Podcast #1-2. Jayne Cortez & the Firespitters: Cheerful & Optimistic

I’ve been meaning to write about Jayne Cortez & the Firespitters for a long time, but I don’t think writing about this album would do as much justice as listening it. Cheerful & Optimistic is one of those acquisitions that just stick out in my collection. It’s not Japanese pop, it’s not indie rock, it’s not from the ’80s — it might be close to downtown New York stuff, but that’s a stretch. When I play this album in front of my family, they get annoyed by the repetition of Cortez’s verse. To my ears, it’s just musical punctuation.

I think there’s one Firespitters album available on CD Baby, but if you want to find her other works, good luck — I had to order mine through a magazine called Cadence. The difficulty of finding her albums pretty much discourages me from trying it again. Even her poetry is hard to find.

Cortez did record an album for her ex-husband Ornette Coleman’s label, Harmolodic, back in 1996, but that album is long out of print.

Some notes:

  • I finally learned about harmolodics about a year after I encountered Jayne Cortez through an interview with Coleman in Pulse! magazine.
  • It’s kind of weird for me to describe how “dark and chaotic” “War Devoted to War” gets when I don’t actually excerpt the part that gets dark and chaotic.
  • Yeah in retrospect, I’m not sure how African instruments and social consciousness really relate.

Songs featured:

  • Hello, Everybody
  • She Got He Got
  • Find Your Own Voice
  • War Devoted to War
  • I Wonder Who
  • Cheerful & Optimistic


  • Id says:

    Pretty wild man… I remember you mentioning Jayne and the Firespitters in your “365 days” feature (at least that’s where I think I heard it) and remembered being taken by the name of the group. For me this isn’t too different from hearing Boredoms for the first time, I’m pretty excited by how lively and organic it all sounds. I’ll be checking out Amazon for some of this.

  • NemesisVex says:

    Amazon won’t have much. Cortez released almost all of her albums through a small imprint called Bola Press, and they’re all out of print, except for the latest, “Borders of Disorderly Time”. Downtown Music Gallery in New York City might have some of her old albums in stock, and I’m certain “Borders of Disorderly Time” is still available on CD Baby. Downtown Music Gallery has a mail order service through its website, but I’ve never used it. At some point, I’m going to have to get that disc before it too goes away.

  • Id says:

    No kidding… Why tease us with music that we have no hopes of acquiring Greg! I’m just messing. I did spy “Taking the Blues Back Home” on Amazon. I guess that will be my primer and I’ll go from there, thanks for the tips on where to look too.