This week I was listening to a cassette of one of my radio shows from about 20 odd years ago, the title of the program was ‘Long Cuts’. I’d previously played a program devoted to the sort of music that was frequently heard here on the West coast in the 60’s/70’s but radio stations were reluctant to play anything longer than 4-5 minutes, the record companies even issued edited short versions to radio stations so the effect was that many listeners often didn’t even know that what they were hearing was an edited version. And of course the long cuts were often the best things on an album but they went unheard except for those who bought the albums. I’ve always had a soft spot for the longer cuts so I decided to devote a 2hr program to them.
We call it ‘commercial radio’ over here and commercial is the key word, they’re profit oriented money making operations, forget that business about ‘entertainment’, any Program Director will elect to play 3-4 short Dylan cuts that can each have a commercial attached rather than 12 minutes of Desolation Row with one commercial, which is why we have the radio we have. And it’s why TV is not an entertainment medium, it’s a sales medium. Who came up with the idea of interrupting a film every 10 minutes to insert 4-5 minutes of commercials, certainly not the viewers but they tolerate it; I don’t.
Since I listened to that program I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit; there’s no jazz there even though I have many long cuts of jazz, enough to easily do a 2hr jazz ‘long cuts’ program; Ellington at Newport, Miles – Kind of Blue/ Sketches of Spain, lots of wonderful extended albums on the various Norman Grantz labels, ditto 1950’s Columbia, Verve, lots of extended sax duets, i.e. Ammons & Stitt, Hodges & Webster, and all sorts of live stuff, i.e. Lionel Hampton All Stars at Pasadena Civic, 1946; I think I’ll do a long jazz list just for myself.
What I enjoy about these extended pieces is the musicianship, on long cuts the musicians get a chance to indulge their creative ideas and improvisations much more freely than when they’re playing to a clock. Take Desolation Row, Charlie McCoy’s improvised guitar solo is what makes that song happen, it wouldn’t work without him.
Ballerina was from Van’s debut album Astral Weeks for Warner Bros. he was 22, It was recorded with a group of jazz musicians, no rehearsals, no lead sheets, he told ’em ‘just play what you think works’, and it certainly did work, it’s been listed on every ‘best of’ list of the past 50 years.
Calvary is from Quicksilver’s second album, mostly recorded live at the Fillmore and edited into one of the most avant garde pieces of 1960’s American music.
The ‘Underture’ from Tommy is I think a brilliant piece of music, Townsend took Tommy seriously and wrote an instrumental piece to introduce the intermission, just like a real opera and the Who played it brilliantly.
East/West, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop with the Paul Butterfield band recorded at Chicago’s Chess studio for Elektra, a piece that evolved from a Fillmore West performance. it reflected Bloomfield’s love of modal jazz and Indian raga music.
I’m not posting my recorded program as I have in the past but just a selection of some of my favorites from that program, all good stuff, hope you enjoy ’em.