Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Carla Bley Band - Musique Mecanique (1979)


Note: this release was received as a gift as an LP, later replaced by a CD.

German Import

This music is hard to describe.  Avant garde big band fusion meets melodic free jazz, maybe?  It's got some improv, but the adventurous, often humorous themes are well-structured.  At the very least, it's challenging music.  The unique instrumentation adds to the odd effect:  brass quartet, woodwinds, piano, bass (electric and acoustic), guitars, electric pump organ, walkie-talkie, glockenspiel, and Bley herself on organ and toy piano.  This is the sort of music you'd hear on a late night show on public radio.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks:  The lead track, 440, is a playful take on the standard tuning note A440.  It's the most accessible piece on the album and I like it, especially when it kicks into high gear with some scorching sax solos.  The hit-or-miss second track, Jesus Maria And Other Spanish Strains, is a pastiche of all genres things Spanish, including norteño and toreador; with a lots of drunken-sounding trombone throughout, some sections are better than others.   What was side B (tracks 3-5 on CD) is a suite of 3 pieces comprising Musique Mecanique. That's when things get bizarre.  Not surprisingly, I mainly listened to side one of the LP.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: (shared with Jamaaladeen Tacuma - Show Stopper ) When I was a senior in high school, Craig, a family friend, upon hearing that I wanted to study music in college, sent me two LPs: this one and Show Stopper by Jamaaladeen Tacuma.  These albums were accompanied by a hand-written note telling me that I should listen to as many different kinds of music as possible (he was right, of course).  Being a typical high school senior, I though I was already an expert on everything, so I didn't know what these odd albums could possibly offer me.  After all, I was already listening to all kinds of music, wasn't I?  I had a subscription to Rolling Stone, didn't I?  Talk about naïve. I wasn't quite ready for this stuff then, but I always looked up to Craig, so I never gave up on these albums and, years later, finally understood why he gave them to me.

You can hear the album on Grooveshark: http://grooveshark.com/album/Musique+Mecanique/9486033

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