Ugh. The sophomore slump. I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck to write about for a few days now. I’ve even put together one piece about Pat Metheny and my general loathing for liquidy, noodley guitar. So there’s a summary right there (and I will still tell Mark I’m sorry).
Give me Sonny Sharrock any day of the week; complete and utter abandon. Put on Black Woman, turn it up, and you’re certain to open up some seats in your livingroom. Linda Sharrock’s voice moves through the brain like some futuristic laser butter-knife, cauterizing the cut edges, forging new paths and perspectives. Though, there was a little bit in there, if I remember correctly, about how old Pat should have stuck with Ornette et al after making Song X. Instead, he helped to guide the shitstorm out of the gates of Berklee, giving assholes credentials, but really just providing a workforce for Sam Ash and Guitarcenter. But I don’t want to be a jerk, so I’m not going to focus on that.
So. Anyway. I’m planning, along with some friends, a gigantic weekend of shows, films, and art, and we’re calling it The Thing in the Spring. This means I’m going to be doing a lot of printing. That’s another thing I do here in my apartment/workshop. And while I’m printing up the tickets, posters, and albums related to the event, I need records to listen to. There is something so beautiful about a stack of new records against the stereo, especially when I have so much to do.
I took some days off last week, which is how I found the time to get out there and dig through the bins of my favorite stores. These new guys will illuminate the work. Hitting the keys on the old typer too is much easier when they’re greased by the stone cold grooves of Ravi Shankar and the plaintive thrashing of the Raincoats. Because you know they “can’t stand it, can’t stand it, can’t stand the pain”. And I’m with them all the way, my Brother SX4000 and I. So, as the wildwood flowers bloom inside of me, the drones and tabla-infused drums hearken directly back to the two previous sides of India’s Master Musician. I also just picked up that Live Trane: The European Tours box set which includes all of the tunes from Afro Blue Impressions plus discs of other sets that are just as mindbending. I think I’ll be blasting this all week long (and there’s even some great Dolphy in there, which reminds me, anyone have a bass-clarinet they’re looking to get rid of?).
Paul Flaherty is going to be playing at The Thing in the Spring, along with drummer Randall Colbourne. They did somewhere around 14 records together throughout the 80s and haven’t played a live set together in years. Flaherty is the kind of man who inspires you to be better at living your life. I’m not talking about being responsible at your job, or brushing your teeth, or even keeping up with your family. While those things are important, from a certain point of view, they are absolutely not at all from the perspective that makes that bare and real difference.
He wants to know about you: the little thing that you cradle somewhere in the center of your chest, looking at it cupped in your hands in the quiet hours of the night. He wants you to tell him about that, your hope. If you listen to him play, he’ll tell you about his. Though there are several LPs worth getting, most recently the sessions with Corsano and Wally Shoup issued as Blank Check and Bounced Check, the one to get where you can hear him speak directly into your ear is Whirl of Nothingness. These are all solo recordings that also include Flaherty-penned liner notes where he talks about suffering and love.
This is a serious man. If you listen, and the only things you hear are the shrieks and howls of a madman, then I am sorry for you. You are missing the teachings of a yogi in the new frontier. These are the sounds of wars, self-doubt, and loneliness coming back from space. This is unrequited love bouncing off of the timeless void. Paul is a conduit, and he has the cosmos inside of his horn. Get into it.