Avant-Garde Got Soul Too :: An Observations of Deviance Mixtape

And now something far out. Avant-Garde Got Soul Too is a mixtape by David Mittleman, host of Tucson’s KXCI independent radio’s Observations of Deviance, a weekly “all vinyl, free form program that harkens back to early days of underground FM radio.”  

Kids have a knack for getting right down to the essence. Although I’ve been collecting and listening to avant-garde jazz for three decades, seven-year-old Codaryl Moffett was able to say succinctly something I could only feel: “Avant-Garde Got Soul Too.” Codarly’s dad, Charles Moffett, like his bandmate, and fellow native of Forth Worth, Texas, Ornette Coleman, believed in the power of youth. Like Ornette, Charles Moffett felt that injecting the blank-slate rhythmic creativity of his young son would spark new life in his music. Ornette’s son Denardo began to study drums at age six, and first appeared on album at age ten. Codaryl started even earlier; first appearing on album at age seven on his father’s 1969 lp The Gift.  Codaryl even co-wrote and titled the album’s first tune: “Avant-Garde Got Soul Too.” 

From the start of my jazz vinyl collecting, I noticed that even the most over-the-top, fire-breathing, incendiary, earth-shaking, avant-garde jazz musicians like to get funky from time to time. When I first picked up Frank Lowe’s Fresh, I was not prepared for the final track, “Chu’s Blues.” After some rather esoteric free jazz tracks, Lowe ends the record with a fantastic fusion of funky Memphis soul and wild sax solos. Robert Palmer’s erudite liner-notes made a key point that has stuck with me all these years: Even the most avant-garde jazz musician starts somewhere, and they usually start with more traditional styles of music. Lowe started out working in Satellite Records, a record store associated with the Stax Records label, where he learned about the entire history of jazz, and music in general, via vinyl records.  Even though he later went on to work with Alice Coltrane and Rashied Ali, the essence of the music he grew up with in Memphis never left him.

“Avant-Garde Got Soul Too” is an attitude that says the traditional barriers between seemingly incompatible genres are a myth; everything is possible. It celebrates the feeling of “Inside, outside, all kinds of sides,” as Jeanne Lee exclaims on the Andrew Cyrille track “Non-Expectation Celebration.” It sets out to show that all music relates to each other and that none of it has to be categorized. This is the attitude I try to bring to my weekly radio show, Observations of Deviance. It’s an all-vinyl, free form program that harkens back to early days of underground FM radio. It features music from around the world in a number of genres including spiritual jazz, free improvisation, experimental electronics, ethnographic oddities, and world-wide psychedelic funk.  Observations of Deviance is broadcast 2-5am late Saturday night/early Sunday morning Arizona time on KXCI 91.3 FM Tucson.


Tracklist / Provenance:

Charles Moffett, “Avant-Garde Got Soul Too” (The Gift, 1969)
Bobby Naughton Units, “Nital Rock” (Understanding, 1972)
Amina Claudine Myers, “Have Mercy Upon Us/Chant” (Song For Mother E, 1980)
Art Ensemble of Chicago, “Theme de YoYo” (Les Stances A Sophie, 1970)
Duke Ellington, “Acht O’Clock Rock” (The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse (A Suite In Eight Parts), 1975)
Sonny Sharrock/Linda Sharrock, “Miss Doris” (Paradise, 1975)
Juma Sultan’s Aboriginal Music Society, “Shake Your Money Maker” (Whispers From the Archive, 2012)
The New Frank Wright Quartet, “T and W” (Eddie’s Back In Town, 1982)
Frank Wright Sextet, “T and W (Live)” (Stove Man, Love Is The Word, 1979)
Elaine Brown, arranged by Horace Tapscott, “Can’t Go Back” (Elaine Brown, 1973)
Luther Thomas, “Funky Donkey Pt. 1” (Funky Donkey, 1977)
Ornette Coleman feat. Asha Puthli, “What Reason Could I Give” (Science Fiction, 1972)
Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, “MRA” (Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, 1970)
Yaqub, “Yaqub Speaks” (Yaqub Speaks, 1980)
New Life Trio, “Empty Streets” (Visions of the Third Eye, 1980)
Andrew Cyrille & Maono, “Non-Expectation Celebration” (Celebration, 1975)
Imamu Amiri Baraka, “Who Will Survive America” (It’s Nation Time, 1972)
Steve Reid, featuring the Legendary Master Brotherhood, “Lions of Judah” (Nova, 1976)
Julius Hemphill, “Dogon A.D.” (Dogon A.D., 1972)
Henry Threadgill feat. Asha Puthli, “My Rock” (Easily Slip Into Another World, 1988)
Faruq Z. Bey, “Untitled” (Live At the Detroit Art Space, 2012)
Betty Carter, “Sounds” (Betty Carter, 1976)
Frank Lowe, “Chu’s Blues” (Fresh, 1975)
Michael Gregory Jackson, “Clarity” (Clarity, 1977)
Lester Bowie, “For Fela” (African Children, 1978)
Sun Ra & the Arkestra, “Tequila (Live 9/23/58)” (The Eternal Myth Revealed, 2011)

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