Seven-headed Crim: ‘Starless’.

This needs a bookmark.  Another teaser from the 2015 tour of the “Seven-headed beast of Crim”;  this one the ’70s-era staple “Starless”.

Most previous observations still apply, at least at first viewing of this second clip.  I found I wanted Collins to be much louder in the mix here, as his presence on the original ’74 recording is just breathtaking.  It was cool to see the drum parts scattered among the frontline, especially including Rieflin, who is also the keyboardist.  And it was a treat to watch the “circulated” pivot notes between the two guitarists late in the 13/8 windup.

But man, check out Robert Unrestrained from 10:45 – 11:10, especially that top-of-the-neck harmonization at 11:00.  Holy smokes!

Like I said–this needs a bookmark.  🙂

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King Crimson, ‘Sartori in Tangier’.

Because YouTube.

I gushed a bit about this one a while back on the Blogspot blog, and wanted to have it documented here too.  Because seriously, who else sounds even remotely like Robert, as a player?  One doesn’t even have to like his playing style, to acknowledge that it is like no other.

Dang.  Just–dang.

New old Crimson…wait, what?

A sneak preview of the 2016 incarnation of King Crimson, playing…”Easy Money“.

Wait, what?  King Crimson doesn’t usually repeat itself.

But the way I’m understanding it, this new Crim is indeed “reimagining” some of the older tunes.  That seems to be at least part of the point.  Okay, does that somehow mean that Robert’s gone soft all of a sudden?

I suppose we’ll see, but somehow, I doubt it.  In my book at least, he’s earned a lot of trust in that regard.  And who knows, maybe it’s me that’s gone soft, because at least on first listen, I enjoyed this a great deal:

Cry fanboy if you must–guilty as charged–but there is a lot in here to like.  Based on this performance alone, I’m not entirely convinced on Jakko as frontman, but he does seem both reasonably precise and endearingly earnest, and I look forward to seeing more before making a real judgment.  In a similar vein, given the use of the word “reimagining” to describe this edition of KC, I was a little surprised at how canonical and straight-up this edition of “Easy Money” seemed to be.  Again, I don’t know how indicative it may be, and I ain’t castin’ a judgment until I’ve seen more.  (Besides, it’s a great song, and as much as I have loved KC’s long insistence on new music over old, I’m in no way above the idea of re-Crim-inating some of the catalog;  if that’s what the muse is interested in doing now, I’m happy to go along.  Again, the trust has more than been earned.)

And boy, do I hear some treats in there.  It is always a pleasure to hear T-Lev in a Crimson group, and the return of reedman Mel Collins holds a lot of promise.  Watching and listening to Robert, it is obvious that he is playing the old piece with all the context of his subsequent work, and that is just a-okay by me;  it’s also quite a charge to see him smile like that!

Finally, there is that triple-drummer frontline, and wow, does that sound fantastic.  The stories of Mastelotto, Rieflin, and Harrison focusing on being a single drummer with one brain and six available hands–yeah, I’m believing that.  The interplay here is magnificent, and true to intention, there really is no overplaying that I can hear, just a solid, collaborative percussion line that demonstrates much of the richness that Jamie Muir brought to the ’72 Crimson.

Yes, please, more of that!  I do look forward to seeing what else they have in mind.

7/7/7 Day Eight (yes, Day Eight): Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Film.

(Note:  this post is part of a series.)

Day 8. Wait, what?
I needed a vehicle to recognize Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Film.

Any such list is bound to have a criminal omission on it. Mine, true to type, has at least three. At least: three of this magnitude:

Frank Zappa, “Drowning Witch”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-gICWP1Zuw

How does one choose “a” Zappa piece? Which of the forty zillion musical ideas deserves the single highlight? I played in a trio whose repertoire included “Sleep Dirt”, so y’know, maybe that one. Or perhaps it’s a legendary composition like “The Black Page”. Or hell, why not go straight to the obnoxious–there’s plenty to choose from, after all.

I went with the tortured idea-mill otherwise known as “Drowning Witch”, partly because it seems to have a little of all of it. (This is the version from the third installment of the “You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore” series.) But really, I just needed to recognize FZ as an influence, and as a genius of just as much depth as anyone may care to discover. (To paraphrase from the liner notes: “This is a hard song to play. How hard? The 1984 band *never* played it perfectly, and the 1982 band only came close on two occasions. This edit captures some of the best efforts of both.” Consider the musical caliber of FZ bands, against that statement.)

Béla Fleck, “System Seven”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq5TSrRYHFQ

Jeez, I could have picked any of a dozen Béla Fleck songs and been happy with the choice. In the end I went with a quiet, unflashy piece from the first “Tales from the Acoustic Planet” record, where by “backing band” what is really meant is “acoustic supergroup”. It makes the point as well as any: the man has been a wildly important figure in multiple musical genres, and it’s certainly hard to imagine my musical life without him. (For anyone looking for a delightful story, check out Fleck’s “Throw Down Your Heart” documentary.)

It sometimes seems strange that I have followed Sam Bush even more closely than Béla; knowing my usual preferences it would be easy to conclude I’d always gravitate toward Fleck first. This probably says more about Sam than about Béla, and make no mistake–on the recordings we used at all three of our kids’ births, only Sam appears more often than the Banjo Boy Wonder. There are times–a lot of them–when it seems that there is simply nothing he cannot do with a five-string banjo.

JS Bach, “Ciaccona”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAYLqOQ72f8

As a composition, Bach’s “Ciaccona” / “Chaconne” is simply a monstrous, haunting masterpiece. I keep telling myself that some day I will actually get around to tackling that one in earnest…and I’ll have my hands full doing it. The version of it that really took my attention for the first time was an arrangement for guitar (in the Guitar Craft tuning) played by Bert Lams on the first California Guitar Trio record, “Yamanashi Blues”. Spine-chilling! On the other hand there is a tradition of playing it on the mandolin (hell, it was written for violin, which is tuned the same), and I can certainly say that just playing the main chord sequence, voiced as it is, just burrows right down where I live.

The YouTube clip above is the very definition of aggravating. Incomplete, with several random splits in the timeline,…grrrrh. Nonetheless, it is Mike Marshall playing…the same Mike Marshall that guys like Sam Bush go to for technical tips and help with the truly impossible passages. And he’s playing this ludicrously beautiful piece as well as you’ll hear it played.

Well, I fell better now, having found a way to include Zappa, Bela, and Bach. And I’ll call the project done.

For now.  🙂

7/7/7 Day Seven: King Crimson, ‘The Sheltering Sky’.

(Note:  this post is part of a series.)

Day 7. King Crimson, “The Sheltering Sky”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c2H5TkR5Vk
https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…/Discipline_(King_Crimson_album)

To this day, this for me remains *the* most viscerally insistent piece of music I have ever heard. (Yes, I’ve thought about this before. Given that the “inner circle” of contenders for that title includes things such as Miles’ heart-stopping pianissimo solo in the Aranjuez section of “Sketches of Spain” and Coltrane’s otherworldly interpretation of “Compassion” from his first (quartet) “Meditations”, you might say the accolade is not arbitrary.) Like “OM”, I simply could not consider such an effort as this “7/7/7” of mine to be valid without this in it.

In that regard, I’m a bit bummed I can’t seem to find a YouTube link to the studio version of this piece. There are a number of live recordings available, and (as with the one above from Frejus in ’82) they pretty much all capture great moments from a fantastic live band. But for me, what puts “The Sheltering Sky” over the top is the measured, constantly simmering, (dare I say) disciplined restraint that is so obvious in the studio recording. As a living, breathing thing, it constantly threatens to break from its chains as it swells, but it never quite gets there, and then when finally it subsides away, it’s with a tiger-like, smiling snarl that reminds you, “I’m still here.” Live Crim naturally stretches out a bit, ever experimenting, and while the restraint is still there, it’s just not quite the same as that first statement.

If you have never heard the original, do consider gifting yourself a copy of the “Discipline” album, and really listening to it–the whole thing, but especially “Sky”. “Discipline” is what simply exploded my musical world, bent my ears, and put me in the place I am today. I have since become a fan of all King Crimson and Robert Fripp in general, and of course that is how I found out about Guitar Craft in the first place. (When you consider all the coattails, it’s kinda hard to overstate the impact that’s all had on me.)

Incidentally, once I’d heard (and been flattened by) “The Sheltering Sky”, I of course had to read the Paul Bowles novel. Crimson’s piece is an eerily appropriate soundtrack, and I have since remained interested in this metaphysical distinction between a tourist and a traveler. (All the things that art is supposed to do!)

And so concludes my official “7/7/7”. But you know me, right? So it won’t entirely surprise you if that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m quite yet done.  🙂