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Program 766: Blues Experiments

KALW Broadcast Date: December 31, 2023 | Host: Mark Abramson

In this episode of Music from Other Minds, we’ll try something a little different. Usually our focus is on experimental music from a contemporary classical perspective. But tonight we’ll listen to experiments with blues-based music. This inevitably means we’ll be playing some jazz, as the blues is one of the main building blocks of jazz. We’ll also hear from experimental guitarists like James Blood Ulmer, Marc Ribot, and Elliott Sharp, all of whom have an appreciation for the genre and can bring experimental chops to their interpretations. We’ll also listen to some rock artists, like Captain Beefheart and Dr. John, whose take on the blues is unusually creative. I guess it’s fair to say that some of the music we’ll play tonight is more accessible than what you’ll usually hear on our program. And maybe that’s a good thing given that this is a holiday program; we’ll keep it fun. It’s also good to remember that musical experimentation can be found in every genre, not just classical. Aside from the artists mentioned above, we’ll play music by Angel Bat Dawid, Don Cherry, Sun Ra, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Jamie Branch, King Britt, and Moor Mother. We’ll also hear a couple of old recordings from two classic blues artists from the early 20th Century—Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson.

Program Audio

30-Second Spot

Track Info & Links

Title: Motherless Child Remix
Composer: Traditional
Performers: Cheick Tidiane Seck, Angel Bat Dawid, Danilo Plessow
Recording Title: Remixes (2023)
Record Label: Komos
Catalog Number: KOS025


Titles: Preachin’ Blues
Composer: Robert Johnson
Performer: Robert Johnson, guitar and voice
Recording Title: The Complete Recordings (1997)
Record Label: Columbia
Catalog Number: C2K 46222


Title: Big Eyed Beans From Venus
Composer: Don Van Vliet
Performers: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
Recording Title: Clear Spot (1972)
Record Label: Reprise Records
Catalog Number: MS-2115


Titles: Null Path, State of Blue
Composer: Elliott Sharp
Performers: Elliott Sharp’s Terraplane
Recording Title: Blue Edge (2023)
Record Label:
Catalog Number:


Title: Are You Glad To Be in America?
Composer: James Blood Ulmer
Performers: James Blood Ulmer – guitar, vocals; Charles Burnham – violin; Warren Bonbon – drums
Recording Title: Odyssey (1983)
Record Label: CBS
Catalog Number: CBS 25602


Titles: Unmask The Batman
Composer: Sun Ra
Performers: Sun Ra – Piano; John Gilmore – Tenor Saxophone; Marshall Allen – Flute, Alto Saxophone; Danny Ray Thompson – Baritone Saxophone, Percussion; Atakatune – Oboe, Congas; Eddie Thomas – Drums; Elo Omoe – Bass Clarinet, Hand Claps; Akh Tal Ebah – Trumpet, Vocal; James Jacson – Congas, Vocal
Recording Title: Of Abstract Dreams (2018)
Record Label: Strut Records
Catalog Number: STRUT166LP


Titles: Nice Guys
Composer: Roscoe Mitchell
Performers: Art Ensemble of Chicago
Recording Title: Nice Guys (1979)
Record Label: ECM Records
Catalog Number: ECM-1-1126


Titles: Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya
Composer: Mac Rebennack
Recording Title: Gris-Gris (1968)
Record Label: ATCO Records
Catalog Number: SD 33-234


Titles: Hog Calling Blues
Composer: Charles Mingus
Performers: Charles Mingus – piano and vocals; Rahsaan Roland Kirk – flute, siren, tenor saxophone, manzello, and stritch; Booker Ervin – tenor saxophone; Jimmy Knepper – trombone; Doug Watkins – bass; Dannie Richmond – drums
Recording Title: Oh Yeah (1962)
Record Label: Atlantic
Catalog Number: SD 1377


Titles: Black Satin
Composer: Miles Davis
Performers: Miles Davis, Michael Henderson, Don Alias, Jack DeJohnette, Al Foster, Billy Hart, James Mtume, Carlos Garnett, Dave Liebman, Bennie Maupin, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Harold Ivory Williams, Cedric Lawson, Dave Creamer, Reggie Lucas, John McLaughlin, Khalil Balakrishna, Collin Walcott, Paul Buckmaster, Badal Roy
Recording Title: On The Corner (1972)
Record Label: Columbia
Catalog Number: PC 31906


Titles: And Kuma Walks, Take Over the World
Composer: jaimie branch
Performers: jaimie branch – trumpet, voice, keyboard, percussion, happy apple; Lester St. Louis – cello, voice, flute, marimba, keyboard; Jason Ajemian – double bass, electric bass, voice, marimba; Chad Taylor – drums, mbira, timpani, bells, marimba
Recording Title: Fly or Die, Fly or Die, Fly or Die (World War) (2023)
Record Label: International Anthem
Catalog Number: IARC0066


Titles: Let’s Make A Record
Composer: King Britt and Sister Gertrude Morgan
Performers: King Britt and Sister Gertrude Morgan
Recording Title: Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan (2005)
Record Label: Ropeadope
Catalog Number: 0-20286-20172-4


Titles: I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)
Composer: Chester Burnett
Performers: James Blood Ulmer – guitar, vocals; Vernon Reid – guitar; Charles Burnham – violin; Rick Steff – piano, wurlitzer electric piano, hammond B3 organ; David Barnes – harmonica; Mark Peterson – bass; Aubrey Dayle – drums
Recording Title: Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions (2001)
Record Label: LABEL M
Catalog Number: 495728


Titles: Blues
Composer: Marc Ribot
Performers: Rock Savage – drums; Greg Jones – bass; Anthony Coleman – keyboards; Ralph Carney – sax; Marc Robot – guitar
Recording Title: Requiem For What’s-His-Name (1992)
Record Label: Les Disques Du Crépuscule
Catalog Number: TWI 969-2


Titles: I Love You, You Big Dummy
Composer: Don Van Vliet
Performers: Captain Beefheart – vocals, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, harmonica; Zoot Horn Rollo – electric guitar, glass finger guitar; Rockette Morton – bassius-o-pheilius; Drumbo – drums, percussion, broom; Ed Marimba – marimba, drums, percussion, broom
Recording Title: Lick My Decals Off, Baby (1970)
Record Label: Straight
Catalog Number: RS 6420


Titles: Chain Gang Quantum Blues
Composer: Camae Ayewa
Recording Title: Fetish Bones (2016)
Record Label: Don Giovanni Records
Catalog Number: DG-121


Titles: I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole
Composer: Blind Willie Johnson
Performers: Blind Willie Johnson – vocals and guitar
Recording Title: The Complete Blind Willie Johnson (1993)
Record Label: Columbia
Catalog Number: 472190-2


Titles: Meditation Rag
Composer: Camae Ayewa
Performers: Moor Mother, Aquiles Navarro, Alya Al Sultani
Recording Title: Jazz Codes (2022)
Record Label: Anti
Catalog Number: 7926-2


Titles: If Six Was Nine
Composer: Jimi Hendrix
Performers: Jimi Hendrix – Guitar and vocals; Mitch Mitchell – drums; Noel Redding – bass
Recording Title: Axis Bold As Love (1967)
Record Label: Reprise Records
Catalog Number: RS 6281

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