Saturday, February 5, 2005

Frank Wright

Image Hosted by

His Discography, and a more complete discography

The closest I can come to a proper bio is through the allmusic guide:

Wright never made much of a name for himself outside the innermost circle of free jazz musicians and fans, yet he was influential in his own subversive way. Unlike Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, or Cecil Taylor -- peers and contemporaries who were the same age or only slightly older -- Wright never recorded even a single record under his own name for a major label; he was "underground" his entire career. Ayler's scalding abstract expressionism was the prime influence on Wright, who transformed it with his own personality and passed it on. Echoes of Wright's playing can be heard in the work of such younger saxophonists as Glenn Spearman, Sabir Mateen, Charles Gayle, and Thomas Borgmann.

Wright played electric bass as a young man, performing in R&B bands in Memphis and Cleveland -- Albert Ayler's hometown. It was there that he met Ayler, who inspired him to take up the tenor saxophone. Wright moved to New York in the early '60s and established himself on the burgeoning free jazz scene, playing with such musicians as organist Larry Young, saxophonist Noah Howard, and drummer Sunny Murray. Wright also played briefly with John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor. He led his first record date in 1965, Frank Wright Trio for the ESP label; his band included bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Tom Price. A Wright-led quintet recorded Your Prayer for ESP in 1967. He moved to France two years later, where he played with other American expatriates, including Noah Howard, pianist Bobby Few, and drummer Art Taylor. The early '70s saw Wright perform and record with a band usually comprised of himself, Few, Howard, and drummer (not boxer) Muhammad Ali; bassist Alan Silva replaced Howard around 1972.

After returning briefly to the U.S. in 1971, Wright moved back to France. During the '70s and '80s, he worked both there and in the U.S., recording mostly for small European labels as both a leader and sideman with such musicians as bassist Saheb Sarbib, saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, and trumpeter Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson. In the mid-'80s, he formed an association with the world-renowned visual artist and sometime musician A.R. Penck; he also recorded and performed with Cecil Taylor. In 1988, he performed in concert with the Art Ensemble of Chicago at the Petrillo Bandshell in Chicago. His last recordings from 1989-1990 were with a trio that included Penck on drums and Frank Wollny on bass.

Like a lot of jazzers from the free jazz subgenre, he doesn't get the props he deserves. The recordings of his that I've had the fortune to track down do bear a strongly Ayleresque influence, although Wright was his own man and tended to use fewer of the folk influences that characterized Ayler's work. However, like Ayler, there's a noticeable spiritual vibe to his compositions and his playing. Not surprisingly, he played with blazing intensity, and his albums from the 1960s and early 1970s are well worth acquiring. By the late 1970s an overt blues sound characterized his compositions (see, "Shouting the Blues" and "Kevin, My Dear Son" for examples). I am not yet familiar with his work from the 1980s. The stuff he was doing on the Center of the World label in particular is well worth seeking out. He played with some real heavyweights of the jazz underground, including the Ali brothers (Rashied & Muhammad), Noah Howard, Alan Silva, Albert Ayler, etc. The two albums he recorded for ESP-Disk are periodically in print. The rest of his work is about as hard to find as hens' teeth.

Some thoughts on academic freedom

I've been following the Ward Churchill fracas with some interest for the last several days. To recap, Churchill made a reference to a subset of the people working in the WTC as "little Eichmanns", a reference to the banality of evil, to the extent that the people working for the corporations housed in the old WTC had at least some role - albeit minor and indirect - in supporting policies of oppression of third world peoples. The result is that Churchill was ultimately forced to resign his position of department chair at University of Colorado (though he still retains his faculty position), and a forum at Hamilton College (NY) in which he was supposed to appear was cancelled after he and the sponsoring college's administrators were recipients of death threats (Note: Churchill is not the only professor to come under fire for remarks made following 9/11: Professor Berthold at University of New Mexico faced his own trial by fire after making an off-the-cuff remark that anyone who bombed the Pentagon was fine by him).

Regardless of what one might think of the comments of these men (which have been taken out of context), there's something disturbing about the fact that there is a virulent group of right-wingers bound and determined to extinguish their right to air their own views. Universities and colleges traditionally give faculty free reign to speak their minds, and do so with good reason. By debate and by research, those ideas that are worthwhile eventually manage to prevail whereas those that are crackpot eventually fall by the wayside. I'll withhold judgment on whether or not Churchill's ideas fall under the rubric of "crackpot" mainly because I am unfamiliar with his research and feel uncomfortable saying something inaccurate or irresponsible. I do know that other disciplines have plenty of their own crackpots who seem to hold comfortable positions at their particular colleges or universities. Cal State Long Beach's Kevin MacDonald has regularly voiced anti-semitic views publicly (along with being a purported supporter of eugenics), and J. Philippe Rushton of University of Western Ontario has been publishing numerous controversial (and in my opinion just plain wrong-minded) papers on racial differences in intelligence, temperament, etc. These guys make overtly racist statements that are abhorrent. As a student, I would have been undoubtedly upset at listening to their tripe, and would have if given a choice, avoided taking any classes from them. That said, we protect their rights to an open forum so that their ideas can be weighed, exposed, as needed refuted.

Colleges and universities serve to challenge students' views and their assumptions. They expect that students will have to step outside of their comfort zones when interacting with peers and professors alike. In doing so, they serve to foster critical thinking in part by modeling such behavior and in part by exposing students to views and ways of life that might be foreign to them. College life, then requires a certain level of emotional maturity from those who chose to participate. I find zealous attempts to censor professors who say things that offend one's sensibilities to be beyond the pale. To those on the right-wing, I have to wonder if they may be better served by going to trade schools or to private colleges sponsored by fundamentalist religious groups if they are so easily offended by something a liberal or radical professor says or writes. I don't have to agree with everything (or anything) that professors may say or write, but I'm thankful that they each have a forum to do their research, to teach, and debate.

Pop Culture Fun

Raiding the 20th Century - From the info page:

"On January 18th 2004, Strictly Kev premiered the original 'Raiding The 20th Century' on XFM's 'The Remix' show in London. It was a 40 minute attempt to catalogue the history of cut up music - be it avant garde tape manipulation, turntable megamixes or bastard pop mash ups. It rapidly spread throughout the web and managed to cause a full scale server crash on when they hosted it due to the volume of net traffic.

Shortly afterwards he read Paul Morley's recently published book 'Words & Music' and was amazed that certain chapters mirrored parts of his mix. Apart from the fact that the title, 'Raiding the 20th Century' was coined by Morley 20 years before for a future Art of Noise project, he also featured Alvin Lucier who - purely by chance - was sampled on the opening track of the mix.

Kev decided to expand his idea to make the defnitive document on cut up music including many other parts, omitted by the constraints of the original radio session. After months of further research he tracked Morley down and they recorded passages from 'Words & Music' specially for this mix in an attempt to marry the two and finish something that neither of them actually started. A year to the day of the original airing, the newly expanded version is ready."

You read it correctly: a history of cut-up music in less than an hour. The juxtapositions of sounds and words is unbelievable. I'm something of a pop culture junkie to begin with, and have been having fun playing "name that sample." Download the mp3 and check it out.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Sean Hannity: America Hater

Hannity made plenty of anti-war statements back when it was Clinton's Kosovo war in 1999. He apparently was appalled at what he saw as the lack of planning, the lack of an exit strategy, the potential for civilian casualties, and while agreeing that Milosovic was definitely a bad guy as dictators go still failed to see how Milosovic's regime threatened national security. Huh. Go figure. Note: I was also against that war, albeit likely for different reasons than Hannity. Read up on your Chomsky if you want some idea of why I'd had issues with that particular military action.

These are your pro-torture US Senators:

Six Democrat Yay votes on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General of the United States

Landrieu, Mary - (D - LA), Lieberman, Joseph - (D - CT), Nelson, Ben - (D - NE), Nelson, Bill - (D - FL), Pryor, Mark - (D - AR) Class II, Salazar, Ken - (D - CO)

Fifty-four "Republican" Yay votes on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General of the United States

Alexander, Lamar - (R - TN), Allard, Wayne - (R - CO), Allen, George - (R - VA), Bennett, Robert - (R - UT), Bond, Christopher - (R - MO), Brownback, Sam - (R - KS), Bunning, Jim - (R - KY), Burns, Conrad - (R - MT), Burr, Richard - (R - NC), Chafee, Lincoln - (R - RI), Chambliss, Saxby - (R - GA), Coburn, Tom - (R - OK), Cochran, Thad - (R - MS), Coleman, Norm - (R - MN), Collins, Susan - (R - ME), Cornyn, John - (R - TX), Craig, Larry - (R - ID), Crapo, Michael - (R - ID), DeMint, Jim - (R - SC), DeWine, Mike - (R - OH), Dole, Elizabeth - (R - NC), Domenici, Pete - (R - NM), Ensign, John - (R - NV), Enzi, Michael - (R - WY), Frist, Bill - (R - TN), Graham, Lindsey - (R - SC), Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA), Gregg, Judd - (R - NH), Hagel, Chuck - (R - NE), Hatch, Orrin - (R - UT), Hutchison, Kay - (R - TX), Inhofe, James - (R - OK), Isakson, Johnny - (R - GA), Lott, Trent - (R - MS), Lugar, Richard - (R - IN), Martinez, Mel - (R - FL), McCain, John - (R - AZ), McConnell, Mitch - (R - KY), Kyl, Jon - (R - AZ), Murkowski, Lisa - (R - AK), Roberts, Pat - (R - KS), Santorum, Rick - (R - PA), Sessions, Jeff - (R - AL), Shelby, Richard - (R - AL), Smith, Gordon - (R - OR), Snowe, Olympia - (R - ME), Specter, Arlen - (R - PA), Stevens, Ted - (R - AK), Sununu, John - (R - NH), Talent, James - (R - MO), Thomas, Craig - (R - WY), Thune, John - (R - SD), Vitter, David - (R - LA), Voinovich, George - (R - OH), Warner, John - (R - VA)

Here's what these above individuals have endorsed:

<Image Hosted by>

The Eichmanns of the 21st Century US.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Something Humorous

The 'Gestalt-Prayer' revisited

I do my laundry and you do yours.

I am not in this world to listen to your ceaseless yammering,

And you are not in this world for any discernable reason at all.

You are you, and I am I, and I got the better deal.

And if by chance we find each other, it will be unspeakble tediuous.

Fuck off

File under "Things I'd Say If Asked To Give A Response To A Bu$hCo SOTU Address"

Think Progress

blogged the SOTU, and separates the Bu$hCo lies from the reality on a wide range of issues.

The Gonzales update

German Prosecutor Asked to Investigate Gonzales Role in Abu Ghraib War Crimes. Nothing like having a bona-fide war criminal as AG.

Sister Dianna Ortiz tells us that she has a message as a survivor of Guatamalan torturers: Stop the Torture. Bu$hCo of course won't listen, regrettably (though hardly unexpectedly), but hopefully people of conscience will listen and demand better of their government. The damage that people like Gonzales have done is, as the author argues, likely irreversable. The US will have a long way to go in order to re-earn even a modicum of the respect that it may have once had. Stopping the Gonzales nomination would be a small but important step in that direction. Regrettably, at least one Democrat Senator Ken Salazar, the freshman Senator from Colorado will apparently be voting for torture.

Joshua Dratel has the lowdown on The Torture Memos, reminding us that the road to Gitmo and Abu Ghraib was hardly paved by good intentions. If you need a reminder of the sheer moral bankruptcy of US torture chambers, refresh your memory, and be aware that Gitmo torture has apparently been caught on tape. This is our legacy to the world.

Monday, January 31, 2005

No To Gonzales Website

Mentioned at DailyKos has html code for a banner you can put on your blog, as well as a listing of some 550-plus blogs that have published anti-Gonzales statements. If you want to check out some other bloggers' comments on Gonzales, check out the website: Alberto Gonzales is Not Fit to be Attorney General. Also, it should go without saying, but if you haven't already done so, make sure to contact your congress critters. I figured that my Senators are so far to the right of Attila the Hun that it'll fall on deaf ears, but felt they needed to hear from at least one of their state's anti-torture constituents.

A vote for Gonzales is a vote for torture!

History Repeating Itself?


U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :

Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.

Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.

Significance Not Diminished

The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.

The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.

American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.

Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.

NYT. 9/4/1967: p. 2.


Defying Threats, Millions of Iraqis Flock to Polls


Published: January 31, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 30 - Defying death threats, mortars and suicide bombers, Iraqis turned out in great numbers on Sunday to vote in this country's first free elections in 50 years, offering a powerful, if uneven, endorsement of democratic rule 22 months after Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

Voters in Shiite and Kurdish areas turned out in especially large numbers, and at the day's end election officials here estimated that the nationwide turnout could exceed 60 percent. The turnout in the Sunni-dominated areas like Falluja and Mosul, where the guerrilla insurgency rages and where many Sunni leaders had called for a boycott, appeared to be substantially lower.

Still, election officials said voting in the Sunni-dominated provinces had appeared to exceed initial expectations, and in some cases might reach 40 percent. In Mosul, a Sunni-majority city and the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks, Western reporters saw voters in Sunni neighborhoods lined up outside polling stations.

It was unclear how the results would affect Sunni resentment, one of the most daunting challenges to Iraq's future.

In the Shiite-dominated cities of southern Iraq, and through much of Baghdad, Iraqis streamed to polling places, eager to give the country's largest group real political power for the first time. They did so despite relentless insurgent attacks that left 35 people dead, plus nine suicide bombers.

In some polling centers, the mood turned joyous, with Iraqis celebrating their newfound democratic freedoms in street parties that, until the elections, were virtually unknown in this war-ravaged land.

As the sun went down, some Iraqis ran to the polling centers. Some election workers kept polls open late for them.

Election officials here said that a more accurate picture of the turnout would be known later in the week, as the votes were counted, and that the election results themselves were probably several days away.

Voters chose from among 111 parties for members of provincial parliaments as well as a 275-member national assembly, which will be empowered to write the country's constitution. That is scheduled to be followed by a referendum on the constitution, followed by another round of elections in December.

One group of candidates that appeared to do well was the United Iraqi Alliance, a large coalition of Shiite parties brought together by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's powerful religious leader. One senior aide in that alliance said the party had been told by American and British officials that it appeared to have captured more than 50 percent of the vote.

The slate of candidates led by Ayad Allawi, the prime minister, also appeared to have done well.

At least for now, the large turnout appeared to vindicate the strategy to hold elections sooner rather than later, over the objections of many Sunni leaders and in the face of the ferocious insurgency. That strategy, advocated by Ayatollah Sistani and President Bush, drew criticism that it would further divide the country and that, in any case, the Iraqis were not ready.

In polling places throughout the country, ordinary Iraqis not only braved significant violence to go to the polls, but also demonstrated that they understood the stakes, and that they knew what to do.

"We feel now that we are human beings living in this country," Muhammad Abdul-Ridha, 25, a Najaf goldsmith, said after dropping his ballot into the box. "Now I feel I have a responsibility, I have a vote. Things will go right if people leave us alone to do what we want to do. If they leave the Iraqi people to decide for themselves, things will get better."

The mood among many Iraqi leaders, and those who set up the electoral infrastructure, was jubilant. Some said the success of the vote, in a nation so traumatized by tyranny and war, had put to rest any notion that the Iraqi people, or indeed the Arab world as a whole, were incapable of grasping their political destiny.

"We have established the principles upon which a democracy can be built," said Fareed Ayar, the spokesman for Iraq's electoral commission.

In many parts of the country, the turnout seemed to rebuke the violent campaign to sabotage the balloting and the threats by insurgents to kill Iraqis who voted.

Feeling a draft?

According to Kurt Nimmo, there's ample reason to be worried. Not only is the PNAC (the thinktank whose key players spearheaded Bu$hCo's current war against humanity) openly advocating a huge increase in the number military personnel, but if Nimmo is correct apparently Rep. Rangel (D-NY) is apparently expected to reintroduce legislation that would reinstate a draft (which Nimmo so aptly refers to bullet-stopper slavery). Now there are plenty of folks who will ask "well didn't Congress decisively defeat similar legislation last year?" That would be correct. However, keep in mind that the draft is a political hot potato, and that last year was an election year. With that election cycle behind us, the US military at or near a breaking point, the on-going problems in Iraq (which "elections" will not miraculously end), and the drive by Bu$hCo to take the show on the road (so to speak) and expand hostilities into Iran and Syria there's going to be plenty of temptation to vote "yes" this year.

Some fairly reasonable people are rather sanguine when the topic of a draft comes up, and insist that there is no way in hell that it will return any time too soon. I wish I could be so sanguine. I cannot. I will also note, for reasons that Nimmo largely outlines, that draft resistance is going to be considerably more difficult this go-around than it was during the Vietnam era. The legal machinery now in place (think Patriot Act) will provide the Federales with more potent tools for sabotaging successful anti-draft or anti-war movements. As I understand it from those who were there back in the 1960s, the government could be pretty damned ugly in its treatment of dissident movements. It'll be worse this time.