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Friday, April 9, 2010

Owl Records... a well-kept (musical) secret


I learned about Owl Records from Paris in early '80s, thanking "The Absolute Sound" magazine and its reviewing of Michael Petrucciani's "Oracle's Destiny" disc... from this very review I discovered a world, one of the several, possible worlds available to the passionate music-lover and records-collector...

Discs by Michael Petrucciani, solo or with Lee Koonitz... and Paul Bley, and Gil Evans and Steve Lacy, and several others, sure well worth a further exploration of the Owl's catalog...

Every piano recording was using a perfectly tuned, gorgeous, huge Bosendorfer Imperial grand-piano and Monsieur Orsini's Translab wonderful mastering and laquers cutting, the very best of the crop!

Not bad for an indie jazz and contemporary record label!

... but I'm not writing to sing the merits of Owl Records...

... not only, at least...

This evening, while giving a sense;-) to the several vinyl-records carton boxes I keep everywhere in my apartment, I handled a carton box bearing a label saying "Jazz"... it was the "E" letter...

Literally dropped in my hands, the superb "Paris Blues" by Gil Evans and Steve Lacy... I only had the fortune to see and listen to Steve Lacy alive twice before his untimely death and I always sincerely appreciated his deepness, his unique sound spanning several octaves on a cool, yet possibly overrated instrument which he choose as his expressive tool of choice: the soprano sax...

Listening to him alive was like admiring one of the Seven World Wonders from few inches, touching the truest mistery of beauty...

... in Steve Lacy's so skilled, loving hands, the instrument sadly so often used to give "colour" to a tune and a "modern" texture to some re-fried, already heard jazz, becomes a brand-new instrument owning its dignity and an almost alien beauty.

Something which - IMO - only (successfully) happened to Coltrane and his "My Favourite Things"... pure zest!... leave alone some Wayne Shorter's "twitting";-) on old Mrs. Joni Mitchell's discs and the like...

... anyway... found "Paris Blues" and put on the turntable... triodes well warmed up and... Holy Triode!

Didn't remember such a beauty and a recording quality and an heavenly music and easy complexity coming from Fender Rhodes played by Maestro Gil Evans, the hero of so many battles... from "Sketches of Spain" to "Out of the Cool" to "GE plays Jimi Hendrix" and "Big Band Lumiere" with Laurent Clugny and others, etc.

A superb variety of tones and overtones... a superb use of silences and pauses... and "THAT" soprano by Steve Lacy... puffing, suffering, BUT so Heavenly hinting to that Supreme, so deeply and sincerely described by Coltrane Himself...

The first take, "Reincarnation of a Lovingbird" by the late Charlie Mingus is, like the last take - a perfect rendition of "Good-bye Pork Pie Hat", always by Charlie Mingus - and with "Afternoon" from "Fusion" by the Jimmy Giuffre Trio and "Die Sterne" by Walter Wegmuller and The Cosmic Couriers from "Tarot" - (one of) the soundtracks I'd wish to be played at my funeral, while in a tiny good-smelling Red Spruce wooden box, in ashes form;-)

It's not Music, anymore... it's Pure Sound!

Really, this stuff is so powerful it trascends Music, reaching an higher level, becoming a totally new entity... something which is appreciated not only by our material body and mind, but by Soul, straight as an arrow... it go so deep, deep and straight to DNA;-)

Death or life, I'm pretty and deadly serious... do you a favour: look for "Paris Blues" by Gil Evans and Steve Lacy on Owl and buy it...

... ok, the disk will be ok, as well... special allowance on special stuff;-)

... but the black mat finish with silver lettering, a work of art and a labour of love as many other Owl's covers, is well worth the search for a minty vinyl copy.

A confession... must admit I love having more and more friends from my (humble) musical hintings...

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