(That’s It for) The Other One / Cryptical Envelopment
Lyrics by Robert Hunter, Music by The Grateful Dead
The other day they waited,
the sky was dark and faded,
Solemnly they stated,
"He has to die, you know he has to die."
All the children learnin',
from books that they were burnin',
Every leaf was turnin’: to watch him die,
You know he had to die.
The summer sun looked down on him
His mother could but frown on him
And all the others sound on him
but it doesn't seem to matter
And when the day had ended,
with rainbow colors blended,
His mind remained unbended,
he had to die, you know he had to die.
Spanish lady comes to me, she lays on me this rose.
It rainbow spirals round and round it trembles and explodes.
It left a smoking crater of my mind I like to blow away.
But the heat came 'round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day.
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin', around,
comin', around, in a circle
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle,
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' in a circle.
Skippin' through the lily fields I came across an empty space,
It trembled and exploded, left a bus stop in it's place.
The bus came by and I got on, that's when it all began,
There was cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to never ever land.
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin', around,
comin', around, in a circle
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle,
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' in a circle.
And when the day had ended, with rainbow colors blended,
Their minds remained unbended,
He had to die, Oh, you know he had to die.
Being locked-up for the past 2 months has been difficult for everyone everywhere on this planet. We all need some sort of inspiration because reading real or fake news is usually too depressing. I have been on a journey to listen to as much interesting music as possible to make up for my Live Music Jones (addiction): records, CD’s, cassettes, downloads, videos, as well as reading (Keith Rowe & George Lewis AACM books currently) books, old magazines and on-line sources. One part of my ongoing journey has been to listen to and compare different versions of my five favorite Grateful Dead songs: “The Other One”, “St. Stephen”, “Dark Star”, “Playing in the Band” and “Viola Lee Blues”. Two Dead songs that I love - “Cream Puff War” & “New Potato Caboose” have very few versions so there is not much to compare. The above song, “The Other One” is my current favorite and I have listened to around 25 versions over the past few months! It is a sort of theme song for the Dead, mentioning “Cowboy Neal (Cassidy) at the wheel of the bus to Never-Never Land.” Which refers to the bus, called “Furthur” that Merry Pranksters took across the country on their trip to turn on anyone would partake in their/our trip. I have one concert from 1971 in which they play this song three times in one set, going in and out of it through other songs but all the parts are connected. Whenever the Dead break into that song, it feels like time to take the bus along with them and go along for the ride. I often play a version of this song at the end of my day to help me sail into dreamland. Exhilaration, sailing high, coming down with a soft landing on Mother Earth. Just what the good doctor ordered, cosmic medicine. - BLG/DMG
FANS OF MILFORD GRAVES - CAN YOU HELP?
"Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal,” is an exhibition set to open in September 2020. This will be the first major retrospective of the many-layered and multi-faceted work of Milford Graves, covering his extraordinary contributions to recent revolutions in music, activism, medicine, botany, and even martial arts. The exhibition is organized by Ars Nova Workshop and will be on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania (in Philadelphia) this fall. To fully present the scope of Graves's vision and work we are seeking individuals with copies of the hand-painted covers Graves made for his 1966 duet album with Don Pullen, In Concert at Yale University. Albums will be considered for inclusion in the exhibition, to be reproduced in the accompanying book, or both. We are not looking to sell or profit off any copies of this album. We simply want to present the full scope of Graves's creativity and intellect. If you have a copy, or know collections where copies are held and would like to help, please contact Mark Christman at email@example.com
JZ! JZ! JZ! JOHN ZORN - The Never-Ending Fountain of Inspiration!
My main man, JOHN ZORN, turns 67 this September and continues to unleash a deluge of Creative Music month after month, year after year! For the better part of the last decade Mr. Zorn has been releasing discs (CD’s & some vinyl) at a rate of 10 discs per year! Incredible! He finished the massive Masada Songbook (3 books = 650 songs) in 2018, wrote another book of songs called the Bagatelles (around 350), which were only performed live and not for recording. Mr. Zorn also composes quite a bit of modern classic music for different sized ensembles & soloists, choral music and has several different ongoing bands like the Gnostic Trio, the Dreamers, Simulacrum and the New Masada Quartet (as yet, no recordings). Aside from that Mr. Zorn opened his own performance place called The Stone in 2005, which relocated in March of 2019 to the New School (and is currently on hold). Plus Zorn edits a book series called Arcana (Up to Volume 8) and his record label, Tzadik, (CD’s, vinyl, t-shirts, DVD’s & books) will pass the 850 mark!!! How does this one man do this all, apparently Mr. Zorn doesn’t sleep! At least that is what he tells me.
This past week a long article written by Hank Shteamer appeared in Rolling Stone about John Zorn. I urge all Zorn fans (and anyone curious) out there to read it, it is extensive and consistently fascinating. There is some select interviews with Mr. Zorn and many of the musicians he has worked with over the years: Bill Frisell, Joey Baron, Tyshawn Sorey, Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Yamatsuka Eye, Mick Harris, Ted Epstein… Plus there is some incredible live footage of Naked City from the Marquee playing “Leng Tch’e”, one of the most brutal songs ever! If you look close, you can see yours truly and my pal Jason Roth right up front in the audience. I know this article is pretty long but even I learned a number of things about Mr. Zorn that I didn’t know, especially about his early days. Special thanks to Hank Shteamer & Rolling Stone for a great job! Here’s the link: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/john-zorn-jazz-metal-interview-naked-city-1015329/
NEW THINGS FOR THE WEEK OF JUNE 26th, 2020:
JOHN ZORN // SIMULACRUM with JOHN MEDESKI / MATT HOLLENBERG / KENNY GROHOWSKI - Baphomet (Tzadik 8372; USA) ‘Baphomet’ is a masterpiece! One epic 40-minute long-form composition involving all of Zorn’s musical obsessions from classical atonality, minimalism, jazz, metal, punk, funk, improvisation, exotica and more. Passionately performed by Simulacrum, his most powerful 20th century ensemble, the music has a dramatic cinematic expanse and is filled with new sounds, unexpected directions, virtuosic solos, bizarre structural complexities and ever surprising melodic and harmonic twists and turns. Baphomet is a courageous new step for Zorn, and a spectacular culmination to his 30-year exploration of the nexus that connects hardcore punk, progressive metal and jazz. Essential!
THE SPIKE ORCHESTRA - Splintered Stories (Tzadik 4031; USA) ‘Splintered Stories’ is the brilliant new CD by Sam Eastmond of the Spike Orchestra, whose sparkling arrangements of Masada compositions were a highlight of both The Book of Angels and Zorn’s Book Beri’ah. Filled with startling instrumental colors, fiery solos, driving rhythms and moody harmonies, the music is brilliantly performed by this tight 15-piece big band and lovingly mixed by Marc Urselli. Cutting edge big band music for the 21st century by one of the most powerful ensembles working today!
FOUR FANTASTIC NEW DISCS FROM THE FINE FOLKS AT NOT TWO:
LONDON JAZZ COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA with BARRY GUY / EVAN PARKER / DEREK BAILEY / KENNY WHEELER / PAUL RUTHERFORD / HARRY BECKETT / MARK CHARIG / MIKE GIBBS / TREVOR WATTS / MIKE OSBORNE / HOWARD RILEY / JEFF CLYNE / TONY OXLEY / JOHN STEVENS / et al - That Time (Not Two MW 1001; Poland) The London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO) was founded by bassist/composer Barry Guy in the early 1970’s, their first album, called ‘Ode’, was released in 1972 in Incus Records and later reissued as a 2 CD set on Intakt. This large scale avant/jazz orchestra existed and recorded from 1972 until 1995, with Intakt releasing yen of their discs. LJCO reunited for a one-off concert in Switzerland in 2008, where Barry Guy and his wife, Maya Homburger, have resided for many years. LJCO were one of the first modern orchestras to balance both written and improvised music and have featured the finest of UK musicians as well as a number of players from elsewhere: Peter Brotzmann, Marilyn Crispell and Anthony Braxton. I am fortunate that I got to see & hear the LJCO up in FIMAV in 1992 for two long sets that week, including their work, “Harmos”.
This historic disc features four long works (all unreleased), two live works from the Berliner Jazztage & Donaueschingen Festivals in 1972 and a studio date & a live date, both from London in 1980. The main difference in personnel is that Derek Bailey is a member of the LJCO on both 1972 recordings, while he is no longer present for the 1980 pieces, although Peter Brotzmann has been added to the line-up. Each of the four pieces were composed by a different member of the LJCO, Mr. Guy, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Rutherford and Howard Riley. Mr. Guy explains in the liner notes about the history and strategies involved in each piece. Kenny Wheeler’s piece is called, “Watts Parker Beckett to me Mr. Riley?” and it is conducted by Buxton Orr. It often sounds like the varied horns are on a ship which is swaying back and forth, keeping us all somewhat off-balance, with several moments of brutal outbursts from the saxes and guitar. There are a number of great moments here, like a mind-bending alto solo by the late Mike Osborne while the rest of the orchestra play tight waves around him. What makes this great is this: while all solos are inspiring, it is the writing & playing of the rest of the orchestra that is consistently fascinating. Barry Guy’s “Statements III” has layers of shifting sonorities, high-pitched horns & reeds, piano, guitar, bowed bass and percussive eruptions in a focused cacophony. What’s interesting is this: from the outside it sounds like there are elements of free insanity, yet there are also some parts which sound directed or partially written, we must listen closely to hear how things are connected. Sometimes there are two solos simultaneously, one up front and one in the back. Only close listening will reveal how they are actually connected. Paul Rutherford’s “Quasimode III” was recorded in a studio and has a layer of electronics, buzzing underneath the somber shifting waves above. I can hear Evan Parker’s tart soprano sax spinning at the center as the waves increase in size & intensity. The electronics actually sound like some sort of ghost voices hovering in the distance while the layers of horns continually swirl. Howard Riley’s “Appolysian”, deals with sound modules, which are tightly scored yet are placed within freer terrain. Again, we hear several layers or islands shifting while background changes or mutates in different ways. Some of the reeds & brass have that disorienting Xenakis-like sound, yet unfold in measured ways with some explosive outbursts occurring in different places. The music throughout this disc will take some time to fully absorb since there is quite a bit more going on below the surface that we might imagine. Outstanding thought from the very first listening. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SATOKO FUJII / NATSUKI TAMURA - Pentas - Tribute to Eric and Chris Stern (Not Two MW 999; Poland) Featuring Satoko Fujii on piano and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet. From October of 2018, around the time that Mike Panico passed away, my good friend, Eric Stern, started to organize a series of small concerts in a few different places in Manhattan, giving gigs to a number of traveling and local musicians, who he felt deserved to get paying gigs and recognition for their talents. Eric’s wife Chris, myself and a handful of volunteers all pooled our resources in order to make these gigs continue. The name of the series was called, ‘Eric’s House of Improv’ and presented around forty gigs in 15 months! A few of those gigs were well attended but many were not, hence Eric’s wife & family stepped in to make sure that all the musicians were paid their guarantee. Eric was a retired lawyer and had been having a number of serious health problems for the past three-plus years. Eric and Chris have been my longtime weekend Breakfast Club partners, along with Matt Vernon, so Matt & I were proud to help out when needed. I attended practically all of the House of Improv series gigs and thought that Eric & Chris had done an incredible job of providing a sympathetic environment for creative musicians, many of whom rarely get the recognition or respect they deserve. On a Sunday, in November of last year (2019), Eric & Chris presented another couple, Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura for the ongoing series. This set was booked way in advance since Ms. Fujii only comes to the US once or twice a year and Eric was determined to get them into the series. I couldn’t make it that night, since I had my own Sunday night series at the store. Word is that Eric was in good spirits and the concert was fabulous. Later that night, when Eric got home, he went to the kitchen to make himself something to eat and collapsed on the floor, passing away shortly thereafter. We, Eric’s friends, his family and the many musicians who he helped out over the past 15 months, were devastated by his loss. When Ms. Fujii & Mr. Tamura found out about his passing the next morning after their gig, they were shocked. They decided to dedicate this disc to Eric and his wife Christine, which I think was a great thing to do
This is the 7th disc from the Fujii/Tamura duo, longtime married and musical partners, who often work in each other’s assorted projects. Their duo gigs & records are their most intimate pairings and I can hear years of collaborations within this disc. Both musicians each brought 4 of their own compositions to this recording. Ms. Fujii’s “Not Together”, opens and starts with a series of tight parts written in unison, before it breaks into sections of single instruments trading passages. Mr. Tamura’s “Pentas”, the title track is more stark and contemplative, becoming more majestic midway. The way these two musicians play together is most magical and often dream-like, completing each other's phrases. Natsuki does a nice job of muting his trumpet on “Itsumo Itsumo”, creating an older, distinctive sound while Ms. Fujii plays those tight dancing lines along with him, embellishing his playing with some expressive waves. “Stillness” is aptly titled since it is also stark and filled with suspense, an eerie sense of calm. Throughout this entire disc I get a sense of several ghosts or spirits who are living within the music that is presented here. I have been thinking about how much I miss Eric Stern, since his passing, as well as the many breakfasts, concerts and vacations we shared throughout our long friendship. I still have weekend breakfasts with Chris Stern and Matt V, at least up until the pandemic started. I miss those as well and can’t wait to get back to some sort of normal life for all of us. The last two tracks here are even more superb, more like a soundtrack to a more complex film involving several different characters who are doing their best to make it through these difficult times. I hear you Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura loud and clear. Thanks for reaching deep and touching all who listen closely. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAVE REMPIS / ELISABETH HARNIK / MICHAEL ZERANG - Triple Tube (Not Two MW 998; Poland) Featuring Dave Rempis on alto sax, Elisabeth Harnik on piano and Michael Zerang on drums. Over the past 6 years, Chicago saxist Dave Rempis, has released 24 discs on his own Aerophonic label, each one with different personnel. Aside from Aerophonic, there a few other labels releasing discs by Mr. Rempis like Astral Spirits and Not Two. This trio features Chicago drummer Michael Zerang, who worked with Mr. Rempis in the Resonance Ensemble, (which was run by Ken Vandermark), is one finest percussionists to emerge from the Chicago creative music scene. Austrian pianist, Elisabeth Harnik, has been popping up on records by Ken Vandermark, Joelle Leandre and Fay Victor, in the last few years. This disc was recorded live at Tube’s in Graz, Austria, in March of 2019. The set starts off quietly and with the utmost restraint. Things begin to pick up as the intensity slowly picks up, with Rempis’s alto and Ms. Harnik’s piano, picking up steam until the drums (actually hi hat) start spinning more quickly, eventually erupting into so freer terrain. The relaxed atmosphere shows a much different side to Mr. Rempis and Mr. Zerang, both taking their time to explore more relaxed subtleties. Midway is when the magic occurs, note-bending sax with quick piano and drums interaction. An excellent session on all counts. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
KRAKOW IMPROVISERS ORCHESTRA - “KIO at Cricoteka” (Not Two 1002; Poland) The KIO is led by alto saxist Paulina Owczarek, whose work I know from Satoko Fujii’s Berlin Orchestra as well as a duo called Sambar with a disc on Not Two. The other members of this 13 piece Polish based collective are mostly little known to me outside of a few being on other discs on the Not Two label. The instrumentation here consists of alto & tenor saxes, bassoon, French horn, violin, synth, voice, double bass, viola, vibes & percussion. The music is well recorded in a studio and the music is extremely focused, free yet tightly directed. The bassist and drummer play great, intricate, up-tempo lines together while everyone else swirls tightly around them. I really dig the vocalist (Adam Nyk) who keeps interacting with the rhythm team no matter how quickly & further out they go, starting and stopping on occasion and then switching directions midstream. There are a number of inspired soloists here: Malwina Kolodzieczyk on tenor sax, Sebastian Mac on electric guitar… All of sudden they break into a corny synth bit which then gets overrun by some Naked City-like shrewd explosions and into some sparse unexpected detours. I love when things quiet down to some more restrained, quirkiness, things moving in some dream-like slow motion. Thi is definitely my favorite part (“Part 2”). There are just three pieces here, simply named “Part 1”, “Part 2” & “Part 3”. Things seem to unfold in episodic sections with some tight twists and turns. Midway through “Part 3”, the group breaks into a somewhat slinky, funky groove held down by the walking contrabass while large unit plays some refreshing Zappa-esque criss-crossing lines at a low volume. We even get a soft (Steve) swell trombone solo, later on with bubbling vocals & eerie bowed bass. This disc is one of the best discoveries I’ve heard recently. Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LISTEN! FOUNDATION (Sluchaj Fundacja) - A Half Dozen Treasures for Late June, 2020! Another five will be listed next week. All are listed in the DMG database already.
CECIL TAYLOR / TONY OXLEY - Birdland Neuburg 2011 (Listen! Foundation FSR01-2020; Poland) “It was a rare moment – the evening of November 18, 2011. A moment of special intimacy. European fans of pianist Cecil Taylor got closer to him than ever before. It wasn’t like a few years ago, when some 1000 listeners gathered in the Prinzregenten Theater in Munich; now only exactly 112 fans gathered in the Birdland Jazz Club in not very far away Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is a city dating back to the Renaissance with 28,000 residents, midway between Munich and Nuremberg. For the past few decades the local jazz club, with its unusually well-developed program, has drawn music fans from a wide circle to its current beautiful room in an historic basement vault. Up front – Cecil Taylor, the small, slight man with great energy, the master of free sounds that rumble like thunder but also tinkle like splintering glass. What a contrast! And what a musical experience!
In my role as the person responsible from the Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcasting service for this recording, I had begun this experience in the afternoon as Cecil Taylor was warming up. For two hours the 82-year-old musician sat there at the piano, with his shirt-tails hanging out, wearing very large white sneakers, running through chords, chromatic eruptions, and fast monophonic sections. He worked meticulously as he sensed the place in the music and prepared himself for the moment of entry. Again and again he played similar figures, and it seemed as though he were sorting out the material for improvisation in the evening together with percussionist Tony Oxley, one of his long-time companions.
Then to the concert. Significant tension leading from a seemingly soft passage, feeling its way, and then again and again rising to energy-laden high points. Whirling melodies, clusters, bass figures like the one of the “gnome” in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, all together with the rumbling anarcho-percussion of Tony Oxley’s drum set arranged in an unusual manner. In one part of around 40 minutes and another of about 15 minutes of music, plus a recitation of lyrical texts accompanied by drums, the concert came to a compelling high point of tension. By the way: Cecil Taylor used notes, not musical “notes,” but notations that Cecil Taylor had in front of him – mainly capital letters that he had written one above the other and that were probably the names of notes. These towers of letters resulted in crooked descending lines on full-size sheets lying across one another, with the lines growing ever smaller. What was a wild, disordered landscape of penciled and red marker lines was really the outline for what we heard that evening from Taylor on the jazz club’s Bösendorfer piano.
Like a giant wave that drags more and more material along with it, growing and unfolding in unpredictable power, in the first section the energy and dynamics of this concert duo grew enormously, and then this wave once again ebbed and formed gentle little islands. The second part began in the last quarter hour of the performance quite softly, virtually delicate for the way Taylor was playing. At the end of the concert he came back to this expressiveness, a type of music that has the effect of a poetic echo of Taylor’s life work. Note the quiet laconic ending figure of this performance!
The end of the concert was like the blinking of an eye. Like a self-ironic resolution of the previously bottled up tension. Cecil Taylor’s music was here the experience of existence, a gruff unexpected seeking and finding of tones for the moment, an aesthetic that was unconditionally radical. However, Taylor’s radicality was combined in this special moment of his late work with a surprisingly relaxed mood. The wild man at the piano presented himself with an almost childlike playfulness. His music was perhaps gentler than usual, but in no way harmless; it was still a music without any compromises. I think that in this recording you can especially find enjoyment in the intimacy of the venue. You can hear in the sound of the recording that the room was relatively small, and you can hear from the applause that this was just a small audience enjoying an exceptional experience. It is wonderful that now more people can share this music!” - Roland Spiegel, music editor of Bayerischer Rundfunk, March 2020
TREVOR WATTS QUARTET with VERYAN WESTON / JOHN EDWARDS / MARK SANDERS - The Real Intention (Listen! Foundation FSR05-2020; Poland) Featuring Trevor watts on alto & soprano saxes, Veryan Weston on piano, John Edwards on bass and Mark Sanders on drums. Trevor Watts has long been one of the British masters of Free/Creative Jazz on sax, working with several seminal bands for over a half century: Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Amalgam and Moire Music Group. Over the past decade he has continued to work with a number of UK greats as well as others like Karl Evangelista, Louis Moholo, Stephen Grew and Alison Blunt. Mr. Watts has had an ongoing duo with pianist Veryan Weston (6 discs), which is now part of a quartet with the UK rhythm team of John Edwards on contrabass and Mark Sanders on drums. Edwards & Sanders often work together and have worked with John Butcher, Paul Dunmall, Tony Bevan, Evan Parker and Frode Gjerstad. This set was recorded live at Cafe Oto in September of 2019. Right from the opening, the quartet take off soaring into the stratosphere. Although the bass could’ve been better recorded, the inventive energy and creative explorations remains intact throughout. Each member of the quartet gets their chance to stretch out, combine forces in different ways with a great deal of duo/trio/quartet shifting. My only complaint would be that the bass sound is a bit compressed, probably due to this being a digital recording, otherwise I was knocked out for the entire 68 minute set. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PAUL LYTTON / NATE WOOLEY - Known / Unknown (Listen! Foundation FSR02-2020; Poland) “It had been awhile since we'd made a real studio recording in which I could play the amplifier and Paul could get out from behind the drum set and work with smaller percussion and electronics. As in every other recording we've done, the music turned out to be as close to alien as I've ever heard. This one, especially, pushes the boundaries in every possible way and I'm really incredibly proud of it.” - Nate Wooley
I got to hand it to Downtown trumpet pioneer, Nate Wooley, for his restless sonic explorations with many other gifted & challenging musicians: Ken Vandermark, Matt Shipp, Ingrid Laubrock, Chris Pitsiokos, Dave Rempis, Harris Eisenstadt, Ivo Perelman and many more. Mr. Wooley also edits the Sound American magazine/small book and runs his own record label, Pleasure of the Text. Mr. Wooley has been collaborating with elder British drummer, percussionist, electronics player and instrument-maker, Paul Lytton, for a long while. This is their fifth recording, as far as I can tell. The instrumentation is listed as such: Paul Lytton on percussion & amplifier and Nate Wooley on trumpet & electronics. The results are a special blend of British sounding insect music (very focused small sounds) with Wooley’s consistently evolving explorations. Things get very quiet at times with distant hissing or breathing through the horns and equally fragile, percussive scraping of small metals. Sometimes we have to lean in so that we can hear the ultra-subtle sonics. Wooley plays long & winding, dreamy muted trumpet while Lytton plays hushed electronics and more restrained not too busy percussives. The close mic’d sounds and carefully recording bring these sounds alive as if we were sitting right in front with nothing to block our audio view. This disc is 77 minutes long and a fascinating listen throughout. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GERRY HEMINGWAY / VINCENT GLANZMANN - Composition O (Listen! Foundation FSR 03; 2020; Poland) One of Composition O's central characteristics is articulated in its commitment to a process of constant evolution. It's structure and content are subject to revision, alteration, refinement, and redefinition which is guided by the collaborative musical and compositional reflections of it's composers, who are also it’s performers. The degree of change has both a relation to the individual performative and compositional pursuits of it’s composers while also being influenced by their current focus and research.
The compositional particularities are fixed in regards to each performance. However after each performance the piece is again open for discussion and re-evaluation. Some parameters that could change might include of changing the manner of notation, instrumentation, organization of sound properties, and the consideration of alternate formations of musicians.
The electro-acoustic element of microphones integrated into an otherwise percussive instrumentation allows access to micro-acoustic areas of sound as well as a parallel investigation of developing them as instruments unto themselves.
AGUSTI FERNANDEZ / BARRY GUY / DON MALFON - Mutations (Listen! Foundation FSR06; Poland) Featuring Don Malfon on alto & baritone saxes, Agusti Fernandez on piano and Barry Guy on contrabass. This disc was recorded at Kultur-Schranne in Dachau, Poland in February of 2019. I had not heard of Catalan saxist Don Malfon before this disc arrived. Those in the know, recognize pianist Agusti Fernandez and bassist Barry Guy, from dozens of sessions, together in their own trio as well as in many other ensembles. Spanish pianist, Agusti Fernandez, has been collaborating with players worldwide: Evan Parker, Mats Gustasson, Joe Morris & Nate Wooley. Bassist, composer & multiple ensemble leader, Barry Guy, needs no intro although I was elated to receive an unreleased disc by the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, just released on Not Two (MW 1001) this week (6/26/20), an amazing ensemble that Mr. Guy formed in the early 1970’s.
The sound on this disc is superb, a great deal of attention to detail has taken place. It is often hard to tell what saxist Don Malfon is doing, is that a sax??? What is that strange buzzing sound? Muted sax, playing inside the piano or contrabass string manipulations? Or all three? Although I do recognize the sound of the bari sax, there are quite a bit other sounds which are difficult to recognize. This music is both turbulent with a calm center, erupting intensely yet completely controlled. At times, Mr. Malfon sounds somewhat like Evan Parker, bending & twisting his notes inside-out. This disc is one of the best improvised dates I’ve heard in recent times, absolutely extraordinary! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOELLE LEANDRE / MYRA MELFORD / LAUREN NEWTON - Stormy Whispers (Listen!Foundation FSR 11; Poland) “The 13th International Festival of Improvised Music “Ad Libitum” took place in Warsaw in October 2018 at the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art. The motto of that edition was “Women Alarm!” One of the main attractions was a new trio of Joëlle Léandre, Myra Melford, and Lauren Newton. This new trio formed in a sense a counterpoint to another legendary formation of Joëlle, Les Diaboliques, with Irène Schweizer and Maggie Nicols. Indeed, I could adapt my own ancient review of the music of Les Diaboliques to describe the trio of Léandre/Melford/Newton: “The humour and joy, synergy, creativity and imagination - this is what characterizes the music of them. The language of Lauren sounds like Hebrew or Latino, or sometimes even like Hungarian or a Scandinavian language.” Yet, the music is completely different. Myra’s piano playing is in deep relation to American free piano music tradition from Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Adams to Matthew Shipp and Marilyn Crispell. As the title suggests, Lauren uses plenty of special vocal effects: whispers, squeaks, loud breaths, opera techniques, even throat singing, à la Sainkho Namtchylak. However, she also uses plain English sometimes. Joëlle… is simply magnificent in any respect, showing the whole palette of her bass and vocal abilities.
The set consists of 8 “Whispers 1-8”, each of which is quite different. “Whisper 1” illustrates Lauren’s approach, with amazing bowing support from the bass and delicate piano. “Whisper 2” is more abstract and expressive, with Myra entering the inside piano. “Whisper 3” is a beautiful piano-bass duo piece: it starts with wonderfully lyrical and impressionistic piano lines, supported by the bowing bass. “Whisper 4” is a duo of bass and vocal: it has repetitive, minimal bass motives of Joëlle and long howls of Lauren. On the short “Whisper 5”, Lauren begins with contemporary opera approach, but develops into an avant-garde stream of short free improvised voice sounds. On “Whisper 6” Lauren and Joëlle “talk” in English, supported by the marvelous piano and bass sounds. “Whisper 7” is perhaps the most expressive track, with the piano introduction in a Cecil Taylor style, and tremendous breathes of Lauren, and bass effects of Joëlle. The closing “Whisper 8” has throat singing, and tears-squeezing final, melancholic part.”
MORE FROM OUR FAVE DISTRIBUTOR IN AMSTERDAM:
TRIO BLURB with MAGGIE NICOLS / JOHN RUSSELL / MIA ZABELKA - W (Evil Rabbit ERR 27; Netherlands) Featuring Maggie Nicols - vocals, John Russell on guitar and Mia Zabelka on violin & vocals. This disc was recorded live at Discovery Festival in London in September of 2017 and at the Horse Improv Music Club in London in March of 2018. Along with her longtime collaborator Julie Tippetts, British experimental vocalist, Maggie Nicols, has been at the forefront of the UK Creative Music Scene, working with John Stevens, Terry Day, Peter Nu, Lindsay Cooper, Irene Schweizer and the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. During my Keith Tippett Festival at home this week (due to his passing), I noticed that Ms. Nicols has appeared in numerous Tippett projects through the years. Acoustic (mainly) guitarist, John Russell, is also a seasoned elder of the UK scene having worked with John Butcher, Lol Coxhill, Evan Parker & most recently with Henry Kaiser. Austrian violinist, Mia Zabelka, is younger & from the next generation of improvisers, having worked with an eclectic cast: Pavel Fajt, Lydia Lunch, Martin Philadelphy & Nicola Hein (here at DMG).
The sound here is nicely balanced and mostly acoustic. All three members of the trio do a great job of weaving their way around one another in tight, intense, eruptions. Ms. Nicols sounds like she is working her way through a series of strange characters, making bird sounds, using a silly or just plain weird voice, stretching out sounds in different ways, she is consistently charming in her own quirky way. Guitarist, John Russell, who has been in ill health for the last few years recently collaborated with Henry Kaiser, Ray Russell & Olie Brice for a great CD, sounds splendid here, laying back at times and playing a series of sparse yet sharp fragments while Ms. Zabelka also does a fine job of bowing notes which bridge the voice and guitar just right. At times the trio do erupt into some intense blasts yet always as one force. While Mr. Russell balances his playing between muted note fragments with occasional harmonics, Ms. Zabelka also shifts between sharp and rounded sounds while Ms. Nicols adds odd punctuation and strange vocal sounds in between. A wonderful date, indeed. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GREETJE BIJMA / NORA MULDER / MARY OLIVER - Picatrix (ICP 061; Netherlands) Featuring Greetje Bijma on voice, Nora Mulder on prepared piano and Mary Oliver on violin, viola & Hardanger fiddle. I’ve known about Dutch avant vocalist Greetje Bijma for many years, having heard her on records with Willem Breuker Kollektief, Jasper Van’t Hof, Marilyn Crispell and Mark Dresser and having heard her in concert with Direct Sound (vocal ensemble) and in duo with composer/pianist Louis Andriessen. Formerly South California-based string player, Mary Oliver, has also been an integral part of the ICP Orchestra for quite a while, also collaborating with Sean Bergin, Scott Fields and Ig Henneman. I haven’t heard much about pianist Nora Mulder, although she has collaborated with Cor Fuhler and a duo called Beton Arme performing the music of Iannis Xenakis.
‘Picatrix’ (the title of this disc) is the name for a 400-page book of magic and astrology originally written in Arabic and it is a composite work that synthesizes older works on magic and astrology. Ms. Bijma has performed the works of modern composers (like Louis Andriessen), as well as improvising at length. She has a powerful, expressive voice and it is the first sound we hear when this disc opens. Both other women here are also gifted improvisers and sound extraordinary throughout. Ms. Bijma reminds me of Shelley Hirsch at times, weaving her way through jazz lines, blues phrases with humorous and unexpected shifts in direction. Since all three women have played the music of different modern composers, they sound like their improvisations are part of several traditions. From explosive to more mellow sections, even playing a charming yet slightly twisted version of a traditional Scottish song called “The Water is Wide”. There are a few moments when the trio really erupt into some bristling, intense freedom but then wind down for some more restrained sparse spaciousness. This is a strong, inspired trio that will take some time to fully absorb. Tasty medicine for sore souls in need of inspiration. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DUO AB BAARS - JOOST BUIS - Moods for Roswell (Wig 30; Netherlands) Featuring Ab Baars on tenor sax, clarinet & shakuhachi and Joost Buis on trombone. This disc is dedicated to the legendary trombonist, Roswell Rudd, who passed away in December of 2017, not very long ago. Mr. Rudd was a quintessential older jazz musician, whose 60 career involved swing, dixieland, the blues, the avant-garde or fee/jazz and ethnic music from all over. Heavily influenced by Monk, Herbie Nichols and Duke Ellington. All of the songs here were written by Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn, who collaborated for many years. All of the songs were arranged by reeds great Ab Baars (ICP Orchestra & his own bands) and Dutch trombonist, Joost Buis, who leads his own band (Astronotes) as well as working with Sean Bergin, The Ex and Palinckx. Mr. Buis is also part of a recent project called All Ellington, whose recent CD I reviewed in last week's (6/19/20) newsletter.
Hearing Duke Ellington’s music played by a sax or clarinet & trombone duo is something else entirely. “Sonnet for Caesar” sounds most poignant on clarinet with soft muted trombone to help balance things. The duo strip these songs down to their charming melodies, often with the clarinet or alto sax up front and the trombone as a background chorus. The opening theme to “Klop” sounds especially tasty with clarinet & ‘bone sailing intensely around one another in the midsection. It has a circus-like jubilation going on which feels most uplifting. “Tonk”, from what I recall, was a piece performed on two pianos (Duke & Strayhorn) and rarely covered by the orchestra itself. I like the version here since it gives the horns a chance to stretch into those swirling lines that the two pianos did so well together. Considering that this disc is only 37 minutes long, I put it on again as soon as it was done to best appreciate the subtle gems within. After several spins, I did hear the magic of Duke’s melodies shining through. One of the things which stands out is the arrangements, the rich harmonies created by just two horns is something to marvel. Ellington’s was well known for the great soloists who brought life to the compositions written by Ellington or Strayhorn. Time to smile and play this disc again. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GUUS JANSSEN / WIM JANSSEN - Home Made Music (Geestgronden 27; Netherlands) Featuring Guus Janssen on piano & toy piano and Wim Janssen on drums. Dutch pianist & composer, Guus Janssen, already had a dozen discs out on the Claxon & Geestgronden labels, before he took over for Misha Mengelberg, founding member of the ICP Orchestra who passed away in 2017. Drummer Wim Janssen, has been working with his brother Guus for many years in different bands, trios to sextets. Guus Janssen wrote all but three of the songs here with covers by Herbie Nichols, Lee Konitz and Paul Termos. This disc begins with a version of Herbie Nichols, “House Party Starting”, one of Nichols’ most popular songs and covered by many: from Misha Menglberg to Duck Baker. This song actually reminds me of a house party, it has a refreshing, celebratory riff that actually makes me smile when I hear it. The duo speed up in the mid-section, which brings the tempo to boiling point just for a moment, before the drummer takes a short fun-filled solo. Mr. Janssen often sounds like he was deeply influenced by jazz from the fifties like Monk or Nichols. Each piece sounds like he is that joyous, infectious swinging groove and expanding it. His solos often extend the pieces even further, pushing some phrases closer to the more outside regions. Wim sounds like he has been playing wit Guus for many years, often extending Guus’ lines with an intricate percussive connection. I haven’t heard the song “Kary’s Trance” by Lee Konitz before, but it sounds like the duo are doing their best to take apart and play them in fragments, tapping like Morse code with the right hand while playing that ancient sounding riff with the left hand, over & over. The session was recorded in someone’s living room, hence the sound is warm, clean and intimate. I own several discs by Dutch saxist Paul Termos, all completely different personnel and sound-wise. His piece here, “Very Good Weather Today”, is charming, nothing like his more experimental CD’s that I’ve heard. Each piece here is very different, showing that Mr. Janssen can’t really be pinned down to any one style or genre. “PF” sounds like a string of connected fragments which somehow fit together although it doesn’t seem that way at first due to the way it lurches forward. Each piece seems to evoke another scene or vibe, like a cartoon chase or a more calming, laid back ballad. Even the toy piano adds a certain amount of charm to the proceedings. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JAAP BLONK - Irrelevant Comments (Kontrans 164; Netherlands) Featuring Jaap Blonk on solo vocals & electronics. This disc was recorded over six years, from 2010 to 2016 in the Netherlands. I recently played the “Five Men Singing” CD on the Victo label in the store and as always, we all (me, Frank & John) completely cracked up. “Five Men Singing” features five avant vocalists: Makigami Koichi, David Moss, Phil Minton, Paul Dutton and Jaap Blonk. This vocal quintet opened up the Victo Fest many years back and kept us in stitches. I am and have been a big fan of all five singers, both before, during & after this event. I’ve heard Dutch vocalist Jaap Blonk in several contexts: solo, duos, trios and assorted group projects. Each piece here is different. Jaap often takes a vocal sample and then manipulates it, twisting it even further out. Breath-like sounds and odd vocal samples are blended together into different sonic salads. It is hard to tell which are vocal sounds and which are electronic or sampled since all are strange in different ways. What is most interesting is the way that Mr. Blonk blends all of the sounds into fascinating combinations, stretching and manipulating select sound in a most focused way. It might be hard to tell that there are vocals at the center of some of these pieces yet I was still captivated throughout. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
TOMOMI ADACHI / JAAP BLONK - Asemic Dialogues (Kontrans 264; Netherlands) Featuring Jaap Blonk and Tomomi Adachi on vocals & electronics. When Tzadik Records released a CD by the Tomomi Adachi Chorus in 2003, I had no clue who Tomomi Adachi was. When I finally heard that disc on my way up to the FIMAV Fest (thanks to Kurt G), I was knocked out by the hilarious chorus of crazy vocal antics. Since then, Mr. Adachi has worked with Jon Rose, Butch Morris, Makigami Koichi and Otomo Yoshihide. Dutch experimental vocalist, Jaap Blonk, I’ve known about for many years, having seen/heard him with Five Men Singing (at FIMAV), as well as reviewing collaborations with Sandy Ewens, Damon Smith, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Cor Fuhler and Maja Ratkje.
Although Jaap Blonk and Tomomi Adachi have worked together previously, this is their first duo recording. It was recorded live in concert in July of 2017 in Berlin. Even without the electronics and/or effects, both of these men are pioneers in diverse vocal sounds or calisthenics. What stands out is the way both men take certain sounds or phrases and then loop or add effects to make their vocal sounds even stranger. Sometimes one or two voices are stretched or twisted and turn into a chorus, even the choruses can be twisted as well. Since those recognizable vocal sounds are often at the center of some of these improvisations, this gives this music/collage a more human quality at times along with a good dose of humor or oddball quirkiness. The collage involves buzzers, synth squiggles, cartoon-like voices, flatulent sounds and assorted vocalese. All of which I found to be mostly fascinating, engaging and somehow inspiring. Have the lunatics taken over the asylum…!?! Who knows? - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
KEES MOLHOEK / BO VAN DER GRAAF - Music for Cat Movies (Icdisc 1901; Netherlands) Featuring Kees Molhoek on piano and Bo van der Graaf on tenor, alto, soprano & sopranino saxes. Dutch saxist Bo van der Graaf has been the leader of an ensemble called I Compani since 1984, originally organized to accompany the films of Fellini and Nina Rota. I knew of that Compani has existed ever since and recently has a new CD celebrating their long existence. Mr. Van Der Graaf has also made a handful of discs as a leader including a duo with Dutch pianist Michel Braam. I had not heard of pianist Kees Molhoek before now. This is certainly an eclectic duo in which they perform 12 improvised pieces for ‘Cat Movies’, plus their own versions of a traditional Balkan song, a section of Brahms symphony and a Nino Rota piece from a Fellini movie. The 12 piece for ‘Cat Movies’ is 46 minutes and played like a suite. The suite starts out quietly with a lovely, sad, solemn work for sopranino & piano. The piece evolves and soon becomes more animated as it goes, the piano rather majestic at times with the sopranino dancing on top. At times the tempo and intensity increase and then wind down with certain lines played tightly together. The vibe changes when Van Der Graaf switches to soprano midway, the piano becoming more expressive and working its way through some jazz history with some familiar melodic fragments woven in different spots. I love “Crajova”, the Balkan song they play ere, if does have one of those playful, ancient melodies that I find to be instantly charming. Nina Rota’s “La Strada” also sounds most exquisite as well. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
I COMPANI 33 with BO VAN DER GRAAF / ARJEN GORTER / MICHEL MULDER / FRANS VERMEERSSEN / et al - 22 Compositions by Bo van de Graaf Celebrating 33 Years I Compani in 77 Minutes (Icdisc 1801; Netherlands) Featuring Bo van der Graaf on tenor, alto, soprano & sopranino saxes, compositions & arranging. Dutch saxist Bo van der Graaf has been the leader of an ensemble called I Compani since 1984, originally organized to accompany the films of Fellini and Nina Rota. I Compani have existed ever since and they have nearly 20 albums on the Bvvhaast & Icdiscs labels. This one is a collection from their 33 years of playing and recording, selected by their leader Mr. van der Graaf. 22 pieces and no Nina Rota, no Verdi or Gato Barbieri, I guess the staples of their regular repertoire, if they do have some. There are some eleven different versions of the ensemble, from a duo to eleven members. I only recognize a few names here like Arjen Gorter (bassist for early Gunter Hampel & Breuker Kollektief), Frans Vermeersen (bari sax for Bik Bent Braam & Joost Buis) and Chris Abelen (trombone for Breuker Kollektief & Nedley Elstak).
The booklet has a number of pictures & posters, the band often playing with live actors and/or films. Things begin with a haunting tenor sax & piano (Frank van Merwijk) duo, splendidly written & performed. The pieces here are not chronological yet still fit together quite well. “Tango de Flapstand”, has an older jazz sound, soft yet playful. The music keeps shifting effortlessly through genres, cultures at a more moderate rate. Bits of Latin influences, circus music, laid-back (Penguin Cafe-like) chamber music… There are quite a bit of charming moments here as the scenes keep changing. Violinist, Tessa Zoutendojk & Michel Mulder on bandoneon & cheap organ, get some chances to stretch out a bit from time to time. Some of that humorous side which usually emanates from the Willem Breuker Kollektief, is also found here, although they get too carried away or into too much schtick. I like when things are stripped down to just a few instruments: el. or acoustic piano, violin, a few horns and minimal percussion, change on each piece. Solos are kept to a minimum in service of all of the sometimes familiar sounding, ever enchanting music. Occasionally the voices of film actors & actresses come in and add some dialogue to our dreams. 77 minutes long and never a dull moment. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CHRIS BROWN // THE CHROMELODICA PROJECT with THERESA WONG / KYLE BRUCKMANN / CHRIS BROWN - Some Center (New World Records 80822; USA) “Chris Brown’s (b. 1953) compositions Some Centre (2019) and First Light (2016), performed with such assured lucidity and subtle shading by the three members of The Chromelodia Project, engage with significant precursors in music and in literature, drawing upon their words and innovations, their insights and adventurous spirits while, in the process, transporting those uncompromising benefactors to a different frontier. Brown makes songs from poems by Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) and Jackson Mac Low (1922–2004), and his settings make use of the 43-tone tuning system devised by Harry Partch (1901–1974).
Brown uses a MIDI keyboard to control a software synthesizer that functions as a virtual piano. Retuned, so that at the touch of a button he can play any two contiguous 43-tone octaves at a time, this instrument is in effect a twenty-first century iteration of Partch’s Chromelodeon. Brown recalls that an acutely attentive and collaborative quest for acoustic sonorities to match his own electronic instrumentation was a crucial part of the compositional process for First Light. “The Chromelodeon provided Theresa and Kyle with pitch references to tune to, but the room really bloomed only when the acoustic instruments locked into it, and to each other.”
The purity of its intervals is not for Brown the principal attraction of just intonation. Rather, he values its potential for expansion of pitch and tonality. First Light emerged from his exploration of tone clusters on virtual Chromelodeon. Brown found himself gravitating towards non-progressive harmonies reminiscent of those heard in certain pieces by Cage and Morton Feldman and, progenitively, in Erik Satie’s music.
For the song cycle Some Centre, Brown chose five poems by Emily Dickinson to be his structural guide, and then took an improvisatory route to arrive at harmonies in just intonation suitable for the character of each setting. During that initial stage he also wrote software modelled on the Rhythmicon, a 16-note keyboard with each key defining a distinct rhythmic pattern, built by Léon Theremin in 1931 in order to realize Henry Cowell’s vision of congruence between pitch and temporal ratios.
Beyond being a cycle of songs, Some Centre is a multi-faceted drama of attentive engagement and imaginative transformation. It invites us to take a fresh look at Emily Dickinson through its refractive lens, just as First Light offers a new perspective on Jackson Mac Low. Both compositions place Harry Partch in unfamiliar and revelatory light, illustrating the value of his original thinking and independent spirit as a resource for composers breaking their own chosen ground.”
CD $15 (In stock in about 1 week)
DUX ORCHESTRA with DAVE SEWELSON / MATS GUSTAFSSON / WILL CONNELL, JR. / JC MORRISON / DAVE HOFSTRA / SUSIE IBARRA / WALTER “SWEETS” PERKINS - Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results) (NoBusiness Records NBLP 134; Lithuania) Recorded October 16, 1994. Featuring: Mats Gustasson & Dave Sewelson on baritone saxes, Will Connell, Jr. on alto clarinet, JC Morrison on guitar & music, Dave Hofstra on bass and Susie Ibarra & Walter “Sweets” Perkins.
LP $23 [LTD Edition of 500]
GRATEFUL DEAD - Long Strange Trip (The Untold Story Of The Grateful Dead) (Rhino 93443; USA) "Motion Picture Soundtrack for ‘Long Strange Trip’. ‘Long Strange Trip’ is an unprecedented four-hour documentary about the legendary band the Grateful Dead from executive producer Martin Scorsese (Silence, The Departed), and director Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley). Long Strange Trip probes the creative forces, subversive ambitions, and interpersonal dynamics that drove the Grateful Dead in their 30-year career."
I caught this epic four-hour movie when it was released a few years back at the IFC theatre in the Village with good friend Mike Panico, both of being big Dead fans. Mike got there early and was at the front of a long line, beaming a great smile when I arrived. He let me in line, opened his pack and pulled out two plastic glasses, pouring us each a glass of wine. He opened up a side flap and pulled out a special herbal brownie and gave me a healthy chunk. The family behind us watched this and asked if we were old time Dead Heads, “just seasoned fans”, I said. The movie was shown in 5.1 sound and the directors were there to introduce the film and answer questions. The film was indeed amazing and did capture much of that Grateful Dead magic. It felt like a quadraphonic Dead show with the band starting one song in one speaker and then another song enters in another speaker or two. The vibe was most psychedelic and felt great to be swept away for four long hours. Throughout the movie, the Dead kept launching into another version of “The Other One”, it became like a theme. During this long pandemic stay-at-home experience, I have been listening to quite a bit of live Dead, much of it from their first decade. I have listened to around 20 versions of “The Other One” which has become my favorite Dead song, Every version very different, still not sure which is my favorite as it changes every few days. I haven’t heard the soundtrack yet but I will be a copy for myself, without a doubt. Join the fun, what a long strange trip it has been! - BLG/DMG
2 LP Set $35
BOB DYLAN - Blonde On Blonde (Columbia 46311 HLP; USA) Originally released 1966; exact reissue, 180 Gram, Gatefold sleeve. Mono version. "If Highway 61 Revisited played as a garage rock record, the double album Blonde on Blonde inverted that sound, blending blues, country, rock, and folk into a wild, careening, and dense sound. Replacing the fiery Michael Bloomfield with the intense, weaving guitar of Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan led a group comprised of his touring band the Hawks and session musicians through his richest set of songs. Blonde on Blonde is an album of enormous depth, providing endless lyrical and musical revelations on each play. Leavening the edginess of Highway 61 with a sense of the absurd, Blonde on Blonde is comprised entirely of songs driven by inventive, surreal, and witty wordplay, not only on the rockers but also on winding, moving ballads like 'Visions of Johanna,' 'Just Like a Woman,' and 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.' Throughout the record, the music matches the inventiveness of the songs, filled with cutting guitar riffs, liquid organ riffs, crisp pianos, and even woozy brass bands ('Rainy Day Women #12 & 35'). It's the culmination of Dylan's electric rock & roll period -- he would never release a studio record that rocked this hard, or had such bizarre imagery, ever again." --Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music
2 LP Set $30
ALBERT AYLER with DONALD AYLER / ALAN SILVA / HENRY GRIMES / BEAVER HARRIS / et al - In Greenwich Village (Impulse! 9155 HLP; Japan) Originally released 1967; exact reissue, 180 Gram, Gatefold sleeve. Part of the Back To Black series. Including digital download code. "During 1967-69 avant-garde innovator Albert Ayler recorded a series of albums for Impulse that started on a high level and gradually declined in quality. This LP, Ayler's first Impulse set, was probably his best for that label. There are two selections apiece from a pair of live appearances with Ayler having a rare outing on alto on the emotional 'For John Coltrane' and the more violent 'Change Has Come' while backed by cellist Joel Friedman, both Alan Silva and Bill Folwell on basses and drummer Beaver Harris. The other set (with trumpeter Donald Ayler, violinist Michel Sampson, Folwell and Henry Grimes on basses and Harris) has a strong contrast between the simple childlike melodies and the intense solos. However this LP (which was augmented later on by the two-LP set The Village Concerts) will be difficult to find." --Scott Yanow, All Music
CHARLIE HADEN with DON CHERRY / DEWEY REDMAN / CARLA BLEY / GATO BARBIERI / ROSWELL RUDD / MICHAEL MANTLER / SAM BROWN / et al - Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse! 9183 HLP; Japan) “Originally released 1970; exact reissue, 180 Gram, Gatefold sleeve. Part of the Back To Black series. Including digital download code. "A fascinating reissue that comfortably straddles the lines of jazz, folk, and world music, working up a storm by way of a jazz protest album that points toward the Spanish Civil War in particular and the Vietnam War in passing. Haden leads the charge and contributes material, but the real star here may in fact be Carla Bley, who arranged numbers, wrote several, and contributed typically brilliant piano work. Also of particular note in a particularly talented crew is guitarist Sam Brown, the standout of 'El Quinto Regimiento/Los Cuatro Generales/Viva la Quince Brigada,' a 21-minute marathon. Reissue producer Michael Cuscuna has done hisnd -- one that is in keeping with the album's tone and attitude." -- Steven McDonald, All Music - currently not available on CD
ELVIN JONES / JIMMY GARRISON SEXTET with SONNY SIMMONS / PRINCE LASHA / McCOY TYNER / CHARLES DAVIS - Illumination! (Impulse! 049 HLP; USA) “180 gram exact repro reissue in a gatefold sleeve, originally released on Impulse! in 1963. Ofically licensed through Verve/Universal. Featuring Elvin Jones (drums), McCoy Tyner (piano), Prince Lasha (clarinet and flute), Sonny Simmons (alto sax and English horn), Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Charles Davis (baritone sax). "Recorded in 1963 and co-led by John Coltrane's drummer and bassist (Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison), the music is most significant for introducing Sonny Simmons (alto and English horn) and Prince Lasha (flute and clarinet), who are joined in the sextet by underrated baritonist Charles Davis and Trane's pianist McCoy Tyner. Each of the musicians except Jones contributed an original (there are two by Davis); the music ranges from advanced hard bop to freer sounds that still swing. While Garrison's contributions are conventional (this was his only opportunity to lead or co-lead a date), Jones is quite powerful. However, it is the playing of both Simmons, who tears it apart on English horn during 'Nuttin' Out Jones,' and Lasha (when is he going to be rediscovered and recorded again?) that make this ea best with the mastering here, but listeners will note a roughness to the sourly 'New Thing' date of greatest interest." -- All Music Guide
ORNETTE COLEMAN with DON CHERRY / WALTER NORRIS / BILLY HIGGINS - Something Else!!!(Prestige 163; USA) "This 1958 debut recording by the Ornette Coleman Quintet, which featured Coleman on his trademark white plastic alto, Don Cherry on trumpet, Billy Higgins on drums, Walter Norris on piano, and Don Payne on bass, shook up the jazz world -- particularly those musicians and critics who had entered the hard bop era with such verve and were busy using the blues as a way of creating vast solo spaces inside tight and short melody lines. Something Else!!!! is anathema to that entire idea, and must have sounded like it came from outer space at the time. First, Coleman's interest was in pitch, not 'being in tune.' His use of pitch could take him all over -- and outside of -- a composition, as it does on "Invisible," which begins in D flat. The intervals are standard, but the melodic component of the tune -- despite its hard bop tempo -- is, for the most part, free. But what is most compelling is evident in abundance here and on the next two tunes, 'The Blessing' and 'Jayne': a revitalization of the blues as it expressed itself in jazz. Coleman refurbished the blues framework, threaded it through his jazz without getting rid of its folk-like, simplistic milieu. In other words, the groove Coleman was getting here was a people's groove that only confounded intellectuals at the time. Coleman restored blues to their 'classic' beginnings in African music and unhooked their harmonies. Whether the key was D flat, A, G, whatever, Coleman revisited the 17- and 25-bar blues. There are normal signatures, however, such as 'Chippie' in F and in eight-bar form, and "The Disguise" is in D, but in a strange 13-bar form where the first and the last change places, altering the talking-like voice inherent in the melodic line. But the most important thing about Something Else!!! was that, in its angular, almost totally oppositional way, it swung and still does; like a finger-poppin' daddy on a Saturday night, this record swings from the rafters of the human heart with the most unusually gifted, emotional, and lyrical line since Bill Evans first hit the scene." --Thom Jurek, All Music
DON CHERRY & FRIENDS with MARION BROWN / EVAN PARKER / JOHN STEVENS /et al - Baden Baden Free Jazz Meeting, December 1967 - SWR Broadcast (Alternative Fox 037; UK) “Recorded at the legendary 1967 Free Jazz Meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany this is a collection of four different performances by different line-ups, featuring big names in the European free jazz '60s scene of the time along such top players as Don Cherry, Marion Brown, Evan Parker, and John Stevens.
ARCHIE SHEPP with CAMERON BROWN / CLIFFORD JARVIS - The Tradition (Alternative Fox 034; UK) Alternative Fox present a reissue of Archie Shepp's The Tradition, originally released in 1978. Avant-garde giant Archie Shepp made an indelible contribution to experimental jazz. Double-LP The Tradition was recorded in Rome in 1977 for Horo Records with drummer Clifford Jarvis and bassist Cameron Brown; the raucous "Hooray For Mal" has shades of be-bop, while Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" is largely tackled by Shepp on upright piano (with gorgeous soloing by Brown); "Things Have Got To Change" hearkens to Shepp's experience of the Pan-African Cultural Festival of Algiers of 1969 and Ellington's "I Didn't Know About You" is relayed as a soft tenor ballad with rough edges.”
2 LP Set $24
CHARLES MINGUS with JOHN HANDY / SHAFI HADI / HORCE PARLAN / BOOKER ERVIN / WILLIE DENNIS / DANNIE RICHMOND - John Cassavetes' Shadows (Alternative Fox 036; UK) “For the first time on vinyl, Charles Mingus's great score for the legendary 1959 directorial debut of John Cassavetes, Shadows. Much has been said about the controversial relationship between these two masters. "The score encapsulates Cassavetes's and Mingus's unique approaches to both improvisation and composition in their respective media, illuminating the oppositional nature of jazz to mainstream cultural production and the underbelly of race relations in 1950's America" --Ross Lipman
WEATHER REPORT - Live at Shinjuku Koseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, 28 June 1978 (Alternative Fox 035; UK) “The jazz supergroup "par excellence", Weather Report played a legendary show in front of an adoring audience at the Shinjuku Koseinenkin Hall in Tokyo in 1978. Broadcast live by NHK Radio on June 28th, this gig featured the band as a quartet for the first time, with Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Jaco Pastorius joined by new kid Peter Erskine on drums.”
2 LP Set $24
SANDY BULL - Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo (Alternative Fox 039; UK) Alternative Fox presents a reissue of Sandy Bull's Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo, originally released in 1963. Folk musician Sandy Bull took an unorthodox approach to stringed instruments, influenced in part by sharing an apartment with Nubian oud master, Hamza El Din. His 1963 debut LP for Vanguard, Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo, saw him backed by Los Angeles-based jazz drummer Billy Higgins: side-long epic "Blend" is influenced by Eastern and Middle-Eastern music forms; "Little Maggie" displays a lightning-fast picking style, "Gospel Tune" hearkens to the American South, medieval classic "Non Nobis Domine" is relayed on banjo and "Carmina Burana" is given an individual finger-picking reading.
NINA SIMONE - Pastel Blues (Philips 600187; USA) "If this is blues, it's blues in the Billie Holiday sense, not the Muddy Waters one. This is one of Nina Simone's more subdued mid-'60s LPs, putting the emphasis on her piano rather than band arrangements. It's rather slanted toward torch-blues ballads like 'Strange Fruit,' 'Trouble in Mind,' Billie Holiday's own composition 'Tell Me More and More and Then Some,' and 'Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.' Simone's then-husband, Andy Stroud, wrote 'Be My Husband,' an effective adaptation of a traditional blues chant. By far the most impressive track is her frantic ten-minute rendition of the traditional 'Sinnerman,' an explosive tour de force that dwarfs everything else on the album." - Richie Unterberger
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.
THIS IS FROM GUITAR MASTER HENRY KAISER:
I have been recording video performances weekly and they get posted on Thursdays on the Cuneiform Records Youtube page.
This week it is a duo with Mike Baggetta, that just went up:
The week before it was a solo with some nice abstract animation of mine:
All of the weekly solos so far are always here:
once in a while they are historical old thangs from my video archive
and I will be doing more collaborations with other improvisors.
I plan to keep this up until there are live gigs again
so there will likely be a lot more of these
From INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM RAINEY:
Every Week for the entirety of this pandemic/lockdown INGRID LAUBROCK & TIM RAINEY have been posting a new duo offering. I have listened to every one of these as they were sent out and am much impressed by the way this duo continues to evolve and work their way through many ideas. You can check out each one here:
This comes from electric bassist, GIACOMO MEREGA:
My series is called ‘Solipsism Digest’. More vids to come!
This is from good friend DON WHITE from Texas and who goes to the FIMAV Fest every year:
Two Live Sets with Experimental Guitarist SANDY EWEN:
They Who Sound Special Delivery - Sandy Ewen, Houston, TX, 5/30/20:
Etched In The Eye with Sandy Ewen - Guitar, Objects, Danny Kamins - Alto and Baritone Saxes & Robert Pearson - Keyboards
Space HL, Houston, TX, 12/19/19: https://youtu.be/zO19zhPrQhI
STREAMING SESSIONS FROM THE EARLY GROUP:
JON ROSE / ROBERTO ZORZI / ROGER TURNER / ANDREA CENTAZZO / GERRY HEMINGWAY / ARTURO STALTERI!
A friend of mine named Mauro Stocco from Italy is co-producing a series of streaming sessions by the following musicians:
12th JON ROSE www.facebook.com/events/1520424481459326
19th ROBERTO ZORZI - DANILO GALLO
26th ROGER TURNER
03rd ANDREA CENTAZZO
10th ALVIN CURRAN
17th ARTURO STALTERI
24th GERRY HEMINGWAY
The EARLY GROUP is proud to present two unissued videos by Jon Rose, recorded specifically for this event. Due to some unavoidable bandwidth issues affecting the transmission from Australia, the videos were pre-recorded and will be streamed, instead of the live performance originally conceived.
The event will be broadcasted at two distinct times (8.30 pm for USA/Europe and 8.30 pm for Australia), to allow the audiences to follow at an acceptable daytime.
All the proceeds from this streaming session will go to the Artist. We look forward to meeting you!
Links to the Jon Rose sites:
This is from Kevin Reilly at Relative Pitch Records:
JAMES BRANDON LEWIS Live at The Spectrum, In Brooklyn:
Support your favorite artists on Friday through bandcamp.
They are waiving their revenue share.
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.
Geoffrey Himes’s poetry has been published by December, the Delaware Poetry Review, Salt Lick, the Baltimore City Paper, the Loch Raven Review, the Bhubaneswar Review and other publications. He has co-written songs with Si Kahn, Walter Egan, Pete Kennedy, Billy Kemp, Fred Koller and others. He has written about popular music and theater for the Washington Post, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Paste, Downbeat and others since 1977. His book on Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.,” was published in 2005
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.
ROULETTE AT HOME:
Roulette TV: Nick Dunston
In early 2019, Roulette TV sat down with bassist and composer Nick Dunston ahead of the first concert of his year-long Van Lier Fellowship. In addition to the interview, this episode features live performance footage of Dunston's quintet Atlantic Extraction and the world premiere of The Floor is Lava! written for five double basses. Dunston also premiered La Operación—a multi-movement composition written for soprano voice, two alto saxophones, two double basses, and two percussionists—as part of his fellowship in the same year. Check out:
https://vimeo.com/342125717?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=34384bb216-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-34384bb216-302668229
Playlist: Excerpts from the Black Avant-Garde - Tracks by Tomeka Reid, Reggie Workman, Diedre Murray, Anthony Davis, Amiri Baraka, Henry Threadgill, William Parker, Matana Roberts from the Roulette concert archive. - https://soundcloud.com/roulette_intermedium/sets/blackavantgarde?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=34384bb216-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-34384bb216-302668229
The weekly stream on WFMU features concert recordings by Roscoe Mitchell & Francesco Filidei, John Oswald/Miguel Frasconi/Marvin Green, and Wadada Leo Smith’s Nyabinghi Arkeztra from 1991 at Roulette. Tune in: 1. https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/93933?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=34384bb216-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-34384bb216-302668229
2. https://roulette.org/event/wadada-selasie-leo-smith-2/?utm_source=Roulette Master List&utm_campaign=34384bb216-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_15_09_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c36db137d7-34384bb216-302668229
ARTS FOR ART Presents:
Friday, June 26, 8pm
Francisco Mela / Hery Paz / Juanma Trujillo
Oliver Lake Big Band:
Vincent Chancey Trio:
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 DOWNES, amazing UK flutist, currently living in Germany:
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. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/gary.lucas.5836
This is from British pianist ADRIAN NORTHOVER who is a member of the Runcible Quartet & Quintet and The Dinner Party, both with CD’s on FMR, reviewed here in recent months.
There is the London Improvisers Orchestra Bandcamp - we have been
releasing an online project each month in lieu of our regular live gigs.
Also the Horse Improvised Music Club Bandcamp - we have been posting up
recordings from the monthly club sessions.
The Horse Improvised Music Club
(based in Waterloo, London) is also doing live streams - The next
session is Weds 17th June 20.30 pm GMT.
On IKLECTIK YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/0rbM8oXFvvs
On IKLECTIK Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IKLECTIK/
This session will feature:
Matilda Rolfsson (percussion SE), Ida Løvli Hidle (accordion) (NO).
Susanna Ferrar (violin),Pascal Marzan (guitar),Tracy Lisk (drums)(US).
The Bohman Brothers
Jonathan Bohman and Adam Bohman (voice,objects,cassette)
Emil Karlsen (drums)(NO)
Caroline Kraabel (alto sax) John Edwards (double bass). plus archive footage with Steve Beresford, Richard Sanderson and Jerome Poitier