“The Game (Parts 1-5)” by Roy Harper (released in 1975)
From ‘HQ’ (in the UK) or ‘When the Cricketer Leaves the Crease’ (in the US)
There's an owl in the valley fixing his prey
He's not counting the tally
It's down to what comes up before the day
And the trees in the orchard were taken from a narrow view of time
Where the minds of the tortured perpetuated patron saints of crime
I can fit into your puzzle but it's hardly, hardly ever a hold
And I'll tell you, yeah yeah, tell you the trouble
The habits I've got are more than 10,000 years old
And we cannot sell our souls to learning morals
Big brother is no place for us to slide
We cannot live by numbers or on laurels
And hardly on how far from death we hide
And it's not a case of rampant paranoia
But just an age I'd love to see unborn
Not that I'd be missing playing Goya
More like I feel awkward passing on
Civilization, civilization down to my children
Without a question
While the prophets of freedom, battery farming brains for narrow minds
Have decided, yes they decided that meaning is far beyond the lives they left behind
As two thirds of the population dine
On scraps in shadow lengthening with time
While propaganda spreads the same old theme
You is me and we can change the game, bullsh*t
Oh but how many times have we written these lines
And delivered these signs and not made it happen
Walking the tightrope of taking our head off
Losing the rhythm, idealizing and all criticizing
And not realizing that we've changed and left and we've gone
And sad to be leaving the things we believe in but time has a way and we fly
The next age is born and the old hands are gone and done in the wink of an eye
No point in passing bad reason good guessing, no time for massing much more than can flourish with love
And right now, my darling, I'm lying here dreaming of feeling, no daylight between us
So wherever you are and whenever I'm there is someplace we've got to be ours
Can we right-heartedly stand in this light and see what might turn out to be crazy enough, enough to be we ?
When we've had a past sad enough to last for sometime into the future
These storms have torn and true love is alone and the past is almost a failure
Consciences burn in the program turn, computing the social behaviour
But yoke revolts, the foundation bolts and cries for yet another saviour
And I'd pack my things on a pair of wings and tomorrow I'd be parting
With the summer birds and the winter herds for a place to face a new heart in
But it makes no difference, where I am I'm in the game first hand
There are no certain answers and no time to understand
The rules are set to paradox, coercion and blind faith
The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date
The dream is righteous grandeur fit to flood the universe
The fact is more than meets the eye but less than runs the earth, running the earth
And the prisoner of the present paces up and down inside his cell
He's the living replacement, somersaulting from this psychic well
Screaming: 'I'm the sponsor of a hell'
Voices like the sea inside a shell
Telling me I cannot stake a claim
Possession is a clue but not the game
So please leave this world as clean as when you came
So please leave this world as clean as when you came
Please leave this world as clean as when you came
Please leave this world as clean as when you came
Please leave this world as clean as when you came
I first heard Roy Harper in the mid-seventies when I bought of few of his early records as import cut-outs. Like Tim Buckley or Bruce Cockburn, he started out as a sort of folk musician/singer/songwriter whose songs & vision continued to expand on every record, moving through various genres, always restless, inventive and provocative. Several of his albums from the early to mid seventies are still personal favorites: ‘FolkJokeOpus’, ’Flat, Baroque & Beserk’ and ’Stormcock’. He ended up becoming friends with various British bands like The Who, Pink Floyd (who had a song named after him) and Led Zep (Jimmy Page plays on one or two of his albums). Roy Harper is still alive (currently retired) and has had records out since 1966, pushing his long career past the half century mark. Harper has more than thirty albums out and I own and savor every single one. The above song, “The Game”, is a side long suite and perhaps his greatest triumph. Although the album after that, “One of Those days in England”, is almost as good. Check out the great lyrics and give it a listen on record (not on a download), it is still a classic. And remember: “Please leave this world as clean as when you came”! - BLG at DMG
The Downtown Music Gallery 29th Anniversary Celebrations will begin in 2020 & Will Continue throughout the year! May 1st is our Anniversary! Every In-store throughout the Year Helps Celebrate the Spirit of Creative Music Performed Live.
Sunday, January 5th - First DMG Gig of the New Year - Double Header!!
6pm: ELI WALLACE - Synth / ANDREW SMILEY - Guitar / CARLO COSTA - Percussion!
7pm: THOMAS HEBERER / LUKE MARRANTZ / SIMON JERMYN / MICHAEL VATCHER -
Trumpet / Fender Rhodes / Bass / Drums!
Sunday, January 12th:
6pm: JUAN P CARLETTI - Solo Drums!
7pm: ARON NAMEMWIRTH - Guitar / DAVE SEWELSON - Bari Sax / COLIN HINTON - Drums!
8pm: CHRIS PITSIOKOS / JAVIER A V / KEVIN MURRAY - Alto Sax / Guitar / Drums!
Sunday, January 19th:
6pm: RAGNHILD MAY - Solo!
7pm: CECILIA LOPEZ / JOE MOFFETT - Synth and Trumpet!
8pm: MICHAEL EATON / SETH DAVIS / DORIAN WALLACE CHERYL PYLE!
Sunday, January 26th:
6pm: JEREMIAH CYMERMAN - Solo Clarinet!
7pm: SAM NEWSOME - Solo Soprano Sax!
8pm: NICK DUNSTON - Solo ContraBass!
DMG is located at 13 Monroe St. (between Catherine & Market Sts) in a basement below a small gallery. Take the F train to East Broadway or the 6 train to Canal or the B or D to Grand, or the M-15 bus to Madison & Catherine. Come on Down, the Sunday Music Series is Always Free & the Vibes are Always Cosy. You can check the weekly in-store sets through our Instagram feed
Two DMG Recommended Gigs for the Week:
Eric Stern’s House of Improv Presents:
This Friday, January 3rd, 2020 at 8pm:
VINCENT CHANCEY / JOE FONDA / KEVIN NORTON!
French Horn / Contrabass / Drums & Percussion
At 244 REHEARSAL STUDIOS, 244 W 54 ST, 10TH FL, NYC
Next Tuesday, January 7th at 8pm:
JOËLLE LÉANDRE (Bass) and FAY VICTOR (Vocalist)!!!
At Zürcher Gallery - 33 Bleecker St., NY, NY
Just east of Lafayette. - 212-777-0790
On Saturday, December 21st, 2019, the Independent Promoters Alliance (IPA) sponsored a year-end celebration/concert at the Dimenna Center in midtown, Manhattan. The concert was organized by Matt Vernon, Eric Stern and myself, with help from various volunteers & friends. Two bands played: Mars Williams’ Ayler/X-Mas Project and Farmers by Nature. Both bands played astonishing sets, this was perhaps the best double-header of the year! Special thanks to Marc Urselli & his crew for doing the sound (a superb job!) and recording it as well. Both sets might just might be released in the future, we will let you know. Considering that we didn’t get a pick in any publication, the night was well attended with around 150 smiling folks. Special thanks to all of the volunteers who made this night work so well: Scott C, Richard & Roberta, Keith M, Kevin R, Sarah V, Jessica H, Eric’s family and everyone who attended. - BLG at DMG
This Weeks Newsletter Begins with This Festive Holidays Classic:
MARS WILLIAMS with JAIMIE BRANCH / KNOX CHANDLER / MARK TOKAR / KLAUS KUGEL - Presents: An Ayler Xmas Volume 3: Live in Krakow (Not Two; Poland) For the past three years, Chicago saxist Mars Williams, does a tour with the Ayler/Xmas Band, which changes personnel depending on which city or country they are in at the time. A couple of weeks ago on December 21st (2019), Mr. Williams came to NYC and presented another version of this project with: Nels Cline, Steve Swell, Hill Greene & Chris Corsano. Their set was incredible, one of this years’ best and was recorded, perhaps for a future release.
For this concert/release the personnel featured Mars Williams on tenor & soprano saxes & toys, Jaimie Branch on trumpet & electronics, Knox Chandler on guitar & electronics, Mark Tokar on bass and Klaus Kugel on drums. It was recorded at Alchemia in Krakow, Poland on December 9th of 2018. This is an incredible looking line-up: trumpeter, Jaimie Branch, has been getting a good deal of well-deserved attention over the past couple of years, she appears on two great discs this past year: James Brandon Lewis’ ‘Unruly Manifesto’ (on Relative Pitch) and her own new disc ‘Fly or Die 2’ (International Anthem). Guitarist Knox Chandler and Mars used to play together in the Psychedelic Furs way back in the late seventies, plus Knox was also a member of the Golden Palominos. The rhythm team here, Mark Tokar & Klaus Kugel, have worked together for many years with Ken Vandermark & Perry Robinson.
What makes each of the Ayler/Xmas projects work so well is the way Mars’ weaves both Albert Ayler and assorted Christmas songs together. There are three long pieces on this disc, each one weaves several songs together. The first one is called, “The Hanukkah-Xmas March of Truth for 12 Days of Jingling Bells with Spirits”. Things begin with soft electronics swirling together, the melody of “The 12 Days of Christmas”, played by the trumpet and tenor sax floats in on top, grounded by strong rhythm team, this soon morphs into the equally jubilant “The Truth Comes Marching In” by Mr. Ayler. The frontline of tenor sax, trumpet & guitar all erupt tightly together soon exploding and then starting again with some spacey guitar sounds and fractured Xmas melodies. Both Mr. Williams and Ms. Branch sound especially great together as they spin layers of intense lines around one another, quoting and blending both Xmas & Ayler lines selectively. The bowed bass and guitar are featured together midway, weaving their suspense-filled lines together just right. There is a long tradition of tenor sax blasters who hail from (or end up in) Chicago: John Gilmore, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, Ken Vandermark, Dave Rempis and Mars Williams. Hence, Williams’ gets several chances to erupt here but not for very long before the pieces morph through different sections. What makes this set work so well is that Mars gets each member chances to stretch out in different combinations. One of the things that defined Albert Ayler’s music was that it combined marching rhythms with spiritual (gospel meets the blues) melodies. This blend has a wonderful, uplifting, festive quality that is often on the verge of erupting into chaos. Today is New Years Day 2020 and this music feels and sounds great as it welcomes us into a new year, a new decade and hopefully better days to come. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Last Sunday, December 29th at DMG, we had a special night of reunions with old & new friends/musicians involved. Old friends of mine, Dissipated Face (from the 1980’s) played the first set, while Suburban Bohemia, mainly an improv unit organized by yours truly, (that has been around since the mid 1970’s with a revolving cast of musicians), played the second set. Suburban Bohemia generally only plays once a decade when I can get it together and have some sort of theme in mind. For this set we actually covered 3 songs from the Mothers of Invention’s ‘Freak-Out!’ album (rel in 1966). I put together this version only a week or so earlier, but the results were even better than I imagined. Calling ourselves the Great-Grandmothers of Invention, the personnel featured Elliott Sharp & Mitch “The Monz” Manasse on guitars, Daniel Carter on soprano sax, Frank Meadows on bass, Michael Vatcher on drums & MC BruceLee on vocals. We covered “Trouble Every Day” which featured inspired solos from Mr. Sharp, the Monz and Mr. Carter. I was in heaven and have wanted to do this song for more than 50 years! We also covered “Help, I’m a Rock” and “It Can’t Happen Here”, which featured vocals from Brother Russell Scholl and Len 37 Siegfried. If you want to hear our set, check it out here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5xgbmotndorejj2/AAB_smTO0jbahiIB6wXY3qTDa?dl=0
PHONON with ELLIOTT SHARP / ALVARO DOMENE / COLIN MARSTON / WEASEL WALTER - Alloy (zOaR 054; USA) PHONON is a band and their members are: Alvaro Domene: 7-string guitar, Elliott Sharp: 8-string guitar, Colin Marston: bass guitar and Weasel Walter: drums. A phonon is the elementary excitation in the quantum mechanical treatment of vibrations in a crystal lattice and one may consider a phonon to be a basic particle of sound. The PHONON album is titled ALLOY. ALLOY is the perfect description for the music of PHONON as an alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, especially to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion.
In the case of the band PHONON, our particular type of cross-pollinated metals are steeped in improvisation and electronic processing, all the better to increase the corrosion factor. And PHONON improvises like they mean it with a visceral psychic rhythm section supporting frothing dual guitar textural streams. This is 21st century brutalist hypnosis for a hypocritically repressed world.
Guitarist/saxist/composer/bandleader/instrument designer, Elliott Sharp, never ceases to amaze me. E# often comes by monthly to drop off yet another project/disc, each one both challenging and fascinating in its own way. For this new disc, Mr. Sharp has organized a new quartet with features Mr. Sharp on 8-string guitar, Alvaro Domene on 7-string guitar, Colin Marston on bass guitar and Weasel Walter on drums. This is a most eclectic quartet with members from different places. Mr. Domene co-runs the Iluso label and has worked with Henry Kaiser and Briggan Krause. Bassist Colin Marston is also a well-respected recording engineer, as well as working with metal/prog ensemble Behold the Arctopus and Krallice. Current Downtown drum master, Weasel Walter, is also super-prolific, working with dozens of musicians from Henry Kaiser to Lydia Lunch to (leading) the Flying Luttenbachers.
From the gitgo, this music is way intense, tight, powerful, sort-of techno-metal with a brutal, explosive vibe. At the bottom of the cyclone is Weasel Walter’s throttling double bass-drum pedals and throbbing bass from Mr. Marston. There is a strong, centered pounding march rhythm keeping things together underneath the storm above. Both guitars howl, burn, blast, scream with Mr. Sharp’s distinctive, furiously-paced, each note articulated at the center of the ongoing storm. Both guitars often sound like they are soloing at the same time, yet there is much more going on that that if you listen closely. Things slow down on “Density Spectra”, in which the guitars sounds more like two ancients humming synths, with several layers of haunting drones moving around one another. When Weasel’s drums enter midway, they create a dynamic, ritualistic, rhythmic pulsating force. The overall sound reminds of a King Crimson-like improv from the Fripp/Cross/Wetton/Bruford version of the band in the mid-seventies. Bassist Marsten and drummer Walter have worked together in several projects and sound strong, solid together, providing a variety of pounding, massive rhythm team navigations. It is interesting to consider than the 50th anniversary version of King Crimson recently toured and many folks spent between $100 & $200 per ticket. I certainly did and was knocked out. This particular quartet has a similar throttling power and sound, hence I hope they get a chance to perform live at in a room with good sound. It will, no doubt, cost a lot less and will be well worth your time to witness their powerful onslaught. In the meantime, grab this disc and play it at home VERY LOUD! Guaranteed to knock you into the next dimension! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
* ALVIN CURRAN & JON ROSE - Café Grand Abyss (ReR Jrac 1; UK) Featuring Alvin Curran on piano, sampler & shofar and Jon Rose on violin, amplified tenor violin, 6-string drainpipe and singing saw. Recorded in Rome in April of 2015 and in Sydney, Australia in September of 2018. Both of these men come from much varied backgrounds music making, composing & improvising, playing acoustic, electric and electronic instruments, ever-evolving and experimenting, from serious to humorous endeavors. The two have known each other since 1985, when they were both living in Berlin and they've worked together on and off ever since. Mr. Curran has more than two dozens recordings as a composer/leader and was/is a founding member of MEV (Musica Elettronica Viva). Equally colorful and occasionally ridiculous, Australian strings wiz, Jon Rose, has long worked with a wide variety of stringed instruments, fences, wires and other objects often not considered for the music-making qualities.
Although, both men are gifted improvisers, there seems to be much more going on here. Mr. Curran plays both piano and sampler simultaneously, creating his own weird world. Speeding up & slowing down with of odd samples tossed in selectively. Mr. Rose starts off on amplified tenor violin, spinning out quick layers twisted lines in dazzling fractured-sounding ways. Mr. Curran’s samples a wide array of sounds, industrial noises, feedback, waves of distorted sounds, vocal sounds while Mr. Rose is also in constant motion, weaving layers of bowed, plucked and manipulated strings. He is also a master improviser who has worked long & hard on coming up with all sorts of ways to his violin in unique, diverse ways. This duo work really well together, bending and twisting their sounds into a tight series of exciting spirals. Mr. Curran is a master creating, layering and manipulating assorted samples, giving Mr. Rose a series of challenging sounds to work with. The duo appear to shift gears together providing an endlessly supply of currents, waves and a constantly connected flow that just keeps going and going. ExtraOrdinary! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
* ALVIN CURRAN will be performing “Shofar Rags XXL” on Friday, January 31st at Roulette in Brooklyn, NYC.
Four New Discs from the Fine Folks at Confront:
MIKE COOPER / MARK WASTELL - Sound Mirrors (Confront Core Series 10; UK) A first time collaboration, beautifully captured at Rupert Clervaux's Studio 3 in Stoke Newington, October 2018. Detailed, contemplative and deliberate music constructed from lapsteel guitar, electronics, tam tam, percussion and shruti box. English guitarist, Mike Cooper’s long music career stretches back to the early sixties when he started out playing blues, folk and jazz on his acoustic guitar. Mr. Cooper’s playing has evolved in its own unique way, working with the cream of the UK avant/jazz scene (Harry Miller, Mike Osborne & Alan Skidmore) in 1970 and recording jazz, blues and rock albums in the 1970’s. Eventually Mr. Cooper picked up Polynesian slack key guitar (mid-eighties) and lap steel guitar soon thereafter. Mr. Cooper has recorded more than fifty albums since his debut in 1969 and has been living in Italy for many years. Mark Wastell used to play mostly cello, was a member of IST and runs this, the Confront label. Over the past decade, Mr. Wastell, has become a multi-instrumentalist who works with a variety unusual sound sources. For this disc, Mr. Wastell plays a 32” tam tam, percussion and a shruti box (similar to a harmonium, used to provide drones), while Mr. Cooper plays lap-steel guitar & electronics. The title this disc, ’Sound Mirrors’ refers to a series of large concrete reflectors, built in the UK in the 1920’ & ’30’s, which predate radar but were used for the same reason to detect enemy planes during WW2.
The first sounds herald on this disc are bowed strings (lap steel?) and subtle cymbals. The steel guitar and percussion/drone are filled with space and suspense, the bowed sounds getting more eerie as they evolve. Time seems to be stretched out as different drones float in and take over for different periods. It sounds as if a cymbal is being bowed, the subtle electronics and cautious plucked strings are somewhat disorienting at times, yet never last for very long before the vibe in transformed, blending acoustic, bent notes and electronics into a fascinating tapestry. There is some intense analogue sounding electronics which appear on “Warden Point”, midway on this disc, the vibe becoming more bristling like a geiger counter reacting to some radiation. I found the overall feeling here to be consistently engaging, from ultra-subtle to some more quietly disturbing moments as well. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CHRIS BURN // PHILIP THOMAS - As If As (Confront Core Series 09; UK) The music on this disc was composed by Chris Burn, a marvelous improvising British pianist, who has led ensembles with John Butcher, Evan Parker & Stevie Wishart as members. Mr. Burn has been concentrating on composing in recent times as well as transcribing some of Derek Bailey’s improvised guitar music which in included here. UK pianist Philip Thomas performs the music on this disc and has played the music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff in the past.
“Transcribing Derek Bailey guitar improvisations for solo pianist might seem like a uniquely pointless exercise, one that rubs against the grain of everything Bailey preached about the liquidity of improvised music; sounds that exist in, and for, the moment only. But as pianist Philip Thomas points out in his sleeve note, Chris Burn’s transcriptions of material from Bailey’s 1991 Solo Guitar Volume 2 give an objectified analysis of the guitarist’s practice and aesthetic. Burn developed these piano transcriptions out of an earlier version he made for the improv trio Cranc, and the ‘stringiness’ of that group’s violin, cello, harp line-up has bled through into his piano rethink; Thomas, you fancy, is plucking the keyboard rather than attacking it with his fingers. The most radical departure from Bailey is due to the piano’s fixed tuning and temperament: some of those perfect fifths and open thirds, sheathed in overtones and resonant sustain on the guitar, sound dangerously naked on the cleaner-cut piano. As a consequence, light shines on the architectural clarity underlining Bailey’s improvisations, and you’re sent back to the original record to discover them anew. Surrounding the Bailey transcriptions is a set of Burn’s own compositions, which reconcile Henry Cowell and John Cage with Cecil Taylor and Muhal Richard Abrams. As If As, Only The Snow, Pressing and Screenings and the two-piano The Sky A Silver Dissonance (for which Thomas is joined by Kate Ledger) are all scampering and elusive – sounds entirely of the piano apparently happy to escape its confines and history.” - Philip Clark - JAZZWISE
MAX EASTLEY / FERGUS KELLY / MARK WASTELL - The Map is Not the Territory (Confront Core Series 08; UK) Featuring: Max Eastley on arc (electro-acoustic monochord), Fergus Kelly on invented instruments, found metals & electronics and Mark Wastell on tam tam, metal percussion & piano frame. “Max Eastley is an internationally recognized artist who
combines kinetic sculpture and sound into a unique art form. He is also a well known British improviser who has worked with David Toop, Evan Parker, Steve Beresford and many others.” For this disc, Mr. Eastley is playing an Arc, which is electro-acoustic mainly one-stringed monochord. Invented instrument maker, Fergus Kelly, is a new name for us here at DMG while former UK cellist, Mark Wastell, was once a member of IST and now runs the great Confront label. After concentrating on cello in his earlier career, Mr. Wastell now plays assorted sound making devices: tam tam, assorted percussion, piano frame and much more. This disc opens with “Tactile Constellations” which seems like an appropriate title. It is often difficult to tell what or who is being played, its sounds like we are in a submarine and moving slowly through the depths on the ocean. Very carefully rubbed, plucked or lightly tapped on metals, wood, strings is what we seem to be hearing. The music resonates in its own way and it does a good job of affecting our balance or our connection to the world. I feel like a spirit floating in a dreamworld with other slow-moving ghosts. I am reminded of the invented instruments found in the Jo Jones Tone-Deaf Music Company which Yoko Ono & John Lennon used for her album, ‘Fly’. Although there is quite a bit of percussive objects utilized here, much of this is more about the way these objects resonate, pulsate or drone, hence we often listen more closely to the textures of the sounds, which are stretched out, than the rhythmic pulse which are pretty rare here. This music breathes freely like we do so it s all the more inviting. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SPEAKEASY with UTE WASSERMANN / PHIL MINTON / THOMAS LEHN / MARTIN BLUME - @ Konfrontation (Confront CCS 99; UK) Featuring Ute Wassermann & Phil Minton on vocals & birdcall whistles, Thomas Lehn on analogue synth and Martin Blume on drums & percussion. There are only a few musicians who still play, let alone concentrate on analogue synthesizer. Although it was much more popular in the mid-seventies when it first became commercially available, so few have continued to specialize in its playing. Thomas Lehn continues to explore sounds with this synth and works in several bands like Konk Pack and a trio with John Butcher & Matt Shipp. For as long as I’ve known of & heard British vocalist, Phil Minton, I have been a fan of his extreme vocal antics and directing of his Feral Choir. The other vocalist here, Ute Wassermann, is someone that I don’t know very well, although she has also worked with Furt and fORCH, who have releases on Evan Parker’s PSI label, as well as singing for the composer Chaya Czernowin. Percussionist, Martin Blume, has also gotten around and worked with Philipp Wachsmann, Jim Denley and Luc Houtkamp.
This seems to the second disc from Speakeasy, the first one came out in 2009. This disc was recorded at Festival Konfrontation in Nickelsdorf, Austria in July of 2016. As someone who truly appreciates those wacky, occasionally extreme vocals, this CD makes me smile. I recognize Mr. Minton’s often hilarious cartoon character-like voice, yet this is just a part of his extended palette. Both vocalists, the synth and percussion sound marvelous together, carefully weaving their sounds tightly around one another. I like that much of this is on the quieter side, giving the quartet time to slowly unfold and improvise carefully together, the interaction is often subtle yet varied so we to listen closely to hear everything that is going on. It is often fascinating and rarely too dense or over-the-top. This is one the better improv discs I’ve heard recently although it does take some patience and close listening to hear all that is going on here above and below the surface. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MAX NAGL TRIO with CLEMENS WENGER / HERBERT PIRKER - Moped (JazzWerkStatt 01/20; Germany) Featuring Max Nagl on alto sax, melodica & guitar, Clemens Wenger on keyboard & MS-20 synth and Herbert Pirker on drums & percussion. Austrian saxist Max Nagl is an old friend of mine, who either dropped off (when he lived here for a spell) or sent us discs, sometimes 2 or 3 a year for the past two decades. The current total is around 35 releases, on his own Rude Noises, Hatology, November and now JazzWerkStatt labels. Although Mr. Nagl has worked with Downtowners like Steve Bernstein & Brad Jones, as well as key Europeans: Noel Akchote, Julie Tippetts & Lol Coxhill, the majority if his discs feature mainly Austrian musicians, many not well known. The other two musicians here, Clemens Wenger & Herbert Pirker can be found on some five previous releases with Mr. Nagl, going back to 2012, hence this is a working trio.
The first track, “50 Grand”, has an infectious, jazz/funk/punk groove, sort of like sped-up drum n’ bass but with a real slamming drummer and Mr. Nagl rocking out on alto sax on top. Is that a motorcycle at the beginning of “Noodles”?!? Mr. Wenger switches to some sly electric piano for this song. The music here sounds quite a bit like seventies jazz/rock/new wave jubilant groove blasting with strong but never screaming sax on top. This music seems to have a sense of humor, rarely heard nowadays in these ore serious times. Nagl plays a cool/silly punk rock guitar lick on “Moped”, the title track, kinda sounds like “Rock & Roll - Part 2”?!? All but three of the fifteen songs are under or around the three minute mark, keeping things fresh and compact. Things ease up during the midsection here. “Samstag” has a Klez-like melody which is played straight, sped up at times and chopped up. Mr. Wenger’s assorted keyboards are a perfect foil for Mr. Nagl’s sax, which changes shape on each song as the explore different catchy grooves. I’ve recently been going through my collection of (about 1,000 singles), going back to 1965 when I first bough them. This reminds of some of those obscure bands from the late seventies or eighties, like Blurt or maybe the B-52’s!?! I did feel dancing around on a couple of these songs. Check this out if you need to laugh or just grin largely. IDM? Hmmmm. Totally fun! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TURBULENCE with PEK / BOB MOORES /ERIC DAHLMAN / DUANE REED - Paroxysmal Attacks (Evil Clown 9233B) Featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, taragato, flutes, game calls, sheng, daxophone, theremin and assorted percussion; Bob Moores on space trumpet & flugelhorn, laptop, balafon & percussion; Eric Dahlman on trumpet,recorder & overtone singing and Duane Reed on bari horn, bari horn, game calls & synth. This disc was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters, PEK’s home studio and the sound is splendid. Turbulence is but one of several Leap of Faith offshoot bands, and they now have around ten releases under their collective belts. I heard from Mr. Peck that longtime Leap of Faith drummer, Yuri Zbitnov, has now left the collective. This is unfortunate for us LoF fans who recognize his important contribution to so many great discs. Hence, future discs will feature an assortment of horns without his centrifugal force drumming. This disc features several layers of horns with assorted (yet minimal) percussion. The two trumpets, bari horn, other reeds & synth or theremin all swirl around one another with the occasional gongs & cymbals. Eerie trumpets pulsate together with a layer of electronics hovering and the odd reed or double reed inserted selectively. The balance of horns, electronics and percussion make this something special, rather transcendent in its own way. Much of this music is on the more restrained side yet remains consistently fascinating. Perhaps the band should be called Quiet Turbulence. Either way, it is a gem. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SUB UNIT #1 with PEK / ERIC ZINMAN - Potential & Kinetic Energies (Evil Clown 9235; USA) This is rare duo session from Leap of Faith founder, PEK on alto, tenor & bass saxes, clarinets, double reeds, sheng, melodica, gongs, theremin & assorted percussion plus occasional (more than a dozen releases so far) LoF member, Eric Zinman on piano & in its interior, synth, floor-toms & cymbals. Unlike many of the names in the Leap of Faith Orchestra, Mr. Zinman is a longtime part of the Boston-area avant/jazz scene and has worked with Linda Sharrock, Francois Tusques and Itaru Oki. This disc was recorded at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA on November 16 of 2019, a little over a month ago?!?
Commencing with what sounds like timpani and cymbals or gongs, with suspense-filled piano and synth sailing in. The music is superbly recorded and thoughtfully performed. Hard to believe that this is just a duo. As the duo move from instrument to instrument, they listen closely, interact with lines or dialogue going back & forth. Mr. Zinman is a master pianistic, on a similar level to John Blum or Thollen McDonas, extraordinary but unsung and under-recorded. Zinman is in fine form here, sending out cascades of notes (both inside the piano & on the keyboard) before settling down while PEK moves through assorted reeds and percussion. There are a number of highlights here: a strong bass sax & piano duo explosion about 21 minutes in plus a good deal of spacious, slowly unfolding organic duos which keep switching instruments and dynamics throughout the long journey. Near 70 minutes long and consistently spirited and inventive throughout. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
KROKOFANT WITH STALE STORLOKKEN AND INGEBRIGT HAKER FLATEN - Q (Rune Grammofon 3209; Norway) “LP version, includes CD. As David Fricke points out in his liner notes, this is not just another novelty guest-project, the Krokofant on Q is like a brand-new band. In fact, all the involved are so happy with this album that there's more to come with a bunch of new material already written. After three albums in three years as a trio, and sensing the possible danger of being stuck in a formula, they all felt a need to try something new, taking the band one step further. Especially Tom Hasslan, guitarist and main composer, felt an urge to expand the canvas and sonic possibilities. Ståle Storløkken (Elephant9, Supersilent, Terje Rypdal) was the trio's first choice for a keyboardist. He had seen Krokofant live in 2015 and, in his own words "had an instant kick", so he said yes straight away. Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (Scorch Trio, The Thing, Atomic) had seen them the same year, and practically invited himself to join up at some time. Hasslan's tunes are perfect vehicles for Storløkken to present the full scope of his playing; from sheer pastoral beauty to full on jazz skronk. The same can be said about Jørgen Mathisen, who is given ample room for soloing. By introducing Håker Flaten and his bass, work was lifted from Hasslan's shoulders while a "proper" rhythm section was born, Skalstad and Flaten instantly bonding. Personnel: Tom Hasslan - guitars; Axel Skalstad - drums; Jørgen Mathisen - saxophones; Ståle Storløkken - Hammond organ and keyboards; Ingebrigt Håker Flaten - bass.”
LP CD = $27
COMPRO ORO - Suburban Exotica (Sdban Ultra 012; Belgium) “Compro Oro; a psychedelic underground road trip to Africa, the Middle East and the Americas via Belgium. On the band's Suburban Exotica, the spirit of Cal Tjader, Mulatu Astatke, or Marc Ribot is never far away. One of the leading bands in the ever-expanding new wave of Belgian jazz, Compro Oro's wayward and psychedelic approach to a broad range of sounds has gained them a devoted fan base since the band's formation in 2014. Produced by Ghent-based multi-instrumentalist Dijf Sanders, Suburban Exotica digs deep into several ethnic music traditions, leaving the listener enthralled in dark grooves and rabid psychedelica. From the danceable beats and colorful sounds of "Miami New Wave", the exotic rhythms and textures of "10 Dollar Jeans Jacket", and the curious vibraphone infusions and wild guitar riffs of "Rastapopoulos", to the heady, bass-laden mover and shaker "Lalibela", and traditional Latin and Cuban rhythms of "Dark Crystal", Compro Oro offer wild, profound, and uncanny flavors that explore the best of Afro-Cuban music and jazz-tinged psychedelia. Suburban Exotica features drummer, keyboardist, and percussionist Joachim Cooder, son of guitar legend Ry Cooder who played on both the landmark Buena Vista Social Club albums and the Manuel Galban spin-off, Mambo Sinuendo. He adds percussion and his effects-laden electric mbira to three tracks on the album: "Miami New Wave", "Rastapopoulos", and "Dark Crystal". "I had a great time playing on this record. Compro Oro blends together so many interesting rhythms and styles that I never knew what was coming next. I like to work that way." On Suburban Exotica, Compro Oro's Wim Segers adds, "Thanks to Bart (Vervaeck) and saxophonist Nathan Daems (Black Flower), I've discovered Arab and Turkish music. I've learned to embrace my own neighborhood. When you live in this part of Ghent, Eastern rhythms are the beat of the street." Vervaeck chips in, "We aren't Cuban; we aren't Morocccan --we know that. We just sail from one coast to another. Finding our own place."
CD $15 / LP $24
CHARLIE HADEN’S LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA with JOE LOVANO / MAKANDA KEN McINTYRE / JAVON JACKSON / TOM HARRELL / RAY ANDERSON / SHARON FREEMAN / MICK GOODRICK / AMINA CLAUDINE MYERS / JOE DALEY / et al - Live 1993 (Equinox 6001; EEC) Legendary bassist Charlie Haden (1937 - 2014) formed the Liberation Music Orchestra in 1969. A founding member of the revolutionary Ornette Coleman Quartet and first choice bassist for the likes of Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker, Haden's solid tone, revolutionary harmonic sense and adventurous large ensembles made him one of the most influential figures in modern jazz. This engrossing live set, originally recorded and broadcast by WGBH Boston at the Somerville Theater, Somerville, Mass. U.S.A. on 14th March 1993, features soloists including Joe Lovano (sax), Tom Harrell (trumpet) and Amina Claudine Myers (piano). The concert begins with a coruscating version of Nkosi Sikhelel' iAfrika the anthem of the African National Congress (and now the anthem of the post apartheid state of South Africa). Featuring breathtaking solos from Makanda Ken McIntyre on alto, Javon Jackson and Joe Lovano on tenors and Bill Stewart on drums, this is a special performance. Sandino opens with Haden's majestic statement accompanied by Mick Goodrick's spanish inflected guitar. Tom Harrell produces a typically intense flugelhorn solo followed Ray Anderson on trombone. On Tale of the Tornado Mick Goodrick's extended solo cadenza on spanish guitar sets the scene for an extended old-school Joe Lovano and Javon Jackson tenor chase. For Carla Bley's monumental Dream Keeper Suite original themes are interwoven with traditional songs from El Salvador, Venezuela and the spanish civil war. Haden's composition Spiritual, dedicated to Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and Malcolm X ends the concert by featuring Joe Daley's virtuoso tuba playing.
MANNY ALBUM with ART FARMER / BOB BROOKMEYER / ZOOT SIMS / GERRY MULLIGAN / AL COHN / HANK JONES / MILT HINTON / SHELLY MANNE / et al - Classic Recordings (Acrobat 3319; UK) ‘Manny Albam is a jazz baritone saxophonist, composer, arranger and producer, who started his career in the bands of Muggsy Spanier, Georgie Auld, Charlie Spivak and Boyd Raeburn, before achieving his greatest fame and success as an arranger working with small groups led by top names of the era and leading his own studio bands during the 1950s and '60s on a series of highly-regarded projects, often featuring his own compositions, before becoming a prominent jazz and music educator. The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz sums his music up with the words "One of the most important jazz arrangers of the 1950s and '60s, Albam never lost touch with the qualities of swing and blues in his writing." This great-value 25-track 2-CD set, which includes many extended pieces, comprises recordings from noted sessions and projects he led during 1957, which came out on the Coral label albums "Jazz Greats Of Our Time Vols. 1 & 2", "The Blues Is Everybody's Business" and "West Side Story". "Jazz Greats Of Our Time" features a 10-piece line-up which includes Art Farmer, Bob Brookmeyer, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Gerry Mulligan, Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson performing a mixture of standards and originals. "The Blues Is Everybody's Business" comprises four extended variations on his composition of that title by different studio line-ups, and the collection concludes with selected titles from his "West Side Story" album, recorded after he had worked with Leonard Bernstein on arrangements for the original Broadway score. It's a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive showcase for a jazz practitioner who deserves to be much better known.’”
During my first semester, freshman year at college (Glassboro State in September of 1972), I took a ‘History of Jazz’ course which changed my life. One of the two professors was Manny Albam, who I knew nothing about. It turned out the Mr. Albam was a well respected jazz composer, arranger and producer. He almost never mentioned anything about it, so I had to pry to get it out of him. His version of Leonard Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story’ had won him some awards and Mr. Bernstein once called him to tell him how much he loved his arrangements. Although I found a bunch of records that he had arranged and produced (many for Groove Merchant label), it took a long while to find his dates as a leader from the late fifties and early sixties. This marvelous disc compiles a number of those records and they still sound fresh and inventive, more than a half century later. As a longtime student of the history of jazz, I find that the fifties is often overlooked and under-recognized, outside of the bigger names like Miles Davis, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, etc. This 2 CD set is another undiscovered treasure, so do check it out! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD Set $16
BOOKER ERVIN with ZOOT SIMS / FRANK STROZIER / TOMMY TURRENTINE / RICHARD WILLIAMS / CARMELL JONES / TOMMY FLANAGAN / HORACE PARLAN / JAKI BYARD / RICHARD DAVUS / DANNIE RICHMOND / WALTER PERKINS / ALAN DAWSON / et al - The Classic Albums 1960-1964 (Enlightenment 9174; EEC) A most distinctive tenor saxophonist with a hard, passionate tone and an emotional style that was still tied to chordal improvisation, Booker Ervin was a true original. Initially a trombonist, Ervin taught himself tenor while in the Air Force, and remains best known as a member of Charles Mingus' band, with whom he played sporadically between 1956 and 1962. This 4CD set brings together the finest recordings Booker Ervin made as bandleader between 1960 and 1964, the era generally considered to be the musician's glory years. With the sax maestro's unique style, vision and compositional excellence amply displayed on the eight albums featured, this collection works as both a valuable introduction to the great man's music and a welcome reminder for the ready versed. Albums include, ‘The Book Cooks’, ‘Cookin’, ‘That’s It!’, ‘Exultation’, ‘The Freedom Book’, ‘The Song Book’, ‘The Blues Book’ and ‘The Space Book’.
4 CD Set $18
LIGHTNIN’ SLIM - The Complete Singles A’s & B’s 1954-1962 (Acrobat 3321; UK) “Guitarist, singer and songwriter Lightnin' Slim (real name Otis Hicks) was born in Louisiana in 1913 and was a pioneer and first prominent exponent of the "Swamp Blues" style. He came to recording relatively late in life, doing his first sessions in his early 40s and recording his best-known work during the late 1950s and early '60s, before retreating from the business until being re-discovered and brought back to performing in the early 1970s. His music became a significant influence on British artists during the '60s blues boom. Swamp blues, focused in the clubs of Baton Rouge, is a laid-back but highly rhythmic blues style, influenced by Cajun music, and which the book "Music USA: A Rough Guide" states is characterized by "eerie echo, shuffle beats, tremolo guitars, searing harmonica and sparse percussion". This great-value 46-track 2-CD set comprises all the titles which Lightnin' Slim recorded for the Feature, Ace and Excello labels during these years, including the only R&B chart hit of his career "Rooster Blues". He is accompanied on these recordings by a variety of other Louisiana musicians, most notably the harmonica player Lazy Lester. This collection offers an entertaining insight into the music of a highly individual artist as well as a distinctive strand of regional blues.”
2 CD Set $16
CRAIG SMITH / MAITREYA KALI - Apache / Inca (Maitreya Apache Music MAM 202; USA) “The psychedelic masterpiece nobody heard -- First ever official, authorized release of psychedelic mega-rarity. After a suffering an LSD-induced mental breakdown, Los Angeles-based songwriter Craig Smith renamed himself Maitreya Kali and custom-pressed Apache / Inca, a double-LP documenting his musical, personal, and spiritual journey. His message to the world, encoded on the album jackets in rambling, quasi-mystical Messianic verse, was urgent, desperate, delusional, and disturbing. Recorded between 1967 and 1971, the music tells a different story. Achingly beautiful, haunting acoustic folk songs; luminescent psychedelic folk-rock; eerie, off-kilter acid rock; fragments; field recordings -- all meticulously woven into a magical, mesmerizing whole. Apache / Inca is an extraordinary work. Not the dark, self-indulgent ramblings of a cracked Messiah, but a thoughtfully-crafted collection of work by a singer and songwriter of remarkable depth and talent whose world was falling apart. Soon afterwards Maitreya -- and Craig -- disappeared into the shadows. He died homeless in a North Hollywood Park in 2012. Decades after its creation, Apache / Inca was discovered by collectors and hailed as a psychedelic masterpiece. It is now one of the most revered and sought-after artifacts of the era. Includes seven tracks by the Penny Arkade, produced by Michael Nesmith. CD version comes as a digipak; includes 32-page booklet.”
SPOTLIGHT ON FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT - The Next Step Beyond the SUN RA ARKESTRA!
Over the past decade, I’ve become good friends with Francisco Mora (Catlett), drummer/composer/multi-bandleader. Mr. Catlett worked with the Sun Ra Arkestra for nearly a decade in the seventies and early eighties. Francisco has released 9 CD’s from the past decade, each one a gem of spiritual jazz with Latin & other ethnic rhythmic influences. I’ve gotten to hear Mr. Catlett perform live around a half dozen times over the past few years and have been knocked out by each performance. Francisco’s current band is called Afro Horn and they have three releases so far, each one is amazing! I am working on getting Afro Horn a high profile gig if I can since they should be heard live to be reckoned with. We recently got all of their discs back in stock so I urge you all to check out one or more of their catalogue. Mr. Catlett is currently finishing up a work called ‘Electric Worlds”, which mixes electronic and acoustic percussion. He hasn’t decided which format to release it on but it should sound great on high quality vinyl. I will let you know if & when it is it available. - BLG
Here is a great Sun Ra story from Francisco:
“Sun Ra came to Mexico City to play at Palacio de Bellas Artes in 1973. I was there and couldn’t believe it, the Arkestra in Mexico, so I went back stage and overheard that Lex Humphries had to go back to Philadelphia and couldn’t stay for the rest of their engagements, so I jumped in and told Sun Ra I played drums and I studied with Alan Dawson in Boston and that he didn’t have to send for another drummer, Sunny (as the members in the Arkestra called him) said, “Ok I’ll see you tomorrow morning at the Teatro Hidalgo …”
I was there early by myself all set up and ready to go, when Sun Ra arrived so he says to me “Play”, so I go into my Out Bag and started swinging, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes… Sunny is walking around the theater in and off the stage checking on me from time to time and I’m playing as hard as I could, about 25 minutes had gone and I was on fire and really warming up when he walk to me and said you got the Gig … that’s how my trek with the Arkestra began. Immediately I became the official translator for the band and helped out with gigs negotiations ‘cause the promoters often disappear and we had to be self sufficient … we played everywhere; parks, theaters, music schools, museums, universities, embassies and television, we did a National TV program on Raúl Velasco’s “Siempre en Domingo” with The Supremes and a Circus with an Elephant. I got word that there is footage of it from a friend that recently saw a re-run of the program.
When all was over Sun Ra said to me you coming with us, so we went to the US Embassy and he requested my VISA, saying that if they didn’t give me a Visa, there would be an intergalactic incident that they wouldn’t want to happen! They believed that Sun Ra was serious! That is how I re-entered the US and been here ever since.... “ - Francisco Mora Catlett, January 2nd, 2020
And here are Francisco Mora Catlett’s releases:
AFRO HORN [FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT With JD ALLEN / VINCENT BOWENS / ALEX HARDING / et al] - Afro Horn MX [2 CD set] (AACE 12-0001; USA) Francisco was proud to present Afro Horn for the first time in New York City at The Stone and Cornelia Street Cafe last year. Once again he built a strong and appropriate lineup and music for this exciting concept. He managed to align himself with a band of Detroiters: Alex Harding (baritone sax), Salim Washington (tenor sax) and Hakim Jami (bass), all transplanted New Yorkers who began in Detroit. Francisco is a drummer and composer who in the Jazz tradition brings alive the African Heritage in his music and art. The new Afro Horn project is the AFRO HORN MIX 2012 CD release, with a new outstanding line up: JD Allen & Vincent Bowens (tenor saxes), Alex Harding (baritone sax), Aruan Ortiz (piano), Rashaan Carter (bass), Roman Diaz (percussion) and Francisco Mora Catlett (drums). "Mr. Mora Catlett played drums for the Sun Ra Orchestra for some seven years in the 1970's and learned about the spiritual side of jazz from the Saturnian big band leader himself. The cosmic spirit which is the central fuel for the Arkestra from the mid 1950's onwards and which still continues today is what informs and inspires whatever music Francisco works on and releases. This incredible 2-CD set adds another chapter to Francisco's cosmic journey. There are only known to be three actual "Afro-Horns" on this planet. The horns are forged in a rare metal only found in Africa and South America. No one knows who forged the horns but some think that it was the Egyptians. There is one in a heavily-guarded European museum and another on the west coast of Mexico, amongst a tribe of Indians. The music here often sounds somewhat free yet revolves around a central theme. The first longer piece is based on "When the Saints Coming Marching In" yet it sounds completely fresh, organic and modern. The recording here is perfect: rich, warm and superbly balanced. "Barasuayo" features three saxes playing haunting and hypnotic harmonies over a slow, sensuous dreamscape. Mr. Mora Catlett's drums are always at the center of each piece and he is a master percussionist who never overplays yet supports each member just right. "Quinto Regimiento" reminds me of the Pharoah or McCoy-like record from the early seventies but without any screaming saxes. The great JD Allen (I believe) takes a great slow-burning tenor solo over those mesmerizing piano waves. Aruan Ortiz takes a colossal Dave Burrell-like piano solo with both percussionists weaving a rich web of rhythms underneath. The other tenorman takes his solo and keeps the flames blazes throughout. Bassist Rahsaan Carter who you may recall from his work with Michael Marcus also takes a superb contrabass solo here as does the bari saxist Alex Harding, another one of NY's finest young sax players. There is a long and wonderful poem in the enclosed booklet called "Advices from the Olumo", which deals with the African spirit world and is written in both English and Spanish. It does a fine job of illustrating what makes this disc so magical. Like the Art Ensemble of Chicago Francisco Mora Catlett's Septet blends the ancient and modern as well as the African and Latin streams into a most delectable blend. One of this year's best! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
2 CD Set $17
AFRO HORN [FRANCISCO MORA With SAM NEWSOME/SALIM WASHINGTON/ALEX HARDING/ARUAN ORTIZ et al] - Rare Metal (AACE 13-0001; USA) This is the second release from Francisco Mora Catlett's Afro-Horn ensemble, with Sam Newsome on soprano sax, Salim Washington on tenor sax, oboe & flute, Alex Harding on bari sax & bass clarinet, Aruan Ortiz on piano, Rashaan Carter on acoustic & electric bass, Roman Diaz & Andrew Daniels on percussions and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums, percussion, artistic director & composer. Henry Dumas wrote, "There are only three Afro-Horns in the world. They were forged from a rare metal found only in Africa and South America." Is this a myth or is it true phenomena? The Afro-Horn Ensemble was 'forged' in the presence of Sun Ra on his home-world when Francisco was a member of the Arkestra in the mid-seventies. The Afro-Horn Myth has evolved and has left us with this music which transcends our time and celebrates our ancestors. The is the second part of the Afro-Horn story and it is indeed a joyous occasion! I've played this disc perhaps a half dozen times in the past week and all I can say is "Wow!" Francisco and his evolving ensemble have done it again! Like always, Francisco did a great job of assembling an incredible, powerful and inspired ensemble. The three man sax section with Newsome on soprano, Salim on tenor and Harding on bari sax sound as if they have been playing together for millennia: a tight, spirited, superb blend. The rhythm team also is well chosen. Cuban pianist, Aruan Ortiz, with discs out on Sunnyside, Fresh Sound and FMR, is one of the best new pianists in recent memory. Bassist Rashaan Carter, who plays with the Cosmosamatics and Antoine Roney, is also a young master. The heart/center of this band is/are the three percussionists: Roman Diaz, Andrew Daniels and Francisco himself. These three weave a fine web of rhythmic lines (thumb piano, congas and assorted hand percussion) together, swirling, inspiring and uplifting the spirits higher and higher. Besides the three saxes, Francisco utilizes other reeds as well: flute, oboe and bass clarinet, adding another layer of harmonies to this already swell spiritual ensemble. Even when the unit lays back, like on "Baruasuayo Mamakenya", they remain enchanting with elegant piano and percussion supporting those ingenious slow burning solos and harmonic lines. It is the full ensemble playing and arranging that rings true throughout, consistently infectious and deeply committed to resurrecting the Afro-Horn Myth whether you believe in it or not. This fantastic disc is more than 64 minutes long and it never falters throughout its long duration. The Afro-Horn Ensemble is playing live more often over the past year, so don't miss them - they will no doubt knock your socks off! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT/AFRO HORN With SAM NEWSOME/SALIM WASHINGTON/ALEX HARDING/ARUAN ORTIZ/ et al - At the Edge of the Spiral (AACE 1-0001; USA) This is the third 2-CD set from the amazing AfroHorn Ensemble, the third part of a trilogy dealing with the mythic Afro-Horn. There are only known to be three actual "Afro-Horns" on this planet. The horns are forged in a rare metal only found in Africa and South America. No one knows who forged the horns but some think that it was the Egyptians. There is one in a heavily-guarded European museum and another on the west coast of Mexico, amongst a tribe of Indians. Former drummer for the Sun Ra Arkestra, Francisco Mora Catlett, has organized his own cosmic crew, an all-star ensemble featuring a number of NYC greats: saxists Sam Newsome, Salim Washington, Bruce Williams & Alex Harding, plus Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz, bassists Rashaan Carter & Ugona Okewo, several percussionists: Roman Diaz, Andrew Daniels & Catlett himself plus special guest Abiodun Oyewale from the Last Poets on a couple of tracks. This colossal 2-CD set pays tribute to poet Henry Dumas and Sun Ra. Rhythms, ancient and otherwise are central to what holds this music/concept together. After a fine, ritualistic opening, Sam Newsome’s “The Snake Charmer from Tangier” erupts and comes from a wonderful solo soprano CD that Mr. Newsome released last year. The sly groove and infectious melody help us to feel better since this is indeed medicine for those in need or positive spirits. The piano solo by Aruan Ortiz is sublime yet stunning as is Mr. Newsome’s soprano solo. “Sister Harriet” is part of a suite for Harriet Tubman and was on an earlier disc by Mr. Catlett. This piece has an enchanting Trane-like modal vibe with an inspired, uplifting tenor solo from Salim Washington and superb bass solo from Rashaan Carter. Another infectious, McCoy Tyner-ish song is called, “Spirit One Voice”, which features an astonishing bari solo from Alex Harding, another one of NYC’s best kept secrets. Disc 2 starts with a splendid poem dedicated to and entitled “Sun Ra”. The poem is written & performed by Abiodun Oyowale from the legendary Last Poets. The music has that joyous, repeating riff, Sun Ra-like groove with layers of swirling saxes, like serpents swimming together. It is certainly rare to hear anyone cover a song by Detroit’s Kenny Cox, who had a couple of great albums on Blue Note in the late sixties. AfroHorn do a swell rendition of Cox’s “Mandela’s Muse”. Even better is even more excellent solos from Alex Harding & Sam Newsome on “Baba”, inspired from the Yoruba heritage in Cuba. There is a organic, spiritual vibe which runs throughout, making the third chapter of the Afro-Horn odyssey another gem to behold. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD Set $17
FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT & OUTERZONE With MARSHALL ALLEN/CRAIG TABORN et al - Outerzone [Outer Zone] (Premier Cru; USA) Featuring Marshall Allen on alto sax & flute, Craig Taborn on keyboards & bass keys, Carl Craig on synth & space programming, John Douglass & Dwight Adams on trumpets, Cassious Richmond on alto sax (1 track), Brian Hollis & Andrew Daniels on percussion and Francisco Mora Catlett on assorted percussion, arranging and composing. The wonderful thing about working here at DMG is when someone you've never met or heard of comes in and hands you their disc and it blows you (me) away. This is certainly the case here! Francisco Mora Catlett is a fine percussionist and composer who was a member of Max Roach's M'Boom and played with the Sun Ra Arkestra for more than a decade in the 70's and 80's. 'OuterZone' opens with an impressive blast of synth, sax, trumpet and percussion called "Space Chord." Every other track is another short blast of a "Space Chord". "Saints of Congo Square" is dedicated to New Orleans' finest: Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden and Baby Dodds. It features some inspired alto sax and trumpets wailing together over an impressive Afro-Cuban percussion groove. Each "Space Chord" provides a short, uplifting percussive interlude before we sail into the next tune. "Voodoo" is for Miles Davis & Jimi Hendrix and again both trumpets (one muted) and alto sax play their righteous parts over another funky. Latiny groove. Considering I hadn't heard of either trumpet player before this, both are great and distinctly different in tone and approach. That muted trumpeter is somewhat Miles-like and sounds pretty amazing. One of the things about this disc that makes it special is that it is so well produced, everything seems to fit no matter how far out it gets. The spirit of Sun Ra is at the center without any of the totally-out horn blasting that tended to scare some folks away, although on a few of the "Space Chords" they do get close. Even the occasional drum machine beats never hold this disc back from being consistently engaging and infectious at times. Francisco's righteous percussion is at the center of most of these pieces and holds the thread together throughout. It is rare that music that makes one want to dance is also so spirited and challenging to listen to as well, but many of these pieces work well on both levels. 'OuterZone' is this week's great under-recognized gem. Check it out for yourself and see what I mean. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT With MARCUS BELGRAVE/CRAIG TABORN/ALEX HARDING et al - River Drum (Premiere Cru; USA) From 2005, this is an earlier gem from former Sun Ra & M'Boom percussionist, Francisco Mora Catlett. It features four different groups including a string quartet on one track. The players include Marcus Blegrave & John Douglass on trumpets, Alex Harding & Vincent Bowens on saxes, Sherman Mitchell on trombone, Craig Taborn or Kenny Cox on piano, Rodney Whittaker on bass, Emile Borde on steel drums, and Alberto Nacif, Jerry LeDuff & Francisco Mora Catlett on drums & percussion. 'River Drum' is one of the best percussion centered discs I've heard in a long while. Francisco wrote, arranged and produced this wonderful disc. I find this music to by joyous, jubilant and rhythmically seductive. The rich layer of interlocking percussion pushes this music to one great groove after another. I only know of a few of the musicians on this disc, but everyone plays superbly throughout. It is always great to hear local bari sax giant Alex Harding wail and he gets a few chances to stretch out here as well. The other (tenor) saxist here, Vincent Bowens also plays with fire and that creative spirit. Special mention to bassist Rodney Whitaker who plays some excellent acoustic bass throughout, bubbling and burning when need be. Steel drummer, Emile Borde, also sparkles all over the place, as do both trumpeters, the legendary Marcus Belgrave and John Douglass. Considering that this disc is some 75-minutes long, I must admit that it is consistently spirited and creative. The only Latin (oriented) jazz that has knocked me out in years comes from Kip Hanrahan. It would seem the great Francisco Mora Catlett has given Kip a run for his money. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT & OUTERZONE 2010 With JD ALLEN/GRAHAM HAYNES/CRAIG TABORN et al - Andromeda-M31 (AACE 10-0002; USA) Mr. Catlett is a NY composer/percussionist who played for the Sun Ra Arkestra for about a decade during the seventies. This is his fourth disc as a leader and again he has left us with a amazing treasure. This disc is dedicated to the Planet Earth which has had more than its fair share of disasters this year (Icelandic volcano, Haitian earthquake & the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico). Francisco is a master drummer so the first thing we notice about this disc is that those cosmic drums & Afro-Cuban percussion are at the heart of everything here. With a modest budget, Catlett has also produced a session that has superb sound on all fronts. "Barasuyo" has a mysterious Miles-like groove with three superb horns (tenor, cornet & trumpet) floating on top. Francisco has chosen a great cast for this date with everyone integral to the magical, cerebral and sensual sound. The great JD Allen has that Wayne Shorter-like dark & probing tone that reaches out to grab us & not let go. Electric cornetist, Graham Haynes, glides and slides, bathing his hypnotic Miles-like tone in the right amount of echo. I don't Ms. Val Jeanty, but she does a swell job of adding electronic spice to the sound along with Mr. Taborn's or perhaps Mr. Esposito's electronic keyboards, pushing the entire ensemble further into space. Craig Taborn is another local keyboard ace and here his piano is consistently adding flavor, providing direction and whipping out inspired solos here and these. Bassist Carlo DeRosa, another new name for me, plays great throbbing bass, helping to hold this massive nonet together and pumping lines together with both percussion wizards. What makes this even better is the swirling, interlocking layers of percussion that are infectious and even intoxicating at times. This music is not really free but it is still adventurous and filled with strong spirits. Many of the pieces are pretty long and the entire set runs nearly two hours. At first I was amazed at the consistency of the whole affair, but then again all three previous discs by Francisco Mora Catlett were extraordinary on their own. For those who need to know, here's the complete personnel: JD Allen on tenor sax, Graham Haynes on cornet & electronics, Guido Gonzales on trumpet, Craig Taborn & Tecla Esposito on piano & electric keyboards, Val Jeanty on turntables & electronics, Carlo DeRosa on bass, Rafael Monteagudo on Afro Cuban percussion and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums, composition & production. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
2 CD Set $17
FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT With MARCUS BELGRAVE/CRAIG TABORN/ALEX HARDING/KENNY COX et al - World Trade Music (Community Projects 01 ,USA) This is an older studio project from 1999 which features Francisco Mora Catlett on drums, percussion & compositions, Craig Taborn & Kenny Cox on pianos, Marcus Belgrave & Nik Pena on trumpets, Vincent Bowens, Alex Harding & Cassius Richmond on saxes & flute, Sherman Mitchell on trombone, Rodney Whittaker on bass and Andrew Daniels, Jerome LeDuff & Alberto Nacif on percussion. Famed Detroit producer Carl Craig has much respect for his former homey, Mexican/American percussion hero Francisco Mora Catlett. So much respect that he lets Francisco utilize his studio when need be and Craig released this disc on his own label, Community Projects. Sadly, this disc didn't have great distribution or recognition when it first came out. Things have got to change... The introduction is called "Welcome" and it consists of jungle sounds and layers of Latin percussion. "Iron Master" is a Yoruba traditional song and features two softly swirling pianos with simmering percussion. You might recall elder Blue Note legend, pianist Kenny Cox from two great albums with the Contemporary Jazz Quintet in the late 1960's. Both pianists here have obvious respect for one another play together superbly. Acoustic bassist Rodney Whitaker also stands out providing ample support and taking the occasional spirited bass solo. Four of these tracks are traditional Yoruda songs and each one has a special groove and/or vibe with enchanting percussion at the center of each piece. Although Francisco is the main drummer throughout this disc, the other percussionists are on just a couple of songs each. It is Mr. Catlett's spirited drumming that is at the center of each piece, shaping and directing the joyous currents the run throughout this entire disc. There are number of highlights here like the hypnotic mbira & tranquil trumpet on "The Other Side of the Mask" as well as that most lyrical sax & melody on "Cultural Warrior". There is a most uplifting spirit that runs through this entire disc like a lifeline to & from the source. It seems sad that it took ten years for someone to notice how special and overlooked this disc is. I guess it is never too late to give some credit where credit is due. So here it is - rejoice! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
FREEDOM JAZZ TRIO [FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT / FRANCESCO TRISTANO / CARLO DE ROSA] - New Under The Sun (AACE 10-0001; USA) ‘New Under The Sun’ features Francesco Tristano on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums. A few years back percussionist extraordinare Francisco Mora Catlett left us with two amazing self-produced discs. Turns out that Mr. Catlett had worked with Sun Ra for more than a decade and utilized the talents of Marshall Allen, Craig Taborn & Marcus Belgrave on those great discs. I finally got a chance to see & hear Francisco play live at The Stone last year & realized what a most creative drummer he was. For this disc Mr. Catlett has put together an incredible piano trio which features Francesco Tristano (from Luxembourg) on piano and Carlo De Rosa on acoustic bass. Catlett met Mr. Tristano while working with Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra in Europe while Francisco met Mr. De Rosa through his work with Alex Harding. I played this entire disc at the store yesterday (5/26/10) and considering that it is some 78 minutes long, I was blown away throughout. "Barasuayo" starts with just minimal percussion playing a subtle, simmering, sly groove. The rest of the trio take their time to come in as the waves slowly ascend, the piece is sublime. "Earth Tones" is for the planet Earth, the piano has a bit of echo on which casts a spell of mystery to the proceedings. Again, the trio glides perfectly as the suspense builds. Bassist Carlo DeRosa is at the center and is excellent here as he adds propulsion and finesse to this great trio. Mr. DeRosa takes a couple of solos and provides excitement whenever he does. The strong undercurrent and interplay between all three members is especially enchanting. One of the things that makes this special is the restraint that keeps the pressure from never boiling over, yet still there is some beautiful music that washes over us like a refreshing Spring shower. I get the feeling that just about any (jazz) piano trio lover would find this gem most charming with equal amounts of creativity and nuance. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
FREEDOM JAZZ TRIO [FRANCISCO MORA CATLETT/CRAIG TABORN/CARLO DE ROSA] - Live At The Bronx Museum, 2011 (AACE 11-000; USA) Outstanding trio featuring Craig Taborn on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass and Francisco Mora Catlett on drums & compositions. This is former Sun Ra drum master, Francisco Catlett's second swell Freedom Jazz Trio disc, but this time he has replaced pianist Francisco Tristano with one of his Detroit homeys: the consistently amazing Craig Taborn. This is without a doubt one of the finest, most exciting and creative piano trios I've heard in a long, long while. You might also recognize their bassist Carlo De Rosa who has a fine debut disc out on a Cuneiform. This disc was recorded live at the Bronx Museum and has superb sound. There are just four songs and each one is long and involved. Each piece is dedicated to a different inspiration. "Suny" was written for Sun Ra and it erupts from the first note. It begins intense & free, yet completely focused and filled with floating ghosts. When the trio break into the central theme, it repeats over and over and washes over us lights warm rays of sunshine. I am reminded of those Pharoah Sanders or McCoy Tyner songs that uplift our spirits and soothe us. Although all three members are integral to the trio's intoxicating sound, it is the piano solo by Craig Taborn that really shows what a master he has become. "Oduduwa/Bara" was inspired by the cultural contribution of the America's African descendents and it begins sparse, calm and lyrically. This piece slowly ascends with the piano, the bass and then the drums each telling evolving stories. The flow of this piece is completely organic and immensely beautiful. Again Mr. Taborn's solo is a true gem. "Earthtones" is dedicated with deep respect to the planet or Mother Earth. It begins with an excellent mallet solo from Mr. Catlett which builds and tells a tale as it goes. Francisco has that magical touch of writing melodies that stay with us long after the songs end, touching our hearts time and time again. "Sister Harriet" was written for two inspirations - Max Roach and Harriet Tubman. This piece is immensely haunting, somber and quite lovely. I was actually brought to tears as the sublime waves washed over my troubled soul. That swell McCoy-like theme wonderful and impossible to forget. The entire epic-length piece is nearly 25 minutes and presents a journey through hills and valleys like a slow-moving train or the flow of traffic on a highway. As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly thee piano trio offering of the year. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Bruce Lee Gallanter’s Recommended Gig List for January, 2020
THE NEW STONE
Is Located at the New School’s Glass Box Theatre
55 West 13th street - just east of 6th ave
THE STONE RESIDENCIES - JAMES MOORE - JAN 2–4
8:30 pm - New Works for Drums, Strings, Bellows & Voices - Brian Chase, Shayna Dunkelman, Ches Smith (drums) Nathan Koci (accordion) James Moore, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Cleek Schrey (banjos, fiddles)
8:30 pm - Forever House - Meaghan Burke (voice, cello) James Moore (guitar) James Ilgenfritz (bass) Peter Wise (drums)
8:30 pm - Dither - James Moore, Taylor Levine, Josh Lopes, Gyan Riley (electric guitars); New works by JG Thirlwell, Paula Matthusen, Brendon Randall-Myers & James Moore
THE STONE RESIDENCIES - MARIA GRAND - JAN 7–11
TRIO - Mary Halvorson (guitar) Anaïs Maviel (voice & percussion) María Grand (saxophone)
8:30 pm - GHOST ENSEMBLE - Kanoa Mendenhall (bass) Fay Victor (voice) Amani Fela (voice) Kalia Vandever (trombone) Savannah Harris (drums) María Grand (saxophone)
8:30 pm - QUINTET - Savannah Harris (drums) Joel Ross (vibraphone), Amirtha Kidambi (voice),Nick Dunston (bass) María Grand (saxophone)
8:30 pm - TRIO - Kanoa Mendenhall (bass) Jeremy Dutton (drums) María Grand (saxophone)
8:30 pm - QUINTET - Aaron Parks (piano) Jeremy Dutton (drums) Kanoa Mendenhall (bass) Kalia Vandever (trombone) María Grand (saxophone)
THE (NEW) STONE is located in The New School’s Glass Box Theatre
All Sets at The New Stone start at 8:30pm Tickets: $20
There are no refreshments or merchandise at The Stone.
Only music. All ages are welcome. Cash Only at the door.
A serious listening environment.
The Stone is booked purely on a curatorial basis
The Stone Series at HappyLucky No. 1:
Friday, January 3, & Saturday, January 4th, 2020
8:00PM - CHRIS SPEED with Chris Tordini and Dave King
Chris Speed - tenor sax and clarinet
Chris Tordini - bass
Dave King - drums
CD Release Concert for Respect For Your Toughness
HappyLucky No. 1 is located at
734 Nostrand Ave, near Sterling
easy access from the A/C/2/3/4 trains
The Weekly Bushwick Improvised Music Series:
Monday January 6th, 2020
7pm Matt Bent – drums Rowan Wolf – saxophone Will Evans – trumpet Kevin Eichenberger – bass
8pm Stephen Gauci – tenor saxophone Adam Lane – bass Kevin Shea – drums
9pm Noa Fort – vocals Aryeh Kobrinski – bass Sarah Bernstein – violin/electronics
9:45pm Jason Hwang – violin Anders Nilsson – guitar Michael T.A. Thompson – drums
10:45pm Colin Avery Hinton – drums Tony Malaby – saxophones Eivind Opsvik – bass Todd Neufeld – guitar
11:30pm special secret guest Kevin Shea – drums Matt Mottel – keys
Downstairs @ Bushwick Public House
1288 Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn
(Across the street from M train Central Ave stop)
ShapeShifter Plus Presents: Take Off Collective Residency
7pm & 8:15pm
Ole Mathisen (sax),
Matthew Garrison (bass)
Marko Djordjevic (drums)
Jan 12 at 8pm:
New Zealand Jazz comes to New York; New Zealand’s premier big band lead by jazz-big band, trombone legend RODGER FOX. For the band’s performance at the ShapeShifter Lab the band will perform a completely New Zealand composed program. The Rodger Fox big band has won 6 Tui awards for the best New Zealand jazz recording.
7 & 8pm: Sebastian Rios Julliard All Stars Double bill; The New Jazz Underground: Anthony Hervey, Trumpet. Zoe Obadia, Sax. Sebastian Rios, Bass. Kyle Benford, Drums.
7 & 8:15pm: TOC
ShapeShifter Plus Presents: Take Off Collective Residency
Ole Mathisen (sax),
Matthew Garrison (bass)
Marko Djordjevic (drums)
Shapeshifter is located at
18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Take the R train stop to Union