"Rambling On" by Procol Harum
From ’Shine On Brightly’ (rel 1968)
Our local picture house was showing a Batman movie
You see this guy fly up in the sky, thought to myself, 'Why shouldn't I?'
So I bought a pair of wings, went up upon a wall
I was about to jump into the air when a guy from the street called
He said, 'Hey wait a minute! Don't you realize the danger?
What do you think you are, some kind of angel?'
I considered for a minute, realized he spoke the truth.
For the barbells on my eyelids only emphasized my youth
and the sawdust in my plimsoles means the same to him as me
But that's neither here nor further, so I spoke considerately
'Now if you understand just what I'm trying to say,
whatever you do, don't grin, you'll give the game away!'
By now a crowd had gathered and it seemed that all was lost
In the anger of the moment I had diced with death and lost
It seemed to me the time was right so I burst into song
In the anger of the moment the crowd began to sing along
I could not see a way out of this predicament
Just then a breeze came through the trees and up in the air I went
I must have flown a mile, or maybe it was eight
Thought to myself pretty soon I'd hit the Golden Gates
Just then a passing bird for no reason I could see
took a peck at my wings and that was the end of me
I went down, hit the ground faster than the speed of sound
Luckily I broke no bones only tore my underclothes
I bumped into my friend Bob Bielecki the other night while attending a Ches Smith concert at Roulette. Bob is one of my oldest & dearest friends and we’ve been to many concerts together for more than three deades. He asked me why I so often post lyrics to songs in the weekly newsletters, mostly from the sixties and seventies. The sixties were for me (and many other boomers) the greatest period of time for creative music which seemed to evolve each day as many current events kept changing every time we turned on the news, listened to songs from that era and talked amongst ourselves about world events. The music and lyrics often reflected exactly the way I felt about the world and mankind’s place in the world. Aside from listening to Grateful Dead concerts in chronological order every other night, I have been checking out a a large number of albums which were released between 1964 & 1970. Since I started buying albums in the summer of 1967, I only owned a hundred or so in the first 1-2 years, so I listened to many of these albums over and over, really getting to know then well. More than fifty years later, I rarely get to listen to very many records more than a few times, except at the store when I find a favorite disc.
During our Monday night listening sessions, John & I have listened to Rolling Stones’ ‘Between the Buttons’, the Kinks (several late 60’s albums), BB Blunder, Fred Neil, Tim Buckley… Last week we listened to Family’s first album ‘Music in a Doll’s House’ and Procol Harum’s second, ’Shine on Brightly’. Both were extraordinary and sounded both familiar and surprising in some ways as well. Especially since my listening has matured over a half century. I always dug Procol Harum, their first five albums remain classics to me. They were influenced by classical music, had a soulful singer named Gary Brooker, their own lyricist Keith Reid and had their own sound. “Shine On Brightly” still sounded wonderful to both of us, the lyrics are something else. Like many of their songs, this one tells a (fictitious) tale, which places us within the story and gets us to imagine the dangers of jumping off a building, due to watching a Batman movie. It is interesting to think about how someone’s (and our) imagination get us to consider different ways at looking at things. Next week, we will check out ‘A Salty Dog’, Procol Harum’s third album and another fave of mine. I caught them on the ’Salty Dog’ tour in August of 1969 for the first (of five) time(s). They were splendid! Just some food for thought or music for the mind to consider. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
THIS WEEK’S MENU OF SONIC TREASURES BEGINS WITH TWO FROM JOHN ZORN’S TZADIK LABEL:
JOHN ZORN with JULIAN LAGE / JORGE ROEDER / KENNY WOLLESEN - New Masada Quartet (Tzadik 8384; USA) September of 1993 was a big turning point for saxist/composer/multi-bandleader John Zorn. Mr. Zorn turned 40 early that month and celebrated his music career/journey by doing a month-long residency at the Old Knitting Factory. For thirty days straight, John Zorn’s diverse & demanding music was played at The Knit, a sort-of career retrospective. Aside from a variety of projects/bands/compositions, Zorn’s main groundbreaking/category defying band Naked City played their last 4 gigs. Earlier that month, Mr. Zorn debuted his next band: Masada, named after an important fortress in Israel. In 1992, Mr. Zorn’s father had passed away, inspiring Zorn to study the many layers of what it means to be a Jew. During that time, Zorn decided to give himself a goal of writing 100 songs with Jewish melodies/themes in mind. He organized a new band with Joey Baron (the only Naked City member not to move out of NY besides Zorn), plus Dave Douglas and Greg Cohen. Zorn actually organized that group to perform the soundtrack to a film called Thieves Quartet, which is what they were called for the first live gig. They debuted under the name Masada during the Month of Zorn and right away I could here something special was going on. I was deeply intrigued by their music since I was also a Jew who rarely thought about the practice or meaning of Judaism, yet there was something in that music which sounded familiar, something which touched me deeply. Zorn’s Masada were not alone in capturing that spirit/music, a resurgence in playing & composing Klezmer music was underway thanks to the Klezmatics, Don Byron’s Mickey Katz tribute and many others. The next year in April of 1994, Masada played for a month, 6 nights a week at the Cafe Mogador (St. Marks Pl, still there), two sets a night with Zorn bringing in new songs each night. The band kept getting better throughout the month. On the last Sunday, Zorn put them in a studio for some 10 hours and recorded 50 songs that day! The first four Masada CD’s were all recorded that day! Zorn kept the band together and actually wrote 210 songs, which is referred to as the first book of Masada. The original Masada Quartet went on to record 10 studio CD’s (all of which are now out-of-print) plus a 2 CD set of outtakes called ‘Sanhedrin’ (still in print). The original quartet only recorded half of the their catalogue (around 105 songs) so Zorn decided to give the unrecorded songs to other musicians/friends. Zorn’s new label, Tzadik released two 2-CD sets called ‘Bar Kokbha’ and ‘Circle Maker’ of the other folks playing those songs. Zorn also organized other bands to play these songs: Electric Masada, Masada String Trio and the Bar Kokbha Chamber Sextet. Twenty years after the debut of the original Masada in 2004, Zorn started working on the second book of Masada songs, composing 316 songs in a few months! This book was/is called ‘The Book of Angels’ and since the original band rarely played live, Zorn gave these a other groups to perform. Over the next decade, Zorn released 32 volumes of Masada Book Two CD’s on Tzadik, all still in print and all worth checking out! Many thought that this would be it for Masada songs but no, this was not the case. Mr. Zorn finally composed the last 90 Masada songs in 2014, which is called ‘The Book of Beriah’. An 11 CD set of The Book Beri’ah was released in 2018. That’s 650 Masada songs in all three books, which brings us to…
The original Masada quartet is/was just one band that Zorn organized to play Masada songs. The original quartet rarely plays nowadays since Greg Cohen & Joey Baron have moved out of town and dave Douglas is busy with his career, leading several bands and running his own Greenleaf label. Mr. Zorn remains as busy as ever, running several bands (the Dreamers, Gnostic Trio, Simulacrum, etc.) and releasing CD’s almost every month! For most of these projects, Zorn is the composer, producer & promoter with his own label to release his music, yet he doesn’t play live nearly as much and only guests on Tzadik CD’s on rare occasion. Due to the vast number of Masada songs & projects as well as his next book of songs, the Bagatelles, Zorn has given opportunity to many other musicians to play his vast sea of songs. Now, 28 years after the debut of the original quartet, Zorn has organized a New Masada Quartet with Julian Lage on guitar, Jorge Roeder on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. The New Masada Quartet has played just a few times so far including two recent matinees at the Village Vanguard. As a longtime Masada and John Zorn fan-addict, listening to this new disc really made me smile. After attending perhaps 100 Masada gigs throughout their long reign, hearing some of the early Masada songs truly brings me back. This is an amazing quartet that Zorn has organized and all four members shine throughout. Mr. Zorn himself, who ofter claims to not enjoying playing his sax so much nowadays, is in especially fine form here. He takes a number of inspired solos, really digging deep into his bag of tricks (a/k/a unique style/sound) and playing all of those quirky sounds that he invented and can still pull off. This is my favorite Zorn release of the past few years since it works on many levels. I keep hearing astonishing ideas/arrangements, inspired playing & solos from each member. Part of John Zorn’s magic is the way he pushes himself, the members of each group and his listeners to the limits of their abilities. All serious listeners out there: grab a copy of this disc and spend some time marveling at it’s many wonders! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MILES OKAZAKI / TREVOR DUNN / DAN WEISS JOHN ZORN - Hive Mind (Tzadik 4036; USA) A power trio of contemporary masters unlike any other! Miles Okazaki, Trevor Dunn and Dan Weiss are among the very best of a new generation of musicians working in the nexus of jazz, rock, noise, composition, improvisation and more. All dedicated students of the esoteric, they come together here as Hive Mind, a collective trio, to perform some of the wildest freewheeling improvisations around. Three compositional minds weaving bizarre soundscapes through telepathic communication and surprising strategies—you have never heard such sounds!” John Zorn guests on alto sax for two tracks to make this wondrous CD even better! - BLG
THOMAS HEBERER with INGRID LAUBROCK / JOHN HEBERT / MICHAEL SARIN - The Day That Is (Sunnyside 1637; USA) Featuring Thomas Heberer on trumpet & compositions, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor & soprano saxes, John Hebert on contrabass and Michael Sarin on drums. This disc was recorded on January 6th, 2020, the same day an insurrection of domestic terrorists took over the US Capitol, during the year of the plague/pandemic/lock-down. During the 18 months of the pandemic/lockdown, one good thing happened to many of us: a time to collect our thoughts, reflect on our lives and figure out how to use this time wisely. Mr. Heberer spent the time composing new works and organizing a strong Downtown quartet. No doubt you all know saxist/composer Ingrid Laubrock, one of the freshest voices to move to NYC over the past decade with a handful of wonderful discs out on the Intakt & Relative Pitch labels. In-demand bassist, John Hebert, has played with a large number of great players: Mary Halvorson, Marty Ehrlich and Simon Nabatov, to name a few. I’ve long admired the playing of drum wiz, Michael Sarin, longtime drummer in the Thomas Chapin Trio & for Myra Melford, Michael Musillami & Russ Lossing.
Things begin with “The Day That Is”, which has an odd, slightly bent repeating line with tart harmonies for the soprano sax & trumpet on top. Mr. Heberer seems to favor piece with more moderate tempos, giving the quartet a more unhurried and at times solemn vibe. Solos by Heberer and Ms. Laubrock often unfold slowly, thoughtfully, making each note count. On “Caro Pook”, Heberer splits the quartet into two interlocked counterpoint lines with trumpet & tenor playing some frenzied lines around one another, although it seems calm at the center. “The Sleeping Bag Unfolds” has a lovely, haunting melody and creates a nice dreamy sound which feels just right. “Mapping the Distance” features a thoughtful drum solo just after it opens, which soon turns into two lines of trumpet & soprano sax interwoven tightly together. What I like most about this disc is that although nothing erupts or speeds up, there are quite a bit of more subtle shifts that take some time to notice and adjust to. Overall mostly sublime, careful yet engaging without hitting you too hard. A restrained gem in more ways than one. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
WILLIAM PARKER / PATRICIA NICHOLSON with JAMES BRANDON LEWIS / DEVIN BRAHJA WALDMAN / FRANCESCO MELA / et al - No Joke! (ESP-Disk 5067; USA) Collective personnel: William Parker - bass, James Brandon Lewis on tenor sax, Devin Brahja Waldman on alto sax, Melanie Dyer on violin and Franceso Mela or Gerald Cleaver on drums plus Patricia Nicholson - spoken word. This past summer (2021), was the 25 anniversary of the Vision Festival, an annual avant-garde music & arts festival in NY which was organized by Arts for Art and run by Patricia Nicholson, wife of bassist/composer William Parker. I’ve attended each & every Vision Fest, the most important festival of its kind in NYC. The festival was founded by Ms. Nicholson, who is also a dancer and visionary artist/organizer. Although I haven’t checked very much modern dance, I am often knocked out by any of the dance & music performances that Ms. Nicholson does. Ms. Nicholson also runs music/arts events throughout the rest of the year under the Arts for Art umbrella. Aside from the organization of these gigs and having dance performances, Ms. Nicholson on occasion will read her own spoken word/poetry contributions. Mr. Parker leads a quartet on 2 pieces and a quintet on 3, with Ms. Nicholson adding spoken words on 4 of the 5 pieces here. Mr. Parker’s bass-lead group features a fine frontline with two strong saxists (James Brandon Lewis & Devin Brahja Waldman, nephew of beat poet Ann Waldman), Melanie Dyer on viola and Francesco Mela or Gerald Cleaver on drums. “Flare Up” starts things off with two inspired saxes & the viola circling around each other while Ms. Nicholson reads a long poem. I find that Ms. Nicholson’s recitation and words work well with the music here, creating an organic web. The fact that these are studio recordings means that the sounds and balance is also superb. Drummer Francesco Mela actually performs the spoken part of “Little Black Kid with the Swollen Stomach” by William Parker in Spanish and sounds most convincing as well. I like the way Ms. Dyer’s viola weaves its way through “Struggle”, creating tart harmonies with both saxes and the ritualistic rhythm team groove. “Wilted Light as Flower” is sad, slow-moving, solemn instrumental which I found most haunting. The title track, “No Joke”, is no joke, it is an intense, spiraling, free spirited whirlwind of righteous complaints. Ms. Nicholson stays calm as she illuminates the wrongful doings that surround us and hold us down instead of being free. Even without naming names, Patricia tells it like it is. Her voice is looped and layered, with several overlapping lines. She vents the frustration that many of us have been feeling for the past 5 or so years, since Satan & his family occupied the White House. No joke! It is no joke! No joke!?!?!? Got me?!? - MC Bruce Lee, DMG
MATTHEW SHIPP - Codebreaker (Tao Forms007; USA) "Matthew Shipp takes an introspective turn on his latest solo piano album, continuing to discover new territory for his singular cosmic pianism. Codebreaker encrypts rich harmonies, cloud-like clusters, and the unlikely confluence of Bill Evans and Bud Powell. Within the voluminous catalogue that pianist Matthew Shipp has created over the last three and a half decades, his solo piano work has charted a unique and compelling pathway for the evolution of the instrument's vocabulary. On his latest album, that path finds Shipp in an uncharacteristically meditative state of mind. Though the language is unmistakably his own, the usual attacks, dense clusters and insistent circularity are more often replaced by harmonic nebulae that luxuriate in the mysterious resonances which Shipp conjures from the keyboard. 'I was actually shocked at how introspective the album was when I listened back to it,' Shipp admits. 'If I try to dissect my motivations, which are not always conscious and which just happen on their own, I see myself really basking in harmony. I'm interested in trying to wring all of the harmonics from the piano that I possibly can, and with that in mind, any set of harmonics has a set of melodic fragments that are implied.' Given that investigative impulse, Shipp himself could be viewed as the Codebreaker of the album's evocative title. There's a wry humor to the name, as Shipp imagines a parallel between a World War II secret agent doggedly racing to crack an enemy cypher and himself sitting at the piano, puzzling over the music's infinite enigmas. But the idea seems profoundly serious when considering the singular sonic vernacular he's coined, making him one of the most distinctive pianists of his generation. The album title also continues a career-long investigation into the ways that his subversive approach to the piano connects with the instrument's storied lineage. While the likes of Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra have been constant touchstones in critical writings on his work, one name that emerges when listening to Codebreaker, perhaps for the first time in Shipp's discography, is that of Bill Evans."
WENDY EISENBERG - Bloodletting (Out of Your Head Records 012; USA) Featuring Wendy Eisenberg on guitar (CD 1) and banjo (CD 2). I have been warned by Frank (Meadows, DMG manager & resident young person)that Wendy is non-binary so I can’t use “Ms.” or “her” when referring to Wendy. So be it, kinda confusing for us Old Timers. Anyway. It still amazes me that so many great guitarists still move to the NY area, an ongoing deluge of great pickers & sonic manipulators. I’ve caught Wendy play several times in different contexts: for Zorn’s “Cobra”, with three trios: with Trevor Dunn & Ches Smith, Devin Gray & Jessica Pavone and Steve Gauci & Vijay Anderson. This is Eisenberg’s second solo offering after a disc called ‘Auto’ on Ba Da Bing! This disc is even more ambitious since we get an entire disc of guitar plus another disc of solo banjo. Eisenberg wrote a score for this suite, which is in four movements. The suite is played twice, once on guitar and once on banjo. The text/score that Wendy wrote was then memorized so that the score/direction was based on the memory of the text. I’ve caught Wendy live around a half dozen times so far and appreciate that she draws from a wealth of genres, ideas & strategies. The first part of the suite is called, “Bloodletting” and when Wendy first played this part, her hands did indeed bleed. The piece itself is sparse, moody and calmly played. Fragments of melodies and other odd fragments float through. Since the guitar is probably the most widely utilized instrument in so many types of music, I hear quite a bit of lines or licks which recall different songs or eras or styles. Certain chords or groups of notes ring out like punctuation or a triumphant conclusion. It often sounds like Wendy is balancing between different opposites, quick & slow, loud & soft or sparse & dense. Since Eisenberg didn’t provide us with the text/score, we don’t know what exactly the words are about. It doesn’t really matter since we can listen to this as a soundtrack to a story or film. Things speed up for “Scherzo”, the playing becoming frenzied and often intense with some quick changes in direction and letting certain notes ring out.
When I first started to listening to bluegrass music in the late seventies, I became aware of the instrumental prowess of many of those pickers, old & young. When I read music magazines aboput bluegrass and other roots music, I was surprised when they disparaged banjo players for some strange reason. There seemed to be less banjo virtuosos than many of the other acoustic instruments (like guitar, violin & dobro). It wasn’t until the eighties when I heard Tony Trischka, Bela Fleck and then Eugene Chadbourne, all of whom pushed the barriers of what could be done on a banjo. Over the past few years there have been some new banjo players like Brandon Seabrook and now Wendy Eisenberg, playing it in their own way. Most folks think of the banjo in the way it is usually played (quickly) in bluegrass bands. Nice to hear these folks extending the horizon of the banjo. Wendy sounds like she is not bound by the usual bluegrass licks we so often hear on the banjo. Like the other suite which was played on solo guitar, this version also takes its time to unfold. Eisenberg draws from a few different themes or song fragments, slowing down rather than the usual (flailing) speeding up. It will take some time but I am starting to hear a certain theme or connection between the four parts of the suite which do sound different on the guitar (disc). I was thinking about the title of this disc, ‘Bloodletting’ and thinking that this bloodletting is more about open up the wounds to let something (like the truth) out. We one feels held back or held in, it is good to let it out. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD Set $14
DAVID LEON - Aire De Agua (OOYH011) David Leon’s debut record for Brooklyn’s emergent powerhouse Out of Your Head Records represents a convincingly mature initial statement by an ambitious mind and generous collaborator. Leon employs a quartet of young players across an innovative and diverse range of well-studied reference points and inspired musicality. The disc definitely reads as a collection of separate compositional frameworks, which might feel disjointed if the material itself wasn’t so engaging. The first half of the disc sits firmly in the lineage of post-Braxton, bop-adjacent angularity, highlighting Leon’s tutelage with fiery luminaries like Kris Davis and Jason Moran. The flurry of interlocking lines highlights Leon’s proclivity not only for harmonic puzzles, but also timbral illusions, dictating points of almost alarming synchronicity within the furnace. The writing tends to be deeply melodic, but with a type of voicing that remains implied within clever voicings. Leon clearly put in real hours developing the cohesion and relationships of the quartet, a group that has a breath of life preventing these intricate ideas from becoming tangled. Across the second half, the group veers slightly away from their identity as a jazz combo, delivering more in the vein of a New Music Ensemble. As unnecessary as this distinction might seem, this lens i think helps to shed light on Leon’s intentions, which balance a singular vision with democratic leadership. As Kris Davis writes in the liner notes : “A powerful and rewarding listen, Aire De Agua documents an initial upsweep of what promises to be the long elegant arc of David Leon’s career. The creative energy and humanity behind each composition —scripted and spontaneous—kindles an inexhaustible motivation to refine his voice and elevate his craft.” - Frank Meadows for DMG
STEPH RICHARDS with JOSHUA WHITE - zephyr (Relative Pitch RPR 1132; USA) Trumpeter Steph Richards’ diverse and masterful catalogue continues with her second CD for Relative Pitch, a duo with pianist Joshua White. These concise and poignant gestures, divided into three movements, betray not only an effortlessly elevated kinetic dialogue between White and Richards, but Richard’s patiently paced compositional mind. Both players employ preparations and explore the deeper resonant possibilities of their instruments. Richard’s use of resonating water vessels is notable on several levels. On an “absolute music level” the texture is striking and intimately recorded, the vessels extending and evoking the trumpet’s life as a pipe (mouth, spit, funnel, etc.), and dueting colorfully with White’s variations. On a conceptual level, the bodily implications of the extending the instrument is this way is fully considered alongside Richards’ pregnancy at the time of the session (6.5 months). The press release poetically traces Richards’ lived experience as a pregnant person. Richards explains “I was experiencing my own metamorphosis, and thinking about the idea of breathing one breath for two bodies — moving through the world with two distinct pulses happening at the same time. It brought this a whole other color to my sound precisely because I had a different physical ability. Our bodies are full of potential, and that's something that I had never fully investigated.” The first suite, “Sacred Sea”, most throughly explores the use of water. “Sequoia” and “Northern Lights”, while slightly more conventional in timbre, present an expansive yet intimate musicality, unlocking a controlled palette of expressive, percussive and harmonic sophistication available only to players of the highest level. White maneuvers attentively inside of Richards’ crystalline gestures, creating the uncommonly graceful illusion of a much larger orchestration. The disc overall is short, just 38 minutes, but has the overwhelming feeling of a satisfied, conclusive statement. - Frank Meadows for DMG
LIZ ALLBEE - Rille (Relative Pitch Records ; USA) I was fortunate to have caught Liz Allbee play a while back with Henry Kaiser and Damon Smith while visiting Henry in Berkeley for a vacation. Ms. Allbee has worked with Weasel Walter, Carlos Giffoni and studied & collaborated with Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan University. More recently, she has relocated to Berlin and become a part of the New Music scene there. The first time I listened to this discs, earlier this week, I hadn’t looked at the liner notes so I wasn’t so sure what was going on other than Ms. Allbee plays the trumpet in her own unique way. Besides trumpet Ms. Allbee plays electronics, quad trumpet, voice, field recordings & acoustic homemade instruments. “to the Moon” opens with suspense: soft sinister throbbing sounds, a dark repeating piano note and eerie ghost-like drones. On “Rille Estate”, Allbee describes an unsettling situation as the rain turns into a thunderstorm and then flows into more calm waters. The overall dark vibe is at the center here while Ms. Allbee’s trumpet plays minimal yet effective smears, the air is dense with an organ-like drone. Why the disc works so well is that Ms. Allbee deals more with moods and subtle yet dark shifting vistas. With most successful minimal music (without too much repeating pulses), it is more about the way one creates sonic scenery adjust the knobs with subtle grace. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ALEX ZETHSON ENSEMBLE - Some of Them Were Never Unprepared (Relative Pitch Records 1130; USA) This disc was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden in April & May of 2021 and features a 13-piece large ensemble. I had heard of the leader here, Alex Zethson since he a member of the great Angles 8 & 9 band, while I knew of Torbjorn Zetterberg from his association with Jonas Kullhammar, Susan Santos Silva and Fredrik Nordstrom. Mr. Zethson in the main composer here although he has given some freedom for the ensemble to alter what is on the page. The opening features a ritualistic quick tapping on gong like a sped up gamelan orchestra. The instrumentation here is unique: 2 pianos, 3 guitars, 2 basses, 2 cellos, 2 violins and 2 percussionists. The throbbing pulse continues for a long while. As the piece calm down and goes slower other instruments finally appear: strings, guitars, all in several overlapping layers. Eventually the tempo picks up to a moderate galloping pace. The overall vibe is mostly hypnotic, an organic orchestra unfolding together. When it finally comes to a close, it begins again in silence, slowly building once more. Higher and higher, one layer at a time. Somber, eerie, slightly darker and even more mesmerizing. I love the mood that it evokes here, not unlike the unfolding of a nature scene. Ommmmmmm.
Humming, softly throbbing, pulsating slowly, a nice way to bring our daily ordeal to a peaceful close. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PATRICK BRENNAN / ERNESTO RODRIGUES / HERNANI FAUSTINO / et al - The Sudden Bird of Waiting (Creative Sources 674; Portugal) Personnel: Patrick Brennan on alto sax, cornet & jaguar, Maria do Mar on violin, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Miguel Mira on cello, Hernani Faustino on double bass and Abdul Moimeme on 2 electric guitars played simultaneously & objects. Recorded at Namouche Studio in Lisbon in April of 2018. The ever ambitious Creative Sources label releases hundreds of discs and is run by Ernesto Rodrigues. Many of the musicians on the label are little-known, hence many of their releases remain below the usual radar of attention. I am not sure how Downtown alto saxist, multi-project leader and author a current book on “free music”, Patrick Brenann, got involved with these fine folks. Two of the names here are familiar: Migel Mira & Hernani Faustino, both of whom work with Rodrigo Amado and the RED Trio, both Portuguese musicians. This disc begins with silence with small sounds slowly floating in. Several buzzing strings soon erupt together with fragments of cornet or alto sax, the sounds move in tight shimmering masses. The varied vibrating layers are often intense and consistently fascinating. The music here moves in waves, getting more or less dense as it flows, like a canoe on a river of sounds. Patrick Brennan’s distinctive alto sax stands out at times since he has a unique sound/approach which reflects the history of more recent modern jazz. Mr. Moimeme mixed & mastered this recording aside from playing guitars & objects. The objects sound like assorted metals & percussive things used minimally to good effect. I’ve always found that strong, spirited “free music” is a type of universal language which is recognized by serious listeners and serious musicians worldwide. Patrick Brennan reads a poem by Randee Silv on a piece called “Nextness”, short, to-the-point and well-placed midway thru this disc. The sonic quicksand effect is also wisely used and takes some time to adjust to instead of drowning. This is strong medicine from lesser known octave doctors trying to door their best to help us deal with the weight of the current worldscope. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAS RAD - Laik Tors (Discus 119CD; UK) Unsure what the album title means, but from its cryptogrammic font type and the six-pointed star framing a solitary treetop at dusk, it’s pretty certain your ears are in for a wild, proggy ride. On Das Rad’s third outing, Nick Robinson (guitars, keys, electronics), Martin Archer (woodwinds, keys, synth bass, electronics), and Steve Dinsdale (dumrs, electronics) further solidify their position as the UK’s best kept secret, but a crime it would be indeed if that secret was kept much longer. Partially improvised, partially composed, the whole damn enterprise is so densely woven together only a forensic audiologist would be able to (possibly) untangle all its knotty, intricate components. Das Rad’s music combines so many disparate categorical elements, be it prog, fusion, avant-gardisms, electronica, etc., they’re practically their own self-minted genre. Don’t know where you’d file ‘em in your local record shop but they sure need to occupy some prime real estate on your home shelf. Over another dazzling hour-plus of radically invented music, they manage to effortlessly cruise through, abort, and reshape the sounds of eras both bygone and yet to come. Dinsdale’s booming traps help to set alight the Richard Wright-esque keys and Gilmourian guitar refrains of “Offtwerk”, though such Floydian shades of pink are refracted through a prismatic lens of haughty Canterbury and chugging krautrock; the surging mellotrons about halfway through effect a total recall of early 70s British prog nicely, too. “Lebensmude” sharply turns things on its collective ears, its rhythmic martial surge an exercise in delayed gratification as pure, escapist tangerine dreams arise first out of elliptical keyboard effects smudged by Archer’s klaxon fuzz. His shouts into the wilderness coalesce mightily across the lengthy tendrils of the title track, Dinsdale’s tips, taps, twinkles, and twirls basking in spooky moonlight amidst strange atmospherics and the kind of wholesale free jazz/spacerock that wouldn’t be out of place on a lost Amon Düül side. Play this thing over and over because one solitary spin won’t come close to doing it justice—you can go down this disc’s labyrinth of ingenuity for years and hardly ever come up for breath. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
MARTIN ARCHER / JOHN JASNOCH Provenance (Discus 122CD; UK) Discus head honcho Archer’s a jack-of-all-trades, a contemporary renaissance man under whose feet not a single blade of grass grows. Whether stretching the parameters of music to make it truly progressive (in the trio Das Rad), organizing electronics into sound art as one-half of Inclusion Principle, stirring the galvanic environs of the Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere, or bending woodwinds to his own will across a score of solo and duo projects, Archer’s restless spirit catapults his limitless creative muse into all of this and more through a catalog of never less than fascinating sonic tableaux. Here, he goes full improv on this set of duels with quixotic string-thwacker Jasnoch, who’s no slouch in the gee-tar department himself. What ensues are both musicians’ wreaking general havoc across your high fidelity system as they engage in a series of unbridled interplays pitting horn against guitar in ways both startlingly unconventional and eminently embraceable. The digipak panels’ juxtapose tiles of stark magic realism against one another—birds on a wire, cones, flowers, fighter planes, skull masks, color-shapes, etc.—literal and literary references that are reflected in the pair’s enigmatic track titles and on-the-fly performances. Archer and Jasnoch’s “Provenance” comes through as mismatched weather systems colliding in various violent ways, cloudbanks of saxophones split open by Jasnoch’s irruptive lightning bursts and obtuse phrasing, as spiky, calculated, and free as Derek Bailey in his most untethered flights of fancy. The thirteen minutes of “Railroad Blues/To the Tiltyard” feature Archer’s acrylic yet astringent horn lines that puncture the air like shafts of dry ice, further strip-mined by Jasnoch as he warps the most skeletal of blues structures into a pretzel logic of his own elaborate making. Endlessly shapeshifting, this is a recording of such hyperactivity its recombinant energy never allows for respite—in a good way—the player’s ability to juggle a seemingly inexhaustive sonic phraseology holds the ear’s interest thanks to contours sharp enough to cut glass. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
ELIANE RADIGUE - Opus 17 (Important Records 497CD; USA) “Eliane Radigue's complete Opus 17 (1970), her finest and final work created using feedback, is contained on this double CD. With Opus 17, Radigue perfected her slow mixing technique with sublime results. Imperceptible transformations envelop the attentive listener who is confronted with an immensely physical experience. Time is suspended in powerfully poetic and artful ways as Radigue masterfully sculpts the physical matter of sound using feedback for the last time. Opus 17 is an absolutely essential masterpiece in the realm of early electro-acoustic/drone/minimalist composition.”
2 CD Set $22
VELS TRIO - Celestial Greens (Rhythm Section International 039CD; UK) Vels Trio reap their jazz-fusion crop with a stellar 11-track debut album Celestial Greens on Rhythm Section International. Wandering through their versatile musical vision, the album represents the amalgamation of London's finest jazz players; Jack Stephenson-Oliver on keys (Poppy Ajudha), Dougal Taylor behind the drum kit (Emma Jean-Thackray) and Cameron Dawson on bass (Puma Blue). The end result: 40 minutes of high-fidelity worthy audio elation, destined for the "album of year" lists. Incorporating bona fide sleeper hit "The Wad", alongside new singles "May As Well Be", a dreamy jam with funk-indebted bass, and "Pop Stuff", a melancholic and potent composition that dissolves into pitched down slow core. The album soars through psychedelic synth progressions, deep arrangements and finessed groove sections. Recorded mostly in Kate Bush's personal studio in Welling, Wicker Studios, Vels Trio went through numerous versions of each track until settling on the right take to build the composition from, always considering the album format first and foremost. This arduous process has gilded the record, elevating their musicianship to unseen heights. Celestial Greens represents an exploration of a new vision of modern progressive music, consolidating their influence on the emerging UK soul and RnB scenes, whilst creating a sound that's idiosyncratic yet accessible to any fan of electronic music. For fans of: Yussef Dates, Richard Spaven, BadBadNotGood, Snarky Puppy, Sons Of Kemet, Emma Jean-Thackray, Alfa Mist, Ruby Rushton, Mansur Brown.
HELENA MEIRELLES - A Rainha da Viola Caipira (Vampisoul 235; Spain) It's about time to uncover the most unknown Brazilian music style. Unlike other Brazilian musical traditions as samba and bossa-nova, never ever anything of Caipira music has been released outside Brazil. Repairing this huge gap, Vampisoul presents A Rainha da Viola Caipira, a stunning 25-track compilation of the revered "Queen Of The Viola Caipira", Helena Meirelles. To start with, what is a viola? It looks like an acoustic guitar but is not. It has nearly the same shape but it is slightly smaller. Instead of the six or twelve strings, it has ten strings, paired in duplets of five strings. It has a very distinctive sound, having an enhanced treble, and a sharper reverb. The sound must be played with a hard pick because its original steel strings are thicker than the ordinary ones. The viola is the main symbol of música caipira or, may we call it, caipira sound. Caipira music cannot easily be portrayed as country music or, directly, encapsulated in folk patterns, even though it contains ingredients from both of them. On top of that, it also bears an influence of guarânia (a Paraguayan slow polka played in minor scales) and corrido and ranchera (specific variations of the Mexican folklore). There's also a shadow of Mexican mariachi-style. Everything on Helena's life or art was exquisite and unique to say the least. Mother of 11 sons, estranged from all of them for 30 years, mid-wife by trade and a very late musician to debut in public (she was 68 years old when she started to record her debut album), she was born on the August 13th, 1924, and passed away in 2004. Considered by the Guitar Player Magazine, one the 100 greatest guitar players of all time, don't miss the chance to discover a brand-new kind of (Brazilian) folk music. Jewel case in slipcase; includes eight-page booklet.
BACK IN STOCK:
MATS GUSTAFSSON / OTOMO YOSHIHIDE DUO - Timing (Doubt Music DMF-172; Japan) Featuring Mats Gustafsson on Baritone sax, flutephone & electronics and Otomo Yoshihide on turntables, guitar & banjo. Recorded at GOK Sound in June of 2018, a studio in front ofa small audience. After a long period of serious activity recording for various labels like Tzadik, Erstwhile and Doubt, Otomo Yoshihide as slowed down a bit and recorded a handful of duo CD’s with Roger Turner, Paal Nilssen-Love, Chris Pitsiokos and Martin Excalante. Otomo’s most recent duo is with Mats Gustafsson, formerly of The Thing and currently with Fire! Orchestra, no doubt as prolific as Otomo is. As far as the title of this disc goes, “Timing”, Mr. Gusafsson explains in the booklet notes that “timing” is most important in his three favorite pastimes: making music, record hunting and cooking. I couldn’t agree more. Both of these musicians come from very varied backgrounds so they draw from a wealth of influences, ideas or genres. I haven’t heard many turntable players in recent years so I was glad to hear Otomo playing turntables here. The bari sax squawks & squeaks work well with Otomo’s twisted turntable sounds. On every track, the duo switch between three instruments. The second track features el. guitar & electronics and it has a dark, mysterious sound. Otomo did his own editing for this disc, hence the sound is consistently focused and engaging. A flutephone is a flute with a sax mouthpiece I believe, which Mats plays with Otomo on banjo, more acoustic weirdness. No matter which instrument either Otomo or Mats play, their combined sound is extraordinary and hard to pin down to who is doing what. Both the live electronics and turntables give these duos an unpredictable sound and they used selectively. The bari sax is the only instrument which is easy to recognize and if often at the center of the varied storms. A truly strong date/duo for two old masters of sonic manipulation. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, BMG
2 CD Set $20 [Included limited bonus CD]
JUNJI HIROSE / YOSHINORI MOCHIZUKI / IRONFIRST TATSUSIMA - HMT (Doubt dmf-167; Japan) HMT are/is Junji Hirose on tenor sax, Yoshinori Mochizuki on bass guitar and IRONFIST Tatsushima on drums. At first I didn’t really recognize the names of three musicians so I had to do some research. Saxist Junji Hirose has a solo sax disc out from 1980, plus more than a dozen rare discs with Otomo, Kazuhisa Uchihashi and Tetuzi Akiyama. Bassist Yoshinori Mochizuki played in a band called Berfume. Drummer IRONFIST Tatsushima plays a number of bands with humorous names like: Bloody Deaththrasher from Hell and Die You Bastard! To say that this music is extreme hardcore improv noise would be putting it mildly. Punk/jazz, jazz/punk?!?! An intense blast of free/jazz/noise/whatsis?!?! I can all three instruments although it often sounds like a blur. It sounds like a hurricane is bearing down on us, centrifugal winds swirling around us, winds at 150 miles per hour! For the second piece, the trio actually calm down to a restless, eerie, space before launching off again for some brain-crunching insanity. I can hear why the drummer is named IRONFIST as he pounds the drums with a tribal fury. The third long piece is the best since the balance is better with all three instruments just right, the sax & drums locked in tightly. powerfully. From brutal to peaceful to brutal again, it is the one-two punch that will knock you topside. Bring the smelling salts to the ring. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LUC FERRARI - Labyrinthe de Violence (Alga Marghen 146LP; Italy) “Capturing the four soundtracks conceived in 1975 for the multimedia/audiovisual performances at Galiéra Museum in Paris, the previously unreleased Labyrinthe de Violence stretching across two LPs represents a peek into Luc Ferrari's creations connected to his Atelier de Libération de la Musique experiences. Luc Ferrari was always keen to disrupt habits and engrained practices, to open his mind to new ways of apprehending the world of art, considering it not so much as a separate realm but as an inroad into society. In keeping with the spirit of 1968, he advocated taking part in daily life, casting a critical, but amazed, eye on the world around us, and always questioning the meaning of the occupations and preoccupations the world imposes. From the 1970s, Luc also wished to shed the solitary status of the artist, and to truly communicate with society. He thus gathered around him a group of people from different backgrounds with an aim to create, together, new ways of working and new forms of expression that would address unusual audiences rather than traditional concert audience. Having created his Studio Billig in Paris in 1973, Luc wanted to make the most of that place to promote exchanges with other artists, to share, think, and improvise together. This is what gave rise to the Atelier de Liberation de la Musique workshops, whose objective was to "Liberate music from the constraints of style and esthetics." The idea was precisely to free the artist from abstraction, leading him to perform accessible and intelligible actions; to promote the imagination; to use the dramatic dynamism of sound and image to trigger ideas; to ignore the sensational and instead to observe our social environment and daily life with an intuitive eye-ear; to invite the visitor to come up with their own analysis. This craving for collaboration led Luc Ferrari to create, in 1975, a collective of musicians with Martin Davorin Jagodic, Philippe Besombes, Alain Petit and David Jisse. That year, they worked at Labyrinthe de Violence, a looped audiovisual labyrinth which evoked the violence of contemporary society, and was a reaction to the political situation of the time. It was a multimedia work, spread across four rooms, on the following themes: Power/Profit/Violence/Pollution. Each side of this 2LP set reproduces the sonorization of one of the four rooms in the Museum, automatically mixing in the central space. The same recordings focus on questions of utopia through many of the same themes. As in the rest of his work, pleasure was also at the heart of these pieces. First press limited to 500 numbered copies; gatefold sleeve.
2 LP Set $50
MESIAS MAIGUASHCA - Musica Para Cinta Magnética ( ) Instrumentos (1967-1989)(Buh Records 138LP; Peru) Mesías Maiguashca is a relevant figure on the map of contemporary avant-garde composers. Born in Ecuador but currently based in Germany, he has been a composer who, since the '60s, would constantly expand his possibilities in fields such as electronic music (where he stands out as a pioneer), mixed works, expanded interdisciplinary pieces and the creation of unconventional instruments, where the encounter between his country of origin's popular folkloric tradition and the new European music has produced a universe of tension, as fascinating as it is startling. Música Para Cinta Magnética ( ) Instrumentos (1967-1989) presents for the first time a sample of the essential work of Maiguashca, covering a period that goes from 1967 to 1989. This is the first of a new collection, a new series of albums that seeks to document the extensive recorded work of Maiguashca, with pieces that date from the mid-60s to the present. This first release is a good introduction to understand the various aesthetic options developed by the artist throughout his career. It includes his historical pieces of electronic music, such as "El mundo en que vivimos" (1967) or "Ayayayayay" (1971), which are early references for electronic music in Latin America, and also mixed pieces, such as "Intensidad y altura" (1979) for six percussionists and magnetic tape, "The wings of perception" (1989) for a string quartet and tape, and "Nemos Orgel" (1989) for organ and magnetic tape. Mesías Maiguashca studied at the Quito Conservatory, the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.), the Di Tella Institute (Buenos Aires) and the Musikhochschule Köln (Cologne). He has made recordings at the WDR music studio (Cologne), Center Européen pour la Recherche Musicale (Metz), the IRCAM (Paris), the Acroe (Grenoble) and the ZKM (Karlsruhe). In 1988, together with Roland Breitenfeld, he founded the K.O.Studio Freiburg, a private initiative for the cultivation of experimental music. He has been living in Freiburg since 1996. Mastering: Alberto Cendra at Garden Lab Audio. Design by Martín Escalante. Includes photos and detailed information on the pieces; Liner notes by Mesías Maiguashca and Fabiano Kueva; edition of 300.”
2 LP Set $46
BRIDGE OF FLOWERS - A Soft Day's Night (ESP-Disk 5060; USA) ESP-Disk's drive to revive weird rock begun in 2019 with Painted Faces' Tales from the Skinny Apartment (ESPDISK 5032LP) and continued in 2020 with the OPTO S LP Human Indictive / Live (ESPDISK 5055LP), is furthered with the new studio album by this Massachusetts quartet, recorded in mid-2020. Formed in 2016, it has an LP on the great Feeding Tube imprint and a handful of cassettes and CD-Rs, most self-released. Although, yes, there's a distinct Velvet Underground influence to be heard, there's an underground/outsider feel thanks to the unique vision of singer/lyricist/guitarist/visual artist Jeffrey Gallagher ("a visionary and experimental musician" --Boston Hassle), who has a plethora of self-released material under a variety of pseudonyms (and ESP has plans to release some more). Personnel: Jeff Gallagher - guitar, vocals; Jonathan Hanson - guitar, keyboards; Shane Bruno - bass; Chris Wojtkowski - drums. Produced by Barny Lanman and Bridge of Flowers. Recorded at Zen Den Studios in Fitchburg, MA.
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.
THE NEXT TWO DMG IN-STORE EVENTS WILL TAKE PLACE:
Saturday, November 6th - DMG In-Store:
6:30: Eli Asher - trumpet
Noah Kaplan - tenor sax
Andrew Smiley - guitar
Giacomo Merega - bass guitar
7:30: WILL GREENE / RAF VERTESSEN / DANIEL PENCER TBD
Saturday November 13th, 2021:
6:30pm CD Release Performance for "Pandemic Duets, Vijay Anderson/Stephen Gauci"
Vijay Anderson - drums
Stephen Gauci - tenor saxophone
7:15pm Sandy Ewen/Stephen Gauci Duet
Sandy Ewen - guitar
Stephen Gauci - tenor saxophone
8pm Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewen/Vijay Anderson Trio
At Downtown Music Gallery
13 Monroe St, New York, NY
free admission / masks required / donations accepted
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… https://rwm.macba.cat/en/research/probes-30
Guitarist and DMG-pal HENRY KAISER has a monthly Video Solo Series on Cuneiform’s Youtube page:
Here’s HENRY KAISER’s Halloween show:
A Halloween EXTRAVAGANZA with a cavalcade of luminary guests: Buckethead, Jim Clark, Scott Colby, Sandy Ewen, Ed DeGenaro, Danielle DeGruttola, Brandy Gale, Vanessa Gould, Marco Minnemann, ChrIs Muir, Wayne Peet, Prairie PrInce, Jill Sobule, The Big Kitty, Trip Wamsley, and Vince Welnick...
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/