This Week’s Groovy Discs Begin with This Amazing Downtown All-Star Quintet
JOE LOVANO and DAVE DOUGLAS SOUNDPRINTS with LAWRENCE FIELDS / LINDA MAY HAN OH / JOEY BARON - Other Worlds (Greenleaf Music 1084; USA) Featuring Joe Lovano on tenor sax, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Lawrence Fields on piano, Linda May Han Oh on contrabass and Joey Baron on drums. This is the third disc from the Soundprints quintet, co-led by Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas and originally inspired by the music of Wayne Shorter. I caught this quintet live at the Village Vanguard (thanks to Joey B.) for two sets around the time that this was recorded in January of 2020 and I was knocked out by both sets. This is a monster quintet where all five musicians are integral to the majestic grace and creative energy throughout. The title of this disc is called, ‘Other Worlds’ and the theme seems to deal with space exploration. Mr. Lovano’s “Space Exploration” opens with a thoughtful, careful arranging, lush harmonies for the two horns and a spacious cushion of rhythmic support underneath. Pianist Lawrence Fields takes an extraordinary solo midway, short yet most impressive. One of the best things about this disc is the drumming of Joey Baron. Former (& forever) lynchpin drummer for the original Masada Quartet, Mr. Baron really shines here, balancing his ever supportive rhythmic verve, keeping the flow always spinning just right, wave upon wave. Word is that trumpet master, Dave Douglas, spends time every day doing some composing, bringing in new material for his different projects for each session. His tunes are a marvel of ingenuity, with several layers of crafty arranging and playing going on throughout. Ms. May Han Oh takes a superb, short solo on “Manitou”, while the tenor sax & trumpet weave a sublime tapestry together. Each of the 10 pieces here have some modest yet memorable magic going on here. Relaxed yet stunning at the same time. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
IST with GRAHAM H. FELL / RHODRI DAVIES / MARK WASTELL - A More Attractive Way (Confront Core Series 21; UK) IST is: Rhodri Davies: harp, preparations, Simon H. Fell: double bass, preparations and Mark Wastell: cello, preparations. ‘A MORE ATTRACTIVE WAY’ is a comprehensive study of live performances made by IST between 1996 and 2000. This 5 CD set begins at the very outset of the group's career and features their debut concert at Club Orange in London and charts it's way through further gigs in London, Billericay, Norwich and Cambridge. The 20 page booklet contains written contributions from Mark and Rhodri, Jo Fell, Simon Rose, Nick Smith, John Butcher, Phil Durrant, Graham Halliwell and Chris Goode together with previously unpublished photographs.
IST operate at such a pitch of invention they transcend the divide between art and science. Harp, upright bass and cello are played at the horizon of known technique. Simultaneously lush and abrasive, the trio push string sounds into new zones of strange beauty. Barbed bouquets explode before the ear, aural events that leave the imagination ransacked. (HIFI News & Record Review)
5 CD Set $45
CHRIS ABRAHAMS / MARK WASTELL - A Thousand Sacred Steps (Confront Recordings Core Series 01EP; UK) Featuring Chris Abrahams on Bluthner grand piano, circa 1905 and Mark Wastell on 32" Paiste tam tam, cymbals. Recorded at Hackney Road Studios in London in October of 2018.
In just under twenty minutes, Chris Abrahams and Mark Wastell successfully rustle up more ideas, moods, textures, and tonalities than other artists manage across entire albums, and all with the inherent ’simplicities’ of a 1905 grand piano, a 32” tam tam, and cymbals. The opening piece, “A”, happens to be the longest, pianist Abrahams bringing the same cascading torrents of notes hereabouts that he does quite effortlessly with The Necks; Wastell’s delicately vibrating metals augur, in their careful phrasing, nothing but suspenseful sheets of sound, the duo’s finger-stroking playing cloak and dagger amongst expertly telegraphed silences. Across the two-plus minutes of “Thousand”, Abrahams’ lower registers achieve an almost Gothic sensibility which Wastell navigates over with urgent poise, like the quickening steps of a handmaiden running amidst the lurking existential dangers of a castle’s dark corridors. Such hesitant notes continue to be played out on “Sacred” as Wastell’s steely gazes seek refuge within the penumbra of Abrahams’ cinematic reveals. All of this reaches an apotheosis on the closing “Steps”, Abrahams’ pearly whites engaging Wastell’s inner sanctum in a final act of sonic consummation. The experience is over way too quickly but leaves you wanting more, for which the mandate behind your CD player’s ‘repeat’ function is thus made law. Despite or perhaps because of such a concise musical statement, the substantive effects are, nonetheless, breathtaking. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
TAKU SUGIMOTO / TAKASHI MASUBUCHI - Live at Otooto & Permian (Confront Core Series 16; UK) Featuring Taku Sugimoto on electric guitar and Takashi Masubuchi on acoustic guitar. This disc was recorded at OTOOTO & Permian in Tokyo in 2017 & 2018. I can’t say that I had heard of Japanese guitarist, Takashi Masubuchi, before this disc arrived, although according to Discogs he has recorded around 10 discs, either solo or in groups with other Eastern musicians whose names I also don’t recognize. On the other hand, I do know of Taku Sugimoto from his 20 or so discs of solos & improv sessionS with fellow Erstwhile players like Keith Rowe, Otomo Yoshihide and Gunter Muller. And similar to other Erst-like, onkyo or lower case sessions, there is quite a bit of careful, spacious playing going on. Mr. Masubuchi’s acoustic guitar is actually quite lovely, soft plucked notes hanging in the air while Mr. Sugimoto’s electric guitar is being bowed or rubbed with an object. Perhaps an ebow or maybe a real bow is being used. A series of drones are taking place which have a way to making us feel unsettled or even disoriented at times, not as bad as a dentist drill but somewhat unnerving. The balance between the subtle, delicate acoustic guitar and electric guitar fragments gives things an uneasy yet affective resolution. Over time, certain notes are stretched out, the balance of calm and tension starts to change. The acoustic guitar remains sturdy in its hushed demeanor while the electric guitar expands its palette of sounds, some abrupt than others. While listening patiently to this disc, I was reminded of how we are all balancing our inner peace with the outer distractions of real life. Sometimes we find good from that inner ommmmm and then the other shoe drops. Who knows when that will be?!? - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SPENCER GRADY / MARK WASTELL / HARRY SMITH a/k/a FERMATA ARK - Thus: Excerpts from a Smaller Work (Confront Core 15; UK) Featuring Spencer Grady on 5-string banjo, ebow, violin bow & brass slide; Mark Wastell on cello, double bass & harmonium and Harry Smith (Fermata Ark) on composition & field recording. The ever-evolving sonic explorer, Mark Wastell, plays cello is his main instrument, yet has consistently explored other instruments, manipulating other instruments as well as objects ans surfaces not necessarily used for music making. Aside from being a founding member of IST, Mr. Wastell used to run a record store in north London and is always searching for other like-minded sonic explorers no matter what instrument or medium they’ve chose to work with. I can’t say that I know much about either of his music partners here. It seems that while Mr. Wastell and Mr. Grady did play their actual instruments, Harry Smith added field recordings and help mix and master this disc. The liner notes mentioned listening to this disc with headphones so that is what I did the first time I checked it out earlier this week. When we listen closely to field recordings (environmental sounds) and /or static, it takes time to adjust our focus. Slowly several layers of carefully manipulated sounds appear, swirling static, drones, buzzing, getting more dense as this piece evolves. The varied layers throb and pulsate together, we are caught off balance, sort of like trying not get sucked into (sonic) quicksand. The overall effect is mostly mesmerizing and finally calms down midway. As soon as I start to recognize the sound os a cello, we are soon submerged in another dense world of swirling sounds. The density builds and increases for a period of time and then several layers quickly drop out. We are left with another collection manipulated sounds: buried, a chorus of distant voices, a church organ, a clothes dryer tumbling… hard to tell what exactly we are hearing yet still fascinating. The overall sound/vibe is a glorious mess/mass/sonic wall. Just like a monolith would appear to a neanderthal man or woman. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LOL COXHILL - Coxhill ’85 (Slam 2114; UK) Featuring Lol Coxhill on soprano & sopranino saxes and recorded at Gibbs Club in Cardiff, UK in June of 1985. I have been a big fan of British saxist, Lol Coxhill, ever since buying his first record, ‘Ear of the Beholder’, a 2 LP set for just $1.00 at a Sam Goody’s budget outlet in midtown NYC in the early seventies. Mr. Coxhill played exclusively soprano sax (like Steve Lacy) and was a member of Kevin Ayers’ band, the Whole World, endearing himself to Canterbury fans worldwide. He also worked with Robert Wyatt, members of Henry Cow and an odd combination of musicians from varied genres. I was fortunate to have heard Lol Coxhill perform in a duo with guitarist Gerry Fitzgerald at the 100 Club in London in December of 1975, after which we hung out and became friends. We got together later that week so I could loan Mr. Coxhill a cassette of the gig that I taped, drinking several large pints of tasty beer and getting somewhat sh*tfaced. Sometime in the early nineties, after losing touch for many years, Mr. Coxhill called me (out of the blue) at the first location of our store and said he had won a trip to New York and asked if I could get him some gigs. I was honored to do that so I got him a gig opening for Carbon at the Old Knit and a set at the store, a duo with saxist Ivo Perelman. I did catch Mr. Coxhill in a trio called the Recedents at the Victo fest way back when and invited to play at The Stone when I curated there for a month in December of 2006. Mr. Coxhill couldn’t make it them due to health issues but we remained friends anywhere. Sadly, Lol Coxhill passed in July of 2012 and I have continued to collect his often rare albums ever since. Considering that Mr. Coxhill played mainly soprano sax only for his entire music career, he did have his own distinctive sound. Lol also had an odd yet distinctive sense of humor and break into a song, singing the words, telling a joke, just being himself, all within a set. There has been very few posthumous releases featuring Mr. Coxhill, mostly a quartet date on Otoroku (with Joe McPhee & Evan Parker) and a few guesting with the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Which brings us to this CD…
This is a previously unreleased live set recorded at a small club in Cardiff in England in June of 1985. Mr. Coxhill starts things off with a short spoken word introduction which is rather funny and somewhat revealing his charming self-effacing sense of humor. When he does start playing, we hear his his unique style: playing those curlicue notes in a most enchanting way. Unlike many free improvisers who like to push the limits on their respective instruments, Mr. Coxhill sounds like he comes from a more festive, almost vaudeville-like tradition at times. His playing is often melodic with unexpected twists and turns going on. The one cover that Coxhill does is called, “I Thought About You”. This is a delight, sad yet so lovely. Although it is quite rare, Mr. Coxhill switches to a sopranino sax for one long piece here, his playing stretching out into the higher range and going further out. At times, I hear Mr. Coxhill playing a fragment of a recognizable song and then scooting off elsewhere. Coxhill does four monologues here which are charming in their own way bridging the gap, feeling-wise between the extended improvisations. There is some audience talking in the background here at times, yet Lol Coxhill remains focused at creating his own world, which seems to bridge to gap between ancient and more modern times. Mr. Coxhill covers “A Night in Tunisia” and does a splendid version of it. This is some 70 minutes long, containing two complete sets and does a fine job of showing Lol Coxhill as his best. This will be one of the last discs that the Slam label will be releasing so it is a fitting tribute to a fine label that has documented quite a bit of the British Creative Music Scene. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GEORGE HASLAM & FRIENDS with STEFANO PASTOR / JAN FAIX / JOZEF LASKA / JAN SIKL - Loveland (Slam 335; UK) Featuring George Haslam on bari sax & taragato, Stefano Pastor on electric violin & kalimba, Jan Faix on synth & melodica, Jozef Laska on acoustic & electric bass and Jan Sikl on drums. I recently received an email from saxist & Slam-label founder, George Haslam, letting me know that he was bringing the longtime lasting Slam label to a close with this release. The label started in 1989 and has released some 250 releases, many of which include some of the cream of UK improvisers: Elton Dean, Paul Dunmall, Lol Coxhill and Szilard Mezei. One of the best things about Slam is that has become an outlet for the many different projects that Mr. Haslam is involved with, featuring musicians from around the world: Italy, Argentina, Cuba and Czechoslovakia. For this disc, Mr. Haslam has brought together a unique quintet with Stefano Pastor (Italian violinist who has worked with Haslam previously) plus three musicians from the Czech Republic. This disc was recorded live in Prague in September of 2010. This disc starts off with an unaccompanied taragato solo, solemn, eerie. Soon, the rest of the band floats in: synth, kalimba (thumb piano), el. bass and drums. This sounds like a Gong-ish space jam, a great way to begin our journey. The Czech-based synth-led rhythm section is strong, tight and inspired. The next solo comes from Stefano Pastor’s electric violin. Jan Faix’ synth (electric keyboard) sounds like an electric piano or clavinet or mutant blend of both. Mr. Faix also takes a great Sun Ra-like (ring modulated) electric piano solo. “Landing” begins with some subdued kalimba, el. bass and synth all simmering together. Mr. Laska sounds like he is playing a fretless electric bass and his playing is often at the center of what is going on here. As keyboardist Jan Faix solos, the sound of his synth slowly changes, eventually he switches to a melodica, the sound becomes more haunting. On “Pastorale”, the jam gets back into a Gonglike space groove with early jazz/rock electric piano, furious, processed el. bass and burning drums. When Haslam’s bari sax & Pastor’s el. violin enter, things head out to space. This free improv at its best, the quintet often sounds as if they’ve been working together for a long while. I am sad to see the Slam label come to an end yet it is befitting that they end with such a strong date as this. After our grand journey to outer space we come in for a soft landing. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
STEPHAN THELEN with DAVID TORN / HENRY KAISER / MARKUS REUTER / BARRY CLEVELAND / ANDY WEST / et al - Fractal Guitar 2 (Moonjune MJR113; USA) We’ll get the obvious out of the way first: this is an astonishing piece of work. Impressive as its predecessor was, this sequel finds Thelen further expanding his remit equally as resident guitar player, project curator, and genre-bending spearhead. The list of co-conspirators the guitarist enlisted to help foment this bolt outta the blue is itself an all-star roster of string-bending progressives: Jon Durant, Henry Kaiser, Markus Reuter, David Torn, Stefan Huth, and Barry Cleveland, accompanied by percussionists/drummers Andi Papato, Andy Brugger, and Manuel Pasquinelli, plus keyboardist Fabio Anile and Dixie Dregs bassist Andy West. Thelen himself not only mans the fretboard, he doubles (triples?) on programming, synths and keyboards, e-bow, and such mysterious devices as ‘particles’ and ‘formant swell’. Whew! Lost in all that sonic artillery, you might think this a mess of improv-jam protoplasm, each player jockeying for position, yearning to be free, the final production a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the stew. Bad assumption. Whether or not it’s his previous tenure in art-rock-fusion bands Radio Osaka (criminally under-recognized and ripe for rediscovery) or contemporary outfit Sonar, it’s clear that Thelen’s become a compositional maestro adept at sonic organization, possessing the skills of a sculpture keenly aware of and well-versed in the pliability of his basic materials. Remarkable still, this is a record essentially stitched together during the past year’s lockdown (something that has become commonplace in our current milieu). Beginning in late 2019, Thelen recorded tracks in California with Kaiser, West, and Brugger, pre-lockdown; once Covid hit, the remaining cast sent their respective parts back and forth to Thelen for structuring and placement. Like a latter-day Teo Macero, Thelen’s shaping of everyone’s parts results in displays of razor-sharp virtuosity and a virtual universe of melody, texture, dissonance, abstraction, space, and groove. It’s nigh-on impossible to gauge who brings what to the table (such is Thelen’s adroit touch), although familiarity with each contributor’s solo work aids in recognizing their contribution. The opening fourteen minutes of “Cosmic Krautrock” is a breathless journey across Eurofunk, space-bass shudder, and Teutonic fusion, underpinned by Brugger’s monolithic drumming and the searing cavalcade of tones ignited by Mssrs. Torn, Durant, Thelen, and Reuter; imagine 80s Crimson duking it out with Laswell’s psychedelic mutators and you’re halfway there. “Mercury Transit” recalls the jackhammer thrust and angularity of Djam Karet and the majesty of Hawkwind run through the Radio Osaka ringer, while Thelen and Anile’s keyboards effect a redux/homage to Richard Wright’s motifs from “Echoes"-era Floyd. West’s interlocking basslines anchor the gurgling electronics that birth “Ladder to the Stars” as the track’s fleet collection of guitarists bend notes, navigate gulfs of pearlescent, starcrush ambience, and wrap their heads around some extraterrestrial choreography that marries Fripp’s densely-woven arpeggios to an ever-expanding tableau of free-form phased-out Reichian phunk. Yes, it’s only April, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better record this year, thanks to Thelen, his crack squad of formidable players, and their boundless ingenuity, colorcharted and ultramagnified via Fractal zoom. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DWIKI DHARMAWAN with MARKUS REUTER / BORIS SAVOLDELLI / ASAF SIRKIS - Hari Ketiga (Moonjune MJR107; US) Moonjune has prided itself over the years on releasing little known talent from the four corners of our strange little spinning place, a globe-trotting imprint providing cred and much-needed exposure to artists and groups plumbing the depths where intersect prog, jazz, fusion, world/chamber music, and whatever other nomadic flavors arise in between. Across an epic two discs of music, distinguished Indonesian pianist and keyboardist Dharmawan has realized his magnum opus, an opera disguised as a multi-part serialization, or, as it’s noted on the tray card, “Hari Ketiga (The Third Day), a musical quantum entanglement in nine acts”. Written by Alessandro Ducoli, with vocals mostly provided by Boris Savoldelli and Dharmawan, aided and abetted by drummer Asaf Sirkis, Touch guitarist/soundscaper Markus Reuter, and Dharmawan and Savoldelli providing various keys and electronics, the group fairly embody the very notion of what ‘progressive’ music truly is (and should be). This is a polyglot extravaganza combining Western classical/chamber modes with Eastern traditionalism, rockist prog ornamentation, and the fleet, free spirit of jazz musicians from Alice Coltrane to Horace Tapscott. Disc one comprises three lengthy pieces that highlight the leader’s introspective and energetic piano runs, channeling bits of Cecil Taylor here, Keith Jarrett there, creating a vital template over which Sirkis volleys his traps and cymbals across Savoldelli’s Minton-esque recitations. Reuter tends to stay in the shadows, his presence felt more as ambient occlusion that allows him to drizzle the sometimes stately, sometimes visceral atmosphere with pungent guitar fuzz. Though sporting six pieces, the second disc is no less involving than the first, Dharmawan the nomad corralling his team as they whip, whoop, and holler about Savoldelli’s potent storytelling; even if your grasp of Italian is negligible, it’s just as easy to become wholly acclimatized to the group's particular brand of intensity, as “The Loneliness of Universe” makes clear throughout its searing nineteen minutes. And that’s just for starters. Essential listening to anyone who thinks ’new music’ rests permanently in the purview of academe, rather than with players whose desire to smash boundary layers between jazz, rock, and literal ‘world’ music remains paramount. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
2 CD Set $18
TRISTAN KASTEN-KRAUSE - “Potential Landscapes” (Whatever’s Clever WC023; USA) Tristan Kasten-Krause is a bassist about town in New York City, participating in New Music and DIY while accumulating an impressive resume as a hired gun. Throughout the early days of the pandemic he regularly displayed the full range of his listenership through livestream “DJ sets” that would often smatter in works by Robert Ashley and Alvin Lucier. On his debut LP as a composer for Brooklyn collective imprint Whatever’s Clever, Kasten-Krause lets his bona-fide flag fly high as a student of these legends, with a healthy dose of an amped up Gavin Bryars. Through a carefully selected ensemble of allies, Kasten-Krause unfolds a full range undulating sound wall, presenting the entire spectrum at a decibel threshold that is remarkably comfortable in its power while retaining delicate articulation. When human voices emerge on track 3, the spectres of Joan La Barbara and Eno’s “1/2” from Music for Airports hang lightly over the blooming chorus. Beat frequencies are nudged out of the mass with such ease that the precision is free of strain. As a bassist, Kasten-Krause appears to observe his instrument as much as he is involved in it, allowing a passive dryness to guide his bow arm, avoiding sentimentality while accessing vulnerability. On Track 3 in particular, he introduces the coda with scraping high midrange tones that are minutely recorded, walking a tense tight rope over the chasm that opens over a resonant ensemble. It remains unclear to me how much of this construction involves overdubbing, but the fullness of the sound is restrained and organic feeling enough to remain impressive regardless of approach. The layering is steeped in a deep understanding of orchestration, and manages to fall into the tradition established by Eliane Radique’s work for live instruments, (the Occam Occam series, Nadjorlak, etc.) recall the centered clinicality of the Sonic Arts Union, and inject this lineage with a playful physicality. The liner notes disclaim ‘for best results listen at an immersive volume”..we have to agree, and hope you indulge heartily in this triumphant brain flossing material. - Frank Meadows for DMG
IANNIS XENAKIS // THE SONOR ENSEMBLE of UCSD / LA JOLLA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA / RAND STEIGER - conductor - Ais, Gendy3, Taurhiphanie, Thallien (Neuma 450-86; USA) “Ais” for amplified baritone, solo percussionist & large orchestra, “Gendy3” for computer generated sound, “Taurhiphanie” for computer generated sound and “Thallein” for 14 instruments. In preparation for this review, I listen to a handful of albums, CD’s & DVD’s from Greek avant-garde composer, Iannis Xenakis. I checked out his percussion music, string quartet, orchestral & electronic music. what I found most striking is that no matter how far out or avant-garde hi music gets, there is always a strategy or direction which is there if you choose to read about and think about in depth. I was especially moved by his percussion music which was extremely diverse and involved using percussion instruments and techniques from some far-ranging cultures. After reading about the visual aspects of a performance of “Persepolis” and watch a filmed version of “Rebonds B”, I realized how much we are influenced by the visual aspects of this music, I listened more closely and read the accompanying notes to better understand what was going on in this music.
“Ais” was written for solo amplified baritone voice, a percussionist & a large orchestra and composed in 1980. There are several layers going on here: the lone voice in the background sounds like a couple of Thomas Buckner’s spaciously babbling together interacting with the solo percussionist, neither too intrusive. The orchestra has that Xenakis-like flurry of fluttering winds, strings and horns. The effect is at times harrowing yet consistently fascinating, creating its own world like a great modern opera but stripped own to just 1 or 2 voices. “Gendy3” consists of computer generated sound, while “GenBy” stands for “general dynamic stochastic synthesis” and it was composed in 1991. Stochastic, referring to randomness.Although it is computer generated, the sounds are actually orchestral like varied layers of (sampled) horns moving strategically around one another. There is a few layers of electronics also going on in the center, never too loud to take over the entire sound spectrum. Trombones? Muted brass? Cellos? Bent strings? Subtle layers of static appear and are slowly stretched in different ways, eventual coming down to a quiet level while the stretching of notes calms down a bit. “Taurhiphanie” is another computer generated sound piece, composed in 1987-88. The sound samples are generated from the sounds of “bellowing bulls & white horses”, taken from a non-violent environment. It is difficult to tell what exactly we are hearing since the sounds are stretched beyond any recognizable voice or whatever it is. This is beyond eerie, closer to scary yet absolutely spellbinding. And much easier to deal with when it finally slows down and then escalates higher as the electronics slowly widen and become more dense. “Thallein” is performed by 14 instrumentalists and composed in 1984. The sonic palette, although all acoustic here, is similar in rich, somewhat disorienting sounds. This is one of Xenakis’ best compositions, powerful with no need for any electronic effects or sounds. Outstanding, throughout! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ANOTHER FIVE GREAT DISCS FROM THE KAIROS LABEL:
SALVATORE SCIARRINO // KLANGFORUM WIEN - Solo (Kairos 0015096; Austria) Salvatore Sciarrino's oeuvre is the preserve of silence. It can be encountered in the sound spaces of night, in nocturnal trickles, creaks, creepings and wings; filigree sounds disappear into silence and re-appear abruptly and in short bursts, in large, irregular forms. The soundscapes of his music continually probe the thin line between life and death, recollection and oblivion, light and dark, growth and decay. In these transitory realms, the scans of a magical originality find their very own space. This album is part of Klangforum Wien's "Solo" 5-CD series of recordings of pieces for one performer, which is the ensemble's response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
OLGA NEUWIRTH // ORF RADIO SYMPHONIE ORCHESTER WEIN - Orchestral Works (Kairos 0015010; Austria) “Three important orchestral works from the oeuvre of Olga Neuwirth, one of the most eminent composers of our time, are combined on this recording. Besides works for trumpet as well as viola and orchestra (with Håkan Hardenberger and Antoine Tamestit as soloists), there is Masaot/Clock without Hands, performed by its dedicatee, the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Daniel Harding. In the anniversary year of the KAIROS label, this is a special highlight with most prominent musicians.”
TOSHOIO HOSOKAWA //KLANGFORUM WIEN - Solo (Kairos 0015095; Austria) Toshio Hosokawa, Japan's pre-eminent living composer, creates his distinctive musical language from the fascinating relationship between Western avant-garde art and traditional Japanese culture. His music is strongly connected to the aesthetic and spiritual roots of the Japanese arts (such as calligraphy), as well as to those of Japanese court music (such as Gagaku). He gives musical expression to notions of beauty rooted in transience: "We hear the individual notes and appreciate, at the same time, the process of how the notes are born and die: a sound landscape of continual 'becoming' that is animated in itself." This album is part of Klangforum Wien's "Solo" 5-CD series of recordings of pieces for one performer, which is the ensemble's response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
LUIGI NONO / PAULO DE ASSIS - Como Una De Fuerza y Luz… (Kairos 15022; Germany) Como una ola de fuerza y luz (1971-72) is the culmination of Luigi Nono's politically engaged compositional phase, while .....sofferte onde serene... (1975-77) marks the beginning of a subtle and serene new aesthetic orientation. Both works are presented here in highly expressive interpretations that give special attention to the tape parts, revealing many previously unheard sonic materials.
“Luigi Nono's political allegiance was present throughout much of his artistic production. A member of the Italian Communist Party since 1952, he took part in practical political and cultural work all throughout the 60s and 70s. This commitment and a collaboration with pianist Maurizio Pollini and conductor Claudio Abbado led to the composition of this piece. Even though Nono had known Pollini since September, 1966 and Nono was already a household name in avant-garde classical music, it was not until September 1971 that he would start working with Pollini on his first composition for piano, because Nono thought Pollini's piano skills and musicality to be "very fascinating". Some time after starting the project, he learned about the accidental death of Chilean left activist Luciano Cruz, one of the young leaders of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left. Nono had come to know Cruz in Santiago de Chile in June of that year and built a strong friendship with him. For this reason, Nono decided to expand the first draft of the composition and added a soprano voice with some of the lines of a poem by Argentine poet Julio Huasi.
This composition was finished in 1972 and premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, on June 28, 1972. Claudio Abbado conducted the La Scala Theatre Orchestra, with Maurizio Pollini at the piano and Slavka Taskova Paoletti as the soprano. The original tape for the composition was realized months before at the Studio di fonologia musicale di Radio Milano, with sound technician Maurizio Zuccheri under the Nono's supervision and direction. The score was published that year in facsimile by Ricordi. It was dedicated to "Luciano Cruz para vivir" (Spanish for "That Luciano Cruz may live”).” - Wikipedia.org
WOLFGANG RIHM // ENSEMBLE RECHERCHE - Chiffre IV / Trios 1969-1994 (Kairos 12892; Germany) This CD combines Trio pieces for three instruments - and yet it is very remote from the contemplatively muted frame-work of traditional chamber music.
REMEMBERING MARK WHITECAGE:
The history of avant or free/jazz is filled with dozens of great saxophonists who rarely get the recognition they deserve. Here’s my short list of Free/Jazz/Music sax giants all worthy checking out: Marco Eneidi, Oluyemi Thomas, Elliott Levin, George Bishop, Paul Flaherty, Wally Shoup, Peter Kuhn, Rick Countryman, Jack Wright, Glenn Spearman and Mark Whitecage. I first caught Mark Whitecage when he was playing with Gunter Hampel and Interface in the 1970’s during the Loft Jazz Days. I started catching him more regularly in the late eighties and nineties with his own bands as well as with the Nu Band (all of their CD’s are great!) as well as his work with Jeanne Lee, Mario Pavone, Sahen Sarbib, Michael Jefry Stevens & Joseph Scianni. I caught Mr. Whitecage live many times and he always knocked me out. His main band for many years was his trio with Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen. Mr. Whitecage also played clarinet, as well as some occasional electronics. One of the last times I caught him live was with a Grateful Dead cover/jam band at the Yippie Cafe, more than ten years ago. A strange gig, but it was still pretty great! It turns out that Mark Whitecage passed away from cancer last month (March 8, 2021). Very sad indeed. We just got in some of Mr. Whitecage’s LP & CD collection. We got multiple copies in of a handful of his discs as a leader or co-leader which are listed below. All are long out of print and all are strongly recommended by yours truly:
JOE McPHEE / PETER KOWALD / MARK WHITECAGE / PAUL SMOKER / DAVID PRENTICE / DOMINIC DUVAL / JAY ROSEN - CIMPhonia 1998 Pt. 1 (CIMP 173; USA) Peter Kowald (bass) - Joe McPhee (reeds) - Mark Whitecage (reeds) - Paul Smoker (trumpet) - David Prentice (violin) - Dominic Duval (bass) - Jay Rosen (drums) An ad hoc gathering of 7 of the best creative improvising artists around. This is Part 1 of the first of what could prove to be annual CIMPhonic gatherings in the Spirit Room. Lots of surprises here for both the players and the listeners - solid music, always on the edge. Recorded May 26 & 27, 1998.
DOMINIC DUVAL'S STRING ENSEMBLE with TOMAS ULRICH / JASON KAO HWANG] JOE McPHEE / MARK WHITECAGE - Live In Concert: Knitting Factory, NY (Cadence 1097; USA)
KHAIRA ARBY - Live In New York 2010 (Clermont Music 033; USA) “Clermont Music announces the release of Live In New York 2010 from Khaira Arby. Recorded in August 2010 at Bard College in New York, Khaira electrified the audience giving one of her greatest performances. Her energy and spirit captured in this recently discovered album illustrate Khaira at the height of her powers. Sadly, she passed away in the summer of 2018 leaving this album as one of her only full concert recordings. Khaira Arby grew up in the Abaradjou neighborhood of Timbuktu. By age 11 she was sought-after by regional orchestras. A cousin to the great Ali Farka Toure, Khaira was influenced by the changes in music and culture of the times. She blended modern instruments and song composition with traditional melodies and rhythms. In the 1980s Khaira began to focus all her energy on music. She began to be recognized outside of Mali and by 2001 she gained worldwide recognition from her performances at the Festival au Desert. Khaira Arby lived in Timbuktu until 2012 when Northern Mali was occupied by Islamic fundamentalists. The Islamists banned secular music and Khaira fled to Bamako where she lived with her family and band-members. When in 2013 French forces arrived, Khaira decided to remain in Bamako fearing for her safety in her beloved Timbuktu. Khaira was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mali. In 2011 her peers awarded her the Tamani d'Or in recognition of her status as one of the great Malian voices. She appeared annually at the legendary Festival au Desert. She performed in Europe in 2005. From 2010 through 2013, Khaira and her band toured extensively in Europe, the United States, Canada, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates performing to rave reviews. Live In New York 2010 was recorded at Khaira's first performance in North America. In complete control, she received standing ovations throughout the evening. Accompanied by backup singers and her hot rock band she showed people how cultures are blended while still preserving her Malian roots. One of the first women in Mali to emerge onto the national stage as a solo artist, Khaira Arby's debut album, Moulaye, was released in 1990.
CHARMAINE LEE - KNVF (Erratum Musical EM025; Earth) -Charmaine Lee’s otherworldly agility and precision should be lost on no one who has borne witness to her prolific activity as a performer. She has long embodied a consistently high standard for the conditions and content of her performance environments. Across many trials that rarely appear to include errors, Charmaine has mastered the fascinating physicality of devices like amplified hair combs, body-forward contact mics, and mixer feedback (among many other devices) while avoiding the distractions that often plague object-oriented techniques. Rather than allowing the tools to distract, she exploits the material enhancements they provide to simply reframe the perception threshold on her transcendent and raw expressive palette. Her use of the recorded medium on her LP debut for French boutique label Erratum Musical is no exception. While this is in a very direct sense music for voice and electronics, it is perhaps most imminently music for speakers. Throughout a highly dynamic yet concise disc, Charmaine has managed to take gestures with microscopic attention to detail, and properly anticipated the “speaker-ness” of their engagement with the world, completely consuming and piloting the qualities of whatever machine you allow her access by throwing on this record. The sounds are all full-bodied, regardless of their size; ranging from high voltage noise and painfully human glandular warbles to lippy pitched textures and tones at both threshold of hearing. Sheer empirical sound quality blankets the whole experience, but never consumes it as forcefully hi-fi. Once again, Charmaine has shown her integrity across media and a singular ability to both work unconfined by any idiom, while expanding the discourse of several. Upon dissection, tinges of harsh noise, post-Stockhausen electro-acoustic pointillism, EAI, sound art, and acrobatic free music are all discernible, but are simply on the table to integrate seamlessly into a language she continues to invent. - Frank Meadows for DMG
KUZU with DAVE REMPIS / TASHI DORJI / TYLER DAMON - "The Glass Delusion” (Astral Spirits AS122; USA) Kuzu’s latest endeavor strikes a rare balance between force and patience, something each of these veteran powerhouses have in common throughout their collective discographies. Here they sound well acquainted and comfortable with each other, having clearly reached an understanding of their shared identity, while retaining an exultant searching as part of their self-definition. Side A is indebted to the scale and duration of drone music, favoring one patient build over the explosive blast-offs of which they are capable. Damon frames the progression with knocking insistence, allowing Rempis and Dorji to fuel the pistons with restrained pyrotechnics that encircle each other gradually upwards. Side B is in two parts, and showcases Rempis in the upper reaches of his range, pushing Aylerian screams over Tashi’s hardcore punk meets EAI Derek Bailey scratches and detunings. Although the gestures here feature more deviations from a central pulse than Side A, Damon brandishes his knack for driving a focused momentum throughout. The end of Side B funnels their energy into a hushed funnel, allowing space to percolate between tightly controlled dynamic pricklings. Rempis gradually ascending up through his range, but lands on plateaus of full-bodied long-tones, allowing Tashi’s play with distorted vibratos to mesh with his multi-phonics while Damon sweeps up underneath. This delicate side ends with the suggestion of another build, morphing into one of Dorji’s signature Codas, leaving the last word on the groups expansive atmosphere with an ominous train-track rhythm. Here, one of the most exciting and genre agnostic ensembles in improvised music continue to expand their already massive and colorful vocabulary with a wizened and totalized aura of discernment and power. - Frank Meadows for DMG
GRAHAM LAMBKIN - Solos (Blank Forms 019-22; USA) “The years between Graham Lambkin's tenure with the legendary Shadow Ring and his more recent improvisational duos mark a distinct period of creative production within the artist's insular career. Living with his family in Poughkeepsie, NY, from 2001 through 2011 Lambkin recorded and self-released four solo albums that valorized mundane domestic situations while reveling in the liminal spaces between the acts of listening, recording, and producing. Created through an ingenious economy of means, these solo records are as beguilingly seductive as they are uncanny. Perpetually laughing in his own duplicitous face, Lambkin breathed new life into musique concrète and sound poetry, giving outmoded forms a contemporary consciousness while setting the gold standard for a continuously unfolding canon of 21st century tape music. Poem (For Voice & Tape) (2001), Salmon Run (2007), Softly Softly Copy Copy (2009), and Amateur Doubles (2011) are now remastered and finally back in print, with Salmon Run and Softly Softly Copy Copy available on vinyl for the first time. This deluxe boxed set of Graham Lambkin's first four solo records includes an expansive 42-page book featuring unseen photos and reproductions of artworks as well as essays and anecdotal recollections providing fresh insight and divulging hermetic secrets by Ed Atkins, Mark Harwood, Matt Krefting, Lawrence Kumpf, Samara Lubelski, and Adrian Rew.
Graham Lambkin (b. 1973, Dover, England) is a multidisciplinary artist who first came to prominence in the early '90s through the formation of his experimental music group The Shadow Ring. As a sound organizer rather than music maker, Lambkin looks at an everyday object and sees an ocean of possibility, continually transforming quotidian atmospheres and the mundane into expressive sound art using tape manipulation techniques, chance operations, and the thick ambience of domestic field recordings. His Kye imprint, founded in 2001, was an instrumental platform for the dissemination of and dialogue between work by an intergenerational cast of artists using sound, including Henning Christiansen, Anton Heyboer, Moniek Darge, and Gabi Losoncy. He began showing his visual art in 2014 with Came To Call Mine, an exhibition curated by Lawrence Kumpf and Justin Luke at Audio Visual Arts in conjunction with the publication of Lambkin's children's book (for adults) of the same name, and has since exhibited his work at 356 Mission, Künstlerhaus, PiK, and Blank Forms.” Release date: 4/30/21
4 LP Box Set $90
MATTHEW J. ROLIN - The Dreaming Bridge Feeding Tube Records FTR 586; USA) "... The Ohio-based guitarist's artistic leaps in recent years are rivaled only by those of Daniel Bachman, another once-precocious player formerly in the John Fahey / Jack Rose mold who has over the years transcended the idiom to create his own singular, deeply personal music. Rolin's latest LP, the double album The Dreaming Bridge, makes similar strides. For many practitioners of this style, the first and perhaps most challenging feat is to escape the gargantuan shadow of Fahey. Some do this by adding other instruments or field recordings to their DADGAD ruminations; some opt to play electric. Of course, Fahey did all of those things, too. Better still to have not been directly influenced by Fahey in the first place: Rolin's initial embrace of the acoustic guitar was inspired not by Fahey himself, but rather by Fahey-influenced guitarists like polymath Jim O'Rourke and trickster prodigy Ryley Walker. This vicarious influence is exemplified by Rolin's distinctive, at times irreverent approach to guitar soli. While the influence of Walker's nimble 12-string probing is evident on tunes like Rolin's impressionistic '10:30 AM,' and while the guitarist's patiently unfolding, contemplative 'Weeping Willow' indeed recalls O'Rourke's masterpiece Happy Days, Rolin remains very much his own man, with his own idiosyncratic approach. This is clear from the first notes of The Dreaming Bridge's opening track 'Pinhole,' which introduces Rolin's affinity for shimmering, almost choral, reverb, the effect doubling as a compositional element. Similarly, on the overtone-rich 'Drown,' Rolin's virtuosic playing is practically a duet with its own echo, an effect deployed not to obscure, but to buoy. This deep attention to atmosphere serves a crucial function on The Dreaming Bridge, which sparkles throughout with a strident, Zen-like focus Then there are the tunes themselves. Terrific tunes! Like William Tyler -- another possible influence -- Rolin, despite largely working from the necessarily limited palette of instrumental solo guitar music, thinks like a songwriter. This more traditional approach can be heard on tracks like 'Moonlight' and 'Backyard Blues' which follow a compositional logic complete with verses and choruses. Rolin performs these compositions beautifully; as a player he is dexterous and dynamic, with a light and agile touch reminiscent of early Will Ackerman or Alex De Grassi. Album highlight 'Hallucinations' features saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi's keening, double tracked reed work, which at times simulates the sound of two violins playing cat and mouse between the stereo channels..." --James Toth Also features Entourage, Shadowfax, and Jen Powers.”
2 LP Set
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.
ELECTRIC ASCENSION by ROVA with GUESTS - April 22-25
Special Guests include: Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Jenny Scheinman, Carla Kihlstedt, Ikue Mori, Rob Mazurek, Chris Brown and Hamid Drake:
This is Rova’s recreation of John Coltrane’s epic late work, Ascension. We have performed this piece with over 50 mavericks of improvisation since 2003, nearly annually, at festivals and venues in North America and Europe. This video performance was shot and recorded at the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival. Produced and directed by filmmaker John Rogers of Ideas in Motion. The initial airing on Thursday April 22 at 7PM PDT will be followed by a live Q A with Rova. After that, the 2012 festival performance will be available for viewing through Sunday April 25.
Use this link to view the concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUCXPDaj4Ps
KEN WEISS interviews JAAP BLONK for the new Cadence magazine:
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