Sunday, October 14, 2007

Considerable Sounds: Praxis In The Volunteer State

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By DC Music Editor Benjamin New

“Innovation is not the product of logical thought,
although the result is tied to logical structure.”
Albert Einstein

New Release Celebrates Innovation!


Music itself suggests a veritable cornucopia of ideas, it seems placing words in it excludes many of those ideas in favor of focusing on the few.

This is neither positive nor negative;
merely an observation.

Although vocal music and songwriting as an art form are indeed held in high regards here at Duly Consider, instrumental music is seldom given the same degree of recognition in media at large today.

Visual artists at the start of the 20th century wanted their creations to emulate music because at that time music was reasoned to be the purist art form.

The addition of language arguably removes some of the purity.

This week we look at some wordless music.
Praxis is an instrumental group. Is Praxis a super group? Certainly in the sense that it’s members are all from well known bands and have garnered admiration and respect on their own. The new release “Tennessee” is a remarkable document of their appearance at the Bonnaroo Festival this year.

Praxis is a sort of a Funk Metal band that leans heavily on the outer reaches of improvisation. Now I can certainly enjoy just about every project that Bernie Worrell has ever graced and Praxis is no exception. The Personnel joining Bernie on this outing are Bassist Bill Laswell (Band Leader), guitarist Buckethead, and drummer Brain. From the second the Hammond B3 kicks in on the 1st cut, “Vertebrae” you know your no longer in Kansas. The music on this instrumental CD is fierce. Combining the edgier elements of Funk, Psychedelia, and Riff Rock with some spicy improvisations that make for some remarkably fresh sounds. Proof positive that the muse is alive and kicking. There is nothing remotely gracious about this CD and that is the point.

Click here to hear excerpts of Tennessee or purchase.

Brian “Brain" Mantia has played with some of rock's more avant-garde artists
(Praxis, Primus, Tom Waits, Buckethead, Godflesh), as well as more mainstream ones (Guns N' Roses).

Bill Laswell has sought the symbiotic high ground that melds traditional styles. Trance music, new technologies, varied musical collaborators join to create ethereal new musical collisions. It’s Jazz, Funk, Rock, Hip Hop, World fusion. Laswell is equally at home playing with Herbie Hancock as he is an Indian Tabla player.

Although Buckethead (Brian Carrol) works primarily as a solo artist touring the United States with a trio,
he has had a wide variety of high profile collaborations with such artists as Les Claypool, Tony Williams, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Serj Tankian, Guns N' Roses, Saul Williams,
Mike Patton, and with Bill Laswell.

Bernie Worrell is a producer, arranger and performer, Bernie Worrell has worked with dozens of artists, including Herb Alpert, Bootsy Collins, Black Uhuru, Keith Richards, Sly & Robbie, and the Pretenders. He performed as a member of Talking Heads, and appears in their unique concert film "Stop Making Sense." Worrell is able to incorporate a wide variety of musical styles and structures within his arrangements. In 1997, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for being one of the primary architects of the modern funk genre. His work with George Clinton, and related groups Parliament and Funkadelic, spawned such legendary releases as Mothership Connection, Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein and One Nation Under a Groove. Bernie Was a child prodigy giving his first classical concert at the age of four. At eight he wrote his first piano concerto, and at 10 played three piano concertos with part of the Washington Symphony Orchestra and Plainfield Symphony. He studied at Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

Bernie is believed to be one of if not the most sampled musician in the Hip Hop world.
His remarkable approach to electronic keyboards have graced countless performances and esteemed albums. Among musicians he is revered as one of the all time greats.

His name is not out of place in the same sentence
with Beethoven, Charlie Parker, or Jimi Hendrix. Yet now in his 60's Bernie is considered too hard to classify and unprofitable by the mainstream music industry. Bernie like so many artists of his time, naive of gluttonous morally bankrupt practices of the business world, signed away the publishing rights to his earlier music long ago, which of course today is worth a small fortune. Today Bernie labors in relative obscurity selling his music independently like so many great artists we try to spotlight here at Considerable Sounds. Although considered more vital today than ever by musicians, Worrell risks tumbling further into anonymity within the industry.

There is a wonderful award winning documentary about Bernie,

his career and his struggle called Stranger: Bernie Worrell On Earth directed by Brooklyn based Phil Di Fiore.

Here is the trailer for the film.

Stranger: Bernie Worrell On Earth (movie trailer)

The following clip spotlights the virtuoso guitarist Buckethead more so than any other members of the band however each member is given equal amounts of time to "shine" at Praxis live shows.

There are many intriguing releases headed our way in the near future and we hope to spotlight many of them for you here. In the meantime if you enjoyed any of this week's musical offering I hope you will support Bernie and his bandmates by purchasing their CDs or attending a live show. It seems unconscionable to me that Beethoven, Gershwin, Charlie Parker, or Jimi Hendrix would be considered irrelevant if they were among us today, yet Bernie Worrell faces this very real circumstance each day.

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