A New Lullaby for Better days…
“Better Times Will Come”
Recently written by Janis Ian
Better times, better times will come.
Better times, better times will come.
When this world learns to live as one,
oh, better times will come
When we greet each dawn without fear
knowing loved ones soon will be near
When the winds of war
cannot blow any more
Oh, better times will come
Better times, better times will come.
Better times, better times will come.
When this world learns to live as one,
oh, better times will come
Though we live each day as our last
we know someday soon it will pass
We will dance, we will sing
in that never-ending spring
Oh, better times will come
Better times, better times will come.
Better times, better times will come.
When this world learns to live as one,
oh, better times will come
Better times, better times will come.
Better times, better times will come.
When this world learns to live as one,
oh, better times will come
Oh, better times will come
The above song was written by Janis Ian, right after hearing that John Prine had died last month. Yes, this is the same Janis Ian who once had a controversial hit single called, “Society’s Child”, released in 1966 when Ms. Ian was only 15. The song discussed the then-taboo subject of interracial romance and was even banned from certain radio stations. Ms. Ian was living in East Orange, NJ, just a 1/2 hour north of where I was living and she even went to summer camp with a girl I attended public school with. Like many protest songs during the Summer of Love/Civil Rights/Anti-War era, I was deeply moved by it, it made me consider implications of interracial friendships and relationships. I was a big fan of Janis Ian and bought all of her early records, the first four still sound great today, more than 50 years later! If you can find it, I urge you to check out her next single called “Insanity Comes Quietly to the Structured Mind”, a folk/psych song that was way ahead of it time and of course was not a hit. It appears on her second album. Around 1970 or 1971, I caught Ms. Ian live at the Central Park Summer Stage with Kris Kristofferson on the same bill. Right before the concert started, I saw this woman come out, dressed down and perhaps wearing a hat to cover her face. She went up to an old man in the front row, gave him a hug and was talking with him & smiling. I recognized that it was Janis Ian but no one else around me noticed or seemed to care. I went up to her and said that I was big fan and that her music really touched me. I asked if I could give her a hug and she looked in my eyes to see if I were crazy perhaps and said OK. I did and I felt honored to be close to someone that I really admired. I had forgotten about Janis Ian in the seventies once she had a hit with “At Seventeen”, which was popular among college students way back when. Sometimes in the nineties, I got a copy of her autobiography, read it and was fascinated by some of the things she had been through in life. I started buying her CD’s again and discovered she was still writing good songs. I read an article earlier this week on the Daily KOS about how a number of long forgotten black folk singers had influenced many of the other folk singers and songwriters of that era. The article ended with the above song by Janis Ian, it was sung by Eric Bibb son of Leon Bibb, one of those old folk singers that the article was based on. I find this song to be immensely touching considering what we are all going through at this time. Here is the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByF-V5h-78M
FIMAV (FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL MUSIQUE ACTUELLE VICTORIAVILLE) at 36
was supposed to start tonight, May 14th, 2020!
But was canceled due to the current worldwide pandemic. I have been attending the FIMAV Festival every since 1987 when Fred Frith convinced me to go. I had never been to Canada and spoke practically no French so I was apprehensive about going by myself. It was a 10 hour drive in my old Subaru and I drove through a snow storm to get there since the festival took place in mid-October at that point. The town of Victoriaville was in the countryside of Quebec, 2 hours from Montreal but 45 minutes from Quebec City. I knew no one there except for a couple of musicians from NY, but I felt right at home from the first concert, I knew I was in the right place for a die-hard fan of challenging music. At that point, the festival was 5 days long and had around 25 concerts, practically all worth checking out. From the second or third year onwards, I convinced a number of good friends to come along, Len Siegfried, Jason Roth and many more plus I made a bunch of new friends from around the world, many of whom I would just see during that special week of the year, every year. The festival eventually switched to May and it became a kind of ritual where any where from 3 to 6 friends would rent a van, drive up the Montreal to visit & have dinner with my old friend Luc from L’Oblique Records on a Wed. and then up to Victo for four long days of challenging music, discussion, eating food together, especially at our favorite restaurant, Mykonos. It is not just the music that brings us together, there are many other things about this trip/experience that I look forward to. Our group of friends has expanded through the years, so that I feel I am part of a large family (reunion?) gathering and we all experience this wealth of music, performance and other Arts together. It is the one vacation I have to do have to attend every year and look forward to the most! Festival founder, Michel Levasseur, radiates positive spirits as the on-stage MC and guiding force behind everything we see, hear & experience. His wife Joanne and daughter Jordie also work for the fest and also are lovely folks who make us feel that we all are part of an extended family. The Victo current/canceled program is now up on line so please do check it out, it looks wonderful especially the righteous DMG ad, placed right next to the Mykonos ad. I spoke with Michel a few weeks ago and he wants the festival to continue and hopefully bring many of the musicians who were supposed to play this year back next year. Since no one knows how things will go this year, it remains to be seen. Either way, I raise a toast to FIMAV! This past month has been very difficult for all of us, so hopefully we will all get back together next year and Celebrate Creative Music again! - BLG/DMG
THE FOLLOWING DISC IS FREE WITH the PURCHASE OF ANYTHING ELSE FROM DMG!
SPECIAL THANKS TO GUITAR MASTER HENRY KAISER FOR HELPING US OUT!
HENRY KAISER - Problems are Only Opportunities in Work Clothes - Solo Guitar 2020 (Fractal Music 2020-32; USA) It might seem hard to believe but I’ve known guitar great Henry Kaiser for nearly forty years, meeting him in NYC during the early Downtown Scene days (early eighties) when he was playing with Fred Frith, Eugene Chadbourne, Toshinori Kondo and the Rova Sax Quartet. We’ve been good friends for many years, for a number of reasons: he has always radiated positive energy, he is fellow Grateful Dead fan and he lives to collaborate with varied musicians from around the world, no matter what culture or genre they are affiliated with. Another important aspect is that he has sought out his heroes (like Derek Bailey or Ray Russell) and work with them when he could, always giving credit where it is due. Mr. Kaiser has been on a mission to play with as many great guitarists, be they well-known or not, as is possible. The list of who he recorded with is immense: Fred Frith, Eugene Chadbourne, Nels Cline, Elliott Sharp, John Russell, Alan Licht, Anthony Pirog, Glenn Phillips, Max Kutner, Ian Brighton, Davey Williams, Bill Frisell and many more.
This disc features Henry Kaiser on live solo Downes 101HB baritone guitar with no overdubs or delays or loops. It starts with one bold strum, a startling welcome and unfolds slowly from there. The first section immensely peaceful, calming, tranquil. Like other serious listeners, Mr. Kaiser knows the power of songs and melodies, to reach deep into our souls and touch us with those ancient to modern spirits. This is what I hear deep inside of the music/sounds that he plays. Caressing, bending, sustaining certain notes, stretching them into new shapes that seem somehow recognizable. Its like fishing for ghosts from different dimensions or worlds, inner and outer journeys that we all take from time to time when we are not too held down by sometimes hidden anchors around us. The sun us shining outside my window today (5/14/20), the window is open and I am breathing some fresh air. The music on this disc sounds like healing music to me and I am feeling better, certainly missing being with other folks I care about. Thanks Henry, you have done a fine job to help inspire all of who still listen seriously. Peace & Love. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD FREE with the purchase of anything from any DMG Newsletters or the DMG database that are in stock.
THE FIRST TWO DISCS ON WHIT DICKEY’S NEW TAO FORMS LABEL ARE:
MATTHEW SHIPP - The Piano Equation (Tao Forms 01; USA) Featuring Matthew Shipp on solo piano. Every couple of years, Mr. Shipp says in an interview or online post that he is retiring from recording and then another handful of recordings are released soon thereafter. I’ve come to take these statements with a grain of salt, but I am glad that Shipp hasn’t stopped recording. Over the past decade Mr. Shipp has had a number of superfine solo, duo, trio and occasional quartet efforts, as well as an ongoing recorded partnership (around 30) with his longtime associate Ivo Perelman. The title piece is first and it is balanced between those slow, careful, pedal-down spirits from the left hand with evolving response from the right hand. On “Swing Note from Deep Space”, Shipp takes a fragment of a swinging line and then plays around it, slowly adding another embellishment to whatever calm center he starts with, eventually the right hand speeds up connecting several fragments into tight knotted or knitted lines. On each piece, Mr. Shipp, will state a theme or line and then adds a layer or counterpoint, faster, slower, more dense, less dense, often returning to the original line before jumping into darker currents. On “Land of the Secrets”, Shipp takes what sounds like a fragment of a standard, and then adding a lovely harmony in changing spurts before returning to original (partial) melody. There are moments when Shipp will speed up and dazzle us with several connected fragments going on at the same time before he returns a more moderate tempo. I like when Mr. Shipp plays one of his melodies with his left hand and then adds some unexpected twists & turns with his right hand, this keeps our attention off balance as we try to find some sure footing while we dance on a small plank above the quicksand below. This disc shows that Whit Dickey’s new label if off to a great start! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
WHIT DICKEY TRIO with ROB BROWN / BRANDON LOPEZ - Expanding Light (Tao Forms 02; USA) Featuring Whit Dickey on drums, Rob Brown on alto sax and Brandon Lopez on contrabass. There seem to just a handful of older Downtown improvisers who either play live and/or release discs of new material, just on rare occasion. Both Whit Dickey (drumming for Matt Shipp or David. S. Ware or a recent duo with Kirk Knuffke) and alto saxist Rob Brown (longtime William Parker & Karen Borca collaborator), would fit this category. Bassist Brandon Lopez, on the other hand remains immensely busy playing live and recording with just about everyone: Dave Rempis, Joe McPhee, Guillermo Gregorio, Chris Pitsiokos and Nate Wooley.
The trio here sound completely engaged, focused on the moment and churning out righteous free spirits. There are several spinning lines revolving around one another in tight/loose orbits. Several dialogues simultaneously. While the bass & drums do a great job if playing those free lines, they match each others organic flow perfectly. Rob Brown leaps in, joining them in the flow, riding the waves, navigating the rapids, twisting & turning certain notes inside out before shooting out some furious fractures lines. Everything winds down to a fine, more restrained bass solo, the trio slowly re-enter and build in intensity from there. Since there are several conversations going on in the same stream, one must listen closely to hear the way there are connections on different levels. There is a magical section on “Plateau”, where Mr. Lopez creating an ongoing series of drones on bowed bass while Mr. Dickey plays some cerebral mallets and Mr. Brown rises to occasion, climbing is his higher and higher until the trio finally winds down a simmering calm. I like when the tempo and intensity increase together on “Expanding Light”, the pulse of the listener also starts to boil, the kettle is about to whistle. There is a spirited duo section (for just bass & drums) on the same piece and I swear I hear Brandon playing the heart of a song (you can only hear the melody if you listen closely to what is going on in your own head). The trio take off for the stratosphere on “Mobius”, things explode midway, the high level of the free-spirits is excruciating in a good way and exhausting as well. The final piece is called “The Opening” and starts at the top, intensity-wide, all three musicians pushing hard, going further and further out, burning it completely down. Too much, too much! Another great thing about this disc is appropriately strong, thoughtful liner notes by Yuko Otomo, Steve Dalachinsky’s longtime partner and another great liner note artist/poet. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
WHIT DICKEY with MATT SHIPP / NATE WOOLEY - Morph (ESP-Disk 5016; USA) Whit Dickey has been a quiet but brilliant presence on the New York avant-jazz scene since his discographical debut in 1991 on the legendary Matthew Shipp Trio album, Circular Temple (1992). In concert and on recordings in groups led by Mr. Shipp, David S. Ware, Ivo Perelman, Joe Morris and Rob Brown, he built a reputation for distinctively space-filled, subtle rhythmic support, even as he was perfectly capable of muscling up when the music called for it. For some of the people he plays with, three decades yield dozens of releases as a leader, but the present release -- his first on ESP-Disk' -- is just Dickey's 13th at the helm after one in the '90s, seven in the '00s (including groups The Nommonsemble and Trio Ahxoloxha), and four in the recently concluded decade. The musician Dickey has most frequently teamed with is Shipp, and here they are again in a pair of contexts, the first disc a duo, the second a trio with the addition of Nate Wooley. ESP-Disk' quickly understood why Dickey has released relatively few albums as a leader: he is incredibly demanding of himself. There were multiple sessions by each configuration heard here, not to mention a quartet as well; Dickey kept going back into the studio, pushing himself to greater heights until he was finally satisfied. ESP-Disk' got so confused about it that the recording date of the first disc is incorrectly listed in the physical album's packaging; the correct date is listed above.
2 CD Set $14
LUCIAN BAN / JOHN SURMAN / MAT MANERI - Transylvanian Folk Songs / The Bela Bartok Field Recordings (Sunnyside 1580; USA) Featuring Lucian Ban on piano, John Surman on baritone & soprano saxes & bass clarinet and Mat Maneri on viola. More than 100 years ago (around 1904), the great classical composer Bela Bartok took a journey to discover 1,000’s of folks songs from Romania, particularly Transylvania, transcribing as many as he could. This became his life-long goal, the music becoming an inspiration for much of his composing. Lucian Ban grew up in the heart of Transylvania, in a village along Bartok’s path. Although Mr. Ban moved here at the end of the nineties, collaborating with a variety of Downtowners, he has also been inspired by the music of his homeland, even rearranging an opera by George Enesco (the great Romanian composer). Mr. Ban chose both is his partners here for good reason. Violist Mat Maneri has worked with Mr. Ban on several previous projects and studied Bartok’s music as a young listener. Although British fee/jazz sax legend, John Surman, had never played with Mr. Ban previously, Mr. Surman also studied Bartok’s music when he was at college, focusing of Bartok’s “Concerto for Strings” for his final thesis. All the pieces on this disc were inspired by the folk songs that Bartok discovered on his journey, with either Mr. Ban or Mr. Maneri doing the arrangements.
Starting with “The Dowry Song”, we can tell that the ancient melody that the trio has selected is/are superbly handled. John Surman, who was considered to the one of the greatest free/jazz baritone saxists ever, especially in his early days (around 1970) with The Trio, is also a master of the baritone when playing strong melodies. While Mr. Ban plays that solemn, cerebral lines over and over, first Surman (on bari) and Maneri on viola, both take magnificent solos. Mr. Surman is also an impressive multi-reeds wizard and starts off “Up There” with a sublime solo on bass clarinet. One of the more magical moments here is hearing Mr. Surman on soprano and Mr. Maneri playing the haunting melody of “Violin Song” together and then weaving their lines with the piano into a most majestic tapestry. On “The Return”, the viola, bass clarinet and piano play with the essence of restraint, it sounds as if there were just one instrument playing the precious, tasty theme. Speaking of magic, on “Carol”, all three instruments play around one another cautiously finally coming together a few transcendent moments when they all radiate that cosmic yet elusive creative spirit so hard to define. One of the things I like most about this disc is this: it is completely acoustic. On the last piece, “Transylvanian Dance” the trio take off together, spinning a superb web with one another, an incredible feeling permeates of togetherness between the musicians and with the audience all as one spirit. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MARTIAL SOLAL & DAVE LIEBMAN - Masters in Paris (Sunnyside 1551; USA) "Surprises," saxophonist Dave Liebman said when asked about playing with the master pianist Martial Solal. Their second Sunnyside album of duets finds them before a knowledgeable and appreciative audience at Studio 104 de Radio France, a center of uncompromising music in the City of Light. "The surprises are endless," Liebman told me. "Martial doesn't want it to be perfect. He's twenty years older than I am, and, to borrow a term from a newer generation, he wants the music to be 'killer.' When he plays, it is definitely killer." There is an exhilarating range of music in this second Solal-Liebman album, which follows their Masters In Bordeaux, (ssc 1489). Whenever their next encounter may be, let us hope that someone with recording equipment is invited. The world needs more of the infectious spirit that these masters found together in Paris.”
THREE NEWS DISCS FROM THE CONFRONT LABEL:
VIRTUAL COMPANY with DEREK BAILEY / SIMON H. FELL / MARK WASTELL / WILL GAINES - Virtual Company (Confront Core Series 12; UK) This performance was recorded live at Cafe Oto in London in March of 2018. Simon H. Fell played contrabass while Mark Wastell played cello & percussion. Mr. Fell and Mr. Wastell, both members of IST, were playing along to the recorded fragments of Derek Bailey on guitar and Will Gaines tap-dancing. The recordings of Derek Bailey and Will Gaines, were played in the random mode, with different amounts of silence utilized, so that the other two musicians had no idea what or when either of the two pre-recorded musicians would enter and play. Both still-living musicians here were convinced that Derek Bailey, who was widely know for his improvising abilities, would’ve approved the way this gig was organized.
Having explained the set up here and listened to it now, it is indeed nearly impossible to tell that entire quartet is not playing completely live and in the moment. The sound and balance of all four players is just right. Tapdancer, Will Gaines, is in fine form, tapping out quick lines, rhythmic at times but not consistently predictable. It seems that Mr. Gaines is also speaking at times, perhaps explaining something he is doing or thinking about. All four players sound great and sound as if they are all improvising. Since it might be a log time, perhaps never, that we get some unreleased recordings from Derek Bailey, this will bide us over until then and do a great job of engaging us as well. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TONY OXLEY with STEFAN HOLKER - Beaming (Confront Core Series 13; UK) Featuring Tony Oxley on electronics & concept and Stefan Holker on acoustic percussion. Starting the mid-sixties, Tony Oxley, became one the finest jazz drummers to emerge from Europe, playing on seminal recordings for John McLaughlin (‘Extrapolation’ - 1968), Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, John Surman and many others. A restless experimenter, Mr. Oxley started designing his own percussion and playing homemade electronics in the early seventies. I’ve only caught Mr. Oxley live a handful of times, first with Derek Bailey and Evan Parker and later with Cecil Taylor in groups and in a duo. Most recently, I caught Mr. Oxley again with Cecil Taylor at the Whitney Museum, playing a sampler of his own percussion and electronic sounds. I can say that I know much about percussionist Stefan Holker, except that he has recorded with Tony Oxley and Bill Dixon in the past. Commencing with “Frame I”, the sounds we hear are a mysterious sounding blend of cymbals, assorted percussion, marimba or xylophone, drums, plucked strings and electronics, all swirling cautious together, a strong blend, very concentrated, slowly unfolding, slowly evolved though textures and timbres. I love the way that large blend of sounds evolve, several layers emerge, swimming in subtle currents, select sampled sounds (like piano?), drop in and drop out, soft feedback, is that a Cecil sample before the fade?!? Parts of this are quite sparse yet everything seems to have its own place. On each track, the overall sounds change and move in different ways with the mix, certain sounds moving closer or further away. The varied layers sound more chamber music or music for a larger ensemble of excited percussion. For some of the sounds, like bowed cymbals or percussion and soft electronics, it is hard to tell who or what is being played or samples, their lines are blurred. Things rarely get very dense so that we can always glide or soar along with fascinating environment as things unfold, expand, mutate and turn into something else. Extra-ordinary! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
RHODRI DAVIES with PAT THOMAS / SARAH HUGHES / SOFIA JERNBERG / PIA PALME / ADAM PARKINSON / DAFNE VICENTE - Transversal Time (Confront Core Series 11; UK) Featuring Rhodri Davies on pedal & electric harp, Ryoko Akama on electronics, Sarah Hughes on zither, Sofia Jernberg on vocals, Pia Palme on contrabass recorder, Lucy Railton on cello, Pat Tomas on piano & electronics, Dafne Vicente-Sandoval on bassoon and Adam Parkinson on programming. This piece was commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and performed live in April of 2018. The liner notes here were written sonic scientist, musician & author David Toop. They deal with the many aspects of time, how we view it, how we feel it, how it is measured or not. The piece, “Transversal Time” deals with different time systems and the way the musicians deal with these systems. Except for Mr. Davies, Pat Thomas and Ms. Jernberg (Fire! Orchestra), the other musicians are mostly newer names for me outside of the occasional disc on labels like Another Timbre and Elsewhere. When I listen to this disc, it sounds as if time is being stretched out. Soft drones, humming tones, near-calming reverberations, eerie notes slightly bent, subtly disorienting… when we stretch these tones out, it is hard to tell what they are although we able to notice the more microscopic changes in textures. The music here seems to be breathing organically together as if all of the musicians were part of one organism. In and out, in and out, innnn and outtttttt… Once I was able to calm down to a more quiet level, I was alble to better appreciate the way this disc slowly evolves, appreciate the nuance of every note or drone. The time is still being stretched as I listen and it feels good to just go with the flow. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
WET INK ENSEMBLE with SAM PLUTA / ALEX MINCEK / KATE SOPER / ERIC WUBBELS / IAN ANTONIO / JOSH MODNEY - Glossalalia / Lines on Black (Carrier 048; USA) Featuring Erin Lesser on flutes, Alex Mincek on sax, Kate Soper on voice, Eric Wubbels on piano, Josh Modney on violin, Sam Pluta on electronics and Ian Antonio on percussion. New York has been attracting a wide variety of great modern chamber ensembles and string quartets since the turn of the millenium, even moreso over the past couple of years. What makes the Wet Ink Ensemble stand out is/are that they uilize the electronics of Sam Pluta and that the ensemble includes several strong composers: Alex Mancek, Kate Soper and Eric Wubbels. This disc is split into two suites, each named in the title of this disc. The first piece is “Glossolalia” (composed by Mr. Mincek), which means “speaking in tongues”, a religious phenomenum in which people are driven to speak in a language that was previously unknown to them. Both voice and the electronics sound as if they are skipping like a record does, the voice sounds as if it is trying to shape a word, fraction by fraction. The piece starts and stops as certain lines or instruments come in carefully inserted, a drone here, a repeated fragment there, perfect symmetry. Things are stripped down to long silences with short bursts of activity, which seem perfectly timed, so that when they do erupt we notice them all the more. Things eventually take off in varying bursts, flute, sax, piano, violin & percussion all explode together. There is section called “Apmonia” where the violin really twists those notes out beyond the comfort zone and then we are bombarded by electronics and drums. It reminds me of the first I heard Varese’s “Deserts”, where the harsh electronics and orchestra clash, it is almost too much but it works.
MEREDITH MONK & VOCAL ENSEMBLE / BANG ON A CAN ALL-STARS - Memory Game (Cantaloupe 21153; USA) Meredith Monk’s MEMORY GAME, as its title implies, is both a look back at a pivotal point in her storied career, and a richly layered portrait of how vocal music, under the guidance of an indefatigable master, can play with our expectations in poignant and compelling ways. Teaming up here with her renowned Vocal Ensemble (featuring Theo Bleckmann, Katie Geissinger and Allison Sniffin) and backed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Monk explores all-new arrangements of never-before-recorded selections from her award-winning sci-fi opera The Games, as well as new versions of several pieces originally released on Do You Be (1987) and Impermanence (2008). What emerges from MEMORY GAME is a suite of songs that flows with a remarkable narrative cohesion, stemming in large part from the composer’s willingness to revisit the past with an insatiably curious eye.
The first time I caught Meredith Monk live was in the mid-eighties at a Collin Walcott memorial concert at Irving Plaza. She played a song from her ‘Dolmen Music’ album, a silly song that really made me laugh. I knew that I had found someone special to brighten my life. I have continued to buy her records and hear her live with different sized ensembles, throughout the years and I still smile whenever I hear her voice and/or songs. Most of Ms. Monk’s previous discs feature her and her vocal choir with minimal if ny, instrumentation. For this disc, she uses a bowed psaltery (type of zither) plus the Bang on a Can All-Stars ensemble. Ms. Monk has a long relationship with Bang on a Can composers & musicians. Her music has been arranged by Julia Wolfe and David Lang and performed by the All-Stars with Meredith as a guest on several occasions. This disc is a culmination of that ongoing relationship and the pieces come from different eras in Ms. Monk’s long career. To hear the All-Stars play her music, makes it even better, the the central feeling or essence is even more rich, touching us even more deeply. The opening song is called “Spaceship” and it features the All-Stars, it has a majestic, soft sweeping quality, perhaps a bit Philip Glass-like only more angelic. “Gamemaster’s Song” features the great Theo Bleckmann, one of my favorite current vocalists no matter he does. Bleckmann is singing in Ms. Monk’s ever-charming invented language with fragments of recognizable English phrases as well. If this doesn’t make you smile, than Jack, you dead! At the center of many of these songs is what sounds like a harmonium, there is sometimes consistently enchanting, uplifting going on on every song here. When I first heard this disc a few weeks ago, I was reminded that no matter how bad or ridiculous things are or seem to be, certain music, magic music, has the ability to transcend all of the BS the some of humanity deals with. I have been listening to music recently, like live Dead or 60’s/70’s funk just to try to shake loose of that which is holding us all down. This disc is the best medicine I’ve heard while cooped up for the previous month (Covid-hibernation time, April, 2020). Let this be your medicine as well, it will help you feel better and maybe even laugh out loud! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MICHAEL GORDON / THE CROSSING - Anonymous Man (Cantaloupe 21154; USA) Michael Gordon’s latest release for Cantaloupe is a deeply personal and illuminated look at Debrosses Street in lower Manhattan, scored for 24 unaccompanied voices, premiered in 2017 by Philadelphia vocal ensemble The Crossing under the direction of Donald Nally. The text is soberly nostalgic and eerily on the nose for our current reality, elevating and yearning for old Downtown’s bustling microscopic density in a way only possible after watching the gradient of change slowly creep over decades, or if everything suddenly falls quiet. It tells the story of Gordon's life there since ’81; how he walked through an open door to occupy his current studio apartment and one-time caviar warehouse through a legal loophole as a graduate student, how he met his future wife and Bang On a Can partner Julia Wolfe at a long shuttered coffee shop, and how he came to know and intersect with the lives of two homeless men who called the street outside his fire escape home. His depictions of these men are clear and unpretentious, and it is with respect and awe that he draws a parallel between their own makeshift memorials, and Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession that at one time wound through the Debrosses after crossing the Hudson from Jersey City. The music draws on the expansive celluar modulation and cavernous timbral illusions present in “Timber” (2009) and “Rushes” (2012) and applies them with stunning naturality to chorus. In these prior works, small ensembles of unprocessed instruments are made to feel densely reverberant through careful architectures of polyrhythm, but through textures so natural that manage to obscure the dense math behind their execution. True to classic minimalism, the individual sound units are sometimes clearly stated before diving back into the sound mass. He manages to do that here without sacrificing the plainspoken storytelling element. I find many similar diaristic New Music pieces to be pretentious and lazy, as if the composer decided that they were suddenly tired of all the “music stuff” and wanted to have a confessional moment with the audience to get some kink in their egos off their chest. Gordon manages to make this type of memoir piece work because he presents text that is selfless and reverent of place, and sets the text with music that is both as dense as history and devoid of any unnecessary ornamentation. Lyrical content is available to read on Gordon’s website, which I highly suggest combing through with your listen. A great tribute and mourning for a city tackling our latest in a long stream of uncertainty and everyday loss. - Frank Meadows, DMG
DAVID LANG - The Loser (Cantaloupe 21155; USA) An opera in one act for solo baritone voice, solo piano and ensemble, David Lang’s the loser has been lauded by the New York Times as a “boldly unconventional” work, and that’s almost putting it mildly. the loser is based on the Thomas Bernhard novel of the same name, in which an anonymous narrator and once-promising concert pianist retells the story of his friend’s suicide. As it turns out, both were students in the same master class, taught by Vladimir Horowitz, as a young Glenn Gould. Playing in the shadow of Gould brings both to the realization that true greatness will never be theirs, wrecking both their lives forever. Featuring Rod Gilfry (baritone), Conrad Tao (piano) and the Bang on a Can Opera Ensemble conducted by Lesley Leighton, the loser premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2016, and made its West Coast premiere at the LA Opera in early 2019. Tracked in New York and Los Angeles, the studio recording recaptures what the LA Times described as “a mesmerizingly virtuosic performance by Rod Gilfry, destined for the annals of opera.
SCOTT FIELDS ENSEMBLE with PASCAL NIGGENKEMPER / CHRISTIAN WEBER / INGRID LAUBROCK / DAVID STACKENAS / FRANK GRATKOWSKI / MATTHIAS SCHUBERT / et al - Seven Deserts (New World Music 80821; USA) Wrestling with the notion of balancing both formal construction and creative spontaneity has allowed Scott Fields (b. 1952) to compose a powerful body of work with ties to extramusical concerns from the realms of literature, philosophy, and science. Seven Deserts (2019), rather than operating from a fixed narrative structure with predetermined events, lays out the ground rules for a manifestation that is absolutely identical in every performance in its operations and sonic vocabulary, but with each realization completely unique in internal detail and musical interaction. Improvisation fleshes out the structure yet also embeds itself in the musical foundation to help determine the overall shape. The conductor is improvising to the same extent that the individual players are and may set forces in motion, allow them to work, and then, based on the results, initiate the next iteration.
In Seven Deserts, Fields has created a work that has a sense of loss and unnameable dread coexisting with an objectivist appreciation of aesthetic beauty and balance. He shifts the focus between foreground and background, hyperactivity versus the static, saturated sound and quietude.
By recording Seven Deserts in the performance hall in Cologne, both with and without an audience, Fields was able to have the best of both worlds. Listening through the set, one hears deserts in full bloom: vivacious, juicy, and ripe with the players’ interactions, virtuosic solo outings, and varied sonic environments. There are elegiac clouds that suddenly are scattered with Euro-jazz disruptions. Baroque-sounding flute harmonies splinter into jazzy riffs that never settle into unisons but spiral outward. A tense groove reminiscent of Miles Davis’s On the Corner period shatters into shards of noise and floating tones. We hear roiling saxophones and vibraphone kicked over the edge by electric guitar punctuations and roaring tenor sax expletives. The final movement reveals an impression of Debussy as orchestrated by Webern, which opens into fractured solo guitar vs the ensemble and then resolving into strange attractors—pools of repeated activities without repetition and a sudden end. Fields has chosen his players wisely, an orchestra of virtuosic soloists, including members of Ensemble Musikfabrik and other new music groups from Cologne, as well as freelancers drawn both from the region and other corners of the world.
ALVIN LUCIER - String Noise (Black Truffle 061; Australia) ”Continuing Black Truffle's series of releases documenting the recent work of legendary American experimental composer Alvin Lucier, String Noise presents three major works for violin solo and duo composed between 2004 and 2019. Lucier has developed his compositions in close collaboration with many instrumentalists over the years; the three works presented here are performed by the violinists for whom they were originally written, Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim Harris, who together make up the innovative violin duo String Noise, and have premiered works by a plethora of major figures in contemporary music. The long-form compositions presented here continue Lucier's life-long exploration of acoustic phenomena, drawing on aspects of some of his most well-known compositions and extending them into new instrumentation. "Tapper" (2004) extends the experiments with echolocation -- gathering information about an environment by listening to the echoes of sounds produced within it -- that Lucier began with his classic 1969 work Vespers, where performers explore a space equipped with hand-held pulse oscillators. Here, the same principle is put into practice for solo violin, the body of which the performer taps repeatedly with the butt end of the bow while moving around the performance space. The result is a subtly shifting web of echoes and resonances produced by the reflection of the sharp tap off the surfaces of the room (in this case, the Drawing Center in New York). In "Love Song" (2016), two violinists are connected by a long wire stretched between the bridges of their instruments, causing the sounds played on one violin to also be heard through the other. As the two violinists play long tones using only the open E string, they move in a circular motion around the performance space, thus changing the tension of the wire, which creates a remarkable array of variations in pitch and timbre ranging from ghostly wavering pitches reminiscent of a singing saw to near-electronic tones. In "Halo" (2019), one or more violinists walk slowly through the performance space in a zig-zag pattern while sustaining long tones. As in "Tapper", the consistent sound production reveals the sonic properties of the environment. As the title of the piece suggests, the outcome is a shimmering halo of sound produced by the reflection of the violin's extended tones off the walls and ceiling of the performance space (in this case, Alvin's home). Deluxe four-panel digipak with liner notes by Alvin Lucier, live images and artist bios. Sleeve design by Lasse Marhaug. Mastered by Tom Hamilton.
2 CD Set $19
MULATU ASTATKE & BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE - To Know Without Knowing (Agogo Records 135; Germany) “To Know Without Knowing, Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience's album, is their second together. A grooving transcontinental gem, recorded in Melbourne, Australia, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Filled with the warmth of the mentorship and friendship of their creative partnership honed over a decade of performing together in Africa, Australia, and UK/Europe. Mulatu Astatke is the father of Ethio-jazz and one of Africa's most influential and enduring musical figures. Black Jesus Experience is a community of artists, centered around a twelve-piece global-funk-machine born of Australia's vibrant multiculturalism. Mulatu and Black Jesus Experience met in Addis Ababa in 2009, embarking on both a musical relationship and a friendship that has led Mulatu Astake to describe Black Jesus Experience as, "My favorite backing band" and, "...they're family." Mulatu's great contribution to music has been to combine Jazz and funk grooves with Ethiopia's distinctive pentatonic scales. His musical genius is the sensuality and sophistication with which Mulatu contrasts these minimalist scales with richly chromatic harmony. But Mulatu's equally great contribution has been to share both his enduringly unique modernity and Ethiopia's timelessly spiritual music with the world. Black Jesus Experience treasure the special relationship of generosity, mentorship and collaboration they have been privileged to share with this master musician. To Know Without Knowing is the product of this gift.”
HOWARD McGHEE with TINA BROOKS / TEDDY EDWARDS / BENNIE GREEN / PEPPER ADAMS / FREDDIE REDD / PHINEAS NEWBORN, JR. / MILT HINTON / SHELLY MANNE / OSIE JOHNSON- The Classic 1960’s Albums (Enlightenment 9182; EEC) Among the first bebop jazz trumpeters (along with Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro and Idrees Sulieman), Howard McGhee was known for his fast fingers and very high notes, but is rarely credited for the influence he extended to younger trumpeters in an era when the instrument had come back into vogue among students of jazz. Despite a troubled life and career, Howard McGhee remains a huge inspiration for younger jazz musicians, students and fans alike. The collection here brings together eight of the very finest albums the great man ever released or played on, making it the ideal go-to-compilation for collectors and fans of this pioneering, albeit hugely underrated, musician.
4 CD Set $18
JAMES MOODY with PAT PATRICK / JOHNNY COLES / JUNIOR MANCE / HANK JONES / TOMMY FLANAGAN / et al - The Complete Argo Collection (Enlightenment 9183; EEC) Born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25th 1925, future jazz-man James Moody was raised by his (single) mother, Ruby Hann Moody Watters, alongside his brother, Louis. Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Moody was attracted to the saxophone after hearing George Holmes Tate, Don Byas, and various other saxophonists who played with Count Basie; he later also took up the flute. A hugely respected musician and arranger, Moody occasionally performed as a vocalist too. He played predominantly in the bebop and hard bop styles, during a lengthy career in jazz, which began in 1945 when he joined Dizzy Gillespie's band, and which continued until his death in 2010 at the age of 85, the same year he released his final album Moody 4B (IPO Records, 2010). In the early years of the third millennium, Moody was met with a resurgence of interest from acid-jazz aficionados, and later, after the sadly late Amy Winehouse championed Moody and performed a number of his tunes, including, most notably, a noble version the great man's arrangement of 'Moody's Mood For Love', his esteem grew greater still. This 4CD set features James Moody's entire recorded output for the Argo label, made between 1957 and 1964, the period during which the jazz maverick made his finest ever music and displayed his best playing. A perfect collection for those new to Moody's music, this collection will also be welcomed by those already versed, as a fine reminder of the best work of this most unique jazz player.
4 CD Set $18
MUSIC IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD - Yiddisher Jazz in London's East End 1920s-1950s (Play Loud! Productions 098; Germany) “A vibrant soundtrack to the Cockney Jewish experience, when the swinging hot dance bands were still all the rage, and the Yiddish language was spoken on the streets of Whitechapel. Feast on long forgotten 78 rpm discs that have only recently been unearthed, starring a host of recording artists united for the first time. Hear the legendary dance band figures of the era like Bert Ambrose and his Orchestra, and Lew Stone and his Monseigneur Band, to the relatively unknown Jewish specialty acts like the Johnny Franks and his Kosher Ragtimers, and Rita Marlowe, the siren of the Yiddish song. Delight in the cheeky street patter of the incomparable slapstick drummer Max Bacon rejoicing in the East Enders love affair with "Beigels", celebrate the world famous Petticoat Lane street market with not one, but two 1920s fox trots -- but also shed a tear with Leo Fuld, the remarkable Dutch Yiddish singer, whose recordings in post-war London were haunting reminders of a way of life decimated by the Holocaust. Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World is compiled by Alan Dein, the multi award winning radio documentary presenter, whose own family harks back to the major wave of immigrants fleeing the pogroms in Eastern Europe from the end of the 19th century. The album title is inspired by a 1920s Yiddish slogan of an East London gramophone record shop. A time when Whitechapel was a fertile breeding ground for singers, songwriters, conductors, and cantors to musicians, managers, proprietors of record shops and club owners -- and according to Dein, "their stories are now entwined with the development of the British recorded music industry. But for the first time ever, we can the discover the remarkable sounds of Jewish-themed jazz recorded in London between the 1920s and the 1950s..." The accompanying booklet designed by Will Bankhead includes a detailed essay by Dein, illustrated with rare photos and memorabilia. This release is co-compiled by Howard Williams, better known for his Japan Blues radio show on NTS, and a series of compilations spanning Moondog (The Viking of Sixth Avenue), Japanese jazz singer Maki Asakawa, and the worlds of Japanese surf rock (Takeshi Terauchi), rockabilly (Masaaki Hirao), and soul funk and disco ("Lovin' Mighty Fire"). Also features Baker and Willie with Orchestra, Stanley Laudan, Mendel and his Mishpoche Band, Maurice Winnick and his Sweet Music, The Plaza Band, Oscar Grasso and his Intimate Music, and Chaim Towber with Johnny Franks Orchestra.
BIG SONGLINES CD SALE!
The Songlines label is based in Vancouver, BC, Canada and has been around since 1992 and has released more than 100 discs of consistently creative music from an international cast of musicians & composers: Wayne Horvitz, Jerry Granelli, Jim Black, Chris Speed, Theo Bleckmann, Ben Monder, Michael Blake, Gordon Grdina, Patrick Zimmerli and many others. They also released a couple dozen Super-Audio CD’s (SA-CD), each of which has marvelous sound. Over the past couple of years, Songlines has reduced the price to more than three dozen CD’s to $10 or $12. The below list is all or most of the $10 CD’s. Only a handful are currently in stock but we should be able to get from our local distributor with 1-2 weeks. We list the same titles with reviews down below.
BABKAS with BRIGGAN KRAUSS / AARON ALEXANDER / BRAD SHEPIK - Ants To The Moon (Songlines 1505; Canada)
BABKAS with BRIGGAN KRAUSS / AARON ALEXANDER / BRAD SHEPIK - Fratelli (Songlines; Canada)
BENOIT DELBECQ 5 With MICHAEL MOORE / FRANCOIS HOULE / JEAN-JACQUES AVENEL / STEVE ARGUELLES - Pursuit (Songlines 1529; Canada)
MARTY EHRLICH & BEN GOLDBERG - Light at the Crossroads (Songlines 1511; Canada)
ELLERY ESKELIN / ANDREA PARKINS / JIM BLACK - Jazz Trash (Songlines 1506; Canada)
JUNK GENIUS with BEN GOLDBERG / JOHN SCHOTT / TREVOR DUNN / KENNY WOLLESEN - Ghost Of Electricity (Songlines 1525; Canada)
JERRY GRANELLI & BADLANDS With CHRIS SPEED / BRIGGAN KRAUSS / PETER EPSTEIN / CURTIS HASSELBRING / JAMIE SAFT / JAY GRANELLI - Crowd Theory (Songlines 1526; Canada)
JERRY GRANELLI With RINDE ECKERT / FRANCOIS HOULE / CHRISTIAN KOGEL / J A GRANELLI - Sandhills Reunion (Songlines 1553; Canada)
JERRY GRANELLI & BADLANDS With CHRIS SPEED / BRIGGAN KRAUSS / PETER EPSTEIN / CURTIS HASSELBRING / JAMIE SAFT / JAY GRANELLI - Enter, A Dragon (Songlines 1521; Canada)
JERRY GRANELLI V16 With DAVID TRONZO / JAY GRANELLI / CHRISTIAN VOGEL - Vancouver '08 (Songlines 1577; Canada)
SA-CD DVD $10
FRANCOIS HOULE / BENOIT DELBECQ - Nancali (Songlines 1519; Canada)
HILMAR JENSSON With HERB ROBERTSON / ANDREW D'ANGELO / TREVOR DUNN / JIM BLACK - ditty blei (Songlines 1547; Canada)
ANDY LASTER'S LESSNESS With CUONG VU / ERIK FRIEDLANDER / KENNY WOLLESEN - Interpretations Of Lessness (Songlines 1515; Canada)
ANDY MILNE - Dreams And False Alarms (Songlines 1565; Canada)
QUINSIN NACHOFF With MARK HELIAS / JIM BLACK STRING QUARTET - Magic Numbers (Songlines 1556; Canada)
SEAN NOONAN'S BREWED BY NOON With JON MADOF/ARAM BAJAKIAN/MARC RIBOT/MAT MANERI/THIERNO CAMARA/JIM PUGLIESE - Stories to Tell (Songlines 1563; Canada)
SEAN NOONAN'S BREWED BY NOON With MARC RIBOT/ARAM BAJAKIAN/MAT MANERI/JAMAALADEEN TACUMA/SUSAN McKEOWN - Boxing Dreams (Songlines 1573; Canada)
SEAN NOONAN STRING QUARTET - A Gambler's Hand (Songlines 1597; Canada)
PAUL PLIMLEY - Every Thing in Stages (Songlines 1503; Canada)
PAUL PLIMLEY & TRICHY SANKARAN - Ivory Ganesh Meets Doctor Drums (Songlines 1523; Canada)
ROB REDDY'S HONOR SYSTEM With JOSH ROSEMAN / EDDIE ALLEN / PHEEROAN AkLAFF / JEF LEE JOHNSON - Post-War Euphoria (Songlines 1512; Canada)
TALKING PICTURES [PEGGY LEE / DYLAN VAN DER SCHYFF / RON SAMWORTH / BILL CLARK] JORRIT DIJKSTRA - Humming (Songlines 1523; Canada)
GEBHARD ULLMANN TA LAM - Ta Lam (Songlines 1520; Canada)
DYLAN VAN DER SCHYFF With MICHAEL MOORE / BRAD TURNER / MARK HELIAS / ACHIM KAUFMANN - The Definition Of A Toy (Songlines 1554; Canada)
PATRICK ZIMMERLI ENSEMBLE With BEN MONDER / STOMU TAKEISHI / SATOSHI TAKEISHI - Explosion (Songlines 1508; Canada)
PATRICK ZIMMERLI ENSEMBLE BEN MONDER / STOMU TAKEISHI / SATOSHI TAKEISHI - Expansion (Songlines 1530; Canada)
PATRICK ZIMMERLI With KEVIN HAYS/STOMU TAKEISHI/SATOSHI TAKEISHI - Phoenix (Songlines 1548; Canada)
PATRICK ZIMMERLI & OCTURN With BEN MONDER - The Book of Hours (Songlines 1541; Canada)
SONGLINES CD’s with REVIEWS:
FRANCOIS HOULE / BENOIT DELBECQ - Nancali (Songlines 1519; Canada)"One of the most fascinating pianists of the new generation" (Michel Contat, Telerama), French pianist/prepared pianist Delbecq (Paintings, Kartet, The Recyclers) meets Canadian clarinet virtuoso Houle; their program of improvisations and compositions draws on contemporary classical, jazz, African and southeast Asian traditions. Probing and highly empathetic. Mark Miller's top 10 jazz for 1997, The Globe & Mail.
HILMAR JENSSON With HERB ROBERTSON / ANDREW D'ANGELO / TREVOR DUNN / JIM BLACK - ditty blei (Songlines 1547; Canada) Featuring Herb Robertson on trumpet, Andrew D'Angelo on alto sax & bass clarinet, Hilmar Jensson on guitars & compositions, Trevor Dunn on acoustic bass and Jim Black on drums. This is Icelandic guitar hero Hilmar's second great release for Songlines and it features his swell all-star quintet, where each member is also a bandleader, busy collaborator and composer as well. Hilmar expands his fine bass-less trio from last year into a quintet and expands his palette as well. "Latta" has that fractured rock groove that Jim Black's cds often include. Both Andrew's bass clarinet & alto sax and Herb's trumpet take swell nervous twisted solos, as the bent guitar, bass and drums dance around them with tight abandon. "larf" begins more freely, but soon gets back to a great rockin' groove with an infectious melody. Hilmar's great fractured guitar solo is orchestrated with Jim's equally fractured drumming - perfectly matched. I dig the way the guitar, alto and trumpet swirl around one another on "mayla mayla", and connect on the chorus. Hilmar takes a great solo made more from just sounds and not really notes, a most modern approach. Hilmar plays some fine acoustic guitar on "correct me if I'm right" which a righteous laid back and sunny melody, some of the loveliest and most soulful playing we'll (ever?) hear from Andrew and Herb. The unstoppable Herb Robertson squeezes out one of those grand, loopy yet explosive muted solos that he is a master of on "abbi". "grinning" is another twisted rocker with some great shimmering guitar and joyous horns that just keep ringing in my head long after the song is over. It feels great when the quintet finally explodes on "gobbles", with short sick solos from the frontline. "everything is temporary" sound again one of those great slow motion rockers from the last Jim Black gem, with another great tortured guitar solo from Hilmar and sly, spirited horn harmonies. Immensely tasty and quietly riveting. - BLG/DMG
QUINSIN NACHOFF With MARK HELIAS / JIM BLACK STRING QUARTET - Magic Numbers (Songlines 1556; Canada) Featuring Quinsin Nachoff on tenor & soprano saxes & compositions, Mark Helias on contrabass and Jim Black on drums plus a string quartet with Nathalie Bonin & Noemi Racine Gaudreault on violins, Jean Rene on viola and Julie Trudeau on cello. This is quite an impressive debut disc from Vancouver-based saxist Quinsin Nachoff and his NY rhythm team and a fine string quartet. Considering that I was completely unfamiliar with Mr. Nachof before this, I am even more amazed by ambitious ideas and writing. On each of the eight pieces, Quinsin sets up different tactics, grooves or structures for the sax-led trio and string quartet to navigate through. The string quartet is an integral part of the proceedings, often playing their parts as the trio tightly connects with them. Quinsin's bittersweet tone works well with string quartet that often starts off or continues the phrases that the sax exhales. What is most interesting about this is that it is very hard to define, being in between established categories of jazz and modern classical. There are elements of short somewhat funky grooves interspersed with some further out string sections. It is difficult to combine these extremes without sounding forced, but the entire group does a great job of making it flow together. We received this promo more than a month before we got in copies to sell, so I played it a few times and always met with good response from customers in the store who knew that this was something unique and successful. Another unexpected gem from the consistently superb Songlines folks. - BLG
SEAN NOONAN'S BREWED BY NOON With JON MADOF/ARAM BAJAKIAN/MARC RIBOT/MAT MANERI/THIERNO CAMARA/JIM PUGLIESE - Stories to Tell (Songlines 1563; Canada) Featuring Marc Ribot, Jon Madof & Aram Bajakian on guitars, Mat Maneri on viola, Thierno Camara on electric bass, Jim Pugliese on percussion, Thiokho Diagne on djembe, Susan McKeown, Dawn Padmore & Abdoulaye Diabate on vocals and Sean Noonan on electro-acoustic drumset & the music with lyrics by the vocalists. I recall Sean coming down to the old DMG store and leaving us with a few different discs from The Hub, an ambitious punk/jazz power trio that had a buzz going a few years back. The Hub was touring in Italy in 2003 when their vehicle collided with a drunk driver, leaving Sean with two broken legs. Sean was lucky to be alive and it took him a few years get his chops back, concentrating on electric drums, as well as his regular drumset. When this disc arrived in the mail last month, I was surprised to see that Sean Noonan was back and that he had put together an extraordinary cast of musicians from both the downtown scene as well as a few fine world music players and singers. Starting with "Massana Cisse", Sean takes an infectious griot melody and let Ribot rip it up. The three guitars play this riff that recalls the Allman Brothers in the early days when their music still unique and joyous. Thiero Camara's slippery electric bass burns superbly underneath as the drummers help the spirits ascend together. Mali vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate passionate voice is at the center of "Esspi" as Mat Maneri's enchanting (more melodic-than-usual) viola and Ribot's searing guitar swirl around the mesmerizing rhythms provided. One of things that makes this disc special is the way the guitarists work together with different inter-connected parts on each piece. Susan McKeown is an old friend of mine and one of those wonderful singers that more folks should know about. Susan sings in a traditional folk song in Gaelic on "Noonbrews", her voice sailing in layers as Mr. Diabate also sings powerfully along her side. The song really doesn't sound very traditional especially when Ribot takes one of his truly sick solos. On three tracks, all three guitarists get a chance to take stretch out and take a couple of inspired solos apiece. Sean's Brewed by Noon band played their CD release gig last Saturday (1/13) at Symphony Space with Jamaladeen Tacuma as their guest. Word is that this gig was pretty great, sorry that I missed it. Don't miss out on this great disc, certain to be one of this year's best and the year has just begun. - BLG
SEAN NOONAN'S BREWED BY NOON With MARC RIBOT/ARAM BAJAKIAN/MAT MANERI/JAMAALADEEN TACUMA/SUSAN McKEOWN - Boxing Dreams (Songlines 1573; Canada) Featuring: Sean Noonan, electro-acoustic drum set, percussion, compositions; Marc Ribot, electric guitar; Aram Bajakian, electric guitar, Max MSP; Mat Maneri, viola; Jamaaladeen Tacuma, electric bass; Susan McKeown, vocals; Abdoulaye Diabate, vocals, conga; Thierno Camara, electric bass, vocals; Thiokho Diagne, percussion Since the release of his previous Songlines record Stories to Tell in early 2007, Sean Noonan has been busy stirring up the ingredients of his unique "wandering folk music" project, and here's the new brew. Grandiose, intoxicating, and sui generis, Boxing Dreams is a wildly ambitious and idiosyncratic concept album that blends passionate vocals and time-honored lyrics from Ireland, Mali and Senegal, raw power-jamming jazz/rock guitars, shape-shifting improv viola, dense soundscapes, funked or punked up drum and bass grooves and complex, dancing polyrhythms. The musical stories Noonan tells are as diverse as ever, but the overriding metaphor of the record's title suggests how he wrestled its elements and his own restless subconscious into a personal artistic vision: "The main effect I wanted in Boxing Dreams was to give the impression that the entire album is a single boxed dream, where each song captures a different dreamed or imagined story. 'Morpheus' in some ways sets the dreamy mood of the album. Morpheus is the god of dreams, who assumes any shape and form, and on this song Susan McKeown sings from an Irish Gaelic aisling or dream poem called 'Magic Mist.' 'Courage' is a tribute to my hometown (Brockton, Massachusetts) boxing legend Rocky Marciano, who remains the only heavyweight champion in boxing history to retire having won every fight in his professional career. Lately I've been intrigued by the physical intensity and body movements of boxing. I'm beginning to visualize these movements and apply boxing concepts in my drumming. 'The Return of the Peanut Butter Queen' was first an actual dream I had about a queen named Ilylea who taught her fellow peanuts the magic of making peanut butter, creating great prosperity and hope in the land of peanut. Later I wandered this story into a composition. 'Story of Jones' is a country-style instrumental narrative - each of the three sections re-enacts what happened on the famous train engineer's journey to the promised land in 1900. Jones lost his life saving his passengers when he collided with Old No. 9 in Tennessee and was found dead still gripping the train's brakes." Along with the dream concept there's a lot more singing on Boxing Dreams than on Stories to Tell, and generally the songs are multi-lingual (Gaelic, Wolof, Bambara, English)
ROB REDDY'S HONOR SYSTEM With JOSH ROSEMAN / EDDIE ALLEN / PHEEROAN AkLAFF / JEF LEE JOHNSON - Post-War Euphoria (Songlines 1512; Canada) New York soprano and alto saxophonist, a former member of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, has created a personal synthesis of his (early to avant) jazz, blues, funk and gospel roots. His powerhouse band is Eddie Allen(trumpet), Josh Roseman (trombone), Jef Lee Johnson (guitar), Dom Richards (bass), and Pheeroan akLaff (drums). "The Honor System takes an ambitious and passionate ramble through Reddy's limber compositions... An unabashed acknowledgment that jazz has roots outside jazz itself that lead not only in the direction of virtuosic soloing and intricate ensemble performance, but also toward the more populist pleasures of r&b and rock. The results are both impressive and fun." - William Stephenson, Jazziz
GEBHARD ULLMANN TA LAM - Ta Lam (Songlines 1520; Canada) Music for saxes, flutes, clarinets, bass clarinet, and accordion by a truly original Berlin-based composer-performer and his colleagues. Echoes of tango, Oceanic panpipes, pygmy chants, township jive, gagaku, Turkish music, and Brecht-Weill cabaret are woven here and here through tonally rich ensembles that balance the rhythmic freedom of jazz and the structural rigor of 20th century classical forms. But file under jazz for the solos! This release collects the best music from Ta Lam's two German-only CDs - the first performed entirely by Ullmann (overdubbing himself on a panoply of saxes and woodwinds) with accordionist Hans Hassler, the second by his band (seven reed players and accordion).
PATRICK ZIMMERLI ENSEMBLE BEN MONDER / STOMU TAKEISHI / SATOSHI TAKEISHI - Expansion (Songlines 1530; Canada) Five years after Explosion, the debut of his Ensemble on Songlines, award-winning New York composer-saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli returns with another radical re-examination of jazz orthodoxies. Like the earlier program, Expansion combines contemporary classical musical elements with a jazz feel and approach, and includes standards as well as original compositions. This time however Zimmerli has organized his thoughts in longer forms. Built on a drone, "Sand" was inspired in part by Hindustani classical music and the dense, steady-state textures of the Japanese Gagaku ensemble; it's an emotionally compelling and intellectually fascinating piece whose shifting inner complexities reveal themselves slowly (see Kevin Whitehead's liner notes for a guide to its organization, and then try to keep track of who's soloing when). "The Elements Suite" is probably the jazziest work Zimmerli has yet recorded: in contrasting/complementary sections, the Ensemble explore together the blues, ballads, and post-bop through techniques (purists might say distorting lenses) of chromaticism, extended harmony, and polyrhythm. In Monk's "Evidence" and Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation" Zimmerli pays his respects to the jazz tradition directly: their more conventional (though still slightly off-kilter) swing and melodic/harmonic departures provide a point of entry to his transformed world, with its often wild leaps, shining textures, and deep moods. Throughout the record Zimmerli and his associates (Ben Monder, guitar; Stomu Takeishi, bass; Satoshi Takeishi, percussion) bring advanced performing skills and great intelligence to bear on the interpretive challenges he sets, producing highly polished, exciting, unique music that suggests new creative directions beyond labels.
PATRICK ZIMMERLI & OCTURN With BEN MONDER - The Book of Hours (Songlines 1541; Canada) The Book of Hours, by New York-based composer/saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli supported by the Belgian little big band Octurn with previous collaborator Ben Monder guesting on guitar, should appeal to a broad spectrum of jazz listeners from straight-ahead to avant-garde. For those of the more straight-ahead persuasion, the album presents music of great beauty and melodicism; Zimmerli employs often bright and crisp colors and textures (fully realized here by the ten likeminded musicians of Octurn), and there is also a warmth that suggests the post-Gil Evans approaches of a composer like Maria Schneider. In short, The Book of Hours is engaging and accessible throughout, and shouldn't scare potential straight-ahead jazz listeners away, at least those not bound by rigid stylistic constraints. And listeners with a non-traditional streak should find favor in the polyphonic complexity of Zimmerli's scores, which disguise and embellish head-solos-head structures in unconventional ways (the canon-like "Interlude" segments have a particularly strong classical influence, beginning in duet form and adding instruments cumulatively during trio, quartet, and sextet iterations interspersed among the other album tracks). Thematic material (signifying the many moods of a passing day) is stated and restated in variation as soloists enter and exit against an always surprising and involving backdrop -- this is music that could keep even the most dedicated avant-gardist on his or her toes with its constantly evolving permutations. However, if you are an avant-garde jazz fan who favors apocalyptic free jazz filled with outbursts of dissonance, overblown multiphonics, and ear-splitting squeals, The Book of Hours is emphatically not for you. Zimmerli's music can be bold, energetic, and propulsive ("Night"), yet it often maintains a subtle and understated quality; even the seemingly highly improvised dialogue between baritone saxophone and percussion on "Noon" suggests a conversation rather than a shouting match. As for Zimmerli the saxophonist, his soprano solo on the lovely "Sleep" that concludes the disc is a thing of true beauty and one of the album's most striking improvisational moments, even as the piece tends to calm rather than excite the listener's heart. ~ Dave Lynch, AMG
BILL ORCUTT & MICHAEL MORLEY - Electric Guitar Duets (Palilalia 059; USA) LP reissue of Land And Sea's limited 2016 tape documenting a performance by guitarists Michael Morley and Bill Orcutt at the L&S gallery in Oakland.
"... Once regrettable antics were permanently affixed to the rearview mirror, the pair chauffeured across the bay to Land And Sea, the cozy gallery on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland and sobered up on vegan cocktail wieners and gummie vitamins. You may doubt, you may scoff -- have fun with it, champion, seriously -- but on July 6, 2016, they rendered a landscape where miniature squalls grind in between seamlessly intersecting improv, and they did it sharp as the slap of a palmful of plum-colored hazelmyer elixir following a good, close shave. The distinctive sound of the Fender Telecaster as played without effects by Orcutt ('one of music's premier abstractionists,' according to Osmo Montesanto) remains unblunted throughout the album, an aggressively serrated presence within Mr. Morley's contrapuntal flanking. This freely improvised performance is imbued with discipline and deliberate restraint, the better to connect the players more to the sound than to the instruments . . . The duo's number-one fan worldwide Cye Husain, pictured on the back cover, would surely attest that the singular structure-building of Orcutt and Morley defies and transcends most any 'well, actually' bloviature that the usual bore-splainers will need to hurl into the troposhere. For instance, that a third guitar is clearly audible at certain parts in the mix -- beautifully recorded by Gabie Strong, by the way -- can be accounted for most sensibly by Aotearoan metaphysics. Mr. Morley's ax of choice was 'Patu Tutae Opoko Nui, a 2006 Squire Telecaster made in Indonesia that I had modified over the years. It died and was ushered up to Valhöll in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2018.' Readers opting to take a moment to refer to Morley's Instagram post dated 6 June 2018 and view the last rites of this extraordinary combination of wood and metal should do so now. He cried. You should expect to do the same . . . Electric Guitar Duets is that otherworldly modulation we all crave and rarely find, hovering halfway between a deeply satisfying lattice of blurred sky roars and the soundtrack from a Stefan Jarworzyn biopic scored by Sergio Leone left on the floor out of its sleeve. Morley and Orcutt hold everything sideways at least as well as the centrifugal force required for slow-motion footage of mannequins riding tiny motorcycles around the inside of a chrome replica of Lee Van Cleef's skull. For other examples of fluid-splattered shards glistening inside crimson murk pulsations, only murder rolling through cold, cold blood comes to mind as superior to this 44-minute live recording." - S. Glass
LP Only $19
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 month 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:
THIS IS FROM MY GOOD FRIEND JESSICA HALLOCK,
who runs the New York Noise website and helps to promote creative music from hundreds of different musicians! At the beginning of April, Jessica convinced me not to go to the store and stay at home & work from there/here. Thanks to Jessica, Frank Meadows and Charmaine Lee, I have taken their advice seriously and I remain safe and alive (at home) while the store continues to do mail-order. Thanks Jessica, I do appreciate your tough love, this is what it takes sometimes to get the elder folks to break with their usual routine or habits and think more clearly about life.
This is from Jessica Hallock, please do check it out, there is so much to explore here and I know some of you are bored and need some inspiration/distraction:
Livestreams are obviously no replacement for live shows, but they're all the community we have right now––so experimental music calendar NYC-Noise.com now provides links to livestreams (with artist / curator donation info); a roundup of local musicians' releases; COVID-19-related resources, including links to grants, petitions, & a local venue donation list; & an Instagram account (@NYC_Noise) promoting artists and releases. Please let me know about your livestreams &/or new records at www.nyc-noise.com/submit.
THOMAS SAYERS ELLIS is the leader of the great Poetry/Music/Confrontation Band HEROES ARE GANG LEADERS a/k/a HAGL.
HAGL has a website that you should check out at: www.heroesaregangleaders.com
for the latest intersection of music-minded words and word-minded music and while you are there also check out The Lokotown Reverb where classic overlooked Oral Literature, Studio Recordings and Live Performances are given a fresh look!
GIANTHOLOGY is a forum for writing not whining, aesthetics not agenda, ideas not issues, vision not victimhood, GIANTHOLOGY is edited by the members of Heroes Are Gang Leaders.
Send 2 to 4 unpublished works to HeroesAreGangLeaders@gmail.com.
Trombone giant STEVE SWELL was recently and now has four fabulous poems up on the HAGL website, you can check them out here:
Here is one of those poems by Steve Swell:
By Steve Swell
Lifting horn to freshly cleared mind
Cold metal pressed to battered lips
Ears making involuntary adjustments
Air sending sounds to every corner of the room
Sweat streaming down, blinding eyes
Vibrant colors emerge from behind closed lids
Raising horn in jubilation
Arms moving fast
Thinking, not thinking
In a key, out of a key
Tongue, teeth, lungs, all coordinating to reach new
parameters of communication
Connecting with strangers sitting in darkness
Yelps of encouragement
Sept. 3, 2000
saxist/composer and member of Radio I-Ching and the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood, had a filmmaker named Fred Hatt assemble a trio of videos for music projects that Andy had created. “Video Trilogy by Fred Hatt for music by Andy Haas & friends Shadowtime is defined as: A parallel timescale that follows one around throughout day to day experience of regular time. Shadowtime manifests as a feeling of living in two distinctly different temporal scales simultaneously, or acute consciousness of the possibility that the near …”
They can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/418226236
THIS FROM THOMAS LEHN - Analogue Synth Player:
Tiziana Bertoncini • violin
Thomas Lehn • analogue synthesizer
Event Page for Lunchtime Concerts:
This comes from Saxist/Composer/Bandleader ELLERY ESKELIN:
During this time of shared hermitage I’ve revived my blog and have been using dreams, stories, remembrances and musings in the form of writing, all through the prism of music making. https://elleryeskelin.blogspot.com/
I have one musical offering, a previously unreleased live solo saxophone piece that I’ve put up on Bandcamp. It’s called “Mountains and Rivers” - here’s the link:
The RUBIN MUSEUM Daily Offering:
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:
Music on the Rebound presents a Live Stream Mini-Marathon: Claire Chase plays works and commissions by Steve Reich, Mario Diaz de Leon, Felipe Lara, Du Yun, Dai Fujikura, Pauline Oliveros, Phyllis Chen, Pamela Z, and more
ANAIS MAVIEL: https://vimeo.com/343494136
MEREDITH MONK: https://vimeo.com/325756188
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.
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 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: PLAGUE DIARY (streaming for free or pay what you can at Bandcamp only): 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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Maja SK Ratkje (12.18-1pm) https://www.lo.no/1mai
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.