Lovely Recordings Hosted by Paul Judice (Part 2)

Posting on Lovely Music was such fun that I’ve come back for more. I’ve recently armed myself with Roon and a Tidal account, which have made exploring new music a daily event. Equipped with offline Tidal selections and a Dragonfly Red dangling from the iPhone, the morning subway ride is almost bearable.

Here are a few recent discoveries and some pleasant memories. I’ve also added drink pairings for a multi-sensory experience. Cheers!

Philip Glass: North Star (Virgin International, 1977)
This was my introduction to Glass and minimal music, which was being labeled "new music" at the time (a term that couldn’t possibly last). I heard the album in its entirety on a late night Texas college radio program around 1977. I was about 18 or 19 and had never heard anything so original and unselfconsciously different. I bought the LP and started listening to it almost daily as a combination of listening adventure and meditation.

I was excited when Glass and his ensemble came through Houston to play at a small venue—a church I think. As much as the music was inspiring, the show was remarkably static. The musicians were slouched over their instruments pushing through a marathon of repetitive notes. Ultimately, I closed my eyes and embraced the music.

Drink pairing: Rain water and grain alcohol.

Available from Tidal

Terry Riley: (i)In C (Sony Classical, 1968)
I was at an awful party in an overly warm apartment with tepid Coca Cola as the only refreshment. Just as I was about to leave I heard "In C" coming from the one working speaker on the stereo. It was an epiphany. As much as I’m grateful for the discovery, I have to ask myself what sort of sad geek plays "In C" at a party?

If you’re unfamiliar with the piece, it’s worth reading this Wikipedia article.

Here’s a version recorded in Mali that shows how universal this music is.

Drink pairing: I know from experience that warm soda doesn’t work. Let’s try a very cold Hendricks gin martini with a twist in a simple cocktail glass.

Available from Qobuz

Meredith Monk: Impermanence (ECM, 2008)
I took the family to see Meredith Monk at Carnegie Hall last year for a celebration of her fiftieth year as a performer. If you don’t know Meredith Monk, she’s like no one else. A dozen or so performers who had been influenced by her shared the stage; a diverse group that ranged from Theo Blackman to DJ Spooky. Meredith is a tiny woman and it’s jarring to watch her perform. She produces a big, otherworldly sound.

My daughter was the only child in a sea of goateed hipsters, so it was a special moment when Meredith made eye contact with her from the stage and gave a warm smile.

Here’s a charming interview with her on NPR.

Drink pairing: acid-spiked oolong tea

Available from Presto Classical

DJ Spooky: (Thirsty Ear, 2002)
The Meredith Monk concert was my first exposure to DJ Spooky. Spooky crosses a lot of genres. He is a "turntablist", he remixes, works in jazz, hiphop, avant garde classical and soundtracks. Of his many albums, I like "Optometry" most; a blend of jazz collaboration with Matthew Ship and sampling. Unfortunately, it’s only available on CD.

Drink Pairing: a counterfeit 1966 1st Cru Burgundy

Available from Amazon (CD)

Mark Lanegan: Black Pudding (Ipecac Recordings, 2013)
It doesn’t get much darker than Mark Lanegan. I can’t decide if his voice is getting better or worse with time, but his music definitely hits a spot deep in my psyche that little else comes close to. Earlier this year I caught him in a simple show accompanied only by a guitarist. That may have been an economic choice, but it showed just how little he needed to capture the auditorium.

Black Pudding is currently my favorite album, but he’s produced an impressive amount of music and it’s all worth sampling.

Drink pairing: Have some good Bourbon and aspirin on hand

Available from Tidal

Eighth Blackbird: Filament (Cedille Records, 2015)
I’m late to discover Eighth Blackbird. They have been around for twenty years, received four Grammy awards and a MacArthur prize. I don’t know how I missed them.

Filament won a Grammy and it’s not hard to see why. My favorite piece is the opening tune Omie Wise, Bryce Dessner’s interpretation of the traditional murder ballad made popular by Doc Watson. Here’s a version sung by Clarence Ashley that must have inspired Dessner’s version.

Drink pairing: Any micro-brew beer in an NPR mug

Available from Tidal

David Karsten Daniels: I Mean to Live Here Still (Fat Cat Records, 2010)
I Mean to Live Here Still is a genre-defying album using the texts of Henry David Thoreau and capably blending the American folk vernacular with jazz. Daniels is backed here by Fight the Big Bull; a jazz group worth exploring separate from this.

Drink pairing: black coffee and angst

Available from Tidal

Clifton Chenier: Bayou Blues (Specialty Records, 1970)
I had a zydeco phase. Zydeco is one of those elemental musical forms that just speak to your soul.

My father was Cajun, so once I discovered zydeco, I quizzed him relentlessly about the music in the tiny, swampy area where he grew up. Yet, none of his responses were very satisfying. I was certain that he was hiding some critical detail about our family’s musical heritage. Finally, I asked him directly what music he listened to as a young man in New Iberia, Louisiana. He looked at me like that was the stupidest question he had heard in weeks and replied, "Kate Smith."

I saw Clifton at the Iguana Club in New York just weeks before he died. He could barely hold his accordion and was clearly in pain. I had looked forward to the show for weeks, but it ended up being a sad event.

There’s a great documentary called "This Ain’t No Mouse Music" about Arhoolie records founder, Chris Stackwitz. Arhoolie was Chenier’s label and supported numerous artists working in American roots music. It’s well worth a watch on Netflix.

Drink pairing: a six of cold Dixie and a plate of bugs

Available from Tidal

R.L. Burnside: Come on In (Fat Possum, 2005)
And then there was my blues phase. Burnside factored big into that period. His music was so raw and genuine. It just flew past your brain and hit you in your gut.

R.L. played at a blues festival in Central Park around 2000. The act before R.L. was David Johansen, who performed what may have been the most painful 30 minute set in the history of music. Even his band was shooting looks at each other as he murdered "Little Red Rooster" and other blues classics. The audience braved the torture until R.L. finally took the stage, stepped up to the microphone and performed the same exact songs Johansen had sung. But nailed them. It was as though he had to make things right again in the blues universe.

Jay McInerney wrote an article for The New Yorker titled "White Man at the Door", which is about Burnside’s late-in-life success with Fat Possum Records. It’s a good read, but you’ll need to be a subscriber to access the online archive.

Drink pairing: anything brown that comes in a plastic 750 ml bottle

Available from Tidal

Various Artists: New Music for Electronic and Recorded Media: Women In Electronic Music - 1977 (New World Records, 2006)
Big Science made it to 124 on the US charts, which is probably pretty impressive for an album falling under the label "avante garde." It was definitely big in my musical world and I was interested in finding everything she had done. "Time to Go" is a wonderful piece from the mid 70’s that was on a compilation LP I found at the time. She sounds so young and involved in the piece. I was very happy when I recently found it hidden deep in Tidal.

I hadn’t listened to Anderson for years and then I started seeing her at the grocery store. Two or three times a month I see her at my regular market in the early hours. We’ve never spoken, but I decided the universe was telling me to listen to her again, so I’ve gone back to enjoy her older works and discovered her newer work.

Drink pairing: Tang and vodka

Available from Tidal

See Paul's previous Lovely Recordings.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

lestes's picture

Enjoyed the pairings.

One for you: Gary Hassay's album "Another Shining Path" with William Parker (Plays with your DJ Spooky selection) and Toshi Makihara.

Drink: Dark and Stormy

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brianls's picture

This was just the laugh I needed this morning. Drink pairings? Fantastic. I'm pretty sure I've never heard or tasted any of the items on your list - I have work to do. Thank you.