Wanted to bookmark this lovely and simple piece by Crafty Fabio Mittino. I must also say that I shamelessly covet the work of his luthier, the gloriously outside-the-box Rick Toone. Some day…
Anyway, here is “The City of K“:
It’s killin’ me, not having any viable way to get to see the Seven- (now Eight-) Headed Beast of Crim on what by pretty much all accounts is a fairly amazing tour. It doesn’t help that much of my TwitFace feed is occupied by Crafties, who understand better than almost anyone how to listen to a muse like Crimson’s, and who are pretty unanimously agog at this most recent group’s efforts, but then there is press such as this, which I am simply unaccustomed to. Therefrom:
To be crystal clear: King Crimson 2014-2017 is unequivocally not a tribute band, a legacy band or any other of the epithets applied to so many bands from back in the day that have reformed in recent times to capitalize on the burgeoning progressive rock revival of the past couple of decades. In fact, Crimson sits alongside Van der Graaf Generator as, perhaps, one of but a few bands of such longevity to not only reinvigorate its older material with a fresh approach, but to add new material that, with its own distinctive personality, fits as comfortably and with as much strength as the music that made it famous in the first place. And while VdGG remains a thrilling live act that has, out of necessity, been forced to rearrange its material for the trio version that emerged following co-founder David Jackson’s departure after its 2005 comeback album Present (Virgin/Charisma, 2005) and accompanying tour, Crimson’s approach to much of its 40+ year-old material— barring those where the signatures are so prevalent as to demand greater literalism—is far, far freer.
Bookmarked, here, for its simple utility in being a reference for anyone who wants a crash course on Crim in context. It’s long, but it kinda has to be, too. It’s also worth reading!
And of course there are always Tony Levin’s road diaries, which are always insightful and not infrequently amusing as well. From one recent entry:
And a Crimson train wreck is, well, not like other bands… a King Crimson train wreck takes out the whole train station. And maybe the town it’s in!
By now, we certainly knew we had a problem about how to bring this piece together. There’s no just counting ‘one two three four’ when one player’s in 28/8 and others in 7/4 offset a quarter note from each other, and the drummers waiting to join in in 15/8 to signal finally getting beyond the verses!
One of the things I have always loved and appreciated about KC is the willingness to take huge risks. What’s cool is to hear of so many opinions that mirror my own experience, that sometimes they fall flat on their faces…but the other times make all the train wrecks more than worth it!
So, I’m stoked that things seem to be working so well, but heartbroken that I may not get to see it before it’s concluded!
This is a “quickie” anthology of a few of my own favorite drummers. The idea was inspired by a coworker, but since I like to annotate things a bit (stop laughing, now), I thought it made sense to post it here.
Heart of the Sunrise. If I had to pick one short example of what I love so much about Bruford’s style, it’s to be found between 0:32 and 2:08 from the 1972 studio recording of Yes’ Heart of the Sunrise. He decorates like nobody else I’ve heard before, and it’s especially noticeable when his playing is sparse like this.
Indiscipline. This tune dates from 1981 and is a great summary vehicle for the ’80s King Crimson in general. This clip is from 1982, with some good coverage of Bruford’s playing.
Interestingly, here is Bruford, years later at a drum workshop, discussing his approach to playing (and playing with) the tune’s introductory drum sequence:
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One. Here is Bruford with storied percussionist Jamie Muir in the 1973 Crimson piece “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”. (Gotta love that early ’70s video aesthetic.) It’s not quite right to cut the piece up like this–the below clip omits nearly half of LTIA Part One, and then there’s the rollicking LTIA Part Two bookending the other end of the album; you really need the whole thing for proper context–but it nonetheless gives an idea of what sort of sound coloring that edition of Crimson was experimenting with. Anyway, here Muir is the far more interesting player; his impact on Bruford’s subsequent playing was…significant.
There’s lots of other Bruford to go further with, but the above gives a decent introduction.
Starless. The tune dates from 1974, and the studio recording is simply stunning, but this clip is from 2015, played by a seven-headed beast representing the first King Crimson group to seriously treat prior material. (This is still weird to me, the notion of going to a King Crimson show and hearing anything other than the current band’s all new music. But they are re-invigorating much of the back catalog in a way that is more than honorable to the Crim muse.) I posted on it in a bit more detail already, but am including it here again to showcase that triple-drummer frontline. The 13/4 and 13/8 middle sections are a great showcase for the patience and collaboration that Mastelotto, Rieflin, and Harrison bring to this group. Three drummers and still, so much space!
Easy Money. Another clip from the 2015 tour, this one of the 1973 piece Easy Money. Another look at the frontline of that seven headed beast (the first one I stumbled across); here, Rieflin is entirely on keyboards, leaving Mastelotto and Harrison to share the fun bits.
The Black Page, played by Terry Bozzio. This is a famous piece with a funny story. I couldn’t find the one I’d seen before with Bozzio and Chad Wackerman playing it in unison, with a rolling score superimposed on the screen, but here is a good one of Bozzio (the drummer who first played the piece) on his own. Remember, this is a written piece, not an improvised one.
Here’s another clip of Bozzio in his prime, taking the vocal on “Punky’s Whips”, followed by one of those Frank Moments. It may be possible to rock harder than this, but you’d have to work at it. 🙂
Thirteen. This one gets the include both because it’s Vinnie Colaiuta, generally regarded as the most technically skilled of all the Zappa drummers, and because I just love hearing Frank casually telling the audience how to clap along in 13/8 time. And then he and Shankar just tear it up.
One could really go on about Zappa drummers–and many others–but I’ll stop there for now.
So today, on my way to work, while stopped and waiting for the pilot car (the five Alaska seasons being fall, winter, breakup, spring, and road construction), a question popped into my head: in the famous Paul Desmond piece “Take Five“, would it be more appropriate to view the descending turnaround as belonging to the song’s root (minor) tonic, or to its relative major as a temporary replacement tonic? This is just an attempt to better understand how to think about the written sequence of chords. I think I talked it out of myself at the time, but I’d love the opinion of those more formally versed in theory than I am.
(Yes, I think geeky things at weird times. It just seems to be the way I’m made.)
Okay, so I’ve studied the piece a bit before, even going so far as to score it up as an arrangement for Guitar Circle Colorado, transposed up a half step into the more convenient E minor. (What follows is based on that Em arrangement.)
The vamp is written as Em – Bm7, which is a natural minor thing, written with one sharp on the staff. The turnaround is written as:
Cmaj7 – Am6 – Bm7 – Em7 – Am7 – D7 – Gmaj7
Cmaj7 – Am6 – Bm7 – Em7 – Am7 – D7 – F#m7 – B7
It occurred to me that one way to think of this turnaround sequence would be within the context of the Em as the tonic chord, in which case I’d think of the chords like this:
VI maj7 – IV m6 – V m7 – I m7 – IV m7 – VII 7 – III maj7
VI maj7 – IV m6 – V m7 – I m7 – IV m7 – VII 7 – II m7 – V 7
Hm. That somehow doesn’t seem right–more like a shoehorn than a natural fit. But what if I looked at the turnaround as belonging to the key of G–which would be, after all, the relative major of E minor? Then I’d think of the chords like this:
IV maj7 – VII m6 – III m7 – VI m7 – II m7 – V 7 – I maj7
IV maj7 – VII m6 – III m7 – VI m7 – II m7 – V 7 – VII m7b5 – III 7
Well, that seems to clean up a lot, doesn’t it? 4-7-3-6-2-5-1 would seem to be rather precisely descending in fifths, and the idea of the last four chords being a two-five on G followed by a two-five on Em…finally sold me on the idea.
Okay, so that’s what occurred. And the question to those more formally schooled in functional theory than I: am I thinking properly here, or am I missing something obvious?
There’s a programming experiment and educational resource in here somewhere, I am sure.
Pretty cool, no? Maybe I can devise a programming experiment as a collaboration with my daughter (who’s just becoming interested in programming), with some basic utility tools like lighting up one or more of the polygons at a time (and therefore ignoring others), slowing it down, providing counts at sync-up moments–etc. I suspect it will be worth it as an educational tool for grokking polyrhythms, and possibly other things too. (Yes, I are a geek.)
Found via the TwitFace, as posted on Imgur, and reproduced here for bookmarking and attribution.