Aural Hygiene

I have this odd habit of combining dental appointments with CD shopping.  I know it sounds weird, but there's actually a method to my madness.  My favourite record store - Atelier Grigorian - is on Yorkville Ave. just around the corner from my dentist.  So after blowing good money on having my teeth cleaned every three months, I wash away the fluoride taste by spending some dough on something I actually enjoy, jazz records.  It's kind of a pain-pleasure principle and I only wish my benefit package covered the CD sprees. Atelier Grigorian is deceptive, it seems small when you first enter but goes back a fair way then branches out into a wider section with another room.  It's chock full of CDs and has a helpful, friendly staff who really know their music and their records, in fact several of them are musicians themselves.  Grigorian is perfect for me because it makes absolutely no concessions to popular taste or current trends - if you're looking for the latest Justin Timberlake or Beyonce, go elsewhere.  Their inventory is about two-thirds classical, with the other third mostly jazz with some interesting folk/world music thrown in.  The jazz section is well stocked, longer on quality than quantity and I like the way they have jazz singers in a separate area; which is sensible and makes sense and for easier rummaging. In the last year or two, CD shopping for me has become like the law of diminishing returns for a couple of reasons.  One, as my jazz collection more [...]

Lightning In A Bottle (Part Four)

9.  Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane - Nov. 29, 1957 - Carnegie Hall The 2005 issue of these two stupendous sets from Carnegie Hall allowed listeners to at long last properly hear Monk's legendary "Five Spot" band at its peak, making this Smithsonian discovery one of the most significant in the history of jazz.  Before getting to the music itself though, a discussion of why the Five Spot gig was so important to the careers of Monk and Coltrane and the mystery of why so little of this great band's music was available (and in such desultory form and patchy quality) before this. Thelonious Monk's career belatedly took wing in the second half of the 1950s, aided by his productive contract with Riverside Records and the restoration of his cabaret card, which enabled him to work again in New York clubs.  In July of 1957 Monk took a quartet into the Five Spot Cafe - a bohemian hangout for artists and writers located in the Bowery at 5 Cooper Square - for a now-famous six-month residency.  The band consisted of Monk on piano, John Coltrane on tenor, Wilbur Ware on bass (replaced by Abdul Ahmed-Malik in August)  and Shadow Wilson on drums. The gig was hugely important in Monk's career, putting his music on regular display in New York for the first time in many years.  It also had a huge impact on the development of Coltrane as a musician. Coltrane was available because Miles Davis had disbanded his first quintet, tiring of the junkie antics of Coltrane and the more [...]