Monday, January 23, 2006

Hairy Lumps

There's a reasonably good reason for my extended silence, albeit not an amazing one. Friday afternoon, the hard drive on the dayjob PowerBook melted down, and after several hours of the spinning beachball of death it was taken away to a happy place in the country. This, needless to say, necessitated a jag that took in Williamsburg (and some dubious drone rock - check upcoming 'zine-lets for if I ever rouse the energy to write about it) and crippled my verbal faculties for the rest of the weekend.

Which is not to say that I have been idle. I am the proud recipient of a fine-looking new 60G video iPod (thank you Cutesome, I love you). And I managed to purchase some more vinyl, which has, just, provided Gumby Fresh with enough audio for a week-long mp3 project. And it involves flutes.

Before I was a DJ, and by DJ I mean playing mediocre records on the radio and absolutely rotten ones at college parties, I always thought that having a gimmick was very important to one's DJ career. Not true, as it happened, DJs really just require strong arms, more than maybe 40 records and a limitless capacity for self-abasement. But I was adamant - my name was to be DJ Noseflute, and I would play nothing but flute records, or at the very least a special megamix in then middle that was rather reliant on flutes.

Never got anywhere. But the iTunes has grown to encompass a good few cuts (not tracks, for god's sake not tracks, as Q would have it), and it might be time to give it a go. Five days of nothing but flutes. Starting with the king of flutes - Brooklyn-born master of the jazz-flute Herbie Mann.

Herbie was known for two things - incredibly intricate arrangements of soul and jazz classics for flute, and appearing topless and hairy on his album covers. Herbie scooted all over world music, and tended to drag in various bits of vibraphone and the occasional vocal in to bolster his sound. You may recall the recent movie Ray, and the appearance of Booger from Revenge of the Nerds as Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, was a huge backer of Mann, and he and his brother Nesuhi produced much of Mann's work.

The end result can be superficially kitschy and the Austin Powers vibes are hard to ignore. Moreover he tended to soak up whatever influence was nearest to hand. Sometimes he was in Brazil when this happened (good), and sometimes he was in Studio 54 (urrgh). To convince you that we're serious about this flute business, we'll give ya two.

The first is from the pretty rare blaxploitation jazz-flute album Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty. You could totally beat someone up to it provided you didn't work up too much of a sweat. Jim Newsom knows as much as anyone about this, and "groove-oriented" sums it up.

Herbie Mann - "Can You Dig It"
You got two days to buy "Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty" on eBay. Charge!

The other one is a live version of his signature interpretation - Comin' Home Baby. This one's from the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival, 189 years to the day after the British invasion of Staten Island. You have likely never heard a flute go as bats as this, and my apologies for the scratchiness - you will find superior quality fun on the CD.

Herbie Mann - "Comin' Home Baby"
Buy "The Best Of Herbie Mann" here. No hairy chest on the cover, more's the pity


At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That picture is kind of gross.


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