"April The 14th, Part I"
By Gillian Welch, from ‘Time (the Revelator)’ album
When the iceberg hit
Oh, they must have known
God moves on the water
Like Casey Jones
So I walked downtown
On my telephone
And took a lazy turn
Through the redeye zone
Was a five-band bill
A two-dollar show
I saw the van out in front
And the girl passed out
In the backseat trash
There were no way they'd make
Even a half a tank of gas
They looked sick and stoned
And strangely dressed
No one showed
From the local press
But I watched them walk
Through bottom land
And I wished I played
In a rock 'n' roll band
It was the fourteenth day of April
Well, they closed it down
With the sales in rags
And I swept up the fags
And the local rags
I threw the plastic cups
In the plastic bags
And the cooks cleaned the kitchen
With the staggers and the jags
And the sky was red
I went back to work
And back to bed
And the iceberg broke
And the Okies fled
And the great emancipator
Took a bullet in the back of the head
I first heard the above song most likely within a year or so of its release in 2001. I was home on my day off with my old pal Dean, stoned and listening to some new music, a weekly ritual for both of us. When we listened to this record, it connected with me immediately, something about it touched me, hard to explain exactly why. I have listened to this record many times and still return to it every so often because there seems to be a message hidden in there somewhere between the lines. I found out later that the title, “April the 14th” is the date that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (in 1865) and also the date the Titanic sank (in 1912). Ms. Welch mentions aspects of both tragedies in the lyrics, the opening line and the closing lines (“The great emancipator”). The rest of lyrics deal vaguely with the difficulties of being on tour. The things I like most about this album is that Ms. Welch repeats certain lines on other songs as the album unfolds, as is she wants to read between the lines to connect the dots. This shows the prowess, the magic of being a great songwriter, being able connect the inner and outer myths, dreams or fragments of ideas and then sew them up into one or more songs which cast a spell on the listener and make them think about the meaning of the song for them and for others. - BLG/DMG
DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY DEPENDS ON US POSTAL SERVICE - PLEASE SUPPORT THEM & Sign the petition below!
The U.S. Postal Service is once again under attack by Republicans who want to bankrupt the Postal Service and allow private equity firms and global corporations to privatize the service, dismantle the agency, and profit further off of the American people.
Private companies won't deliver to certain remote areas because it's not profitable to do so, but the Postal Service is obligated to serve all Americans regardless of where they live— and, right now, the Postal Service is delivering lifesaving medications and food, supporting voting by mail in primary states, and helping other services necessary for our nation to continue to operate.
Sign the petition demanding Congress and the Trump administration fully fund the United States Postal Service. Go here: https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/fully-fund-the-united-states-postal-service?akid=261654.3265067.qfrB-6&rd=1&source=mo&t=6
ATTENTION TO ALL DMG MAIL-ORDER CUSTOMERS:
We are currently having a problem getting packages from distributors and musicians both. Fedex will not deliver packages to us since we are in a hotspot (Chinatown, NYC) and our local Post Office is now understaffed and only open a few hours a day. Hence, we are still waiting on some orders from last week’s newsletter!?! The USED CD & LP sale list and Discogs orders will ship first since we have most of these in stock. But some/many of the newer things will be delayed a bit. Please be patient. Also, head honcho, Bruce Lee G is staying at home in NJ and working on the newsletters from there. Frank M & Charmaine L are still doing mail order for a few days a week. Confirmations when orders do ship are also slower. We are doing our best in a difficult situation. Thanks for your understanding. - BLG
Rest in Peace, LEE KONITZ, A Key Figure in Modern Jazz, at Age 92!
I just heard about this yesterday, another sad loss for the Creative Music/Jazz World. I bought my first Lee Konitz album, ‘Satori’ around 1976 and I was completely knocked out by it. It was on Milestone (rel in 1975) and Mr. Konitz was backed by Martial Solal or Dick Katz on piano, Dave Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. It is still my favorite Konitz album. I soon got a few other Konitz albums on Milestone like, ’Spirits’ (1972), ‘Peacemeal’ (rec 1969) and ‘Duets’ (rec 1967). On ‘Duets’, Mr. Konitz plays tenor, baritone & Varitone (electric) saxes, besides his usual alto, certainly an oddity for him. Another early Konitz purchase I got was ‘Lone-Lee’, a solo alto sax record recorded in Copenhagen in August of 1974. This might’ve been the first solo sax record I ever bought and it remains a gem for me. It was pretty rare for anyone (other than Anthony Braxton’s ‘For Alto’ in 1968) to even try this in the mid-seventies. Lee Konitz has had a long, diverse career, starting in the late forties and recording in legendary ‘Birth of the Cool’ sessions with Miles Davis in 1949, as well as the equally important sessions with pianist/composer/visionary Lennie Tristano the same year. Mr. Konitz was one of the few saxists whose career started in the 40’s and sounded nothing like Charlie Parker, Konitz always had his own sound. In the fifties, Mr. Konitz made many great records with fellow saxists Warne Marsh, Jimmy Giuffre, Gerry Mulligan & Stan Getz. As a sideman, he also was an important part of bands with Charles Mingus, Claude Thornhill Orchestra, Gil Evans and Stan Kenton. Mr. Konitz was a most prolific recording artist, right up until a couple of months ago, having recorded more than 150 records as a leader or co-leader and another 70 or so as a sideman/collaborator. There is a short list of my personal favorites below. A toast to one the greatest of them all: LEE KONITZ!
1.LEE KONITZ - ’Satori’ (Milestone) 1975 - w/ Martial Solal, Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette
2.LEE KONITZ QUINTET - Peacemeal (Milestone) rec 1969 - w/ Marshall Brown, Dick Katz, Eddie Gomez
3.LEE KONITZ - Spirits (Milestone) rec 1971 - w/ Sal Mosca, Ron Carter & Mousey Alexander
4.LEE KONITZ - Motion (Verve) rel 1961 - w/ Sonny Dallas & Elvin Jones
5.LEE KONITZ - Lone-Lee / Solo (Inner City) rec Aug, 1974 in Copenhagen
6.LEE KONITZ - With Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh & Billy Bauer (Prestige) rec 1949
7.PAUL BLEY/LEE KONITZ/BILL CONNOR - Pyramid (IAI) from 1977
8.LEE KONITZ/DON FRIEDMAN/ATTILA ZOLLER - Thingin’ (Hatology) 1995
9.LEE KONITZ & AXIS STRING QT - Play French Impressionist Music from the Turn of the 20th Century with the Axis Quartet (Palmetto) - 2000
10.LEE KONITZ/STEVE SWALLOW/PAUL MOTION - Three Guys (Enja) 1999
THE DOCUMENTARY for OTHER MUSIC!
Our Friends at Another Downtown Record Store Around the Corner from Our Location on the Bowery
The filmmakers behind the award winning independent documentary “Other Music”, which chronicles the influence and eventual decline of the beloved NYC indie-record store, have found a great way to both overcome the COVID cancellation of the film’s theatrical release and to support struggling independent shops like us! By clicking the link below, you can rent the documentary for 3 days for $11.50, and $5 from each transaction will go directly to DMG
Downtown Music Gallery Presents: OTHER MUSIC
It’s inspiring to us, especially over the last month, to feel our store’s connection to the broader history of record stores in NYC, an increasingly endangered species. We’re glad to know that the history of this great store is being celebrating and the love is being spread around. We look forward to watching with you.
More info on the film here: https://www.othermusicdocumentary.com/about-1
Produced and Directed by Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller
NEW THINGS FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 17th, 2020:
LIBERTY ELLMAN with STEVE LEHMAN / JONATHAN FINLAYSON / JOSE DAVILA / STEPHAN CRUMP / DAMION REID - Last Desert (Pi Records 85; USA) Last Desert is guitarist-composer Liberty Ellman‘s follow up to his critically-acclaimed Radiate (Pi 2015), which the Wall Street Journal praised as “bristling with energy and innovation” and Downbeat called “unique, indelible and fully human.” Ellman was named the #1 Rising Star Guitarist in the 2016 Downbeat Critics Poll and one of four guitarists of the year in the expanded Jazz Times Critics Poll, alongside Bill Frisell, John Scofield, and Julian Lage. He is widely lauded for his signature role in Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, including on the Pulitzer Prize-winning In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi 2015). His unorthodox style enlivens groups as varied as Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, Joe Lovano’s Village Rhythms Band and Universal Ensemble, the JD Allen Quartet, Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Guitar Orchestra, and also with artists such as Nicole Mitchell, Ches Smith, and Rwandan-Ugandan singer, Somi. He is also featured in Luanda-Kinshasa, the film collaboration between Stan Douglas and Jason Moran that exhibited originally at David Zwirner Gallery in New York and was recently part of Moran’s large-scale exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Pianist and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer said of Ellman: “When I first heard Liberty over twenty-five years ago, he quickly became my number one favorite living guitarist/composer, and he has held that position ever since. He is a musician’s musician, bursting with creativity and keen intuition, with a knack for haunting melodies, rich textures, deep grooves, and hard edges, all deployed with consummate taste.”
Last Desert, Ellman’s fourth release on Pi Recordings, takes its name from 4 Deserts, an annual ultramarathon through some of the harshest environments on Earth: from the Atacama in South America to the Gobi in China, the Sahara in Egypt, and the “White Desert” of Antarctica. Like the stark contrast between the beauty of these landscapes and the grueling nature of the races, Ellman’s compositions strike a charged balance between unfiltered emotion, a painterly lyricism, and pure intellectual depth. As Ellman explains: “There is something profound about the idea that these athletes have the will to compete in the most severe environments on earth. In a way this whole event gives me hope. Our species needs people with that level of tenacity to lead the way toward the future.”
Going deep from the first note, Ellman begins Last Desert with the reflective, intimate track “The Sip.” Built around an elegantly-structured melody that puts all of Ellman’s gifts as a master of his instrument on display, the song emanates resolve and vulnerability in equal measure. Around the guitarist’s searching lines, the saxophone, trumpet and tuba move like constellations over a desert horizon. On the album’s eponymous centerpiece, the music moves with an episodic, narrative flow that transforms over an unfolding landscape. Ellman’s incisive soloing and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson’s ultra-cool rejoinders cut diagonally across tight chronometric work from drummer Damion Reid and bassist Stephan Crump. The second part of the composition opens atmospherically: The musicians seem to struggle for oxygen at first, which makes alto saxophonist Steve Lehman’s full-throated playing all the more thrilling, and tuba virtuoso Jose Davila’s humanism all the more poignant. The “B side” of Last Desert, which includes the colorful, ballad intro to “Portals” and the mechanically precise use of hockets on “Doppler” shows off Ellman at his most kaleidoscopic.
All of the musicians from Radiate reunite for Last Desert. Together, they evidence the community aspect of this music: Davila has played with Ellman in Henry Threadgill’s Zooid since that bands inception almost 20 years ago and is a member of Lehman’s Octet. In addition to being a long-standing member of Steve Coleman’s Five Elements, Finlayson also plays regularly in many of Lehman’s aggregations, as well as with Threadgill. Reid is a member of Lehman’s trio and was in Finlayson’s Sicilian Defense. Crump, who is perhaps best known for playing with Vijay Iyer, works with Ellman in his own Rosetta Trio. This shared musical history and familiarity enables Ellman to compose with these musician specifically in-mind. Ellman’s warm, clear lines, Finlayson’s clean lyricism and Lehman’s acerbic tone — blend together beautifully. The doubling of Davila and Crump add a distinct, syncopated pulse while Reid bring his usual dynamic panache. According to Davila, “Liberty wrapped his compositional hand around us so that we can bring life to his gestures and designs.” This is something you experience with Last Desert: There is a unity in the way this band plays, as if the air between them had been scrubbed clean. Together they conjure Ellman’s panoramic musical vista with brilliant clarity.”
TOMEKA REID / ALEXANDER HAWKINS - Shards and Constellations (Intakt 344; Switzerland) “Shards and Constellations presents duets with two remarkable musicians Tomeka Reid and Alexander Hawkins. Both have become creative epicenters in the jazz and improvisation scene in recent years with their original, versatile and innovative art. Reid has recorded extensively with many legendary artists from the AACM such as Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell as well as the next generation of AACM artists including Nicole Mitchell, Dee Alexander and Mike Reed. Hawkins is a composer and pianist from the London jazz scene and is regarded in the UK as one of the most innovative musicians of the younger generation with a surprising radius of action. his work attempts to reconcile both his love of free improvisation and his infatuation with composition and structure. Five of the compositions are collectively conceived with intricate textures and interplay. Two of the pieces feature works by two masters from the first generation of the AACM – Muhal Richard Abrams and Leroy Jenkins. “Shards and Constellations is a singular achievement exploring a broad spectrum of musical avenues from the lyrical to the pointillistic, from the angular to the serene. this adventurous music deserves to be heard," writes Anthony Davis in the liner notes.”
JAMES BRANDON LEWIS / CHAD TAYLOR - Live is Willisau (Intakt 342; Switzerland) “After the brilliant finale at the 2019 Willisau Jazz Festival with saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and drummer Chad Taylor, Lucerne journalist Pirmin Bossart wrote: "The music sought neither to preach nor impress, instead revealing itself as pure, spirited intensity. ‘Yeah! Yeah!’ James Brandon cries after the final note of ‘Willisee’ adding a jubilant ‘Wow!’”. The duo had just finished a track which Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell played on the same stage in 1980, a stage where Max Roach & Archie Shepp also wrote jazz history. Lewis and Taylor pay tribute to this legacy and conjure up the spirit of Great Black Music in the very first piece with an homage to John Coltrane. New Yorker James Brandon Lewis has attracted attention in recent years with his album UnRuly Manifesto. The record was listed among the best new releases of 2019 in the USA. The "New York Times" attests him a great musical autonomy: “James Brandon Lewis, a jazz saxophonist in his 30s, raw-toned but measured, doesn’t sound steeped in current jazz academy values and isn’t really coming from a free-improvising perspective. There’s an independence about him.” The drummer Chad Taylor comes from Chicago and has played with Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Malachi Favors and Nicole Mitchel. On Intakt Records he plays on the live album with Aruan Ortiz and Brad Jones. Bossart writes: “The two musicians let us hear the great breath of an essential jazz tradition, its clarity, raw beauty and urgency shining through, even in the melting pot of contemporary jazz debates. The musicians are not stuck in a version of the past. At every second they are part of the musical process, which shapes itself and pulses with their experiences of the here and now. This is about a continuum, occurring yesterday, today and tomorrow. Why else would jazz have retained till today its transformative power?”
THREE FROM RELATIVE PITCH:
TIM BERNE / NASHEET WAITS - The The Coanda Effect (Relative Pitch 1103; USA) Featuring Tim Berne on alto sax and Nasheet Waits on drums. Recorded live at the Sultan Room in Brooklyn on October 8th of 2019. Longtime Downtown saxist/composer/bandleader, Tim Berne, remains busy juggling many projects as well as placing himself in a wide variety of improv situations. Aside from his main band, Snakeoil, Mr. Berne is a member of Sun of Goldfinger (with David Torn), a trio with Michael Formanek & Mary Halvorson and does a constant string of improv gigs with Matt Mitchell, Kris Davis and Ingrid Laubrock. Drummer Nasheet waits is another in-demand player who has worked with many in recent times with Jamie Saft, Florian Webber, Mark Tuner and Marty Ehrlich,
I have only heard one track from this disc as we are still waiting for the package to arrive. That one track is splendid, nicely paced with some inspired, sympathetic interplay. Mr. Waits is playing some spinning brushes & mallets while Mr. Berne plays with that great slow-burning fire. Mr. Berne has systematic way of improvising, playing those spiraling lines over and over, slowly altering the lines, as she shifts through different textures or directions. Longer review when I get to hear this in its entirety. - BLG
TIPPLE With FRODE GJERSTAD / KEVIN NORTON / DAVID WATSON - Cartoon Heart (Relative Pitch 1091; USA) Tipple remains Frode Gjerstad on saxes, clarinets & alto flute, David Watson on guitars & Scottish bagpipes and Kevin Norton on drums & percussion. This is the fifth disc by this particular trio which features Norwegian reeds wizard, Frode Gjerstad with New Zealand-born, NY-based guitarist/bagpipes player, David Watson and percussionist/professor, Kevin Norton who lives and still teaches in NJ. Although Mr. Gjerstad has been recording for more than forty years and has more than 120 releases under his belt, he has had very few ongoing ensembles: just Detail (with Johnny Dyani & John Stevens - 14 discs) and the Frode Gjerstad Trio (with Paal Nilssen-Love & Jon Rune Strom - 5 discs). Like the Frode Gjerstad Trio, Tipple is more recent and this is the fifth disc. Both Mr. Norton and Mr. Watson are longtime participants in the sprawling Downtown network. Hence, Tipple has continued to evolve over the past six years. The is a studio recording and the first thing I noticed is how well it is recorded. All of the 15 tracks are relatively short (under 5 minutes). The title track is first and it has a tribal vibe with shrewd bent-note chiming guitar, squealing sax over great pounding mallets. The music is somewhere in between jazz, rock and post-punk, focused and intense with selective reverb on the sax. The most has a dark, probing sound with powerful guitar shrapnel mixed with almost bluesy sax hovering in the distance guided by sympathetic drum support. All three members of the trio get their chances to stretch out, push and pull, add to and change directions and dynamics. When Gerstad switches to flute, the other members of trio settle down to some more skeletal, ritualistic sounding improv. When Mr. Watson switches to bagpipes on the appropriately titled “Ghost Ship”, he creates a cosmic resonating drone like an eerie church organ with careful, haunting ghost-like flute/vocal sounds and suspense-filled gongs. Most effective! Since all three musicians switch between 2& more instruments, the sonic blend changes from piece to piece, exploring the many nuances of each instrument and combination. The are some tracks (ie “Lumin Essennce”) where it is hard to tell who is doing what since bowed cymbals, soft sax squeal and quiet fractured guitars slithers are hard to tell apart. It also sounds like someone is adding some post or live sonic manipulation to the sax. Strange yet very cool. As weird as things get at times, there is a strong sense of calm at the center of this disc. Nothing rushed or forced. Overall each piece a different sonic terrain, vibe or inner eye/ear scene from a film of our own device. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TAMIO SHIRAISHI - Sora (Relative Pitch SS 003; USA) Featuring Tamio Shiraishi on solo alto sax, recorded live at Issue Project Room in October of 2019 and at Thousand Caves studio at two dates in November of 2018 and June of 2019. When Anthony Braxton’s early double album, ‘For Alto’ was released in 1968, it was incredibly rare to record an album of solo sax music. Since then there have been a number of saxists who went to record several albums of solo sax music: Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Steve Lacy, John Zorn, Ned Rothenberg, etc. It has certainly become much more common over the past few decades. The seventies & early 1980’s was the time when a number of these musicians started playing solo sax concerts. Tamio’s (as he goes by) music career stretches back to the seventies when he was in a early version of Fushitsusha with Haino Keiji. Sometime later Tamio moved to NY where he has been living for several decades. Tamio still plays live solo sets on rare occasions (sometimes just meeting 2 or 3 folks down at a pre-selected subway station at 1am). His small recorded output is just a handful of solo discs over the many years as well as some rare collaborations with Sean Meehan, Mico (from No Neck Blues Band), Talibam!, Chris Pitsiokos and Louise Jensen. The thing about Tamio is this: he has carved out his own niche: his own sound, his own approach. He has long experimented with multiphonics (an extended technique on a monophonic musical instrument in which several notes are produced at once), often bending and stretching out notes in his own way. Some of these multiphonic high notes are hard to listen to and often make folks squirm in their seats and dogs go crazy. I have been at Tamio shows in the past where he walked around the audience and freaked some folks out with his sounds. He is less confrontational nowadays and prefers to play in smaller places to intimate audiences of interested listeners. He does play here at DMG on occasion and I am always honored to have him here, he is a longtime hero of mine. Which brings us this disc.
The Relative Pitch label has long been a home to challenging music that only the most serious of listeners can appreciate. This label (Kevin Reilly actually) started a sub series of solo sax releases. This is just the third one in the series and this is the one that many of us Tamio freaks have been waiting for. The last time that Tamio played at DMG was last year and was on the same bill as Chris Pitsiokos (50 years his junior & he had the second in the solo sax series). Tamio had several mouthpieces lined up and switched them out after each piece to get a slightly different sound for each one. What I find most interesting about listening to this disc is that the sounds that Tamio makes are so distinctive, so unique to his own language and craft. Slowly, carefully bending and twisting notes so that all one hears is the fractured sound. The first piece is live from Issue Project Room and it sounds as if Tamio is moving around the room, his sound coming from different places. Tamio takes his time and explores each note as it is stretched out and bathed in natural reverb of the room. As he stretches out certain notes, there are harmonics or ghost notes also going on simultaneously. The second track is a studio effort and it begins with a sample of the subway, a sound and a place that Tamio loves to play at. None of the room sound reverb is here so we can hear those bent sax notes much more clearly. To the uneducated listener, it sounds like Tamio is playing many of the same bent notes over & over. Actually, we can hear him bending those notes in slightly different ways as he goes. It takes some time and patience to actually hear the nuances of each note and the way it is bent up or down, higher or lower in pitch. When the disc finally ended what I noticed is that Tamio had created his own world, his own sonic environment. I felt as if I had been transported to some where else where those careful bent notes had altered my reality, my perceptions. I was not the same as I was before the disc began. The way I hear things had changed, had adapted so I had become someone else. Hmmmmmm. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
THE NECKS with CHRIS ABRAHAMS / LLOYD SWANTON / TONY BUCK - Three (Northern Spy 126; USA) The Necks have a lot of records out (this is their 21st) and, somehow, miraculously, they usually find something new to present or a new angle to present every time. This is one of their great ones!
“Three, the 21st album from legendary Australian instrumental trio The Necks, is a winding, textural, and visceral musical exploration through three individual, contrasting tracks that each delve into separate tenets of their sound. Three’s variety of tones and structures offer a glimpse into the boundless, immersive sonic universe The Necks have been constructing, through recorded and live performance, for over 30 years: three musicians, three variable songs, highlighting three decades of groundbreaking experimental excellence.
From its very first moments, “Bloom” rattles and propels listeners through a dense, mesmerizing soundscape of unceasing intensity. Directly juxtaposing the consuming rattle of the opener, “Lovelock,” dedicated to the memory of Damien Lovelock, former frontman of The Celibate Rifles, is a weightless and atmospheric threnody that ruminates in the quiet and overwhelming moments of grief. The final setting of Three is one of warmth and familiarity.
“Further,” is a confident, seductive groove in a quintuple meter, reminiscent of the groups’ work on records like Sex (1989) and Aquatic (1994). Contrasting the style of their celebrated improvisational live act, the group’s studio work is meticulously sculpted from beginning to end. On Three, Chris Abrahams (piano), Lloyd Swanton (bass), Tony Buck (drums/percussion), and their long-time backend collaborators Tim Whitten (engineer) and Doug Henderson (master) have again scrupulously built music that focuses on the most intricate edges of staggeringly immense, diverse worlds. From strained to still to smoky, each piece of Three marks itself as distinct and its own, but all feel representative of Australia’s greatest cult band, The Necks.”
HORSE LORDS - The Common Task (Northern Spy 124; USA) For anyone following the trajectory of Baltimore’s Horse Lords over the last few years, their latest LP will come as a welcome and triumphant synthesis of their musical and political concepts. Their last full LP, “Interventions” (2016), was their first for Northern Spy, and did much to bring their singular vision to a wide audience, that of a rock-band ensemble with a studied approach to balancing influences ranging from Tuareg Blues to The Sonic Arts Union. In 2017 they released Mixtape IV which included a full rendition of Julius Eastman’s "Stay On It” one of the most intelligent tributes to Eastman during the extended rediscovery moment that his music was going through at the time. Side B of Mixtape IV also contained an amazing, primarily text-oriented sound and voice collage that gave direct voice to feelings of political upheaval. “The Common Task” continues the Lords familiar formula of expertly musical polyrhythmic ensemble arrangements and widely expands the sonic palate. There are blaring bagpipes, electronic languages that echo much of Max Eilbacher and Andrew Bernstein's solo work and expanded ensemble arrangements that pull in timbral cues from Eastman, as well as their recent operatic work with Peabody Conservatory. Momentum throughout is relaxed, yet urgent, the sound of collaborators with an already storied and still promising career in full experimentalism. The political Their tried and true approach of danceable micro-tonal rock band is as refreshing and infinitely listenable as ever, and its very encouraging to hear the thesis thru-line emerging across their various projects into something so encompassing and musical. The political message is implicit and clear, that we all have a mandate to reconstruct our broken structures through radical democracy and open boundaries. As mentioned in the liner notes: "By showing just how joyous it can be to imagine new futures and possibilities, by making us dance and howl with each tectonic shift, Horse Lords shows how dazzling the path towards utopia can be. - Frank Meadows at DMG
CHRISTY DORAN’S SOUND FOUNTAIN - Lift the Bar (Between the Lines 71249; EEC) Sound Fountain is Christy Doran on electric guitar & compositions, Franco Fontanarrosa on electric bass & compositions and Lukas Mantel on drums & percussion. Ever since the formation of OM in 1972, Christy Doran, Urs Leimgruber & Fredi Studer, blurred the lines between rock and jazz, inventing something new, an exciting hybrid later called fusion. Swiss guitarist, Christy Doran, has come a long way since OM broke up in 1980 and went on the form other eclectic bands like his Jimi Hendrix project, New Bag, A.D.D. and other collaborations. This is the fourth disc from the Sound Fountain trio. Mr. Doran wrote all but one of the pieces here. The opening song is the title track and we are off to great start. Over a great slightly funky, slinky, sly groove, the the guitar and bass play their tight lines together and this play some intricate counterpoint in the second half. Bassist Fontanarrose wrote “Aftertaste”, which several shifting lines going on at the same time with the bass & drums locked into a complex groove while Mr. Doran takes an inspired solo which employs several devices to alter his own differently on every line. Doran does a great job of setting up hypnotic, repeating grooves for the trio to play and adding inspired solos to makes things even better. His two rhythm team mates keep getting better as the trio evolves. I like the way trio slows things things down on “Out of the Rat’s Race” to an almost Police-like dub groove, so that Doran’s long inspired guitar solo can go through several sections navigating some intricate rapids along the way. “One for the Road” is an explosive, noisy piece, with some almost metalish guitar parts which erupt in unexpected places. Since Christy Doran is not originally a jazz dude held down by jazz police’s expectations of having to always swing, he keeps reinventing himself and drawing from other wells of inspiration from the varied and long history of rock/prog/funk/etc. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LEAP OF FAITH with PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / STEVE NIEMITZ - Trajectories (Evil Clown 9243; USA) This is a stripped down version of Leap of Faith, just a trio with PEK on clarinets, alto & tenor saxes, musette, targato, bass tromboon & sheng; Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice and Steve Niemitz on drums. This set was recorded live at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA in February of 2020 less than 2 months from today (4/14/20). The many different versions of Leap of Faith range from a duo (rare) to the Leap of Faith Orchestras. Very recently longtime Leap of Faith drummer, Yuii Zbitnov, retired from all Evil Clown ensembles. Since then, he has been replaced by a new drummer named Steve Niemitz. I can’t say that I had heard of Mr. Niemitz before now although Mr. PEK has a way of finding dozens of creative musicians from the Boston area to fill out the ranks of the various Leap of Faith and offshoot projects.
Another difference for this session is that PEK is playing just eight mainly reed instruments instead of the two dozens reeds, percussion, synths & whatnot that he usually plays. The sound is as careful and well-balanced as it usually is. PEK takes his time with one instrument at a time. Ms. Lomon is featured here and shows that she is a force to be reckoned with on cello: plucking & banging on the strings as well as bowing up a storm as well. I really like the sound of that contrabass clarinet, deep and spooky and it works so well with the lower notes that Ms. Lomon plays on the cello. Drummer Niemitz often takes his time and rarely pushes the other very hard, yet still knows when to increase the intensity when need be. Although many Leap of Faith discs deal in controlled or focused chaos, especially when the number of players increases to orchestral proportions, this trio version sound much more released, rather calm at the center yet it still pushes things further out in short bursts. The majority of Evil Clown label CD’s are pretty long and often contain 2 full sets. This is has just one set clocking in at 39 minutes which just seems long enough and complete on its own terms. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE with PEK / MARK GAGLIANONE / BOB MOORES / ERIC WOODS / MIKE GRUEN / JOEL SIMCHES / YURI ZBITNOV - The Riddle of Steel (Evil Clown 9244; USA) Featuring PEK on saxes, clarinets, taragato, game calls, malekat & assorted percussion; Mike Caglianone on soprano, alto & tenor saxes, game calls & percussion; Bob Moores on space trumpet, guitar, synth & processing; Eric Woods on analogue synth; Mike Gruen on el. bass; Yuri Zbitnov on drums & assorted percussion and Joel Simches signal processing. This was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters and it was probably of the last sessions to includes longtime Leap of Faith drummer, Yuri Zbitnov, who is now retired from the Evil Clown collective. This disc begins with soft spaciousness with small bits of electronics, reeds sounds and soon dark spoken word recitation of some mildly disturbing science fiction/cartoon verbiage. This is short and just an intro. In the next section, Bob Moores plays electric guitar and starts to get into cool, somewhat funky space groove with sly rhythm team support. The space jam gets better as trumpet and saxes are added while Mr. Zbitnov’s great drumming kicks up a storm. There is another short recitation which is more like a short segueway to the next section. Metal Chaos soon break into another great spacey/funk groove with soprano sax and el. trumpet up front. The short recitations seem to be part of a theme that runs throughout this disc and being short they work to bridge the different connected sections. Much of this is closer to space/rock than any other sort of jazz/rock jamming. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
AL BILALI SOUDAN - Tombouctou (Clermont Music 029; USA) ”Al Bilali Soudan are Abellaw Yattara, Aboubacrine Yattara, Mohamed Ag Abellaw, and Thialé Ag Aboubacrine. Fathers and sons, uncles and cousins. Forgeron, griot, bards from Tombouctou/Timbuktu, Northern Mali instrumentation is tehardant/ngoni and calabash. Traditional repertoire adapted and improvised. Lightning fast, sometimes looping, sometimes lyrical. This is dance music, this is culture preserved, this is to encourage people who have fled from their homes. This is modern music performed on ancient instruments. Like the polyglot region where they live, their lyrics are in Tamasheq, Songhai, French and English Al Bilali Soudan perform frequently at celebrations and festivals.”
ONENESS OF JUJU - Space Jungle Luv (Now-Again 5177; USA) "Magical, mystical, Afrocentric, progressive -- words that could be used to describe any number of musical compositions by Sun Ra or his cosmic brothers and sisters, from John to Alice Coltrane, early '70s projects on record labels like Detroit's Tribe or Houston's Lightin' or the interests of one Washington, DC native named Jimmy Gray that centered under one, perfect moniker: Black Fire. Gray spent nearly three decades pushing boundaries as a Black American promoter, distributor and, finally, record label owner. Together with Oneness of Juju's leader James 'Plunky Nkabinde' Branch, Gray oversaw sixteen releases on Black Fire Records between 1975 and 1996. These are the definitive reissues of five of the label's key titles; all were lacquered -- most directly from master tape -- by legendary Los Angeles mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, With this set, Oneness Of Juju and Black Fire's story burns forth into its fifth decade, its message not tempered, its sound pure. It's cycle, once again, complete. Each release is packaged in a thick, tip-on sleeve and includes a deluxe booklet with extensive notes on the album, the Black Fire collective, and the musical and cultural revolution they created. Limited edition, one time pressing."
DIRE WOLVES - Flow & Heady (Feeding Tube Records 518 / Cardinal Fuzz; USA) “Flow & Heady, the stunning new record from Dire Wolves Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band, captures the group flying high at the height of their powers. Recorded live at the "Festival Of Endless Gratitude" in Copenhagen, and released jointly on Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records, this beautifully packaged LP documents some of the band's 2019 European Tour. For these dates, the Dire Wolves were joined by Nik Rayne of The Myrrors (guitar and clarinet) and Bell Lungs from Scotland (violin, voice, and birds), each adding potent textures to the collective's deep sonic glossolalia. The music Dire Wolves create is what they call "Cosmic Free Rock" as via amplified instrumentation they summon a sound that pulls at psych, kosmiche, acid folk, and spiritual jazz. Fans of Träd, Gräs Och Stenar and Amon Düül II will easily get lost in these zones, as droning violins, fuzzed acid guitars, and wordless floating angelic vocals (that nod towards Rentate Knaup) are propelled by a rhythm section that knows exactly how to not overplay as they create the hypnotic essence from which Dire Wolves drift away. The raw overblown recording, à la White Heaven, becomes an Instrument unto itself, placing you squarely in the moment with the group, amidst the swirling transcendent improvisation. This is a heavy record. This is psychic rock for the mind and body. Close your eyes, breathe deep and get lost in Flow & Heady. Includes download code which features two additional live concerts.
PATRICK SHIRIOSHI - Descension (Thin Wrist TW O; USA) “Patrick Shiroishi's Descension is a beautifully elegiac and unflinchingly primal album. With richly layered solo saxophone, electronics, and voice, the album is a meditation on the legacy of a dark history and its echoing relevance in the present era. Descension is a spiritual journey that reveals Shiroishi's deeply reflective and unique musical vision. Over the past decade Shiroishi has established himself as one of the key artists in Los Angeles's free improvisation and avant-garde undergrounds. An incredibly inventive and versatile player, Shiroishi has collaborated with everyone from epic post-rock maximalists Godspeed You! Black Emperor to Radu Malfatti, the Austrian composer who pioneered the ultra-quiet reductionist school of improvisation. Shiroishi has also led or been at the center of innumerable ensembles which currently include Danketsu 10, Borasisi, Nakata, Kogarashi, Komeshi Trio. His previous groups include in the Womb, Oort Smog, oxox, Hoboglyphs, and Upsilon Acrux. On his debut album for Thin Wrist Recordings and his first solo vinyl release, Shiroishi makes a deep examination of his own ancestral history. "In the fall of 2016 I started researching heavily into the concentration camps of Japanese-American citizens during World War II," says Shiroishi. "My grandparents on my father's side met and married in the camps at Tule Lake, a place my grandmother never spoke about to me when she was alive. As I began to dive deeper, it naturally began to sink into my improvisations and work." In the context of events that were unfurling in real time, Shiroishi's work began to bridge the past with the present, using improvisation as the most immediate means of expression: "Everything on Descension was recorded in one take in the order that it appears," recalls Shiroishi. "I didn't prepare any melodies or form prior to the session; I anticipated playing layers and layers of noise. The record is a representation of how I had been processing the horrors of the present -- the sadness of the loss of life not only in the states but through the genocides in Sudan, Myanmar, Iraq and Syria, anger that migrant children are being separated from their parents and being held in concentration camps again, the frustration that times really are frighteningly similar to when my grandparents were growing up." Rather than create any sort of literal or agitprop statement, Shiroishi's work tapped into a timeless spiritual tradition of music -- closer to those of artistic heroes such as Coltrane or Ayler.
WHITE HEAVEN - Out (Black Editions 005; USA) “White Heaven's debut album Out is one of the greatest psychedelic rock albums ever recorded. First released in 1991 by Tokyo's P.S.F. Records and pressed in an edition of 500 copies the original LP has become a holy grail in underground circles, with only a scant few copies ever making it outside of Japan. Built on the chemistry between You Ishihara's lysergic lyricism and the blistering leads of one of Japan's undisputed guitar gods Michio Kurihara, Out is an absolute classic. It is one of the few albums to successfully join a deep love of classic rock n' roll with the rapturous energy of punk and openness of the avant-garde. Each song creates its own world, raising dynamic structures that defy categorization. Meticulously re-mastered by the artists this new edition is the album in its clearest, most powerful form. Cut at the legendary Bernie Grundman studios and pressed at RTI it is now available on vinyl for the first time in almost 30 years. Black Editions presents Out in its definitive edition. Deluxe LP edition, Heavy tip-on jacket and tri-panel insert printed on black paper with metallic gold ink. Vinyl mastering by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman, high quality pressing at RTI.
"What happens if you want to make a sound like Eric Clapton on 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps,' or Ritchie Blackmore on Made in Japan -- two early influences Kurihara mentions in particular -- but you've never been in a recording studio before? What happens if you want to sing like Marc Bolan or Robert Plant -- or even Lou Reed and Tom Verlaine -- but you've never been on a stage before? Listen to what happened on Out: a wide knowledge and love of classic rock sounds fused to a freedom of expression based not only on punk, but on avant-garde experimentalism. It isn't that these young players had chops like that at the time. But neither did they need them to hit heightened moments of what I can only describe as rock rapture." - Damon Krukowski
GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT:
In 2016, an amazing documentary called, ‘Night Bird Song, The Incandescent Life of Thomas Chapin’ was released and received many awards. It was directed by Stephanie L. Castillo, who is the sister of Terri Castillo-Chapin, the widow of Thomas. Yours truly was interviewed and I was honored to be a part of this film. I thought that Stephanie did an amazing job! See below:
KAUA’I FILMMAKER TO BE FEATURED ON PBS HAWAII’S “LONG STORY SHORT”
Women filmmakers of Hawai’i are being highlighted in April by PBS Hawai’i
(LIHUE) — She received an EMMY Award — a rare honor — for the first of her ten documentary films. She’s spent more than 30 years making award-winning documentary films for PBS and for nonprofits. And she’s from Kaua’i, where her 11th documentary is being developed on the notorious history of the 1924 Hanapepe massacre. Stephanie J. Castillo will be the featured guest next week (April 21 at 7:30 p.m.) on PBS Hawaii’s LONG STORY SHORT with Leslie Wilcox.
Stephanie is a former Honolulu print journalist and has been a documentary filmmaker since 1989; her work work has been seen locally and national on PBS. Her films include biographies, social and cultural histories and niche topics, including opera and cockfighting.
Since the rise of the #MeToo movement in 2017, a spotlight on gender inequity in the historically male-dominated film industry has been shining brighter than ever, reads the April PBS Hawai,i newsletter article. This month, PBS Hawai‘i has been shining “a local spotlight on our Islands’ own women filmmakers with a month-long presentation of their stories.”
LONG STORY STORY SHORT featuring Stephanie will be aired on Tuesday, April 21, 7:30 pm, with a repeated broadcast on Sunday, April 26 at 11:30 p.m.
Castillo released her first documentary film, a co-production with PBS Hawai’i, the EMMY-winning Simple Courage in 1992, which drew parallels between Hansen’s Disease and the major health crisis at the time of the film’s release, the AIDS epidemic.
Born in Honolulu to a military family, Castillo moved around many times as a child, which she credits to establishing her cosmopolitan view of the world. Kaua’i is where her grandfather from the Philippines settled and is where Stephanie now lives after 30 years in Honolulu and having spent the last six years in Brooklyn where she made her last documentary film about a NYC jazz artist.
An encore of Castillo’s 2009 film Strange Land: My Mother’s War Bride Story will be shown on PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS on Thursday, April 23 at 9:00 pm as part of the station’s month-long celebration of Hawai‘i women filmmakers. The film tells the story of an immigrant bride who is transformed by her perseverance and by her acceptance that there will be no turning back. Repeat broadcast will be Sunday, April 26 at 1 p.m.
Watch the Trailer. https://vimeo.com/403920786
Learn More at www.hanapepemassacremysteryfilm.com
ATTENTION ALL CREATIVE MUSICIANS OUT THERE, Around the world.
If you have a link, for some music that you are working on and want to share it with the folks who read the DMG Newsletter, please send the link to DMG at DMG@Downtownmusicgallery.com. Many of us are going stir crazy staying at home so if you want to inspire us and help us get through these difficult times, please show us what you got. I listed some these last week but have also a few more.
MORE THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU ARE WAITING AROUND FOR THE WORLD TO END OR GET BETTER:
STILL STIR CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!
This is the section where I usually recommend upcoming concerts in the NYC area. As far as I can tell there are no upcoming shows anywhere around here, except perhaps on-line. All places I usually frequent are now closed for the foreseeable future. And everyone is worried about the near future, their health and their sanity for their friends and family. I am trying to come up with something inspirational to put out there but I am also very worried about myself, the store, all of the creative musicians that we need and support, as well as everyone else who has lost their jobs.
I have been at home at my old apartment in New Jersey, cleaning, reorganizing my collection, finding lots of doubles, listening to dozens of records, CD’s,cassettes and DVD’s. And working on my ongoing series of discographies and assorted music lists.
Over the past week or so a number of musicians have been putting up some music on-line for anyone to check out. I know that many of us are going a bit stir crazy so it is time to do some soul searching and serious listening. Here is a list of some music links to check out:
My good friend & guitar master GARY LUCAS is playing half hour sets at his apartment in the West village every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 3pm EST on Facebook. Different songs on each episode. This afternoon he is doing a tribute to the great Hal Wilner at 3pm.
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/gary.lucas.5836
From BOB DYLAN - New Song “Murder Most Foul” nearly 17 minutes long! Outstanding!
From RANDY NEWMAN: Stay Away - new song
From Tuba Master JESSE DULMAN - This is a 24 minute documentary
Much of this takes place at Downtown Music Gallery and it really made me feel good!
From INGRID LAUBROCK:
From HENRY KAISER:
Outdoor Festival in Toronto, June 1971
Tisziji Muñoz featuring Lenny Breau on guitar
Lenny’s solo opens the piece, Tisziji’s solo closes the piece.
Bernie Senensky, piano, Michael Malone, trumpet
Michel Donato, bass & Clayton Johnson, drums
Check it out here: https://www.tisziji.com/treasure
nice article with many good points about music docs
This One is from German Saxist GEBHARD ULLMANN - It is his first String Quartet
From JOSH SINTON, Wonderful Baritone Saxist & Bass Clarinetist:
“Stone Cold Classics of 21st Century Saxophone Repertoire.”
From MATT HANNAFIN: currently living in Portland, OR
From the Extradition Series (Portland, OR) and A Place to Listen (Victoria, BC):
From BOB DOWNES, amazing UK flutist, currently living in Germany:
JOHN RUSSELL & ROSS LAMBERT: A Duet (for the Hundred Years Gallery)
To support the Hundred Years Gallery (in London) during the covid-19 crisis we are releasing this guitar duet recording from Ross Lambert and John Russell.
The MICHAEL MUSILLAMI TRIO 2 just did a quick European tour.
Here is the personnel:
Michael Musillami guitar
Jason Robinson saxophone
Thomas Heberer trumpet
Joe Fonda bass
George Schuller drums
Here are 2 live clips:
This is from LEN 37 SIEGFRIED, former with Suburban Bohemia & Ecstasy Mule, one of my oldest friends from the early Knitting Factory days:
”Corona Jitterbug” shorter version
From Clarinetist Extraordinaire BEN GOLDBERG: Tomorrow Never Knows.
Something tells me art will be fine, even though humans are in trouble at the moment. But right now art is precluded from its important work of gathering us together. So musicians are in a weird situation. Concerts, tours, festivals, and in-person teaching disappeared quickly. In the initial shock my thought was, I don't know what to do but I can record music at home. So on March 19 I began recording a new song every day. I made an album on Bandcamp where you can listen to the songs for free. It's called PLAGUE DIARY. The philosophy here is "use what you've got" (is there ever another option?) -- for me that means clarinets, a synthesizer I can't figure out, and rudimentary recording ability. Because it's a diary I am trying to use the recording process as a sketchbook, and an opportunity to mess around. ("Don't forget to mess around." -- Steve Lacy, as quoted by Kirk Knuffke.)
PLAGUE DIARY is now sixteen songs and I hope it has something that can be of use to you. A link to the album is at the bottom of this email, under the mysterious photo of my parents. Here’s the link: https://ben-goldberg--bag-production-records.bandcamp.com/album/plague-diary