Saturday, October 23, 2004


IN SEARCH OF THE SUBLIME


Pi-R-Square: Fantasy Pt. 1 and 2
From 7" (Wee, 197?). Available on both Bay Area Funk and Jazzman 45.

I had a minor epiphany the other day. It began with the general and rather obvious observation that I own a lot of records. Too many. What I have just barely fits into my current apartment and frankly, it's not going to sustain itself much longer if I keep bringing in more LPs without thinning the herd a bit.

The thing is: it's not at all clear if I even need/want most of what I have. In picking out songs for this site, I don't want to just throw up some half-assed songs just because I think they're "ok". I want to share music that demands to be noticed, tunes that will kick your ass and leave you, broken in an alley, songs that take you someplace that you never want to come back from. Forget the merely passable.

For example, I own at least half a dozen Brian Auger LPs and 'nuff respect to him but I don't know if there's anything on them that's truly amazing. I own almost every album on Bernard Purdie's Encounter label but seriously, I don't know if there's more than one or two songs on that entire imprint that can even ride the same train as with a descriptor like "sublime" Don't even get me started on CTI (why do I own any Deodato LPs on that label? I mean, really?). The list goes on.

Basically, I need to clean house and start dumping every mediocre or middle-of-the-road piece of vinyl stacked in my apartment. I need to focus on the music that's left, the indispensable records, the albums and singles that I'd protect with a passion that's normally reserved for childhood pets and letters from your first love. In short, I need to just keep the music that's on par with "Fantasy."

For a long time, "Fantasy" was one of the Bay Area's Holy Grail 7"s - costing well into the hundreds for an elusive copy. One assumes the group was lead by pianist Lonnie Hewitt (one of Cal Tjader's longtime collaborators) since Wee was his label. The song is not longer such a best-kept secret: it's been reissued and comped several times and a local collector turned up a few boxes worth of stone-cold mint copies that the 7" can no longer be considered all that obscure. But who cares - the point is that this song is really stunning. What I love about it is how slow and patient it builds and when the funk hammer drops, it transforms the song and takes it to that proverbial "next level."

I never get tired of listening to this song and among my various Bay Area-related records, it's top rankin', no doubt. Now if only all my records packed this much quality. Maybe we'll get there one day.

At least I can have my Fantasy.