Levitation Orchestra drummer Harry Ling doesn't do straight eighths
judging by the number of picks here...but so long as those picks are tight, i doubt anyone will give quite enough of a fuck, and unless I'm forgetting something, he's at the very least rescued Hank Mobley from the 10 Second-less wilderness. That's worthy of a little something extra.
1.Hank Mobley – No Room For Squares (2'30" - 2'40")
– No Room For Squares (1963)
"This recording perfectly captures what Hard Bop is all about for me – fiery momentum with a relentless, slow burning heat between the soloists and rhythm section. The lineup is a mix of regular collaborators like Donald Byrd and Butch Warren, with some more unexpected additions like Herbie and Andrew Hill still managing to make their unmistakable imprints on the music.
This track is full of nimble, grooving solos over long modal passages which leave plenty of space for Hancock’s pointillist syncopation, reminiscent of the work he was doing with Miles’ second great quintet at the time. Alongside Jones’ dense snare drum punctuation, the two fiercely fill space, yet never lose forward motion. The highlight for me is Byrd’s entry, contrasting Mobley’s swinging, meandering melodies with staccato statements; measured, and rhythmically much more even – the kind of New Orleans derived in-the-crack friction that I feel a lot of musicians miss out on nowadays."
2. John Coltrane – Afro Blue (2'58" - 3'08")
John Coltrane -
Afro Blue Impressions (rec 1963 - rel 1977)
" Another tour de force display of intensity and energy, this time from John Coltrane’s legendary 4-piece on tour in Europe, also in 1963. This 2-CD recording showcases the unmatched power and majesty of the band performing live, doing away with the time restraints of a studio session to allow such ventures as a 21-minute version of “My Favourite Things.” The united homophony of this band is on absolutely legendary form, with some truly awe-inspiring moments from Tyner, Jones and Garrison, who don’t lose an ounce of energy over the epic 2 sides of this record. McCoy’s stunning lyricism and Elvin’s relentless bed of rumbling colour sets the perfect scene for Coltrane’s earth-shattering entry at 3:02. Often imitated but never replicated.
3. Björk – Mutual Core (2'00" - 2'10")
Bjork - Biophilia (2011)
“My favourite track from my favourite Björk album. The electro-acoustic composition on this album is second to none, with new instruments literally being commissioned for the record. The contrast between organic organ sounds and choir vs. crushing bass sound design really brings Björk’s descriptions of tectonic plates and eruptions to life. The mix of accurate scientific terminology and intimate, sentimental romanticism on this album is some of my absolute favourite songwriting to date, and ties the album together in an aesthetically but also semantically flawless package. Kinda a perfect record?
4. Mulgrew Miller - Joshua (4'40" - 4'50")
Live at Yoshi's, Vol. 2 (2005)
"This version of Joshua is a really awesome mix of lineage and interpretation of an originally British composition by Victor Feldman. Not everything works reduced down to piano trio, but Mulgrew handles the call and response of the head with all of his usual finesse and musicality. One of the things I love with this band is the precision and rapid conversational exchange, which allows some very daring interaction, but strung together with that kind of post-Oscar Peterson shaping and live arranging. Mulgrew, on the other hand, retains a really dense and often emotionally equable equilibrium to his phrasing, in an effortlessly cool contrast to the other much more bold and outspoken elements of the performance."
5. Miles Davis - Autumn Leaves (2'57" - 3'07")
Miles Davis - Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival (1963)
"One of the 2nd great quintet’s staples, there are a few versions you can check of the band playing this tune. Miles cues the tune in almost the exact same way every time, demonstrating the idiosyncrasy and attentiveness the band had clearly developed by this time. Each solo feels like a chapter in a story; Miles’ sparse lyricism leaves ample space for the ground-breaking interactive capabilities of the rhythm section to shine through, while George Coleman’s meandering line adds a more straight ahead warmth, compared to the more impressionistic colours that Wayne Shorter would later contribute.
Despite the musical prowess of the band, Carter and Williams maintain a breathtakingly sparse two feel for much of Miles’ solo, making the occasional pedal points and polyrhythmic implications far more effective – adding subtle drama and energy rather than tripping up the momentum of the music. A timelessly inventive rendition of one of the of the most rinsed tunes – just goes to show there’s no excuses for not getting creative and serving the music."
6. Teedra Moses – Be Your Girl (Kaytranada Edit) (2'40" - 2'50")
Various unofficial releases
"I first heard this remix on Kaytra’s legendary Montreal Boiler Room set back in 2013. BADNESS. There can’t be more than 6 or 7 layers in this track yet it evokes so much groove and emotion. Simple subtractive synthesis and raw sampling harks to Dilla and Madlib, while the percussion layering reminds me of Black Coffee and the South African House scene. Biggest bop of the last 1000 years don’t @ me."
7. Sam Gellaitry – Embark (0'39" - 0'49")
Viewfinder Vol 1: Phosphene (2019)
"My other biggest production influence, the King Sam G. I can’t even begin to decipher when one sample ends and another begins, when sample becomes synth or synth becomes sample. One minute you’re listening to spectacular ambient soundscapes, before you know it you’re listening to a 70s orchestra with absolutely no processing at all. Both uniquely British and American at once, the hypnotic looping and ferocious drum programming are rooted firmly on home turf while the huge, saturated drum samples and epic sound layers place his music effortlessly along US greats like Flying Lotus and Gaslamp Killer.
8. Walter Smith III – Stablemates (2'51" - 3'01")
Walter Smith III - Live in Paris (2009)
"Released in 2009, didn’t hear this until 2016 which I find absolutely shameful to be honest. The absolute peak of improvisatory exploration at the time, this band takes the Miles Davis 2nd 5tet model and absolutely takes it to space. Somewhere between swing, straight 8ths and free music, the band dip in and out of the tune’s constituent frameworks at will, never losing the form yet using it to construct their own musical landscape.
Smith and Akinmusire absolutely soar over Aaron Goldberg’s hyper-sensitive comping, which is both harmonically lush and accommodating, yet rhythmically startling. Drums and bass expound upon this relationship, with Matt Brewer staying very much in pocket while Marcus Gilmore’s multidirectional cadence around the drums never quite taking on a much more lyrical and equilibristic groove, punctuated with flares of the textural and timbral expression which has made Marcus a true zenith of modern drumming."
9. Kenny Garrett – What Is This Thing Called Love (3'34" - 3'44")
– Standard Of Language (2003)
"Quite possibly the shared branch on the family tree between all of the music I’m interested in here. The absolutely unstoppable momentum and swing of this band, if anything, should sound too choked and metronomic. The pure consistency of feel throughout the band, however, carries the band along with pointillist-level accuracy, like a gymnast or a figure skater. Unlike Gilmore, Chris Dave’s runs around the kit serve a more homophonic, repetitive unison between all the percussive elements of the music, engaging in much more clear call and response with Garrett. Sounds like a steam train that should come off the rails but somehow always fixed firmly to the tracks.
Dave’s drumming here setting the stage for all the beatmaking/live drums crossover he would later become famous for. Absolutely machine-level consistency of feel while still allowing room for fluctuations and tones to shine through, with huge dynamic contrast and thematic development throughout without compromising on musicality. The genius Mr. Dave!
Eric Harland - 13th Floor (3'03"-3'13")
Eric Harland- Voyager (2010)
"I remember listening to this tune when the record first dropped with my homie Jay Verma (amazing pianist check him out). The rhythm section have this intense not-quite-swung urgency, kinda like McCoy with Roy Haynes. Harland bases a lot of his comping figures of the same simple fragment, very reminiscent of Art Blakey’s intensely consistent grooving.
The big victory moment for me is the peak of Taylor Eigsti’s solo - this attack of McCoy language which morphs into these gorgeous gospel style block chords under a ‘Love For Sale’ quote. Really shows the emotional potential in jazz improv - such a perfect unity between ferocity and sensitivity. Actually seen footage of Taylor blowing over the form of this tune in a lesson – amazing to see a snapshot of his improvising off record in a more informal setting.