“Take a Giant Step”
Written by Gerry Goffin & Carole King
Covered by The Monkees - 1st album from 1966 and by
Taj Mahal on ‘Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home’ from 1969
Though you failed at love and lost
And sorrow's turned your heart to frost
I will mend your heart again
Remember the feeling as a child
When you woke up and morning smiled
It's time its time its time you felt like that again
There is just no percentage in remembering the past
It's time you learned to live again and love at last
Come with me leave your yesterday your yesterday behind
And take a giant step outside your mind
You stare at me with disbelief
You say for you there's no relief
But girl I swear it won't do you no harm
Don't sit there in your lonely room
Just looking back inside that gloom
Mama that's not were you belong
Come with me I'll take you where the taste of life is green
And everyday everyday hold on woman just got to be seen
Come with me leave your yesterday your yesterday behind
And take a giant step outside your mind
Though you failed at love and lost
And sorrow's turned your heart to frost
I will mend your heart again
Remember the feeling as a child
When you woke up and morning smiled
It's time its time its time you felt like that again
There is just no percentage in remembering the past
It's time you learned to live again and love at last
Come with me leave your yesterday your yesterday behind
And take a giant step outside your mind
While I was cooking up my brunch earlier today (2 sunnyside-up eggs w/ peppers, onions & mushrooms on an everything bagel), I put on a CD by my man, Taj Mahal. As soon as the second song began, “Take a Giant Step”, I started to sing along and felt much better about being alive. I’ve had the blooz for the past few weeks (see below) and need to make myself smile & dance & sing. This song did the trick. It was written by Goffin & King (Carole King), the famous 60’s writing team who wrote many hits for Aretha Franklin, Herman’s Hermits, the Animals, Dusty Springfield, the Righteous Bothers and the Monkees. The Monkees covered this song on their first album (1966), but it was Taj Mahal’s version (from 1969) that really made this song special. I just love this line, “Remember the feeling as a child, When you woke up and morning smiled”. It feels like Taj is singing it directly to me (the listener) and I can feel the sincerity within. I love the way the a song or even instrumental music casts its spell and makes us feel better, no matter how we felt before the song began. I continue to listen to quite a bit of the blues recently: a Sister Rosetta Tharpe cover comp, Geoff Muldaur, early John Hammond, Paul Butterfield’s Better Days plus several songs sung by Pigpen during his time with the Dead. Let’s raise a toast to blues singers everywhere and to the Common Women & Men everywhere. “F*ck the Fascists, Love the True Freedom Fighters” - MC BruceLee
THE ETERNAL MUSIC ARCHIVE SPECIALIST, BRUCE LEE GALLANTER, NEEDS YOUR HELP!
Ever since my new landlord for my apartment in NJ send me notice (2 weeks ago) to raise my rent by nearly $600 (a 40% increase!), I’ve had a great dose of the Kozmic Blues real bad! I’ve been in the same apt for since 1982, some 39 years and it is has been my home seemingly forever. There is no rent control in Rahway where I live so I am very worried, very stressed out about this and my future! I’ve talked with many friends (including a lawyer & a landlord/real estate pal) and family members to figure out what to do. The main problem is that I have a vast collection of albums, compact discs, singles, 3000 cassettes of live gigs I’ve taped (currently being downloaded by Matt Vernon for a future streaming site), 1,000 music DVDs, several hundred books on all sorts of music and 6 filing cabinets of every music magazines that I started to collect in 1966. This is a library and resource of epic proportions. I am searching for a college, music school or library to put all of this collection so that it can be utilized by current and future serious listeners, musicians and composers. In return I would like to get a part-time job as Music Archivist/Librarian and an apartment to live in & continue my work as an archivist. If you have any suggestions to help me find a situation like this, please let me know soon and spread the word to others who may want to help. Thanks to all my Friends worldwide who are riding this. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
THE DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY IN-STORE MUSIC SERIES CONTINUES with:
This, Saturday, November 13th, 2021: GAUCIMUSIC PRESENTS:
6:30pm CD Release Performance for "Pandemic Duets, VIJAY ANDERON / 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
Next Tuesday, November 16th:
6:30: ZOH AMBA - Tenor Sax & Flute / DAVID MIRARCHI - Alto Sax
7:30: ISAIAH COLLIER & AUSTIN WILLIAMSON - Sax & Drums
Masks are required to attend these events.
THIS WEEK’S FINEST MUSIC RELEASES BEGIN Some RARE ARCHIVAL DISCS from JOHN COLTRANE, SONNY ROLLINS & DON CHERRY!
JOHN COLTRANE with PHAROAH SANDERS / McCOY TYNER / JIMMY GARRISON / ELVIN JONES - A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle (Impulse! Records 342002; USA) “In the worthy annotation to this historically remarkable release, educator and author of the biography “John Coltrane His Life and Music” Lewis Porter provides a play by play of this unlikely nightclub performance of Coltrane’s worshipful masterpiece recorded October 2nd 1965. Porter writes “He (Coltrane) starts with the fanfare in E (described in Ashley Kahn’s notes as a ‘beautific benediction’), and the two bassists play together freely—the bowing appears to be (Donald Rafael) Garrett , and the pizzicato Garrison. Then, at 1:20 someone—certainly John—sets the tempo on cowbell and Elvin joins in. Garrison starts the famous main riff in F at 2:08. McCoy enters next.”
The performance and the recording begin auspiciously and the balance seems good but when Elvin Jones gets going, the two-microphone set up takes it from heaven to hell, or as mastering engineer Kevin Reeves puts it in a most understated way in his notes “….making for a very effective, balanced stereo image, even with a lot of bleed between the two channels. Elvin Jones, of course, is a major presence on both.”
In the opening “Acknowledgement” Jones dominates the sound to where Coltrane is left in the sonic dust as almost an afterthought. I wish it were otherwise but that’s how it is. If you can deal with the group leader/star attraction’s essentially off-mic performance there’s a great deal to like here, especially in the opening and very familiar “Acknowledgement”, energizing to hear live this way, but that’s still a big “if”.
Joining the “Classic Quartet” in this unusual performance of the near sacred in a profane club setting called The Penthouse, modeled after a Playboy Club featuring attractive young leotard-wearing women minus the bunny ears and tails, were new band members Pharoah Sanders and the aforementioned bassist Garrett, with alto saxophonist Carlos Ward guesting for this performance only. Despite three new group members, there had been no rehearsals and there are places where Coltrane can be heard coaxing things back together, which adds a bit of drama to what is already a high energy musical spectacle.
The performance ran twice the length of the studio version and includes four short interludes that produce peace amidst the near chaotic fury. On “Persuance”, Tyner use the extended time to riff a bit on “Giant Steps” and does some dazzling things with his right hand while Jones fortunately lays back enough to allow the piano to penetrate the space.
Just as the amateur recordist musician Joe Brazil had to flip the tape over at one point (the Ampex was a ¼ track machine), vinyl buyers will be flipping three times and find sides ending in fades that kind of break up the flow.” - Michael Fremer, AnalogPlanet.com
SONNY ROLLINS with HAN BENNINK / RUUL JACOBS - Rollins in Holland (Resonance Records 2948.2; USA) “’Rollins in Holland’ documents three previously-unreleased Sonny Rollins performances from May 1967. Resonance Records has exhibited an attention to detail that’s second to none with this 2-CD or 3-LP set that includes a 24-page booklet with photos, extensive liner notes, and interviews. The vinyl was mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed at RTI.
Historically the recordings help fill an important gap, as Rollins didn’t release any albums between 1966 and 1972—but he kept playing music. In the spring of 1967, he toured Holland, where he performed with two musicians from that country, bassist Ruud Jacobs and drummer Han Bennink. Some of those performances are captured here, and they mark—at least as far as recordings are concerned—the end of an era. When Rollins recorded again in 1972, he started adding instruments like electric piano, electric bass, percussion, and fusion-style electric guitar. So Rollins in Holland can be seen as a new capstone to the slate of recordings by the saxophone colossus in the all-acoustic trio format during the 50s and 60s.
That begins to tell you why Rollins in Holland deserves your attention, but there’s more—much more, in fact. This trio never rehearsed. This isn’t to suggest that the musicians freely improvised, as they were performing compositions that were standard repertoire for Rollins, and surely Jacobs and Bennink would have been familiar with songs like “Four,” “Love Walked In,” “Three Little Words,” and “Sonneymoon for Two.” Nonetheless, asking the trio to perform without rehearsing was a tall order. When soloists sit in with rhythm sections, as is common in some jazz clubs, the musicians sometimes exercise restraint until they become familiar with each other’s playing, and the pianist helps hold things together. But there was no pianist in this group, and this is Sonny Rollins we’re talking about, an artist who wasn’t known for playing it safe.
As it turns out, the same could be said of the musicians who joined him on the tour. When, in the liner notes to Rollins in Holland, Rollins says that the trio adopted a “take no prisoners” approach on the bandstand, he’s not engaging in hyperbole. With his big tenor sound and endless flow of ideas, Rollins plays in the exuberant and life-affirming manner that made him such a titan on the tenor. A force of nature himself, drummer Han Bennink pushes hard underneath, constantly driving the trio to new heights. With his big, fat, woody tone on the bass, bassist Jacobs stays in the pocket and provides a bulwark of support, offering a necessary counterbalance to a train that’s so high-powered it seems like it could fly off the rails at any moment.
I wish I could say the recordings are all of audiophile quality, but that’s not the case. There’s some good news, though. The first side of the album has clean sound with plenty of separation between the instruments, and when I listen to the unaccompanied tenor sax introduction to the opening track, “Blue Room,” I’m stunned by its presence and the beauty of Rollins’ playing. Sonically the May 5th concert performances are a notch above the May 3rd performance, but the May 3rd recordings are where the band really goes all out, with three performances over 19 minutes in length. Sonny Rollins fans will have their minds blown once again.” - Jeff Wilson, TheAbsoluteSound
2 CD Set $24
DON CHERRY with GATO BARBIERI / KARL BERGER / JF JENNY CLARK / HENRY GRIMES / ED BLACKWELL - Complete Communion & Symphony For Improvisers (Hat Ezz-Thetics 1122; Switzerland) "The 1960s were a decade of diversity and discovery for Don Cherry. They began with him an important part of Ornette Coleman's pathbreaking quartet, and ended as he ventured deeply into the musics of Turkey, India, the Caribbean, South America, and the northern and sub-Saharan regions of Africa in the process of defining his distinctive approach to a world music. But the first six years plot a course of exploration and revelation that led to the crystallization of these two masterpieces, Complete Communion and Symphony for Improvisers.
Their brilliance lies in the balance, and contrast, of formal organization and improvisational freedom - and especially the way that the form initiates and inspires the improvisational content. The musicians Cherry assembled for these recordings are certainly responsible for much of their ultimate success. But these specific groupings, and the concept which Cherry created for, and with, them only emerged from a journey of unprecedented and far-reaching experiences.”
NEW THINGS FOR THIS WEEK:
STEVE SWELL’S SYSTEMS FOR TOTAL IMMERSION - Hommage A Luciano Berio (Silkheart 164; Sweden) Featuring Steve Swell on trombone, pocket trumpet & compositions, Marty Ehrlich flute, alto sax & bass clarinet, Sam Newsome on soprano sax, Ellen Christie on voice & effects, Jim Pugliese on marimba and Gerald Cleaver on drums & percussion. This is the third of Steve Swell’s homages to 20th century composers (Bartok & Messiaen were first) and again, Mr. Swell has worked hard at organizing a fascinating project to explore the influence of Luciano Berio’s endlessly challenging music. One of the interesting parts of Berio’s composing was the use of voice on certain pieces which has inspired Mr. Swell to use the voice of avant/jazz vocalist Ellen Christie, a longtime collaborator of William Parker’s. Berio himself used texts from Samuel Beckett, E.E. Cummings, the Bible, T.S. Eliot & Karl Marx. Mr. Swell contributed two of his own poems for Ms. Christie to draw from.
Starting with “The Slow Reveal”, the sextet is swinging in a terse, somewhat fractured way. Both saxes are spinning tightly around one another while Ms. Christie scats furiously before she recites the words to Mr. Swell’s “Raw Material” poem. Jim Pugliese’s marimba often plays counterpoint to the ongoing rhythmic undertow provided by the great Gerald Cleaver’s ever-assured drumming. There are two trio pieces here for trombone, voice & marimba which work well as well-placed interludes between the other denser interaction. On “Systems for Total Immersion” Ms. Christie uses some echoplex or reverb to alter & multiply her voice to good effect. After hearing Artie Tripp & Ruth Underwood play marimba for the Mothers of Invention & Capt. Beefheart in the late 60’s/early 70’s, I am a big fan of that instrument. Downtown percussionist, Jim Pugliese is featured on marimba throughout this disc and does a great job on several pieces. Ellen Christie is also an old, dear friend of yours truly and someone whose singing I’ve long admired. Whether singing, doing spoken word or experimenting with her voice, she is integral to the success of this great disc. The ever-marvelous and always-in-demand drummer, Gerald Cleaver, is also featured on a couple of pieces and shows how expressive a drum solo can truly be. Throughout this entire disc, Mr. Swell keeps thing interesting by giving both reeds players and himself an ever-changing palette of quirky, complex arrangements which are often filled with surprising twists and turns. There are a handful of text by Berio himself used throughout this disc, discussing music, fascism, racism and other subjects well worthing thinking about. This is a profoundly thoughtful, inspiring and impressive undertaking so let’s applaud Steve Swell and the rest of his superb sextet for their great work. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOE McPHEE / MICHAEL BISIO / FRED LONBERG-HOLM / JUMA SULTAN - The Sweet Spot (Rogue Art 0114; France) Featuring Joe McPhee on tenor & soprano saxes & voice, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Michael Bisio on contrabass and Juma Sultan on percussion. Upstate reeds and brass wizard, Joe McPhee loves to wear his heart on his sleeve, always digging inside to expose the depth of his soul. This session was recorded at Dreamland Studio in Hurley, NY in January of this year (2021), during the middle of an international pandemic that kept most of humanity indoors and scared to go out. Mr. McPhee organized a strong quartet of good friends who also live in NY State, a rare gathering of Free Spirits. Both contrabass great Michael Bisio and master cello improviser Fred Lonberg-Holm have worked with McPhee on many previous occasions. Woodstock-area drummer/percussionist Juma Sultan is a legendary figure who once played in the Jimi Hendrix Gypsy Sun & Rainbows band as well as leading his own Aboriginal Music Society whose personnel included: Julius Hemphill, James “Blood” Ulmer, Frank Lowe and Abdul Wadud!?! Check out Mr. Sultan’s amazing AMS box set on Eremite if you can still find a copy.
Each member of the this quartet contributed a piece, as well as a couple of free pieces and two select covers, both by important late bassists: Charlie Haden and Henry Grimes. Mr. Bisio’s cosmic bass plucks is at the center of the opening piece, “Malachai”, the cello and percussion joining him, all swirling together mystically with McPhee’s soprano sailing on top. Mr. McPhee’s tone on soprano is slightly bent and rather poignant, like a sigh in the mist of a somber storm. When he switches to tenor, he starts to cry or scream through his sax adding some powerful punctuation at times. McPhee and Lonberg-Holm have worked together at length with Peter Brotzmann’s Chicago Tentet and the Survival Unit III. Hence, I hear quite a bit of strong, inspired interplay going on throughout this entire disc, both bending & twisting certainly notes, shadowing each other’s inner currents. Also at the center of the solemn storm here is Mr. Sultan’s supportive, magical hand percussion: congas, tambourine, shakers, etc., often locking in with Mr. Bisio’s ever-probing double bass playing. Mr. Bisio kicks off “Human Being” (by Charlie Haden) with his distinctive bass throb and is soon joined by McPhee’s solemn Ayler-esque tenor, haunting cello and earthy congas. “e320” features oner of those hypnotic repeating bass-lines that will make you smile once you hear it. The cello and both saxes drift around one another is a most organic way, having friendly dialogue. What I like most about this disc is the way provides a calm center, never pushing things too far out. The title piece, “The Sweet Spot” starts with ritualistic congas and Mr. McPhee’s righteous, jubilant vocalizations. The final piece is Henry Grimes’ “For Django”, which has some most enchanting cello, bowed bass & tenor theme, forlorn, tender and most stirring. Ever several cold days in a row, today (11/10/21) is filled with warm sunlight and a cool breeze. The music on this disc feels similar, both warm and cool at the same time. Mother Nature is calling us all so time to tune in and bathe in those Free Organic Spirits. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SERGIO ARMAROLI / STEVE PICCOLO / ELLIOTT SHARP - Blue in Mind (Leo Records LR 920; UK) Featuring Elliott Sharp on guitar, soprano sax & computer devices, Steve Piccolo on vocals & speech and Sergio Armaroli on vibes. Around once a month Downtown composer/guitarist/saxist/ bandleader, Elliott Sharp, comes to visit us at DMG with yet another new disc. This is a great thing since everything that Mr. Sharp does, is different, challenging and well-worth exploring. Longtime Downtown Underground figure, Steve Piccolo, once played bass with the early Lounge Lizards (1979-1981), around 40 years ago. Ever since, Mr. Piccolo has made a series of trio efforts with an unlikely cast: Elliott Sharp & Andrea Parkins, Gak Sato & Massimo Falascone. Besides bass, Mr. Piccolo plays a a variety of instruments: guitar, synth, Fender Rhodes, radio, TV and voice. Here, Mr. Piccolo is doing vocals and speech. I don’t know much about vibesman, Sergio Armaroli, although he did work with E# & Piccolo in a project called Syzygy with a 2 CD set released in 2019. And as a big fan of the vibes, I am always glad to be introduced to another fine vibes player.
In the enclosed booklet, there are words about these pieces, which are often minimal. The words spoken by Mr. Piccolo are also minimal. On the first few pieces, we find Mr. Sharp’s quiet, blues/jazz guitar in conversation with Amaroli’s laid-back, thoughtful vibes. Sharp switches to soprano sax and computer providing some eerie, softly disorienting sounds which work well with the spoken & thoughtful words and hushed ambience. Mr. Piccolo’s somber demeanor recalls Ken Nordine at times whose voice was often used in commercials and had a record called ‘Word Jazz’. Throughout this disc, Mr. Sharp does a fine job of creating a variety intriguing, ever-changing sounds, altering his sax or guitar and adding odd bits of computer-generated weirdness here and there. The vibes often accompany him in a loose yet tight-knit way. At times it seems as if Mr. Piccolo is making some “reasonable” observations about life while Sharp & Armaroli both add a cushion strange yet familiar sounds underneath the words. I like the fact that this is mostly laid-back and moody with quiet observations to consider if we choose to listen. The music is also mysterious yet restrained. A subtle gem from a unique trio. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ANDREA PARKINS - Two Rooms from the Memory Palace (Infrequent Seams IS-1037; USA) Though ostensibly an accordionist, in fact Andrea Parkins has simultaneously carved out a unique career as an electronic music experimentalist of the highest order. Not only has she frequently aligned herself with numerous simpatico improvisers (such as Nels Cline and Ellery Eskelin, to name but two), her broad-based disciplines have often sidelined her first instrument of choice to instead explore the deep vagaries of sound, tone, and texture. This single, 53-minute plus piece is not the first time Parkins has made use of media installation work; prior recordings have been legitimate photo negatives of said fixed sonic set-ups that have energized art galleries, various music festivals, and differing structures from which all manners of acousmatic renderings have arisen. Unlike the ’static’ sound installations popularized by the likes of Eno (of whom this recording echoes) or Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, the sounds here pulse and vibrate with febrile life, despite the cyclical nature inherent in such non-performance situations. Blending mulched field recordings, synthesizers, sculpted feedback, and other similarly unclassifiable sound sources, the imagery that unfolds in your mind’s eye is lush, detailed, and mimetic, a land/soundscape teeming with aural gestures imitating swarms of digital crickets, stealthy if alien animal life, the budding of foliage whose genus is utterly incorporeal, and atmospheric phenomena aswirl in plumages of kaleidoscopic, biotoxic color. Parkins is smart not to simply let her vast panoply of tones endlessly repeat ad nauseam; variability is as much of a key factor in this work’s metamorphosis as is establishing a singular mood. Recalling some of the piquant moments of artists from the INA-GRM school, the likes of Roland Kayn and his cybernetic music, Carl Stone and Morton Subotnick’s sonic bric-a-brac, or any one of a dozen electroacoustic operators vacating the halls of academia for uncharted computer generated worlds, Parkins’ achievement embraces Eno’s ambient dictum of being both ignorable and immersive, while it cooly subverts it, making for a many-splendored thing indeed. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DANIEL CARTER / AYUMI ISHITO / ERIC PLAKS / ZACH SWANSON / JON PANIKKAR - Open Question Vol. 1 (577 Records 5869-1; USA) Featuring Daniel Carter on trumpet, flute, clarinet, soprano, alto & tenor sax, Ayumi Ishito on tenor sax & effects, Eric Plaks on piano & Wurlitzer el. piano, Zach Swanson on acoustic bass and Jon Panikkar on drums. The 577 Records label has moved beyond just being prolific this year with some 30 discs and more coming before the year’s end. Multi-reeds & brassman, Daniel Carter, is on more 577 Records discs (2 dozen!) than anyone else but never as a leader, just a strong collaborator. Saxist Ayumi Ishito had a mighty fine disc out as a leader on 577 from July of this year. Pianist Eric Plaks has been sending or leaving us his half dozen varied discs for the past five years, from a duo with Blaise Siwula to his own quintet to the Shrine Big Band. Bassist Zach Swanson, another Downtown newcomer has been playing with the Listening Group, Adam Hopkins and Astroturf Noise. Drummer Jon Panikkar is also a member of Eric Plaks’ quintet and has worked with Blais Siwula.
The first piece is called “Blues” and it is laid back, spacious and is somewhat blues-like with solemn soft, swirling clarinet and tenor sax. Ms. Ishito has a warm, lush tone on tenor here with some exquisite piano from Mr. Plaks. The interplay between all five members of the quintet is tight yet free, always connect and freely flowing, most organic sounding. On “Dimly-Lit Platform” the tenor (Ishito) wanders in to the Old School tender tone of the elders while moving through a slow dreamland. Both Daniel carter’s suave flute and Ishito’s tenor are ever so warm and elegant. “Confidential BBQ” is long and sprawling, dreamy & floating… in the last section Mr. Carter plays a soft, sad muted trumpet solo, like a ghost from a distant dream. I think this disc is going to surprise some folks who think they have an idea what Daniel Carter can do. His playing has somehow ripened and sounds more sublime, ultra-subtle at times, still other worldly like a Sun Ra alumni. Near the end of this piece, Ayumi Ishito adds a bit reverb shading to her tenor giving it an ever more cosmic sound. The ever-underrated Eric Plaks plays some especially inspired electric piano here, got to search out more his own obscure leader discs. It seems to me that the 577 Records label has stolen the mantle from Clean Feed this year as the most consistent, adventurous, exciting and diverse labels of this period. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
FRANK GRATKOWSKI & ELISABETH HARNIK - Billungga (Klanggalerie GG 386; Germany) Elisabeth Harnik is an Austrian based pianist and composer. Frank Gratkowski is a German saxophonist. This is their first collaboration of free jazz.. Elisabeth Harnik, an Austrian based pianist and composer has created a multi-faceted body of work by blurring genre boundaries through various collaborations in the field of improvised music, interdisciplinary projects and contemporary compositional works. She studied classical piano and later - with Beat Furrer - composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz. As an improviser she works within an electro-acoustic inspired sound-world, using specific preparations and extended techniques while pushing the limitations of the piano. Amongst others she has collaborated with Frank Gratkowski, Dave Rempis & Michael Zerang, Joelle Leandre and Ken Vandermark. Frank Gratkowski was born in Hamburg in 1963 and studied saxophone in Cologne. Apart from being a soloist in many ensembles, he also performs solo. In 1995 he founded the Frank Gratkowski Trio which since 2000 has been expanded to a quartet. In 2020, Gratkowski performed duos with Elisabeth Harnik both at Klangspuren festival in Austria as well as the Moers Festival in Germany. The tracks off this album were recorded there and were mastered in 2021 for CD release.
MIA ZABELKA / GLEN HALL The Quantum Violin (FMR CD622-0721; UK) An improvisational string-strangulated squeakfest of near-epic proportions. Austrian violinist Zabelka fits right in with the FMR family, admirably acquitting herself not only on violins acoustic and electric, but hard-wiring her instrument through Ableton Live software, various electronic devices, and ‘alien objects’. Her foil herein, Canadian electronic auteur Hall, handles modules nicked quantum oscillator, catart, catoracle, omax, and a gaggle of other oddball digital interlocutors. Among its definitions, the adjectival ‘quantum’ is defined as something sudden and significant; it is termed in the field of physics as the smallest quantity of radiant energy. Well, together, Zabelka and Hall manage to embrace both descriptors simultaneously. The titular work is divided into thirteen discrete movements, each detailing Zabelka’s subsequent excoriation, dismantling, and dissection of the violin, through and over which Hall bisects her instrument’s cries for mercy via a tortuous insertion of myriad electronics. This is a recording of high, unstable frequencies and intelligently mounted skronk. When the electronics aren’t present, as on track seven, Zabelka acoustically masticates her strings with a deconstructive, post-classical glee, miles away from even the most outer-band compositions of Mark Feldman or Billy Bang. Her playing is ferociously free, shorn of context and no-holds-barred in its sometimes microtonal approach. When either Hall re-enters the picture, or it's Zabelka who mangles things further through her corrosive signal processing (it’s difficult to often tell who’s manipulating who), the two ignite a series of intense electrical storms that literally singe the air. What results is a whiplash effect that keeps both performers and listeners on their toes. Conversations this extreme can sometimes leave a bad taste, but this dynamic duo bring considerably more than a quantum of solace to the table. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
BROEDE SCHIRMER UNIT - Berlin, Germany - imaginary moments in a city (FMR 0721; UK) Featuring Tobias Schirmer on bass & regular clarinet, Matthias Broede on harmonica & piano, Jan Roder on bass and Bernd Oezsevim on drums. The two co-leaders here are certainly not well-known although Mr. Schirmer is also a member of Kokotob who have a CD out on Clean Feed plus I do know the rhythm section members from many previous collaborations: Jan Roder from his work with Die Enttauschung, Silke Eberhard and Alex Von Schlippenbach. The drummer, Bernd Oezsevim had been working with Gunter Hampel for the past decade or so. Four of the six pieces here were written by Mr. Broede, the other two are group improvs. The opening piece, “Prominent Promenade on Planufer” is a quiet work with some superb free-flowing clarinet and piano over a quick-spinning rhythm team. Midway, Mr. Broede switches from piano to chromatic harmonica, which works quite well with the clarinet or bass clarinet led trio. What’s interesting is this: Mr. Broede turns out to be a master soloist on his chromatic harp (harmonica), which is pretty rare to find. Much of the music here sounds quaint and is very laid back at times with occasional intense flourishes, which rise and fall like waves in the ocean. There are two freer pieces here which are unfold carefully give this disc a suite-like sound since all of the pieces flow together so well. “Sommerfrische Humbolt” is the longest and most adventurous piece here with some especially well written/played sections for the harmonica and clarinets which are hard to tell apart at times. The combination of these two instruments is certainly unique and it puts this quartet in a class of its own. Mr. Broede stretches out on piano on this long work and takes an extraordinary solo midway. Considering that neither of the two leaders here are not very well known, this is an outstanding, creative session that goes for exuberance to some exquisite restrained yet most crafty sections. Wonderful, wonderful! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SCHINDLER & STEMPKOWSKI - related unique items (FMR 0721; UK) Featuring Udo Schindler on clarinets, saxes & brass (a baritone horn in pictured) and Thomas Stempkowski on double bass. Over the past 6 or so years, German saxist Udo Schindler has had more than 15 releases out mostly on the FMR label. Mostly duos and trios, everything I’ve heard so far has knocked me out! For this session, Mr. Schindler works with a bassist called Thomas Stempkowski, whose name is not listed in the DMG database whatsoever so I haven’t heard of him until now. This live date was recorded in October of 2019 at two galleries in Munich, Germany. Mr. Stempkowski opens this disc with a strong, bowed bass solo intro, a dense, cosmic throb tone. He sounds like a contender for the current contrabass throne which is incredible since I hadn’t heard of him before. Udo Schindler soon enters and plays some solemn, softly bent-note (bass?) clarinet. There is quite a bit of strong interplay going on here, an intense ongoing dialogue which flows back and forth most organically. The acoustic bass often sounds like an entire rhythm team, keeping the rhythmic/bass-led flow pumping throughout while Schindler switched between alto sax, different clarinets and (what looks like a) baritone horn. Mr. Schindler moves to the baritone horn for the second long suite, recorded the next day at a different gallery or space. What makes this duo and/or disc work is that these two players work slowly and carefully, coaxing long-tones with practically no screams or or harsh squawks. Both instruments have a warm, wooden, thoughtful tone and work together extremely well. The fact that this music is so restrained at times that it takes a bit of patience to just sit back and let the music flow without too much expectation to get in the way. Things do build and escalate into some more dense & intense sections in the last part of this sort of suite. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
BELEDO - Seriously Deep (Moonjune MJR 118; USA) Named after one of Eberhard Weber’s Colours works from his 1978 ECM issued album Silent Feet, guitarist Beledo’s new one is every bit as sublime as its namesake. The liner notes indicate the guitarist’s admiration, influence, and affection for Weber’s music, but Beledo isn’t interested in simple note-for-note readings; he’s used the Weber piece as a foundation to launch his own exploration of jazz and fusion’s more profound depths and compositionally rich pageants. And he’s enlisted the services of legendary journeyman bassist Tony Levin and drummer Kenny Grohowski to flesh out a wealth of ideas that expound upon and further transcend Weber’s already mighty template. The title track alone flows beautifully between a distinctive variety of moods and styles, every bit the analog of Weber, Beledo majestically soaring along the composition’s exquisite melody lines. The guitarist has a most remarkable and fluid tone that recalls Allan Holdsworth and Gary Boyle, while the entire disc alternates between moments of grandiloquency, grace, and passion, often within the same piece. Grohowski and Levin are a rhythm section made in heaven, Levin’s bass consistently grounding the entire session while Grohowski’s energetic and accurately-chosen accents often reincarnate the ghost of the late, lamented Jon Christensen. Other discretely-placed touches help to elevate the album onto even higher planes: Kearoma Rantao’s vocals on “Mama D” raise the bar of her cohorts' performance onto the same lofty climes as Annette Peacock accomplished on Bill Bruford’s Feels Good to Me. It doesn’t hurt that Grohowski manages to somehow pound and finesse his kit around Beledo’s serpentine note-bending, while Levin’s magisterial pulse brings forty-plus years of expertise to bear on the proceedings. Indeed, the trio cross so many aspects of the jazz vernacular it’s often difficult to keep up, from the National Health-inflected complexities of "Coasting Zone” to the ECM soundscape atmospherics of “Knocking Waves”, where Beledo’s electronica-flavored effects give new meaning and improved vitality to the term ‘ambient jazz’. In an impressive year for music that has seen some superb work issued on an almost week-to-week basis, Seriously Deep easily stands head and shoulders above the rest. Brilliant on all counts, and one of this writer’s top releases of 2021. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DEVIN MAXWELL - Works 2011-14 (Infrequent Seams; USA) One of the first releases on the wonderfully named New York label Infrequent Seams, this collection of work and sound studies by multi-instrumentalist Devin Maxwell, like colleague Andrea Parkins, fundamentally comprises what is called ‘fixed-media’ electronics, i.e., sound installations, although a number of pieces here feature all acoustic tools as well. As a compilation of Maxwell’s works throughout the three years indicated, it’s a bit of a scattershot affair rather than a cohesive album, but that small observation aside, the music not only crosses barriers and boundaries but retains powerful nuances a shared synergy that belies its farflung origins. The opening "Bonneville Park” is one of the most electronic-oriented works here, the initial few moments an ear-warping collage of acoustic whirrs, flutters, stop-starts, interruptions, and intentional snafus that eventually reconstitutes into a shapeshifting tableau of decidedly greyscale electronic tonalities; strange and compelling. The four part “Flatbush, NY”, recorded in 2012, features a string quartet whose post-classical, strangulated skeins take their cue from such disparate models as Elliot Sharp’s similarly poised compositions to the more outré realms of the Ardetti String Quartet, motifs dry as summer tinder, ready to burst into flame. “Bunt Do Gone” places Maxwell’s piano and Nathan Herrera’s saxophone thusly into an abyss fraught with silence and digital susurration, while “Chester NJ” and “Drifting” utilize similar constructs while substituting orchestra and the instruments of contemporary chamber music for the more stark electronics of the earlier pieces in a sort of august, post-modern minimalism that is quite striking to behold. The album’s finale, “Chord Toss 3”, features the Red Desert Ensemble and Maxwell trading licks on vibraphone, bass clarinet and the requisite interspatial electronics in a haunting reverie of cascading eventides that sound like sprites dancing on the heads of pins. Quite unusual, and ever so scintillating. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
PAMELA Z - A Secret Code (Neuma 143; USA) Pamela Z doesn’t seem to come up in conversation when discussing some of the more singular sound experimentalists working amongst us, but she damn well should. Every bit as pioneering as Cage, Tudor, James Tenney, Cornelius Cardew, et al, Pamela’s modus operandi is a general remake/remodel of the human voice, contextualized out-of-proportion, reintegrated into a matrix of socio-political dimensions and affect few artists seem comfortable with or willing to engage in. Using gesture-controlled MIDI instruments, including a gesture-activated MIDI controller called the BodySynth, various speech samples, and much signal processing and looping to realize her wholly-individualistic soundworlds, Pamela’s approach resembles that of such abstract painters as Magritte and Tanguy (not to mention the cut-and-paste monologues initiated by William Burroughs), artists in thrall to juxtaposition, abstract notions made flesh, and a sense of the absurd given tactile sensation. Pamela’s obsession with everything about the human voice, whether it churns up the foggy bottom, sifts about in soft demures, or recites text with an unyielding force, is the fundamental bedrock upon which she makes her most striking declarative statements. “Unknown Person” incorporates found text ‘lyrics’ and an operatic loop of the track’s title words in a post 9-11 oratorio rife with cool detachment and gut-wrenching melancholia. The skipping CD ‘rhythms’ of “Site Four”, composed for dance, could be the glitch-symphonies of Oval raised to operatic heights, both inviting and alienating. “Typewriter” couldn’t be more literal, its component parts lifted from Pamela’s actual keystrokes, her monotonal voice dripping with contempt and sarcasm as she types a Cage-y letter to some mysterious penpal. The three-part “Timepiece Triptych” seems to warp time and space as Pamela’s voice gets timestretched like taffy pulled across the stars, her vocal fragments scattered like confetti across the stereo-field much like Laurie Anderson’s particular brand of oscillating audiomulch. A challenging, demanding, confrontational listen, but, to paraphrase Henry Cow, art isn’t a mirror, it’s a hammer - Darren Bergstein, DMG
ARCANE DEVICE - Circuit Dreams (Pulsewidth PW013; USA) Isolationism’s been idea-food for David Lee Myers, who has been on a helluva productive streak lately, made more remarkable by the fact that this recent clutch of recordings has not suffered for lack of innovation or scope. This latest Pulsewidth missive as Arcane Device finds him once again rending our expectations asunder, unleashing his full arsenal of electronic ways and means in another devastating montage of sound and vision. Simply put, it’s a veritable bleepfest. That’s not to say that Myers can tread down more contemplative, spacier paths: “Circumstances/Consequences” is an aviary/bestiary of chirps, trills, ringing things, and irising oscillations, glimpsing the Cluster of disintegrating ships at the event horizon. “Reversible Cups” mitigates the starshine for more oceanic depths, tones like buoys bobbing on tumultuous, viscous seas while replicant seagulls divebomb for shimmering plankton. “Tapioca Wrap” feels like Myers is tirelessly wrestling tones from his machine’s constipated innards, relieving them of their globular, analog enzymes as they hack out some off-kilter, phlegmatic grooves. And on “Particularly Hard Hit” (Myers’ titular wordplay remains as devilishly inventive as his sonic artwork), loopy electronic currents and eddies expand ever outwards, stagger in a drunken haze, and collapse in a heap right at your feet. You leave gobsmacked, overwhelmed by the sheer audacity on display, thanking the heavens for Myers and his always-intoxicating aural absinthe. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DAMON WAITKUS / BEN SPEES - Ventifacts (Self-Produced; USA) This disc is a collaboration between Damon Waitkus, leader of the great Bay Area-based progressive band, Jack O’The Clock with Ben Spees, leader of the Portland, Oregon-based band The Mercury Tree. I am a big fan of Jack O’The Clock, whose eight releases (starting in 2008), I own and do indeed enjoy. I recall that Fred Frith wrote notes for and worked with members of Jack O’The Clock, their rhythm section are now members of the Fred Frith trio. I hadn’t heard of The Mercury Tree before now although they do have some seven self-produced recordings. Here’s the personnel for this project: Damon Waitkus - vocals, hammered dulcimer, baritone & piccolo electric & acoustic guitars, guzheng, flute, percussion, psaltery & electric talshogoto; Ben Spees on vocals, electric, acoustic & bass guitars, keyboards & percussion plus Emily Packard on strings, Oliver Campbell bass and Connor Reilly on drums.
“Azimuth of Sunrise” opens with layers of mostly acoustic guitars, eerie electric keyboards, a haunting chorus of vocals, another layer of keyboard spice. “Pacific” features a hammered dulcimer which sounds a bit like a harpsichord, with varied layers of a precious vocal chorus. About the closest comparison would be the band XTC. “Bonneville” describes a road trip through mild, psychedelic scenery. Each piece seems to built up from more simple fragments with odd psych seasoning added. Each songs has a certain amount of magic dust added, each instrument or vocal has had some slight manipulation, bits of reverb, subtle drones or sustain, blending electric & acoustic instruments into one haunting, somewhat hypnotic sound. “The Ballad of Hearst & Herriman” reminds me of quaint pop/psych from the Summer of Love (1967) era, a sort-of multi-tiered fairy tale with somber plucked banjos floating through the mix. Both Mr. Waitkus and Mr. Spee have created an assortment of odd characters who populate their quirky soundscapes. “Hidden Well” has a great midsection where several layers intersect, sortof like Yes & XTC joining forces, yet it soon switches direction, adding several layers of vocals. It is going to many listenings to hear all of the swell, mesmerizing interlocking layers that build up and then sail back down while different voices dance around the kaleidoscopic dreamscape. This disc a winner if you appreciate the blend, where psych, pop & prog intersect in rich colors. Very limited so don’t let this treasure escape unnoticed. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $15 [Hand-made beige cardboard envelope with lovely seal on the back/LTD edition of 150]
CHRISTIAN WOLFF - “3 String Quartets” (New World Records 80830-2; USA) On New World’s latest release of Christian Wolff’s music, three selections performed by longtime collaborators Quatuor Bozzini convey both Wolff’s consistency of thought, and sonic unpredictability. Across the CD, you can trace connections in style, musicality, and even phrasing that transcend and affirm his characteristic aleatory approaches. The excellent liner notes (penned by Michael Pisaro) explain with great detail and reverence how each piece fits into a career defined by “quietly reinventing chamber music”, and how Wolff subverts even the most conventional and dominant of instrumental formats. It is apt that while the release is titled “3 String Quartets”, none of the pieces fit cleanly into the naming or structural conventions of classic quartets. For Wolff, the writing consistently centers the structural and psychological relationships between the players, bypassing cliches about an ensembles identity as a unit and accounting for individual agency to define the minutiae at the point of contact. The first selection “String Quartet Exercise out of Songs” dates from 1974-76, and surprised me upon first listen with its bombastic embrace of formalism. These are bold melodic statements with familiar bits of counterpoint, accented by aggressive and purposeful descents into dissonance. Wolff defines this piece as coming out of a “more political period”, and uses these Exercises to extrapolate the vigor and purpose of folk-derived protest songs, subverting their explicit musical character but allowing their power to surface. “For 2 violinists, violist, and cellist” (2008) was a commission for Quatuor Bozzini, and feels more aligned with classic Wolff, displaying a material fascination and playful indeterminate techniques. These techniques vary widely throughout the piece, and i definitely encourage following Pisaro’s notes for an insight into the astonishing cohesion and commitment that the players have achieved here. “Out of Kilter (String Quartet 5)” (2019) is another commission collaboration, and is comprised of episodic miniatures, deploying distinct, simple constructions to execute a series of harmonically open gestures that never lack for focus or emotional color. This CD demands and invites many listens, and after 8 of my own I feel like I’m still beginning to scratch the surface of all there is to explore. Wolff is undoubtedly one of the great treasures of his generation, and I am very thankful for the informed editorial sense that went into the grouping of the selections here, shedding new light and conversation about the nature of his living legacy. - Frank Meadows for DMG
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO - Esperanto (WeWantSounds 043; UK) “Wewantsounds continues their Ryuichi Sakamoto reissue series with the release of the 1985 album Esperanto, composed for a performance by New York avant-garde choreographer Molissa Fenley. Produced and performed by Sakamoto with contribution by Arto Lindsay and Japanese percussionist Yas-Kaz, Esperanto is a fascinating instrumental work mixing electronica, ambient and synth pop. Released in Japan in 1985 on Midi Inc.s' School label, the album has never been released outside of Japan until now. Esperanto originally came out in 1985 and was Ryuichi Sakamoto's sixth solo album. Coming after his stint with the influential Yellow Magic Orchestra, and also the worldwide success of Sakamoto's 1984 soundtrack for the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (in which he starred alongside David Bowie), Esperanto was a return to Sakamoto's leftfield roots. Composed as the soundtrack to a performance by New York choreographer Molissa Fenley (a show commissioned by Japanese producer Shozo Tsurumoto), the album was masterminded by Sakamoto with the help of the cutting-edge electronic technology of the time (the only external contributions are by Arto Lindsay on guitar and Japanese composer Yas-Kaz on percussion). Indeed, the album is a fascinating soundscape experimenting with the new sampler technology -- which, according to Ryuichi Sakamoto from a conversation with journalist Andy Beta mentioned in the liner notes, needed a computer that was huge at the time. Esperanto is composed of eight tracks displaying a varied mix of influences. "A Wongga Dance Song" is pulsating with rhythms while "A Rain Song" adopts a minimalist mode with its distinctive repetitive pattern. "Dolphins" and "A Carved Stone" are captivating ambient pieces showcasing Sakamoto's talent for setting beautiful abstract melodic ornaments over atmospheric tones. One of the highlights of the album is "Adelic Penguins", a fascinating proto techno piece with a funky twist stretching over six minutes which echoes the electro funk of 1981's album Hidari Ude No Yume (WWSCD 033CD/WWSLP 033LP/WWSLP 034LP). "Ulu Watu", a collage-like piece featuring bird motives and a tropical soundscape closes the album with an experimental note. It's interesting to note that, a year later, the tracks from Esperanto would be turned into an experimental video project by New York visual artists Kit Fitzgerald and Nam June Paik collaborator Paul Garrin. A unique album in Ryuichi Sakamoto's rich discography, Esperanto is a groundbreaking work worth rediscovering in its full glory. Original artwork; includes two-page insert with a new introduction by journalist Andy Beta. Audio remastered in Tokyo by Seigen Ono.”
EMBRYO - Auf Auf (Madlib Invazion 047CD; USA) "The lauded krautrocking, global groove ensemble's first album on maverick producer Madlib's label. The late Christian Burchard, who founded the Embryo ensemble in 1969, loved the slogan Auf Auf, German for 'Up, Up', or 'Keep On Going'. Anyone with anything more than a passing interest in the German krautrock scene of the 1970s and 1980s knows that Burchard followed that intent, all around the world, tirelessly seeking out new sounds and inspirations and creating a catalog of music unlike most anything else the world has ever heard. Madlib has often said Embryo is his favorite rock band. Of course the hip-hop-producer-with-the-deepest-musical-knowledge knows Embryo is more than just a rock band -- but, for the purposes of these notes, let's keep it simple. When Marja Burchard, Christan's daughter, who grew up with Embryo and toured with them for years, took the reins of the ensemble after Christian's death in 2018, she started recording what would become this album, over the course of two years, finishing it in the throes of the Covid pandemic in 2020. She approached Madlib and Egon, who had, years back, visited and jammed with Christian Burchard, and Embryo musicians Uve Mullrich, Roman Bunka and Jan Weissenfeldt, in a Bavarian wine cellar, with the idea to issue Auf Auf on Madlib Invazion. The reply was a resounding, definitive 'yes'. So here is Marja's take on the Embryo ethos, continuing with her father's intrepid style, and leading the band in her own style. Auf Auf ranges from the deep, free-form jazz of 'Alphorn Prayer' to modal music from Afghanistan on 'Baran' to psychedelic-tinged jazz-rock of the title track Joining Marja are those like Embryo veterans Bunka, on oud and guitar, and Karl Hector and the Malcouns/Whitefield Brothers/Poets of Rhythm producer and guitarist Jan Weissenfeldt and others, including important players on the global scene from Afghanistan and Morocco."
KROKOFANT WITH STALE STORLOKKEN AND INGEBRIGT HAKER FLATEN - Fifth (Rune Grammofon 2222; Norway) “As David Fricke pointed out in his liner notes to Q (RCD 2209CD/RLP 3209LP), the previous album from this expanded edition of Krokofant, this is not just another novelty guest-project. In fact, all the involved were so happy after finishing Q that a follow-up was decided upon straight away. So here it is, with four new tunes from guitarist and leader Tom Hasslan, each clocking in between eight and twelve minutes. Originally a guitar and drums duo, Tom and Axel met in a guitar shop in Kongsberg, a town in southern Norway famous for its annual jazz festival since 1964, and recognized for its experimental and innovative profile. Jørgen was invited to join them for the sessions that resulted in their self-titled debut album in February 2014. Two more albums followed in 2015 and 2017. When considering guest musicians for Q, to become their fourth album, keyboard maestro Ståle Storløkken (Elephant9, Supersilent, Terje Rypdal) was the trio's first choice. He had seen Krokofant live in 2015 and, in his own words, "had an instant kick", so he said yes straight away. Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (Scorch Trio, The Thing, Atomic) had seen them the same year, and after a few backstage beers practically invited himself to join up at some time. By his introduction, a "proper" rhythm section was born and work was lifted from Hasslan's shoulders. Hasslan's tunes are perfect vehicles for Storløkken to present the full scope of his playing; from sheer pastoral beauty to full on jazz skronk. The same can be said about Mathisen, who is given ample room for soloing. The tunes are rich in harmonic structures and melodic hooks, but there is also room for adventures into more free passages. Many names have been mentioned in connection with Krokofant over the years, but with the distinctive sax and organ combination, it's difficult not think of Van der Graaf Generator in their prime. Which is the highest accolade in our book, anyway. Thus, the expanded Krokofant is everything a progressive jazz and rock fan could wish for; positive energy, melodic riches, excellent musicianship and a touch of magic served with a healthy respect for the past and a foot in the future.
THOMAS ANKERSMIT - Perceptual Geography (Shelter Press 130CD; France)
Shelter Press release of Perceptual Geography, Thomas Ankersmit's latest record. The music was created as a loosely structured piece for live performance in 2018-2019, commissioned by CTM in Berlin and Sonic Acts in Amsterdam, and premiered there on the GRM Acousmonium. The music is inspired by -- and dedicated to -- the pioneering research of American composer and installation artist Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009), and created entirely on the Serge Modular analog synthesizer. Ankersmit and Amacher first met in New York in 2000, and kept in touch over the following years. Her concerts and installations left a deep impression on him. Amacher, being close to the Tcherepnin family, also first introduced Ankersmit to the Serge synthesizer, developed by Serge Tcherepnin in the 1970s. In the piece, Ankersmit explores different "modes" of listening: not just which sounds are heard and when, but also how and where sounds are experienced (in the room, in the body, inside the head, far away, nearby). So-called otoacoustic emissions (sounds emanating from inside the head, generated by the ears themselves) play a prominent role. When turned up lou material moves beyond the loudspeakers and starts to trigger additional tones inside the listener's head; tones that are not present in the recorded music. Cupping the ears with the hands and slight movements of the head also help to bring these tones to life. Maryanne Amacher was the first artist to systematically explore the musical use of these phenomena, often referring to them as "ear tones". The title is a reference to Amacher's essay "Psychoacoustic Phenomena in Musical Composition: Some Features of a Perceptual Geography", and despite the all-electronic instrumentation, a dramatic sense of landscape and environment often emerges. There are sparks of fire, howling wind, distant thunder, a swarm of bats disappearing into the distance. Ghostly, floating tones are contrasted with highly dynamic sounds darting around the listener, and large, heavy waves rolling in slowly. "Ear tone" stimuli weave in and out of these textures, emerging from them. Once or twice, the music seems to completely freeze in time, but a slight movement of the listener's head reveals changes. For each live performance, Ankersmit tunes his instrument to the resonant characteristics of the performance space, so that the sounds activate the structure, traveling through the architecture and setting it in motion. The record is accompanied by an extensive conversation between Ankersmit and Serge Tcherepnin, creator of the Serge Modular and friend and collaborator of Amacher.
FLUXION - Parallel Moves (Vibrant Music 016; Germany) “Fluxion continues to carve his own musical path, taking his listeners to a personal journey in his inner world, moods and moments, showcasing the importance of being influenced by none other than real life moments, people, expectations, joy, dreams and disappointments. Expressing what comes from the inside, instead of the outside, creating a more intimate work, is at the main focus of the artist since his previous album Perspectives that came out on May 2020. Artistic development happens from within, not from repeating formulas of the past, but embracing and mixing life events, alongside different styles of music culture, and creating personal stories, outside of trends, that's what keeps the music interesting. On Parallel Moves, Fluxion flows through various emotional states, and through blending of styles and expanding the borders, he manages to create variety listening to the album which is essential on an LP. But even with the variety the music bears the Fluxion sound aesthetic making it an enjoyable listening experience, that requires more listens.”
PHUONG TAM - Magical Nights: Saigon Surf, Twist & Soul (1964-1966)(Sublime Frequencies 120; USA) Sublime Frequencies present the first ever retrospective of Phương Tâm, the groundbreaking Saigon teenager who became one of the first singers to perform and record rock and roll in 1960s Vietnam. By chance in early 2020, Hannah Hà (USA) learned that her mother, Phương Tâm, had once been a famous young singer, performer and recording artist at the heart of Saigon's music scene in the early 1960s. The family had heard some mention of their mom as a singer at the time, but the extent of her legacy and the many songs she had recorded came as a big surprise. Further investigations soon led Hannah to producer Mark Gergis, compiler of Saigon Rock and Soul (SF 060CD, 2010), enlisting him to join her on a journey of discovery and recovery. The result is this essential document of Phương Tâm's brief but prolific career, and at the same time, reuniting the long-lost music with its singer. The unique strengths and qualities of Phương Tâm's voice, coupled with her commanding stage presence, had swiftly elevated her to top billings on Saigon's nightclub stages. Parallel to the brutality and uncertainty of an already protracted war, South Vietnam's music and recording industry were developing at a rapid pace in the early 1960s. Globally, musical trends with wild, ephemeral dance crazes were being thought up weekly; the twist, hully gully, the mashed potato -- none of them a problem for Phương Tâm. She soon caught the attention of Saigon's leading recording companies and composers (Y Vân, Khánh Băng, Trường Hải, Thanh Sơn, Y Vũ and Mặc Thế Nhân, among others). Her energy translated unsurprisingly well in the studio, backed by electric guitars, contrabass, drums, lush brass sections, saxophone, piano, organ and rich backing vocals. Between 1964-1966, Phương Tâm would record almost 30 known tracks, released by the three main record companies in Saigon. The teenage starlet became a vital centerpiece of pop music of the time, and one of the very first singers to perform and record rock and roll (known locally as nhạc kích động, or, action music) -- though as you'll hear, she could also transform a jazz ballad into something otherworldly. While these musical styles were undeniably influenced by contemporary trends worldwide, the musicians and composers worked to localize the sounds, incorporating linguistic adaptations, lyrical content and past artistic traditions into something all their own. In 1966, as Saigon's music scene continued to evolve and escalate, Phương Tâm walked away from her singing career without looking back -- marrying the man she loved and beginning the next rich chapter of her life. But her recorded output had laid the stylistic groundwork for the following generations of singers, and many of the songs she first sang would later be further popularized by others. Her impactful, but short-spanning career has seen her legacy remain historically understated until now. Due to the lack of master tapes or documentation from pre-1975 Vietnam, and the scarcity of records and tapes that had survived the war, it was difficult to grasp the extent of Phương Tâm's discography. A collective effort was required in sourcing materials and information to compile this record, involving key collectors and producers internationally (Jan Hagenkötter, Cường Phạm, Adam Fargason, Khoa Hà -- granddaughter of composer Y Vân, and researcher Jason Gibbs). As the veils of history were slowly lifted, the genuine thrill was witnessing Phương Tâm herself, hearing these songs for the first time in over 50 years -- sometimes since the day she recorded them. At the heart of this project is a family story -- Hannah Hà's dedication to recovering and sharing her mother's musical legacy is helping put Phương Tâm back on center stage after 55 years. But it is also a story that adds critical context to the fragmented understanding of Vietnamese popular culture during the 20th century, particularly after so much has been lost to war and dislocation. The album features 25 tracks, restored and remastered from original records and reel tapes. Six-panel digipak, with two 32-page booklets in English and Vietnamese, featuring extensive liner notes by Hannah Hà and Mark Gergis, exclusive photos, album and sheet music art, original magazine and newspaper extracts, nightclub advertisements and more.”
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.
December program at ZÜRCHER gallery, NY :
Saturday December 4, 8 PM : DAVID ROTHENBERG & DOUGLAS EWART!
Sunday December 5 at 7.30 PM : AN AYLER CHRISTMAS with MARS WILLIAMS / JAIMIE BRANCH / STEVE SWELL / AVA MENDOZA / FRED LONBERG-HOLM / HILLIARD GREENE / CHAD TAYLOR!
Wednesday December 8, 8 PM : DARIUS JONES - Solo
Thursday December 16, 8 PM : TYSHAWN SOREY & ADAM RUDOLPH
Monday December 20, 8 PM PETR KOTIK presents .. (TBD)
All Gigs are $20
33 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10012
Tel: 212-777-0790 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Proof of full vaccination, photo ID and face masks are required
The Independent Promoters Alliance Presents:
THE TOM RAINEY TRIO with INGRID LAUBROCK & MARY HALVORSON!
Thursday, December 30th at 7:30pm - $20
At DiMenna Center for the Performing Arts
450 West 57th St. in Manhattan, NYC
Proof of full vaccination, photo ID and face masks are required
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:
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/