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Watch The Closing Doors: A History Of New York's Musical Melting Pot Double CD

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Double CD, 27 Jun 2011
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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Jun. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Year Zero
  • ASIN: B004TTLS5O
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,130 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Duke Ellington - Take The "A" Train **
  2. Cozy Cole - Bad **
  3. Frankie Lymon & Teenagers- Why Do Fools Fall In Love **
  4. Machito - Mucho Mambo
  5. Faye Adams - Shake A Hand **
  6. Louis Armstrong - Yellow Dog Blues **
  7. Almanac Singers - Talking Union **
  8. Harry Belafonte - Matilda **
  9. Cab Calloway - Minnie The Moocher **
  10. Danny Taylor - Coffee Daddy Blues **
  11. Dizzy Gillespie - Manteca **
  12. Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue **
  13. Five Satins - In The Still Of The Nite **
  14. Billie Holiday - Autumn In New York **
  15. Miles Davis - Summertime **
  16. Charles Mingus - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat **
  17. John Cage - Indeterminacy Pt 2

Disc: 2

  1. Cozy Cole -Topsy Pt 2
  2. Honeycones - Op
  3. Horace Silver - Senor Blues [Newport Jazz Fest]
  4. Josh White - Southern Exposure **
  5. New Lost City Ramblers - How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live **
  6. Dave Van Ronk - Duncan & Brady **
  7. Sonny Terry - Custard Pie Blues **
  8. Drifters - Money Honey **
  9. Big Joe Turner - Morning Noon And Night **
  10. The Embers - Paradise Hill **
  11. Paragons - Twilight **
  12. Big Maybelle - One Monkey Don't Stop No Show **
  13. Thelonious Monk - Brilliant Corners
  14. Raymond Scott - Ripples **
  15. Allen Ginsberg - Howl

Product description

Product Description

First in a series chronicling the iconic tracks that have made up New York's musical melting pot over the last 50 years. Following volumes will cover 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s.

Volume 1 starts with the jazz, blues, latin, rock n roll and doowop of the 40s & 50s and includes giants such as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Harry Belafonte, John Cage, Cab Calloway, Clyde McPhatter, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday

32 track 2CD including 72 page book written by Kris Needs


"An Intoxicating Aural Evocation of a Lost World."


"Essential" -- THE WIRE

Getting to the core of the Big Apple

"Punk's hotbed; Village folkies' basket stack; electronic juice-pumper to Bronx block parties; inspiration to Sinatra, The Strokes, Dillinger, Beastie Boys, Odyssey; skyline behind countless other musical movements... From Year Zero to Ground Zero, New York City has been the beating heart behind too many artistic hollers to name. Though it's tempting to think of NYC as home for youth revolts of the 60s and beyond, Watch The Closing Doors takes us back to the middle of the 20th Century and the rumblings of an underground cool waiting to explode.

Opening with Duke Ellington's Take The "A" Train is a master-stroke: a reminder of the iconic transport system that runs arterial through the city. Closing with a visceral reading of Allen Ginsberg's Howl leaves us dangling on a precipice, as late 50s New York found itself unable to contain the wild abandon of its city's youth.

Of course, that's a perceived problem the city's continually faced, right up to Mayor Giuliani's clean-up act of recent decades. But what's most astonishing about this collection is the wide range of revolutions going on in what is, largely, seen as a quiet 15 years in NYC's musical history. But look closer: Miles Davis was birthing the cool; Cab Calloway had laid down Minnie The Moocher - a template for Lou Reed's street tales-gone-chic; Pete Seeger's Almanac Singers had drawn up the trad folk template later embraced by Dave Van Ronk and then stolen, turned inside-out by Dylan. Like hip-hop in the 70s, 50s doo wop grew from the city's street corners, and Paragons' Twilight shines from a group that more than lived up to their name.

Compiled by the ever-meticulous Kris Needs, the sleevenotes are, naturally, worth the price of purchase alone. You could almost think of this collection as a book with a pair of free CDs. Thankfully, however, it's the first in a six-part series that sets out to - for the first time ever, as far as we know - chronicle the entire span of NYC's musical history, right up to the 00s. It's a mind-melting exercise that, by its very nature, will result in one of the most fascinating compilations series we've ever encountered"

5 STARS -- Record Collector

The current moment is proving to be a boom time for comps, and not just because no-longer-obscure corners need tending by folks who care. It's because the past has never been so moveable. Generation YouTube is used to being able to call up almost any piece of music history with a single query; once unimaginable combinations, from the R&B-plus-strings of the Drifters' "There Goes My Baby" to the mutant mash-ups of 2 Many DJ's, are now taken for granted. We expect clashes of sensibility--that's the norm.
But that variety of experience has long defined New York. "August Darnell told me if you walked down a street in the Bronx, you could hear different sorts of music coming out of different doorways," says Kris Needs. "It's kind of like that." Darnell, a/k/a Kid Creole, is a downtown dance-music legend; Needs is a veteran British music journalist who spent several years in New York City, some of them working at Bleecker Bob's. (Needs has his memories of the place, but is deferential to his former employer.) And the "it" Needs refers to is Watch the Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot, Vol. 1, 1945-59, a new double-CD compilation he put together for Year Zero that sets about creating a dream version of walking down that Bronx street, with stop-offs in Village coffeehouses (the Almanac Singers, the New Lost City Ramblers, Dave Van Ronk), experimental electronic-music labs (Raymond Scott), and downtown poetry readings (Allen Ginsberg). The first of a projected six-volume series, it's the sonic equivalent of taking in two and a half hours' worth of exhibits at the Met.

None of Closing Doors' connections seem labored. Needs clearly spent serious time tweaking both discs' running order; they play seamlessly, a dream soundtrack of every book you ever read, or wanted to read, about postwar New York City. ("I'm glad you noticed," he says when I compliment the sequencing.) Often, a compilation can accumulate tension by setting well-known material next to very obscure songs. Most of what's on Closing Doors is generally well known. It opens with Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," one of the last century's most ubiquitous pieces of music, for good reason: There's never a bad time to hear this song. Following it with the lip-licking stripper-bump of Cozy Cole's "Bad," from 1959, is just as shrewd, telling us that we're going to go high and low, to run the gamut, and we're going to have a seriously good time doing it.

Only once--on John Cage's "Indeterminacy (Part 2)," with 23 minutes of Cage reading over David Tudor's fractured prepared piano--does one of Needs's inclusions feel scholarly, and even that one is listenable when you don't necessarily think you'd be in the mood. Coming at the end of disc one, it's zappable, but it also fits beautifully after Charles Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," an ideal meeting point of two thorny giants.

Both "Indeterminacy" and Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," which finishes the second disc (from an October 1955 recording made in San Francisco--a forgivable fudge, given the electricity of the reading), carry a crucial sense of event. That's one of the things both pieces have in common with the rest of the songs--a communal sense of urgency, whatever the viewpoint, or doorway, or neighborhood. The folk selections are especially, and surprisingly, vibrant; then again, I come from an era in which "folk" is tainted by "solipsistic" and "confessional." But the Almanacs and the Ramblers and Van Ronk had a lot more than themselves on their minds, and their performances have as much jolt as Dizzy Gillespie's Latin-jazz bombshell "Manetca."

"I've been fascinated with New York since the mid-'60s, and any biography about New York, I would read," Needs says from his home in London. Closing Doors is actually his second major compilation for Year Zero--last year's well-received Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude preceded it, and mapped out a similarly broad, ex-post-facto terrain. For Closing Doors, Needs also penned a thick CD booklet--72 pages. "I didn't mean to write that much," he says with a laugh. "It then became as important as the music, because it explained why. It had to be; otherwise, it would just look like a nice old compilation."

Did he listen to any nice old compilations in order to prepare this one? "The only existing New York compilations taught me what not to do, which was restrict it to one particular area of music," he says. "Every time you get [a New York-themed set], it'll be a disco compilation, or a hip-hop compilation, or even a compilation of Spanish Harlem ballads. I haven't seen one that's got, on the same CD, Pete Seeger and Louis Armstrong."

Needs's point is clear--New York is so panoramic it deserves a broad overview. He's gotten plenty of help in figuring out what to include, both on Vol. 1 and the five others he has planned (one per decade, from the '60s to the '00s). In addition to Darnell, Needs's advisers include Suicide's Martin Rev--who, Needs points out, learned piano from blind bebop legend Lennie Tristano, exactly the kind of sideways-yet-just-right connection this set thrives on--and Craig Leon, producer of the first Ramones and Blondie albums. "We're taking it where it goes," he says, "kind of like how the music was created in the first place." -- VILLAGE VOICE (NYC)

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5.0 out of 5 starsGreat omnibus look at mid-century music in New York
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