Dhafer Youssef, ‘Ascetic Journey’.

Apparently it’s oud on the Pandora channel this morning, and I’m not complaining!  This lovely piece has come up a few times now and continues to get my attention.  I love the mood, the space, the insistence, and of course the eleven.

Looks like there’s at least one live clip out there as well.

Interesting, I think how this live clip demonstrates how tough it must be to pull off such a piece live.  The sound capture is not flattering, for starters–presumably it sounded much better in the room. As well, it strikes me that the ensemble takes a few minutes to find its legs, trying to deliver all that space…together.  (It seems to me that by the end, they’re there.)  But there it is, still identifiable and insistent, and it makes me want to hear more.


‘Blockhead’, imagined…larger.

It’s fun when the Crafties in my TwitFace space show me new musicking things.  One great example, which deserves further posting, has been an introduction to Petra Haden’s a cappella work, among which she has done more than one King Crimson / Guitar Craft piece.  (Check out Hope, Red, and The Sheltering Sky (!);  she’s apparently keen to release an album of such that may wind up with the name “Sing Crimson”.)

This clip is of drummer Dan Moore, playing “Blockhead” on Steve Ball’s Tiny Orchestral Moments project, and it immediately made me wistful for GCCO.

Not only is it fun watching Dan, but the entire arrangement is pretty rich.  (As in:  possibly rich enough to be open to the “ensemble cast film” criticism…but hey, I’m a fanboy and I like it anyway.  🙂  )


King Crimson press.

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, to which I am simply not accustomed.  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!

Billy McLaughlin, ‘William’s Run’.

Just wanted to document an insistently lovely piece from guitar inspiration Billy McLaughlin.  Via Pandora I have found that I like a lot of his work, and the story of his struggle with focal dystonia does rather add to the mystique.

Anyway, I love this piece, “William’s Run“.  Bookmarked!


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.

Bill Bruford

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.

Other King Crimson

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.

Zappa drummers

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.