There are songs which are inexplicably strange, wonderful or just beyond regular explanation or categorization. The above song, “Nature Boy”, is certainly one of those. “Nature Boy” was a No. 1 hit for Nat King Cole in 1948. The composer of the song was named eden ahbez (no caps) and was considered to be a hippie before the term was coined, had long hair, wore beads & sandals, ate fruit & nuts and lived outdoors under the Hollywood sign in L.A. The “Nature Boy” of the title were other folks who felt the same way. I recall hearing a version of the song in a dream-like state playing in another room in my apartment on the radio (WFMU). It turned out that what I heard was the “The Legend of Nature Boy” a suite by Herb Jeffries and eden ahbez, a mostly obscure LP that I’ve never seen a copy of anywhere except on Discogs, where it starts at $40. Aside from the revelatory, rather spiritual lyrics, it is the melody that draws us in. There is ancient sadness at the center of the song which feels universal. I have the CD by ahbez eden somewhere in my many milk crates in my living room. I know I can probably just go to Youtube, Spotify or one of those other streaming services which pay little or no money to the musicians who created the songs they play on line. I’d rather go crate digging since that is always an adventure of rich rewards whenever I do it. Often discovering discs that I don’t recall owning or even seeing before. Here’s a toast to all of of Crate Diggers, Archivists and Collectors of Sonic, Spiritual antiques from days long gone. - Nature Boy Bruce Lee
This Friday is New Year’s Eve, a night I used to look forward to when I could go to The Stone or Tonic or The Knitting Factory or just hang with some good friends. This New Year’s Eve will be different since many of us will be alone or just with our partners or a few close friends. Everyone everywhere is worried about getting the Omicron variant of Covid19, the fear and paranoia has reached a critical point. I find this very sad and it is taking its toll on those of us who thrive in more social situations with our close friends and families. It is hard to remain hopeful when we all live with so much fear, confusion, anger and bad vibes. I still remain inspired by Creative Music and the songs which push me to sing, dance, scream and act silly. I dance every night late to a couple of Dead songs, as well as some Fela, Little Feat or anything else truly funky! Let’s hope that things getter next year. - BLG at DMG
THIS WEEK’S GREAT DISCS BEGIN WITH THIS ONE:
ELLIOTT SHARP with LEA BERTUCCI / SHAYNA DULBERGER / CHRIS McINTYRE / NATE WOOLEY / RON LAWRENCE / RACHEL GOLUB / TERRY L. GREENE II / JUDITH INSELL / MARGARET LANCASTER / PAYTON Mac DONALD / DANNY TUNICK / WEASEL WALTER // SysOrk - ReGenerate (zOaR ZCD 096; USA) Recorded live at Roulette in March of 2021, this disc is a celebration of E#@70, a series of concerts & recordings celebrating Elliott Sharp’s 70th birthday year. The SysOrk ensemble features: E# on bass clarinet, Strandberg 8-string guitarbass, Lea Bertucci on alto sax, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Chris McIntyre & Terry L. Greene on trombones, Margaret Lancaster on flute, Rachel Golub on violin, Judith Insell on viola, Shayna Dulberger & James Ilgenfritz on contrabasses, Payton MacDonald on marima, Danny Tunick on percussion & vibes and Weasel Walter on drums. This piece was first performed in Tokyo in 2012 and in several other cities (Nagoya, Berlin & Hamburg) afterwards.
This concert/disc features tow algorithmic scores, a solo for bass clarinet & electronics and an animated graphic score for the movie, “ReGenerate”. “Viridia” is up first and it is dense (the music) and spacious (panned well in the mix) at the same time. The dense sections recall some of that Xenakis/Penderecki-like gnarliness. Although one might think that the music is seemingly chaotic, there is an underlying sense of form, connection or current which flows throughout. Even when things calm down somewhat, there is a series of drones and other ghost-like clouds which are woven into the fascinating sonic fabric. “Oksusgenos” is for solo bass clarinet with electronics and it has a similar shrew bent-note reed sound with subtle electronics floating around. The overall sound is both dark and hypnotic with several subtle layers coalescing around one another. The final piece, “ReGenerate”, also has several layers of different waves moving together and around one another. I can hear several thematic fragments which appear at different points but we have to listen closely since things do get a bit dense at times and we have pick out the different connected parts when we can. I find this music both challenging and exhilarating, just like life itself at this difficult time. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
THE OGJB QUARTET with OLIVER LAKE / GRAHAM HAYNES / JOE FONDA / BARRY ALTSCHUL - Ode to O (TUM CD 058; Finland) The OGJB Quartet feature Oliver Lake (WSQ, Jump Up! & Trio3) on alto sax, Graham Haynes on cornet & electronics, Joe Fonda (Nu Band & Fonda/Stevens Group) and Barry Altschul (Sam Rivers Trio & 3Dom Factor) on drums & percussion. The is the second disc from The OGJB Quartet and copies are suppose to arrive over the next few days. We haven’t gotten the promo yet so I can’t review it until next week. If this disc is nearly as good as the first one (from 2019), then we are all in for more great Creative Music! - BLG
CD $16 (1st 10 on sale)
ANDREW RAFFO DEWAR with KYLE BRUCKMANN / GINO ROBAIR / JOHN SHIURBA - Ekphrasis Suite (2013-14) (Rastascan BRD075; USA) Featuring Andrew Raffo Dewar on soprano sax & compositions, Kyle Bruckmann on oboe & English Horn, John Shiurba on guitar and Gino Robair on percussion & vibes. I recall Andrew Raffo Dewar’s work with the Anthony Braxton 12tet (from 2015) as well as his rare disc on Porter Records from the same time. Since Mr. Dewar has been teaching at the University of Alabama, as well as organizing a fine west coast quartet. This is their second disc and the piece they are playing here, “Ekphrasis Suite” was written the same time as that first organized this quartet. Aside from Mr. Dewar, the other members of this quartet have worked together on occasion in different groups as well as with Mr. Braxton.
The “Ekphrasis Suite” is a chamber work and mostly acoustic except for some sections of electric guitar. Each of the four pieces corresponds with four pieces of artwork found on the cover and inside the disc. Each member of the quartet gets a chance to play the written parts as well as solo in different sections. Each piece has several different sections. One part of the first piece has a (Braxton-like) Ghost Trance Music part which doesn’t last very long. “Part II” is more sparse, focused and thoughtfully composed. One thing I do appreciate is getting to hear Gino Robair playing acoustic percussion rather than his “activated surfaces” or electronics. Both Mr. Dewar on soprano sax and Mr. Bruckmann on either double reed take their time and stretch out their notes carefully as do Mr. Shiurba’s guitar and Mr. Robair’s percussion. It might be hard to explain but there seems to be a certain aesthetic or inner device which holds this together and makes sense on a more inexplicable level. Every sound is carefully paced like paint on a large canvas, every sound unfolding in its own way. The vibes on “Part III” actually add a rhythmic frame while the reeds provide a more shimmering drone-like vibe. It sounds like a soundtrack where a series of scenes are taking place, one a time, each one somewhat different in the way things appear and fade into something else. If you can appreciate the more serious or focused side of modern chamber music, then this disc was made for you, the serious listener. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
KIRK KNUFFKE / BILL GOODWIN / MARK HELIAS - Brightness Live in Amsterdam (Royal Potato Family; USA) Featuring Kirk Knuffke on cornet, voice & songs, Mark Helias on contrabass and Bill Goodwin on drums. Like a number of Downtown musicians, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, keeps reinventing himself by working in a wide variety of odd collaborations. Over the past few year Mr. Knuffke has worked with: Frank Kimbrough, Michael Bisio (duo, trio & quartet), Pierre Dorge & Whit Dickey. This is the second release from Knuffke’s trio with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bill Goodwin, two older cats compared to Knuffke. Bill Goodwin has worked with Knuffke on a few previous occasions and used to play for many years with Phil Woods, Lee Konitz & Gabor Szabo. I’ve known of and admired contrabassist Mark Helias for more than 50 years and recently listened to 2 volumes of an Ed Blackwell Quartet, which was recorded live in 1992 and which completely knocked my out.
This disc was recorded at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam while the trio was on tour in Europe and Mr. Knuffke wrote all 7 of the songs. Considering that this is a live recording, the sound is superb, warm and breath-taking. “Brightness” opens this disc and it seems like an apt title since Knuffkle’s sound is bright, like bathing in sunshine during a refreshing Spring day. Knuffke ends the song by bending one note softly over & over, ever so sublime. “Rise” is a fine skeletal piece in which Mr. Goodwin just plays a a couple of notes on a tambourine or drums which is all that is needed. The spaciousness is well used here show ing you juts need a few well-placed notes to keep the canvas interesting. Mr. Knuffke sings the opening verse to “White Shoulders” and actually has a delightful voice, the subtly of his voice and playing is in a good balance here. “The Mob, The Crowd, The Mass” has a jubilant yet stripped down sound, an infectious sort of vibe permeates. The ever-inventive Mark Helias solos on a couple of these songs, his playing is an extension of whatever has occurred or before and after his solo. “Spares and Falls” closes this disc and is freer yet still sparse, a sort-of ballad which weaves its was through different sections. Knuffke’s cornet playing here is especially enchanting with Mr. Helias’ bass at the center of calm storm going on around it. It is rare to hear a modest disc like this which rich, warm and often ultra-subtle at the same time. A gem, most assuredly. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SANDY EWEN / KEITH ROWE / DAMON SMITH GOOSEBERRY MARMALADE - Houston 2012 (Balance Point Acoustics 2CD2>X<11; USA) The Scratch Orchestra were a London-based large ensemble that existed in the 1960’s and 1970’s and were made mostly of non or not-professional musicians. Notorious UK composer Cornelius Cardew and AMM’s Keith Rowe were both involved in this ensemble. Formerly Texas-based guitarist, Sandy Ewen, founded Lady Band, an all-female experimental ensemble, with members contributing graphic and text-based scores for structured improvisation. Ms. Ewen asked Mr. Rowe to perform with her ensemble when he came to visit Texas in 2012. The Lady Band changes its name from performance to performance and the names are based on various fruits. Gooseberry Marmalade was the name used for this collaboration. Disc One starts off with “Scratch Overture” is played by the trio of Keith Rowe & Sandy Ewen on guitars and Damon Smith on bass. Both Mr. Rowe and Ms. Ewen play their guitars laid on a a table (KR) or laid in their laps (SE). The overture is around 31 minutes at length and since both Ms. Ewen and Mr. Rowe play their guitars in their own ways (with Rowe playing a radio at times), it is often difficult to tell what exactly is happening here. Damon Smith plays field recordings as well as his trusty contrabass, adding even more mystery to the proceedings. Mr. Smith’s somewhat fractured bowed bass is at the center of things here at times, a sound most of can well recognize. Both Ms. Ewen and Mr. Rowe produce a similar sonic landscape and work well together. I always like the way that Mr. Rowe adds an occasional radio signal (or sample), always in a most selective way. Fragments of songs or speech seem to float in and out, adding a certain sonic anchor at times. Although it is often to tell what exactly is going on, the sound/sonic landscape remains engaging throughout. The second aprt of this disc features Gooseberry Marmalade performing several pieces by the Scratch Orchestra, the composers include: Cornelius Cardew, Christian Wolff and Howard Skempton. The pieces are continuous and are around 43 minutes at length. For this disc, Gooseberry Marmalade are a ten piece ensemble whose names I don’t recognize (except for Ms. Ewen) and whose instrumentation is not listed. No matter. Much of the music is sparse, with select use of varied sounds and space, all in good measure. Since I am not that familiar with the pieces that they are playing here, I have no idea how accurate or different these versions are form other ones. Nonetheless, the music is still fascinating and focused enough to coax images or ideas from the serious listeners in here and out there. I have heard Keith Rowe play Cardew’s “Treatise”, which is based on a book of drawings and Rowe usually plays one page at a time. Hence, it is always different. The second disc here features just the trio (Ewen/Rowe/Smith) once again playing two long pieces. The disc/set is even better since the trio take their time, listen closely and come up with even more engaging Creative Music. This is the great disc os the week! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD Set $16
REBECCA NOVAK / DANNY KAMINS / SANDY EWEN / DAMON SMITH / JEROME BRYERTON - Groundwater Recharge (Balance Point Acoustics 15015; USA) Featuring Rebecca Novak on piano, cornet, radio & glassware, Danny Kamins on bari sax, Sandy Ewen on guitar, Damon Smith on contrabass and Jerome Bryerton on percussion & cover art. This disc was recorded at Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas in May of 2016. This disc was recorded in Houston, Texas in 2016, probably when all of these musicians were living there. Since that time Ms. Ewen moved to Brooklyn, NY while Mr. Smith moved to Boston and has since moved again. You all should recognize the names of Sandy Ewen and Damon Smith since both keep very busy and have many recordings out. I don’t recognize Rebecca Novak’s name before this disc, although Danny Kamins was in a quartet with Damon Smith & Alvin Fielder (with a disc on FMR) while Jerome Bryerton seems pretty well recorded working with Wolfgang Fuchs, Frank Gratkowski and Paul Hartsaw.
Four of the seven tracks here feature the entire quintet, while the three pieces are trio efforts. The opening piece (the quintet), which is the title track, is sparse & spooky, subtle spacious free improv. Whether there are 3 or 5 musicians on the tracks, the overall sound is mostly, thoughtful, restrained, subtle, careful note stretching, slow moving and engaging without any extremes. Not really lower case but a bit more happening than that. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
BIRGIT ULHER / DAMON SMITH / CHRIS COGBURN - The Eternity-Cult (Balance Point Acoustics; USA) Featuring formerly Bay Area-based Birgit Ulher on trumpet, radio, speaker & objects, Damon Smith on contrabass and Chris Cogburn on percussion & electronics. Recorded in February of 2018 in Denton, Texas. I’ve known about experimental trumpeter Birgit Ulher for a while now. Ms. Uhler is based in Berlin and I’ve heard some on a dozen or so discs playing of hers playing solo, in duos (w/ Gino Robair, Leonel Kaplan & Frantz Hautzinger) as well as a few trios. For this disc, Ms. Uhler is back with old collaborator Damon Smith on double bass and Chris Cogburn on percussion. Mr. Cogburn is another Bay-area-based percussionist who has worked with Henry Kaiser, Jaap Blonk, Bonnie Jones & Bhob Rainey. Over the past two decades, there have been a newer school/class of trumpet players who are redefining what can be done with a trumpet & mouthpiece. Here’s the short list: Nate Wooley, Greg Kelley, Peter Evans, Axel Dorner, Frantz Hautzinger, Liz Albee, Mazen Kerbaj and Birgit Uhler. Each one has a unique sound & perspective on playing & composing. I know I am missing a few, we can always ask Kevin Reilly to fill us in.
The last time I heard from Ms. Uhler was a trio offering with Martin Klapper & Jurgen Morgenstern on the incredibly obscure Nurnichtnur label, plus two great duo discs for the Relative Pitch label. Hence, what we find here is… quite a bit of delicate, ultra-careful, lower-case, sublime, radiator hissing sounds and slowly stretched out vibrating bowed strings. Although it is hard to tell who is doing what at times, the slowly expanding sounds are consistently captivating, one level at a time. Wow! Most impressive! The music, vibe and organ, unfolding casts a deep spell over the listener. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DAVE SEWELSON with MIKE NEER / DAVE HOFTSRA / BERNICE “BOOM BOOM” BROOKS - Smooth Free Jazz (Mahakala 017; USA) Featuring Dave Sewelson on baritone sax & vocals, Mike Neer on lap steel guitar, Dave Hofstra on bass and Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks. I’ve been friendly with saxist Dave Sewelson for some forty years, ever since the early days of the Downtown Scene (circa 1979). During the Studio Henry era (1979-1982), I caught Mr. Sewelson with the original Microscopic Septet, as well as working with Robin Holcomb & Wayne Horvitz. Aside from occasional shows with the Microscopic’s and Ms. Holcomb, Mr. Sewelson is a longtime collaborator with William Parker, Jesse Dulman and a feisty duo/trio with Claire Daly, another local bari sax great! Me. Sewelson’s own records as a leader are relatively rare, although there was that righteous quartet date of his from 2020. For this date, Mr. Sewelson has organized a new quartet with two members I don’t really know very well. In the frontline we need a Mike Neer on lap steel guitar, an instrument rarely seen in Creative Music (except for its occasional use by Nels Cline). I first met Mike Neer in the mid-1980’s when I had a roommate named Jim Russo, whom I’ve since lost touch with. I’ve not seen Mr. Neer in almost 40 years, although we did get in touch recently since I asked him to be a member of Suburban Bohemia, my own improv unit that generally plays once a decade or so. Bassist Dave Hofstra was/is also a member the Microsopics, as well as working with William Parker, the President (w/ Wayne Horvitz) and Elliott Sharp. I can’t say that I had heard of the drummer here, Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks before now.
The one thing about Mr. Sewelson that I’ve always appreciated is his sly sense of humor. Who else would name a CD “Smooth Free Jazz”?!?! Most folks think the “smooth jazz” and “free jazz” are complete opposites and in some ways they are. This disc opens with “Nature Boy” a popular standard from the 1960’s. It is also a song that has most winning melody that you won’t forget once you hear it. The song also has appropriate lyrics which Mr. Sewelson sings in his raspy, oddly charming voice. The version here sound pretty funky or greasy with Mike Neer on what sounds like an organ but it is in fact his lap steel. Mr. Sewelson’s baritone playing has a neat swagger to it, his solo fabulous, greasy, grimy and in yo face! Speaking of sly rewards, Mr. Neer’s lap steel solo is also a highlight, absolutely infectious! The song simmers for a long, with the bari sax and lap steel both quietly humming around one another is a dreamy way. “Song Moth” actually sounds like a melody once heard from one of those more commercial albums by George Benson like “Breezin’”. Sewelson takes a fine squalling solo here, which seems odd since the melody is actually rather breezy. “The Moment” has yet another quietly funky groove, laid back yet still somehow a nice vibe shines through. One of the things I like most about this disc is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is really very “free”. It does a nice vibe flowing throughout, it is somehow both inside & outside simultaneously. If you ever grow tired of all those screaming saxes & horns of “free jazz”, you might want to give this modest disc a try. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
STEVE ROACH - Zones, Drones & Atmospheres (Projekt Records 393; USA) "In a masterful expression of subtle, potent ambient-electronic minimalism, Steve Roach's newest release activates an internal opening of the mythic imagination. The slowly unfolding interweave of zones, drones and atmospheres displays compelling, deeply evocative textural pieces with an interconnected sense of mystery, awe and wonder. The gently engulfing interplay between the album's seven pieces provides contrasts of shadow and light, shimmering beauty and alluring soundscapes stretched into infinity. The revealing of the music unfolds into stately sonic formations of hypnotic weavings, hazy atmospheric swirls and murmuring reverberations. Roach establishes each sound world through engaging a multitude of techniques and hardware-based instruments with fluidity and grace. Manifesting from the essential foundational DNA of ambient music, this is an album of elegant, deeply nuanced audio alchemy. The expansive minimalism reveals a shadowy and emotional spaciousness that meditates on the enduring essence and power of sound and our place in the center of it."
ARCHIVAL & HISTORIC DISCS, RESTOCKS & REISSUES:
THE RESIDENTS - The Wow Demos 1 (Klanggalerie GG 374CD; Austria) "The Residents are an American art collective best known for their over 60 studio albums that were recorded over a period of over forty years. They also created some outstanding multimedia works, mainly three CD ROM projects and ten DVDs. Working as an anonymous collective, their identities were kept secret until in 2017 Hardy Fox revealed himself as their primary composer. Hardy died in October 2018, but the group continue to record and perform. Recently, several new albums have been released, among them the brilliant Intruders and Ghost of Hope. Early in 2020, the group was invited to perform their seminal album God in 3 Persons at the MOMA in New York. The Wonder of Weird tour was the second part of The Residents' Randy, Chuck and Bob Trilogy of live tours (following 2010's Talking Light tour), The Wonder of Weird focuses on the theme of sex, with its lead character Randy further detailing the story of his life, now ruined by a sex addiction. Like Talking Light before it, The Wonder of Weird featured a stripped down trio line-up of Randy Rose (vocals), Charles Bobuck (keyboards/electronics), and Lionel Bob (guitar). The group wear variations of the same masks previously featured in Talking Light, with the addition of Santa outfits and classic Residents t-shirts. Despite the Christmas theme in the costumes and set designs, the show began at the end of January (and ended in May). A running gag in the show is that despite being subtitled 'The 40th Anniversary Tour', it actually ended up taking place on the group's 41st anniversary. Before the band took to the road, demo versions of the songs were recorded - first in stripped down version, later with added vocals and guitar. Many of the songs made into the final show, some didn't. We are happy to present the minimalist electronic versions for the first time ever on a 2CD set."
2 CD Set $25
PAULINE OLIVEROS - Electronic Works 1965-1966 (Paradigm Discs 004CD; UK) "1 Of IV" and "Big Mother Is Watching You" were both made in the summer of 1966 at the University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio. "1 Of IV" was previously released in 1967, on Odyssey, alongside works by 2 other young composers - "Come out" by Steve Reich and "Night music" by Richard Maxfield. "Big Mother..." is a previously unreleased piece. The 3rd (and final) piece on this compilation was made at the San Francisco Tape Music Center in 1965 and was first released in 1977 on the compilation New Music For Electronic And Recorded Media, released on 1750 Arch Records. The 3 pieces on this CD are all live experiments, which at the simplest level use either an array of oscillators and filters, a mixer and one spool of tape feeding a series of (variously set up) stereo tape machines. Long delay lines, pile ups of noise and rich sonorities are the stuff of this music. The third piece also uses samples taken from Pucini's Madame Butterfly. All 3 pieces on this CD are not included on the 12 CD boxset of early electronic music by Oliveros, released by Important Records.
ASMUS TIETCHENS - Ptomaine 1 (Klanggalerie 388CD; Austria) "Asmus Tietchens is a sound artist and composer from Hamburg, Germany. He got interested in musique concrete by listening to a German radio program when he was ten years old. In 1965, at the age of 18, Asmus started experimenting with tape loops and turned them into musical collages. Soon, the use of synthesizers was added. In 1980 his debut album Nachtstücke was released, produced by Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream. This was soon followed by a series of albums of electronic pop music for the Sky label, home of many Krautrock bands. Tietchens often uses special source materials for his compositions such as water (Seuchengebiete), human voices (Von Mund zu Mund), paper (Papier ist geduldig). He is associated with the Industrial music scene through his collaborations and releases on labels such as United Dairies, Esplendor Geometrico or Dom Records. Tietchens never studied composition, he has no academic background, everything he does is self taught or learning by doing. Nevertheless, he was professor for sound design in Hamburg in recent years. Ptomaine was originally released on RRRecords in 1996 as a 3 LP set. This is the first volume of the first ever CD re-issue."
OFFICER! - Paragraphs And Principles (Klanggalerie 366CD; Austria) "Officer! was founded by Londoner Mick Hobbs. His roots were in the Rock In Opposition scene of the late '70s and early '80s. Initially he worked as guitarist in The Work, subsequently he became closely associated with This Heat and their Cold Storage Studio in Brixton, working with artists like Family Fodder, Catherine Jauniaux or Zeena Parkins. The band's first album 8 New Songs By Mick Hobbs came out in 1982 on cassette only. It was followed by the second album, Ossification. Paragraphs And Principles is the most ambitious album yet by the experimental, maverick pop group Officer! The band has surprised itself with this dazzling yet almost dangerous collection of pieces that keep alive the glorious memory of composer Cornelius Cardew -- comrade and champion. His work, while of its time, remains strangely contemporary. It is difficult music -- mystifying perhaps, idealistic certainly, and contentious without doubt. That said, Cardew was also drawn to rousing, goose-bump melodies that wear their politics on their sleeves. Since his untimely and sinister death in 1981, the world has come full circle and Cardew's desire for rebellion, democratization, rejection of crass popularism, and a revolution in politics, thought and approach have all become relevant once more. Officer!'s tribute to Cardew features several dynamic re-interpretations of his key works, as well as new music that draws inspiration from his principles and philosophy. For this outing, Officer! is Mick Hobbs, Felix Fiedorowicz and Bill Gilonis alongside a stunning line-up of 30 performers from eight countries. No one knows quite how this project came about -- it's almost an international conspiracy, and certainly a closely guarded secret. We hope only that upon their unleashing, these fierce new sounds may be heard by as many ears as possible."
DAPHNE ORAM - Oramics (Paradigm Discs 021CD; UK) “Daphne Oram is best-known for the design of her Oramics system, and also for co-founding the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1957, but until the release of this material, the only easily-available piece of music by her on CD was the 8-minute long "Four Aspects." There was also a 7" EP from 1962 on HMV, released as part of the Listen, Move and Dance series that was specifically designed to help children dance. Although the short pieces on this record are very basic, it could be argued that this is the first-ever electronic dance record! This is a survey of nearly all the major pieces that she produced since her departure from the BBC in January 1959 until her final tape piece in 1977. During this time, she worked independently in her home studio, and thanks to a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation in 1962, she was able to pursue her interests. In Britain there were no state-funded studios other than the Radiophonic Workshop, which mainly existed at the behest of the drama studio and was not generally seen as a place to develop personal artistic ideas. There were also no university studios at this time, so it was necessary for British electronic composers to be self-funded. Throughout this period, she devoted her attention to developing her Oramics "drawn sound" system, which consisted of a large machine that enabled drawn patterns to be converted into sound. This system was eventually fully realized in the late '60s and several pieces here incorporate its use. The two and-a-half hours of music on this 2CD set covers the whole range of Oram's post-BBC output. All of the music is electronic with some occasional use of real instruments, especially small percussion and piano frame. There is also some use of musique concrète techniques. The works fall roughly into the following categories: works for TV and cinema advertising, film soundtracks, music for theater productions, installations and exhibitions as well as concert pieces and several studio experiments. There are also a few short pieces that resulted from an experimental music course given by Oram at a high school in Yorkshire in 1967.”
2 CD Set $24
PEREYRA AGUSTIN LUCENA QUARTET - La Rana (Far Out Recordings 227; UK) Far Out Recordings present a reissue of Argentinian guitarist Agustín Pereyra Lucena's 1980 album La Rana. Recorded in Oslo, La Rana features Agustín's stunning takes on compositions by Ivan Lins, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Agustín's friend and musical hero Baden Powell. In addition to these, and a number of Agustín's own compositions including the fifteen-minute masterpiece "Encuentro De Sombras", the album's title track is an idiosyncratic version of Joao Donato's "A Rã" (The Frog) from his 1973 album Quem É Quem. Forming the rest of the quartet are two fellow Argentinians who were also Agustin's bandmates from the group Candeias: bassist and multi-instrumentalist Guillermo Reuter and flautist Ruben Izarrualde; with Norwegian drummer Finn Sletten on drums and percussion. Throughout La Rana you hear not only Agustín's fabled guitar playing, which ascended him to share stages with the likes of Vinicius de Moraes, Dorival Cayymi, Toquinho, Maria Bethania, Chico Buarque, and Quarteto Em Cy, but also his talent as a vocalist. He also provided the heartening illustration for the cover art, which perfectly fits the cordial, inviting tone of the music. Inspired in equal measure by South American rhythms and Norwegian glaciers, mountains and waterfalls, La Rana is filled with the warmth, humility and sincerity of a man seizing a joyful moment in life through music.”
CABARET VOLTAIRE - Archive #828285 Live (Intone 008CD; UK) “Last copies, reduced price. RIP Richard Kirk (1956-2021). These are the last copies of this classic live 3CD set from 2013.... The Intone label was originally founded back in 1992 as a vehicle for Richard H. Kirk's Sandoz project, initially a series of three 12" singles. Richard H. Kirk is perhaps best-known as co-founder and now sole member of the hugely influential Cabaret Voltaire. The Intone label is now re-launched with a 3CD boxed set of Cabaret Voltaire live recordings from 1982 and 1985: Live in Liverpool (1982), Live in Sheffield (1982), and Live in Toronto (1985). Further releases are planned for 2014, including a new album by Kirk and also a 3CD boxed set of previously-unreleased Kirk recordings from the mid-'90s. Cabaret Voltaire circa 1982 was kind of post-Rough Trade, pre-Some Bizarre/Virgin. Following on from and with the same line-up as the successful dates in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka), resulting in the live album Hai, the two live recordings from 1982 on these CDs come from what was referred to as the "2x45" tour. The performances here are unique in that they show Cabaret Voltaire in a period of transition, following the departure of co-founder Chris Watson, and had more studio recordings been made of this phase (see record 2 of "2x45"), it could have well developed into something very different from the subsequent albums made during the Some Bizarre/Virgin period of 1983-1985. The recording from Toronto was the next-to-last date of a North American tour from April/May 1985. The Cabaret Voltaire live concerts of the '83-'85 period were much more anarchic than the studio recordings and arguably just as interesting in their own way, like some kind of soundclash going on in real time. This release will be a good primer for the forthcoming Cabaret Voltaire boxed set, #8385 (Collected Works 1983-1985) out on Mute in November 2013.”
3 CD Set $24
BLAKK HARBOR - A Modern Dialect (Mille Plateaux 013CD; Germany) “Second album for Blakk Harbor, the Greek Berlin based act Angelos Liaros-Copola and prolific sound designer of Native Instruments (DE), delivering disrespectful broken tech noise with this release. Waves of noise and advanced sound design through pattern repetition and pulsating percussive blasts. Fairly terrorizing yet hypnotic with flashes of raw electricity and feedbacks riding on thick grainy waveform textures. Broken hardware transmissions and in-depth manipulated signal processing tamed to craft film-scaping monolithic sub-techno structures. Staying devoted to his cinematic approach in music and darker narrative storytelling A Modern Dialect is an edgy backlash on the modern dehumanized declining society, a harsh uncompromising "dialect" against an ever-deteriorating globalization.”
GIANLUCA IADEMA - Aphairesis (Mille Plateaux 033; Germany) “Aphàiresis (Greek meaning "abstraction") is an audiovisual work composed between 2017 and 2019, whose aim is to investigate the relationship between materiality and immateriality, between presence and metaphysics. It is from the fruitful relationship between materiality -- imperfection -- and immateriality -- perfection -- that, through a filtration and regeneration process, a different and new world is created in which the single elements lose a part of themselves on their way to reorganize themselves in a higher order. Starting from static, interferences, distortions of obsolete projection and visual equipment -- such as, VHS and analog projectors -- in old film shots, the composer makes the visual element dialogue with the sound, mainly drawn from data bending processes, revealing something about the nature of the digital medium, which would otherwise be opaque. On the other hand, by using artifacts from analog projectors, he shows the transmission specificity of this visual reproduction device, revealing the presence of an inherent historical contrast. The intuition of using the invisible substrate that makes up what appears to us as a compositional material reveals the will to examine the technological element beyond its normal functions. Here is the background turning into the subject, and opening up new perspectives of artistic research.”
RARE ICTUS VINYL REISSUES:
JOHN ZORN / ANDREA CENTAZZO / EUGENE CHADBOURNE / TOM CORA / TOSHINORI KONDO / POLLY BRADFIELD - Environment for Sextet (Ictus 004LP; Italy) “Reissue, originally released in 1979. Recorded live at WKCR Radio in New York City in 1978 and issued by Ictus the following year, Environment for Sextet encounters John Zorn at the earliest stages of his career, resting within a sextet of a new generation of stunning improvisers emerging at the tail end of the '70s who would go on to define a vast swath of the '80s sound -- Polly Bradfield on violin, Andrea Centazzo on percussion, Eugene Chadbourne on guitar, Tom Corra on cello, and Toshinori Kondo on trumpet -- it roughly builds on the series of collaborations that had featured on Centazzo's 1978 Ictus LP U.S.A. Concerts. Launching from a total wall of sound -- full throttle fire on the boundaries of outright noise -- Environment for Sextet takes the listening on an endlessly surprising journey through its players' inner world, shifting between airy open passages that feature endless combinations of one or more players, to furious moments of sonorous lashings where the group falls in together in brilliant dialogical periods of conversant texture and tonal intervention. An engrossing and relentless listen from the first moment to the last -- featuring two works built from two of Andrea Centazzo's earliest graphic scores -- Environment for Sextet is an absolutely stunning body of improvised work by what were then among the most important rising stars on the free music scene. Edition of 250.
DEREK BAILEY AND ANDREA CENTAZZO - Drops (Ictus 002LP; Italy) “Reissue, originally released in 1977. In the history of free improvised music, there has been arguably no greater advocate for the idiom's power and potential than the English guitarist Derek Bailey. Fiercely principled, between his emergence during the 1960s and his death in 2005, he cut a wide path, positioning this music at the height of creativity, transpiring in real time, and a means through which people from diverse backgrounds could come together, express, and commune. For Bailey, "playing is about playing with other people... Improvisation is a process that gets relationships sorted out." Among many great examples of this within Bailey's sprawling discography, a stand out is his 1977 duo LP Drops -- originally issued as the third album on Ictus -- recorded with the Italian percussionist/drummer Andrea Centazzo. Capturing the guitarist during one of his most prolific and creatively visionary periods -- overflowing with explosive clarity, dialogic energy, and imagination -- he clearly found a perfect foil in Centazzo, who recalls of the sessions: "The kaleidoscopic quality of Drops was created by this restraint of performing limits, i.e. the choice of instrumental timbres, dynamics and metronome speeds to suit each piece. We explored some aspects of our improvisational art, gleaned the best elements from our baggage of music memories and exposed them clearly and confidently." Comprising nine individual improvisations, Drops encounters each of its players at their best, finding a strange middle ground between the intuitive logics of their instruments; Bailey's tones taking on decidedly percussive approaches, while Centazzo's fractured polyrhythms and beats often veer toward the presence of a notable tonality. Remarkably expressive and diverse in the approach of each piece, Drops presents creative interplay at its most striking and challenging, rethinking the terms of musicality and collaboration every step of the way. Flurries of rattle back and forth, sculpting barbed and pointillistic landscapes of texture, stripped of reference and precedent, and abstract as real time organized sound comes. Edition of 250.”
STEVE LACY / ANDREA CENTAZZO / KENT CARTER - Trio Live (Ictus 003LP; Italy) Originally issued in 1977, Trio Live was recorded in 1976, only a handful of days after Steve Lacy and Andrea Centazzo's Clangs (ICTUSRE 001LP) was laid to tape, presumably capturing another moment on the same two-week tour that had rendered the recordings for its brilliant predecessor. This time, the pair -- Lacy and Centazzo -- is joined by the American bassist, Kent Carter, a sinfully under-appreciated artist who had worked extensively in Steve Lacy's group, played on the two Jazz Composer's Orchestra LPs, and toured in the bands of Don Cherry, Alan Silva, Mal Waldron, Bobby Bradford, Max Roach, Roswell Rudd, Derek Bailey, John Stevens, Trevor Watts, Steve McCall, and many others. The previous year, he had also delivered the stellar LP, Kent Carter Solo With Claude Bernard, as Ictus's second LP, allowing Trio Live to be understood as a narrowing of an already tight circle, despite its slightly expanded ensemble. Arguably best defining the first two entries in the Ictus reissue series -- Clangs and Drops (ICTUSRE 002LP) -- is a sense of rigorous and artistry. While no less present across the length Trio Live, what takes the forward charge throughout its five tracks is a sense of joy and pure pleasure in playing together. The sounds and structural interventions are locked in and tight, feeling at ease and intuitively responsive in the ways that players with a history of collaboration are only able to produce. From swinging and chugging to stepped back and sparse combinations of rhythm and tone -- moving from the lingering sensibilities of straight-ahead jazz to radically out hard blow fire -- Trio Live is a cornucopia of brilliant artistry and improvised music. Edition of 250.
STEVE LACY AND ANDREA CENTAZZO - Clangs (Ictus 001LP; Italy) “Ictus Records' reissue initiative fittingly begins with Clangs, the first LP issued by the label in 1976. Featuring Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone, bird calls, and pocket synthesizer (or "crack box"), with Andrea Centazzo on drums, percussion, whistle, and vocals, the album is the culmination of a couple of weeks that the two artists spent together while Lacy was touring Italy during that year. Clangs encounters Lacy -- one of the giants of American free jazz -- already two decades into a career defined by brilliant collaborations with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, and Thelonious Monk, as well as a sprawling body of visionary work as a leader. Like so much of his work leading into this period, it draws upon the saxophonist's belief that an artist should "play what you feel", a position that Centazzo -- roughly 15 years Lacy's junior -- recalls as having torn down the curtain that separated his technique from his creativity. Comprising a series of duets that investigate timbral relationships, the fragmentation of melody, and abrasive, provocative noise -- shifting from the sparse, airy, and restrained, to dance clusters of interplay and back again -- Clangs, for all its radicalism and forward-thinking gestures, rests firmly within the historic structures of jazz, deploying the idiom of theme/solo/theme. Lacy's playing is at the top of his form -- fluttering and dancing with a primal touch -- met by Centazzo's rattle and pattern of percussive interventions, the notes and polyrhythms of each respective player being the product of careful listening, response, and raising the bar. Edition of 250.”
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 Independent Promoters Alliance Presents:
The NuBand @ Michiko Featuring:
THOMAS HEBERER / KENNY WESSEL / JOE FONDA / LOU GRASSI!
Friday, January 21 at 7 pm $20 (suggested donation)
Machiko - 149 West 46th Street (Manhattan), Stage 2
Proof of vaccination and ID are required by the venue.
$20 (suggested donation)
SOUP & SOUND AROUND BROOKLYN:
1/13 CHRISTINE CORREA (video) sings Max Roach protest songs
1/23 special Soup & Sound & Sauna! Double bill featuring JR RHODES THE FOREST (percussion ensemble) and soup and (yes) a SAUNA at Orchard Hill Farm in East Alstead, New Hampshire
4/15 JULIAN PRIESTER
Soup & Sound Around Brooklyn 2021, is a program of Continuum Culture & Arts, Inc.,
And non-profit 501(C)(3) organization. www.continuumculture.org
Soup & Sound
292 Lefferts Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11225-4115
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…
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/
This clip just arrived in my email from British Sax Colossus PAUL DUNMALL:
LAJOS DUDAS is one of the best of all European clarinetists. I discovered him some 20 years ago when I got an amazing compilation CD from our friends at North Country Distribution. Once I reviewed that old disc, Lajos contacted me and started to send us perhaps a dozen of his more recent discs through the years. Each one I’ve reviewed and cherish. Although Mr. Dudas retired a while back, he still releases CDs from time to time. He sent us a new one last month which I haven’t reviewed yet but hope to soon. Lajos is now digitizing a number of his old cassettes so he sends me the results.
Here is his most recent DL: https://soundcloud.com/el-de-1/jazz-workshop-at-concert