This Weeks Sonic Treasures Begin with Five from:
LISTEN! FOUNDATION - 10 New Discs & 1 Reissue - 5 This Week & 6 Next Week:
Last I heard (2/4/21-3pm), our big order/box is in Elizabeth, NJ, 2 towns away from where I live. Hopefully it will arrive at my place tomorrow or sometime this weekend. Unsure when.
CECIL TAYLOR QUINTET with HARRI SJOSTROM / TRISTAN HONSINGER / TEPPO HAUTA-AHO / PAUL LOVENS (Listen! Foundation ; Poland) When the Cecil Taylor quintet was ready to play at the Tampere Jazz Happening on October 30, 1998, all the musical world knew the virulent compactness of Taylor's groups, especially after the American pianist had established an on-going link with Berlin and the European public. That day in Tampere, a superlative performance of free improvisation (Harri Sjöström on soprano sax, Tristan Honsinger on cello, Paul Lovens on drums and Teppo Hauta-aho on double bass) was able to represent Taylor's enormous creative potential. It is a concert discovered in the archives of Finnish Radio YLE, never documented on a recording medium, which allows us to enter that absolutely unique world of Taylor’s groups: art and sound density, expressive universes that leave you speechless even after their conclusion. That day the sound power produced by the group was even able to impress Steve Lacy who, at the end of the concert, went to find the musicians backstage, saying:"...You guys really lifted the bandstand...", a statement that has been carved into the memory of that evening and also provides the title of this live recording. In Lifting the Bandstand the structure is typical: Cecil enters the stage, poetizes on his verses and enters into a free dance; then some deep clusters on the piano; the string musicians offer themselves in an abstract design and the development of a sort of propitiatory ritual outlined in all its excitement and fullness when the clusters start to become cutting and the musical set becomes explosive. In this concert Taylor and the four European musician-personalities continue their enthusiastically celebrated non-hierarchical style of play that they started from the very beginning of this constellation. They sow the seeds for a free and choral relationship that favors the shattering, the physical prowess of the musicians and a phenomenology of music. The first half hour of Lifting the Bandstand is an uncontrolled expansion of the sound mass, with the instruments continuously expanding so that one cannot believe that musicians can play with that intensity for so long: an instinctive, chemical experiment consumes itself, in which all "music" is demolished and re-presented according to a project of apparent intangibility, not a sterile but a constructive fury, which upsets for the speed undertaken and the extended techniques; only after an hour the shockwave fades into a cubic phase, less thunderous, more oriented towards a melodic quality and a timbre line, where onomatopoeia intervenes; there are some attempts to replicate operatic singing and we find reminiscences of classicism camouflaged in areas of interaction. Even when the music calms down in the end, there are still electric shocks of music, small refluxes of the instruments, which the musicians cannot completely dominate in this new situation of relaxation. When the ritual ends, the sensation is to have experienced the equivalent of a virtuous myth, a regenerating force that leaves the listener astonished, breathless and enriched not really knowing where he had been taken.” - Ettore Garzia
TREVOR WATTS with MOIRE MUSIC DRUM ORCHESTRA MARK HEWINS / JAMIE HARRIS / GIBRAN CERVANTES - A World View (Listen! Foundation 26 2020; Poland) Trevor Watts: a legendary man, an exceptional saxophonist, a forerunner of everything that is really valuable in European improvised music, turned 80 last year. Now we celebrate his Anniversary with extremely limited to 200 copies and a one-time edition of 5 CD box set with never released before music recorded by some exceptional artists like Gibran Cervantes, Mark Hewins, Jammie Harris, and the legendary band Moire Music Orchestra.
5 CD Set $60
RAFAł MAZUR with SATOKO FUJII / GUILLERMO GREGORIO / RAMON LOPEZ / NATSUKI TAMURA / ARTUR MAJEWSKI - The Great Tone Has No Sound (Listen! Foundation 28; Poland) Twenty years ago bass player Rafał Mazur started his journey in the improvised music world. From that time he became one of the key figures on the European scene and one of the most adventurous acoustic bass players in the world. From that time he played with such great improvisers as Laurence D. Butch Morris, Joelle Leandre, Barry Guy, Agusti Fernandez among others. Now we celebrate this jubilee by releasing the four-CD box set where Rafał invited to play the music of such fantastic musicians as pianist form Japan, Satoko Fujii, his husband and one of the greatest Japanese trumpet players Natsuki Tamura, legendary clarinet virtuoso Guillermo Gregorio, fantastic trumpeter Artur Majewski and vigorous drum master Ramon Lopez.
4 CD Set $45
EVAN PARKER / AGUSTI FERNANDEZ - Tempranillo (Listen! Foundation 20; Poland) In music everything is possible, especially when dealing with music that tends in a natural way towards improvisation or that spontaneously come from it. And improvisation is synonymous with constant surprise. Surprise must never be understood as doing something in order to surprise the one who is facing us (both an audience or other musicians) because it would then mean another kind of surprise. The first one to be surprised has to be the musician even if he or she knows his or her possibilities very well (otherwise we would be speaking again about the other surprise and, as a consequence, about another kind of music) and immediately after the audience (or the rest of the musicians) will be - or not - surprised. From then on, in this shared surprise, the musician can do whatever because, by closing/completing the small circle, everything is possible when the surprise includes sincerity with oneself and with the others.
So, everything is possible when a piano and a saxophone meet almost by chance accompanied with a couple of glasses of wine (100% “Tempranillo”, or not, since other mixtures with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir can be tasted with the same reverence and can generate similar or still stronger surprises).
Sparks appear spontaneously from a glance, from a word, from a movement or from a musical sequence performed more with the heart that with the brain or with the instrument as such. And it is this spark the one able to light everything and to make a single meeting become a big amount of surprises, an absence of prejudices (in the most literal sense of the term).
When Agustí Fernández (Palma de Mallorca, 1954) and Evan Parker (Bristol, 1944) entered the studio in Barcelona, they have never played together before. They were ready to share a new personal experience, intimate, an experience that would not necessarily lead them to a specific place (except that they both would increase their personal backgrounds). And this is a lot, enough for a first meeting). Before they had spoken about wine (100% “Tempranillo”) and about many other things. Afterwards, the chain of surprises ran at a very high speed. The result of it is this record. When listening to it for the first time it is clear that magic was born in that moment and that a positive synergy, step by step, was self stimulating until it exploded in thousand of colours. A volcanic synergy able to create a new world when its lava cooled. And, how to define this record? Jazz? Contemporary music? Improvised music? New music?… Impossible to be labelled. Impossible or unnecessary. Then… why not saying music by Fernández and Parker? Or, still better, why not… simply music? - Miquel Jurado, Vilassar de Mar, May 1996
KIER NEURINGER & RAFAł MAZUR - Continuum (Listen! Foundation 22; Poland) We are used to capturing and perceiving the world through discrete events, events that always have their beginning and their end. When someone questions such an ordering of the world, without thinking about it, led by the conventional image of reality, we might answer: "everything begins and ends sometime.” Everything just has its beginning and its end, that’s how it is. In the oppressively introduced (and fortunately declining) dominant current cultural narrative, the world is divided into two parts — we have the so-called metaphysical intersection. And in this physical world in which you are reading these words right now, everything is temporal, that is everything must begin and end in time. Thus, everything is contingent, impermanent, and de facto, in some way unreal. It is a vision built on the basis of some kind of ignorance and religious conviction (which may be basically the same) and as such, this vision is less and less coherent with the contemporary world.
PAUL DUNMALL / MATTHEW SHIPP / JOE MORRIS / GERALD CLEAVER - The Bright Awakening (Rogue Art 0103; France) Featuring Paul Dunmall on tenor sax, Matt Shipp on piano, Joe Morris on contrabass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. British sax colossus Paul Dunmall has only recorded with Matt Shipp once, in a UK quartet recorded live in London in 2017. For their second collaboration, Dunmall & Shipp are working with two American giants: Joe Morris on contrabass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. This disc will be arriving in the next few days so I haven’t heard it yet. Like myself, an immense fan of UK sax great Paul Dunmall, as well as the rest of this all-star quartet, you should be pretty excited as well. - BLG
MIKE SOPKO / BILL LASWELL / TYSHAWN SOREY - On Common Ground (MODT 00104; USA) Since the days of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the guitar/bass/drums trio has been a springboard for innovation and experimentation. In the hands of visionary tone scientists, this venerable lineup continues to be a laboratory for music of primal power and tonal subtlety.
ON COMMON GROUND features three such players, all of whom have individually created highly personal sonic universes. Mike Sopko has explored the frontiers of the guitar with Bill Laswell, Dosh, Dave King, Los Lobos, DJ Logic, and Tyshawn Sorey from bases in Oakland, California and his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, including 2015's Sopko / Laswell / Pridgen with drummer Thomas Pridgen of The Mars Volta. Like Laswell, a fellow Midwesterner, Sopko transmutes the industrial crash and hum of his hometown into music of muscular authority. Over the last several years, no one who has followed the protean career of Tyshawn Sorey should be surprised by anything he does as a composer, instrumentalist and conceptualist. Still, the oceans of primal rhythm he conjures in the five compositions of ON COMMON GROUND open a startling new vista of his art.
Together, the sounds brought into being by these three improvisors are at once grounded in a deep inquiry of traditions that span space and time while cracking open a window onto eternal radiance. This is fearless music, the kind that can only be made when master musicians meet ON COMMON GROUND.”
Still in stock:
MIKE SOPKO / BILL LASWELL / THOMAS PRIDGEN - Sopko/Laswell/Pridgen (Self-released; USA) Featuring Mike Sopko on guitar, Bill Laswell on bass and Thomas Pridgen on drums plus Martin Dosh on keyboards, Michael Lewis (from Happy Apple) & Joshua Smith on saxes and Hamir Atwal on percussion. I read a review of this disc in Jazzwise (UK jazz magazine) recently and decided I needed to get copies to check out and sell. In just a few days, these discs appeared, so here we are. I wasn’t quite familiar with Bay-area guitarist Mike Sopko before this although I was somewhat familiar with drummer Thomas Pridgen who played with Mars Volta, a popular prog band from El Paso, Texas, now defunkt. It turns out that Mike Sopko has worked with Mike Watt, Jamie Saft and Tyshawn Sorey. Mr. Sopko and Mr. Pridgen have a duo called Big Band that does play on occasion and decided to invite one of their heroes, bassist Bill Laswell, to this studio session. The music here was improvised/created in the studio and then Sopko and a handful of his colleagues added a few other parts. The results are astonishing: tight, powerful, wailing with incredibly assured interplay between all three men. All three are in top form and integral to the group sound. In some ways this disc is similar to Blixt, that incredible trio with Raoul Bjorkenheim, Laswell & Morgan Agren. Mr. Laswell plays an uptempo dub/funk line on “Detroit”, while Sopko and Pridgen get into and ride the groove. Mr. Sopko adds several sly guitar parts, while Laswell’s bass buzzes underneath. The production here is clean and warm and perfectly balanced. Laswell’s dreamy, hypnotic bass is featured on “Daybreak” while Sopko also creates layers of watery, cascading shimmers. Each member of the trio gets a chance to steer a couple of pieces, by kicking them off and providing the central riff/direction. On a piece called “Acres”, Mr. Laswell’s quick spiraling wah-wah bass and Mr. Pridgen’s laid-back drums provide a cosmic cushion for several alien (Frippish) guitars. Even better is “Airplane Mode”, where Laswell’s furious bass is at the center of this explosive trio with Michael Lewis’s sax also spinning along. Mr. Sopko plays acoustic guitar on occasion, adding bits of subtle spice at the right moments. Martin Dosh’s electric keyboards are also used as selective sonic seasoning at just the right moments. On a song called “Praxis”, Sopko plays some astounding high-speed Buckethead-like lines, which makes sense since the band Praxis featured Buckethead and Mr. Laswell. Mike Sopko’s daredevil, diverse guitar playing is featured throughout this disc, yet always working sympathetically with equally ultra-creative rhythm team and their guests. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $10 [this was released in 2016 & had minimal distribution, we still have several dozen left)
ELLIOTT SHARP / ANTHONY PIROG / DAVID WATSON / HARVEY VALDES / JEROME HARRIS / LIBERTY ELLMAN / ALVARO DOMENE / MATTEO LIBERATORE / MIKE BAGGETTA / NORMAN WESTBERG / WILL BERNARD / AYMAN FANOUS / et al - I Never Meta Guitar Five - Solo Guitars for the 21st Century (Klanggalerie 349; Germany) This is the fifth in a series of solo guitar performances that Elliott Sharp has been compiling for the past decade, the first four were released on Clean Feed. There are 20 different guitarists on this disc, only half of which I am familiar with. Last week (2/5/21 newsletter), I was reviewing a lengthy 2 CD collection of rarities from Downtown guitarist Gary Lucas and marveling at the way he would approach each song, altering his guitar with different effects throughout. The guitar has been around quite a long time and became very popular throughout the 20th century, being integral to many types of music: jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, surf music, R&B, rock, pop, psych and all sorts of ethnic musics. Rock guitar really exploded in the 1960’s with many Guitar Gods popping up around the world. Ever since, we have seen a deluge of guitarists who are influenced by a wealth of music from different era and different places.
This disc presents 20 guitarists, all from different places, with different backgrounds. Alvaro Domene has released a series of duos & trios with Henry Kaiser, Briggin Krauss & E#. The opener is called “The Hive” by Mr. Domene and it sounds as if Alvaro is channeling or stripping down some dark metal chords into a series of eerie drones. Amy Mills also strips things down, rubbing the strings and letting them hang in the air filled with suspense. Post-modern guitar great, Anthony Pirog, is a member of the Messthetics (X-Fugazi rhythm team) and a Henry Kaiser collaborator. His piece here, “Live at I-Beam” is filled with layers of swirling effects and pulsating sounds. Ayman Fanous has recorded a couple of string duos with Jason Hwang & Frances-Marie Uitti. His piece, “Lubricity”, sounds like that early Fred Frith solo guitar LP but played at a much quieter volume: soft, sparkling, bird-like chirps. Chris Vine, a member of early US prog band However, presents several layers if Frippish sustained guitars all floating together. Midwest guitarist, Craig Green has a duo with Bad Plus drummer Dave King. Mr. Green’s “Burning on a Sea of Ghosts” features some fine, hypnotic, swirling acoustic guitar(s). Former New Zealander & longtime Downtowner, David Watson keeps busy with Tipple, Ikue Mori & Shelley Hirsch. Mr. Watson plays some solemn, slow acoustic guitar with soft el. guitar echoes in the distance. Debra Devi has several layers of guitars, each with different effects, from a boogie to a contemplative conclusion. Derek Gripper plays two acoustic guitars and was inspired by Bassekou Kouyate, who plays solo ngoni. This piece is most enchanting since he plays the harp-like flourishes and adds subtle punctuation here and there. Part of the vocabulary of playing electric guitar is using effects (pedals), feedback or using something other than a pick or fingers on the guitar. Gil Kuno does a fine job of creating a dark, dream-like mood with just a layer of humming effects and sustain. I know Harvey Valdes from a rare solo disc and an obscure trio with Blaise Siwula & GL Diana. Valdes’ piece “Embers” uses odd effects with layers of harrowing sustained waves being looped over & over. Jerome Harris has played both guitar and bass with the greats: Sonny Rollins, Bobby Previte & Ned Rothenberg. His piece, “Refraction Etude” is laid back and reflective, helping to balance the more out there selections on this disc. Liberty Ellman has worked with Henry Threadgill & Stephan Crump, also plays an enchanting, restrained yet quick-spinning series of waves on his semi-acoustic. Matteo Liberatore has a solo disc on Innova and has played at DMG a couple of times. I like the way he varies several swirling lines on “Rung Regeneration #1”. Super-diverse guitarist, Mike Baggetta has a power trio with Mike Watt and Jim Keltner. On “Harvests”, Baggetta plays some thick, dark sustained tones at the center while adding other layers of fractured sounds to the blend. A potent mix. Longtime guitarist for the Swans, Norman Westberg, has been producing solo efforts for the past five years. His piece, “A Start of an End”, sounds like a series of shimmering strings, closer to an organ than a guitar. Reg Bloor’s “The Ice Box” is the most harrowing piece of all, rather like King Crimson at their darkest with a rhythm team kicking up a storm underneath. By the time I got to the end of this disc, I felt that I had been on a journey, each guitarist providing a different story, all of which are related somehow. Kudos to Elliott Sharp for this wonderful compilation of guitarists from different planets. - Bruce Lee Gallnater, DMG
CD $15 [1st 25 orders will receive one of the earlier Solo Guitar comps from Clean Feed for free]
Two New Ones from the Great Sunnyside Label:
ETHAN IVERSON / UMBRIA JAZZ ORCHESTRA with INGRID JENSEN / DAYNA STEPHENS / BEN STREET / LEWIS NASH / et al - Bud Powell in the 21st Century (Sunnyside 1619; USA) “The effects of the bebop revolution in jazz music are still being felt and explored. Of the half dozen true pioneers of the movement, pianist Bud Powell has remained somewhat in the shadows, although his work has become a major touchstone for true devotees of the music and a principal influence for most of jazz's most explorative pianists. Powell's brilliant original compositions are essential, infinitely listenable but also strangely tricky. Unlike Monk, Parker and Gillespie, the composer neglected to perform them much after their original recordings, so they never became a part of the jazz lingua franca. Pianist and historian Ethan Iverson provides a fantastic validation of Powell's compositional genius on his new recording, Bud Powell In The 21st Century, a reworking of a number of Powell's pieces for big band.”
RUSS LOSSING with LOREN STILLMAN / JOHN HEBERT / MICHAEL SARIN - Metamorphism (Sunnyside 1607; USA) “Lossing's latest recording, Metamorphism, is an extension of his continually evolving compositional identity. Here he presents eight original compositions, each written with its own particular strategy for interplay among a stalwart ensemble of longtime collaborators. It is only with musicians with whom he has established a deeply felt musical connection that this music could actually be realized. // The members of the quartet have been regular collaborators with Lossing for decades. Each member of the ensemble is a unique instrumentalist with a broad palette and ability to play many styles without conforming to established sounds. Lossing met Michael Sarin some thirty years ago when the drummer moved to New York City from Seattle. Sarin's pairing with bassist John Hébert, already a longtime associate, provides a variety of rhythmic and harmonic feels necessary for Lossing's pieces. Lossing was a member of Loren Stillman’s first recorded ensemble, when the saxophonist was only 14 years old, and their musical affinity has grown exponentially over the past 25 years. The ensemble is crucial to the success of the pieces. The open, impressionistic sensation of Lossing's tunes has been one that he has always aimed for.”
BRUCE ARNOLD / KENNY WESSEL - Heard Instinct (Muse Eek 306; USA) Featuring Bruce Arnold and Kenny Wessel on electric & acoustic guitars with pedals. Both of these NYC-based guitarists come from varied backgrounds with busy resumes. I’ve heard Bruce Arnold with his own trio & quartet, in duos with Judi Silvano & Ursel Schlicht and collaborating with Roberta Piket & George Schuller. I recall hearing Kenny Wessel way back when he was in Ornette Coleman’s 2nd Prime Time band, as well as working with Adam Rudolph & Karl Berger. Mr. Wessel released a solo/group effort last year, which remains on my list of best under-recognized gems of the year (2020). So, when this disc arrived in the mail last week, I was eager to slip it into the CD player.
Each guitarist composed 4 of the eight pieces here which means that this music was (partially) written and not completely improvised. Mr. Arnold’s “Three and Fro” opens and has a rather angular, slightly bent form. Kind of dreamy with sparse notes floating and slowly interacting, not unlike a slowdance with a warm partner which eventually speeds up to a graceful finger snapping groove. Exquisite. “Pete’s Mistake” (by Wessel) has a sly, softly swinging groove and kinda sounds like an old standard. Both guitarists take sublime, elegant solos here. So nice. The title track, “Heard Instinct” (Arnold)is also the name of the studio where this disc was recorded. It also most likely refers to the “herd instinct” which a false theory perpetrated by the Fake News Propaganda Mill. While one guitar plays those swirling chords, the other guitar solos inventively on top. Kenny Wessel’s “Unstrung” was also the title song for his solo effort from last year. Things heat up a bit here with strong interplay between the complex comping and inspired single note solos. The great thing about this disc is this: since all of the songs were composed, this gives both guitarists a chance to enhance what it is written with all sorts of creative harmonies, interaction and embellishments. Hence, when one guitarist solos, the other one adds interesting counterplay so we have to listen closely to what is going on since there is quite a bit of ingenuity going on throughout. This is an outstanding duo effort which is often laid back and thoughtfully laid out. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SONIC TWIST® with JUDI SILVANO / BRUCE ARNOLD - Unity (Muse Eek 405; USA) Featuring Judi Silvano on voice, Eventide plug-ins, Godius Little Giant & midi-foot controller and Bruce Arnold on guitars, Super-Collider & jam pedals. This is the third offering by the unique, adventurous and unclassifiable duo. Although both of these musicians come from mostly jazz backgrounds, their combined efforts seem to come from a more experimental, open-ended area. Right from the opening, “A Ha”, it seems obvious that this duo has been working together for a while since they compliment each others sound. All of the pieces here (17) are relatively short, under 3 & 1/2 minutes. It feels like they are mostly creating different moods. Ms. Silvano often sings just a few words or lines per piece, looping certain phrases and then stretching them carefully. Mr. Arnold also takes short phrases or bits and then loops and/or twists them with different effects. I like when Ms. Silvano takes a short, melodic line repeats it and then carefully alters it while Mr. Arnold adds sympathetic fragments creating quaint harmonies. Eventually the duo start to add another layer or two, sometimes with a few crisscrossing lines going on. There is something rather charming about this that I dig. It is not too far out but just weird enough to make it worth giving a listen or two. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
NIKOLAS SKORDAS / STEPHANOS CHYTIRIS - Invisible War (Slam 5101; UK) Featuring Nikolas Skordas on soprano & tenor saxes, taragato & flutes and Stephanos Chytiris on drums. This was recorded live at Shellac Studios in Greece in 2018 & 2019. Greel reeds-player, Nikolas Skordas, has two previous duo discs out with Slam founder George Haslam and UK keyboardist Alex Maguire. Greek drummer, Stephanos Chytiris is a new name for me. There are 7 tracks here, four of which have Mr. Skordas switching between his four reed instruments. On the first piece, it sounds as if Mr. Skordas is playing two flutes at the same time or perhaps panpipes with Mr. Chytiris on hand drums or perhaps mallets on toms. Skordas switches to soprano sax for three tracks and this sounds like his main axe. The piece was recorded live in the studio but the room sounds rather large and live-sounding. Skordas has strong, warm tone, staying in the middle register without any squawking. Eventually the duo take off for some intense, free-wheeling soaring, going higher and higher as the piece evolves. For the title piece, “Invisible War”, the duo push hard, the soprano sax on the verge of eruption, the drums churning up a storm underneath. Mr. Skordas switches to tenor sax on “Empathy”, bending and twisting the notes on his sax freely without screaming or playing too loudly. Skordas plays taragato on on “Passing”, reaching even deeper into his book of free playing and churning up the intensity from within. This disc shows that “free music” can and does come from anywhere and everywhere. Haven’t heard very much free playing from Greece so perhaps this is a unique unit. Strong, focused and free. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
VIOLA FALB / MARK HOLUB / BERND SATZINGER - A Room for You (Slam 2112; UK) Featuring Viola Falb on sax, Bernd Satzinger on bass and Mark Holub on drums. This music was recorded in Hotel Pupik in Styria, Austria in September of 2018. I hadn’t heard of the saxist here before now (a young Austrian woman who has a band called Falb Fiction), although the bassist once played in Haleoscene with Downtown bassist Nico Letman-Burtinovic and the drummer is from prog-band, Led Bib, who have discs out on Cuneiform and Babel. The pieces on this discs range from very short, (just 31 seconds), to 8 minutes. I like that this trio doesn’t sound completely free or overly frenetic. They actually have a soft center, calming down to a thoughtful contemplative simmer. Oddly enough, the short pieces are where they erupt while the long pieces are more restrained. Ms. Falb actually reminds me of Lee Konitz at times with a nice bittersweet tone that she likes to stretch out and bend slightly. All of the longer pieces seem to have some structure or strategy with the rhythm team playing some tight lines together while the sax adds selective punctuation. The short pieces are more like quick, quirky interludes for the longer, more thought out piece. Contrabassist Bernd Satzinger, stands out here, he is the glue that holds this together, whether bowing or plucking, he helps to focus the action or interaction by placing notes in just the right areas. Although it is rather rare for me, I put this disc on again as soon as it was over since I wanted to hear the way it worked so well the first time listening. A truly great find for a trio well worth wider recognition. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PET THE TIGER & CO. with TOM DJLL / GINO ROBAIR / PHILIP GREENLIEF / et al - Gaze Emanations (Public Eyesore 145; USA) Wrap your ears around this one, my fine feathered friends. In a world where ideas run free, genre boundaries dissolve, and just about anything goes, comes one elusive and ingeniously coined bit of anarchic experimental navel-gazing, the textures and utterances of which do everything in their power to upset hammer, anvil and stirrup. This West Coast gaggle of sonic provocateurs throw caution to the wind as they anthropomorphize a series of illustrated patch-quilt moires by artist Brian Lucas. Cast of characters include trumpet and electronics mangler Tom Djll, avant percussionists Gino Robair and Suki O'Kane, project coordinator Bryan Day on invented instruments, joined by fellow inventors Cheryl Leonard and Tom Nunn, and saxophonist Phillip Greenlief, whose periodic exclamations and measured trills beautifully dovetail with the myriad bellstrikes, surface-rubbings, and tactile squeaks that dance about your room like stoned dragonflies. Further upsetting manners is larynx-liberator David Samas, who manages to channel both Thomas Buckner and fellow David Moss with similar shamanic callbacks and glottal feats of strength. All of this adds up to music every bit as unplaceable and unidentifiable as the drawings they mimic, spaghetti-like tendrils of sound that weave colorful mosaics of abject surprise. The entire recording exudes a manic elasticity that subsumes each performer’s contributions into its inexplicable maw, though Samas’s purrs and shrieks, distinctive as they are, ground the sonic discourse in a strictly ‘acoustic’ sense, the better to allow his fellow magicians the space to execute wonderfully dramatic sleights-of-hand. All told, pretty out-there stuff by any degree, a minimalist experimental cosplay of wide remit. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
EUPHOTIC with TOM DJLL / BRYAN DAY / CHERYL LEONARD - Isopleths (Public Eyesore 146; USA) At first glance, it appeared that both the name of this trio and its album title resembled invented computerese whipped up for a bootleg Autechre issue. Boy, what a simple, quick brush through a dictionary will do. Euphotic is defined as, “of, relating to, or constituting the upper layers of a body of water into which sufficient light penetrates to permit growth of green plants.” An isopleth is "a line on a map connecting points having equal incidence of a specified meteorological feature.” Whew. Well, this trio of expert knob/object twiddlers do their damnedest to render in analogics the etymologies of their chosen names. Lofty ambitions inform the process behind this recording, most of which is successful by dint of the instrumentation alone. Cheryl Leonard is credited with utilizing such unusual acoustics as driftwood, sand, rocks, feathers, marsh reeds, penguin bones, pine needles, and oyster shells. Trumpeter and electronics maven Tom Djll frequents the other end of the spectrum, his digital glossolalia operating as the ideal copy counterpointing Leonard’s earthen wares. Bryan Day works within this matrix via his invented instruments, whatever those are. So the entire recording is one of some errant mystery, an obscurantist music that is at once puzzling and fascinating. Track titles—“Sulfolobus”, “Pluton”, “Bristlemouth”—are undoubtedly corporeal in origin, the trio continuing their ‘organic’ motifs throughout. The results are electroacoustic improv that more than anything resembles what you would hear if microphones were placed in some dense forest underbrush, capturing the musings, mutterings, and meanderings of various flora and fauna. The minimalist patina and choice aural enablers are similar to works by Loren Chasse, Steve Roden’s in between noise project, and many other arch onkyo artists who intensely explore the minutiae of sounds operating at the molecular level. But lest you think this is a glib enterprise in sound versus silence, think again: the aforementioned “Pluton”, all synthetic proteins and shuddering organisms flexing their ones and zeros, wrestles with waves of controlled feedback and sculpted distortion the better to describe the trio’s dissection of numerous warm worlds & otherwise. Ear-rational, psyche-altering stuff, full of constantly shifting ideas that wrap themselves around your cerebral cortex and don’t let go. Headphones recommended. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
HENRI POUSSEUR / MAIN / PHILIP JECK / OVAL - 4 Parabolic Mixes (Sub Rosa 199; Belgium) Restock at mid-line pricing. "In November 2001, Sub Rosa published Henri Pousseur's 8 Parabolic Studies in a box of 4 CDs -- these electronic pieces have been created in 1972 at the WDR studios in Cologne. The idea was to ask other musicians, of different generations, to attempt a new mix on the basis of these eight studies. The first mix (and not re-mix) was a re-interpretation by Henri Pousseur himself -- this laid the foundation stone of the edifice. Contrary to the mixes carried out thirty years ago, these were made digitally. The second mix was Robert Hampson's (aka Main) -- quite nervous of the master's reaction, who was present during the set. Robert, who holds an exhaustive knowledge of electronic music from its origins and of all its aspects -- even of the more obscure ones -- gave a personal but faithful interpretation of Pousseur's studies. Another degree of alteration was highlighted by Philip Jeck, who created a massive and powerful set, adding sounds from other sources (which is totally allowed according to Pousseur's original concept). And finally, Oval -- according to the process that is quintessential to his work, Markus Popp could only produce a piece far removed from its sources; since it is within sound itself that all sonorous source passes through the Oval-process, thus becoming Oval-music -- that is, music having its very own properties."
2 CD Set $12
LUNAPARK / Various Artists - 0, 10 (Sub Rosa 080; Belgium) “Restocked, at mid-line pricing. A panorama of the most important avant-garde writers and artists of the century. This is a reissue of the 1999 Sub Rosa release. It begins in 1912 with Apollinaire and ends with the Brazilian avant-garde of the seventies. These are unique archival recordings most of which have never been released before. The concept of this release is from the writer, critic and close collaborator, Marc Dachy. Original recordings from: Guillaume Apollinaire (Parisian father of the avant-garde, 1912); Vladimir Maïakovski (leading Russian Futurist poet, 1914, 20); Richard Huelsenbeck (father of Dada in Berlin 1916 & 1967); Kurt Schwitters (the genius father of Merz, 1932); James Joyce (Irish writer and poet, 1929); Gertrude Stein (fiction writer, New York, 1934, 35); Antonin Artaud (Parisian playwright, actor, director, essayist, 1946); Tristan Tzara (father of Dada in Zurich, 1948, 49); Camille Bryen (one of the founding fathers of Tachism, 1932, 49); Marcel Duchamp (French/American painter and mixed media artist, 1957); e.e. cummings (American poet, painter, playwright, essayist); Brion Gysin (longtime Burroughs collaborator and cut-up technician, 1960, 62), Julian Beck (founder of the Living Theater, 1968, 73); Gherasim Luca (rare voice of the French poet in New York, 1969, 84); François Dufrène (French Lettrist and creator of crirythme, 1961, 73); Pierre Guyotat (Parisian avant-garde fiction writer, 1976); Augusto de Campos (Brazilian avant-garde poet, essayist and translator, as performed by Caetano Veloso, 1963, 79, 85).
MARSHALL REESE / GENE CARL - E, No. 3. 2020 (Slowscan Vol. 48; USA) Red vinyl LP with inner sleeve, liner notes page, and printed jacket. I’ve known poet & writer Marshall Reese for several decades, seeing his friendly face at Steve Lacy and other select Downtown/Avant concerts throughout the many years. Co-producer Gene Carl I only know from an old CD he did on the X-OR label, which was a cantata called ‘Pink Chinese Restaurants’. It turns out that E was a magazine experimental and performance writing with a particular interest in visual, concrete, and sound poetry, edited by poet/performer Marshall Reese and composer Eugene Carl. There were two issues published in 1976. A note on the back cover of no. 2 states "next issue will be cassette or lp." Material for no. 3 was gathered though not published until now. In his extensive liner notes Reese describes the range of influences leading to the decision to publish E, no. 3 as a sound recording, in particular, the Toronto Sound Poetry Festival of 1978. He writes, "this record documents those forces and influences affecting me in the 70's, early 80's. My generation was at the the forefront of an expansion of literacy combining indigenous poetries, graphics, still and moving images, recorded words, music and sound, an oral/aural culture experiencing poetry and music as synesthesia." The contents of the record include performances by Steve McCaffery, Coaccident, Gerta Monach, Jackson Mac Low, Vladan Radovanović, Irrepressible Bastards, Hannah Weiner, and Gene Carl.
The only name I know here is composer/sound artist Jackson Mac Low, who has collaborated with Henri Chopin, Ira Cohen and Angus Maclise. Things begin with Steve McCafferty’s “Cappuccino”, which consists of several layers of Italian spoken word vocals taken from a mathematical textbook of suffixes which is followed by an eerie series of drones or soft feedback waves provided by Coaccident. The voices come in later and are covered in gauze making it hard to hear what they are actually saying, the vibe remains rather spooky nonetheless. Dutch composer Greta Monarch’s “Untitled/Untitled” and it consists of the repeating of “r” and “p” sounds, especially they way the pop in our mouths. Jackson Mac Low’s “First Sharon Belle Matlin Vocabulary Gatha” has layers of different voices bending and twisting certain words or sounds, some sung, some spoken. What I find fascinating about this is that even without being to hear which words are being spoken, the sound of the voice, the way these sounds are twisted and layered actually evokes feelings or meaning depending on how we interpret them. Vladan Radonowicz is a Serbian composer, speaks slowly in English and stretches out his words with his voice and through electronic manipulation. The Irrepressible Bastards’ are a British duo with Cris Cheek & Lawrence Upton. Their untitled piece combines various layers of spoken, twisted voices. This piece really works since there is so much going on with various voices all spinning around one another. Hannah Weiner’s “Clairvoyant Journal” has three women reading different parts of a call & response conversation. It sounds like someone answering themselves which I find to be most engaging. Gene Carl is the co-producer of this record. His piece, “Words and Music By”, combines minimal sampled voices with some more restrained electronics. I like that the minimal aspect of this track allows us to breathe easier and consider each sound. A great way to bring this sonic smorgasboard to a thoughtful conclusion. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LP $25 [LTD Edition of 250]
DMG has recently been in touch with British bassist, composer, bandleader and label-head, Jah Wobble. We first got copies of Wobble’s collaboration with Bill Laswell called ‘Realm of Spells’, which sold out as soon as we mentioned it. They are gone for good according to the label. We then got Wobble’s most recent release, ’Nocturne’, which is also sold out here. I asked Wobble’s label guy to include copies or previous titles from the current label Jah Wobble Records and the previous label 30 Hertz. We now have copies of eight of the below titles, from 1 to 3 copies of each. Since everything Wobble releases is limited to 100 or 200 copies, this might be your last opportunity to grab any of these titles. Grab them soon before they disappear for good.
JAH WOBBLE & TEMPLE OF DOOM - Shout at the Devil (30 Hertz No. 17; UK) Shout At The Devil wisely colours its Arabic dub soundtrack with the addition of vocal contributions from the world recognised Natasha Atlas, Nina Miranda and Prodigy's Shahin. This rich tapestry of collaborators are at the heart of this tasteful brew of exotic and entrancing music. Unlike Wobble's other recent collaborations, all of a similar ilk, Shout At The Devil contains a sinister underbelly, whereby the hypnotic melodies wind around the listener like a hissing cobra. As usual, Wobble can be found bass in hand, scoring out the songs which are then given their meat and bones via Count Dubulah's occasional springy guitar and full-blooded programming. The title track, with Natacha Atlas on vocals takes you into the heart of the tribe like never before, delivering a healthy dose of mystical eastern authenticity.
JAH WOBBLE With BILL LASWELL / JAKI LIEBEZEIT et al - Deep Space (30 Hertz No. 9; UK) Features drummer Jaki Leibezeit of legendary German art-rockers Can; ace jazz experimental bass player Bill Laswell, Bosnian singer Amila Sulejmanovic, plus Clive Bell and Jean-Pierre Rasie on pipes and flute, as well as Wobble's long time sparring partner Mark Lusardi (playing 'the Mutator'). With Deep Space takes his development of 'real ambient' even further, taking a lead from avant garde composers Stockhausen and Messiaen. The seven tracks are very trane like and very atmospheric, with an emphasis on rhythmic movement -- classic bass and drums and very heavy.
JAH WOBBLE & NIPPON DUB ENSEMBLE - Japanese Dub (30 Hertz No. 31; UK) The background to Japanese Dub is best explained by Wobble himself: "For some time I've fancied having a crack at merging Japanese music with dub. I was very happy with the Chinese Dub album that I put together a couple of years ago, and was confident that I could do a similar job with Japanese styles. It can't be denied that traditional Japanese music is heavily influenced by Chinese music. However, paradoxically, there is something unique and unmistakable about Japanese music. To an extent this is due to their distinctive chromatic modes, but above all the Japanese are incredible reductionists. Somehow they take other cultures' 'stuff,' and in their own respectful way, rationalise it, reduce it, and thereby make it their own.”
JAH WOBBLE & INVADERS OF THE HEART - English Roots Music (30 Hertz No. 21; UK) Many of the moody, drone-based, heart-rendering melodies are based on the old church modes and some have hardly changed since medieval times. There are speculations that a version of "The Unquiet Grave" inspired the carol "There blows a colde wynd todaye, todaye" circa 1500. Other songs have a strong XVIIIth Century flavour, and their tunes have often been borrowed for later Victorian hymns, whereas Cannily, Cannily was written in 1969, by folk collector and protest songwriter Ewan MacColl. Its melody seems to be based on a lullaby, and helped towards its success and assimilation into the body of traditional British folk songs. With the help of Chris Cookson's wild ethnic loops and his own obsessive, post-industrial bass lines, Jah Wobble proceeded to deconstruct the same songs over the next two days, commandeering the odd flurry of whistle notes or long sustains of bagpipe drones at exhilaratingly odd intervals. Surrounded by the savage beauty of its black and white rocks mixed with decaying Victorian dwellings and 21st century waste, Wobble's chosen musical mix seemed particularly relevant. The result is sure to rattle some folksy cages, and more than a few Victorian song collectors might turn in their grave, but the atmospheres he has created provide a direct link with the songs' original bearers: a hint of the first trains here, a whiff of the sweatshop there. Let these songs speak for themselves.
JAH WOBBLE & INVADERS OF THE HEART - The Celtic Poets (30 Hertz CD 1; UK) The sonic universe of Jah Wobble continues to expand bewilderingly. Last year he took metaphysical soundings on The Inspiration Of William Blake, and on this debut release for his own 30 Hertz label, he uses writings by Brendan Kennelly, Shane MacGowan and Louis MacNeice as springboards for a series of Celtic-flavoured musings in sound. Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners narrates the poetry in a rainy-night-in-Dublin vein, while the musicians traverse the globe. Market Rasen seems to begin in Ireland and end up in Karachi, while London rain is a dream of the Scottish highlands. Third Heaven and Saturn sound like reggae viewed in deep space through the Hubble telescope, before Drew proclaims the transience of all things In Gone In The Wind. To sum up ... I can't.
YULDUZ w/ JAH WOBBLE / ERNEST RANGLIN / BILL LASWELL [remix] - Bilmadim (30 Hertz No. 23; UK) A graduate of the department for oriental music at the conservatorium in Taschkent, Yulduz Usmanova composes her songs around established folk songs which are still sung in Usbekian villages today. This traditional Usbekian folklore, which contains Turkish, Persian and Central Asian influences, has been mixed by Jah Wobble (her producer on this album) with western rock, pop and dance styles. The result is an extraordinary combination of east and western styles, although the ethnic elements are unmistakable. " When I started, I thought that this traditional music has to be preserved, " explains Yulduz, " it had to made up-to-date though." When Jah Wobble first heard Yulduz' music, he felt that her work had suffered from an over-commercialisation; caused by a major record company and producers who had misunderstood her ethnic artistry and potential. Due to a combination of conflicting schedules, and lack of budget, Jah Wobble had only one week to put the album together...from scratch! However, as Wobble says "Making an album is comparable to preparing a feast for a large party of people...a week is sufficient time, as long as the people involved are both proficient and disciplined, and of course Yulduz is these things and more...she really is queen of the divas". So the brevity of the session proved a help, not a hindrance. Another bonus was that the legendary Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin was part of the deal, "that fact alone was a great help, it meant I could flavour the production with a reggae sensibility, also of course it was a dream for me to play with Ernest. Since I was very young, I had been hearing his guitar. In a way this has proved the downfall in my relationships with some guitarists...for years I expected (unreasonably) for every guitarist to be able to display Ernest's deftness of touch." In Central Asia, Yulduz Usmanova has been elevated to superstar status with her 'Ethno-Crossover' technique. With the release of Bilmadim, her music is now available to a UK audience for the first time. Album includes a new 9 minute Bill Laswell remix as a bonus cut.
JAH WOBBLE & MOMO with TAHAR ELIDRISSI / HASSAN NAINA / GEORGE KING / SEAN CORBY / MARC LAYTON BENNETT - Maghrebi Jazz (Jah Wobble Records 002; UK) Another day, another album by Jah Wobble, erstwhile bass guitarist with PiL turned genre-spanning musical explorer, self-proclaimed bandleader and all-round Cockney Renaissance Man; by my reckoning this is his 42nd since going solo in 1983 (though I may be erring on the side of caution).
Released to coincide with Record Store Day on 21 April, Maghrebi Jazz is, as the title suggests, a jazz album with a North African flavour. An inveterate polymath, John Wardle (he got his nickname from a slurred attempt to say his name by his friend and namesake John Beverley, aka Sid Vicious) has tackled pretty much every ouevre imaginable since leaving his first band, Public Image Limited, after their landmark post-punk classic The Metal Box.
Every genre, that is, apart from rock, which he holds in such contempt that he turned down the opportunity to play in a reformed PiL; admittedly mostly because of the derisory £1,500-a-week wage offered by Lydon (enter your own mocking anarchy reference) but also because he had no interest in playing what he termed “lumpen heavy rock.”
In addition to being one of the few bass guitarists with a strong signature sound, Wobble was an early pioneer of what should never (but invariably will always) be called World Music. He performed at the first Womad Festival back in 1982 and went on to work with its founder Peter Gabriel, before later collaborations with Can, Brian Eno, Sinead O’Connor, Dolores O’Riordan and The Edge – highlights from a much longer cast list – and such diverse offerings as albums of Chinese and Japanese dub, a classical requiem, folk and country music, and a collection of William Blake poetry set to music.
Maghrebi Jazz, influenced by, and impregnated with, the dusty desert sounds of north Africa’s Berber territories, is a collaboration between Wobble, three-quarters of his current Invaders of the Heart band – Mark Layton Bennett (percussion & drums), George King (keyboards) and Sean Corby (trumpet & flugelhorn) – and the MoMo Project (aka Music Of Moroccan Origin), a now-London-based duo of Tahar Elidrissi (vocals, percussion, gimbri) and Hussan Nainia (guitars).
Thanks to Wobble’s inimitable self-taught bass style, inspired by dub reggae, and a fondness for Middle Eastern sounds that dates back to hearing an Egyptian singer on the World Service when he was 13, it fits effortlessly into his diverse catalogue. It recalls his earliest excursions into World Music which, somewhat implausibly, brought him a couple of hit singles in the Nineties (Visions Of You and Becoming More Like God).
Maghrebi Jazz comprises five long songs, allowing for plenty of loose improvisation around a tight musical foundation: The Invaders have the technique of jazz players, skillfully elaborating on themes while Wobble’s bass underpins everything with its visceral heartbeat.
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.
This comes from SCOTT ROBINSON - multi-instrumentalist and head of ScienSonic Records. Scott’s recent quartet disc with Milford Graves, Marshall Allen & Roscoe Mitchell is one of the best discs of the year! Get your copy soon!
This one comes from WILL GLASS
who once played here at DMG in a trio with Kurt Gottschalk and Miguel Frasconi.
Lexiglass is a duo, myself on drums and Alexis Marcelo on keys. (Alexis is known in creative music for his work with Yusef Lateef, JD Parran, Malcolm Mooney, Mike Pride and Adam Rudolph). We have been around since 2014, often as a backing band for hip hop artists uptown, and sometimes as an improvising, instrumental hip hop band. We have released three tapes of mostly covers of artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep and Madlib. This EP is archival picks, including a memorable show at Resonance Cafe in Montreal--a rare moment for us with Alexis on a nice piano.
This comes from CHRIS CUTLER (Henry Cow, Art Bears & REcommended Records)
Chris has a podcast called Probes and this is Episode #28.2
During the earlier part of the pandemic/lockdown when I started going back to work at DMG in June, I listened to all of the Probes podcast series and on the train coming and going to NYC. Each one is fascinating as Mr. Cutler Probes the many aspects Creative Music, unique instrumentation, the history of recordings and lots more. Please take some time and listen to these, they are most enlightening.
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 your 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
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: