Lyrics by Robert Hunter
Music by Bob Dylan
Stake my future on a hell of a past
Looks like tomorrow is coming on fast
Ain't complaining 'bout what I got
Seen better times, but who has not?
Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know
Honest as the next jade rolling that stone
When I come knocking don't throw me no bone
I'm an old boll weevil looking for a home
If you don't like it you can leave me alone
I can snap my fingers and require the rain
From a clear blue sky and turn it off again
I can stroke your body and relieve your pain
And charm the whistle off an evening train
Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know
I give what I got until I got no more
I take what I get until I even the score
You know I love you and furthermore
When it's time to go you got an open door
I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain
You give something up for everything you gain
Since every pleasure's got an edge of pain
Pay for your ticket and don't complain
Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go, go
Find out something only dead men know
One of these days and it won't be long
Going down in the valley and sing my song
I will sing it loud and sing it strong
Let the echo decide if I was right or wrong
Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know
Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know
Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go
Find out something only dead men know
Come on Come on
I have been a Bob Dylan fan-addict for more than 50 years, since learning the words to and singing “Blowing in the Wind” when I was at summer camp around 1965 and when I bought that 1st Dylan ‘Greatest Hits’ album in 1967. I bought every Dylan album in the sixties and was flabbergasted at how many important, lyrically & musically stunning songs he had written by that time. I had given up on him when I got ‘Self Portrait’ (1970) but returned when he dropped ‘Blood on the Tracks’ and ‘Desire’ in the mid-seventies. What’s amazing is this, My. Dylan now has 39 studio albums, starting in 1962, which mean that in 2022, Dylan will have been recording for 60 years! In the 1960’s, many rock bands covered & had hits with many Dylan songs: the Byrds, Peter, Paul & Mary, Manfred Mann, Fairport Convention, Grateful Dead (live)… I started collecting great Dylan covers in the seventies and assembled some ten 90 minute cassettes of many of these known & little known versions. Although I have continued to buy Dylan albums ever since, I found that many of his records being inconsistent starting with ’Street Legal’ (1978). The above song, “Sylvio” appears on ‘Down in the Groove’ (1988), certainly one of the more inconsistent albums. It is pretty rare for Dylan to use someone else’s lyrics but he chose a master, Robert Hunter, who wrote for the Dead for their entire history. I really dig the words to this song and the way Dylan sings them. I have always found that great lyrics are fascinating since you have to work at what they mean to you and their meaning changes as our lives progress and evolve. There are two relatively recent albums from Bob Dylan that I think are both consistently great and well-woth checking out: both are produced by Daniel Lanois: ‘Oh Mercy’ (1989) and ’Time Out of Mind’ (1997). If you haven’t heard either, I urge you to do so.
Here is a live version of “Silvio” by Mr. Dylan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRAUH48GYcE
During the pandemic Mr. Dylan released (on-line) a new song called “Murder Most Fowl’, it is nearly 17 minutes long and is pretty extraordinary! You can check it out here: https://bobdylan.lnk.to/MurderMostFoulAY
This Sunday, May 24th, the amazing Bob Dylan will turn 79! Happy Birthday to Bob and thanks for all of those great songs throughout his long and winding life! You have indeed enriched us all! - BLG/DMG
GREETING FELLOW EARTHLINGS AND GREAT GOOGELY-MOOGELY TO ALL DMG NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS!
Earlier this week, I finally returned to DMG after more the month of staying at home and hibernating. This is the longest period of time that I’ve been away from the store since we opened in May of 1991!?! It was great to be back, since I do miss being at the store and the comradery of those I work with. The main reason I came back was to help Frank Meadows reorganize and clean so that our mail-order can continue. Oye-yoy-oye! What a divine mess! It was a full day of cleaning & reorganizing and working our way through dozens (hundreds?) of orders that need some attention. Hence, we are a bit backed up with shipping & confirmations. So, this week’s newsletter is relatively short to give us some breathing space to catch up. Thanks again, for your patience. What I did do for this newsletter is make a short list of great discs which have come in during the April Pandemic Home Hibernation stay. One of good things about being home for so long is actually getting a chance to catch up with the many promo CD’s that are sitting next to me and listen to some for 2 or 3 or even more times, rather than just listening once, reviewing perhaps and then filing away.
Thanks again to DMG helpers: Frank Meadows, John Mori and Charmaine Lee, for keep DMG going! John is in the process of putting many rare discs (LP’s & CD’s) up on Discogs so please check them out. Peace & Love to One & All! - MC BruceLee
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.
TWO NEW DISCS FROM TZADIK:
JOHN ZORN // BRIAN MARSELLA / TREVOR DUNN / KENNY WOLLESEN - Calculus (Tzadik 8371; USA) “‘Calculus’ is another radical step forward for Zorn—two major 20-minute long-form compositions scored for piano trio. Featuring the incredible young pianist Brian Marsella along with the dynamic rhythm section of Trevor Dunn and Kenny Wollesen, this is a complex and exhilarating display of instrumental virtuosity at its most extreme. Drawing upon all of Zorn’s musical obsessions, from thorny atonality to touching minimalism, burning jazz, funk, folk, exotica, ambient, noise and more, this is some of the most ambitious and expansive music ever created for jazz piano trio. Passionately performed by three core members of Zorn’s inner circle Calculus is an outrageous and kaleidoscopic journey into the unknown!”
WITCH ’N’ MONK with HEIDI HEIDELBERG / MAURICIO VELASIERRA - Witch ’n’ Monk (Tzadik 7817; USA) “Blending Latin American flutes, electronics, complex vocal lines with a touch of Frank Zappa lyricism and a radical punk aesthetic, the duo of Heidi Heidelberg and Mauricio Velasierra crafts a dramatically bizarre vocal music from another dimension! Intertwining dark/light, feminine/masculine, composed/improvised and punk/romantic, dreamlike improvisations are sampled, manipulated and reinvented through the lens of contemporary music and pop. You have never heard anything quite like Witch 'n' Monk!” - Tzadik obi
“Witch ‘n’ Monk are a theatrical Anglo-Colombian duet featuring two very different musicians. Mauricio Velasierra plays a variety of flutes, while Heidi Heidelberg is a classically trained soprano singer who plays spiky prog-punk riffs on guitar while using looper pedals. They’ve released two mini-albums as Bitch ‘n’ Monk, but their new moniker rather suits the slightly shamanic, unearthly quality of their music.
This self-titled LP, recorded in rural Wales and in a former Stasi bunker in Berlin, is their first for John Zorn’s Tzadik label, and you can see what attracted a sonic anarchist such as Zorn to their music. They talk of “abandoning the egoistic 20th-century idea of the lone, male composer writing his opus” by recording stream-of-consciousness music: hours of sleep-deprived, endlessly mutating improvisations are sliced up and used as the basis for these slightly manic musical collages. Rather like Zorn, they make a mockery of genre – thrashy guitar riffs are overlaid with Amazonian panpipe melodies and flashes of Bollywood strings; multi-tracked choirs are digitally mutilated with terrifying effect; Reich-ish minimalism mutates into ecstatic samba. At points you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re listening to an opera, a futuristic hip-hop track and a folkloric field recording, all playing at once, in almost unlistenable discordance.
The album features several guest percussionists: drummer Nicolas Stoker delivers twisted, junkyard funk beats for the opener Escarbando; Seb Rochford freaks out on the playful, childlike postpunk of Coal Mine; The Cage sees Gidon Carmel providing a juddering tango in the disorientating time signature of 13/8. But Witch ‘n’ Monk don’t really need a drummer – they can create hypnotic beats by looping Heidelberg’s muted guitar riffs or Velasierra’s breathy overblowing. On Outchant, the pair improvise angular riffs over a compelling rhythmic chant; on the closing track Gualchovan, they provide ghostly noises over an antique drumbox.
If there’s any criticism, it’s that Heidelberg and Velasierra are rather profligate with their melodies: each track features an abundance of riffs and hooks that could provide the basis for a dozen proper songs. This is an album that frequently invokes the exploratory spirit of postpunk, but it would be fascinating to hear Witch ‘n’ Monk forced into punk’s three-minute concision.- John Lewis for The Guardian
SARA SCHOENBECK & WAYNE HORVITZ - Cell Walk (Songlines 1631; Canada) Bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck and pianist Wayne Horvitz have been musical partners for almost 20 years, notably in Horvitz's Gravitas Quartet (formed 2004) and his Some Days are Forever Afternoon (2015), both on Songlines. They formed this duo in 2018 to play a program of their own music, and this is the first recording. There is something unexpected and quite special in how beautifully the two instruments blend (mostly acoustic, occasionally involving electronics on the piano). The music is composed, improvised, and everywhere in between. It is a study of the crossroads where texture and extended technique meet with and support the expression of melody and song.
Schoenbeck is regarded as one of the premiere bassoonists of her time in improvised music, jazz and new music. Frequent collaborators include Anthony Braxton, Butch Morris, Mark Dresser, Tomeka Reid, Pamela Z, Roscoe Mitchell, Nels Cline, Nicole Mitchell, Michael Leonhart, and Henry Threadgill. She maintains her commitment to micro-tonal music and contemporary music, including recent performance of works by Boulez and Xenakis. She has worked with numerous chamber groups including SEM and The Wet Ink Ensemble, and has appeared as a featured improvising soloist with the Mivos Quartet performing Horvitz' These Hills of Glory (String Quartet and Improviser). She appears on the soundtracks to The Matrix 2 and 3, Dahmer and Spanglish.
Mr. Horvitz, an integral member of the NY Downtown scene in the 80s, is known for his long-standing collaborations with John Zorn, Butch Morris, Bill Frisell, Robin Holcomb et al., as well as being a prolific composer for orchestra, string quartet, mixed chamber instrumentations, and electronics. Recent works include commissions for the Seattle Symphony, The North Corner Chamber Orchestra, and an installation for the Seattle Art Museum. He is the recipient of the 2015 Doris Duke Performers Award and the 2019 America Prize.
HEROES ARE GANG LEADERS with THOMAS SAYERS ELLIS / JAMES BRANDON LEWIS / LUKE STEWART / WARREN “TRAE” CRUDUP III / MELANIE DYER / DEVIN BRAHJA WALDMAN / et al WILLIAM PARKER / JAIMIE BRANCH / ANNE WALDMAN - Artificial Happiness Button (Ropeadope 81526; USA) This is 5th release from Heroes are Gang Leaders (a/k/a HAGL), one of the best poet-led/fronted ensembles that I’ve heard in years, picking up where the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron left off. HAGL currently features musicians: James Brandon Lewis & Devin Brahja Waldman on saxes, Melanie Dyers on strings, Heru Shabaka-Ra & Jaimie Branch on trumpets, Janice Lowe & Nettie Chickering on piano, Luke Stewart & special guest William Parker on basses and Warren Crudup III on drums, plus a number of poets & vocalists. Right from the opening violin scrapes, we are soon gliding into an infectious, laid-back funky groove. As this tunes fades we hear some mighty fine electric piano and trumpet. Thomas Sayers Ellis is up front on “Mista Sippy”, supported by a cushion of female voices and more of the electric piano led groove fest vibes. Throughout much of the this there is a layer of multiple voices repeating chanting different lines together underneath whatever is taking place on top. What this reminds me of is this: a sort of an opera with several different lead vocalists often singing or speaking at the same time or answering one another while an eclectic choir chants below them, voices rising and falling like waves crashing on a beach. The music is held together by a core band of 1 or 2 saxes, trumpet, violin, el. piano, bass & drums. Another highlight is that swell, undulating, laid-back groove that feels soothing and will your head nodding up & down, up & down, with a soft knowing smile on your face. Another reference point would be later Funkadelic (like “Once Nation Under a Groove”), where Dr. Funkenstein keeps the multiple lead singers all singing, speaking and chanting in several swirling orbits simultaneously. There are two musicians who really stand out at times: Melanie Dyer on violin and Jaimie Branch on trumpet, with one or two of the saxes both playing the repeating lines or inserts short solos here & there. At 72 minutes, there is a great deal to take in and appreciate, no one seems to be in a hurry to keep any piece very short so we get to work our way through some long, infectious groove fests. There is quite a bit to listen to here as you must listen closely to the various, ever-changing layers going on and on. Heroes are Gang Leaders remain one of the best poet/vocal/el funk/rock/jazz units to emerge in years. You best get down and groove if you want to feel better for your mind and booty/body. - MC BruceLee at DMG
FROM THE GREAT ASTRAL SPIRITS LABEL:
ROB MAZUREK - Love Waves Ecstatic Charge (Astral Spirits 113; USA) The immensely prolific cornetist, Rob Mazurek, also plays electronics and has founded several different bands: Chicago Underground, San Paulo Underground, Exploding Star Orchestra, as well as working with Bill Dixon, Pharoah Sanders, Nicole Mitchell and many more. Mazurek also has several solo projects or band that he leads. Aside from all of that, Mr. Mazurek has a half-dozen plus solo efforts, each one quite different. The Astral Spirits label released 2 solo efforts ‘Love Waves Ecstatic Charge’ an eight part noise suite for RM modular synth with both digital and analogue signal employed. “Ecstatic” is the first part and it is an intense explosion of throbbing noise. The heavily reverberating sounds seems like it is about to explode, as if some other force is trying to break through this massive wall of noise. This mutated sound is most unnerving, disorienting. Occasionally is stops but then erupts again. There appears to be a certain sound or noise which is at the center and slowly being twisted and bent into different shapes. When it finally stops abruptly, it does feel good to hear some silence. “Love Waves” starts out quietly, soft electronics squiggles calmly melodic. It soon builds into several layers of electronics which I find to most fascinating. “Ecstatic Charge” is in between, the fractured signal erupting quickly but not too intensely. “Wave Charge” has an older, more analogue sound, more like those old (early seventies) Serge synths. The sound seems to move in a circular repeating pattern which changes somewhat as it unfolds. “Charged Waves” sounds like someone is trapped inside a large box and banging on it from with, sort of, but eventually changes but never goes too far out. The overall vibe here is strong, highly charged electronic sounds which rarely go too far out, although the first long piece nearly gets there. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ROB MAZUREK - Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV (Astral Spirits 114; USA) “On Rob Mazurek's Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV, the multi-instrumentalist, composer and visual artist has woven together esoteric and tangible elements on two extended tracks, with their origins in mysteries of the deep. His frequent objective is to musically capture any number of interactions between humans and nature, the spiritual world, and physical foundations. In that vein, Mazurek has addressed facets of these connections with Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers (Harmonipan, 2018), the experimental film and composition, The Farnsworth Scores (2018), and with Desert Encrypts Vol. 1 (Astral Spirits, 2019), a part of this Marfa Trilogy.
From 2000 to 2008, Mazurek captured the sounds of electric eels housed at The National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manus, Brazil. Much of what the electric eel does, and how it does it, is a mystery to scientists and a natural draw for an artist fascinated by the universes above and below us. Mazurek synthesizes the amplified sounds, which, in nature, bear a resemblance to motor neuron activity, and he generates glowing, slightly surging qualities that alter the sonic properties of the eel. Shadings and sharper aspects of these pieces spring from understated fluctuations in waveforms. The two tracks—"IV A" and "IV B"—are hypnotic; the first more meditative, the second, reverberating with electrical energy. Not conventionally musical, Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV is nevertheless systematically alive with its own dynamism. It grows and recedes in the distances of heartbeats; the source is never obvious but seems to come from everywhere.
Mazurek had premiered Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV at Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago in 2017 as part of a multi-media performance. The synthesis took place in Marfa, seemingly bringing the full circle of the composer's own roots to a close. But, because Mazurek does not work with strict adherence to rules of architecture or physics, he tends not to leave a static environment behind. There is always sonic residue flying off to create another life form and a new inspiration.” - Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz
THE DORF / PHILL NIBLOCK - Baobab (XI Records 142; USA) “Co-released with Umland Records, Germany. On one night in 2019, The Dorf (German for "village") took a heavy dose of the music of Phill Niblock. The impact on the musicians, gathering to play a double-length version of Niblock's "Baobab" and (in a second set) three "Dorf" tunes, was deep. It felt a bit like going to church -- a truly spiritual experience. At first, the audience did not believe the announcement that the "drone" piece would last for 46 minutes. Afterwards, their reactions showed the impression Phill's music had made on them. After a 20-minute break, three pieces followed -- a different game altogether, but connected to "Baobab" in the way that the energy and the feel for the evening had been thoroughly set by Mr. Niblock. Already his physical presence changed the reception for both musicians and listeners and the taste for this "wall of sound" was palpable. The Dorf (in itself already an orchestra of something like 25 people) had been augmented by friends to a total of 35 musicians -- almost too big to be true. In the second part of the evening, Katherine Liberovskaya projected along to the music some of her outstanding video work, which is obviously not documented on this album. Play the record at a not-too-soft volume and stick with it. One way or another, the music will get to you. Recorded live on September 19, 2019, domicil Dortmund Germany.
2 CD Set $24
BACK IN STOCK AFTER A LONG WHILE:
BOB MOSES With JEANNE LEE / TOM HARRELL / HAROLD VICK / RICHARD PERRY / HOWARD JOHNSON / JOANNE BRACKEEN/EDDIE GOMEZ / et al - Home In Motion (Ra-Kalam 04; USA) PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED and recorded in 1979. Personnel: Tom Harrell (Trumpet); Harold Vick (Tenor Sax, Flute); Richard Perry (Tenor & Soprano Sax); Barry Rogers (Trombone); Howard Johnson (Tuba, Baritone Sax); Joanne Brackeen (Piano); Chuck Loeb (Guitar); Eddie Gomez (Bass); Lincoln Goines (Electric Bass); Jeanne Lee (Voice); Sammy Figueroa (Congas & Percussion); Bob Moses (Drums) As a longtime fan of vocalist Jeanne Lee, anything I find that she is one is worth checking out. All of the dozen-plus records with her husband Gunter Hampel, solo recordings and collaborations with Ran Blake and Mal Waldron are worth seeking out. Turns out that she is also on a few records with Bob Moses, like this unreleased gem from 1979. Each of the dozen musicians here (see the full list below) are relatively well-known players. The opening song, "Metheusla's Blues' swings infectiously with some strong tenor sax from Harold Vick, another under-recorded great who was a member of a band called Compost with Moses a few years earlier. "The River" features a few layers of Jeanne Lee's chanting voice(s) along with multiple percussion, the effect is quite mesmerizing. The title track has an amazing, tight, spiraling, centrifugal force with some incredible soprano sax by Richard Perry, drumming by Moses... Had this album been released at the time it was recorded it would've certainly been a contender for the best progressive jazz record of the year! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOSH BERMAN / PAUL LYTTON / JASON ROEBKE - Trio Discrepancies (Astral Spirits 96; USA) Featuring Josh Berman on cornet, Jason Roebke on contrabass and Paul Lytton on drums. Each side of this LP was recorded in a different place, Padova, Italy on side A and Trondheim, Norway on Side B. There appears to be a number of great trumpeters/cornetists from Chicago who have emerged in the past decade: Rob Mazurek, Jaimie Branch, Corey Wilkes, Marquis Hill and Josh Berman. What makes each of these folks special is the they each lead and work in several bands. Josh Berman has a half dozen releases as a leader and each one has different personnel. This appears to be his third trio effort, the others with Jason Roebke & Frank Rosaly and Aram Shelton & Weasel Walter. For this trio Mr. Berman keeps longtime collaborator Jason Roebke and adds the British percussionist, Paul Lytton, who has played with many giants: Evan Parker, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Ken Vandermark and Nate Wooley.
I am not sure if this trio had ever played together before these two European dates but they do sound extremely well-matched. I am currently listening to Side A, the sound is superb, clean, clear, warm, focused, a perfect trio effort. What is great about this is this: the trio slowly evolve, come together, quietly at first, building nicely, the intensity slowly increasing throughout. Mr. Berman is concentrating here, first with smears and more strained note bending, then erupting more. Mr. Lytton is a master of texture and small gestures. The energy increases through the entirety of Side B, eventually slowing down to what sounds like a ballad which fades before it finishes. Perhaps the concert was longer, either way, this is a strong, spirited offering. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MOONDOG // DUSTIN LAURENZI with NICK MAZZARELLA / JASON STEIN / CHAD McCULLOUGH / DAVE MILLER / MATT ULERY / QUIN KIRSCHNER / RYAN PACKARD - Snaketime: The Music of Moondog (Astral Spirits 084; USA) “Many genius artists have been labeled as freaks or lunatics because they didn't conform to the standards of civil society, let alone the codes of behavior for musicians. Thelonious Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra are obvious examples of brilliant creators whose music endures and is celebrated. Add to that list Louis Thomas Hardin (1916-1999) aka Moondog. The blind composer-musician could often be found on 6th Avenue in New York dressed as a Viking, selling his music and poetry. His music was difficult to pigeonhole. It was minimalist, modal, orchestral, jazz, found sound and, you get it, ubiquitous. He favored contrapuntal arrangements, and that is where Chicago saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi picks up the trail with Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog.
Laurenzi leads the quartet Natural Language, contributes to the trio Twin Talk, as well as performing with the indie folk band Bon Iver. His tenor saxophone is seemingly always the quiet voice (of reason) on the bandstand. With this exploration of Moondog's music he brings his rational approach, playing and skilled arrangements to these seven covers. Recorded live in 2018, this project is realized with a current Who's Who of Chicago improvisers.
Opening with "Nero's Expedition," bass clarinetist Jason Stein carries the melody over the percussion cavalcade of Quin Kirchner and Ryan Packard. The ensemble joins, layering the quirky melody as if braiding a lengthy carpet. Laurenzi takes great care to preserve the integrity of Moondog's compositions. You may have heard "Lament 1 (Bird's Lament)," written for Charlie Parker; a few years ago, it was played on an almost continuous loop as an automobile commercial. It may be the perfect example of Moondog's contrapuntal sound, with Laurenzi, alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella and trumpeter Chad McCullough crossing the melodic lines over the infectious percussive attack. Moondog favored Native American rhythms, which he heard as a youngster in Kansas at the feet of Arapaho Chief Yellow Calf. Those sounds can be heard on "All Is Loneliness" and "Remember." Laurenzi's arrangements untangle the complex, making the music very simple, yet very demanding at the same time. The disc ends with an open-ended interpretation of "Lullaby," with Stein's bass clarinet squawking over Dave Miller's pinging guitar and the orchestral tidal flow of the other bandmates. This feels like a fitting end to this most excellent tribute.” - Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz.com
LP $18 [LTD Edition]
MAKO SICA & HAMID DRAKE - Balancing Tear (Feeding Tube 513 / Astral Spirits; USA) "A glorious re-match for Chicago's superb free-rock trio, Mako Sica, and the jazz world's percussionist of choice, Hamid Drake. Their last collaboration, Ronda (FTR 409LP, 2018) was a glorious, open-ended studio conversation spread across two LPs. Balancing Tear is a mix of studio and live recordings, awash with calmly oceanic passages, interspersed with compressed and feverish form-blurts. As with Ronda, the heft of the material is dynamically advanced. The album begins with passages worthy of Morricone's western soundtracks, but the action mutates with rapid surety. There's a track that will make you think of a micro-dosed Vic Damone singing ballad for the Sephardic Justice Society with chunky, obtuse piano accompaniment recalling the work of Chris Abrahams (Necks). There are stretches of proggy soundtrack-y expansion with muted trumpet and deep bass roiling that make me think of Mark Cunningham's superb electro-jazz combo, Blood Quartet. There are even shadows of tango that emerge in places like sharks' fins breaching. Having played together as much as they have over the intervening years, Hamid's presence inside the overall gestalt of the sound is a natural fit. Mako Sica's sound expands without making it seem like there's a new element grafted to it. It's just bigger and better. As all freedom should be." - Byron Coley, 2020
PETER BROTZMANN - 14 Love Poems (Cien Fuegos 023; Austria) “Inspired by a poetry booklet by Kenneth Patchen (from which it takes its title), 14 Love Poems focuses on expression and emotion. Recorded and first released by FMP in 1984. Peter Brötzmann: alto, tenor & baritone saxophone; a-,e-flat and bass clarinet, tarogato. Cover by Peter Brötzmann. Producer: Jost Gebers, Peter Brötzmann. Mix: Jost Gebers, Peter Brötzmann. All compositions by Peter Brötzmann except "Nr. 1 baritone-sax / Lonely Woman" by Ornette Coleman. 180 gram vinyl.”
TERRY RILEY - Persian Surgery Dervishes (Aguirre Records 004; Belgium) “Limited restock. The classic minimal music album is now available again on vinyl for the first time since the '70s. During the 1970s, Californian composer Terry Riley concentrated on solo keyboard performances, continuing to make music yet writing down almost nothing. Riley selected a mode, chose a few motifs or basic patterns and then, seated on the floor in front of his audience, improvised on electronic keyboard. The electric organ, superseded at later concerts by a synthesizer, was portable and consistent. By the early '70s, Riley had come to feel that scores were a distraction. Faithful interpretation of an already written piece was a deviation from the true purpose of making music, which was spiritual quest. Fortunately, some of those live performances were captured on tape. Persian Surgery Dervishes, issued initially on the French label Shandar in 1972, features two such concerts for electric organ and reel-to-reel delay, one recorded in Los Angeles on April 18th, 1971, the other in Paris on May 24th, 1972. At the start of that decade, Riley became a dedicated student of the great Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath. Looking into North Indian classical tradition, he found correspondences to modal and cyclic ideas that he was already working on. In 1971, Riley started teaching Indian music at Mills College, in Oakland. That experience fed directly into his solo keyboard performances, but other influences were also shaping his music. Personal research into ancient Persian culture and the poetry of Rumi lit up his imagination, while the repetitive swirling of Sufi devotional music from North Africa and jazz, an enduring source of inspiration, reverberate through these performances. The Californian version of Persian Surgery Dervishes starts with low dark tones, dense and brooding like a huddled human figure, deep in introspection. But as the improvisation unfolds Riley's buoyant spirit asserts itself, spiraling out in ecstatic coils. The Parisian concert conveys a different mood, brighter and more open in texture, more relaxed from the outset and breathing with greater freedom as it takes flight. Persian Surgery Dervishes is a mesmerizing record of a vital stage in Riley's ongoing quest for connection with the universal mind and sublime music. "Music is my spiritual path. It's my way of finding out who I am." --Terry Riley, 1976 Includes insert with liner notes by Julian Cowley; Lacquer cut by Rashad Becker; Layout by Jeroen Wille; Remastered by Equusl; Licensed from FGL Productions.
2 LP Set $36
MAGGI PAYNE - Arctic Winds (Aguirre Records Zorn 066; Belgium) Aguirre Records present a reissue of Maggi Payne's Arctic Winds, originally released on CD in 2010. Fully immersive electronic music by US composer Maggi Payne, inspired by the arctic winds. Payne's sound worlds invite the listeners to enter the sound and be carried with it, experiencing it from the inside out in intimate detail. The sounds are almost tactile and visible. The music is based on location recordings, with each sound carefully selected for its potential -- its slow unfolding revealing delicate intricacies -- and its inherent spatialization architecting and sculpting the aural space where multiple perspectives and trajectories coexist. With good speakers, some space in your schedule, and a mind-body continuum willing to resonate with Payne's electroacoustic journey, but then it will take you to places that other music can't reach. From the sounds of dry ice, space transmissions, BART trains, and poor plumbing she immerses the listener in a world strangely unfamiliar. Maggi Payne is a composer, video artist, recording engineer, photographer, and flutist and is co-director of the Center for Contemporary Music and a faculty member at Mills College, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
MAGGI PAYNE - Ahh-Ahh (Aguirre Records 067; Belgium) “Aguirre Records present a reissue of Maggi Payne's Ahh-Ahh, originally released in 2012 on Root Strata. Originally composed by Maggi Payne between 1984-1987 for the performance group Technological Feets. Formed by video artist Ed Tennenbaum in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1981, the group combines dance, live video processing, and music. Composed on an Apple II computer and various early sampling devices, Payne's compositions are a vibrant response to the call from the moving body. Populated with buoyant pulses, graceful analog swells, dense fog-like drones, and cascading rhythms that shift in space, Ahh-Ahh is a vital document of not only these early collaborations, but of computer-based music as well. She studied with many greats in the field, including Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley, and David Behrman.
A DOZEN RECOMMENDED CD’S RELEASE DURING THE APRIL PANDEMIC HIBERNATION STAY:
DOPOLARIANS with KIDD JORDAN / WILLIAM PARKER / ALVIN FIELDER / KELLEY HURT / CHRISTOPHER PARKER / CHAD FOWLER - Garden Party (Mahakala Music 190-001; USA) Featuring Kidd Jordan on tenor sax, Chad Fowler on alto sax & saxello, Christopher Parker on piano, William Parker on contrabass, Alvin Fielder on drums and Kelley Hurt on vocals. This session was recorded in a studio in New Orleans in June of 2018. This is a mostly southern crew with three elders, Kidd Jordan, William Parker (NYC) and Alvin Fielder (original AACM musician and longtime Mississippi musician). The session organizer is Chad Fowler, whose name I recall very much. Pianist Chris Parker’s name I recall from his work with George Cartwright & his band called Curlew as well as a CD from saxist Henry Warner, who is an old friend of William Parker’s. All of the songs were written by Mr. Fowler, Ms. Hurt and Chris Parker with one free improvisation piece at the beginning. The free piece opens and is called, “C-Melody”. It has a lovely, relaxed, dreamy, free sound with some superb mallet-work from Mr. Fielder. So nice to hear both saxes play with such sublime, calm, spaciousness. The sextet stretches out even more on “Dopolaria”, another laid back, organic, free flowing jam with some incredible piano from Chris Parker, who keeps each hand going in different directions simultaneously. On “Father Dies, Son Dies”, Fowler has written a theme that reminds me of Soft Machine ‘Four’, my favorite record by the Softs. The sound of the saxello and tenor sax blend together into a dream-like haze. Most enchanting. Mr. Fowler plays the immensely rare saxello on this piece, an instrument make popular by Elton Dean who is featured on that very Soft Machine album. Ms. Hurt wrote the equally enchanting, playful song, “Garden Party”, which has a child-like melody with lovely vocals from Ms. Hurt. Mr. Fowler takes off on saxello once again, spinning out quick daredevil lines while Ms. Hurt sings like a ghost floating around the session, her voice most angelic and uplifting. Mr. Fowler also wrote “Guilty Happy” which features some inspired, bittersweet sounds from his alto sax, reminding me somewhat of Thomas Chapin who could spin those lines outside and inside at the same time. The thing I like most about this disc is that it is mostly free music in which no one screams or blasts or plays too loudly. It casts a spell on all who will listen that tree is some calm in the eye of the storm. 4 stars! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LIBERTY ELLMAN with STEVE LEHMAN / JONATHAN FINLAYSON / JOSE DAVILA / STEPHAN CRUMP / DAMION REID - Last Desert (Pi Records 85; USA) Last Desert is guitarist-composer Liberty Ellman‘s follow up to his critically-acclaimed Radiate (Pi 2015), which the Wall Street Journal praised as “bristling with energy and innovation” and Downbeat called “unique, indelible and fully human.” Ellman was named the #1 Rising Star Guitarist in the 2016 Downbeat Critics Poll and one of four guitarists of the year in the expanded Jazz Times Critics Poll, alongside Bill Frisell, John Scofield, and Julian Lage. He is widely lauded for his signature role in Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, including on the Pulitzer Prize-winning In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi 2015). His unorthodox style enlivens groups as varied as Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, Joe Lovano’s Village Rhythms Band and Universal Ensemble, the JD Allen Quartet, Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Guitar Orchestra, and also with artists such as Nicole Mitchell, Ches Smith, and Rwandan-Ugandan singer, Somi. He is also featured in Luanda-Kinshasa, the film collaboration between Stan Douglas and Jason Moran that exhibited originally at David Zwirner Gallery in New York and was recently part of Moran’s large-scale exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Pianist and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer said of Ellman: “When I first heard Liberty over twenty-five years ago, he quickly became my number one favorite living guitarist/composer, and he has held that position ever since. He is a musician’s musician, bursting with creativity and keen intuition, with a knack for haunting melodies, rich textures, deep grooves, and hard edges, all deployed with consummate taste.”
Last Desert, Ellman’s fourth release on Pi Recordings, takes its name from 4 Deserts, an annual ultramarathon through some of the harshest environments on Earth: from the Atacama in South America to the Gobi in China, the Sahara in Egypt, and the “White Desert” of Antarctica. Like the stark contrast between the beauty of these landscapes and the grueling nature of the races, Ellman’s compositions strike a charged balance between unfiltered emotion, a painterly lyricism, and pure intellectual depth. As Ellman explains: “There is something profound about the idea that these athletes have the will to compete in the most severe environments on earth. In a way this whole event gives me hope. Our species needs people with that level of tenacity to lead the way toward the future.”
Going deep from the first note, Ellman begins Last Desert with the reflective, intimate track “The Sip.” Built around an elegantly-structured melody that puts all of Ellman’s gifts as a master of his instrument on display, the song emanates resolve and vulnerability in equal measure. Around the guitarist’s searching lines, the saxophone, trumpet and tuba move like constellations over a desert horizon. On the album’s eponymous centerpiece, the music moves with an episodic, narrative flow that transforms over an unfolding landscape. Ellman’s incisive soloing and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson’s ultra-cool rejoinders cut diagonally across tight chronometric work from drummer Damion Reid and bassist Stephan Crump. The second part of the composition opens atmospherically: The musicians seem to struggle for oxygen at first, which makes alto saxophonist Steve Lehman’s full-throated playing all the more thrilling, and tuba virtuoso Jose Davila’s humanism all the more poignant. The “B side” of Last Desert, which includes the colorful, ballad intro to “Portals” and the mechanically precise use of hockets on “Doppler” shows off Ellman at his most kaleidoscopic.
All of the musicians from Radiate reunite for Last Desert. Together, they evidence the community aspect of this music: Davila has played with Ellman in Henry Threadgill’s Zooid since that bands inception almost 20 years ago and is a member of Lehman’s Octet. In addition to being a long-standing member of Steve Coleman’s Five Elements, Finlayson also plays regularly in many of Lehman’s aggregations, as well as with Threadgill. Reid is a member of Lehman’s trio and was in Finlayson’s Sicilian Defense. Crump, who is perhaps best known for playing with Vijay Iyer, works with Ellman in his own Rosetta Trio. This shared musical history and familiarity enables Ellman to compose with these musician specifically in-mind. Ellman’s warm, clear lines, Finlayson’s clean lyricism and Lehman’s acerbic tone — blend together beautifully. The doubling of Davila and Crump add a distinct, syncopated pulse while Reid bring his usual dynamic panache. According to Davila, “Liberty wrapped his compositional hand around us so that we can bring life to his gestures and designs.” This is something you experience with Last Desert: There is a unity in the way this band plays, as if the air between them had been scrubbed clean. Together they conjure Ellman’s panoramic musical vista with brilliant clarity.”
SCOTT FIELDS ENSEMBLE with FRANK GRATKOWSKI / INGRID LAUBROCK / MATTHIAS SCHUBERT / PASCAL NIGGENKEMPER / CHRISTIAN WEBER / et al - Seven Deserts (New World Records 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.
GORDON GRDINA’S THE MARROW with HANK ROBERTS / JOSH ZUBOT / MARK HELIAS / et al - Safar-e-daroon (Songlines SGL 2410; Canada) ”With their second release, Vancouver oud player Gordon Grdina's middle eastern/avant jazz ensemble is now a quintet with three outstanding string players: illustrious New York improvisers Mark Helias (bass) and Hank Roberts (cello) are joined by Vancouver violinist Josh Zubot; Hamin Honari continues on Persian percussion. Grdina's compositions are mostly based on classical middle eastern traditions but are performed in a creative jazz context where improvised group interplay is as important as solos.
Grdina comments: “This recording carries on the development of the ensemble from where Ejdeha left off. The group is defining its own aesthetic, combining aspects of the Persian dastgah and Arabic Maqam systems with free improvisation and harmonic fluidity. The band is dedicated to creating modern music that pays homage to tradition while championing personal expression. The title Safar-e-daroon means 'inner journey.' The group as a whole and each of the individual musicians are searching inward to best express their own experience of life, love and sorrow. We hope this music will help the listener on their own Safar-e-daroon.
This project extends Grdina's previous fusions involving jazz improvisation and middle eastern music, from his 2006 debut Think Like the Waves to East Van Strings' The Breath of Statues and his 10-piece Arabic band Haram's Her Eyes Illuminate. It also draws to some extent on his more avant jazz and guitar-based New York projects No Difference (featuring Helias), and the recent quartet releases Inroads and Cooper's Park.
JAMES BRANDON LEWIS / CHAD TAYLOR - Live is Willisau (Intakt 342; Switzerland) “After the brilliant finale at the 2019 Willisau Jazz Festival with saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and drummer Chad Taylor, Lucerne journalist Pirmin Bossart wrote: "The music sought neither to preach nor impress, instead revealing itself as pure, spirited intensity. ‘Yeah! Yeah!’ James Brandon cries after the final note of ‘Willisee’ adding a jubilant ‘Wow!’”. The duo had just finished a track which Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell played on the same stage in 1980, a stage where Max Roach & Archie Shepp also wrote jazz history. Lewis and Taylor pay tribute to this legacy and conjure up the spirit of Great Black Music in the very first piece with an homage to John Coltrane. New Yorker James Brandon Lewis has attracted attention in recent years with his album UnRuly Manifesto. The record was listed among the best new releases of 2019 in the USA. The "New York Times" attests him a great musical autonomy: “James Brandon Lewis, a jazz saxophonist in his 30s, raw-toned but measured, doesn’t sound steeped in current jazz academy values and isn’t really coming from a free-improvising perspective. There’s an independence about him.” The drummer Chad Taylor comes from Chicago and has played with Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Ribot, Malachi Favors and Nicole Mitchel. On Intakt Records he plays on the live album with Aruan Ortiz and Brad Jones. Bossart writes: “The two musicians let us hear the great breath of an essential jazz tradition, its clarity, raw beauty and urgency shining through, even in the melting pot of contemporary jazz debates. The musicians are not stuck in a version of the past. At every second they are part of the musical process, which shapes itself and pulses with their experiences of the here and now. This is about a continuum, occurring yesterday, today and tomorrow. Why else would jazz have retained till today its transformative power?”
THE NECKS with CHRIS ABRAHAMS / LLOYD SWANTON / TONY BUCK - Three (Northern Spy 126; USA) The Necks have a lot of records out (this is their 21st) and, somehow, miraculously, they usually find something new to present or a new angle to present every time. This is one of their great ones!
“Three, the 21st album from legendary Australian instrumental trio The Necks, is a winding, textural, and visceral musical exploration through three individual, contrasting tracks that each delve into separate tenets of their sound. Three’s variety of tones and structures offer a glimpse into the boundless, immersive sonic universe The Necks have been constructing, through recorded and live performance, for over 30 years: three musicians, three variable songs, highlighting three decades of groundbreaking experimental excellence.
From its very first moments, “Bloom” rattles and propels listeners through a dense, mesmerizing soundscape of unceasing intensity. Directly juxtaposing the consuming rattle of the opener, “Lovelock,” dedicated to the memory of Damien Lovelock, former frontman of The Celibate Rifles, is a weightless and atmospheric threnody that ruminates in the quiet and overwhelming moments of grief. The final setting of Three is one of warmth and familiarity.
“Further,” is a confident, seductive groove in a quintuple meter, reminiscent of the groups’ work on records like Sex (1989) and Aquatic (1994). Contrasting the style of their celebrated improvisational live act, the group’s studio work is meticulously sculpted from beginning to end. On Three, Chris Abrahams (piano), Lloyd Swanton (bass), Tony Buck (drums/percussion), and their long-time backend collaborators Tim Whitten (engineer) and Doug Henderson (master) have again scrupulously built music that focuses on the most intricate edges of staggeringly immense, diverse worlds. From strained to still to smoky, each piece of Three marks itself as distinct and its own, but all feel representative of Australia’s greatest cult band, The Necks.”
JOHN RUSSELL / OLIE BRICE / HENRY KAISER / RAY RUSSELL - The Dukes of Bedford (Fractal Music 2020-B/Balance Point Acoustics 909; USA) Featuring John Russell, Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell on acoustic & electric guitars and Ollie Brice on double bass. When Henry e-mailed about this release a month ago, he was extremely excited about how it came out. Getting together with not one, but two of legendary British avant/jazz guitarists was a dream come true for Mr. Kaiser. Both Russell’s come from much different scenes/backgrounds/sessions and have not worked together before. I had thought that John Russell is the elder here, at age 66, but this is not the case. He is known for playing mainly acoustic guitar and has worked with Evan Parker, John Butcher, Paul Lovens & Roger Turner. Over the past few years Mr. Russell started to play electric guitar in live situations with Thurston Moore. Mr. Russell has had some serious health issues over the past few years and is supposed to pass away from cancer in the near future. The real elder here is Ray Russell, who just turned 73 last Saturday (April 4th). Ray Russell is mainly an electric guitarist, whose long career (1st album in 1968) has embraced mainstream, progress and free/jazz, fusion, tone of session work, production and engineering. Ray Russell has worked with a diverse cast of musicians & composers: John Barry, Georgie Fame, Bill Fay, Nucleus and Gil Evans. If you can find a copy, you should check out ‘Live at the ICA / Retrospective’ (on Mokai from 2000). Mr. Kaiser has been a longtime friend of Ray Russell and finally got a chance to record with him in 2015 for the album, ‘The Celestial Squid’ (Cuneiform & still in print!). Mr. Kaiser has been wanting to work with Ray Russell ever since and finally got the chance to organize this session, along with another hero of his John Russell in March of this year (2020). To complete the line-up, acoustic bassist, Olie Brice was added. DMG regulars should recognize MR. Brice name from more recent discs with Paul Dunmall, Ingrid Laubrock and Alex Ward.
Each piece on this disc features a quartet (1), trio (6) or duo (1). The opening piece is the quartet and it is an intense, free blast of UK insect improv music at its best. The second piece is a trio of John Russell, Kaiser & Brice. The intensity increases here, with Mr. Brice doing a great job of bridging the two guitars, holding down the central throb while the guitars push each other further out while tossing back lines in a fascinating, heated conversation. Each trio has different personnel so that we get to hear the different combinations with their distinctive sounds. The third track is both Russell’s & Mr. Brice. What’s interesting is the way Ray on electric and John on acoustic work together with Brice’s low-end bowed bass at the bottom, providing a cosmic ghost-like presence. Both Russell’s take their time, bending and twisting their notes slowly weaving their lines around one another. It sounds as if John Russell has switched to electric on track 4 in a trio with Kaiser & Bruce. This one goes out even further with that bristling bowed bass interweaving with two scary electric guitars. Wow, truly brutal, also somehow beautiful like the awesome power of Mother Nature at her most inspiring. I really dig the spaciousness on track 5 (JR/OB/RR), it sounds as if each member of the trio is playing in a different time zone yet they are still connected somehow. Henry Kaiser, who has done hundreds of improvised sessions, always seems to find a way to reach and engage everyone he works with. I can hear some extraordinary interaction going on on track 6, both he and John Russell are on acoustic guitars and are creating a web of activity with Mr. Brice’s bass finding its way into the superb blend. The final piece is an incredible duo with John Russell and Henry Kaiser on electric guitars. Although the piece starts quietly, it just keeps going into some strange, alien world with all kinds of bent notes, some of which are manipulated by the select devices that both players use. It is a great way of bringing this challenging, awe-inspiring disc to a grand close. A special toast to the great John Russell! -Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAVE SEWELSON / STEVE SWELL / WILLIAM PARKER / MARVIN BUGALU SMITH - More Music for a Free World (Mahakala Music 20-002; USA) Featuring Dave Sewelson on bari sax, Steve Swell on trombone, William Parker on contrabass and Marvin Bugalu Smith on drums. This is the second disc from this Downtown All-Star Elder Statesmen Quartet. Both Dave Sewelson (Microscopic Septet & early bands with Robin Holcomb) and William Parker (multi-bandleader) I’ve known from the early days of the Downtown scene in the early 1980’s, when they began working together. I’ve known trombonist extraordinaire, Steve Swell, for almost as long, way back when he worked with Walter Thompson, Perry Robinson and (Joey’s) Baron-Down. The real elder cat here is Marvin Bugalu Smith who has worked with Sun Ra, Archie Shepp and Charles Mingus. This is a studio effort recorded in Brooklyn in December of 2018 and it consists of three long pieces. The first piece is called, “Memories”, and right away we are off, the quartet is soaring together. This disc was recorded by Jim Clouse, one the best studio men around. I have can several conversations going on at the same time, the bari sax and trombone swirling around one another, stretching out, soloing together, hitting those lower notes together, tight and connected. Contrabassist Parker and drum wiz, Bugalu Smith also sound connected to several inner pulses. My old pal Steve Swell sure does sound wonderful when he solos, ever inspired and ready to erupt. He and Sewelson are great sparring partners, their energy is infectious. The ever combustable William Parker sounds especially calm here at the center of the storm providing the cosmic pulse when need be and then bringing things to a standstill midway before things build up once again. Mr. Bugalu Smith is a master drummer and is in great form here, balancing the thread between the interplay of the frontline horns and inner pulse William Parker provides as the quartet resonates together, expanding & contracting, breathing together as one force of nature. The second piece is called “Dreams” and the organic flow continues. I love the way Sewelson will start off with one line repeating it slowly, Swell will pick it up, answer it, repeat it and then the two will toss their lines back and forth while the dynamic rhythm team will also provide ongoing, ever-evolving elastic support. When Mr. Swell speeds up, the temperature starts to rise, the vibe gets more intense, but then calms back down for a soft landing in the an oasis of peace. I find this music to be most inspiring, four humans working/playing together creating a better world where all of the parts are aligned. Right now the Sun is shining through my kitchen window and radiating warmth. The music here has a similar vibe. Let’s resonate together and rise like free spirits. Where’s the smile-faced emoji?!?! - Bruce Lee Gallanter at DMG
CLIVE STEVENS with JOHN ABERCROMBIE / RALPH TOWNER / STEVE KAHN / RICK LAIRD / BILLY COBHAM - Atmospheres (ESC Records 3750; Earth) Saxman/keyboard player Clive Stevens from Bristol, England, was among the earliest to explore the nexus of jazz/rock and electric jazz in his two 1974 albums. And both releases, "Atmospheres" and "Voyage to Uranus" have stood the test of time. "Atmospheres" was finished in one day with no rehearsals in New York City. This was a super session of the highest level with bassist Rick Laird and drummer Billy Cobham´s only recording together outside John Mclaughlin´s Mahavishnu Orchestra.The world class guitarists Steve Khan and John Abercrombie feeding off of each others´ incredible talent, Ralph Towner on electric piano/ring modulator in awesome form and Harry Wilkinson added later on percussion.
CHAD TAYLOR TRIO with BRIAN SETTLES / NEIL PODGURSKI - The Daily Biological (Cuneiform 467; USA) As the debut recording of an ensemble rooted in deep and abiding friendships The Daily Biological is a creatively roiling conversation. The unusual trio of drums (Chad Taylor), saxophone (Brian Settles) and piano (Neil Podgurski) creates tough and engaging music that unfurls in kinetic conversational bursts.
Mr. Taylor is probably best known as co-founder of the Chicago Underground Duo with trumpeter Rob Mazurek (and the numerous Underground iterations. A professional on the Chicago scene from the age of 16, he’s worked with many of the most celebrated artists in improvised music including Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts, Ken Vandermark, Darius Jones, James Brandon Lewis, Jaimie Branch, Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot, and Peter Brötzmann, and has also led numerous acclaimed ensembles of his own.
The absence of a bass means all three players sometimes step into the low-end role. A musical problem to be solved “we all approached it differently,” Taylor says. “All of our tunes explore different ways to utilize a trio without a bass. You need to be really strong in your playing.”
Part of the reason the music feels so lived in is that Taylor traces his friendships with Settles and Podgurski back to their mid-1990s undergrad years in the New School in New York City. Years later, determined to start playing together again they set out creating a body of music for a specific grant. When the grant didn’t come through, Taylor felt so strongly about the budding ensemble that he spearheaded the quest for gigs and recording opportunities.
It’s hardly news that Taylor is one of jazz’s most dependably inspired drummers. The Daily Biological should turn many more ears onto his vivid imagination as a bandleader and composer, opening a new window into his expansive musical vision.
ANNA WEBBER / ANGELA MORRIS BIG BAND with LISA PARROTT / ADAM O’FARRILL / KENNY WARREN / PATRICIA BRENNAN / DUSTIN CARLSON / MARC HANNAFORD / ADAM HOPKINS / JEFF DAVIS / et al - Both Are True (Greenleaf 1075; USA) Since moving here from British Columbia, I’ve had my eye & ear on saxist/composer Anna Webber. As a collaborator, I’ve heard her with Harris Eisenstadt, Matt Mitchell, John Hollenbeck and Dave Douglas. As a composer and bandleader, she has continued to make leaps and strides with each of her four fabulous previous releases. Ms. webber’s co-leader here is another saxist & composer named Angela Morris, an equally talented musician who has worked with Myra Melford & Jessica Pavone and leads several of her own bands. I caught this big band at the Jazz Gallery earlier this year and was immensely impressed by the compositions and playing. I only recognize the names of about half of the 19 members listed on this disc but no matter it is the music that counts.
Starting with the opener, “Climbing on Mirrors” (by Ms. Webber), I am most impressed with the way the saxes are knitted together, repeating that hypnotic line over and over like a morse code communicado. The alto sax solo by Charlotte Greve is superb, what a great tone she has! Although there are no strings in this orchestra, all of those horns sound like an orchestra of sweeping colors, only a great composer/arranger could pull this off so successfully. Towards the end of this piece is a drum solo by Jeff Davis (one of NYC’s finest!), which is at the center of storms of swirling horns and ends with an enchanting chorus of voices as it fades away. The title track, “Both are True” (by Ms. Morris), again uses a motif of several layers of horns moving intricately around one another. I like the way there are some many layers going on simultaneously, each layer providing richly harmonized lines. New vibes player in town, Patricia Brennan, take a great solo midway so you best keep your eye & ear on her, she is here to stay and blow some minds along the way. One of the more angular pieces here is called “Rebonds” (by Webber), which features some spikey guitar from Dustin Carlson. I know that the great, ever-challenging composer Xenakis also had a piece by the name title, not sure if there is any relation to the two but I was impressed nonetheless. ”Coral” (by Morris) features several waves of shifting drones, all those the horns? No electronics?!? Very clever. This piece is both free and focused at the same time with several waves emerging and submerging simultaneously. Trumpet solo by another young monster Adam O’Farrill is also spot on! I like the way, “And It Rolled Right Down” starts off slow and soft pulsating and progresses to get freer as it goes, from standing steadfast to slowing sinking in quicksand and losing (y)our balance. The final piece, “Reverses” (also by Ms. Webber”), again starts with some soft pulsating, repeating horn lines, which start up, build and then stop, soon to start up again and build even more. Each horn layer is carefully crafted so that the different interlocking patterns connect for a while and then drop out time and again. By midway, several intricate layers coalesce, coming together in a tight, complex explosion that sounds as if it will spin out of control but never does. Just wait into you get there, it will bring a smile since it sounds like the complexity of life itself. Without a doubt, one the best discs I’ve heard this year (2020)! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SABU TOYOZUMI / YONG YANDSEN / RICK COUNTRYMAN / SIMON TAN - Voices of the Spirit (Chap-Chap Records CPCD-016; Japan) Featuring Rick Countryman on alto sax, Yong Yandsen on tenor sax, Simon Tan on acoustic bass and Sabu Toyozumi on drums. This mighty fine disc was recorded at the Tago Jazz Cafe in the Philippines on March 1st, 2020, which was only 2 months ago. Over the few years, we have gotten in a few discs from an American-born, Philippines-based alto saxist named Rick Countryman. Mr. Countryman has been hooking up with the legendary Japanese free/jazz drummer, Sabu Toyozumi, an old master who has worked with many other giants: Kaoru Abe, Peter Brotzmann, Misha Mengelberg and Paul Rutherford. The other two members of this quartet I know very little about aside from bassist Simon Tan being on a couple of other discs with Mr. Countryman. The tenor player here, Yong Yandsen, also recorded with Paal Nilsson-Love for a trio CD which was released a few months ago (March of 2020).
The first thing I noticed about this disc is how well it is recorded. Considering that it is recorded live, it has perfect, well-balanced sound! The quartet is/are on fire right from the opening salvo, both saxists are in fine form, consistently burning with scorch/fire intensity/spirit. Considering that the production is so good, we can hear the way all four members work together. Even when both saxists are blasting at the same time, we hear the way the rhythm team must balance & connect the two free spirits as they soar. When things finally calm down midway, the saxists do a great job of more relaxed note-bending calesthenics. I can hear some of the John Zorn/Tamio extreme high-end bent-note weirdness in what Countryman does from time to time, although both saxists here are restless explorers who rarely stay in one tonal or textural place for very long. Midway through “Unity of Opposites” the quartet calm down to a more somber simmer which feels so good after taking us to the top of the mountain. Tenor saxist Yandsen does a bit of vocalizing through his sax at times which gives him a Brotzmann-like sound although it doesn’t last very long. During the past month (April of 2020), I have stuck at home and listening to quite a bit of vinyl that I’ve never heard. It is a diverse menu and I haven’t heard much completely free music in a while. This disc makes me realize how much I miss me weekly dose of cosmic/free/music. So good to heart this again! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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:
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 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)
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.