This Week’s Dynamic Discs Begin with Some Gems from our Friends at FMR:
PAUL DUNMALL SEXTET with PERCY PURSGLOVE / RICHARD FOOTE / STEVEN SAUNDERS / JAMES OWSTON / JIM BASHFORD - Cosmic Dream Projection (FMR 596; UK) Featuring Paul Dunmall on alto & tenor saxes & flute, Percy Pursglove on trumpet, Richard Foote on trombone, Steven Saunders on guitar, James Owston on bass and Jim Bashford on drums. Although, British sax colossus, Paul Dunmall, stopped playing live gigs in March of last year (2020), at the start of the pandemic. He has done a handful of recording sessions throughout the year, most of which have come out on FMR, each one with a different crew. For this sextet, Mr. Dunmall organized a group, some of whom have worked with him on numerous occasions (Mr. Pursglove), once previously (Mr. Foote), a rhythm team (on several previous discs) and a newcomer, guitarist Steven Saunders. Mr. Dunmall wrote all of the pieces here and this was recorded in a studio on September 11th of 2020.
Over the past few years, Mr. Dunmall has doing more composing for medium-sized ensembles and less totally free improv, his usual direction for many years. If you think about the title of this disc, “Cosmic Dream Projection”, you realize has long been dealing with the “cosmic” (elusive yet inspiring) side of the music experience. Commencing with “Percy Goes to Hamburg”, the sextet does have that cosmic/McCoy Tyner/spiritual jazz sound. Three swirling horns above a spiraling guitar-led rhythm team. As the three horn swirl, they play and bend notes together and around one another. There is some special bond that brings the horns together that is most uplifting. It sounds as if the group is using a drone device or instrument (tambura or shruti box?) on “Moon and Venus”, which features gentle, dreamy guitar and horns over a somber, throbbing bottom. While the guitar-led rhythm section gets into a great, repeating groove each horn takes an inspired solo while the other two horns inject some fireworks underneath. What makes “Kali Ma” even better is that infectious line that Dunmall wrote for guitarist Steven Saunders to groove on, inserting some sly fractured notes like spicy pepper on an already hot sandwich. Mr. Saunders takes a great Blood/Sharrock-like short solo here, just a taste of things to come, perhaps?!? Each of the six songs here have something powerful, stirring and passionate going on here. All three horn (saxes, trumpet & trombone) work especially well together, playing harmoniously at times as well as swirling in tight orbits together. Each of the themes that Dunmall has written are well chosen and have a way reaching inside and touching us in a deep way. The title track is actually a blues, greasy and stinging with some an impressive, nasty, gut-wrenching guitar solo from Mr. Saunders. Even though the pandemic has forced most of us insides, alone or with just our loved ones or roommates, the same forces have also have pushed us to deal with whatever limitations we have on our freedoms. This disc shows us that nothing can stop the force of focused Creative Music from growing and inspiring us no matter what happens. A truly Cosmic thanks to Paul Dunmall and his Stellar Sextet! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG.
PAUL DUNMALL / NEIL METCALFE / JAMES OWSTON / TYMEK JOZWIAK - Unmasked (FMR 590: UK) Featuring Paul Dunmall on alto flute, Neil Metcalfe on flute, James Owston on bass and Tymek Jozwiak on drums. This session was recorded at Sansom Studios in Birmingham, UK in August of 2020. Multi-reeds wizard, Paul Dunmall, is mostly known for his fire-breathing, Trane-like blasting tenor sax work. Dunmall also plays many other reeds: alto & soprano saxes, saxello, flutes and bagpipes. For this unique quartet session, Dunmall concentrates on alto flute only and is joined by a longtime collaborator Neil Metcalfe, a master flutist himself. Out of the nearly 200 Dunmall releases that exist, this might be the only one where he plays flute only. The rhythm team here are two younger (?) men with whom Dunmall has been working with for the last few years. Starting out quietly and slowly, both flutes softly soar together, spinning lines tightly around one another. Eventually bassist Owston starts to play one of those classic, repeating groove bass lines on his superbly recorded contrabass with Mr. Jozwiak playing simmering brushes underneath, the flutes dancing like crazed butterflies above. At times, the rhythm team lays out so that the flutes can spin their web together without rhythmic support. Each of the four pieces here are long (10-17 & 1/2 minutes) and the pace is often brisk yet unhurried. What makes this so good is the both the flutes and the rhythm team are consistently engaging one another, organically building, the interaction consistently engaging and often having us at the end of our seats. There are a few flute solos here which are quite extraordinary. Even if you have a problem with flutes, you should give this a chance since there is quite a bit of adventurous creative playing going on throughout this marvelous offering. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SABU TOYOZUMI with RICK COUNTRYMAN / YUNG YANDSEN / SIMON TAN - I Am Village (FMR 587; UK) Featuring Sabu Toyozumi on drums & erhu, Rick Countryman on alto sax, Yong Yandsen on tenor sax and Simon Tan on acoustic bass. Over the last few years legendary Japanese free/jazz drummer, Sabu Toyozumi, has returned to recording regularly and with a handful of trust collaborators. I believe that this is the third disc with the same quartet although Sabu has worked with each of the other players in different formations. Most of the recordings with these musicians have taken place in the Philippines, where American saxist Rick Countryman resides and where the other two younger players, Yong Yandsen and Simon Tan also come from. This disc was recorded live in Quezon City, Philippines in March of 2020. As with the other half dozen discs I’ve reviewed by this collective, the group sounds splendid: free, organic, inspired, warm & well-recorded… It begins with a long alto (?) sax & drums duo which is superb, tightly focused, powerful yet still lean and not overblown! For “Dialogue Between Strings”, Mr. Toyozumi switches to erhu, (a Chinese 2 string violin), for a long solo into a duo with tenor sax, quiet at first and slowly building in intensity… Over time, Sabu has become a master of the erhu and is a gifted improviser. He shines here especially his duo with Yong Yandsen’ tenor playing. The last long piece, “Evolution of the Revolution”, starts with a long alto sax and drums duo which evolves slowly, consistently succinct and consistently inspired. Yet another gem of Free Spirit Music! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SABU TOYOZUMI / RICK COUNTRYMAN / SIMON TAN - Chasing the Sun (CPCD-018; Earth) Featuring Sabu Toyozumi on drums & erhu, Rick Countryman on alto sax and Simon Tan on acoustic bass. This disc was recorded live in the Philippines at the Tago Jazz Cafe in December of 2018. For the past few years, a small group of international free/improvisers have been getting together and recording in the Philippines. All three members of this trio have recorded in different formations, yet seem to have a common bond of spirited international free/improv. Legendary Japanese drummer, Sabu Toyozumi, is the elder here (at 77), while American saxist Rick Countryman (at 63) is next in line age-wise and Filipino bassist, Simon Tan (age 39) is the youngun here. Mr. Countryman and Mr. Tan have been playing together for the past decade, when Countryman moved to the Philippines in 2011. I really like the way this disc is recorded: clean, warm, focused and well-balanced, all three members integral to their sound. The music here is free yet very focused and consistently spirited. Legendary free jazz drummer, Sabu Toyozumi, has been playing Free Spirit music for many years and hence, his powerful and inventive playing is at the center of the cyclone here. As I watch the images of Fake Freedom Fighters (a/k/a Fascists) storm the Capitol today, this intense music shows what Real Freedom is. That Inner Creative Fire is hard to deny. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LUC HOUTKAMP / STEVE BERESFORD / MARTIN BLUME - Shed 1 (FMR 597-0920, UK) Drama, suspense, action, surprise. No, this isn’t a reference to the latest Scorsese picture, but the ingredients that together make for a successful improvisational meeting of three stalwart blokes who between them span multiple decades of shared disciplines. Dutch saxophonist Houtkamp’s aligned his sensibilities with such forward-thinking players as fellow countryman Gert Jan-Prins as well as the late trombonist Johannes Bauer. German drummer Blume has acquitted himself splendidly on a baker’s dozen of recordings and live dates, keeping fine company with the likes of Veryan Weston, Simon Nabatov, Birgit Ulher, Fred Van Hove, and numerous others. Beresford’s pedigree is beyond reproach: on over sixty-plus releases, his thorny, relativistic keyboard playing and myriad object wrangling has brought a distinctive audio verité to countless collaborations and live performances. It’s obvious from the abundant talent on display that Shed 1 isn’t some casual/causal happenstance; each participant throws their hat into the proverbial ring while carefully balancing their respective acoustics within it. Deep inside the trio’s opening twenty-seven minute “Pantry”, Houtkamp and Beresford advance about the space in opportunistic freedom, their tight-lipped accents, bleats, and exploratory pathways the ideal demarcation points over which Blume operates, his eggshell-fragile cymbal work augmenting a variegated series of skillfully detonated snare hits and depth-charge toms. The trio understand not only the correct use of silence but how best to illustrate their sonic canvas. Beresford often acts as Houtkamp’s foil, moving back and forth while manipulating a juicy arsenal of objects, devices, and electronic gossamer across the bow of Houtkamp’s decadent splatter and Blume’s sharp, interruptive whipcracks. Another grand gesture from the ever-growing FMR ranks. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
HERNANI FAUSTINO / JOAO MADEIRA - DB Duet (FMR 591-0920; UK) This may well be one of the more epic slabs of duo bass improv that’s come down the pike in many a moon. The photo of the two performers on the inside flap of the digipak bespeaks the very of definition of minimalism, a performance space that reveals where the most stark of audio architecture takes place. There’s nothing fancy here: just two gents alone in an unadorned room (studio? Stage?), a PA surrounding them, their arms bowing their upright double basses, fingers akimbo. Faustino and Madeira spread their twitching arco-santi through the most extended of techniques across three equally unforgiving and timestretched tracks. The duo engage as two warring entities who expertly defy the monochromatic colorations—or even limitations—of their chosen tools. Who does what exactly becomes moot—each reacts with enough wow to offset his partner’s flutter. At times, the recombinant strings become rubbery enough to create deeply resonant purrs, until a sudden cessation of sound occurs, then the duo quickly reconstitute, exchanging a flurry of interlocking textures that achieve a near-volcanic intensity. These well-integrated if awry gestures conjure a bracing new form of post-classical audacity, birthed from improvisational duels that remove anything remotely ‘jazzy’ from the proceedings, a confrontational music whose acoustic presence doesn’t mitigate the sheer volume the duo force through their woods. Though the pioneering spirit of Gary Peacock or Eberhard Weber is naturally invoked, it is but a fleeting coincidence—Faustino and Madeira raise the bar here so decisively that they’ve begged a new vernacular in the process, one that sets a pretty high bar for any similarly-styled meetings to come. Extremely broad and incredibly close. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
ARCTURUS - Sverdrup Balance on Tour (FMR 595-0920; UK) Here is a new trio whose remit is remote, whose spirit is wonderfully strange, with a group name suggesting intergalactic birthright and an album descriptor like skewed Esperanto. Comprised of Yoko Miura on piano and melodion, Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg on voice, and the great Lawrence Casserley doing his patented signal processing thang, this gang of malcontents devise what can best be described as bonkers chamber music for celestial terrestrial commuters. It is surely a psyche-warping thing to behold, not that the trio truck in degenerative noise, disassociated experimentalism, Fluxus bait, or ill-defined po-mo classicism, but because their ideologically-bent wit makes for a particularly askew presentation, elements of which are generally wanting in the usually stuffy climate of contemporary improv’s ’new music’ sub-phylum. Each of the eight tracks are identified with “Arc” as the prefix (“Archetype”, “Archangel”, “Archipelago”, etc.), an obvious in-joke whose meanings are only understood by the respective instigators but it does support a clearly-defined mirth that energizes the recording’s joy circuits. This is a charming and cohesive unit despite the unusual instrumentation, strong personalities all, smart enough to talent-pool without sacrificing their individualities to the album’s gelatinous whole. Miura’s spunky piano motifs seem to know when to preen and when to pounce, dancing delicately about the stereofield when called to do so, a tasty flourish spent here, a sudden torrent of impulsive keystrikes there, formulating all kinds of tensile environments around which Schouwburg’s alien tongues, recalling the glottal acrobatics of David Moss and Phil Minton, peak and volley. Meanwhile, Casserley liberally sprinkles amorphous ephemera and digital fairydust about the proceedings, sending Miura’s notes headfirst into the flames, or ushering in subtly-shifting Eno-esque treatments that bring the little green men back from intermission. Might not go so far as to call this outing an electroacoustic improv tour de force, but it still mindmelds through a thousand ideas per minute, with inspiration to burn. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
CAROLINE DAVIS / BRAD LINDE / RUSS LOSSING / DERIC DICKENS - Urbane Outfit (Bleebop Records #2018; USA) Featuring Caroline Davis on alto sax, Brad Linde on alto sax, Russ Lossing on piano and Deric Dickens on drums. This disc was recorded live at Allywood in Takoma Park, MD in March of this year (2020). DC saxist, composer and teacher, Brad Linde, has several ongoing projects, some of which evolve over time, while others are one-time affairs. For this disc, Linde put together a mixed quartet with occasional NY-based collaborator Deric Dickens on drums plus the great Downtown pianist Russ Lossing and wonderful alto saxist, Caroline Davis, a multiple bandleader, great composer and one of the current highlights of the Downtown Scene. Linde claims that he put this quartet together to play some old ballads and torch songs. What’s interesting is this: there is only one standard here: “The Last Dance” (Van Heusen), two from upstart/modernist/avant-sax giant Ornette Coleman plus five originals, all from all four members of the quartet. The first and next to last pieces here were both written by Ornette Coleman, more of a modernist, revolutionary avant-sax hero who is not known for his ballads although he has written a few. This disc starts with Ornette’s “Rise and Shine”, which was recorded in 1960. I dig the way Mr. Linde strips things down here to revolving duos and trios, with both saxes carefully playing around one another while the piano & drums embellish them and play some intriguing skeletal lines around them. On “Pale Fire”, Linde has both saxes play a thoughtful, tricky theme together in between some more skeletal sections, with a colossal, spirited piano solo midway. Mr. Lossing’s “Underground Ballad” has warm, enchanting, slow and sensual melody that is played by both saxists in the most dreamy and endearing way. On Ms. Davis’ “Rails”, Mr. Linde switches to tenor sax, both saxes sounding increasingly unified as they play those lush, tart harmonies together and end unexpectedly. Although each piece is ballad-like, each song shows a different way of playing a ballad. Mr. Dickens’ “Mattachine/ONE” has a swinging, most majestic section as well as some sprawling piano from Mr. Lossing, another gifted musician who rarely gets the recognition he deserves. Lossing’s “Double Mint” is based on twos but it reminds me of the way Monk songs feature odd, slightly twisted rhythmic patterns. The interaction between both saxes, piano and drums is extraordinary, with certain notes stretched beyond their usual place. Orenette’s song “Faithful” comes from a rare record called, ‘Empty Foxhole’, which included Ornette’s son Denardo at the age of 10. This song is stunning with both saxes playing the melody in a most lush and haunting way, slow and sensuous. The last song is the standard, “The Last Dance”, and it is lovely, haunting and ancient sounding. A perfect way to bring this disc to grand close. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK SOLO / A QUARTET OF PEKS Schematic Abstractions for the Clarinet Family (Evil Clown 9252, USA) Dave PEK is one of contemporary music’s most adept multi-instrumentalists. His facility on a legion of soundmakers, from his cherished saxophones, clarinets, and other horns, to a dizzying array of percussives and electronic modules, is nothing short of astonishing; compiling a cursory laundry list of his vast collection is not only a fool’s gesture but fails to grasp the enormity of an artistic discipline that allows it all to be utilized so inventively. On this, another of his ‘quartet’ outings where he keenly sifts, layers, and multitracks himself in the ultimate act of self-accompaniment, PEK applies the same rigor to a whole host of subsets from the clarinet family as he has with his similarly-themed saxophone exploits. The result? His battery of alto, piccolo, B-flat, alto, bass, contralto, etc. weave sinuous lines around each other like a cobra writhing before a snakecharmer. At moments, the various tones thrust and parry across carefully delineated battle lines, then PEK takes a ‘solo’ that finds him bending notes while folding space, counterbalanced by an ingenious use of periodically poised silences. The effect can be both hallucinatory and exhilarating, temporarily derailing the equilibrium as the notes overwhelm your inner ear canals with viral totality. It’s an imagistic swarm of moods, modes, and modulations, prickly clusters of bristling harmonics emerging in complex field densities that never coalesce the same way twice. Endlessly fascinating, surrendering completely to the immediacy of PEK’s mutating soundworld is the only way to bask in its glorious, submersive depths. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
PEK SOLO / A QUARTET OF PEKS - Fixed Intentions for the Saxophone Family (Evil Clown 9253, USA) Perhaps isolationism is something of an inspirational motivator for Mr. Dave PEK. Or maybe it’s functioning as an auditory aphrodisiac of sorts? Either way, the man’s dogged work ethic and recorded catalog shows no signs of slowing down, and being left to his own devices has apparently had a truly demonstrative effect. On yet another marathon session, the results of which inform this hour-plus entreé, PEK’s declamatory saxophone symphonies set both the mind and ear on ever-soaring higher flights of spiritualistic expression, footloose and fancy-free. PEK has described his approach to his horn playing as more cerebral rather than emotional in nature, but these overdubbed striations of breath and bluster don’t glibly achieve lift-off just from the ‘ol think tank. Like forebears Coltrane, McPhee, and other saxophonists to whom the act of blowing becomes heavenly genuflection, PEK’s categorization of his own playing as such does it something of a disservice. There might be a calculated modus operandi at play throughout, a sense and sensibility coloring his navigation through such seemingly impenetrable improvisational vectors, but the fact that these expansive, magma-hot soundflows never degenerate into cacophonic noteplay speaks volumes about the artist’s fleet control and smart, logical progressions. There is a suite-like structure here that finds PEK alternating quieter introspection with full-on interstellar overdrive; later sections find him playing a series of speedy, cascading vamps that send trembles out of the speaker cones and down your spine. Varying shades of tone, hue, and cry are splayed out in widening arcs, only to be finally corralled and parsed as we await the next motif with bated breath, PEK’s ‘quartet’ of respirations igniting the imagination with nothing less than awe. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
IVORY COAST SOUL 2 - Afro Soul in Abidjan from 1976 to 1981 (Hot Casa 021; France) Reduced price, last copies. Ivory Coast Soul is back in its second volume, and Djamel Hammadi aka Afrobrazilero and DJ Julien Lebrun have dug even deeper into the country's vinyl archives. After much painstaking research and investigative work, Hot Casa has gathered together some key members of seminal Afro and psychedelic outfits, selecting 14 Afro-soul gems, centered mainly on the musically-rich and creatively-volatile Republic of the Ivory Coast during the '70s. Despite the fact that the country has recently lived through an unfortunate civil war, with deep sociopolitical crisis and instability and strong FRCI Visa checkpoints, Hot Casa has worked even harder with the help of local friends to find the rarest and most interesting records. Last but not least, after many new trips, from the Abobo "Baghdad "area, Yopougon to Bouaké to Akoupé and Jacqueville, Hot Casa also had to find their original producers or heir-producers, to finalize the licensing process. This new volume highlights some extraordinary music and immense talent working in a variety of styles and approaches. The Ivory Coast gained its independence from France on August 7th 1960 and became a republic with a strong executive power, personified in the son of a Baoulé chief, Felix Houphouët-Boigny. It has quickly become the musical center of West Africa, attracting musicians from across the continent. The borders with Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana made the country, and especially Abidjan, the crossroads of millions of cultures and diasporas. This compilation represents an amazing period, when urban music transcended tribe conception, and when Pan-Africanism wasn't simply a word, but a real philosophy and musical adventure. This 2CD is presented with a full-color 24-page booklet, including historical information written by Ivorian historian Anicet Boka.”
2 CD Set $14
BLO - Step Three (Hot Casa 020; France) ”Reduced price, last copies. Hot Casa Records is proud to present this Holy Grail of Afro-Funk and rare gem from the '70s Lagos music scene. Reissued for the first time outside Nigeria, including an interview and photos of the original band members. The three core BLO band's members were "B" for Berkely "Ike" Jones on guitar, "L" for Laolu, "Akins" Akintobi on drums, and "O" for Mike "Gbenga" Odumosu on bass. BLO was formed just as a trio in late 1972 and split up in 1982. They developed their music on tour before they recorded their first album, Chapter One in 1973 on EMI Records. They built something unique, original and different than any other young African group at the time, blending rock with its African roots and transmuting it into soul-fusion. They left an indelible impression on the Nigerian music scene and became an institution for worldwide music lovers. From Clusters to Afrocollection alongside with the Lijadu Sisters, they'd been involved in many various acts. They also toured with Ginger Baker, the famous English drummer of both power trio Cream and Salt, whose influence has been considered by Laolu Akins as "another major player in the development of BLO." After their highly inspiring worldwide tour with Salt, leading them from Munich's Olympic Jazz Festival to the USA, BLO decided to work on their own concept album with the main ingredients of Afro, rock and dance. Immediately preceding their disco period, Step Three is a real and beautiful definition of Afro soul music.”
The Big ReR Records CD SALE:
ReR or originally Recommended Records, was and still is the best label for progressive, experimental and avant-garde music. It was founded by Chris Cutler (in 1978), drummer/composer for Henry Cow, the Art Bears & News from Babel and Mr. Cutler is still at the helm. The label has slowed down as far as new releases are concerned although they have produced a number of essential box-sets over the past few years: Henry Cow, Peter Blegvad, This Heat, Sun Ra, Biota and Faust. Unfortunately, most of them are not in stock at our distributor at present but no doubt we can special order them in the future.
Over the past few years, ReR has reissued a number of older titles that had been out-of-print and reduced the cost of each. We will list all of those reissues, 10 per week for the next four weeks. Our distributor has anywhere from 3 to 50 copies of each title at present and I believe that none of these are actually out-of-print but that remains to be seen. As far as I am concerned, everything on ReR is worth checking out if you like to be challenged by the music you listen to. CHRIS CUTLER also has an ongoing radio show/podcast called ‘Probes’, that is transmitted once every few months. I have listened to each and every one over the past few months, mainly on the train coming to the store, and they have made my train rides so much more interesting. I still learn things about the history of modern music from each of these shows so please give them a listen when you can. Here’s the link: https://rwm.macba.cat/en/probes_tag
4th Week - ReR CD Sale:
RENE LUSSIER / CHRIS CUTLER / JEAN DEROME - Three Pieces Suite (ReR LCD1; UK) This release is drawn from 3 separate recordings the trio made in the 80's. The disc is a combination of compositions & improvisations. Guitars, reeds, keyboards, electronics, bass & drums. Cellist Tom Cora guests on about 1/3rd.
BIOTA - Half a True Day (ReR BCD6; UK) Six years in the making, this is the sixth CD released by ReR from the visual/sonic art group Biota. Unique in their history and method, Biota painstakingly construct complex, organic structures that mix extensive studio processing and musique concréte techniques, with a highly eclectic orchestra of acoustic and electronic resources - from kit drums, through mediaeval winds, strings and barrel organs, to early experimental electronic instruments.
GIVE GUITARS TO PEOPLE with PATRICIA BATEIRA [a/k/a NATuerlich] / JOCHEN ARBEIT / VITOR RUA - The Look of Silence (ReR GGTP1; UK) Featuring NATuerlich (a.k.a Patricia Bateira), Jochen Arbeit (Einstürzende Neubauten) and Vitor Rua (amazing experimental guitarist & composer for Clean Feed) - guitars. Give Guitars to People is a project, which deals with a new music style, combining their individual sounds, horizontally and vertically, to mould a unique aesthetic, identified by Rua as meta-idiomatic. Of their live performance, this was said: Imagine a performance that doesn't begin - just starts - and that doesn't end - just stops; no climax or any intention to reach an end; where the events of the staging exist for themselves instead of participating in any progression. GIVE GUITARS TO PEOPLE is Jochen Arbeit, Vítor Rua and NATürlich's idiomatic fronts with a schizoid function in a discontinuous and deconstructive flow, created with no apparent relationship between them, except the pure charm of building an abstract musical chain. The Look of Silence is a spectrum of overlapping colors, intentions and progressions based on the dynamics of togetherness and the variables of here and now, that doesn't begin, just starts and doesn't end. Co-release with NATuerlich.
HEINER GOEBBELS - Italian Concerto (ReR ISA024; UK) With Chris Cutler, The Icarus Ensemble conducted by Yoichi Sugiyama, Sira and Boubacar Djebate, Johannes Bauer, Tiziano Popoli, Jocelyn B. Smith and the Orchestra of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna conducted by Franck Ollu, this is a rare release from one of the pioneers of contemporary cross-platform composition. Working with montage, superposition and elements of different musical languages, Heiner sidesteps genre to concentrate on the material. This CD comprises four high quality (3 world premiere) recordings that feature a disparate set of compositions performed at a three-city festival organized by Angelica in 2005. The Italian Concerto/Tutti Writing marks a now vanishingly rare live appearance from Heiner in an extended duet with Chris Cutler, concluding with TuttiWriting, in which they are joined by the Icarus Ensemble. This is followed by Ou bien Sunyatta for Kora, Voice and Orchestra, Die Faust in Wappen, derived from a story by Franz Kafka, for trombone (Johannes Bauer) and orchestra and So that the blood dropped to the earth, for orchestra and voice adapted from Surrogate Cities. These are remarkable and substantial pieces.
NEWS FROM BABEL with CHRIS CUTLER / LINDSAY COOPER / ZEENA PARKINS / DAGMAR KRAUSE - Letters Home (ReR NFB2; UK) “The second record by this group (Lindsay Cooper, Zeena Parkins and Chris Cutler) with invitees Robert Wyatt, Sally Potter, Phil Minton and Dagmar Krause who sing, and Bill Gilonis (of The Work) who plays occasional guitar and bass, and who also produced the recording. These are extended songs, unusually orchestrated and arranged and not much like anything else recorded before or since. Re-mastered and repackaged here, with full text and illustrations enclosed.”
CD Sale $6
JON ROSE - The People’s Music (ReR JR7; UK) 'The People's Music' is part homage, part parody and part meditation on these themes. A string orchestra whisks through re-composed shards of the classical repertoire; a Red Guard factory guide barks instructions; a three-piece percussion ensemble from time to time intervenes destructively. Meanwhile, Rose himself conducts with a plastic replica of Mao's embalmed left hand and interjects with bursts of his electronic hyper-string violin. Not to mention that this spectacle was recorded in the unlikely and inaccessible Australian outback location of Wogarno Station, Murchison, about six hours' drive north of Perth, somehow with the press there in full force.
STEEL WATER LIGHT with CHRIS CUTLER / JON ROSE / ROBERTO MUSCI / CLAUDIO (ReR RMGC; UK) "Steel Water Light is a musical project based around silent movies about cities at the beginning of the century - bridges, trains, skyscrapers, harbours - compared with our feelings about cities now, at the beginning of the new Century. It's a scratchwork of different ideas about cities - mechanical sounds, human sounds, ethnic soundsThe performances took place in a huge glass palace, as part of a festival of silent movies with live soundtracks, on December 10th 1999 at Palazzina Liberty, as part of the SenzaParole Festival, Milan.
BRIAN WOODBURY - Variety Orchestra (ReR BW1; UK) “Brian Woodbury could not have chosen a better title for Variety Orchestra. Combining elements of Mexican-inflected polka, roots Americana, big band, romanticism, Lennon Sisters vocals and much, much more, this music feels strangely alluring for all its swings through a diversity of styles. Eclectic is a word often used to describe music that cannot be pigeon-holed, and clearly there is no way to classify what Woodbury and his Orchestra do; but as varied as the programme is, there seems to be an underlying philosophy, which is to blend genres in new, interesting and engaging ways.
There are other artists who blend styles, but none quite so seamlessly and with complete abandon as Woodbury. “Take the J Train” begins with a ROVA-style saxophone rhythm; a faintly Mexican accordion/violin passage is introduced; then a banjo picks out a bluegrass solo. And all this within the first ninety seconds. There is a certain Zappa-esque irreverence in the way that Woodbury mixes things up. By the end of the piece, genres integrate in a cacophony with saxophone wailing and pedal steel seducing over a broken-up rhythm. One precedent for this music would be Fred Frith’s ‘70s band Henry Cow, although Cow was considerably more difficult. As challenging as Woodbury is he never loses site of captivating his audience. “Jesus Christ Alrighty” merges warped organ, distorted guitar and horns over a move-your-body R&B backdrop.
Another antecedent would be some of John Zorn’s early work, like the The Big Gundown , with its episodic nature, but Woodbury manages to rapidly introduce, discard and then sometimes return to ideas in a way that is equally absurd but completely accessible. There is something oddly appealing about this work, despite its obvious intention to keep one perpetually off guard.
Recorded over the course of thirteen years, the album features performers including violinist Mark Feldman, accordionist Guy Klucevsek, violinist Sarah Parkins and trumpeter Frank London. The music is highly orchestrated—it would have to be—but there are opportunities for improvisation. On “Venice, Italy,” which opens with a solo accordion that leads into a pastoral keyboard/violin/banjo passage that could easily be found on a Gentle Giant disk, before the trumpets take over and move the piece into Cuban territory, again all within the first minute, trombonist Dan Levine gets the opportunity to explore the many nooks and crannies that Woodbury’s shifting rhythms provide.
Listeners looking for something that is challenging, while at the same time full of captivating melodies and rhythms, would do well to check out Brian Woodbury’s Variety Orchestra. Clever without being coy, this album is remarkable for its ability to sound focused despite itself.” - John Kelman, AllAboutJazz
Real Vinyl Section:
WIZZ JONES - Wizz Jones (Sunbeam Records 5109; UK) “Sunbeam Records present the first ever vinyl reissue of Wizz Jones's self-titled release, originally released in 1969. An undisputed giant of modern folk and one of the finest acoustic guitarists Britain has ever produced, Wizz Jones has been cited as an influence by stars including Rod Stewart and Keith Richards, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Folk Awards in 2019. His first solo LP appeared 50 years earlier, and receives its first-ever reissue here. A beguiling mixture of standards and originals with his outstanding playing to the fore throughout, it's unlike anything else he ever recorded. It's presented here in both its mono and stereo mixes, together with an insert containing background notes and rare images, and a repro shop flier from the original time of release. 180 gram black vinyl; hand-numbered flipback sleeve with 2pp full color insert; includes CD and repro shop flier.
LP CD $33
MARCIA BASSETT / THOMAS DIMUZIO - Losing Circles (Yew Records 013; USA) Marcia Bassett and Thomas Dimuzio create a mind-bending synthesis of sound and place on their debut LP Losing Circles. Get ready for a head trip, the album is a sublime manifestation of sound interference, texture, and ultra, low-end synth waves that literally penetrate the listener's body. The pair bonded over their Buchla systems, first meeting at Thomas's radio show, Frequency Modulation Radio at KFPA, Berkeley, California where they had their initial improv jam. Their second meeting, documented here on, Losing Circles, was recorded at the historical revival style Williamsburg Library. While the classic Buchla sound is identifiable on the recordings, it does not define the recordings. Shortwave voices appear and disrupt, lose themselves in the multiplicity of patterns, random frequencies erupt into a whirlwind of frenzied staccato scratches dissipating into fragmentary dimensions. At one sublime peak a distant cacophony of sirens awaken the senses to place -- the sound meshes into the electronics as the music takes the cue into a more foreboding tone. Conscious and unconscious meet bearing an asymmetric modulation of movement. A collective imagination held in sound abstraction slowly unfurls in a low-end bloom of steady gradual alteration, a vast deep cavernous drone of subtle control. The added bonus is the stunning trance inducing op-art by Pete Greening on the cover that will have listeners Losing Circles! Edition of 200.
MAKOTO KAWABATA & RG ROUGH - Makoto Kawabata & RG Rough (Bam Balam Records 074; France) “A collaboration between Makoto Kawabata (leader of the legendary Japanese psychedelic band, Acid Mothers Temple) and the French/British multi-instrumentalist RG Rough. The pair create an unsettling sonic jungle in which Makoto's guitar drones multiply, intertwine, and collide with a wide variety of electronic and concrete sounds and percussion. On two occasions a soft, sleepy sounding voice comes out of nowhere and whispers a strange lullaby which soon disappears under a cascade of strings or fades into a repetitive minimal piano figure... Personnel: Makoto Kawabata - electric guitar; RG Rough - electronics.”
RICHARD PINHAS / HELDON - The Venue: Live in London 1982 (Bam Balam 082; France) “The last show by this particular Richard Pinhas/Heldon line-up, live in London in 1982, featuring, among others, Magma members Patrick Gauthier, Bernard Paganotti, Clement Bailly, as well as Jean-Philippe Goude (Weidorje). This is a historical document recorded live from the audience which captures an exceptional evening and a great concert. Heldon is undoubtedly one of the most innovative and influential bands in French electronic rock music. This record was produced by Richard Pinhas himself.”
LE THEATRE DU CHENE NOIR - Miss Madona (Souffle Continu Records 061; France) “Two years after having recorded Aurora, which Gérard Terronès released on his Futura Records label in 1971, the Théâtre du Chêne Noir put on another show, Miss Madona, first at Avignon, and then at Ariane Mnouchkine's Théâtre du Soleil. From this play, Gérard Gelas's group took three sound extracts which they made, with no further ado, into a single. Miss Madona is thus the second recording by Théâtre du Chêne Noir. The two sides (and three tracks) offer up an unbelievable instrumental theater with something of a white magic ritual about it. The actors, so much better for the record, were also musicians; alongside Miss Madona, ex-star of the circus and now idol, were the piano and electric organ of Daniel Dublet, the saxophones of Pierre Surtel and Jean-Louis Canaud, and the trumpet of Gilbert Say. But there are also the vocals of Beatrice Le Thierry, Bénédicte Maulet, Jean Paul Chazalon, Monik Lamy, Nicole Aubiat... which added to the mystery of what happened on stage. The sound of this particular theater is reminiscent as much of John Coltrane as of Ravi Shankar, Pierre Henry or the Art Ensemble of Chicago. There are voices from beyond the grave, inspirational for future musicians: Steven Stapleton, for example who included Théâtre du Chêne Noir in his Nurse With Wound List. Souffle Continu re-release this single, which is rare in more ways than one. First ever vinyl reissue. Remastered from the master tapes. Licensed from Le Théâtre du Chêne Noir.”
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 FROM MY GOOD FRIEND JESSICA HALLOCK,
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.
“Violin Vigil for Elijah McClain” - featuring CHARLIE BURNHAM & FRED CASH
THIS COMES from PETE SEWARD,
One of my oldest & dearest friends whom I met at the Knitting Factory in the late 1980’s. Artist, t-shirt designer occasional promoter in Lake Placid, NY
This past summer we (Pete & his wife Karen) actually hosted a live music event, a Violin Vigil for Elijah McClain, featuring Charlie Burnham & Fred Cash, and also Charlie leading a Community String-along. This event was personally meaningful for me, as I had been wanting to present and feature Charlie as a singer and leader. He chose to bring electric bass player Fred Cash. It was also a collaboration with my wife Karen Davidson's Memorial Field for Black Lives, a project of John Brown Lives! at the John Brown Farm and gravesite in Lake Placid, NY. This event happened on the anniversary of McClain's death.
The sequence of the video:
* Community String-along "Let my People Go"
* Jeri Zempel - Eulogy for Elijah, his last words
* Charlie Burnham & Fred Cash "Love is in Need of Love Today" (S.Wonder)
* Community String-along "Will Will Overcome"
* Charlie Burnham & Fred Cash "In America" (C.Burnham)
THIS ONE COMES from PAUL DUNMALL, British Saxophone Colossus!!!
I haven't done any gigs since March but I have a done a couple of recordings so if you're interested there's a video of one below which goes on line 7.45pm November 26th it was organized by TDE promotions/Fizzle may you all stay well. - Paul
Here's the link: https://youtu.be/GjbY7tTeH7k
THIS COMES FROM JOURNALIST & AUTHOR OF THE ESP BOOK, JASON WEISS:
The French saxophonist Etienne Brunet (studied with Lacy a bit in the ‘70s, & in fact it’s thanks to him that Saravah put out Lacy’s Scratching the Seventies, which he edited; later played with various people like Jacques Oger, Jac Berrocal, Fred Van Hove). So, if maybe you’re inclined this time to list it in your newsletter, Etienne has just posted a duo set, “Wifi Long Distance Call” (39 min.), Etienne on bass clarinet, with percussionist Shyamal Maitra, mostly on tabla.
THIS COMES from KEVIN REILLY AT RELATIVE PITCH RECORDS:
MATTHEW WRIGHT // EVAN PARKER / MARK NAUSEEF / TOMA GOUBAND - Matthew Wright’s Locked Hybrids (Relative Pitch; USA) “I’m sending a head's up for tomorrow's release of Matthew Wright's Locked Hybrids. It's the first digital-only release for the label. It was assembled in Wright's studio during the lockdown and made entirely from samples of Evan Parker, Toma Gouband and Mark Nauseef collected during a 2018 recording at Arco Barco in Ramsgate, UK. Using a mixture of software editing and Wright's own brand of improvised mixing with turntables and laptops, the resultant music is a blend of experimental hip hop, sonic art, improvisation and digital composition. The release will coincide with a new Locked Hybrids commission for hcmf// that will stream from the festival website (https://hcmf.co.uk/) on the weekend of 20th-22nd November. Excerpts from the RP release will also feature on the UKs BBC Radio 3 New Music Show during that weekend.
Download Only Release at https://relativepitchrecords.bandcamp.com/album/locked-hybrids
THIS IS FROM GUITAR MASTER HENRY KAISER:
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 best, Henry
From INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM RAINEY:
Every Week for the entirety of this pandemic/lockdown INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM 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:
FROM SAXIST, COMPOSER & MULTI-BANDLEADER, JEFF LEDERER:
2020 Year-end Newsletter
(it's over, thank goodness...)
In a last minute edit to this newsletter, I have to start by acknowledging the sudden loss yesterday of the great musical spirit and friend to so many of us, Frank Kimbrough- Frank was a musician whose ears and heart were wide open - he made good things happen, and he will be terribly missed. Yeah, this year sucked, by all standards, especially the terrible impact of Covid, a political climate that challenged everything we thought we knew about our country and ourselves and the sudden pause of all of our live performance activities as artists. But still, there were little bright moments, and we hope for more brighter moments to come for all of us in 2021. Looking ahead, here are three new recordings to look for in 2021 - The music will come back for all of us when the world is healthy, and we are looking forward to welcoming a more compassionate, equitable, just and peaceful world!! If you are interested you can read more of my year-end musings in the latest blog entry "2020-Out There" on the little (i) site. Until then, hang in there, stay healthy and safe, and take care of each other!! - yours in simplicity, Led.
Check out his website: