This Week’s Mighty Fine Releases Begin with two Treasures from The Astral Spirits label:
WADADA LEO SMITH / DOUGLAS R. EWART / MIKE REED - Sun Beans of Simmering Light (Astral Spirits 166; USA) Featuring Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, Douglas R. Ewart on flutes, reeds, percussion & thumb piano and Mike Reed on drums. It has been a couple of years since we had a new recording from master trumpeter & composer Wadada Leo Smith. There have been a handful of collaborations with Andrew Cyrille & Bill Frisell and a duo with Sabu Toyozumi. Since moving back to the east coast, Wadada has been performing live more regularly at The Stone and up in New England. Even more rare are new recordings from Chicago reeds wizard & instrument maker, Douglas Ewart. Although Mr. Ewart can be found on records with George Lewis, he hasn’t recorded anything as a leader in more than five years. Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Ewart are longtime members of the AACM. Drummer Mike Reed is also from Chicago and younger then the other two elders here. Mr. Reed has recorded quite a bit in the last decade including two duos with Roscoe Mitchell, a trio with Nicole Mitchell & Tomeka Reid and a handful of his own discs for the now defunked 482 Music label.
There is no information on when or where this was recorded but the sound and pic indicate that this was a live set. “Constellations and Conjunctional Spaces” starts off with a sublime, haunting blend of trumpet and a low-end reed (bassoon?) playing a series of long notes together with the drums slowly coming in a minute or two later. Mr. Ewart soon switches to a double reed, perhaps a musette or something similar. This is a most formidable trio, tight, focused, exuberant and often intense. The interplay between all three musicians is most extraordinary. On the title piece, Mr. Ewart begins on flute (piccolo?) and then moves to thumb piano, backed by some lovely mallet-work by Mr. Reed. Mr. Smith enters on muted trumpet (bathed in some the right amount of room echo), giving the trio an older jazz sound for this segment. Equally integral to this trio is drummer Mike Reed who provides an inner rhythmic pulse or centering glue, a young master indeed. Of the many trumpeters that I know and love, Wadada Leo Smith is the most consistent: ever-inspired, ever-creative, an incredible tone and finding a way to engage & push any musician he chooses to work with. His solo during “Unknown Forces” is a true gem. This is a marvelous trio offering that works on many levels. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $12 [In stock early next week]
THOLLEM'S ASTRAL TRAVELING SESSIONS with THOLLEM McDONAS / SUSAN ALCORN / ALEX CLINE - Astral Traveling Sessions (Astal Spirits 153; USA) This disc features two different sessions: The first is with Thollem on piano and Alex Cline on drums and the second is Thollem on synth and Susan Alcorn on pedal steel. The first session was recorded live at the Santa Monica Library in L.A in July of 2019. I have long loved the percussion playing of Alex Cline, whether playing with his brother Nels & Vinny Golia, for Gregg Bendian, Tim Berne & Julius Hemphill or Mr. Cline’s own records as a leader. If you’ve ever seen Alex Cline’s drum set-up, it is vast and well-utilized. Thollem McDonas is also an incredible pianist with whom I’ve the good fortune to check him out live on several occasions. Right from the first note, we can tell that this duo was meant to play together. Aside from drums and cymbals, it sounds as if Mr. Cline is also using or playing metallic objects on his drumset. Pretty quickly, the duo are reaching for powerful stride, erupting in waves together. Thollem has a strong sense of drama, which he exudes building things up organically in waves from somber to explosive and everywhere in between. Things do hit an intense plateau which keeps the pressure cooker from completely bursting at the seams. Jeez, what an extraordinary conclusion!
The second set was recorded in Baltimore, Maryland in December of 2019. Pedal steel virtuoso, Susan Alcorn, had kept pretty busy the last few years playing in the Mary Halvorson Octet and her own quintet, whose recently release made to several year-end best of polls. For this set Thollem plays synth rather than piano. Although most folks think of country music when they hear of a pedal steel, Ms. Alcorn evolved beyond these expectations long ago. Hence, although we do hear some of those country-like swirling licks, this is just one of the many sounds that Alcorn get from her pedal steel. Her playing is more sweeping, even orchestral sounding at times, with sounds floating in and out of the haze. Since Ms. Alcorn is often bending & twisting her notes or sounds in odd ways, it is hard to tell where the synth comes in. The music here is filled with suspense and reminds me of a soundtrack for a mysterious science fiction film. The overall sound is fascinating, quite ethereal and transportative. At times, it sounds as if Thollem’s playing is sped up and altered in different ways throughout. The vibe is strange yet most effective, it feels as if we are being set loose in an haunted house or landscape filled with ancient, electronic ghosts. Wow, this is most mind-blowing! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $12 [In stock early next week]
DAMON SMITH with PETER KOWALD / JOELLE LEANDRE / BERTRAM TURETSKY - Bass Duos 2000-2007 (Balance Point Acoustics 3CD1; USA) Featuring three contrabass duets from Damon Smith with Joelle Leandre (2002), Peter Kowald (2000) and Bertram Turetzky (2007). I have always loved the sound of a well-played contrabass, ever since hearing them live and on records when I first got into jazz in 1972. Solo bass records & gigs are not so rare anymore but bass duets still are. I have seen/heard a few in my life: Peter Kowald & William Parker (Victo 088), the Marks Brothers: Mark Dresser & Mark Helias (at The Stone) and Joelle Leandre & Barre Phillips (CD on Kadima). It turns out that recently relocated (to St. Louis from Boston, MA) bassist Damon Smith has done several throughout his music journey. Hence, this wonderful 3 CD set. In the notes, Mr. Smith describes his music journey and how he came to play with these three masters: the late Peter Kowald from Wuppertal, Germany, Joelle Leandre from Paris, France and former professor, Bertram Turetzky from southern California.
Peter Kowald & Damon Smith - ‘Mirrors Broken but No Dust’ “this cd, pairing german master, peter kowald and the fiery young bay area bassist, damon smith, is an extraordinary example of what can happen when two improvisors are also virtuoso listeners. the linear clarity, the high spirited sonic explorations, the overall conversational approach and the unrelenting forward motion add up to an exciting listening experience. one of the remarkable things is that this dynamic duo accomplishes this without the usual "you play arco and i'll play pizzicato" approach. this is testimony to their acute hearing and ability to make split-second decisions which result in maintaining their individual lines. this is no easy feat! kowald employs his unique sonic vocabulary and smith deftly compliments him with his "encyclopedic" sound world, all the while making music that is unrelenting rhythmically. there is no ebb and flow....it's simply straight ahead. there is no "tug of war" as we find in some improvising duos, but a highly spirited conversational approach that is exhilarating and most engaging. don't miss this unique listening experience. it is creative music for the new millennium, par excellence!” - Bert Turetzky del mar April of 2001.
Bertram Turetzky & Damon Smith - ‘Thoughtbeetle’ - Released on BPA many years back and long out-of-print. Contrabass virtuoso, Bertram Turetzky, was the primary bassist all sorts of New (Classical & Experimental) Music, starting in the mid-sixties. Mr. Turetzky has more than 30 albums with many composers writing for him: John Cage, Ben Johnston, Pauline Oliveros, Donald Erb… Mr. Turetzky was also a longtime professor, whose students included Mark Dresser, as well as a gifted improviser who has worked with George Lewis & Vinny Golia. This disc features both a studio and live section, both recorded in November of 2007. This session is well-recorded, close-mic’d and remastered superbly by Weasel Walter with extreme attention to detail. The studio effort is first. The sounds of the bowed basses is/are extraordinary, the rubbing of the strings and the bending of the notes is something else to behold. The balance between the intense eruptions and more restrained episodes are well-handled here. Outstanding all on fronts!
Joelle Leandre & Damon Smith. The duo with Joelle Leandre and Damon Smith was recorded right after the passing of Peter Kowald. Mr. Kowald was a friend & colleague of Ms. Leandre and a mentor/inspiration to Mr. Smith. Originally this session was supposed to be a solo for Mr. Kowald by Damon Smith, recorded at Henry Kaiser’s home studio. Smith decided to invite Ms. Leandre for a duo session instead. Due to the fact that both bassists were devastated by the loss of Mr. Kowald, neither decided to deal with listening to this session for many years until recently. The results are extraordinary, with both bassists at their best, digging deep into the bass exploration repertoire. This is just incredible, perhaps the best bass duo yet! There is not much I can say about this, just that I am astonished with the results. The playing is close-knit and sounds as if there is only one creative force going on. A bold conversation that will keep you at the edge of your seat for the entirety of the performance. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
3 CD Set $32 [A set of three lovely postcards with each duo will be included in the 1st ten sets]
DAN CLUCAS / JEB BISHOP / DAMON SMITH / MATT CRANE - Universal or Directional (Balance Point Acoustics 10010; USA) Featuring Dan Clucas on cornet, Jeb Bishop on trombone, Damon Smith on bass and Matt Crane on drums. This session was recorded in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in June of 2018. This is an interesting brass fronted quartet where each member seems to come from a different place. I know of L.A. cornetist, Dan Clucas, from his work with Harris Eisenstadt, Eugene Chadbourne & Steuart Liebig. Originally based in Chicago, trombone great, Jeb Bishop, has been living in Boston for the last few years, working with Weasel Walter, Frank Rosaly and a few of his own projects. Drummer Matt Crane is someone I know little about although he has worked with Stephen Haynes, Jeff Platz and Rich Rosenthal.
Contrabassist Damon Smith sounds like the leader on this disc, his bass at the center of several storms. The first & longest piece, “Foxing” has some strong interplay between the cornet & trombone, with equally feisty playing by the bass & drums spinning underneath. Each member of the quartet get to stretch out, solo and interact with the other members. There is a spirited cornet & drums duo on “Acid Free”, which shows how well both of these musicians work together. This followed by another fine duo of trombone & malletwork on the drums, more restrained yet well connected. Ace bassist, Damon Smith also steps out on “Center 60”, a powerful bass & trombone duo episode. The entire quartet erupts on the final piece, pushing things even higher and into some intense buzzing. A strong way to bring this mighty fine disc to a grand close. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LISA CAMERON / DAMON SMITH / ALEX CUNNINGHAM - Dawn Throws Its First Knife (Balance Point Acoustics 10011; USA) Featuring Alex Cunningham on violin, Damon Smith on double bass and Lisa Cameron on drums & feedback. the every busy contrabassist, Damon Smith, has lived in the Bay Area, Texas, Boston and now lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Whenever he ends up, he reaches out to other like-minded musicians. Violinist Alex Cunningham is also based in St. Louis and has several discs out on Astral Spirits, from solos to duos to trios. Texas-based drummer, Lisa Cameron has played in more obscure bands like Glass Eye and Sky City. Ms. Cameron has a recent duo cassette out with Sandy Ewen. The music is strong, inspired free improv with out there violin, acoustic bass and percussion all spinning several webs simultaneously. Both Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Smith work the wares bowing and bending notes on their respective string instruments while Ms. Cameron rubs & taps on assorted drums, cymbals or surfaces. Damon Smith’s contrabass is often at the center of the storm here, erupting powerfully while the violin and drums weave their own layers in interconnected lines. When things calm down midway, the improv get more tightknit, the players combining forces into a cosmic tapestry of moving sounds.
SARAH RUTH ALEXANDER / DAMON SMITH - God Made My Soul an Ornament (Balance Point Acoustics 12012; USA) Featuring Sarah Ruth Alexander on voice, hammered dulcimer, recorder, slide whistle & objects and Damon Smith on contrabass. I know of contrabassist Damon Smith rather well after hearing him live a few times and checking out his many disc on his own Balance Point Acoustics label. I hadn’t heard of vocalist, Sarah Ruth Alexander, before now. According to the liner notes by Aaron Gonzalez (son of Dennis & member of Yells at Eels), Ms. Alexander is involved with doom metal, ambient drones, pop music, electronic music and modern classical composers. So, it seems as if Ms. Alexander is working beyond established categories, residing in Texas, where Damon Smith used to live. The first sound we hear is perhaps intense hammered dulcimer and deep bass erupting together. The hammered dulcimer sounds like a harpsichord being struck while Mr. Smith bows, plucks and rubs the string on his bass in a variety of ways. Ms. Alexander slowly uses her voice interacting intensely with Damon Smith’s sprawling bass excursions. Mr. Alexander is an extraordinary improviser and is pushing herself, digging deep and expressing layers of strange yet effective vocal sounds: unafraid to unleash all of those weird sounds she has bottled up inside. Mr. Smith is a strong, spirited contrabassist and sounds like a perfect partner for this duo. It is difficult to tell both palyers apart at times, especially when Smith is banging on his strings with a bow and tapping out vibrations or harmonics. Both Alexander and Smith have a percussive like attack at times, the interplay shrewd and consistently impressive. This is one of the best duo discs I’ve heard in recent times so dig in and go for the ride. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAMON SMITH - Whatever is Not Stone is Not Light (Balance Point Acoustics; USA) Review next week, no time today. Sorry. BLG at DMG
THE REMPIS PERCUSSION QUARTET with DAVE REMPIS / INGEBRIGT HAKER FLATEN / TIM DAISY / FRANK ROSALY - Sud Des Alpes (Aerophonic 030; USA) Featuring Dave Rempis on alto & tenor saxes, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass and Tim Daisy & Frank Rosaly on drums. This is Chicago-based sax great, Dave Rempis’ most consistent ongoing project with some half dozen plus discs out. This disc contains three longish pieces, mostly improvised with one rare cover of “Theme de Yoyo” by the Art Ensemble of Chicago from their classic ‘Le Stances a Sophie’ album. Starting with “There’s a Jam on the Line”, this sounds more like a group effort which evolves organically. The first piece is stripped down and it is hard to tell that there two drummers until midway. Longtime bassist for The Thing (now sadly gone), Ingebrigt Haker Flaten provides that central pulse here while Mr. Rempis takes an inspired long & winding story-like solo alto sax which builds in tempo and intensity throughout. If you’ve never heard “Theme de Yoyo” by the Art Ensemble of Chicago, you really should check it out. It opens ‘Les Stances a Sophie’ and is actually an infectious funk/dance song which features Fontella Bass (then married to Lester Bowie) on vocals. Rempis’s Percussion Quartet slow it down and internalize the groove somewhat. Rempis blasts the piece into the red zone on tenor sax as the temperature rises to boiling point and eventually calming down to some more organic rhythmic interplay, the drummers and bass providing a nice cushion while Rempis adds some subtle dancing lines on top. Rempis takes another extraordinary solo here pushing the quartet higher and higher. “Later Arrival” begins with some burning, note-twisting sax before the rest of the quartet erupts. This disc is consistently thoughtful and engaging throughout. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SABU TOYOZUMI / RICK COUNTRYMAN - Misaki Castle Tower (Chap Chap Records 019; Japan) Featuring Sabu Toyozumi on drums and Rick Countryman on alto sax. Recorded live in the Philipines in March of 2020. Over the past couple of years American saxist, Rick Countryman, who has been residing in the Philippines, has been involved with some ten discs, duos, trios & a quartet, most of which include the legendary Japanese Free Jazz drummer, Sabu Toyozumi. This is the second duo disc with Sabu & Rick C. in the past year. The sound and balance on each of these discs is consistently strong and we can tell that these two have connected on some deep level. Although this is a live date, the sound is superb, tight, intense and focused. The first piece, “The One Thought” is actually a bit laid back and takes it time to build into some more frenzied playing. Now matter what intensity or tempo the duo play, they are consistently connected to that Free Jazz Flame. Even when things calm down, there is still a strong conversation/connection going on. Consistently spirited and a true tour-de-force! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOSH DEUTSCH / NICO SOFFIATO with ALLISON MILLER and DAN WEISS - Redshift (Nusica Org 16; Earth) Featuring Josh Deutsch on trumpet, Nico Soffiato on baritone guitar, el. bass & synth plus Allison Miller & Dan Weiss on drums & percussion. Around five or six years ago trumpeter Josh Deutsch and Italian guitarist Nico Soffiato played a duo gig at DMG and both musicians left us with a handful of discs that they played on together and apart. I hadn’t heard much from either Deutsch or Soffiato since then, although Mr. Soffiato just came to visit earlier this week (3/30/21) and left us this, a new disc on the Nusica Org label. 7 of the 10 songs were written by either Deutsch or Soffiato with three odd covers: a Piano Quintet by Robert Schumann and a pop song by Sufjan Stevens. All ten songs are trio efforts with either Ms. Miller or Mr. Weiss switching off on drums. Mr. Deutsch’s “Arrival” kicks things off with a breezy melodic and warm, tasty trumpet. There are two trumpet parts here, one upfront and another one in the distance. “Paul” was written by someone named A. Lenker and it is most relaxed and charming. I like the way the guitar strums those dark, slightly distorted chords over & over in the last section. I listened to a version of Schumann’s “Piano Quintet if E-Flat Major” before hearing this version. I noticed that it had a similar solemn romantic quality that exudes on this disc as well, although the version here is a bit more uptempo, the rhythm team more robust. I like the cerebral vibe of “Consolation Prize”, the somber swinging groove feels so good. I like the way the bari guitar & drums (Dan Weiss) lock in and increase & decrease the tempo while the trumpet plays at a more moderate pace on top. On “Tooch-Taach”, Nico plays (what sounds like) synth and it adds an odd twist to the groove while Deutsch adds some echoplex to his trumpet, making the vibe somewhat disorienting. The final piece is the cover by Sufjan Stevens, a pop songwriter whose music I often find charming. The song, “John My Beloved” is quite lovely and is given a most enchanting version, most haunting with soft layers of shimmering guitars and quaint muted trumpet buzzing on top. It is most classy way to bring things to a fine close, perhaps a lullaby for the current era. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ZANZIBARA - 10: First Modern: Taarab Vibes - From Mombasa & Tanga / 1970-1990 (Buda Musique 860354; France) “Taarab is a music genre popular in Tanzania and Kenya. It is influenced by the musical traditions of the African Great Lakes, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.
In the early 1970s a new taarab emerged in the East African coastal cities of Mombasa and Tanga: In Mombasa, Matano Juma’s Morning Star replaced strings with distorted organ sounds, amplified violin or clarinet; Zuhura Swaleh promoted an electrified tashkota as a major new sound in her band, digging deep in coastal ngoma rhythms and dances. Crossing the border from Kenya to Tanzania, in Tanga, Black Star Musical Club’s electric guitars and dance music rhythms paved the way for a broader audience reception of taarab away from the coastal Swahili towns.
Mombasa was at the forefront of taarab production from the 1960s to the 1990s, thanks in no small measure to the enterprising Mzuri record label. They would not just record and promote Mombasa based artists, but also invite groups from Tanzania like Black Star or Dar es Salaam’s Egyptian Music Club. In the course of the 1970s records were displaced by the cassette and the initiative moved to Mbwana Radio Service in Mombasa’s Old Town, soon the new center of taarab production and distribution. Taarab rose to new heights in the 1980s with the voices and hits by Malika and Golden Star’s Mwanahela.
With the economic and political crisis in Kenya in the early 1990s and the concurrent rise of Dar es Salaam as the new center of music production in East Africa, Mombasa began to fade from its position as the prime taarab center. The early 1990s saw the rise of so-called modern taarab, a new style based on drum machine rhythm, powerful sound systems, and a novel fashion of inciting and insulting lyrics. Nevertheless, the musical innovations of Matano, Zuhura and Black Star opened up new vistas early on; and Malika’s and Golden Star’s lyrics paved the way for what was to come in the 1990s. In recognition of this, taarabfrom the Mombasa - Tanga era is now affectionately known as “First Modern”. - Buda Musique.com
BOB DRAKE - Planets & Animals (ReR Megacorp CTA 026; UK) "A pandemic is just an opportunity for some people to spend even more time in the studio. Bob is a minor cult, and this new CD -- exquisitely recorded (in a previous life he was an L.A. studio engineer) is a compact suite of short, dense, twisty, jaw-dropping -- and highly unusual -- songs; a whirlwind for the uninitiated but still surprisingly accessible. It's his 10th release for ReR, each exploring some new aspect of songwriting, arrangement or production. This time he's added a small menagerie of newly invented instruments to augment his already extensive acoustic and electronic instrumentarium -- and the band of Bob that plays them has seldom been larger or tighter. Beautifully packaged with impressive fold-out artwork by the incomparable Joe Mruk. Biographical: From 1978-1989 Bob played a key role in Denver's underground music scene and was a founding member of both Thinking Plague and Hail. In Los Angeles, in the early 1990s, he engineered sessions with just about everybody... from Ice Cube to Shirley MacLaine, joined the 5UU's, and began to write and record his mind-stretching solo albums. He has lived in his home studio in Southern France since 1994 where he has played on, recorded, or mixed hundreds of albums. A member of the Peter Blegvad Quintet, The Science Group and Vril, he is also celebrated for his definitive re-masterings of classic albums by Art Bears, Henry Cow, ZNR, Cassiber and others."
DAVE SEIDEL - Involution (XI Records 143; USA) From the liner notes by Dean Rosenthal: XI Records announce the release of Dave Seidel's new double-CD, Involution. The work contained on this recording represents Dave Seidel's second foray into the realm of releasing a full-length recording. But this new milestone was not reached until he had long immersed himself in the experimental scene in NYC in the 1980s and 1990s, working closely with established experimental music pioneers Lois V Vierk and Guy Klucevsek among others. Seidel's own composing and performing grew, blossoming into live performances in the 2000s and 2010s, allowing further exploration into programming and experimenting with sonority and algorithmic sonification. What we hear on this recording is the care and detail of his passion for these two features of composition and a steady integration of them. This leads us to the two pieces heard here: "Involution" and "Hexany Permutations". In thinking of sonority, Seidel has spoken of the strong influence of La Monte Young's use of perfectly-tuned intervals and Young's ideal of previously unheard sounds, those that may engender new sensations and emotions in the listener. But Seidel also confirms the influence of the work of Alvin Lucier, in particular the Orpheus Variations. For Seidel and his sonorities, he has found little use for the 12-note chromatic tempered system, no doubt the ubiquity of this universal tuning of Western music having too few possibilities for his ear. The question then appears: how does he apply this desire to explore new forms of sonority outside the well-tempered system and, for our purposes, in these pieces? The first CD in this set presents Seidel's composition "Involution", heard in three sections. The music is presented as an expansion of slowly-changing sonorities that explore the harmonic spaces inherent in certain microtonal tunings and scales, or modes within those tunings. Each section employs a different tuning and a different set of scales or modes and uses a combination of all the different technologies Seidel has been working with over the past several years: Csound, modular synthesizer, and pedals. "Hexany Permutations", the music that the second CD of this release contains, hints at the same concerns of sonority heard in Involution but tackles the composing slightly differently, with musical results of differing proportions. In this piece, the structure of the piece plays an equal if not more dominant role than the microtonal sonorities explored.
2 CD Set $16
OSAMU SATO - Collected Ambient Grooves 1993-2001 (Musique Pour La Danse 024; Belgium) “Musique Pour La Danse release Collected Ambient Grooves 1993-2001, an anthology of music created by Osamu Sato, the Kyoto-born, Tokyo-based digital artist, photographer, and composer whose career began in the early '80s. In 1983, he released a cassette accompanied by silkscreen prints on Kaoru Sato's (EP-4, Vanity Records) sought-after Skating Pears label. He gained worldwide notoriety after creating cult video games Eastern Mind for Mac OS and LSD Dream Emulator for Sony Playstation, and composing groundbreaking soundtracks for both. This latter game, quite unlike anything before or after is often praised as a masterpiece that started a new era in the gaming community. "Osamu Sato remains one of the most sought-after and intriguing personalities in the world of cult gaming, a spirit that haunts those who hunt the surreal and those who clamor for more like he produced in the past" as VICE once put it. The previously unreleased and exclusive music gathered on this release explores the interzone between ambiance and a certain sense of groove and motion. Emotional melodies, deep and mystical moods, psychedelic progressions, along with electronic and organic instruments with Eastern influences are masterfully used by the composer to create tracks where the listener is always offered with a variety of layers to admire or get lost in. Some tracks fit more in the ambient category, while others are of a groovier persuasion but in reality, each track displays in its specific way a meticulous balance between both. A timeless collection of artful music that exists in a genre of its own, with cover and design created by Osamu Sato himself, this is a total work of art created by the artist who celebrates his 60th birthday in 2020.”
BETTY CARTER with RAY CHARLES / RAY BRYANT / JEROME RICHARDSON / GIGI GRYCE / KENNY DORHAM / WYNTON KELLY / BENNY GOLSON / HANK CRAWFORD / DAVID ‘FATHEAD’ NEWMAN / RICHIE KAMUCA / PHIL WOODS / JOE NEWMAN / WENDELL MARSHALL / JO JONES - The Classic Recordings (Enlightenment 9195; EEC) “Born Lillie Mae Jones on May 19, 1929, the woman who became Betty Carter was an American jazz singer known best for her improvisational technique, scatting and other complex musical abilities that demonstrated her vocal talent and imaginative interpretation of lyrics and melodies. Vocalist Carmen McRae once remarked: "There's really only one jazz singer--only one: Betty Carter." This triple disc collection features seven of Betty Carter's original albums from the earliest part of her solo-recording career, made between 1956 and 1964. Representing Carter's finest work of all, the collection is the perfect choice for both those new to this stunning vocalist and performer's greatest music, and for those ready versed in her sublime and timeless sounds.” Seven albums including: ‘Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant’, ’Social Call’, ‘Out There with Betty Carter’, ’The Modern Sound of Betty Carter’, ‘Ray Charles and Betty Carter’, ‘’Round Midnight’, and ‘Inside Betty Carter’.
3 CD Set $16
SUN RA - Extensions Out, Plus: Four Poetry Books (1959/1972)(CvsD Sunra; USA) Corbett vs. Dempsey announce the release of four books of poetry by Sun Ra. Two of these were pamphlets that accompanied early Sun Ra albums issued in the late 1950s; the other two were published more than a decade later by Infinity Inc./Saturn Research. CvsD's reprints are fastidiously designed facsimiles of the original publications, marking the first time they have been available in their Ra-ordained form since they were published. An architect of Afrofuturism and one of the great musical thinkers of the 20th century, Ra's work extended far beyond jazz and even music to the realms of pageantry, performance, theater, philosophy, visual art, and literature. In the mid-1950s, he handed out leaflets and gave street corner lectures -- revisionist interpretations of the Bible and bold meditations on the status of African Americans in American society. A few years later, Ra began disseminating his poems in -- and sometimes on -- his albums. His debut, Jazz By Sun Ra, was issued in 1957 by the Boston-based Transition label, a short-lived company that sold records by subscription; this record contained a beautiful booklet, now as prized as the LP itself, with rare photographs and a selection of poems and proclamations, as well as the personnel and recording credits. Ra's Jazz In Silhouette was released two years hence on Saturn Records, the label he started with Alton Abraham, and it came with a mimeographed liner booklet -- now exceedingly rare -- that was folded, unstapled, as an ultra-economical accompaniment to the vinyl. The CvsD version folds this slim pamphlet of poetry into a slipcover with a classic photo portrait of Ra by Thomas "Bugs" Hunter on the back. Perhaps Ra's best-known book of poetry, reprinted in many alternative versions with different contents over the years, is The Immeasurable Equation; this incarnation restores the original Infinity Inc./Saturn Research version, published in Chicago in 1972 and distributed widely by the Arkestra, often from the bandstand. It features more than 60 of Ra's poems. Finally, perhaps the rarest of Ra's poetry books is Extensions Out: Immeasurable Equation Vol. II, which was also published by Infinity Inc./Saturn Research. This 8 1/2 x 11 inch book is a massive compendium of more than 130 poems, very much in step with the mimeo poetry publications of its era -- simple staple binding, one-sided pages -- featuring three photographs of artwork by Ayé Aton, a close ally of Ra's in this, the period of the Arkestra classic Space Is The Place, on which Aton plays percussion. Great care was taken to reproduce the special textured cover of this highly sought-after book. These four books are exclusively sold as a set. The first edition is limited to 1000 copies. Corbett vs. Dempsey is proud to represent the non-musical side of the Sun Ra Estate. The label gratefully acknowledges Irwin Chusid and Sun Ra LLC for the permission to release this historically rich chronicle of Ra's poetry, presented as he originally conceived it.”
4 Books $55
DONALD MILLER - Transgression!!! (Vin Du Select Qualitite 028; USA) “On Transgression!!!, Donald Miller, guitar icon known for destroying worlds in the great Borbetomagus, takes the listener on an unexpected journey through the 12-string acoustic guitar. Utilizing his occult kinetic picking style, Miller reveals undiscovered universes with nothing but a slide and a spell to guide you. Playing a blues that bristles against structure while transmitting ineffable mastery, Transgression!!! is a modern guitar album like no other. Recorded in his current city, New Orleans, the album is the first to feature Miller playing in a more traditional style than either his group work or prior solo releases. For an artist known for exploring fantastic depths of the deepest abstractions, Transgression!!! is a mystifying journey toward structure that glows with the musician's signature intent.”
ROB NOYES & JOSEPH ALLRED - Avoidance Language (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS 560; USA) "There have been some very cool guitar duo LPs over the years -- Bert Jansch & John Renbourn's Bert & John, Danny Kalb & Stefan Grossman's Crosscurrents, Jody Harris & Robert Quine's Escape, Charalambides' Joy Shapes, Bill Orcutt & Michael Morley's Electric Guitar Duets, any comp of Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie, etc. -- but there has never been one quite like Avoidance Language. It is a wild-eyed classic from start to finish. Ostensibly a meeting between two guitarists lurking around the Boston area (although Rob has since moved to Japan), Joseph's mastery of other instruments (harmonium and banjo) affords the pair a wider range of sounds than some of their precedents. But they also eschew vocals here, so that kinda balances things out. At least in my book. The album's four tracks display brilliance and variety in spades. 'Feet of Clay and a Crown of Stars' is a two guitar conversation, with notes initially slurring and sliding against each other, then spreading out like waves of sound hitting a sandy beach. It's like something you might hear inside your head if John Fahey dunked you in one of the hot tubs at Big Sur. On 'Stutter Study' Allred uses his harmonium to soften the rhythmically tangled briar patch improvs by Noyes. 'A Valid Subspecies' pairs Noyes' guitar with Allred's provocatively original banjo inventions. Rob's playing on this one mixes ruminative downstrokes with aggressive single string highlighting in a style quite different from his trademark whirlwindery. Finally, on the title track, we are shown another intricate and deftly woven two guitar tapestry. It makes me imagine what Robbie Basho might have done in response to 'The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles' from John Cale & Terry Riley's Church of Anthrax album. What can I say, but 'Wow.' Avoidance Language is one for the ages. Don't miss your chance to get ahead of its curve." - Byron Coley, 2021
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.
From the Ever-Amazing Violin Goddess - JENNY SCHEINMAN:
From Longtime DMG Customer Beni Fuchs:
Calvin Weston & Umbum Soundsystem
from Kaleidoscope, released March 7, 2021:
stephan wiedenbach -lead guitar
serge beck -rhythm guitar
martin 'smily' schmid -electric bass
sam bovey -percussion
beni fuchs (ben i sabbah) - electric phin, fx, ableton push
grant calvin weston -drums
recorded 2 feb /2021 at paradise underground, schaffhausen
drum lines by g calvin weston, philadelphia 2018
with kind permission (24bit 48000khz wav recording)
This comes from Multi-Instrumentalist/Composer/Futurist SCOTT ROBINSON:
https://youtu.be/amsOS00qieQ - This is the best music video I’ve seen in recent memory.
Here is a new SEAN ALI / MEGHAN DESMOND Music Video Collaboration:
Here is the video: https://vimeo.com/516694455
Here is just the audio:
Sean Ali plays acoustic bass and has played a number of solo & duo sets here at DMG. His bass playing is unlike anyone else I’ve heard and each set was fascinating. Meghan Desmond is one of my best friends and gig-going buddies. She was saved from a normal life by Downtown Music Scene Weirdness. Inspired by the music she heard, she picked up a camera and started to experiment. She has come a long way in the last few years, doing record covers, and photo/video collaborations with assorted Downtown Artists. Check out this new one, I think she and Sean Ali have really hit their stride! The video is in black & white and both the sounds and images are quite haunting so beware! - BLG/DMG
This comes from CHRIS CUTLER (Henry Cow, Art Bears & REcommended Records)
Chris has a podcast called Probes and this is Episode #29
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 of Creative Music, unique instrumentation, the history of recordings and lots more. Please take some time and listen to these, they are most enlightening.
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:
HENRY KAISER Continues with his Weekly Solo Series on Cuneiform’s Youtube page:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHUc8FYsWxg - new interview with Mr. Kaiser
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0-qbKTem9o - Tribute to Milford Graves
My good friend & guitar master GARY LUCAS is playing half hour sets at his apartment in the West village every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 3pm EST on Facebook. Different songs on each episode. Here is the link: https://www.facebook