Friday, 10 July 2015

Sonic Instruments of War: Kerridge and Be-Bop

Like HATE's records, the A-side of Samuel Kerridge's Sonic Instruments Of War sets about giving Dark Jungle a reboot, making slacker drum'n'bass by dragging old break beats and the hoover b-line down into a sonic black hole where it spins along with old Doc Scott and No U-Turn records. All of which is fine by me.

There's more than one kind of sonic warfare, of course, and 70 years ago the Be-Boppers offered theirs. I've been playing Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker's New York Town Hall concert recently and despite the recording being far from perfect the power of the playing bites through. 

As far from 1945 as we are, without a little study it's not easy to appreciate what an assault this music was on the ears of those accustomed to the Trad and Swing history of Jazz. To call it 'the Punk of it's time' may be overstating things a bit, but considering it was a whole ten years before Rock 'n' Roll broke there's a radical shift in attitude at work here. I doubt that any music since has been made from such skilled players in the service of sonically going to war. 

Whilst Jazz (and Rock) musicality would gradually drag everything into a slumber land of clean, clever professionalism, in 1945 players with the chops for it were sending sound into hyper drive. Like Bronx DJs four decades later, they were 'remixing' old tunes, even 'sampling' (quoting) them in solos for original numbers. Here, with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker gunning up front, Max Roach adds heavy artillery and 'drops bombs' (as the style was known) into the battle. 

If Salt Peanuts demonstrates Gillespie's jester reputation, at the same time this version reminds us of what an extraordinary player he was; the only one who could match Parker blow-for-blow. Listen out for the moment at 2.15 when Bird and Diz erupt in what, for a few seconds, sounds like a wailing prophecy of things to come in the form of Free Jazz before Parker runs with it... 

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