ever attended. They're coming to town in a few weeks; Micah's going, and I may join him. No matter what, I'm definitely putting the "I Am" CD in the car tomorrow.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Careful, don't bust any stitches now."--Me, to Micah, who recently underwent hernia surgery, when he matched the screaming high notes of EWF vocalist Philip Bailey.

1 comment:

Kev said...

I need to get it in working order first and then you can borrow it (after Halfling, who already got first dibs). Unfortunately, there are a couple of small scratches in it, one of which (at least in my car) sends it right from the piano solo into Brecker's solo. I'm gonna find the inexpensive version of that "Disc Doctor" thing and see what I can do.