DMG Newsletter for May 8th, 2020
by Pearls Before Swine written by Tom Rapp
From their first album, ‘One Nation Underground’
Released in 1967 on ESP Records
The wind winds the platform
Blows through your suit creases
You want us
To crucify the enemy for Jesus
With your chamber-of-commerce soul
You talk of war so bold
God is on our side, but
He's lost in your wallet-fold
And the widows a-sighing
The children a-crying
The screams of the dying
Say you are lying, Uncle John
You pull out your Sunday God
And hold him up so proud
And say he is with us
To the Applauding crowd
But the burn-blackened place
The shredded disfigured face
Don't say that God is Love
They say that you are Hate
And the widows a-sighing
The children a-crying
The screams of the dying
Say you are lying, Uncle John
You stand up on the platform
With the flag wrapped all around you
And tell us that the Bible says
To fight for it we're bound to
But the Red's for the blood we lose
The White's for the gauze they use
To cover burned-out blackened men
The rest is for the bodies numb and Blue
And the widows a-sighing
The children a-crying
The screams of the dying
Say you are lying, Uncle John
Of all of the many sixties rock/folk/psych bands, Pearls Before Swine, were one of my favorites. The ESP label, which documented most early free/jazz artists like Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, NY Art Quartet & Sun Ra, as well as The Fugs, got a demo in the mail and signed Pearls Before Swine, an unlikely match that made sense in the long run of underground music. The original band made nine albums between 1967 & 1973, but only their main songwriter remained to the end, Tom Rapp. Each and every one of those records I still cherish but that first still give me the chills. The above song is on their next the last, an album called, ‘Stardancer’ from 1972. It is also outstanding.
Sometimes in the mid-nineties, a young man who was going to school at NYU came up to the counter at DMG and asked me why we had a divider card for a band named Pearls before Swine, were they at all popular? I said they were an underground band but they were popular on FM radio and many of their fans loved them. He says, that was my father’s band, his name is Tom Rapp. I asked what had happened to him and he says he retired from music a long time ago, went back to school and became a lawyer, specializing in civil rights. I told the man to tell his father to come out of retirement, that he still has many fans around the world. A week later, I got a call from Tom Rapp, I was stunned. I asked him why he retired from music and he said that when folks stop buying your albums or coming to your concerts, its time to quit. I asked if he still had his guitar and he says yes, under the bed getting dusty. I told I never had the opportunity to hear him live but love all of his albums. That year, his son started a rock band which Mr. Rapp sat in with from time to time. Word got out about them and Bevis Frond (a/k/a Nick Saloman) asked Mr. Rapp if he wanted to play at the Ptolemaic Terrascope Festival in New England, performing the old songs of Pearls before Swine. He finally agreed and afterwards decided to come out of retirement. A year or so later, Mr. Rapp backed by Damon & Naomi, played at the Knitting Factory, I was so pleased to hear those songs played live. I had become friendly with Nick Soloman through an appearance with Kramer so he called me to say that he booked an entire night at CBGB’s and that he put together a full band to back Tom Rapp mostly songs from the first two Pearls Before Swine albums. I, of course, had to attend and did. I wandered back-stage and introduced myself to Mr. Rapp, who gave me a hug and said it was all my fault, his coming out of retirement. I started to tear up and said that I wasn’t so sure that it was just me but that I’m sure it many folks were happy to finally hear those songs live! Nick Saloman produced and released the very last album by Tom Rapp in 1999, it is called ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’. It is also superb and long out-of-print. I ended up becoming friends with Mr. Rapp and talked to him on the phone several times after he had moved back to Florida to retire. He passed away in February of 2018. I still play all of those records from time to time as they are all classics. Sometimes I play the first one in the store and someone will be knocked out about how timeless and extraordinary it is. A special toast to Tom Rapp! - BLG at DMG
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY!
Last Friday, May 1st, was the 29th anniversary of the modest beginning of Downtown Music Gallery. We opened our doors on May 1st of 1991! Our first store was at 211 East 5th St., around the corner from Cooper Union. Our rent was cheap ($750) and the store was not very big (750 sq ft). There were two owners, David Yamner & Steve Popkin, and I worked for them 6 days a week. Their plan was to sell Used CD’s and vinyl while I promoted Downtown/Progressive/Avant Jazz, what I dug the most. There were allegedly some 100 record stores in NYC at that point, each with its own specialty. We were there for 12 years until 2003, and started having weekly free concerts, an idea that started when I worked previously at Lunch For Yor Ears with Manny Maris. Here is a short list of who played at our original location: Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill, Derek Bailey (released on DVD), Peter Kowald, Joelle Leandre, John Zorn, Thomas Chapin, Bob Musso, John Richie (all from Machine Gun), Rod Poole, Ivo Perelman, Marc Ribot, Eugene Chadbourne, Haino Keji & Loren Mazzacane and so many more! I became the owner in 1997, after paying Mr. Yamner $140 a week for several years. Around the time I became the owner, myself & Emperor Mike started the DMG newsletter, 1st monthly, than biweekly and then weekly. It was print only at the beginning but since taking on the mail-order for the Tzadik label, we started an e-mail mailing list and sent out the newsletter weekly to 100 folks at the start. We now have more than 6,000 friends/customers on our weekly newsletter list! My old boss, Manny, reappeared after many years so I hired him to work 1 day a week, eventually working more and becoming my partner after a while. We had started our own website and Manny helped to create our on-line database which now lists over 100,000 items!
We lucked into finding a new store on the Bowery and moved there in 2003, bringing many of our supplies over in a wagon during a snow storm. This was our most popular and successful location. We were just a couple of blocks away from Tower Records & Other Music, as well as not far from St. Marks Pl. (where there were Kim’s Underground & Norman’s Sound & Vision). Our weekly live sets were now on Sundays and more folks started to show up almost every week. We also had anniversary celebrations as well as many other sponsored shows: Gong, Hatfield & the North, Present, Dr. Nerve, Kramer, Luscious Jackson, Fibre, Machine Gun, Thinking Plague, Dark Carnival, loads more! In December of 2006, Manny and I had the honor of curating at The (Old) Stone for the entire month! What a month it was! Here’s a short list: three members of Henry Cow: Fred Frith, Tim Hodgkinson & Chris Cutler, Hugh Hopper, Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers, Tony Levin, Tisziji Munoz, Marilyn Crispell, Michael Moore, Joelle Leandre, Nels Cline, Vinny Golia… You can see the entire schedule up on the The Stone’s website.
We had to move from the Bowery in 2009, when our rent went from $4,000 to $10,000 a month so that is how we landed in Chinatown on the far east side. We were the only store on Monroe St. when we first opened here, just Chinese temples above and the projects across the street. Our Sunday night in-store series has continued ever since and I am proud to be there every week to give a chance to creative musicians from around the world to do their thing and inspire anyone who attends. We do have a handful of regulars who I’ve become good friends with after so many years like David Grollman and Douglas Lowinger. Just last week, Douglas passed away, he had leukemia and was in the hospital for a while. He used to come early to the Sunday shows just to speak with me and catch up on what was happening in our lives and around the world. He used to take pictures of the in-store sets and had a page on Facebook. He was a sweet guy and he will be sorely missed.
I just want to say thanks to all of you for your ongoing support. 29 years is a long time for any business, especially a record store (non-essential for some, ongoing inspiration for others) and especially in the Capitalist/Greedy Jungle of NYC. I would also like to thank all the DMG’s past & current employees that have worked here along the way, they are part of our history: Steve Popkin, Craig Lopez, Emporer Mike, John Hall, Manny Maris, Kat, Okkyung Lee, Dean Roberts, Scott Friedlander, Bret Sjerven, Mike Panico, Mikey IQ Jones, Chuck Bettis, Joe Merolla, Anders Zelinsky, Dave Miller, Eli Wallace, Austin Vaughn, Michael Vatcher, Frank Meadows, Alec Sturgis, John Mori and Charmaine Lee. Sorry if I missed anyone. This past month has been extreme difficult for your truly as I haven’t been to the store in a month and I do miss being there and welcoming customers/friends, listening, talking, arguing, dancing, singing and hugging whomever needs some love. Tonight, join me in drinking (or imbibing) a toast to DMG, just turned 29 and we are still doing fine! - BLG
Here’s the new stuff for this week:
BILL LASWELL with PHAROAH SANDERS / HERBIE HANCOCK / PETER APFELBAUM / ADAM RUDOLPH / JERRY MAROTTA / CHAD SMITH / HIDEO YAMAKI / et al - Against Empire (MODT 39; USA) “Over the course of more than three decades, visionary bassist / producer Bill Laswell has been one of the most prolific and restlessly creative forces in contemporary music, always a few steps ahead of the curve, EVOLUTION / REVOLUTION. A new category of magical, electro / acoustic technology. Further research may shed a most revealing light on the development of sound storage in material culture.
AGAINST EMPIRE, projects a hybrid activity, constantly evolving texture, crashes against smooth, unfolding rhythms built around the solid and elastic drum foundations, of four iconic drummers. Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Hideo Yamaki (Japan’s top drummer), and Satoyasu Shomura (Japanese pop phenomenon). The legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, especially known for his radical collaborations with John Coltrane, versatile multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, minimal contributions from the great Herbie Hancock on electric piano and the unmistakable touch of master percussionist Adam Rudolph.
AGAINST EMPIRE, an iconoclast offering of multi-directional movements… avant-jazz, rock, dub, ambient, experimental, sub-bass and on and on…. a dream colonization, a bizarre image of paradise, an imagined quality of elsewhere, constructs of the imagination, essence of difference. Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.
AGAINST the EMPIRE of LIES
AGAINST the ANTI-MUSIC of MEDIOCRITY and POINTLESS REDUNDANCY AGAINST COMPLACENCY and COMPROMISE
AGAINST SHAMELESS and UNINFORMED PRIVILEGE
AGAINST INHERENT RACISM DIRECT or INDIRECT, KNOWN or UNKNOWN
JOEL HARRISON 18 with JON IRABAGON / CURTIS HASSELBRING / INGRID JENSEN / ALAN FERBER / BEN STAPP / KEN THOMSON / LISA PARROT / et al - America at War (Sunnyside 1590; USA) Guitarist/composer/multi-bandleader never ceases to amaze me with the diversity of projects he has come up with. Over some 18 releases he has moved from free to Indian-influenced to modern classical to covers of George Harrison, country and folk & rock chestnuts. On every disc, the personnel and concept changes. This is Mr. Harrison’s second disc for a large ensemble, the previous one was in 2013, the theme then was inspired by gospel hymns, Appalachian folk melodies and the blues. The theme for this disc is a serious one, the fact that the US has been engaged in one war or another since the time that Mr. Harrison was born, more than sixty years ago. Each of the nine pieces deal with an aspect of how the ongoing turmoil of war effects us in different ways. The first piece is called, “March on Washington”, which was inspired by the great anti-war and civil rights protests that took place in Washington, DC in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Those protests still occur, although I used to feel that those protests were heard around the world and certain things changed because of them. Not so sure about those protests today. The music has a feisty, proud, rockin’, angry vibe that feels so good to embrace in these times of inward consternation and frustration. The large ensemble cooks while Mr. Harrison takes a great, burnin’ guitar solo near the end. “Yellowcake” refers to the type of uranium that Sadam Hussein supposedly had to make bombs with, a lie told to us by a previous president, George Bush, Jr. I like the way the ensemble plays several interlocking themes at the same time, with occasional chanting outbursts as punctuation. “My Father in Nagasaki” deals with Mr. Harrison’s father being in Nagasaki right after they dropped the big bomb and the horrors he saw. The music has a haunting, solemn quality with distant crying voices and features a poignant shakuhachi solo by guest Ned Rothenberg. “The Vultures of Afghanistan” features some turbulent waves by the many horns with some inspired solos soaring on top: Ben Kono on soprano and Jon Irabagon on tenor sax. One of the highlights of this disc is a piece called “Gratitude”, a lovely, low key, funky, gospelish song that makes me feel good. It was inspired by a harrowing life & death experience (brain injury, now recovered), that Mr. Harrison had lived through. Interesting how scary experiences can manifest in such joyous music. Another highlight is the piece, “Honor Song”, which are has several of layers of horns rising and falling in common waves. This disc ends with a strong closer called, “Stupid, Pointless, Heartless Drug Wars”, which has a head-nodding slow groove with some turgid guitar swelling up from the depths and a smokin’ alto solo from Bang on a Can member Ken Thomson. Overall, this is another wonderful, moving, ambitious effort from Joel Harrison, someone who continues to reinvent himself on each and every effort. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAVID HERTZBERG “The Wake World” (Tzadik 4030; USA) “Tour-de-force” is a descriptor that I frankly feel gets thrown around in the world of creative music, but for David Hertzberg’s mesmerizing chamber opera “The Wake World”, it resonates fittingly. This is not just an ambitious and forcefully dramatic extended work; it is strangely simple, colorfully complex and fully engaging throughout its massive length. On many levels, it forges a melismatic thru line from the Downtown canon to the antique avant-garde canon of Strauss’ “Salome” and Berg’s “Wozzeck”. First premiered to wide acclaim 2017 at the Barnes Foundation under the aegis of Opera Philadelphia, it offers no surprise to longtime Tzadik fans as to why this is a perfect pick for the label. The libretto is an adaptation of Aleister Crowley’s short Beckettian fantasy of the same name which was written whilst under the influence of The Golden Dawn. Zorn has long composed and championed works with heavy reference to magick and its many paths, and while it is clear that Hertzberg’s piece offers many layers of meaning to the arcanely experienced, the pure sonics and poetic texts offer a rich and rewarding world to the uninitiated. The expert orchestration and recording quality offer an enormous dynamic range, and while many of the vocal parts are doubled, it is still astounding to understand that this is music written for only 5 instruments and 9 singers. The instrumentalists, particularly the percussionist, cover a staggering range of sound, and the choral writing is thoughtfully staggered to create vast sheets of dreamy hallucinations, that sometimes reduce down to fragmentary whispers. The soloists are sinister and yearning, and while I still need to read up on the magical context meaning of houses, colors, and love, the emotional range and intensity translates universally. This is the “other world” that so much music on the fringe strives for, but is rarely channeled into something so gripping. The harmonic language offers an uncluttered density, with a spectral palette studied in Scriabin, Debussy, Ravel etc. Moments of aggression are acutely punctuated across an organic landscape that breathes. Highly recommended for deep cerebral transportation. Look forward to seeing what else comes from this startlingly young mastermind. - Frank Meadows for DMG
2 CD Set $21
ANDY MILNE and UNISON with JOHN HEBERT / CLARENCE PENN - Th ReMission (Sunnyside 1576; USA) My vision for UNISON has evolved since our first performance in 2017. I’ve endeavored to go deeper into honoring my influences and collectively, we’ve been refining our musical interactions, although if I say so, I felt like we started off in a pretty magical place. Some of the music presented here was composed or arranged specifically for this trio, and some found a new home here. Originally, I imagined UNISON might perform mainly jazz standards, exploring the influences that formed my foundation and entrance into jazz (Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Ahmad Jamal.) Like the unexpected joys of an improvisational journey, our collective conversation guided our path towards the intersection of our combined sensibilities – joy, risk & trust. For now, here is where we live.
NEW & Relatively Recent FROM JON MADOF’S CHANT LABEL in Stock for the First Time:
Four Fabulous Treasures!
DARSHAN with BASYA SCHECHTER / SHANIR BLUMENKRANZ / JASON LINDNER / JESSICA LURIE / AARON JOHNSTON / MATHIAS KUNZLI / DANIEL FREEDMAN / et al - Raza (Chant Records 004; USA) Back in the mid-1990’s, there was a resurgence of interest into Jewish or klezmer music of different types with the Downtown Scene in NYC. Both the original Knitting Factory, club and record label (using the term JAM), as well as John Zorn, musician, composer & head of two labels, Avant & Tzadik, were involved in promoting this music through live and recorded means. A number of bands/projects all emerged around the sam period: Masada, Klezmatics, Don Byron’s Mickey Katz Tribute and Pharoah’s Daughter. Pharoah’s Daughter were one of my favorites and had releases out on both Knit & Tzadik labels. Pharoah’s Daughter were led by Basya Schechter, who wrote & sang and played guitar and oud. Darshan is a new project which featured Ms. Schechter plus Shanir Blumenkranz (from Abraxas, Zion80 & numerous Zorn projects), Jessica Lurie - alto sax (Billy Tipton Memorial Sax Qt & Zion80) and Jason Lindner (keyboardist & bandleader) plus Eden Pearlstein a/k/a Eprhyme, a Jewish rapper & producer. It turns out that this is the second record by Darshan, the first ‘Deeper and Higher’ was released in 2015.
‘Raza’ is a radical reimagining of traditional prayers and mystical poetry which are recited on Friday nights to welcome the Sabbath. I have played this disc several times this week because it makes me feel good. It reminds me of the first time I caught Masada live at the OldKnit in September of 1993, the blend of Jewish melodies with spiritual jazz really touched deeply. I hadn’t been to synagogue, except for the occasional funeral or Bar/Bar Mitzvah, in many years, but something in that music struck a chord, it made me proud to be a part of something which stretches back five centuries. It wasn’t just Masada but a dozen other bands that played Jewish melodies in their own ways, that started a revival. With Darshan, their are several layers all working together in a most infectious and uplifting way. While Basya Schecter sings in Hebrew, the words and melodies taken from psalms or prayers, her voice radiates an angelic, spiritual vibe, enhanced by seductive Middle-Eastern melodies, Eprhymre raps in English often as a counterbalance to those mystical melodies. It is Eprhyme’s words and delivery that make this disc even better, since his words are like a narration to the things that many of us often think about: the wonder & mystery of life, many questions and answers, but mostly observations. Obviously there is so much going on here that it will take a while to fully explore the different reasons why I think this is one of the best discs I’ve heard in recent memory. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
FREAKDOM with DAVID KONOPNICKI / SHANIR EZRA BLUMENKRANZ / KENNY GROHOWSKI - Session One (Chant Records; USA) Freakdom is the gathering of three singular musical minds: fretless guitarist David Konopnicki (leader of the Paris-based punk/improv trio AutorYno with CD’s on Tzadik), contrabassist Shanir Blumenkranz (for John Zorn, Abraxas & Zion80) and drummer Kenny Grohowski (several Zorn projects, Secret Chiefs 3 & Rez Abbasi). This disc was spontaneously created and recorded in one day but the trio sounds like they have been at it for a long while. This is brutal, intense, tight, power trio! They blend blues/rock, psych, metal (or hard rock) into one throbbing massive sound. While cleaing & reorganizing my collection this past month, I’ve found hundreds of discs that I forgot I owned. This includes an entire milk crate of Jimi Hendrix CD’s. The first song here, sounds quite a bit like Band of Gypsies, Hendrix’s other power trio from 1969 & 1970. Guitarist David Konopnicki has great licks galore that he uses on each piece, revving the trio into a frenzied hard rockin’ storm! Mr. Konopnicki plays a fretless guitar, which gives him a chance to stretch and bend notes in his own unique way. On “Oompah” the trio calms down with Shanir on eerie bowed bass, a short repeating phrase while the guitar, slides those notes all around like a demon set free. Shanir is the producer for this disc, while the engineer is March Urselli, who is also John Zorn’s main studio & live engineer. Hense the sound here is superb. One od the great things about this disc is getting to hear the ever-amazing bassist, Shanir Blumenkranz, stretching out. On “Blast from the Past”, his playing in central to what goes, speeding up, walking quickly, slowing down and providing a powerful pulse to the dynamic trio! Outside of Jimi Hendrix, I haven’t heard any great power trios in many years, except for some Elliott Sharp gigs over several decades. Freakdom take the cake for a rich, throttling, throbbing, tight massive sound. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CURHA with CURTIS HASSELBRING / BRANDON SEABROOK / PETER HESS / DAN RIESER / ALEC SPIEGELMAN - II (Chant Records; USA) ‘Curha II’ is the followup album to Curha I (Chant Records) and the latest work of the musician known as Curha. Curha is the alter ego of Curtis Hasselbring, a New York-based multi-instrumentalist/composer who has worked with musicians including Golem, Slavic Soul Party, Banda De Los Muertos, Frank London, Anthony Coleman, the Ghost Train Orchestra, Bobby Previte, Matt Wilson, Chris Lightcap and Medeski Martin and Wood. Curha utilizes trombones, guitars, samples, synths and voices to paint a utopian yet charmingly-flawed personal vision of time and space. Opening with an Ennio Morricone-inspired desert anthem (‘Casa Grande’) and moving through chip-tunes imitating Weather Report (‘Hex Pebble Fusion’), a tribute to Mark E. Smith (‘Totally Hired’), shoe-gaze muzak (‘Blown Bubble Blues’) and trip-hop-meets-Marvel (‘History of Vistas’), Curha II covers a wide musical terrain. The album features a variety of guests including guitar wiz Brandon Seabrook (Anthony Braxton, Nels Cline), drummer Dan Rieser (Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash), dual bass clarinetists Peter Hess (Slavic Soul Party, Balkan Beat Box) and Alec Spiegelman (Cuddle Magic) and Aaron Diskin (Golem) on tambourine. Both Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and Joel Harrison each take impressive, gut-wrenching solos on “Requiem for an Unknown Soldier”.
BRET HIGGINS’ ATLAS REVOLT - Illusion Machine (Chant Records 1805BR; USA) Atlas Revolt features Bret Higgins on double bass & compositions, Tom Juhas on electric guitar, Aleksandar Gajic on violin, Robbie Grunwald on electric piano & organ, Juan Carlos Medrano on percussion and Joshua Van Tassel on drums. Picking up from where the band left off with their 2015 debut CD on John Zorn's Tzadik Records, Bret Higgins’ Atlas Revolt digs deeper, refining a collaborative sound which draws upon film music, desert blues, psychedelia, Balkan, and Central and South American music.
This is a great groove record! It rocks with restraint yet draws from a variety of cultures and styles: Latin, soul, blues, psych, desert funk, exotica… It is consistently infectious. Bret Higgins’ electric guitar is often at the center, ever solo special! After he/they get your attention with that enchanting groove, Higgins or violinist Gajic drop in an inspired solo to chew on. Each song features a tasty melody which will stay with us long after the CD has been put away and inspire some smiles from those who need to do this. For those of you who appreciate great (electric) guitar solos, there are several gems here. Today (5/7/20) the sun is out and shining brightly, it feels great to be warmed by the sun after a difficult winter. This music provides a positive soundtrack for those times when the rays of sunshine cut through those darker clouds warm our suffering souls. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TWO MORE CD’S FROM FMR:
PAUL WILLIAMSON QUARTET - Dark Energy (FMR 570; UK) Featuring Paul Williamson on trumpet, Theo Carbo on guitar, Hiroki Hoshino on double bass and Miles Henry on drums. Last year, FMR released a double CD by the Monash Art Ensemble, whose members attend Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. That 2 CD set featured compositions by six composers, most of whom I knew little or nothing about, but that disc turned out to be one of those unsung treasures the DMG often specialize in and that we played over & over to anyone who would listen. One of those composers was/is Paul Williamson, whose new quartet disc we just received last week and whose members are names I don’t recognize. Three of the four members each contributed compositions plus the ere several group improvs on the second half. The title theme is first and we are off to great start, the quartet has that late sixties Miles Davis Quintet sound, spacious, free, connected. But this is just a quartet with guitar instead of sax and no piano. The interplay between the trumpet and guitar is superb, playing certain lines together ands then playing short call & response solos. Both the guitar and the trumpet like to swirl their notes together, this takes time to become so tight and they do a marvelous job. The quartet strips things down to a skeletal level on “Freedom of Kinds”, the bass playing a subtle pulse while the guitar and trumpet both take inspired solos which build from modest beginnings to strong conclusions. Drummer Miles Henry is something else, he has the amazing Tony Williamson-like craft, often playing quietly while still generating exquisite taste and heat. He plays an extraordinary solo on “Al-egance”, which later erupted with more astonishing trumpet & guitar interaction. The freer pieces are focused, yet filled with suspense and show subtle poise, careful, thoughtful, organic, gracefulness. This is an outstanding debut by an Australian quartet the really demands some well-earned recognition. Dig in! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ARTEFACT AGENCY - Artefact I, II and III (FMR 574; UK) Featuring Simon Jeans on guitar, Johannes Luebbers on keyboards and Daniel Susnjar on drums. The FMR label always does a good job of discovering unknown or under-recognized musicians often from the UK but occasionally from around the world. Recently a number of Australian bands & musicians have appeared on the label: Monash Art Ensemble, Rob Burke, Paul Grabowsky and the Paul Williamson Quartet (also reviewed this week). The Artefact Agency are yet another Australian outfit, as this disc was recorded at Loop Studios in Perth, Australia. I hadn’t heard of any of the members of this trio before now. This disc consists of three suites, “Artefacts I, II and III”. “Artifact I” starts with “Hansel”, which features hypnotic guitar & electric piano swirls before it kicks into some written, hard rock lines. Guitarist Simon Jeans, pulls off an inspired slide/wah solo in the first section and then an even better, well articulated Holdsworth-like solo in the next part. What I dig about this trio is that there is nothing excessive going on here, all three members an integral to the group sound & music. Also there are few effects on the electric instruments, the guitar and piano, sound especially tight in the way they play together, both the intricate written parts and sympathetic backing of each solo. If I heard this disc in a blindfold test I would say that it was released by Moonjune and features either John Etheridge on guitar or perhaps one of those amazing Indonesian daredevil guitars like Tohpati. As a big fan of electric (jazz) piano, especially on the 1970’s, keyboardman, Johannes Luebbers, is also consistently inventive. It turns out that this disc is 72 minutes long, perhaps 24 minutes per ‘Artefact’. Yet another rare treasure from the fine folks at FMR. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
KONTRABASSDUO with DANIEL STUDER / PETER K FREY JURG FREY & ALFRED ZIMMERLIN - Zeit (Leo Records 837; UK) Featuring Peter K Frey & Daniel Studer on double basses & electronics with Jurg Frey on clarinets and Alfred Zimmerlin on cello. The Studer-Frey ContraBass Duo have been together for 20 years and this is their anniversary disc. Their last release for Leo Records was in 2016 and that was a 2 CD set with some dozen guest musicians. For this new single CD, KontraBassDuo have invited just two guests: Jurg Frey on clarinets and Aldred Zimmerlin on cello. No doubt you hipsters know Jurg Frey as a Wanderweiser composer/member as well as his work for the Erstwhile/Elswhere labels/network. Cellist Alfred Zimmerlin we know from his work with Christoph Gallio, Trio Kimmig and Robert Dick. This disc alternates between contrabass duo pieces with quartet pieces (2 basses, clarinet & cello). What’s interesting is this: the quartet pieces were recorded live with each musician in separate rooms, not being able to hear one another. The fifth room had four loudspeakers which play each of the soloists together as a quartet. The opening duo is soft and filled with suspense. The quartet pieces are something else: wow! Intense, focused and impossible to tell that the members of the quartet were recorded separately. The intention of the KontraBassDuo was that this is supposed to sound like a suite and it really does. The duo sections fade right into the quartet sections, the flow of ideas is continuous, organic sounding. There is one long (14 minute) quartet piece here which is a tour-de-force. The four instruments are amplified a bit and there is spurts of electronics here & there. The range of textures or sounds of the basses, cello, clarinet and occasional electronics blend together quite well. Hard to tell who is doing what at times. There is a section which sounds like a siren (clarinet?), industrial electronics and cello?!? Strange yet fascinating. Consistently OUT-standing! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
BRIAN PARKS & PHILLIP SCHULZE - Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 (Tal 019; Germany) Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 introduces nine outstanding new compositions for church organ, harpsichord, and self-programmed software. The album comprises the first collaborative recordings of Brian Parks (Atlanta) and Phillip Schulze (Düsseldorf). The two musicians first met in the early 2000s at the famous Wesleyan University, Connecticut, where they regularly attended seminars of their teachers Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. Through extended preparations for a series of live performances in Europe in 2019 (e.g. at the Approximation Festival, Düsseldorf) Parks and Schulze developed and refined a unique approach towards composition, highlighting their interest in the correlation of the invariable flawlessness of a computer versus the human performer on church organ or harpsichord. Largely written for church organ and harpsichord all pieces also correspond perfectly with the physical spaces the recordings have taken place at. The album was recorded in three different churches in Düsseldorf which have been chosen for the different qualities of their specific room acoustics. Treating slight differences in pitch, phasing, overtones and rhythm all compositions on Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 offer an evocative density and flexibility that imbue the music with an organic feel. The nine pieces range in shape and form from concise and sharp clarity such as "Ranking Studies 1-3" to the extended, exquisitely paced radiance of the eight minutes of "Partials Chrorale". "Mensuring Canon for 8 voices" is obsessively restated in constantly changing permutations whereas the metronomic "Reliefs For Ecclesial Space" sounds urgent, deep and explosive. The last piece, "Activated Progression", in particular reverses the roles between computer and the human musician. The software never messes up the phase. The human would do his best to gradually change from one state to another. Once decisions are made regarding registration and finger assignment, the human should behave like a well-fabricated wind-up toy. The two hands remain offset the entire time, and at the fastest possible speed, enact patterns of three notes (left hand) and four notes (right hand). The computer meanwhile, moves from Euclidean rhythm to Euclidean rhythm over leisurely time periods.
MINNA MITERU - Various Artists (Morr Music 168; Germany) “In collaboration with Markus Acher's Alien Transistor label, Morr Music presents a collection of hard-to-find Japanese independent music, compiled by Saya, who plays with Ueno Takashi in the iconic duo Tenniscoats. They are part of a current music scene, which is little known outside of Japan. Minna Miteru focuses on that very scene: the featured bands and musicians share a certain idea of DIY, and are also connected through frequent collaborations and mutual appreciation. Includes 32-page booklet.
The following notes were written by Markus Acher, who also plays with Saya & Ueno in the band Spirit Fest: "In 2018 I was sitting in the Tenniscoats' kitchen with beer and music, looking at Ueno's wonderful risograph songbook 'Minna Miteru' (Everybody Watch) which collects the lyrics and chords of their friends' songs alongside his own illustrations, when Saya suggested putting together a compilation of these and other songs for our label. I couldn't have been happier, this sounded like a dream to me . . . here is Minna Miteru, a compilation of recent Japanese indie-music. And I'm very happy about it, because although there have been many great reissues of '70s and '80s Japanese music recently, most contemporary Japanese independent bands and artists are hardly known outside of Japan and so it's hard to find their music. And I couldn't think of a better guide to this special scene than Saya, whose love, dedication, and personal selections have made this such a unique and beautiful compilation. You'll hear some of the Tenniscoats' closest friends and collaborators (Eddie Marcon, Yumbo, Yuko Ikema), but also artists they are fans of, like the legendary Jun Konagaya (aka Grim) and many befriended bands that form a scene of uncategorizable outsiders in pop, like the one-man-orchestra Ichi, the trumpet-trumpet-organ-trio Popo, the mysterious psychedelic songwriter Aritomo, and the pianist/electronic musician, Ytamo. So many beautiful surprises: melodicas, electronics, folk-songs, brass bands, sound-experiments and melodies, melodies, melodies... Every song a treasure, exploding with ideas, and me personally, I could listen to the Tenniscoats and Yumbo collaboration and Zayaendo's 'Hiyodori' forever on repeat." Also features Takashi Hattori, namaeganai, Takako Minekawa ＆ Dustin Wong, Alpha, Vagamoron, Kasumi Trio, Go Hirano, Satoko Shibata, Tomoaki Saito Tenco Matsuri, Cacoy, Andersens, Jiro Imai, Urichipangoon, Jun Konagaya, Nikasoup & Sayasource, Borzoi.
2 CD Set $22
HISTORIC & ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS, RESTOCKS & REISSUES:
CECIL TAYLOR - Indent (Black Sun 15047; USA) Featuring Cecil Taylor solo piano performance on March 11, 1973 at Antioch College in Ohio. This session and ’Silent Tongues’, were the first two solo piano Cecil Taylor records I bought when they were releases in the seventies. They both remain my longtime favorites of his amazing solo piano offerings. I was baptized by fire hearing a Cecil Taylor multi-day festival on WXPN (in Philly) in 1973 while at college (Glassboro). Mr. Taylor then taught at Glassboro State the next year for 2 semesters, shaking things up for his students… My first Cecil Taylor set was at Glassboro with Cecil’s trio with Jimmy Lyons (alto sax) and Andrew Cyrille (drums). That set was incredible, Cyrille arriving late do to getting lost along the way, a perfect introduction. I have been a Cecil Taylor fan-addict ever since, hearing him lives dozens of times and searching for whatever LP’s, CD’s and tapes, I can get my hands on, all of great value and serious study. Neither ‘Indent’ or ’Silent Tongues’ have been available on CD for many years so grab this unless you have a vinyl copy. ’Silent Tongues’ is currently not available but word is that another solo set from 1999 was recently released on CD so my/our mission is to find copies of that rare gem. I am working on it so… - BLG/DMG
RICHARD MARKS - Love Is Gone The Lost Sessions: 1969-1977 (Now-Again 5197; USA) "These songs, found on reels that Marks kept in his home, color Marks' stylistic development -- from his earliest work for the legendary Tuska label in the late '60s, through his more mature releases on smaller regional labels into the late '70s. Marks' story is that of an unsung soul and funk hero; he was a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter whose phone number was in Al Green's, Barry White's and Eddie Kendricks' rolodexes, but his talents have only been heard in sporadic bursts. He and his music are unknown to the majority, but to an obsessive minority, he is a lightning rod: that singular point at which numerous Southern soul and funk musicians converged and exploded, spreading wondrous music in all directions. Marks died of cancer in May 2006. His first album was our Never Satisfied anthology, released posthumously. He stands out as a most mysterious talent to originate from Atlanta, a city that birthed no shortage of genius, and Love Is Gone: The Lost Sessions 1969-1977 further makes the case for a reassessment of his talents and his place in the soul and funk canon."
2 CD Set $21
TEN ESSENTIAL CD’S FROM THE AMAZING PIANIST/COMPOSER/MULTI-ENSEMBLE/LEADER/TEACHER HORACE TAPSCOTT FINALLY BACK IN STOCK AFTER SEVERAL YEARS, reviews below the easy to-cut-&-paste titles:
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 8: The Tapscott Sessions (NimbusWest 2258; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 9: The Tapscott Sessions Volume (NimbusWest 2369; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 10: The Tapscott Sessions (NimbusWest 2370; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 11: The Tapscott Sessions (NimbusWest 2581; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT TRIO With FRED HOPKINS/BEN RILEY - Dissent or Descent (NimbusWest 509; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT With ROBERTO MIRANDA / WOODY 'SONSHIP' THEUS - Live at Lobero Vol. I: Expanded Edition (NimbusWest 2370; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT GARY BIAS / REGGIE BULLEN / ROBERTO MIRANDA / DAVID BRYANT / GEORGE GOLDSMITH - Vol. 1: Lighthouse '79 (NimbusWest 4035; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT With GARY BIAS / REGGIE BULLEN / ROBERTO MIRANDA / DAVID BRYANT / GEORGE GOLDSMITH - Vol. 2: Lighthouse '79 (NimbusWest 404; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT SEXTET With SABIR MATEEN / REGGIE BOWEN / GARY BIAS / ROBERTO MIRANDA / EVERETT BROWN Jr - Dial "B" for Barbra (NimbusWest 1147; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT & PAN-AFRIKAN PEOPLES ARKESTRA - The Call (NimbusWest 246; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT & PAN-AFRIKAN PEOPLES ARKESTRA with JESSE SHARPS / RED CALLENDER / et al - Flight 17 (Remastered) (NimbusWest 135; USA)
HORACE TAPSCOTT & PAN-AFRIKAN PEOPLES ARKESTRA - Live at I.U.C.C. [2 CD set] (NimbusWest 357; USA)
2 CD Set $24
10 Restocked HORACE TAPSCOTT CD’S with Reviews:
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 8: The Tapscott Sessions (NimbusWest 2258; USA) The late pianist Horace Tapscott may have been under appreciated in mainstream jazz circles, though peers and critics were well aware of his worth and his contribution to the canon of the piano as both a composer and as a player. Given Tapscott's dearth of recordings -- at least in terms of the longevity of his career -- these volumes of solo work issued by Tom Albach and Nimbus in Amsterdam give us a much needed overview of Tapscott's phenomenal reach and command of the instrument. Far from scraping the bottom of the barrel, these later volumes are as strong, if not stronger, than the earlier ones. Here Tapscott is featured in four performances of tunes that were fairly standard in his repertoire: Mal Waldron's "Fire Waltz," Randy Weston's "Little Niles," Monk's "Crepuscule With Nellie," and his own "As a Child." What these performances reveal is how influential Tapscott was on pianists such as Craig Taborn, Brad Meldau, James Williams, and even Keith Jarrett to a lesser degree. Tapscott's sense of lyricism is especially present on these selections as existing on a cellular level. His advanced, even otherworldly harmonics were created by an inherent sense of melody and an undeniable feel for the instrument as part of the percussion family. Listen to Waldron's "Fire Waltz" and its solo break from the tune in the center of the piece. Tapscott creates a bridge from Waldron's harmony to that of whole tone improvisation without losing the sense of the original melody because it has been grafted onto the new structure rhythmically. Tapscott's illustrious polytonalism was truly groundbreaking. Luckily for us we have these collections so painstakingly assembled by Albach as evidence to the pianist's singular contribution to the canon of the instrument.” - Thom Jurek, AMG
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 9: The Tapscott Sessions Volume (NimbusWest 2369; USA)Duke's "Fleurette Africaine", Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue", Horace Silver's "Strollin' " & Benny Golson's "Whisper Not" plus... The legendary Los Angeles-based pianist Horace Tapscott was under-recorded during his career. Fortunately, the Nimbus label has rescued a large assortment of private tapes that feature Tapscott playing solo piano. Ten CDs were released by 2004. The piano that Tapscott plays on Vol. 9 may not be flawless, but his playing is excellent during these performances from 1983. Because Tapscott performs five jazz standards in addition to four of his better originals, this is one of the more accessible of these releases. Tapscott had an original style, one that ranged from his own brand of hard bop to freer sounds, often within the same piece. These solo ruminations are sometimes out of tempo and often give one the impression of hearing Tapscott thinking aloud. Since he had such a fertile and creative mind, this is a rewarding acquisition.” - Thom Jurek, AMG
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 10: The Tapscott Sessions (NimbusWest 2370; USA) This is the last of master pianist, composer and multi-bandleader - Horace Tapscott's ten volumes of solo piano offerings. The first seven sessions are album-only releases, while Volumes 8 - 10 are CD only releases. This one features eight originals and John Lewis' "April in Paris". The late Horace Tapscott was one of the great jazz pianists of the past forty years yet, because he made relatively few recordings and spent much of his career in Los Angeles, he is largely unknown outside of L.A. In the early 1980s, Tapscott recorded a lengthy series of piano solos for the Nimbus West label. Gradually, they have been getting released with Vol. 10 recently coming out for the first time. Tapscott had a very original style that could be free but melodic, adventurous yet always lyrical. He kept the melody of the themes in mind yet was never predictable or easy to classify. On Vol. 10, Horace Tapscott performs John Lewis' "Afternoon in Paris" along with eight of his own lesser-known originals. His interpretations are generally episodic, going through several moods, particularly the longer pieces such as the beautiful if sometimes stormy jazz waltz "Ballad for Samuel" and "First Love." He plays both inside and outside of the chord changes, hints at the past in spots (particularly when he strides gently on "Searching" or shows off his roots in bop) and his playing never loses one's attention. One can hear Tapscott thinking aloud and his thoughts are philosophical, wistful and swinging in their own fashion. This solo recital (the listed recording date is an estimate) and its predecessors are well-worth checking out, helping new listeners to discover this under-recognized musical giant.” - Thom Jurek, AMG
HORACE TAPSCOTT - Vol. 11: The Tapscott Sessions (NimbusWest 2581; USA) This is the newest of master pianist, composer and multi-bandleader - Horace Tapscott's ten volumes of solo piano offerings. The first seven sessions are album-only releases, while Volumes 8 - 11 are CD only releases. This one features eight originals and John Lewis' "April in Paris".
HORACE TAPSCOTT TRIO With FRED HOPKINS / BEN RILEY - Dissent or Descent (NimbusWest 509; USA) “This 1984 trio date offers a rare early chance to hear the Los Angeles-based pianist playing with New York City peers. Dissent or Descent offers food for thought on where Tapscott falls in the jazz style spectrum by teaming him with Ben Riley, a drummer linked to Thelonious Monk, and AACM-associated bassist Fred Hopkins. "As a Child" opens with nice melodic touches -- the piano may be mixed a little low but it's not a crucial drawback since Tapscott is forceful enough and the rhythm section sensitive enough to overcome it. The prominent role Tapscott's left hand plays in his melodic conception makes Randy Weston comparisons come to life both here and on "Sandy and Niles." "To the Great House" is a high spot, insistently pushing and jabbing, with Hopkins switching from anchor to doubling the melody to playing countermelodies during the theme. Tapscott doesn't strew notes around, his solo is built off melodic impulses over gorgeous chordal ripples, unfolding organically with sensitive cymbal support from Riley, who reserves drums for his solos. Clifford Jordan's "Spell Bound" finds Tapscott romping around the buoyant tempo and Hopkins at his best ranging through the middle. "Ballad for Samuel" pays homage to Tapscott's mentor Samuel L. Browne, the famous music teacher at Los Angeles' Jefferson High in the '30s and '40s. Two extra solo pieces boast a much crisper piano sound and a more expansive Tapscott. "Ruby, My Dear" starts gorgeously with rolling chords smoothing out the Monk quirks before Tapscott elaborates to show why he may rank as one of the most intrinsically fascinating solo pianists ever. The original "Chico's Back in Town" is another prime example because you never know where he's going -- the music unfolds as it happens (exactly as it should), with a fragmented start leading to pounding flourishes, forceful pedal work and a racehorse finale. Actually, Tapscott's playing with the trio is fairly muted, with more emphasis put on his formidable melodic gifts than any virtuoso turns. Dissent or Descent may not be the best music any of these musicians created but it's a good example of solid, tasteful professionalism.” - Zen Archer
HORACE TAPSCOTT With ROBERTO MIRANDA / WOODY 'SONSHIP' THEUS - Live at Lobero Vol. I: Expanded Edition (NimbusWest 2370; USA)Featuring Horace Tapscott on piano & all compositions, Roberto Miranda on bass and Sonship on drums. This is a reissue of a now out-of-print album from live trio date by the legendary LA-based pianist, composer and multi-bandleader, Horace Tapscott. It begins with an awesome nearly half-hour piece called "Inception", which was not on the original album. This piece is a marvelous, ritualistic work that starts with a long introduction of thumb-piano and percussion, most mysterious and full of free spirits wandering. When Horace finally comes in on piano, the trio kicks into a colossal McCoy-like force. Horace's massive piano solo is followed by a long, great bowed bass sole and finally a most impressive drum solo to bring this incredible opening piece to a grand close. "Sketches of Drunken Mary" features some sparkling piano revolving around a most lyrical bass part that is absolutely touching. The piece ends with a long, monstrous drum solo has to be heard to be believed. I recall hearing/seeing the mighty Sonship with John McLaughlin's One Truth band live at Central Park way back in 1979 and being knocked out by his drumming. "Raisha's New Hip Dance" is a lovely piece that starts with some amazingly powerful and somewhat dark solo piano, with some strong two handed playing going in different directions and then winding down to somber conclusion, then building back up once again. The final piece is called "Dark Tree", which is also the title track from a sadly out-of-print double disc on Hatology. It is a great work that features a colossal, McCoy-like repeating line that is most hypnotic. The trio explodes in waves together, an immensely propulsive circular current at the center of the storm. Roberto Miranda takes an astonishing, fleet-fingered contrabass solo and then Sonship again provides a cosmic gong, cymbals and drum solo. This entire disc is over 70-minutes long and is a momentous offering from start to finish. It doesn't get any better than this. - BLG
HORACE TAPSCOTT GARY BIAS / REGGIE BULLEN / ROBERTO MIRANDA / DAVID BRYANT / GEORGE GOLDSMITH - Vol. 1: Lighthouse '79 (NimbusWest 4035; USA)Never before released in any form! Part 1 of this amazing recording from pianist Horace Tapscott with Roberto Miranda and David Bryant basses, George Goldsmith drums; and student horns Gary Bias alto and Reggie Bullen trumpet [whose freshman solos have been edited out for this CD]. Recorded live at Rudy Onderwyzer's Lighthouse in 1979. "Horace Tapscott was an amazing pianist, composer, arranger, multi-bandleader and inspiration to many. The Nimbus West label continues to unearth unreleased gems from Tapscott's various bands. On the opening track, "Acirfa", both bassists and drummer playing powerfully underneath Tapscott's extraordinary two handed piano playing, numerous layers of lines converging. Both bassists and the drummer each take strong solos as well. The group sounds almost as if they are speeding at some superhuman level until the second bassist takes his fine arco solo. Mr. Tapscott plucks the strings inside the piano at the beginning of "Dem, Folks", adding some mystery to the sound. The theme and arrangement by Linda Hill, who worked with Tapscott, is thoughtfully written, engaging and well played with by the horns. Again, Horace's piano solo is astonishing, often weaving two or more lines at once. Eventually turning into a marvelous, majestic mostly unaccompanied piano solo, before the lovely muted horns return. Whomever the bowed bassist is (Miranda perhaps?) his solo here and elsewhere is another jewel in Tapscott's crown. The sextet do a poignant version of the standard, "I Remember Clifford" with some tasty trumpet, but it does feel a bit out of place with the high energy of the rest of this disc. Linda Hill provides another fine tune called, "Leland's Song", which has some memorable themes and go through some difficult alternating sections. Again, Tapscott's piano is a marvel of inventiveness as he weaves his way through different sections. Once again, we can thank the fine folks at Nimbus West for digging up another unheard gem from Horace Tapscott's treasure chest." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
HORACE TAPSCOTT With GARY BIAS / REGGIE BULLEN / ROBERTO MIRANDA / DAVID BRYANT / GEORGE GOLDSMITH - Vol. 2: Lighthouse '79 (NimbusWest 404; USA) Never before released in any form! Part 2 of the amazing recording from pianist Horace Tapscott with Roberto Miranda and David Bryant basses, George Goldsmith drums and Tapscott's students Gary Bias alto sax & Reggie Bullen trumpet. The group plays one Tapscott original and a few standards. "Acirfa" opens this disc with some incredible, high flying piano and a burnin' bass solo. Tapscott's own "Niger's Theme" is a unique repeating melody which is solemn and haunting with some fine bowed bass featured. The old standard "Stella by Starlight" gets a fine, long reading with inspired solos from Gary Bias on alto sax, Tapscott on piano and one of the bassists. Billy Strayhorn's classic "Lush Life" also gets a heart warming rendition with some superb piano from Tapscott. This disc ends with a song called "Inspiration of Silence", another fine piece with great a Monk-like melody. Horace Tapscott was an incredible pianist, bandleader and composer. Both of these 'Lighthouse '79' discs show ample proof of his of his wonderful pianistic skills. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
HORACE TAPSCOTT SEXTET With SABIR MATEEN / REGGIE BOWEN / GARY BIAS / ROBERTO MIRANDA / EVERETT BROWN Jr - Dial "B" for Barbra (NimbusWest 1147; USA) Featuring Horace Tapscott on piano, Reggie Bullen on trumpet, Gary Bias on alto & soprano saxes, Sabir Mateen on tenor sax, Roberto Miranda on acoustic bass and Everett Brown, Jr. on drums & percussion. This reissue was recorded in Los Angeles in 1983. As each of Horace Tapscott's dozen vinyl releases go out of print, Nimbus slowly reissues them on CD. Horace Tapscott was a legendary bandleader, pianist, composer and organizer of a Society for the Preservation of Black Music or UGMAA. Tapscott's great records on Nimbus include ten volumes of solo piano, a couple of trio discs, his sextet and a couple of big band discs. 'Dial 'B' for Barbra' consists of three long pieces. Starting with "Lately's Solo", which swings hard from the very first note, the sextet plays Tapscott's charts with power and authority. Gary Bias takes the first smokin' solo on alto sax with Sabir on tenor and Reggie on trumpet soon joining him for impressive solos underneath. The great Everett Brown takes a fine unaccompanied drum solo with Horace's powerful McCoy-like piano soon to follow. This piece sounds a great deal a Miles Davis piece from the early sixties. The title track is a fine buoyant song with sparkling piano that moves in unexpected directions as Horace solos. Reggie Bullen takes a fine muted trumpet solo on this piece. Linda Hill wrote an epic piece here called "Dem' Folks", which repeats a certain twisted line yet has rich layers of horn harmonies. This piece reminds me of one of those dynamic McCoy-like pieces from the seventies that we hold so dear. The sextet often sounds more like a small big band and all three horn players take excellent solos. The rhythm team of Roberto Miranda and Everett Brown are also consistently powerful and creative throughout, with Tapscott's piano keeping things focused a and helping everyone else to navigate the strong currents. This nearly 20-minute work is a true tour-de-force and is a colossal and provocative journey. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
HORACE TAPSCOTT & PAN-AFRIKAN PEOPLES ARKESTRA with JESSE SHARPS / LINDA HILL / ADELE SEBASTIAN / et al - The Call (NimbusWest 246; USA) “One of the unsung giants of jazz music, the composer, bandleader, arranger, pianist and community activist Tapscott was the undisputed keystone of the grassroots Los Angeles jazz scene. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, his radical community arts and music formations the UGMA (Underground Musicians Association) and his protean big band, the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, were at the epicenter of music, culture, and politics in the Los Angeles area. Hundreds of musicians passed through these groups and played their part. Major figures such as Arthur Blythe, Azar Lawrence, Jimmy Woods, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Sonny Criss, Ndugu Chancler, and dozens of others all paid dues or just got down with Tapscott, not to mention the core Arkestra regulars who have since become celebrated names; Nate Morgan, Jesse Sharps, Adele Sebastian, Dadisi Komolafe, and Gary Bias, to mention only a few. Tapscott and the Arkestra were down on the ground -- playing fundraisers in parks and streets, organizing teach-ins and workshops for young and old, mixing it with radical theater groups, firebrand poets, political radicals, Black separatists, community groups, and churches. As a result of this grassroots community focus and Tapscott's antipathy to the music industry, the Arkestra didn't record for nearly two decades. That only changed when long-time jazz fan Tom Albach started Nimbus Records. The label was initiated specifically in order to document Tapscott and his circle, and the first three records showcased Horace and the Arkestra. The Call was put together from two studio sessions in April 1978, one at Hollywood Sage and Sound, and one at United Western -- the latter session had the addition of a string section, who can be heard on the moody Cal Massey composition "Nakatini Suite" and Jesse Sharp's swinging modal trip, "Peyote Song No. III," with its swirling soprano solo. In keeping with the communal nature of the Arkestra, the other two compositions, "The Call" and "Quagmire Manor at Five A.M." are also by Arkestra members. But at the center of the music is the builder of the Ark, the visionary whose original call to action started a movement whose legacy continues to this day -- Horace Tapscott.”
HORACE TAPSCOTT & PAN-AFRIKAN PEOPLES ARKESTRA with JESSE SHARPS / LINDS HILL / RED CALLENDER / et al - Flight 17 (Remastered) (NimbusWest 135; USA) “The Arkestra would allow the creativity in the community to come together, would allow people to recognize each other as one people. Horace Tapscott's Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (P.A.P.A.) was one of the most transformative, forward-thinking and straight-up heavy big bands to have played jazz in the 1960s and 1970s. If P.A.P.A. doesn't have the interstellar rep of that other famous Arkestra, and if the name Tapscott doesn't ring bells like Monk or Tyner, there's a reason why: in an industry dominated by record labels, a band that doesn't record doesn't count. And the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra didn't record for nearly twenty years. But recording success was never their concern -- they weren't about that. First formed as the Underground Musicians Association in the early 1960s, Tapscott always wanted his group to be a community project. From their base in Watts, UGMA got down at the grassroots. The group was renamed the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in 1971, and soon after they established a monthly residency at the Immanuel United Church of Christ which ran for over a decade, while still playing all over LA and beyond. But they never released a note of music. It was the intervention of fan Tom Albach that finally got them on wax. Determined that their work should be documented, Albach founded Nimbus Records specifically to release the music of Tapscott, the Arkestra, and the individuals that comprised it. The first recording sessions in early 1978 yielded enough material for two albums, and the first release was Flight 17. From the surging avant-gardism of Herbie Baker's title track to the laidback summertime groove of Kamonta Lawrence Polk's "Maui", or Roberto Miranda's up-tempo Latin jam "Horacio", Flight 17 showcased the radical voices of the Arkestra's members. Led out by Tapscott's hard-swinging piano, this is the first flight on wax of the West Coasts' foundational community big band -- energized, hip, and together.”
HORACE TAPSCOTT & PAN-AFRIKAN PEOPLES ARKESTRA - Live at I.U.C.C. [2 CD set] (NimbusWest 357; USA) “Live At I.U.C.C. sees the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at their most together, stretching out on home turf in 1979, with the legendary Horace Tapscott at the helm. Tapscott is one of the unsung giants of jazz; a gifted composer and arranger, a boldly original pianist, and above all a visionary bandleader, Tapscott's recorded footprint is small, but his legacy continues to vibrate through the Los Angeles music underground. From Freestyle Fellowship to Build An Ark, Kamasi Washington, and Dwight Trible, it all traces back to Tapscott. The pianist was an organizer, and instead of chasing a successful recording career, he wanted to build a community band that would act as 'a cultural safe house for the music.' 'I wanted to say, "This is your music. This is black music, and I want to present a panorama of the whole thing right here"' said Tapscott in the late 1990s. As a culturally radical, communal big band with a visionary approach to American Black music, Tapscott's Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra is second only to the other famous Arkestra, that of Sun Ra. Tapscott founded the group in 1961 as the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA). It changed its name to the Pan African Peoples Arkestra in 1971, and through the seventies the players lived, played, and worked together. Community work and political consciousness were at the heart of the project; for two decades they played in streets, parks, and coffee houses. From 1973 to 1981 their main rehearsal and concert space was the Immanuel United Church of Christ (I.U.C.C.); the Arkestra played every second Sunday, developing their sound and hipping new audiences to their vision. Live At I.U.C.C., recorded in early 1979, was the only live recording the band released. In full flow, and at the height of their powers, the group features original UGMA members Linda Hill, David Bryant, and Alan Hines, alongside a new generation including Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, and Adele Sebastian. Showcasing spiritualized classics from the Arkestra's songbook, including the heavy modal groovers "Desert Fairy Princess" and "Macrame." Live At I.U.C.C. is a rare chance to hear one of the most important, foundational bands in the music. With Tapscott at the piano, this is the rarely-captured sound of the mothership in full flight! “
2 CD Set $24
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 few weeks 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:
The RUBIN MUSEUM Daily Offering:
Week 5 with musicians from Brooklyn Raga Massive
The Rubin Daily Offering: 10-minute videos
Watch the first episode of week 5 on IGTV
Check it out at: https://www.instagram.com/rubinmuseum/channel/?mc_cid=0176fb37a6&mc_eid=39c235b0f4
Over the past few weeks, uncertainty has become a prominent part of everyday life. Although the unknown can be unsettling, we can find inspiration in the ways performing artists tap into impermanence to fuel their creativity.
THIS COMES FROM CLARINETIST & COMPOSER JEREMIAH CYMERMAN:
This Friday, May 1st I will be releasing my first proper album since 2018’s “Decay of the Angel”. The new record is entitled Systema Munditotius, vol. 1 and was composed in tribute to the work of CG Jung. Written and premiered in 2017, it’s one hour of music for four clarinets and two percussionists, with lots of electronics and foley. I worked on this thing for over three years. Those three years were less about making a masterpiece and more about accessing my creative unconscious and create what I believe to be the best and probably most confusing record I’ve ever made. Below are the links on where to purchase. Available for physical purchase via the 5049 website, the first fifty copies sold will be hand numbered and inscribed with a personalized sigil. “Systema Munditotius, vol.1” will also be available digitally for whatever you would like to pay via Bandcamp this Friday.
Speaking of Bandcamp, this Friday they are waiving all of their fees, giving 100% of the money to the artists. I highly recommend getting the music this way.
For physical purchase: https://www.5049records.com/store/systema-munditotius-vol-1-2020-cd
For purchase on Bandcamp this Friday: https://jeremiahcymerman.bandcamp.com/album/systema-munditotius-vol-1
ROULETTE AT HOME:
Bang on a Can Marathon - This Sunday, May 3, 2020
https://roulette.org/baoc-marathon/?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=8afabd44b6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-8afabd44b6-302668229
This Sunday, we’re partnering with Bang on a Can for six hours of nonstop music! The Bang on a Can Marathon showcases brand new works commissioned especially for the day, played by some of the most amazing performers on the planet.
Cassie Wieland "Heart" performed by Adam Holmes
Robert Honstein “Orison” performed by Ashley Bathgate
Anna Clyne “Rapture” performed by Eileen Mack
Shelley Washington “Black Mary” performed by Ken Thomson
Martin Bresnick “Ishi’s Song” performed by Lisa Moore
Ken Thomson performed by Robert Black
David T. Little “Hellhound” performed by Maya Beiser
Miya Masaoka “Music for Ichi-ten-kin (one string koto)”
Vinko Globokar “Toucher” performed by Steven Schick
Philip Glass “Knee Play 2” from Einstein on the Beach performed by Tim Fain
Molly Joyce performed by David Cossin
Steve Reich “Vermont Counterpoint” performed by Claire Chase
Dai Wei “Song for Shades of Crimson” performed by Todd Reynolds
John Adams “China Gates” performed by Vicky Chow
JAIMIE BRANCH’S FLY OR DIE: vimeo.com/407212407/822e55b8ee?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=4343421e80EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-4343421e80-302668229
JOE McPHEE - March 21st, 1999: roulette.org/event/joe-mcphee-2/?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=4343421e80EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-4343421e80-302668229
ZEENA PARKINS / April 20th, 1987: roulette.org/event/zeena-parkins-3/?utm_source=Roulette Maste List&utm_campaign=4343421e80EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-4343421e80-302668229
We at NATIONAL SAWDUST
are thrilled to announce the launch of the Live@NationalSawdust Digital Discovery Festival, a weekly program of free live performances, interviews, and artist development.
Check it out at: https://live.nationalsawdust.org/?mc_cid=92234165f2&mc_eid=12e3f9406e
From BOB DYLAN - New Song “Murder Most Foul” nearly 17 minutes long! Outstanding!
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 JOSH SINTON, Wonderful Baritone Saxist & Bass Clarinetist:
“Stone Cold Classics of 21st Century Saxophone Repertoire.”
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.
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
THIS FROM THE GREAT GERMAN SAXIST & COMPOSER GEBHARD ULLMANN:
At this point there are obviously no upcoming concerts to announce.
However these things are new:
NEW WEBSITE - my completely new website is up now. (thanks to Riccarda Kato and Ralf Dick)
Take a look at the media section with a lot of new sound and video links
BANDCAMP SITE - through my bandcamp site a lot of CDs (including some from the 80s) are available digitally for the first time.
I’ll keep building building it up so come back from time to time.
Included is also some exclusive music like a Solo recording from last years Berlin Solo Impro Festival, some film music I did in the 90s and a festival recording with Paul Bley and Andreas Willers from 1991.
NEW CD - Conference Call will release its 3rd studio recording entitled ‚Prism‘ on the Polish Label NotTwo Records by the end of may. This project has been working for 20 years and released 10 CDs of which more than one received 4 or 4 1/2 star reviews in Downbeat magazine. Michael Stevens on piano, Joe Fonda on bass and Dieter Ulrich on the drums.
NEW VIDEOS - in these times without the real deal, live concerts, I would however like to include some links to recent new videos of projects:
BassX3 (Gebhard Ullmann bass clarinet, Chris Dahlgren and Christian Weber - double basses and objects):
1. www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTc_MCdz_bc (Transatlantic Drone)
2. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-O2yU7kC_M (Ornettes’s Closet and Related Objects)
Das Kondensat (Gebhard Ullmann winds and electronics, Oliver Potratz basses and electronics, Eric Schaefer drums and electronics):
1. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpARHg1CeOo (Dubbing with Guy)
2. www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4X2pd5lutk (Human Body Upgrade)
THIS FROM ROLF-ERIK NYSTRøM - email@example.com
I would like to share some information about A few concerts that I will play tomorrow on the internet. I cannot say how much I am looking forward to play live for people again.
So. A busy day tomorrow Friday May 1st:
World premiere on a dance performance, JSK Corona Sessions #2, with me and dancerJon Filip Fahlstrøm curated by celebrated choreographer Jo Strømgren at 7.30 pm.
A little teaser:
See it here:
At 8 pm until 10 pm the trio Poing with me, Frode Haltli - accordeon and Håkon Thelin - double bass, together with singer Maja SK Ratkje will live stream our annual crazy concert from Victoria in Oslo to mark the International Labour Day. Music by Kurt Weill, Hans Eisler, and many others in our very own way.
See it here: https://jazzinorge.no/arrangement/stream-1-mai-med-poing-og-maja-s-k-ratkje-nasjonal-jazzkringkasting/
But first, ca 1230 pm: Poing MajaSK Ratkje (12.18-1pm)
As part of Labour Day celebrations, we will be playing our versions of a couple of traditional Norwegian working class songs outdoors with Poing and Maja SK Ratkje in between speeches by previous prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and opposition leader Jonas Gahr Støre.