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SoundGround >> Ronald Shannon Jackson


11/6/12 5:14 PM
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hugomma
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Just saw these, thanks Ali.  Relevant to my interests, & VTFU.

11/7/12 6:31 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 11/07/12 6:36 PM
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Ali - Here's one of the most beautiful (i.e., not me being weird in my definition, either). One thing I love about the earlier RSJ records is the occasional banjo played by Vernon Reid. Always loved his approach to banjo. But also the bass on this (two bassists in the band, so I can't sort who is who all the time)... This is called "Mystery at Dawn":
 

Mystery Dawn reminds "Little Church" off of Miles' "Live-Evil", but with better execution.  Nothing weird about pointing it out how beautiful it is.  And you're right about Reid's banjo . The occasional tremolo picking, the little, pentatonic runs, just the overall texture adds so much to the piece.  

I guess being a genius virtuoso drummer wasn't enough for RSJ. 

11/7/12 9:27 PM
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Ali
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Sometimes people think I'm being weird in my definition of "beautiful" is all. I just meant "Mystery at Dawn" is pretty much a more consensus idea of what that is.

When I was living in Nashville, in grad school... I had a roommate who was a philosophy Ph.D candidate. Always checking out music, but always less "out" than I was, I guess. Once when he wasn't around for a while, I had on Mandance super loud. He came home unexpectedly and just looked confused.... a line from my dad: "What's that noise??"

But he didn't turn it down, and I just shouted over it... "that's not noise... that's BEAUTIFUL". And I meant it. To his credit he just froze and listned for about 2 minutes. Then nodded. "OK". And meant it. I think a lot of music just takes... taking the time out of the whirrying brain, and listening to what's actually going on.

Right now I'm listening to the first Decoding Society record. And again, the whole of the instrumentation, and most of all the tone on the drums, but all of it, the almost-unison horns, the burning electric guitar just under the surface... it's really beautiful. It just FEELS so hedonistic in the most surprising places.
11/8/12 12:53 AM
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hugomma
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Edited: 11/08/12 12:57 AM
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Ali - Here's a live clip of earlier Decoding Society. You get to see the very young virtuoso Vernon Reid.... for all you Living Colour fans... but he doesn't get solo space. The last solo is pretty great, passionate -- Henry Scott on trumpet. But the drums create the whole new and fresh and fertile earth for all these younger guys to roam. I wish the sound mix was a little better (because the drum tone in particular is so seductive when you can hear it properly)... but it's in no way bad. And no else is sounding like this.

"Zang Fangs" live at the Montreux Jazz Festival:

 

Talk about deep, meaty grooves.  Is there any drum style RSJ CAN'T play?  It's not even the tight rolls or the technique, it's the mood he sets with the drums.  And he probably wrote this, too.  What an unbelievabel musican. 

Kind of bugged me out hearing Vernon Reid with Mike Stern-like chorus settings, but it was well done & fit the tune perfectly.  The bizzaro melody & tribal freak out section from 0:40-0:50 & again at 1:22-1:32 reminded me a bit of Prime Time, but it has a flavor & feel all it's own.  I'm also impressed with how the fretted & fretless basses manage not to step all over each other. 

The more I hear of RSJ, the more his music grows on me.  I can't get enough of this guy lately. 

11/8/12 1:16 AM
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hugomma
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Ali - And here's a rather twisted avant-"rockish" take on the blues; a trio of Ornette Coleman band alumni. James Blood Ulmer on guitar and voice; Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass (and looking super groovy/professorial!); and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums, driving it all forward and holding it down. I think this was before Blood started tuning all of the guitar strings to an open "A"!

"Night Blues"


As much as I enjoyed the band & the playing, I loved the vocal on this.  I guess this is the closest to a Living Colour-like band RSJ ever had.

11/8/12 1:22 AM
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hugomma
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Ali - By the 1990s, the decoding society had Jef Lee Johnson on guitar, Dom Richards on bass, Rob Redy on soprano sax, and a ringer... James Carter on tenor sax. This tune Shannon wrote trying to recreate the feeling of being in Seville for a Flamenco festival. His comments on youtube say:

"as luck, faith, or karma would have it I was in Seville on the night of the annual Gypsy Flamenco Festival of singing dancing and joy,guitars hand clapping foot? stomping and tongue wailing a unique experience that I tried to put to music.... oh the Andalusian...in rhythm Shannon"

So here's "Night in Seville" from 1994:


I'm starting to get annoyed that this is what they get in Europe, while we're stuck with "America's Got Talent".

11/8/12 3:20 AM
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Ali
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Just starting??? Some of the best stuff I've seen has come from Polish TV. I'm like... I searched and searched in record stores, in my youth, for this stuff... and they get it broadcast tv? Whoa.
11/8/12 10:24 AM
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hugomma
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Ali - Just starting??? Some of the best stuff I've seen has come from Polish TV. I'm like... I searched and searched in record stores, in my youth, for this stuff... and they get it broadcast tv? Whoa.

I'm a little slower than you :-)

11/10/12 2:23 AM
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hugomma
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Edited: 11/10/12 2:50 AM
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Another reason to envy Euro TV, and another reason why RSJ's such a brillant drummer/band leader/composer.  Check out 9:08 till the end...

As far as I'm concerned, this man's as good as any drummer that's ever lived.  That includes guys like Max Roach, Elvin Jones, & Tony Williams.  As far as a bandleader, you're absolutley right that his bands were "grad school" for the young lions that joined him.  RSJ's various bandmates are a virtual who's who of modern jazz and progressive music.  He's like Zappa or Art Blakey in that regard.  And his best work as a composer is as good as anything I've ever heard, including electric Miles or Trane.

I'm so glad I got turned on to RSJ.  It's been like discovering Zappa or Frisell.

 

11/11/12 1:53 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/11/12 3:35 PM
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I was watching that Sunday's Bells performance a couple nights ago... and now again. And I'm doubly bugged by the fact that it's only in my left speaker. Beggars/choosers problem, I guess, because that's really great. (And not "so serious!" as RSJ says in the intro). Fuze kills me. And it's bothering me doubly so now that the one RSJ record in my collection that I cannot find at all, is the one that has a lot of him (Raven Roc is that record). But as soon as he comes him with that muted string faux-koto sound (2:29 or so) I just know he's going to build into so mthing ripping. Really good at building anticipation. And Shannon sounds like he's doing his ancient Native American - to - space jazz mix... then the whole march rhythm, New Orleans celebration/funeral thing as soon as he sits at the kit... the guy just brings in so many different things and makes it all really organic. Such great writing. And the drumming is again... a storm front. A storm. And so subtle. Thanks for posting that, Hugo.

Now I have to find Raven Roc, so I can hear that band (at least I think it's that band) from both speakers!

Check the Ornette, "Body Meta"; and check RSJ's "What Spirit Say" too, when you get a chance. You know how to find them!

As far as his position among the great drummers... not being a drummer I'm afraid of pontificating. Obviously there are people who different things and I don't believe in a "best" or anything like that. But he's as good as anyone I've ever heard for sure. Hearing him live was like being carried out by a fast tide. Whoosh!

I've been listening to much of my collection over the last week or so.... there's a lot of very noisy music (a la Sun Ra or something) on some of those records. And there's a lot of my favorite music ever, too.
11/17/12 9:43 PM
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Majic Sam
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Ali!You know it.RSJ can do no wrong.I own several Decoding Society and Last Exit lps/bootlegs.Some of my favorite music.I really enjoy his sound,Sonar drums tuned in the high register played with a bombastic and physical approach.A unique musician and very cool cat.Great thread,man.
11/19/12 9:43 PM
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Ali
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Thanks Sam -- yeah, he's spectacular. Really opened me up to whole realms of music I didn't know about, thirty years ago. Makes me feel old. Oh yeah, I kinda am.

Last Exit -- I don't know what to say about that stuff. Most of the official recordings sound like bad bootlegs, so that always got in the way. The one studio record that's well-recorded is very good, but it's also much lower intensity than the crappy-sounding live ones.... and I don't know abou the bootlegs. I sort of figured they'd mostly sound about as good as the live official things, and that wasn't good enough! But to hear Sharrock and Jackson together, especially, is a treat indeed.

So mixed feelings. On the other hand, I just this week listened to The Decoding Society's live album"Texas". Killingly good. Not a great recording, but not too bad either. And Masujaa and DeNigris on board on guitars... make me almost not miss Vernon Reid or Fuze.
11/20/12 2:34 AM
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Majic Sam
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If you can sit through a Last Exit/Decoding Society bootleg,then that is the true stamp.

Coming at their music from a punk previous rock background,any RSJ/Last Exit is better than none,as it wasn't meant to be sentimental,or over produced.They played and it was captured live...luckilly...but,yes,not easily listened to.As you say,any RSJ and Sonny.They had just as much energy as any punk/metal band at that time.
11/20/12 2:41 AM
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Majic Sam
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BTW,probably no suprise,but I saw/met James Ulmer Blood in Vancouver 10 years ago.Had a photo taken and probably 10 record covers for him to sign (some of which he refused cuz the German label still owed him money).Went outside to smoke,then hurled...came back in the club and got kicked out for being wasted.Never did see those covers again.Still have the vinyls...
11/21/12 11:58 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/22/12 12:00 AM
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Majic Sam - If you can sit through a Last Exit/Decoding Society bootleg,then that is the true stamp.

Coming at their music from a punk previous rock background,any RSJ/Last Exit is better than none,as it wasn't meant to be sentimental,or over produced.They played and it was captured live...luckilly...but,yes,not easily listened to.As you say,any RSJ and Sonny.They had just as much energy as any punk/metal band at that time.

Funny you talk about the Punk/Metal... I heard RSJ's Mandance. And a bit later I heard Blood's Black Rock. A friend of mine who was in a speed metal band made the comment, regarding the latter, "this stuff pins you to far wall even when played at quiet volumes". I loved that. I can't think of any punk or metal band that struck me as HALF as powerful as what those guys were doing at the time.

Speaking of Last Exit bootlegs... just today for the first time, I heard one recorded in Tampere, Finland, from 1986. A guy on another forum did some remastering (de-clicking and speed correction) from a vinyl bootleg. It sounds better than the official stuff. And the band is freaking RAGING. Thanks for reminding me to seek some of that out, Majic Sam!

Thing about bootlegs... those guys weren't really getting paid for the official releases. Old "blues man" story of record companies not sending royalties. And I feel super guilty about hearing boots, and those guys just scuffling.

I occasionally buy things directly from RSJ's website to offset all that. So what if it costs $30 for a recording of Power Tools with Cosey... I'm paying for all the music I got to hear that RSJ NEVER got a dime for. Makes me mad.
12/9/12 5:26 PM
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hugomma
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Here's another one that's beautiful and terrifying, particularly Vernon Ried.  "Warren", aka "A Tribute to Sonny Sharrock".  Wish the damn camera man didn't cut on Melvin Gibbs' solo at the end.

12/9/12 5:37 PM
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Ali
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Man... I wish that particular trio would get together more, tour, do records...
Get a couple of horns and have a new Decoding Society, even.

Thanks for posting, Hugo. Some of my favorite music has that super-intense and pretty at the same time flavor, and yeah, that's what Sharrock was all about, so a nice tribute moment.
2/9/13 12:28 AM
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Ali
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Shannon on drums:

2/9/13 4:41 AM
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Majic Sam
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Ronald Shannon has approx. 10's more soul and improv ability than most musicians on the planet.This is a conservative estimation.
2/10/13 2:04 AM
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hugomma
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Edited: 02/10/13 2:25 AM
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And now for something completely different...

RSJ swinging in a more modal/bop setting.  In this case, Wayne Shorter's "Footprints".  According to Shannon, "this was the first concert of a ten concert tour of Japan in 1988. two nights in Tokyo."    And look at the goddamn lineup:

Herbie Hancock.................... Piano
Wayne Shorter.......................Soprano Sax
Larry Coryell...........................Guitar
Shunzo Ohno.........................Trumpet
Nestor Torres.........................Flute
Buster Williams......................Bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson...Drums

 

2/10/13 2:08 AM
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hugomma
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I think this is from the same series of shows in Japan, although in the comments, Shannon says the year was 1987.

 

 

2/10/13 2:10 AM
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hugomma
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I know it's an RSJ thread, but my god this Larry Coryell...

2/10/13 2:17 AM
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hugomma
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Edited: 02/10/13 2:20 AM
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Well, that's one way to shut the crowd up & make them listen...This was just a few months ago, back in July.  Shannon was 72.  72 year old men aren't supposed to be that creative or vital.  

2/10/13 2:25 AM
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hugomma
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Ali - Shannon on drums:


I wonder what it's like to be that good at anything.

2/10/13 3:46 AM
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Ali
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RSJ with... Buster Williams and Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter... ????

I have no idea how it's possible that I had no idea that happened. Thanks Hugo!

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