“Cold Rain and Snow”
Traditional murder ballad discovered around 1912
Covered by the Grateful Dead, Peter Rowan, Bill Monroe & many others
Well I married me a wife, she's been trouble all my life
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Rain and snow-owwwww…
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Well she's coming down the stairs, combin' back her yellow hair
And I ain't goin be treated this ol' way, this old way….
And I ain't goin be treated this ol' way
Well she went up to her room where she sang her faithful tune
Well I’m goin where those chilly winds don't blow
Winds don’t blowwwwww….
I’m goin where those chilly winds don't blow
Well I married me a wife, she's been trouble all my life
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Rain and snow-owwwww…
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Run me out in the cold rain and snow (sing along and shout out the chorus)
Due to some of the knuckleheads that I went to high school with in Linden, NJ (who loved the Dead & CSN & hated the Mothers of Invention), I didn’t really give the Grateful Dead a chance until I first got stoned at a party in 1969. The host of the party, Jerry G, a local black sheep, played me their first album and it hit me right then & there. I still cherish that record which is very different from any other Dead record since the word is that they were doing speed or uppers in the studio, thus playing more uptempo than usual. The above song, “Cold Rain and Snow” is a traditional (murder) ballad and played fast on that debut album from 1967. The song slowed down as the Dead evolved to a more medium tempo, which they played throughout their 30 year history. I rediscovered the song again in the early 1990’s when I heard the Henry Kaiser Band play it at the old Knitting Factory. As with a number of my favorite songs, it is that opening line that makes me smile… ”Well I married me a wife, she's been trouble all my life, Run me out in the cold rain and snow.”
Traditional ballads & songs have a way of exposing a certain mythology of life, a feeling we all share at some time or another. Although I’ve never been married, I have had a number of relationships in my life, both bad and good, sometimes both extremes in the same affair. Often when I’m down due to a difficult relationship, I start to sing the blues or a song which expresses what I feel inside. I am not so sure why but this song really taps into my feelings over the past year so I will sing it again… - BLG at DMG
THIS WEEK’S EXTRA-ORDINARY DISCS Starts Off with Two, Not One 2 CD Set Treasures:
CHES SMITH with MIGUEL ZENON / MATT MITCHELL / NICK DUNSTON / SIRENE DANTOR RENE / DANIEL BREVIL / FANFAN JEAN-GUY RENE / MARKUS SCHWARTZ - We All Break / Path of Seven Colors (Pyroclastic Records 14/15; USA) Personnel: Ches Smith on drums, percussion, vocals & compositions, Miguel Zenon on alto sax, Matt Mitchell on piano, Nick Dunston on double bass, Sirene Dantor Rene on vocals, Daniel Brevil, Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene & Markus Schwartz on tanbou & vocals. I don’t think that Downtown in-demand drummer, Ches Smith, had any idea that when he first played Haitian Vodou for a dance class in 2000, that this music would be a major influence on his long journey as a serious Creative Music percussionist. This impressive little box set contains 2 discs and 2 booklets and it arrived in my mail last month. There is quite a bit to absorb here so I’ve been listening to either and rereading the notes almost every day ever since.
The second disc, which is a bonus disc, was recorded in 2015 and it featured a quartet version of We All Break, which consists of mainly piano, percussion and lead & chorus vocals. All of the music was composed by Ches Smith, with lyrics & melodies by Daniel Brevil. The second disc is the first one I played and I keep going back since there is a joyous, spiritual quality going on which always casts a positive spell on me. Most of us don’t really think about the way certain rhythms effect us so it important to find out in the notes some of the different ways that this music, these melodies were used for different rituals, affairs and ceremonies. On one level, the music sounds stripped down yet as we listen, we hear how certain lines and interlocking rhythmic patterns evolve on each piece. Although there is often a central pulse running through much of this music, there is also several related patterns which emerge and submerge as the pieces evolve. It takes some time to adjust to hearing the different lines that occur at the same time and change over time. Matt Mitchell is a master of playing all sorts of complex rhythmic & repeating lines, something that he learned in part from his long work in Tim Berne’s Snakeoil. Daniel Brevil and Markus Schwartz both play two different tanbous (Haitian drums), as well as singing lead & chorus vocals along with Mr. Smith. The words to the few songs here with vocals are printed in the booklets along with English translations. The ongoing uplifting vibe makes me want to sing along so that is just what I did. “Dagger” has an intense, repeating piano line at the center, which is accented by the three swirling, interlocked percussionists. What’s fascinating about this piece is the way it develops with certain sections featuring some more progressive, multi-layered rhythmic schemes. Matt Mitchell’s piano really shines on this piece. At 65 minutes, this disc is long yet consistently engaging.
The main disc here is called, ‘Path of Seven Colors’ and it features an extended version of the quartet with added soloists: Miguel Zenon on alto sax, Nick Dunston on contrabass and Sirene Dantor Rene on vocals. The Vodou vibe is similar to the second disc but there is even more things going on here with an expanded eight-piece ensemble. Ches Smith put a great deal of time and thought into this disc, hence the results are even more enchanting and engaging. The opening song, “Woule Pou Mwen” features multi-layered vocals, both lead & chorus with Ms. Dantor Rene’s superb voice on top, Matt Mitchell’s magical piano and the varied layers of percussion swirling underneath. Choosing Puerto Rican alto saxist, Miguel Zenon, as a featured soloist was indeed a great choice since he sounds completely at home at the center of this wonderful octet. Together the lead and chorus vocals are striking, each voice an important part of the multi-hued colors. Mr. Smith states that this piece has a Haitian-style bas line and was inspired by Ornette Coleman’s Harmelodic conception. I love the way the chant and response vocals make one feel like we are inside of some sort of religious ceremony but without any of the usual religious dogma. It is consistently fascinating to read the histories of the different rhythmic schemes on each piece, although just digging these pieces for their joyous, throbbing, life-like vibe is often good enough. There is rather mystical quality to the music here, as if we are entering some sort of dreamland located somewhere in Haiti. Miguel Zenon takes a spectacular M-Base sax solo on “Lord of Healing”, stretching out his notes so he (and everyone listening) can take flight into this cerebral other world. After a too-long year of being locked inside, often alone, this music feels like the Cosmic Release that we all desire. Let’s give a warm embrace to the trusty treasure that Ches Smith has left us with. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD 2 Booklet Set $16
ANNA WEBBER with MATT MITCHELL / JOHN HOLLENBECK / ADAM O’FARRILL / JACOB GARCHIK / JOANNA MATTREY / MARIEL ROBERTS / NICK DUNSTON / SATOSHI TAKEISHI / et al - Idiom (Pi Records ; USA) “Idiom by composer/saxophonist/ flutist Anna Webber is the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed release ‘Clockwise’ (also on Pi), which the Wall Street Journal called "visionary and captivating" and NPR described as “heady music [that] appeal to the rest of the body.” Idiom is a series of six pieces, each of which is based on a specific woodwind extended technique -- a broad term meaning any non-traditional way of producing sound on an instrument, including the use of multiphonics, alternate fingerings, key clicks, overblown notes, and the like -- that she has taken from her own improvisational language. The works are the upshot of her belief that jazz composers/performers are in a privileged position to create the perfect vehicles for themselves as improvisers. As a frequent user of extended techniques in her own playing, Webber set out to create a continuum between her compositional and improvisatory vocabulary, orchestrating these effects across the ensemble, and applying them to different instruments. They are also used to generate chords and scales and, overall, gave license to utilize other naturally occurring sounds, opening up whole new worlds of mysterious sonic combinations and orchestrations.”
2 CD Set $20
XPACT with STEFAN KEUNE / ERHARD HIRT / HANS SCHNEIDER / PAUL LYTTON - Xpact II (FMR 601-0221; UK) Featuring: Stefan Keune on tenor sax, Erhard Hirt on guitar & electronics, Hans Schneider on double bass and Paul Lytton on Trobriander laptop & table top objects. This session was recorded at King Georg in Koln, Germany in September of 2020. One of the things that I like most about the FMR label is the way they always find improvisers from around the world and organize or record different groups, always with surprising results. I know of each of the members of this quartet from different sessions: Stefan Keune (from his work with John Russell & Paul Lovens), Erhard Hirt (from work with Mark Whitecage & John Butcher) and Hans Schneider (from Georg Graewe & Evan Parker). Longtime Brit percussionist & electronics wiz, Paul Lytton, is pretty well known and has worked with many greats: Nate Wooley, Evan Parker, Globe Unity & the London Jazz Composers Orchestra. Thanks to the informative liner notes included by John Corbett, we can read the history of Xpact. It turns out that Xpact started in 1982 and were members of the King Ubu & the M.I.A. Orchestras. The original Xpact only recorded one rare LP. Although Wolfgang Fuchs passed away in 2016, the rest of Xpact got back together adding German saxist Stefan Keune to take his place. Hence, the connections between these four musicians run deep.
Mr. Corbett talks about the first wave of German improvisers (like Peter Brotzmann & Peter Kowald), who created their own way of playing “free music”, unlike their counterparts in the US, who dealt with their own view of spirituality and their own music traditions. I recognize the sound/approach that this quartet has, focused, occasionally insect-like or minimal yet always evolving into something else. There is a certain magic or glue going on here, focused squeaks, rubbed, plucked & bowed strings and subtle electronics all carefully interwoven. I like when things erupt with all the players chattering intensely together, their fractured sounds coming together as one dynamic force. I must admit that I am a big fan of this sort of sound/approach. OUT-standing! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MORE FROM DEVIN GRAY’S RATAPLAN LABEL: (All nine CD’s from this series are limited)
DEVIN GRAY / GERALD CLEAVER - 27 Licks (Rataplan; USA) Featuring Devin Gray and Gerald Cleaver both on drums. Drum solos in the 20th century have a long history, from dazzling playing of jazz drummers in the 1940’s & 1950’s through the dreaded drum solo on “In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly in 1968 and onwards. The double drummers phenomenon really took off in the late sixties with bands like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. Some of my favorite albums feature two or more drummers (like Keith Tippett’s ‘Dedicated to You but You Weren’t Listening’ & several later Coltrane sessions). Since I played rock drums in high school and still play hand percussion (like hubcaps), I remain a longtime fan of percussion compositions (like Varese & Zappa) and percussion ensembles (New Jersey had/has a great one). Both Devin Gray and Gerald Cleaver are diverse, in-demand drummers who consistently rise to occasion and needs of whomever they are playing with. The one thing I noticed about Mr. Gray through reviewing 6 of his 9 new CD’s, is that plays differently on each one. The same thing can be said about Gerald Cleaver who I’ve heard many times live & on record and who never ceases to amaze me. Which brings us this disc:
’27 Licks’ for two drummers. It sounds like a mutual admiration society since both drummers sound like they have respect and confidence in each other’s abilities. Things begin with a soft, slow repeating groove as one of the drummers rubs cymbals or rustles other odd percussion instruments, slowly building to an intense, explosive crescendo. Instead of having too many layers of (interlocking) drums, there is a more melodic pulse going on here which is rising and submerging below the ocean ongoing rhythms. Things eventually die down to just a soft drum throb and shakers before the start to rise, getting more dense with assorted rubbed pieces of metal or cymbals. Both Mr. Cleaver and Mr. Gray are master percussionists and what’s interesting is how well they work together, moving beyond just rhythm excursions and into other more compelling areas. There is a strong balance here between the more dense and the lighter sections, the more complex rhythms and the somewhat more melodic/exotic flow of sounds. Further into this disc, the duo erupt into some way intense, explosive sections which are most exciting. This entire disc is gripping throughout so get your copy before we sell out, they are limited. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DEVIN GRAY / INGRID LAUBROCK / CORY SMYTHE - Cloud Sounds Trio (Rataplan; USA) Drummer/producer Devin Gray recently dropped off nine (!) new CD’s, all with different personnel (most often trios) and all recorded in the past two years. We are listing three every couple of weeks and I am amazed by the diversity of each one. The Cloud Sounds Trio features Ingrid Laubrock on saxes, Cory Smythe on piano and Devin Gray on drums. Classically trained pianist Cory Smythe has been quite busy over the last few years working with John Zorn, Tyshawn Sorey & Stefan Crump, as well as having his own disc released on Pyroclastic last year. Saxist/composer & multi-bandleader, Ingrid Laubrock, has kept a high profile over the past decade working with Anthony Braxton, Kris davis & Mary Halvorson, as well as having nearly 20 discs under her own name. The music on this disc has more of focused (written?) chamber-like sound. “Cloud Sounds” kicks things off with some tight, connected, crisscrossing lines. Mr. Smythe mutes & plucks the strings inside the piano carefully on “Computers. Haze”, Ms. Laubrock keeps getting better on soprano sax and shines here, interweaving her lines with the piano & drums in a most majestic way. Although it sounds like this music is mostly improvised, there is something else going here that keeps these musicians connected, a focused way of uniting resources so that the trio sounds like they are all on the same page at the same time no matter what. Even at just under 16 minutes long, this music sounds complete plus I played this disc three times in a row and heard new things on each listen. Superb! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DEVIN GRAY / JESSICA PAVONE / WENDY EISENBERG - Universal Dwellings (Rataplan; USA) Featuring Jessica Pavone on viola, Wendy Eisenberg on electric guitar and Devin Gray on drums. It is always a great thing for us to watch a Downtown musician rise from the unknown or under-recognized status to being widely recognized for the unique talents. Over the past handful of years young guitarist Wendy Eisenberg has triumphed with releases on Feeding Tube, Tzadik, Vin Du Select and Ba da Bing!, as well as playing in a wide variety of improv situations with John Zorn (in Cobra), Ches Smith, Trevor Dunn & many others. Viola virtuosos & composer, Jessica Pavone, has been around much loner and leads several great bands. Ms. Pavone has worked with Anthony Braxton, Mary Halvorson and Taylor Ho Bynum. Both women here have this wonderful excitable, intense energy which erupts right from the first note. Mr. Gray is the perfect foil here as he listens closely and repsonds with inspired aplomb. This is tight yet explosive trio which likes to push each other higher and higher. Even when things slow down, the interaction is still focused, connected with different layers or lines coalescing. Ms. Pavone often plays like a composer, carefully weaving her notes, making each one count, giving the other members of the trio some parts worth reacting to. Pavone also sounds like she is playing those slippery, microtonal notes in between the cracks of tonal barriers. Ms. Eisenberg also does a splendid job of thinking on her feet, adding some unexpected twists and turns which end us with surprising results. One of things that I like most about this trio is this: the viola and guitar are very different tone-wise, the bowing and plucking of acoustic and electric strings almost sound as if they are coming from very different places or times, yet they seem to find a common area where they meet, commune and compliment each others distinctive voices. Devin Gray has to balance those extremes and he also does a fine job. I hope to get this trio to play at a future DMG event, either outdoors or indoors, so stay tuned to WDMG-FM on your Outer Space Dial. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOEL HARRISON with BEN MONDER / STEVE CARDENAS / PETER McCANN / DAVID GILMORE / STEVE SWALLOW - Guitar Talk (Alternative Guitar Summit Recordings; USA) Joel Harrison is a wonderfully prolific guitarist, composer, and conceptualist. His latest recording "Guitar Talk" coincides with a book of the same title which explores and brings to light the philosophies of twenty seven distinct and distinguished contemporary guitarists. That same intimacy and unwavering spirit informs a series of intimate duo and solo performances featuring master guitarists Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder, Steve Swallow, David Gilmore, and Pete McCann. Opening with "It Falls on You", Messrs. Monder and Cardenas weave an exquisite harmonic tapestry, catching the beautiful pearl of melody like raindrops on a rose petal. "Autumn in Olive Bridge" evokes evening stars, still waters, the beach at night, yet the performance sails to an unforeseen conclusion; two ships colliding and resolving in abstract dialogue. "Rebound" captures a playful swing for Mr. Harrison and the great Pete McCann to dig in and around with rhythmic suspense and surprise. Our "National Treasure" that is Mr. Steve Swallow is featured on two duets with Mr. Harrison, such a pleasure to hear his miraculous and singular tone/expression in this most intimate of sonic environments. "Black Mountain Breakdown '' alludes to Asia, it's pentatonic architectures exalted yet shaken to the edges with blister and fireworks courtesy of David Gilmore. The recording closes with two lone solo performances including a breathtaking interpretation of "America the Beautiful" which harbors a conclusion both unforeseen and unforgettable. Mr. Harrison is a remarkably gifted composer and improvisor. His tunes are cerebral and smart yet not uninviting. The incredibly rich harmonic palette he draws from has a classical chamber air of arrangement and ornamentation. His tone is bell-like, clean and clear with a purity reminiscent of Mick Goodrick or "Sargasso Sea" era John Abercrombie. But these descriptions are merely starting points for a few of the most inventive, creative, and supportive contemporary guitarists to paint and contextualize like children in a sandbox..truly magical and truly brilliant. Highly recommended. - John J. Mori for DMG
VINO KARMA with LOUI YOSHIGAKI / KENTA TOMIKAWA / TORU SHIBUYA - Vino Karma (Nonoya Records 2001002; Japan) Vino Karma is Loui Yoshigaki on guitar, Kenta Tomikawa on bass and Toru Shibuya on drums. Recorded "Live" at Studio Riccio in Sapporo, Hokkaiso, Japan in February of 2020. Produced by Nonoko Yoshida. I can't say that I know anything about the members of this trio before now, aside from the fact that this disc was co-produced by saxist Nonoko Yoshida, who lived in NYC for a long time and was a member of Pet Bottle Ningen. Two of the pieces here are long (20 minutes) and similar to another Japanese powerful/guitar trio, Altered States, the music doesn't sound completely improvised, it is very focused and evolves in a way which makes sense or perhaps, tells a story. Although the picture on the cover shows the trio to be pretty young, they sound more mature than their years. There are two shorter pieces which are "remixes" of the live material (?), sampled, quirky and maybe played backwards. a very cool interlude. The thing I like the most about this is that there is nothing bombastic or over-the-top, the trio has lots of interesting ideas but never needs to showboat. During the middle of the second long piece, "Shakuzi", it sounds as if the trio are breaking into an odd folk rock/new wave section which works just right, all three members playing several layers of counterpoint with some mutated, sped up guitar line weaving its way through. It is impressive when it sounds as if they’ve stumbled upon or perhaps evolved out of one section and find themselves in what sounds like a progressive/cosmic fusion section although it does change into something else over time. One of the interesting things about this disc is the way certain sections are manipulated with effects either when they are being played or afterwards. At times, the bass & drums will lock into a groove while the guitarist will switch between playing something which fits and then manipulating a phrase and twisting it inside out, with occasional intense Beefheartian eruptions. Very cool! The two post-production remixes are also well done and show some craft in the way they alter their own sounds into something quite unexpected. Considering how young (and unknown) this trio is, this is also one of the best, most creative power/guitar trios I’ve heard in a long while! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PETER GARLAND // RON SQUIBBS - three dawns and bush radio calling (Cold Blue 0059; USA) “Two exuberant, beautiful solo piano pieces—the three-movement Three Dawns (1981–82), based on poems by Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo, and the 10-movement Bush Radio Calling (1992), written for the music-theater work Just Them Walking, by New Zealand’s avant-garde theater company Red Mole. Both works are elegantly and spiritedly performed by Ron Squibbs, a pianist who has also recorded music by Dane Rudhyar and Joji Yuasa.
Peter Garland is a composer, world traveler, musicologist, writer, and former publisher whose music is always informed by his well-traveled ear and strong sense of personal vision. He is a long-time associate of Cold Blue—his music has appeared on seven of the label’s previous CDs.
“Garland’s music seems to be about the sheer expressive power of sound itself…. I feel he is one of our true originals.” —Robert Carl, Fanfare magazine
“Radical consonance’ has been used to describe Garland’s music…an apt choice of words.” — Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare magazine
GROWING - Diptych (Silver Current 044; USA) "It's not easy to summarize any band whose career has stretched over two decades. In the case of Growing, though, it's all in the name: since 2001, the core duo of Kevin Doria and Joe DeNardo have been making vibrating, explorative experimental music that is in a forever state of evolution. In that time, they have amassed a hard-to-define and influential body of work, and Diptych sees the band operating at the height of their 'big amp ambient' powers. Diptych is a masterclass in slowly undulating ambient drift, and quite possibly the definitive headphone album of the year. Guitars that sound like organs pointed at the heavens are cut with subtly damaged electronic moves, the end result being a record that is at once ecstatic, transportive and gritty. Ambient and new age music have become part of the larger indie vocabulary. Things were different over twenty years ago in the Olympia, Washington punk community where Doria and DeNardo got their start. Both veterans of aggressive music by the time the band began, Growing emerged like a rainbow at the other end of the heavy music tunnel: loud as ever, but with a sonic and aesthetic position that ran counter to punk rock norms. Created over the past year and a half, Diptych extrapolates on Growing's formative drone-based work, showing a unit in full control of a language that they have built and reconfigured over time. The music here continues to be an intuitive outgrowth of a friendship that started in late-90s Olympia and still bears fruit today -- even as each member lives in a different city."
GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE with GRAHAM BOND / KEN CRADDOCK / STEVE GREGORY / BUD BEADLE / COLIN GIBSON / DIANE STEWART / et al - Live Bremen 1970 (Rox Vox 2171; UK) “Ginger Baker and Graham Bond, live from Bremn, Germany on October 24th, 1970. Back together for the first time since their powerhouse days in the Graham Bond Organization with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and Graham Bond join forces again in Ginger Baker's Air Force. Having unknowingly and single-handedly invented jazz-rock fusion, Bond was not only revered by all, but was a widely admired and respected figure, but one that was also deeply troubled. Coupled with Baker's explosive talent and transatlantic fame, this was going to be an incredible meeting of minds. However, when Baker's co-operative project came to an abrupt end in 1971, it would also signal the tragic and untimely death of Bond, aged just 36. This powerhouse performance from 1970 is a true gem of British jazz-rock fusion, performed in its infancy and by its original authors whose combined talent marks a milestone in British blues, jazz, R&B and rock. Rox Vox present for the first time ever, Ginger Baker's Air Force, live from Bremen, Germany, 24th October 1970, broadcast on EDF-TV. Remastered with expansive liners and rare archival images. 16-page booklet.”
HUGH DAVIES - Sounds Heard: A Potpourri of Environmental Projects and Documentation, Projects with Children, Simple Musical Instruments, Sound Installations Verbal Scores, and Historical Perspectives (Soundworld/FMR; UK) “Not only a collection of writings intended for people who are interested or involved in contemporary music, especially those performers-including children-who lack a formal musical training. It also charts a wide cross-section of the activities of an intriguing musical personality. During Hugh Davies' nearly 40 year career (including charter membership in Music Improvisation Company with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, and Jamie Muir) he has been called "the world's leading electro-musicologist" and "one of the most interesting instrument inventors of recent decades".This book focuses on many of Davies' insights about working as an artist, a musician, a composer, a performer, an instrument inventor, an educator and a researcher. Many of the different areas of experimental music since the 1960s are touched on, including electronic music, live electronics, invented instruments, sound sculpture, sound installations and free improvisation, in all of which he was one of the British pioneers. The CD includes otherwise unreleased solo performances and recordings; no conventional instruments were used on the entire album, with the exception of one short piece in which existing music has been manipulated with tape techniques.”
Book CD $30 [Last 5 copies]
HAROLD LAND with KENNY DORHAM / CARMELL JONES / FRANK STRAZZERI / HAMPTON HAWES / SCOTT LeFARO / RED MITCHELL / et al - The Early Albums (Enlightenment 9185; EEC) American hard bop and post-bop tenor saxophonist, Harold Land developed his playing style with the Max Roach/Clifford Brown band into a personal, modern style; often rivaling Clifford Brown's instrumental ability with his own inventive and whimsical solos. His tone was strong and emotional, yet hinted at a certain introspective fragility. Land had an inimitably dark tone within the hard-bop and modal jazz paradigms. Over time this would contrast more and more with the brighter tonalities of John Coltrane-influenced saxophonists, although Land started to implement Coltrane's musical innovations. Land's "dire, brooding tenor sound began somewhere between rhythm and blues and Coleman Hawkins, and after the early 1960s owed more and more to Coltrane's harmonies, phrasing and experiments with modalism." This 4CD collection brings together eight of Harold Land's very finest albums, all released between 1954 and 1963 - the period during which this incredible musician, band leader and composer was at his absolute musical peak. Still criminally underrated and little known outside jazz circles, this compilation hopefully goes some way in reversing this trend, as it acts as both a fine introduction for beginners to his music and a perfect reminder of this great musician's sound for the rest of us.
4 CD Set $18
JUNIOR MANCE with CLARK TERRY / JEROME RICHARDSON / JIMMY CLEVELAND / GEORGE DUVIVIER / OSIE JOHNSON / RAY BROWN / BEN TUCKER / LEX HUMPHIES / BOBBY THOMAS / et al - The Complete Albums Collection: 1959-1962 (Enlightenment 9125; EEC) Boasting a reputation still as one of the foremost pianists in all of American jazz, Junior Mance remains a master of multiple styles within the blues and jazz idioms. Despite his skills as a sideman displayed during the earlier part of his career, Mance has collated a vast catalogue of albums as bandleader, and his enduring legacy has been built upon the finest of these.
4 CD Set $18
SVEN-AKE JOHANSSON - Night Music (First Recordings)(Edition Telemark 923-05; Germany) ‘Night Music’ unearths Sven-Åke Johansson's very first recordings from 1964 -- made with his Tandberg tape recorder in the Kronenburg Bar, a dive bar in the red-light district in Münster/Westfalen (West Germany). There he performed jazz versions of popular songs and standards with Uwe Wegner (piano) and Gerold Flasse (double bass), sometimes joined by Dutch singer Jenny Gordee. Young Udo Lindenberg was a frequent guest at the Kronenburg Bar. Side A of the LP features seven songs from the Kronenburg Bar. Selected in addition, on side B and two CDs, are a later jazz quartet and a quintet: "I Hear Music -- Mighty Fine Music", recorded 2001 in the b-flat club in Berlin with Axel Dörner, Henrik Walsdorff, Felix Wagner, Stephan Bleier, and Johansson. Finally, "In the Heat of the Night" from 2012 with the Coolquartet (Dörner, Zoran Terzić, Jan Roder, Johansson), from the club Naherholung Sternchen in Berlin. Full-color sleeve with artwork by Karl Horst Hödicke on the front and labels, and eight-sided booklet; edition of 300.
"The performances at the Kronenburg Bar were inspired by a belief in the absolute healing message of jazz (even in a red-light bar). During the pauses, a Hungarian Jew performed alone; she sang the Israeli folksong 'Hava Nagila' in this red-light milieu, very disconcerting in post-war Germany circa 1964." - Sven-Åke Johansson
LP 2 CD set $40
KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA - Live and Radio Recordings 1957-1962 (Naked Lunch 022; Italy) “One more step into the eclectic world of Krzystof Komeda. This is the second Naked Lunch release dedicated to the music of the great late Polish pianist and film music composer. An outstanding compilation based on Komeda's early production featuring a variety of live and radio recordings between 1957 and 1962. Four different line ups including the Komeda trio, quartet and sextet, plus another quartet shared with tenor sax player Bernt Rosengren. A bunch of true pioneers for Jazz in Eastern Europe searching for the perfect synthesis between the American stylistic influence and a distinctive Slavic lyricism.”
PHILIP CORNER - Deutsche Bundesbahn (Edition Telemark 923-04; Germany) Two previously unreleased recordings from Philip Corner's Gong/Ear series of works. Side A was recorded on a South German night train ride in 1990, side B in the Alps in 1994.
"Riding the rails. Down the Rhine at-night alone in a compartment making music for my-self with those Korean-shaman-cymbals given as a gift from Ho-Sun Cheon (husband of Hong-Hee Kim who later will organize the festival 'The SeOUL of Fluxus' and invite-me come-and-participate) when he was cultural attaché to Denmark and came to the 'Fantastics' festival in Roskilde) ... yes consider them part of the Gong/Ear series of (call them) Metal Meditations which started many yeas before from High School teaching, an Experimental Music where I turned-out to be the learner, reducing the possibilities of all resonant metals to a resonant essential, and so following me my whole life into now. In to the Rail Road where the outer-sound of an other country enters into my manipulation of those sacred circles. At other times that sound going-out to be ears of other dancers and so their body's movements coming bak to me as a kind- of audiovisual feedback loop---many of such artistic lovers, until coming in-a-way to that same Korea sound enshrined forever on the 'Gong/Ear: Shaman' recording: The Wormhole CD completing a circle in a way even back to Korea. Later, as progresses (one could say) in all my creative work-concepts become the greater generalization 'Within Stacy’s, a fulfillment of 'ecstasy'---where every note sound-action must be perfect, by immediate and incontrovertible certainty." - Philip Corner
The Skirl Records label was started by saxist Chris Speed more than a decade ago and is more of a collective. Instead of getting all of their catalogue from one source, each leader must distribute their own disc, making it difficult at times to stock each release. Another difficulty is that most of their disc come in DVD-sized covers which are too big to be placed on our regular CD displays or shelves. Oye! Chris Speed moved to L.A. a few years back to raise his kid in a warmer environment. He recently come back to empty out his storage bin and left us with the some copies of many of the Skirl titles. All Skirl CD’s regularly sell for $14 each so decided to have a sale. All Skirls below are $10 until we run out of sale copies. There are two versions of the list below, one without reviews &ti cut & paste quicker) and one with reviews. I pretty much dig everything on the label, especially anything with Chris Speed, Jim Black, Endangered Blood, Anna Webber, the Clarinets, Curtis Hasselbring and Human Feel. - BLG
SKIRL RECORDS Big CD SALE!
SHELLEY BURGON/TREVOR DUNN - Baltimore (Skirl 05 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
ANTHONY BURR - Anthony Burr (Skirl 16 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
CACAW [LANDON KNOBLOCK/OSCAR NORIEGA/JEFF DAVIS] - Stellar Power (Skirl 23 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
CLARINETS [ANTHONY BURR/OSCAR NORIEGA/CHRIS SPEED] - Keep On Going Like This (Skirl 13 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
CLARINETS with ANTHONY BURR / OSCAR NOREIGA / CHRIS SPEED - No Pressure (Skirl 048 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
ENDANGERED BLOOD [CHRIS SPEED/OSCAR NORIEGA/TREVOR DUNN/JIM BLACK] - Endangered Blood (Skirl 15 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
ENDANGERED BLOOD [CHRIS SPEED / OSCAR NOREIGA / TREVOR DUNN / JIM BLACK] - Don't Freak Out! (Skirl 043 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
ARNOLD HAMMERSCHLAG With SAM BARDFELD/WILL HOLSHOUSER/BRIAN GLASSMAN/AARON ALEXANDER - No Face, No Name (Skirl 30 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
CURTIS HASSELBRING'S THE NEW MELLOW EDWARDS With CHRIS SPEED/TREVOR DUNN/JOHN HOLLENBECK - The New Mellow Edwards (Skirl 03)
CD Sale $10
CURTIS HASSELBRING'S THE NEW MELLOW EDWARDS With CHRIS SPEED/TREVOR DUNN/JOHN HOLLENBECK - Big Choantza (Skirl 10 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
BEN HOLMES QUARTET With CURTIS HASSELBRING/MATT PAVOLKA/VINNIE SPERRAZZA - Anvil Of The Lord (Skirl 20 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
HUMAN FEEL [CHRIS SPEED/JIM BLACK/ANDREW D'ANGELO/KURT ROSENWINKEL] - Galore (Skirl 06 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
HILMAR JENSSON'S TYFT With ANDREW D'ANGELO/JIM BLACK - Meg Nem Sa (Skirl 04 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
HILMAR JENSSON'S TYFT With ANDREW D'ANGELO/JIM BLACK CHRIS SPEED/PETER EVANS - Smell The Difference (Skirl 12 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
BRIGGAN KRAUSS' H-ALPHA With JIM BLACK/IKUE MORI - Red Sphere (Skirl 09 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
TRAVIS LAPLANTE - Heart Protector: Solo Tenor Saxophone (Skirl 18 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
SEAN MORAN With HANK ROBERTS / VINNIE SPERRAZZA - Sun Tiger (Skirl 040 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
LEAH PAUL'S BIKE LANE With CHRIS SPEED/KATIE YOUNG/JESSICA PAVONE - Bike Lane (Skirl 17 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
LEAH PAUL With CHRIS SPEED / NICK MANCINI / MARK FELDMAN / JOYCE HAMMANN / JUNAH CHUNG /DAVE EGGAR AFTON HEFLEY - We Will Do the Worrying (Skirl 035 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
BEN PEROWSKY QUARTET With CHRIS SPEED/DREW GRESS/TED REICHMAN - Esopus Opus (Skirl 11 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
TED REICHMAN With JOHN HOLLENBECK & MARY HALVORSON - My Ears Are Bent (Skirl 02 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
JP SCHLEGELMILCH / JONATHAN GOLDBERGER / JIM BLACK - Visitors (Skirl Records 39 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
SEAN SONDEREGGER'S MAGICALLY INCLINED [ARENI AGBABIAN/CURTIS FOWLKES/HARVEY VALDES/GREG CHUDZIK/JOE HERTENSTEIN] - Eat The Air (Skirl 29 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
CHRIS SPEED with CHRIS TORDINI/DAVE KING - Really OK (Skirl 24 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
TROT A MOUSE [SIMON JERMYN/INGRID LAUBROCK/MAT MANERI/TOM RAINEY] - Pictorial Atlas Of Mammals (Skirl 31 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
ANNA WEBBER'S SIMPLE TRIO With MATT MITCHELL / JOHN HOLLENBECK - Binary (Skirl 033 ,USA)
CD Sale $10
SKIRL SALE CD’S with Reviews:
SHELLEY BURGON/TREVOR DUNN - Baltimore (Skirl 05; USA) "Wavering between patient meditation and manical catharsis, bassist Dunn and harpist Burgon mine the narrow fissure between pure improvisation and through-composed chamber music, slashing at the extreme interplay between steel, string and wood. Strings are beaten or jimmied with clothespins, the harp alternately caressed and throttled. The sonic equivelent of a Joseph Cornell box, the duo has a haunting, cinematic quality that is both staggeringly complex and achingly beautiful."- Tim Duroche
CD Sale $10
ANTHONY BURR - Anthony Burr (Skirl 16; USA) This disc consists of pieces for one or two clarinets and the featured composers are Giacinto Scelsi, Helmut Lachenmann, Erik Ulman, John Rodgers and Thomas Meadowcraft. Solo clarinet recordings are pretty rare except for a few explorers like John Carter, Vinny Golia or a soon to-be-released disc by Ned Rothenberg. This disc features pieces by two composers I dig, Scelsi and Lachenmann, and three I don't know as of yet. Mr. Burr is also a member of a trio called the Clarinets (with two discs on Skirl) and has worked with Bertram Turetsky, Skuli Sverrisson and Alvin Lucier. Scelsi's "Tre Pezzi" for E-flat clarinet is first and the phrasing or placement of each note is important. Each note is slightly bent so that it feels as if we are standing precariously on a moving boat. Meadowcraft's "Monaro Study" for two clarinets, a car (a Holden Monaro) & sinetones is a suspense-filled piece for layers of slowly shifting drones. John Rodgers piece "The Magpie" is for a series of quick, high, fragile notes that sound very bird-like. The final piece is Lachenmann's "Dal Niente". Helmut Lachenmann is one of the more adventurous contemporary classical composers with discs out on ECM, Kairos and Col Legno. "Dal Niente" is filled with long pauses between the occasional bent-note splotches. It takes some work to figure out how the sounds are connected. The spaciousness gives us time to contemplate each sounds as it unfolds. This disc is much different from solo improvised disc since there is no showing off of the chops. All the material is thoughtfully selected. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
CD Sale $10
CACAW [LANDON KNOBLOCK/OSCAR NORIEGA/JEFF DAVIS] - Stellar Power (Skirl 23; USA) When musicologists of the future look back to find the missing link between the avant-jazz and synth rock of the early 21st century and the hybrid sounds that have yet to reach our contemporary ears, the debut CD by the futurist jazz trio CACAW could easily mark a key moment in that evolution. With music inspired by the love between robots, the swallowing of one star by another, and elements in a state of change, Stellar Power is an album driven by transition, whether in the music or in the cosmos. Formed in 2010 by keyboardist Landon Knoblock, CACAW itself evolved from an acoustic improvising trio into a vehicle for Knoblock's forward-looking compositions and experimentation with electric sounds. Saxophonist Oscar Noriega and drummer Jeff Davis were both members of a larger ensemble formed by Knoblock to perform the music of Andrew Hill. When only the three of them were able to make a rehearsal one day, Knoblock immediately recognized the intense chemistry they shared and determined to explore it further. That combination of intuitive interaction and sonic range led to the development of CACAW's sound - and, as the onomatopoeic name implies, sound is the operative word. "CACAW is a sound," Knoblock explains, "it's not a real word. It doesn't have a meaning other than representing a sound, so it represents the music we're making - when the actual act of creation is happening, it's just about making sounds. Not keys, not modes, not harmonies, not intervals - just sounds." Those sounds span the space-age sludge of album opener Double Dagger and the Kubrickian weightlessness of Space Robot Falls in Love, the android romance of Replicant Lover and the interstellar auroras of Neutron Star, Eating Its Binary Neighbor. The titles, and the stories behind them, reflect Knoblock's lifelong interest in science and science fiction, as do the cosmic textures of his synths and electronics.”
CD Sale $10
CLARINETS [ANTHONY BURR/OSCAR NORIEGA/CHRIS SPEED] - Keep On Going Like This (Skirl 13; USA) The Clarinets create an acoustic ambient music of unusual grace and beauty, redefining the clarinet in new music. Improvisation is the basis of their music, which bypasses predetermined strategies to concentrate on the organic, seamless, sound of the trio as a single entity. The players have the experience, poise and selflessness to keep the attention on this group dynamic, and to tease it out into compelling and highly cohesive pieces. "Folksy lines delight in rubbing each other up the wrong way" - The Wire (UK) "Over the past decade, the clarinet has really come into its own as a lead instrument thanks to a long list of players like Louis Sclavis, Perry Robinson, Guillermo Gregorio, Ben Goldberg, James Falzone, Rudi Mahal and Jason Stein. The elder statesman of the clarinet was of course the late John Carter. There have been a handful of clarinet ensembles as well like the Clarinet Summit on Black Saint or the Liquorice Factory. This is the second disc from The Clarinets, a trio that features Anthony Burr on bass clarinet, Oscar Noriega on bass clarinet & regular clarinet and Chris Speed on clarinet. Although both Oscar Noriega and Chris Speed double on other reed instruments, but just keep getting better and better on clarinet and finding a bigger place for it in their music. This disc was recorded at the University of California at San Diego and it has superb sound. I believe this music is all improvised yet it is consistently focused, engaging and enchanting. This music is often cautious and certain layers of lines are woven most intricately like the brilliant tapestry of a Persian rug. Each pieces explores a different approach, tactic or construction and each piece is fascinating in its own way. A number of these pieces are on the more restrained side, giving us chance to hear the way The Clarinets handle a more subtle side of exploration. Yes, like every other Skirl CD, distinctive in their DVD-like cases [though tough to display!], this is worthy of your serious consideration! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
CD Sale $10
CLARINETS with ANTHONY BURR / OSCAR NOREIGA / CHRIS SPEED - No Pressure (Skirl 048; USA) Featuring Chris Speed on clarinet, Anthony Burr on bass clarinet and Oscar Noreiga on bass clarinet & clarinet. Recorded at Conrad Preby Concert Hall at UC in San Diego, March of 2017. Last night (11/19/19), I caught this clarinet trio at The Stone and was knocked out by their performance. As some of you may know, I have been on a mission for the past few years, trying to listen to every great clarinet player of the 20th century. I compiled a large list (over 100) and I am still listening and searching for anyone I might’ve missed. If you want a copy of that list, write to me at the store and ask. This is the third disc from The Clarinets, a trio which features the classically trained/professor (UC-SD) Anthony Burr on bass clarinet, Downtown all-star Oscar Noreiga (Snakeoil & Endangered Blood) on clarinet & bass clarinet and former Downtowner (now living in L.A.), Chris Speed (Bloodcount, Pachora, Skirl label founder), on clarinet. Ever since hearing Eric Dolphy play bass clarinet when I first bought jazz albums in 1972, I am a freak for bass clarinet. There has been an ever-increasing interest in bass clarinetists over the past decade, with a handful of musicians who concentrate on bass clarinet only: Jason Stein & Rudi Mahall come to mind. The title track features the warm, wooden tones of two bass clarinets and regular clarinet, played slowly, with some somber drifting drones. The soft, suspense-filled lines are most enchanting. I dig the sparseness of this music, nothing is rushed and the tone of the clarinets is often sublime. The music is often subtle, precious and slow moving, closer to chamber music than jazz. The relaxed calm nature of this music sounds sounds most thoughtful and rather hypnotic. It sounds as if three ghosts/spirits have take over and are showing us the way to a more laid back existence. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD Sale $10
ENDANGERED BLOOD [CHRIS SPEED/OSCAR NORIEGA/TREVOR DUNN/JIM BLACK] - Endangered Blood (Skirl 15; USA) Endangered Blood is a burning acoustic jazz quartet - four experienced musicians in their prime, playing at their best. On their self-titled debut CD, Chris Speed (tenor saxophone), Oscar Noriega (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), Trevor Dunn (bass) and Jim Black (drums) carry on the genre- pushing, limitless experimentation of bands like Alas No Axis, The Claudia Quintet and Electric Masada (all of which include EB members). Endangered Blood also is an urgent example of the jazz tradition's continuing power to inspire musicians to reinvent, reinterpret and re-shape. Most of all it is a celebration of long-term commitment - to friendships and to music itself. Endangered Blood was formed in 2008 to play at a benefit for a friend's cancer treatment - thus their original name, The Benefit Band. Longtime friends and collaborators Chris Speed and Jim Black should need no introduction to fans of cutting edge music. Their work together has included some of the most influential avant-jazz of the last twenty years- in their own bands like Human Feel, Pachora, Yeah No and Alas No Axis, and with other artists like Uri Caine and Tim Berne's bloodcount. Trevor Dunn is one of the top bassists of his generation, known both for his legendary avant-rock band Mr. Bungle and for his extensive work with John Zorn and Mike Patton. Multi-reedist Oscar Noriega may be a new name to many listeners, but his relationship with Speed and Black stretches back over twenty years. Awareness of his role as an underground force in the New York jazz world is rapidly expanding due to his recent work with Lee Konitz and especially as a member of Tim Berne's new quartet Los Totopos. The music on their debut CD reflects this history and its members' lifelong love for the jazz tradition. Original pieces by Speed like "Plunge," "Rare," and "Elvin Lisbon" continue his relentless push to unify his musical obsessions - pre and post-Coltrane jazz, Eastern European music, and avant-rock. "Uri Bird" demonstrates a powerful engagement with bebop. "Iris," unlike any other piece in the Speed catalogue, shows the influence of New Orleans- particularly a visit to the Iris Mardi Gras parade. "Epistrophy," of course, is an arrangement of the Thelonious Monk classic, maintaining the spirit of Monk in the inimitable voice of Endangered Blood. Other pieces, like "Tacos at Oscar's" and "Andrew's Ditty Variation 1" celebrate the powerful and longtime friendships that form the true backbone of Endangered Blood - the alchemy between musicians whose lives and music have been intertwined for decades." - Skirl
CD Sale $10
ENDANGERED BLOOD [CHRIS SPEED / OSCAR NOREIGA / TREVOR DUNN / JIM BLACK] - Don't Freak Out! (Skirl 043 USA) This is the third disc from Endangered Blood, an all-star quartet on the Skirl label. The personnel remains: Chris Speed on tenor sax & compositions, Oscar Noreiga on alto sax & compositions, Trevor Dunn on bass and Jim Black on drums. Although this quartet have been around for around a decade, their connections go back much further. Longtime cohorts, Mr. Speed and Mr. Black were both members of Tim Bern’e great Bloodcount group who reigned in the early nineties. Reeds wiz, Oscar Noreiga, is a current member of Tim Berne’s Snakeoil, another fine Downtown all-star unit. Ever-ready and in-demand bassist Trevor Dunn is all over the place, from Mr. Bungle to Electric Masada to Curtis Hasselbring’s New Mellow Edwards which also includes Mr. Speed. I love the title, “Passion Fruit Birthday Cake”, which opens this disc. There is something infectious about the melody here, rather like “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins. Joyous, jubilant and laid back. As time goes on, I’ve noticed that Chris Speed’s tone has grown more mellow, rather dream-like. “Koreana” is especially somber as if we are all walking in slow motion, not about to raise the pulse or spirits too much. On “Easy Blues”, the two saxes play the theme together in lovely slow burning harmonies while the rhythm team kick up some dust by accelerating here and there. I like the way Mr. Speed spins out those lines on “Varmints”, both he and Mr. Black are completely in sync, speeding up to a frenetic pace without breaking a sweat, eventually slowing down to a simmer. There is something most enchanting about, “Waiting for Marni”, as both saxes swirl around one another in a elegant, haunting way, weaving their ever so quick lines quietly. It sounds as if this is coming from the more cerebral side of West Coast jazz… has Chris Speed’s move to LA perhaps effected him in ways which sound obvious or am I reading into things too much?!? There is something lovely going on here, possibly a more mature attitude, instead of the nervous, neurotic energy that is at the center of many Downtown bands. On the next to the last piece, ”Diego Partido”, both saxes cut loose as does the great rhythm team. It is a marvel of quick, cascading lines that just keep spinning profusely throughout! What this piece reminds me of the most is: Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, at their best. No easy feet I assure you. This disc ends with hushed, touching ballad, which would fit on a Duke Ellington album with any number of suave saxists like Johnny Hodges or Paul Gonzalves. When I spoke with Chris Speed earlier, he said that Lester Young, Lee Konitz & Warne Marsh were all big influences. Is this romantic music? It does feels so fine. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD Sale $10
ARNOLD HAMMERSCHLAG With SAM BARDFELD/WILL HOLSHOUSER/BRIAN GLASSMAN/AARON ALEXANDER - No Face, No Name (Skirl 30; USA) Featuring Arnold Hammerschlag on trumpet & compositions, Sam Bardfeld on violin, Will Holshouser on accordion, Brian Glassman on bass and Aaron Alexander on drums. This the second disc from Mr. Hammerschlag we've listed, the last one was in 2003, quite a while since. No doubt you recognize the names of the other two members of the frontline here: Sam Bardfeld (Jazz Passengers, Ravish Momin & Ehran Elisha) and Will Holshouser (trio with Michael Moore & Han Bennink & his own trios). Drummer Aaron Alexander used to play with Hasidic New Wave, Babkas and still plays with his own bands). Since most of these players have been in Klez bands, that is often the sound here. Mr. Hammerschlag opens with a warm, tasty unaccompanied trumpet solo before the rest of the band joins him for that swell Eastern European theme. Hammerschlag has a lovely, unadorned tone on his trumpet which works well with Mr. Bardfeld's equally lyrical violin. At times, it is hard to tell them apart. Accordion master, Holshouser, backs them perfectly throughout as well as taking some swell solos of his own. Mr. Bardfeld sounds as if his violin is weeping on "Waiting for Aaron", both he and the trumpet play ever so poignantly here. The blend of muted trumpet, subtle violin and somber accordion on "Slow Road" is a haunting gem and one of the highlights of this disc. This music has a rich, post Klez-like vibe, often calm yet quirky in its sweet own way. It doesn't quite sound like anything else I've been listening to in a long while. A breath of fresh air no doubt. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD Sale $10
CURTIS HASSELBRING'S THE NEW MELLOW EDWARDS With CHRIS SPEED/TREVOR DUNN/JOHN HOLLENBECK - The New Mellow Edwards (Skirl 03) The debut album by Curtis Hasselbring (MMW, Bobby Previte, Roberto Rodriguez). Curtis describes the NMEXs as: "riff-rock gone bad" sharing space with "barely audible chamber music." Featuring Chris Speed (Human Feel, Bloodcount), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Electric Masada, Melvins), and John Hollenbeck (Meredith Monk, Theo Bleckmann, ClaudiaQuintet) "The New Mellow Edwards features Curtis Hasselbring on trombone, cracklebox & casios, Chris Speed on clarinet, tenor sax & casio, Trevor Dunn on acoustic bass and John Hollenbeck on drums, percussion & melodica. I recall seeing Curtis playing some fine trombone with Anthony Coleman a few years back as well as an earlier version of this band with different personnel. On this, his debut disc, Curtis has put together a fine downtown all-star quartet, with each member, a leader, composer and collaborator on their own. Curtis wrote all but two pieces here with a cover of a song by the Pixies, as well as a Fats Waller's "Mamacita". Curtis' writing does a fine job of blending the in with the out and the more serious with the more silly side of things. He works in a great deal of cross rhythms and odd harmonies, as different combinations of duos move around each other tightly. John Hollenbeck approaches each song and occasionally each section of a piece differently, tapping on different drums and percussion instruments with impressive verve and creativity. I dig Curtis' twisted sense of humor, you never know which direction any of these pieces will go through. At a number of points, I couldn't recall what CD I was listening to. Sometimes Curtis will select moments of old-school muted-trombone and clarinet quirkiness, then turn the rhythm inside-out, and wind their through unexpected genres and changes. His crack crew sounds wonderful throughout, no matter what styles he puts them through. Marvelous and fun!" - BLG
CD Sale $10
CURTIS HASSELBRING'S THE NEW MELLOW EDWARDS With CHRIS SPEED/TREVOR DUNN/JOHN HOLLENBECK - Big Choantza (Skirl 10; USA) This second album by trombonist/composer Curtis Hasselbring and his all-star band the New Mellow Edwards defines the current wave of jazz-based music emanating from the formerly mean streets of Brooklyn. Like its predecessor (Skirl 003), "Big Choantza" features Hasselbring's highly refined and personal compositional language, informed as much by indie rock and classical composition as it is by all eras of jazz, and includes striking performances by Speed, Dunn and Hollenbeck.
CD Sale $10
BEN HOLMES QUARTET With CURTIS HASSELBRING/MATT PAVOLKA/VINNIE SPERRAZZA - Anvil Of The Lord (Skirl 20; USA) Featuring Ben Holmes on trumpet & compositions, Curtis Hasselbring on trombone, Matt Pavolka on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. I caught this quartet earlier this month (10/12) at a Skirl Fest and was quite impressed. Considering that Curtis Hasselbring is the only member of this quartet that I know well, the entire quartet was strong. I hadn't heard of Ben Holmes before this disc but do know Mr. Pavolka from several previous sessions like Ohad Talmor, Nate Radley and Alon Nechustan. Drummer Sperrazza has worked with Noah Baerman and Jacob Sacks, amongst others. The trumpet and trombone frontline is rather unique and both horns sound especially warm and enchanting. This disc has a lovely, laid-back quality that I rarely hear from other Downtown musicians. Mr. Holmes has superb tone and occasionally reminds me of Kenny Wheeler. This disc has a calm center, a relaxed vibe. Hence, the two horns often float sublimely creating elegant, haunting harmonies. Since there is so little fireworks or flashy playing, it is the arrangements and thoughtful crafty playing that really stands out. About halfway through this hour long disc, the temperature rises and the intensity picks up. Both horns swirl and dance like moths around a flame. Their combined sound is similar to a flugelhorn and equally elegant. Nice to hear a record that works so well on a more subtle level. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
CD Sale $10
HUMAN FEEL [CHRIS SPEED/JIM BLACK/ANDREW D'ANGELO/KURT ROSENWINKEL] - Galore (Skirl 06;USA) Human Feel is Chris Speed on tenor sax & clarinet, Andrew D'Angelo on alto sax & bass clarinet, Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar and Jim Black on drums & electronics. Hooray! This is the long awaited reunion of that great downtown all-star quartet Human Feel. Formerly Seattle based, Human Feel migrated to Boston and then New York, where Chris & Jim worked with Tim Berne in Bloodcount and later formed Pachora. All four members have recorded solo discs, as well as playing with a variety of downtown greats like Paul Motian, Dave Douglas and Matt Wilson. What makes Human Feel unique is the way their songs work. "After the Fact" has a most memorable opening and closing theme, yet the entire mid-section had two powerful duos colliding together in a free yet tight-knit way. The oft-noisy guitar and drums clash with either both saxes or both clarinets. I marvel at the way these pieces are intricately woven. Since there is no bassist, Kurt often plays the bass parts on his guitar working perfectly with Jim's exuberant drums. "Cat Heaven" is an exquisite piece with enchanting clarinets, elegant guitar and soft percussion. Completely enchanting and quite dream-like. "Improve" has an angular theme like a slowed-down punk song, yet the midsection has one of those dark Pachora-like melodies that swarm all over us like bees seeking honey. One of the highlights here is the epic length, "Fuck the...", which moves spaciously through sparse and suspenseful sections, amongst the varied barbed, charted segments. Word is that Mr. Rosenwinkel is now living in Europe, so we might not be able to check out Human Feel here any time soon. Hence, we can still bathe in the sound this grand studio effort by the reunited Human Feel folks. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD Sale $10
HILMAR JENSSON'S TYFT With ANDREW D'ANGELO/JIM BLACK - Meg Nem Sa (Skirl 04; USA) This is the splendid disc from Icelandic guitar hero Hilmar Jensson and his downtown trio with Andrew D'Angelo on alto sax & bass clarinet and Jim Black on drums & electronics. Tyft blend disparate influences and ideas. "Led Tyftelin" (what a title) actually takes a Led Zep riff and adds some fine alto sax to the that heavy-handed rock groove. Hilmar plays a nasty noisy hard rock guitar solo at the end of this post-rock shit-kicker. Hilmar does a fine job of blurring the line between hard rock and jazz, while still being crafty in the way he arranges these different fragments into a successful whole. Even the freer sections are pretty focused and change as they evolve. "International Four" opens with a section sounds like it was influenced by some chamber jazz, yet the pieces twists and turns through unexpected territories. "Ain't No Waltz" has a tight, quick riff that has some fusion influence, yet without the "show-off your chops" elements that fusion was known for. Hilmar has chosen his two partners wisely since Andrew can rock out and scream on sax when need be and Jim Black always balances his rock and jazz rhythms just right. Since there is no bassist, Hilmar often plays low end riffs, as well as doubling his lines with some device. On "Tumble Bugs", Hilmar gets his guitar to shimmer throughout the entire piece, as Jim and Andrew rock around him. There are a few pieces where the trio lay back and play some quieter sounds. On "Sezt Nidur", Andrew plays some quaint bass clarinet as Hilmar plays some delicate, minimal chords and Jim creates some soft background electronic textures. Tyft do a good job of blurring the lines between the categories of jazz and rock, making them all the more unique. - BLG
CD Sale $10
HILMAR JENSSON'S TYFT With ANDREW D'ANGELO/JIM BLACK CHRIS SPEED/PETER EVANS - Smell The Difference (Skirl 12; USA) 'Smell The Difference' is the second Skirl Records recording by Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson's TYFT with special power guests Chris Speed and Peter Evans! Recorded and mixed by Joel Hamilton it also features Jim Black (Alas No Axis) on drums and Andrew D'Angelo on alto sax and bass clarinet. "With his deep ties to the Brooklyn avant jazz community, Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson has never been a conventional jazzer, but after 2009's Skirl label release Smell the Difference, one wonders whether he's preparing to ditch even avant jazz for good. It's not like Jensson followers couldn't see this coming all along, particularly after his Skirl debut, 2006's Meg Nem Sa, featuring the Tyft core trio lineup of Jensson, reedman Andrew D'Angelo, and drummer Jim Black. In spots on that album, Jensson truly found his inner Meshuggah, and merely naming a track "Led Tyftelin" further revealed the influences slamming around inside his head. Meg Nem Sa was a particularly heavy outing for the guitarist, but the title track was all about the groove, and Smell the Difference is even more so, nearly start to finish. Here, Jensson has expanded his band to include another old Brooklyn pal (and Skirl label founder), saxophonist Chris Speed, along with trumpeter-of-the-moment Peter Evans. Once again there's no bass, but the guitarist's bottom end is damn heavy -- not exactly dub deep, but no one is likely to complain that Jensson's sound is thin, as in "This music really needs some bass, man!" (More likely: "That guitarist and bassist are really tight, man!") And at the higher frequencies, there's enough dirt and gravel in his tone to suggest post-grunge and even noise rock. But that groove is what really stands out, and nobody can push a groove out of the gate and ride it around the track as crisply and cleanly as Black, a model of both power and economy. He nails that part of the rhythm that moves your foot despite time signatures that confound your head, while Jensson cranks out skewed lines in jagged, funked-up repetitions that suggest, as a writer, he's a bit of a pummeling post-punk Tim Berne. Layered over the top are the squalling saxes of D'Angelo and Speed, by now as classic a reed pairing as the Brooklyn scene has produced, in close-interval harmonies whose astringency is a perfect match for the Jensson/Black rhythm section's attack (that is, the reeds aren't intended to sweeten the pot). In this band Evans' role might be heard as a throwback to '90s Dave Douglas or Cuong Vu; he's got the extended techniques down and also brightens and tightens the front line in a way that brings to mind another avant band from the old neighborhood -- Doctor Nerve, which, after all, counted Douglas as a member for a while. The avant funk-grunge vamps and turnarounds, tight horn parts, and wild soloing are more than enough to keep you entertained, and there's also great pleasure to be heard as these by now longstanding friends -- and comparatively new friend Evans -- truly lock in together with such drive and unity. Still, unpredictability is a nice touch, and the best tracks are those when the unexpected rears up, as in Jensson's foray toward pure machine-gun metal in "Pittles," the emergence of a dramatic theme out of chaos at the conclusion of "Froth," the flow of the band through multiple sections of escalating energy during the riveting "Clinton," and even some beauty and subtlety, as in the chamberesque intro to the album-closing "Klinglet." A bit of counterpoint featuring Jensson's unusually clear guitar, D'Angelo's bass clarinet, and Speed's clarinet in "Kryppa" also stands out -- with Speed in particular bringing his customary lovely tone in effective contrast to what might be construed as a raccoon chattering through a distortion box in the left channel. Add "pesky" to the list of adjectives applicable here." - Dave Lynch, AMG
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BRIGGAN KRAUSS' H-ALPHA With JIM BLACK/IKUE MORI - Red Sphere (Skirl 09; USA) Featuring Briggan Krauss on alto & bari sax, Ikue Mori on laptop and Jim Black on percussion & drums. This downtown all-star trio has been together for a couple years and has continually evolved. All three members keep busy in a variety of solo and group projects. Although Briggan has recorded several fine discs with Babkas, Pigpen and Sex Mob, his solo efforts are few. This only his 4th disc as a leader in the past decade and a half since moving here from the Pacific northwest. This is one powerful and an intense trio. Briggan has a most distinctive and throttling tone/sound. On the opening piece, "Sun", he sounds as if his baritone is about to explode with focused roars and fractured notes. Ikue's twisted laptop sounds and Jim's massive drums, weave their way around and match Briggan just right. There 17 tracks here and most are 5 minutes or less. On "Alpha Centauri", Ikue's eerie insect sounds and Jim's soft jewelry box noises work wonders with Briggan's haunting drones. On each piece, Briggan changes the tone of his sax while Ikue and Jim also alter their sound and approach accordingly. Many of the song titles have a science fiction-like reference and of course, "Wolf 359" comes from 'Star Trek's Voyager' series. Each pieces seems to create a different theme or scene. On "Lalande 21185", Briggan sounds like a foghorn warning us of some impending threat. I dig the way Ikue creates suspense and tense moments, giving Briggan and Jim an area or context to deal with. From dreamy to haunting to mesmerizing, this trio has their own group sound that reveals layers of strange shapes and textures, yet never ceases to delight those who wander into its house of bent mirrors. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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TRAVIS LaPLANTE - Heart Protector: Solo Tenor Saxophone (Skirl 18; USA) Heart Protector is Travis Laplante's debut album, featuring original music for solo tenor saxophone by the twenty-eight-year-old composer and musician. Laplante, a powerful new voice in New York City's experimental music set, has toured extensively with his band Little Women, whose acclaimed full-length debut was recently released on AUM Fidelity Records; with his trio, which features bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver; and with underground experimental rock bands Extra Life and Skeletons. Laplante has also worked with Anthony Braxton, Mark Dresser, Mat Maneri, Trevor Dunn, and many other luminaries of improvised music.
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SEAN LOVATO -
SEAN MORAN With HANK ROBERTS / VINNIE SPERRAZZA - Sun Tiger (Skirl 040; USA) Featuring Sean Moran on guitar & compositions, Hank Roberts on cello and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. Over the past few years, there have been a handful of guitarists emerging from the Downtown scene who are all becoming forces to be reckoned with. Here’s a short list of of you should be checking out: Todd Neufeld, Nate Radley, Sandy Ewen, Jonathan Goldberger and Juanma Trujillo. Guitarist Sean Moran is also a strong contender for this list, having worked with the Four Bags, Federico Ughi and Twelve 20 Six. This is Mr. Moran’s second disc as a leader, as far as I can tell. He has organized an formidable trio with the amazing Hank Roberts on cello and the ubiquitous Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. Older Downtown listeners will of course remember Hank Roberts from the eighties when he was working with Tim Berne and Bill Frisell, recording several discs for the JMT/W&W labels. Mr. Roberts moved upstate to raise a family for a couple of decades and recently moved to back to Brooklyn, leading several bands and collaborating with a variety of Downtown greats. Vinnie Sperrazza in yet another in-demand Downtown drummer, with a could of hard-to-find discs out under his own name. The sun is out today (10/10/18) for a change, the warmth feels great! The first track here is called “Suns” and it radiates warmth and intensity. The trio is slamming with gleeful, near-metal-like power. So good to hear the crunch of the guitar along with Mr. Roberts sizzling cello weaving it together. Mr. Moran uses some of that studio sustain (mild distortion) selectively on “Arc”, while the cello and guitar play a series of fragmented melodies, slowing down to a sparse midsection before it erupts once more into a strong sort-of power trio. Hank Roberts has a most distinctive sound on cello and appears to use no devices (here) to clutter his sound. On a aptly titled piece called, “Cheyenne”, the trio seems to be coming from charming, earthy a roots rock like background. The trio erupts on “Big Shoes” which features some burnin’ guitar and vibrant cello building to a strong, passion-filled conclusion. Drum wiz Vinnie Sperrazza is the secret weapon here, he remains at the center of this trio, playing with brushes on the more restrained sections and kicking up a rhythmic storm when need be. There is something most modest about this disc, quaint or elegant in places and moving through a number of diverse moods or scenes. On “Percival”, Moran switches to slide guitar, bending certain notes inside out with Mr. Roberts’ cello also twisting his notes into a brooding web, a dark and throttling tapestry. It is hard to tell where this disc will end up since it filled with a number of unexpected twits and turns. Most impressive, nonetheless. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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LEAH PAUL'S BIKE LANE With CHRIS SPEED/KATIE YOUNG/JESSICA PAVONE - Bike Lane (Skirl 17; USA) Featuring Leah Paul on flutes & compositions, Chris Speed on clarinet, Katie Young on bassoon and Jessica Pavone on viola. Ms. Paul, Katie Young and Jessica Pavone have all worked with Anthony Braxton. Chris Speed (Bloodcount, Pachora, Yeah No, etc.) certainly needs no introduction. Bike Lane is a chamber quartet and they sound unlike anything else we've heard from Ms. Pavone or Mr. Speed previously. Ms. Paul's writing features layers of contrapuntal lines flowing together and thoughtful harmonies for all four players. There is a sense of calm at the center of this music that feels just right especially after hearing so much free/jazz or other more rambunctious music. This forces me to listen more closely to the way the different layers unfold and move in subtle yet kaleidoscopic ways. Parts of this remind me of medieval madrigals but then it will move into a more modern area. The balance seems just right, the music fascinating in its own way. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
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LEAH PAUL With CHRIS SPEED / NICK MANCINI / MARK FELDMAN / JOYCE HAMMANN / JUNAH CHUNG /DAVE EGGAR AFTON HEFLEY - We Will Do the Worrying (Skirl 035; USA) Featuring: Leah Paul on flutes, compositions & backing vocals, Chris Speed on clarinet, Nick Mancini on vibes, Afton Hefley on lead vocal, Joyce Hammann & Mark Feldman on violins, Junah Chung on viola and Dave Eggar on cello. This is Ms. Paul’s third disc for the Skirl label and again, I am puzzled at where to place this disc as far as other precedents. Ms. Paul has continued to expand the size of her ensemble from quartet to sextet to this, her octet. Actually it is a sort-of double quartet: flutes/vocal/clarinet/vibes quartet plus a string quartet. The opening piece, “This One’s Coming True”, reminds me of perhaps Philip Glass composing for Free Design (sunshine pop group from late sixties). Ms. Hefley’s voice is most charming, kind of melancholy and rather fairy-tale like. Often her voice is double-tracked to give it a chorus-like sound yet it is more a part of the ensemble, not in the spotlight. Like her earlier discs, Ms. Paul’a music sounds like it is coming from an ancient (Renaissance-like) tradition. Burying the vocals a bit gives this music a quaint, dreamy quality. It took a while to get used to this music as it is unlike anything I’ve heard in a long while. I must admit that I am both enchanted and mystified by this disc and figure that it will take several listens to comprehend what it is that makes so magical and indescribable. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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BEN PEROWSKY QUARTET With CHRIS SPEED/DREW GRESS/TED REICHMAN - Esopus Opus (Skirl 11; USA) The breadth of Perowsky's experiences and influences combine on Esopus Opus, his new CD on Skirl Records. The drummer/bandleader brings together Ted Reichman (accordion and keyboards), Chris Speed (clarinet & tenor sax), and Drew Gress (bass) for a set of vivid originals, classic rock cover tunes, and gorgeous Brazilian compositions. Perowsky is undoubtedly best known for his presence on the modern NY jazz scene, a first call drummer for John Zorn, John Scofield, Dave Douglas and Uri Caine. But there have been numerous other Ben Perowskys - the son of a bebop saxophonist, immersed in the gospel of Elvin and Philly Joe from birth; the '80s NYC kid, scrawling graffiti and banging out beats on parked cars for rappers on the nascent hip-hop scene; the high school rock skins-basher emulating John Bonham and Keith Moon; the dance party host who still enjoys pounding out disco beats for the enjoyment of sweating, swaying throngs. That mish-mash of interests first found expression in Lost Tribe, the groundbreaking jazz/rock/hip-hop group that Perowsky founded in the late eighties. But the stylistic range is still present on Esopus Opus, albeit in more subtly integrated form. That fluidity is captured by the album's title, named for a creek in New York's Catskill Mountains that feeds into the reservoir providing New York City's drinking water and ends near Perowsky's home in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Perowsky has maintained his interest in the rock world, however, being as integral a part of bands like Elysian Fields, Joan as Policewoman and 101 Crustaceans as he has been to the Uri Caine Trio or the Lounge Lizards, and clocking session and road time with Rickie Lee Jones, Walter Becker, John Cale, and Hercules & Love Affair. In fact, there's something of a garage band feel to the quartet on Esopus Opus, the kind of inspired raggedness that comes from their comfort with one another and leads to inspired, rough-hewn spontaneity. "There's a raw element in our approach," Perowsky says.
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TED REICHMAN With JOHN HOLLENBECK & MARY HALVORSON - My Ears Are Bent (Skirl 02 ,USA) Instrumental rock music by Ted Reichman (Paul Simon, Marc Ribot, Anthony Braxton), playing everything exceptaccordion with longtime collaborator John Hollenbeck (also Grammy-nominated composer) and hotshot young guitarist Mary Halvorson (Braxton, Trio Convulsant, People). Exploring the area between Big Maceo, Augustus Pablo, and DNA. "Featuring Ted Reichman on piano, guitar, bass & electronics, Mary Halvorson on electric guitar and John Hollenbeck on drums. Ted Reichman is one of downtown's best known accordionists, having worked with Anthony Braxton, Dr. Chadbourne, the Claudia Quintet and many others, as well as having a fine debut disc on Tzadik. Strangely enough, he plays no accordion of this disc, Mary Halvorson is one the best and most distinctive guitarists to emerge from the downtown in recent years, she continues to collaborate with Mr. Braxton, as well as being an integral part of that great trio with Trevor Dunn and a more recent duo with string wiz, Jessica Pavone. Drummer, composer and multi-bandleader, John Hollenbeck, juggles more bands and projects anyone can keep track of on two hands. Ted's second disc is a unique and an unlikely blend of ideas. "Every Man to His Own Taste" opens with a simple, repeating line, almost gospelish in its sound. Ted repeats the main line on piano and organ with John just keeping the groove as Mary weaves in odd layers of spiky notes. There is something modestly charming about this quaint melodic tune. Ted's songs often have a dreamy, cerebral vibe, with sparse layers of keyboards floating around one another. He gives space to the guitar and percussion to add their own quirky spice, creating strange sounds that evoke images within the dream-world(s). It reminds me of the wonderful, free-floating, yet focused abstraction of Robert Wyatt's first platter, 'The End of An Ear', one of my favorite records of all time." - BLG
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JP SCHLEGELMILCH / JONATHAN GOLDBERGER / JIM BLACK - Visitors (Skirl Records 39; USA) Featuring JP Schlegelmilch on organ, Wurlitzer, mellotron & celeste, Jonathan Goldberger on guitars and Jim Black on drums. A few years ago, we got in a couple of discs from a local quartet called Old Time Musketry. Certainly an odd name, although their music reminded me more of The Band (without vocals), than any other local or otherwise jazz/rock unit I’ve heard. The keyboardist was named JP Schlegelmilch, who has since turned up on a handful of discs with Downtowners like Kenny Warren & Carlo Costa. The guitarists here, Jonathan Goldberger, is another rising star local hero who has turned up on more than a dozen discs in the last few years from: Chris Lightcap, Harris Eisenstadt and Jacob Wick. Anyone familiar with the ongoing Downtown Scene should know drum great Jim Black from the various bands/projects: Bloodcount, Pachora, Alasnoaxis & Endangered Blood. Mr. Black moved to Berlin and couple of years ago and recently had a great week at The Stone. Although all of the songs here written by Mr. Schlegelmilch and Mr. Goldberger, you can hear Mr. Black’s unique sound and contribution to the trio. When I played this disc at the store the other day, it made me smile since it sounds more like righteous, roots rock than jazz. I really love the sound of this trio, the organ or Wurlitzer electric piano (both ancient keyboards) and electric guitar and drums have a joyous sound which bridges the past and present (from 1960’s onwards) as well as diverse rock and jazz influences. The sound of the organ or Wurlitzer and the electric guitar is just right and sounds like one instrument, not two. On “Ether Sun”, Mr. Goldberger, plays some slide guitar, giving this song an old, enchanting 60’s sort of vibe. I know that Jim Black is a big fan of Radiohead, as am I. His drumming is consistently spirited, keeping the trio tight and focused and recalling a variety of great roots rock bands from across the ages. There are few if any solos on this disc, it is more the group sound and infectious spirit that makes this magical and uplifting. I missed this trio when they played last week at Nublu 151, I intend not to miss them the next time they are around. I hope they get to tour and play some festivals in the future so they can spread their good vibes around. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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SEAN SONDEREGGER'S MAGICALLY INCLINED [ARENI AGBABIAN/CURTIS FOWLKES/HARVEY VALDES/GREG CHUDZIK/JOE HERTENSTEIN] - Eat The Air (Skirl 29; USA) Featuring Sean Sonderegger on tenor sax, bass clarinet & compositions, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, Harvey Valdes on guitar, Greg Chudzik on bass, Joe Hertenstein on drums and Areni Agbabian on voice. Although Mr. Sonderegger has played here at DMG before, I didn't recall his name from any previous disc that I've reviewed. I do know know Mr. Fowlkes from his work with the Jazz Passengers and Lounge Lizards. Mr. Hertenstein has played here on several occasions and is a member of HNH, a trio with Jon Irabagon and the Core Trio. Mr. Valdes has also played at DMG with Blaise Siwula and Jeff Shurdut. The opener, "Old Timers" has a charming Klez-like melody with sublime wordless vocals by Ms. Agbabian. The tenor sax, trombone and guitar sound swell together, laid back and elegant. Ms. Agbabian has a warm, enchanting voice that stays in the middle register and remains calm. She often reminds me of the quaint charm of the Free Design singers. Mr. Sonderegger switches to bass clarinet on "Visits" and sounds equally enchanting on that reed. The magic of this disc is this: the tenor or bass clarinet, trombone and voice sound consistently superb together, weaving themselves around one another gracefully. Instead of a piano, Mr. Valdes' guitar provides the perfect cushion or counterpoint for the frontline as well as occasionally tossing in some sly yet subtle spice or fleet solos. Mr. Sonderegger sounds a bit like Chris Speed on tenor, the master of smooth-toned slow burn. This disc is one of the more modest musical gems I've heard in recent memory. No screaming, nothing very free yet still quite crafty in its own way. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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CHRIS SPEED with CHRIS TORDINI/DAVE KING - Really OK (Skirl 24 ,USA) Featuring Chris Speed on tenor sax, Chris Tordini on acoustic bass and Dave King on drums. I worked at The Stone last night (3/12/14) and caught two sets from Chris Speed's new trio. The first set was very good, the second was outstanding! That set included an inspired rendition of "Ghosts" by Albert Ayler as well as a great version of "Round Trip" by Ornette Coleman. Looking at Mr. Speed's long career with important Downtown bands like Bloodcount, Pachora, Yeah No, Human Feel and his work with Uri Caine & Dave Douglas, you might not think he was influenced by the spiritual/out jazz of Ayler or Coleman, you would be wrong by pegging him into any one area. This week at The Stone (3/11-3/16/14), those in the know will get a chance to catch the return of Yeah No, Pachora, the Clarinets and Human Feel (with Mary Halvorson sitting in!). Chris Speed's new trio is a particularly strong one with two well chosen members, both of whom have worked with Chris in several previous bands. Mr. Tordini has become an in-demand bassist over the last few years, recording with Michael Dessen, Jesse Elder, Curtis MacDonald and Tyshawn Sorey. Founding member of the Bad Plus, drummer Dave King hails from Minneapolis and leads or works with several of his own bands, all great: Trucking Company, Happy Apple and Gang Font. Mr. Speed wrote all of the songs on this disc except for three covers, John Coltrane's "26-2", Ornette's "Round Trip" and the old standard, "All of Me". The title track is first and is a lovely, laid back piece with that Dexter Gordon-like lush, tender-toned tenor and exquisite support. "All of Me" is also slow and luscious, Chris' rich tone is most warm and endearing here, again more old-school than one would imagine. One of the highlights of the two sets last night was a song called "Takedown". I dig the way Mr. Speed twists his notes around, being lyrical and out at the same time with the rhythm team also winding tightly around him, effortlessly speeding up and slowing down together. On "Nimble Demons" the bass and drums take off together, burning, expanding, erupting tightly together before Speed even enters. This is an especially tight-knit trio that work together extremely well, always anticipating each other's moves. Mr. Tordini's impressively solid bass playing is at the center of "Delaware", holding it down and then churning it up as Speed tells a long tale, his sax singing or ringing true. Although this is a tenor-led trio, they sound like a full band playing so well as one unified spirit. They conclude this disc with their own take on Trane's "26-2", which was based on Bird's song "Confirmation". It swings nicely and has an infectious, gliding sort of energy. It seems like a fine way to sail through the warm waters and bring us to a righteous conclusion. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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TROT A MOUSE [SIMON JERMYN/INGRID LAUBROCK/MAT MANERI/TOM RAINEY] - Pictorial Atlas Of Mammals (Skirl 31; USA) Featuring Simon Jermyn on bass guitar, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor & soprano saxes, Mat Maneri on viola and Tom Rainey on drums. Irish bassist, Simon Jermyn, is currently living here and working with some of Downtown's best players. This is the second disc from his band Trot A Mouse, although the personnel has changed completely for this disc. Mr. Jermyn wrote eight of the ten pieces here with two by John Dowland, an English Renaissance composer from nearly 500 years ago. The instrumentation of sax, viola, electric bass and drums is certainly unique. Ms. Laubrock and Mr. Maneri have worked with Kris Davis as well as with Max Johnson. The first piece, "Otis" has a laid-back, slightly disorienting quality, like a hazy, overcast day. Mr. Rainey's powerful, free-flowing drums is at the center of "Victor", with brooding tenor sax and scary violin erupting tightly together. Mat Maneri soft, yet probing viola sounds like a odd choice yet he adds a certain disorienting quality. Ms. Laubrock also plays with much restraint here, somber and calm and dreamy. Mr. Jermyn has an often lovely, elegant tone on his electric bass, occasionally recalling Hugh Hopper at his most sublime. He uses some minimal effects (like backwards spirals) to add sonic spice here and there, adding to that dreamy haze. What I find most interesting is hearing Ms. Laubrock (one of the most adventurous and diverse saxists around) and Mr. Maneri playing with such grace and restraint. On a few of these pieces, the quartet break through the somber mood and erupt on a quieter level that works well to deliver us to an unexpected place familiar yet not too. I get the feeling that it will take me a while to fully appreciate the several layers of things go on above and below the surface here. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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ANNA WEBBER'S SIMPLE TRIO With MATT MITCHELL / JOHN HOLLENBECK - Binary (Skirl 033; USA) One of a growing number of genre-crushing young artists working at the fringes of modern jazz and so-called "new music," Canadian-born saxophonist and composer Anna Webber has staked out some truly distinctive musical terrain with her all-star Simple Trio. If you're not familiar with Ms. Webber (who's worked with Dan Weiss, Jen Shyu, Ohad Talmor and classical composer John Luther Adams to name a few), you will certainly recognize her Simple Trio-mates: John Hollenbeck and Matt Mitchell. Kindred spirits in every sense of the word, Webber, Mitchell, and Hollenbeck are restless intellects whose multi-hued music continually pushes the outside of the envelope—both stylistically and technically—and whose off-the-cuff virtuosity makes the impossible seem easy. As a composer, Webber's devil-may-care approach places Thelonious Monk, Steve Lacy and Anthony Braxton on equal footing with Giacinto Scelsi and Györgi Ligeti. She seeks to blur the line between spontaneous and written-out composition, both sonically and as part of the music-making process. In this regard, Binary is a complete success.
The trio's second release, Binary is a worthy follow-up to their startling debut, Simple (Skirl Records, 2015). Much of it continues in the same vein: cerebral aleatoric passages suddenly erupt into funky jams, explorations of extreme dynamics juxtapose the barely audible with the very loud, crazy quilt sections which appear to be spontaneously improvised are—in fact—written-out heads. It's a wild ride. Once again, Mitchell and Hollenbeck suffuse Webber's knotty, twisted compositions with the sort of ease one would associate with a relaxed Sunday afternoon jam session. As tough and modern as Webber's creations are, there's a strong undercurrent of wry, puckish humor à la Braxton. Mitchell and Hollenbeck are on board with the composer on that tip as well.
Interestingly, Webber derives a lot of her inspiration from the Internet. This is hardly surprising given that one of the tracks here is titled "Meme." Webber has also leveraged online content in unexpected and uniquely personal ways. The series of pieces titled "Rectangles" were inspired by "WebDriver Torso," a cryptic YouTube channel. Other pieces were shepherded along using an app that converts speech into drumbeats. "Impulse Purchase" is a musical transliteration of Webber's own IP address, and the title track is based on a series of numbers and letters produced by a random binary digit generator.
The centerpiece of Binary is the 14 minute-long "Impulse Purchase." After brief passages of solo saxophone and piano, the trio delicately sketches out the piece's first theme. Webber and Mitchell improvise jointly around well-placed percussion jabs which coalesce behind a second, related theme. Then Hollenbeck dons his John Bonham hat and delivers some absolutely pulverizing beats as the melody gets repeated in a series of metrically-modulated tempos. Webber's tenor gets progressively more woozy with each foray. A lengthy piano / tenor saxophone conversation follows. A third motif is introduced, which re-awakens Hollenbeck and the newly invigorated trio goes into full attack mode to bring the piece to a fearsome end. Two other long pieces, "Tug'o'War" and the title track, offer sonically contrasting glimpses into the trio's sound world. The former features Webber's flute—on which she has a lovely reedy tone—and Hollenbeck's numerous and varied metallic percussives. "Binary" starts out dark and elegiac, with Webber's mournful tenor overtones and moody piano. With drums whipping into a frenzy, it quickly gathers a violent sort of energy, only to be punctuated by these little compositional asides which shine through the storm like goofy rays of light.
The remainder of Binary is devoted to shorter pieces, chief among them six different sections of a piece titled "Rectangles." Most of Webber's "Rectangles" sound like math-rock played by jazz instrumentalists; they're modular pieces based on contrasting harmonic / rhythmic / melodic elements played repetitiously. Maximal minimalism, if you will. However, "1a" and "1b" are looser, almost free-jazz-like with Webber exploring saxophone overtones and Hollenbeck wailing away on the glockenspiel. Two moderate-length pieces round out this fascinating set. Both "Underhelmed" and "Disingratiate" are humorously-titled, and both are badass slabs of avant-funk driven by Hollenbeck's relentless drumming. Binary is one of those rare albums that manage to be super-brainy, yet totally enjoyable from start to finish." - Dave Wayne, AAJ
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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.
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 ARTS FOR ARTS:
Thursday June 3, 8pm
Mara Rosenbloom - piano
Melanie Dyer - viola
Sean Conly - bass
Tuesday June 8, 8pm
Jeremy Carlstedt - drums
Brian Settles - tenor saxophone
Anders Nilsson - guitar
Thursday June 10, 8pm
John Blum - piano
Mark Hennen - piano
Jackson Krall - drums
Donate on our Website to Watch
Breaking Free Coming Home
25 Years of VISION
Pioneer Works - July 22-23 & 29-30
159 Pioneer St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
La Plaza at The Clemente - July 24-25 & 31
114 Norfolk St, NYC 10002
Arts for Art, Inc.
107 Suffolk Street #300
New York, NY 10002
This one is from CHRIS CUTLER, original member of Henry Cow, Art Bears, News from Babel, respected author and founder of Recommended Records. This is Chris’ wonderful podcast and I urge you all to give it a listen…
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 & improvisations on each episode.
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/gary.lucas.5836/
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: