Live music, it would seem, is finally beginning to make noticeable steps in its return as the world continues its ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Music acts the world over are increasingly announcing new live dates for this and next year. For all of the live music that is making its way back to the world’s stages, there are still limitations on capacity, face coverings, etc. Those limitations and the fact that not every live music venue has yet joined the growing return of live music means there is still very much a place for live recordings. To that end, fans of avant-garde will welcome MarksTown, the new live offering from Steve Tintweiss and the Purple Why. Released April 1 through inky dot media, the 12-song presentation will appeal to the noted in fans first and foremost because of its body. This will be discussed shortly. The recording’s companion booklet adds its own level of appeal to its presentation. It will be discussed a little later. The production of the vintage recording also comes into play in examining this presentation and will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of MarksTown. All things considered, they make the recording in whole a work that will appeal to most avant-garde jazz fans and that is a unique addition to this year’s field of new live CDs.
Steve Tintweiss and the Purple Why’s new live offering, MarksTown is among the more unique additions to this year’s crop of new live CDs. It is a presentation that will appeal directly to fans of the avant-garde subgenre of jazz and of Tintweiss himself. That is due in part to the recording’s overall body. The recording is comprised of not one, but two live recordings from Tintweiss and his fellow musicians – James DuBoise (trumpet), Mark Whitecage (tenor sax, flute), Trevor Koehler (baritone saxophone), Laurence Cook (drums), Judy Stewart and Amy Sheffer (vocals). The first was at a benefit show that was held Aug. 21, 1968 at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, The “festival” of sorts was meant to raise money to aid humanitarian efforts connected with the Nigeria-Biafra conflict. The second concert featured here was recorded Sept. 14, 1968 at The Town Hall in New York City. This concert was not a benefit show. The concerts are important presentations because – as noted in information provided about the recording – they are “the first documentation of the band to be released.” In other words, up to that point, there were no studio or other live recordings from the group. That rarity will make the “double-live” presentation all the more appealing for the noted audience. What’s more, the fact that this presentation marks the first time that the vintage concerts have been released adds even more appeal for those noted audiences. Keeping all of this in mind, this aspect of MarksTown shows itself reason enough for the noted audiences to take in the recording. The companion booklet that accompanies the recording adds its own appeal to the overall presentation.
The companion booklet that comes with MarksTown is of import because of the information provided in its liner notes. The notes, compiled by researcher/archivist Ben Young, are thorough and build strongly on the foundation formed by the recording’s body. Early on, Young notes that the St. Mark’s Church concert was important because up until then, Tintweiss had spent most of his professional career more as a side musician. Additionally, Young’s notes point out that only months prior, Tintweiss’ group performed at an even more high profile event in New York City. According to Young’s notes, the protest event was led by the likes of the “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.…and other prominent activists.” He points out that while the band performed at the event, and was photographed, the performance was not recorded. This goes back to the importance of the recording’s body. The concerts here are proven through Young’s notes to in fact be the first official recordings of any kind from the group. As if all of this information is not enough for audiences, Young also goes into depth as to the performances presented by Tintweiss and his fellow musicians. He outlines items, such as their dynamic control in various songs, the solos, and even the general approach to the “free-flowing” compositions throughout his notes. That rich discussion will help set the groundwork for listeners before they even start listening to either concert. Between all of this and more noted by Young, the liner notes in general offer the noted audiences just as much to appreciate as the recordings themselves.
The content that makes up the body of MarksTown and its liner notes does much to make it an engaging and entertaining presentation for the noted listeners. It is just a portion of the overall presentation’s appeal. The concert recordings’ production rounds out its most important elements. The production is important to note because of its effect on the general effect here. The production leads to such a raw, natural sound. It does not have the spit-shined sound of so many live recordings. That is made clear through the moments in which Tintweiss can be heard talking to the audiences and even in some of the backing vocals. There is also the slightest of echoes even as the collective performs that adds to the sense of nostalgia and warmth in the concerts. Whether any re-mastering was done to the audio is unknown. It is not noted in the liner notes. That aside, the sound presented as a result of the production is a positive in its own right. When the nostalgia created through the production is considered along with the engagement and entertainment ensured through the recordings themselves and the presentation’s liner notes, the whole make the recording overall a presentation that avant-garde fans and those of Wintweiss will enjoy.
Steve Wintweiss and The Purple Why’s new live presentation, MarksTown is a unique addition to this year’s field of new live CDs. It is a presentation that will find appeal among a very targeted group of listeners. That is proven in part through the recording’s featured concerts. The concerts are in fact the first documented presentation featuring Wintweiss and his then fellow musicians together. The concerts, captured only a month apart in 1968, were not the group’s first at the time, as noted in the presentation’s liner notes, but they are the first recorded shows from the group. What’s more, this presentation marks the first time ever that the concerts have seen the light of day. Speaking of the liner notes, they form a solid starting point for the listening experience. That is because of the information that is provided about the concerts and performances therein. The recording’s overall production rounds out its most important elements. That is because of the impact that it has on the recording’s general effect. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of MarksTown. All things considered, they make the unique live presentation a work that will find appeal among Steve Wintweiss and The Purple Why’s targeted audiences. MarksTown is available now. More information on the recording is available at:
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