Next stop on the Tykal train of music compilations is the first of two volumes related to jazz, my side squeeze from the two decades I spent in Harlem. Circuitously, I got into the music through jungle. In the early 2000s, I regularly participated in (i.e., supplied records for) a jungle show at Columbia University’s radio station, WKCR. The station’s programming turned out to be primarily jazz-oriented, and it housed a museum’s worth of jazz history, and was manned by walking-encyclopedia DJs whose shows were virtual master classes on the subject. For a few hours per day for a few years, I let them bring me up to speed, and about a year in, there was a tribute show to the madman and musical genius, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. His saxes and flutes came flying at me from the speakers across the room, and all of a sudden my budding interest became a burgeoning love affair. A little taste of why: the man could play three saxes at once, play a flute with his nose, and when he had a stroke later in life, he figured out how to play his sax one-handed. He was also a dervish turning the music into a hyperdelic experience, but a masterful one: he could play straight ahead and he could invoke spirits and he could funk you out of this world. Where other musicians perfected a style and developed a trademark sound, Kirk became native to the music itself. A gateway drug of the highest order: one that all subsequent drugs fail to live up to, but that casts its spirit over every listening experience like a benevolent light.
Once I was hooked, my research instincts kicked in: I bought, downloaded, found (and maybe stole) 20,000 jazz albums, and plowed through them all in 5 years. Jazz has more modalities than I think any other kind of music, so there’s a lot of terrain to cover, a lot of niches to enjoy, and some to loathe. I love bop of all kinds (hard, be and post), straight ahead makes for fine shoe-tapping, Dixieland is joy in a cup, big band is boisterous-bodacious, swing is everything, and Latin is polyrhythmic love. But predominantly dissonant free and spiritual jazz is banshee music, a good deal of which makes listening to death metal and your neighbor’s drum practice a cakewalk. And smooth jazz is watered down water. Over time I came to find my two favorite flavors: jazz fusion and jazz funk: this compilation is mostly the former. But fusion with what, you might ask? Ah, like jungle, just about anything, but traditionally it’s fusion with rock, not in the sense that Hendrix and Monk share the stage, but in the sense that that the groove and jam from rock (and rhythm and blues) blended with the harmony and improv of jazz to push the music, essentially its swinging heart, toward a fuller-bodied dance. But it wasn’t only rock, and fusion was as much an approach as style. In the era I like—late ‘60s through mid ‘70s—jazz also fused with folk, with funk, with Latin and Afro-Caribbean beats, a little classical, a good deal of soul.
And that’s what I think we have here in the guiding hand of Kirk and the artifacts of social liberation reflected in 13 cuts of pure groove: a good—no, a great—deal of soul.
Hope you dig the tunes—keep swinging,
01 Ellen McIlwaine – Wings of a Horse – 1972.mp3
02 Sunbirds – My Dear Groovin – 1973.mp3
03 Karel Velebny Nonet – Nude – 1968.mp3
04 Jerzy Milian – Wsrod Pampasow – 1975.mp3
05 Rahsaan Roland Kirk – One Ton – 1969.mp3
06 Gil Evans – Thoroughbred – 1973.mp3
07 Masabumi Kikuchi & Gil Evans – Priestess – 1972.mp3
08 Fuse One – In Celebration of the Human Spirit – 1981.mp3
09 Joe Farrell – Hurricane Jane – 1973.mp3
10 Antonio Adolfo – Assanhada – 1979.mp3
11 Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures – Walking the Curve – 2008.mp3
12 Dave Liebman’s Lookout Farm – Pablo’s Story – 1973.mp3
13 Sapo – Get It On – 1974.mp3
PS: Once again I owe thanks to many people who helped me along the way, and I’ll name some names this time: Phil Schaap, the biggest jazz encyclopedia I ever met and the man largely responsible for my jazz interest and education; WKCR for its deeper than deep dives (https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/wkcr/); Christian Ericson, my fellow Kirk lover and poet-jazz brother and the kind soul behind this fabulous cover; all the dudes selling jazz records on the street in Manhattan, and the guardians who left piles of it by trashcans for my good fortune; the jazz bloggers of the early 2000s who shared the rarest of the rare and wrote unthinkably well-researched essays on their favorite musicians; and all my p2p buddies whose archival tenacity built not a personal library but a communal one in which any seeker could find more than his share of enlightenment. From them I learned perhaps the most important lesson in these endeavors:
music collecting is an act of obsession;
music sharing is an act of love.