Last Wednesday on Examniner.com I wrote a preview piece for the coming Jazz series of San Francisco Performances. I made it a point to observe that, when the Bad Plus opens the series in October, their performance will feature their take on Igor Stravinsky’s score for the ballet “The Rite of Spring.” I even included a video tape to provide some expectations for the curious.
I thought that this would be a
pretty unique act. I seem to remember a track by Gerry Mulligan where he tacked
on the opening theme from “The Rite” at the end; but this was in the same
league as Charlie Parker closing out with a few bars of “Country Gardens.”
(Mulligan also ended “Sweet and Slow” with Richard Strauss’ horn motif for Till
Eulenspiegel.) I figured that taking on the whole ballet would be the jazz
equivalent of climbing Mount Fuji.
However, this morning I
discovered that, around the same time I was writing my piece, Ben Ratliff was
releasing his obituary
piece for guitarist Pete Cosey, who had died on May 30. While Cosey was involved
with many of the recordings released by Chess Records, he is probably best
known for the weird sounds he brought to Miles Davis’ electric band of
1973–75. However, it turns out that, in his post-Miles period, he played
with the band Burnt Sugar, which was led by Butch Morris for an album entitled The Rites, which was (you guessed it) an
improvised version of “The Rite of Spring.”
For the record, while Alex Ross
explicitly acknowledged Bad Plus member Ethan Iverson in his The Rest of Noise book, there is no
mention (at least through an Amazon LOOK INSIDE! text search) of either
Mulligan or Burnt Sugar.