Sunday, October 15, 2017

28: All Night Wrong, Snakes and Ladders, Piano Interpretations

(Photo: Takao Miyakaku)
Jump to Music Analysis:
All Night Wrong

All Night Wrong (2002)
     After the completion of his SynthAxe solo album (Flat Tire), Allan eventually went back on the road with different versions of his trio band. 2002 was notable for its reunion of "I.O.U., Mk. II", with Chad Wackerman and Jimmy Johnson in a trio. A May 5th live set from the Roppongi Pit Inn in Tokyo, Japan was released on the album All Night Wrong. This album includes two new songs ("Alphrazallan" and "Lanyard Loop"), as well as a very old song ("Gas Lamp Blues") which up until this point had never been "properly" released ("Gattox" from Velvet Darkness previously used the "Gas Lamp Blues" chord progression for its solo section). It also offered an extended chordal-delay improvisation intro to "Above & Below", a newly-arranged instrumental version of "The Things You See", and a freely-structured trio "Zone" (opening with a Chad Wackerman drum solo). 

All Night Wrong

AH: Guitar (DeLap)
Jimmy Johnson: Bass
Chad Wackerman: Drums

Direct to 2-Track, Recording Engineer: Yoshihiro Suzuki
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Lanyard Loop 5:46      The chord-melody head on this new tune has a Holdsworthian "seesaw" contour but is also nicely accented in its articulation. Jimmy plays some unusual root notes underneath these chords. This is followed by a structured bridge sequence. The solo section is based on a lengthy, modulating harmony which is developed in each chorus by the rhythm section. The title reflects the way that the harmony loops back to its beginning. A lanyard loop is used to keep a handgun or magazine secure while in motion.

0:00: Drum roll into accented chord-melody head theme, cadence, repeat head.
0:51: Pedal accent, modulating transition, head variation.
1:19: Modulating bridge.
2:07: Guitar solo based on modulating bridge variations.
4:27: Modulating transition reprise (variation).
4:41: Head theme.
5:05: Head variation, final cadence chords.
2 The Things You See 6:53      From I.O.U.'s debut, this instrumental arrangement picks up in the original's textural middle section (right before the guitar solo). This version would later become part of a longer medley (as mentioned above). 

0:00: Textural guitar swell harmonies, cymbals and trilling bass.
0:24: Theme (variation of original song's "verse" section) in chordal swells.
0:48: Guitar comps for 1st chorus of the propulsive groove for "main" head melody.
1:15: Guitar lead tone solo.
5:01: Instrumental "verse" cadence, bridge, accented cadences.
5:45: "Main" head as a chord-melody, final cadence and rave-up.
3 Alphrazallan 7:04      Also partly recorded for Soft Works' Abracadabra album (but unfinished), the head's opening arpeggios lead to a kind of "sighing" cadence, before going into a somewhat "hypnotic" blowing harmony (the song title is derived from the medical term for Xanax). The first chorus is articulated by swells and clean comping, followed by about 4 lead choruses.

0:00: Modulating arpeggios, softly-accented cadence.
0:28: Modulating pedal harmony theme articulated through swelled/accented chords and arpeggios (comping).
1:18: Guitar lead enters as groove continues.
2:23: 2nd solo chorus.
3:27: 3rd solo chorus.
4:29: 4th solo chorus (2nd half chordal comping).
5:32: Gently-accented chordal comping over harmony groove.
6:24: Head reprise (modulating arpeggios, softly-accented cadence).
4 Funnels 5:01      Unlike the live version of Atavachron's "Funnels" found on Then!, this version has no keyboardist. However, this is the only officially-released version of "Funnels" with Chad Wackerman on drums (instead of Gary Husband).

0:00: Head-chorus: Syncopated chord-melody phrase, broader phrase with sliding chords, modulating cadence in even accents, chord melody reprise, brief cadence.
0:46: Guitar solo over head chorus.
1:38: 2nd guitar solo chorus.
2:22: 3rd guitar solo chorus.
3:07: 4th guitar solo chorus (ends with comping in the last section).
3:51: Head chorus.
4:36: Coda, final swelling textures/arpeggios.
5 Zone 9:19     The placement of "Material Unreal" (with drum cadenza) at the end of a Zone improv (described by Steve Hunt in Chapter 24) was a standard Zone-framing device for many years. Chad offers a great drum solo here.

0:00: Chad Wackerman drum solo, highlighting his uniquely-tuned kit.
3:03: Bass ornaments and lead guitar enter over textural drums.
3:54: Bass starts metered pedal groove, joined by an accented drum groove. Guitar solo ramps up.
7:37: "Material Unreal" sequence: Cadence harmony (rising progression) from the opening to "Material Real" (Road Games), highlighting a long drum cadenza.
6 Water On The Brain Pt. 2 5:30      The original version of this tune (on Road Games) featured Jeff Berlin. Here, Jimmy Johnson gets his chance to shine. In general, the groove here is a bit more "dangerous" than the original (in my opinion).

0:00: Syncopated/accented main theme, accented groove, repeat with guitar lead featured in top line.
0:59: Bridge cadence.
1:11: Bass solo.
2:59: Syncopated/accented main theme, accented groove.
3:20: Drum solo/cadenza (guitar comps main theme).
7 Above & Below 8:21      The live versions of "Above & Below" typically opened with a textural guitar swell intro improv.

0:00: Solo improvisation with swelled chordal guitar textures, mysterious and melancholy.
3:25: Main theme on swelled chords: pastoral chord-melody ballad, cadence, rising cadence.
4:17: Drums and bass join on song intro pedal chords.
4:37: Main theme reprise with full band.
6:12: Theme developed (some added bass ornaments).
7:40: Thematic swells, final pedal chord.
8 Gas Lamp Blues 7:59      The chord progression and groove for this song are derived from the middle section of Velvet Darkness's "Gattox". It's a nice, bluesy vamp, patiently modulating.

0:00: Drum fill into modulating, somewhat casual vamp based on accented chord fragments, ending in cadential chord accents.
0:46: Bass solo.
2:15: Guitar solo.
5:15: Drum solo as guitar and bass comp.
7:06: Final chorus, final cadence chord.

(Photo: Takao Miyakaku)
     Although All Night Wrong doesn't present a full concert program, it still holds together extremely well as an album experience (although I would have preferred a final "Ruhkukah" in there myself...). A full set from this tour would have looked something like this:
  • Lanyard Loop
  • Texas
  • The Things You See
  • Alphrazallan
  • Funnels
  • Zone (with Drum Solo / Material Real)
  • Leave Them On
  • 0274
  • Water On The Brain
  • Above & Below (with Chordal Improv intro)
  • Letters Of Marque
  • Gas Lamp Blues
(Photos: Takao Miyakaku)

Snakes and Ladders
     Trio tours continued through the opening years of the new millennium, with bassist Ernest Tibbs (protege of Holdsworth-alum Gary Willis) joining the band in 2003 through drummer Joel Taylor. The Holdsworth/Tibbs/Taylor trio tour also added new songs "Leave Them On" (not released until 2010 on Gary Husband's album Dirty & Beautiful, Volume 1, although with a Jan Hammer solo in place of a Holdsworth guitar lead) and "Madame Vintage" (from Soft Works' Abracadabra), as well as a live trio version of "Bo Peep" from Flat Tire. Around this time Allan also replaced most of his rack effects with a set of Yamaha UD Stomps. A passable audience video of a 2003 Tibbs/Taylor trio show in Italy can be found here with the below set list.
  • The Sixteen Men of Tain (added in some sets but missing here)
  • Leave Them On
  • Bo Peep
  • Water On The Brain Pt 2
  • Madame Vintage
  • Chordal Improvisation, Above & Below
  • Lanyard Loop
  • Looking Glass
  • Gas Lamp Blues
  • Texas
  • Letters of Marque
  • Proto Cosmos
     A projected album with the title Snakes and Ladders featuring both the Johnson/Husband and Tibbs/Taylor trios was partially recorded (with one track repeated for each trio), but so far has not seen the light of day. Some of these new songs were released in live form on the above-mentioned All Night Wrong album. Another album after Snakes and Ladders was to feature the Chad Wackerman/Jimmy Johnson trio.
     "I’d started a project with Gary Husband and Jimmy Johnson about five years ago that was supposed to be released on Gnarly Geezer before the label folded. I’ve got all the recordings from that session, along with additional tracks recorded with drummer Joel Taylor and bassist Ernest Tibbs a couple of years later, and the first album will feature a mixture of those four musicians. One interesting thing about the project is that one of the songs was recorded by both groups, and the versions turned out so differently, that I want to include them both, just to show how the musicians can radically change the music. I don’t tell anyone what to play specifically. I just show them the compositions, and their interpretations are completely up to them. With Jimmy and Gary, the music is a bit more high energy and rock-oriented, and with Ernest and Joe, it’s a little softer and goes into Sixteen Men of Tain territory.
      "Because of the different way these groups play, I chose to do some tunes with one group and not the other. In general, I was writing tunes that were designed for each unit. My writing process starts the same way, regardless of who I’m writing for. I start by improvising and when I get an idea, I’ll keep working on it. Sometimes nothing happens. For instance, during my six-year hole, I wasn’t feeling very creative at all and lost interest in music. I didn’t go see music. I wanted nothing to do with it for a long time. Now, I’m writing again and have quite a few new tunes that we haven’t played yet because we haven’t had time to rehearse them. I’m looking forward to finishing this album and moving on to the next one. The record that comes after Snakes and Ladders will be another trio record, with Chad Wackerman and Jimmy Johnson, who I’m currently touring with. (64, 65)
     By 2004, live dates would start incorporating a mid-set 5-part medley consisting of "Madame Vintage", a solo chordal-delay improvisation, "Above & Below", "The Things You See" (the new instrumental version from All Night Wrong), and "Material Unreal" (from Then!).


Against The Clock (2005)

     The Best of Allan Holdsworth: Against the Clock included 2 CDs, one collection devoted to electric guitar, and the other devoted to SynthAxe. This album also included two brand new tracks, the first being "Let's Throw Shrimp", essentially a funky, mid-tempo, pedal groove "Zone" with the Johnson/Wackerman trio. 

     This is followed by an arrangement of the early 19th century American folk song/sea shanty, "Shenandoah (Across the Wide Missouri)", where Allan develops the lyrical melody line over resolute SynthAxe chords. It's possible that Allan might have been inspired by Bing Crosby's version, but that's just a guess on my part. 
  • 0:00: 1st verse
  • 0:38: Chorus
  • 1:09: 2nd verse
  • 1:46: Chorus
  • 2:17: 3rd verse (solo)


Gary Husband: The Things I See (2001)
     Going back to 2001, original I.O.U. drummer/pianist Gary Husband recorded a solo piano album covering Holdsworth compositions titled The Things I See - Interpretations of the Music of Allan Holdsworth. This album was extremely well-received by Allan, as it treated his songs as "jazz repertoire" in order to create fresh new arrangements (in fact, three tracks are so radically different that Gary added himself as co-composer for these).
     "I was very moved by it. It meant alot to me. The fact that it was interpretations of my music was something I really liked. There are people out there who make these clone records, and try to do everything verbatim just like it was, and what he did was much more deep. He came at it from a totally different perspective and I really liked that. " (59)
     Allan's impassioned notes on the Art of Life label's website are worth reprinting here as well:
Gary Husband is a true friend and has been for over twenty years.
Since we met, I have always thought of him as a musical and spiritual brother. Gary has always had the ability to interpret my music in a way that was, for want of a better phrase, like one. He is one of the most talented and original musicians I have ever had the pleasure of making music with.
When I heard Gary was going to make a recording of some of my music, I was, of course extremely flattered. But upon hearing it, I was moved to tears.
I heard through the "grapevine", much to my dismay, there have been people who had gripes about these interpretations. DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND, THIS IS WHAT THIS RECORDING IS ALL ABOUT - INTERPRETATIONS!!!!!!
This recording is beautiful, magic. Absolutely true to the spirit of the music (This is not some verbatim, clone ridden B.S.)
Not only does he showcase the compositions in a very beautiful and classical way, but more so and without a doubt, showcases his truly amazing talent.
Thank you Gary Husband so very, very much.
I love you, always.
Allan Holdsworth - October 2001
     What's especially interesting about this solo piano affair is that Gary uses Allan's tunes to explore quite a wide variety of musical styles, from post-romantic classical to free jazz to post-war avant-garde classical (ie -  Claude Debussy to Cecil Taylor to John Cage). Four tracks are relatively brief "impressions", while the other performances use the song heads to launch into a variety of pianistic (and drumming!) styles. However, each piece is built off of a scaffold comprised of Holdsworth's complex harmonic constructions.


The Things I See
(Interpretations of the Music of Allan Holdsworth)

Gary Husband: Piano
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 The Sixteen Men Of Tain 5:20      This relatively 'straight' arrangement becomes dramatically more free after the 1st chorus.

0:00: Intro ornaments.
0:25: Accented (harmonized) 3-beat chordal motif, cadence.
0:50: Reprise (developed).
1:04: Evenly-accented seesaw chord-melody with added ornaments.
1:19: Solo with comped harmony.
2:30: Solo without strict comping (freely), rising cadence.
4:36: Accented chordal motif, seesaw chord-melody, end cadence.
2 Shadows Of 1:00      This is a short, lyrical take on the theme to "Golden Lakes", which was first heard on 'Igginbottom's album, then as "Velvet Darkness" on Velvet Darkness, then as "Shadows Of" on Gong's Expresso, and then finally as "Golden Lakes" on The Things You See with Gordon Beck.
3 A Temporary Fault 5:54 (Holdsworth/Husband)

     Gary's solo here is interesting because he essentially does the equivalent of a drum solo on the inside piano strings. The original song was first heard on I.O.U.

0:00: Low chordal accents (fading), arpeggiated harmony.
0:59: Theme, developed into rapid flurries of staccato figures.
2:02: Theme added in top voice.
2:44: Percussive piano string effects (later damped keys) begin to enter.
5:29: "Normally-keyed" piano ornaments return for final coda.
4 An Out From Under 6:00 (Holdsworth/Husband)

     Gary takes the theme and alternates the groove from an introspective chord-melody to different strains of boogie vamps. This song was also first heard on I.O.U.

0:00: Gentle chord-melody, accented motif becomes a boogie-woogie over a complex harmony.
1:55: Gentle comping, cadence.
2:25: Hesitant chord fragments joined by theme (actually written by Steve Robinson) on slide piano string.
3:20: Mid-tempo groove reenters on accented pedal chord, modulating with ornamentation, eventually slowing.
4:26: Theme harmony as patient chord accents.
4:59: Boogie-woogie groove resumes, fades out.

5
Mr. Berwell 1:27      Lyrical traversal of the opening theme from the Atavachron composition.
6 The Things
I See
9:11 (Holdsworth/Husband)

     Another I.O.U. tune, Gary develops the theme in several different ways, but most notably in the tradition of black American free jazz as can be found in the work of Cecil Taylor and the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AACM). Some of the pianistic elements heard here can also be found in the work of John Cage, Henry Cowell and Conlon Nancarrow.

0:00: Rising fanfare/cadence.
0:12: 1st verse over descending harmony, rising cadence, repeat with variation.
1:03: Free development, often with an accented rhythmic motif.
2:43: Percussive elements enter (rhythmic), becomes clapping.
4:19: Texture opens up into sparser accents, whispers/chant/whistling under rhythmic elements.
5:31: Low (damped) ostinato figure begins (string plucks/percussion/vocals, etc. continues).
6:56: Ostinato dissipates.
7:33: Piano arpeggios, vamp on complex harmony.
8:12: Sparser accents on pedal harmony (fade out).
7 Wish 1:26      This tune comes from Velvet Darkness, but the chord harmony is also found on "The Things You See" from I.O.U. The theme is somewhat hidden amongst the forest of arpeggios.

0:00: Arpeggiated harmony.
0:39: Cascading arpeggios, modulating.
8 Devil Take The Hindmost 7:18      This rendition is notable in that Gary employs some of the same freely non-diatonic scales that Allan used for the solo section on Metal Fatigue. In some ways this is an homage to Allan's soloing style (of that period).

0:00: Rising fanfare motif, main rhythmic theme based on 2-beat accents.
0:17: Syncopated cadence with accents, ending in fanfare motif.
0:40: Main theme, syncopated cadence with accents.
1:08: Variation of theme harmony through arpeggios.
1:32: Low pedal accents and isolated appearances of the 2-beat accent motif anchor a modal harmony as the right hand solos freely.
6:03: Arpeggiated bridge.
6:26: Main theme, syncopated cadence with accents, ending in fanfare motif.
9 Kinder 6:49      This version of the the Velvet Darkness tune (also known as "Fred" in the Tony Williams Lifetime version) reminds me of Bill Evans a little, intense but relaxed somehow.

0:00: Main theme in two parts, repeated.
0:53: Development in high registers.
1:28: Patient, unhurried extemporization of theme sections.
6:04: Head theme reprised.
10 Looking Glass 0:32      This almost classical "bagatelle" is a kind of like a Debussy "image" of the Atavachron song's opening head theme.

Next: 21st Century Schizoid Prog with Friends Old and New
Previous Chapter: Flat Tire - Music For A Non-Existent Movie (2001)

The numbers in parentheses after Allan's quotes above refer to sources listed in the Bibliography