This is not to say I have not been getting into some heavy music these days. I have sifted through the raw tape of a very memorable jam on the bayou in Puerto Gallera and stitched together the highlights. It was the first time I had participated in a jam as an invited equal with cats who equaled or exceeded my litmus test of creative, inventive live musicians.
Music aficionados take note: I am currently listening to Jimi Hendrix' jam with jazz flautist Virgil Gonsalves, a 12 minute live version of 'Are You Experienced' from Winterland (10/11/68).
Unavailable on Youtube (sorry hyperlinkers), that jam is extraordinarily interesting to me as an example of what Jimi sounded like playing live with a flautist who has a musical sensibility much like my own. The flutter jazz style is quite––how do I say––birdlike and based on a combination of Latin and tribal sensibilities. Jimi, deeply affected by his Cherokee lineage, did play flutelike songs (Cherokee Mist*) and jammed with Chris Wood from Traffic on a number of occasions (most famously Wood provided the haunting, trippy underwater sounds in 1983... A Merman I Would Live to Be) . But Chris Wood is not in the same lineage of Mr. Gonsalves, who came up through the classic West Coast jazz scene (he has a 1956 album up online, as well as a 1959 Monterey Jazz sextet set).
The interesting thing about the 'Are You Experienced'recording is that it came about at a time during which Hendrix was ascendant, but not a demigod––he was clearly stretching himself (with lysergic assistance) in front of a fairly sophisticated Bill Graham crowd.
Virgil Gonsalves was not a random cat, despite the tenor of Jimi's shout-out after the tune (which also features the unusual hard g pronunciation of Virgil). The jazz flautist was jamming as part of the Buddy Miles Express during this time. The flute solo is kind of an archaeological excavation––it was wiped from the transparent Rykodisc lp release Live At Winterland that I wore out as a teenager in the late 1980s. Typical Alan Douglas heresy––the presence of the flute is the reason Jimi jams out the way he does. Not to bury Caesar, but it is in the live group dynamic that real listener interest lies.
The frustrating thing about Virgil soloing on the recording I recently came across is that it is buried in the mix. It is as if the archivists felt obligated to acknowledge the presence of a flute in the jam, but could not see it in themselves to allow the listener to really understand the interplay of musicians. This is an issue I have been having recently playing around in Dumaguete (See for yourself––the Igoroots Earth Day set I posted a couple weeks ago from Forest Camp in Valencia features a similarly buried flute). When an instrument is buried, you can hear that it is affecting the jam, but you are not sure exactly how.**
**The absence of a defining instrument in the mix can be interesting its own right––am I some kind of music nerd?
**I love these faded photos of Virgil jamming with Jimi––the only recorded evidence. There is some kind of mystery I yearn for in the "you had to be there" era.