The truth, The lies, And the alibis
Every day we do and die
But the path was lost in the falling snow
As we danced our days out here below.
I've got to get home to you
Home to you home to you
The above song appears on the second album by Earth Opera, ‘The Great American Eagle Tragedy’ from 1969 and was written by Peter Rowan, the leader of the group. When Mr. Rowan joined his next group Seatrain, it also appeared on their self-titled album from 1970. There is something about this song which touches me. I think about the one summer when I lived with my ex-fiance at my apartment and did come home from work to find her waiting for me. It was a time I will always cherish. I find it interesting the way certain songs catch a certain feeling or incident which reminds us of something that once happened to us. I find quite a bit of solace and inspiration in many songs and different types of music. It seems to me that every album, no matter what format, is a postcard from some folks out there, somewhere, giving the listener a story or a different view of life to consider. Every day, I try to listen to at least one record that I’ve never heard before, so I can hear from someone I haven’t met or heard from yet. It is reward for the many years of being a serious listener. - MC BruceLee
RARE Sunday, March 20th Event:
6:30 THOLLEM McDONAS / MICHAEL WIMBERLEY - Synth / Percussion
Tuesday, March 22nd:
6:30: TIME TROUT with VIV CORRINGHAM / MARCUS CUMMINS / DAVE MANDL / STEVE MOSES
7:30: KURT RALSKE / MELANIE DYER / ANNA GRUMAN / TODD CAPP
Saturday, March 26th: The GAUCI-MUSIC Series Continues with:
6:30pm - ELI WALLACE - synth / STEPHEN GAUCI - tenor sax
7:15pm - KEVIN SHEA - drums / STEPHEN GAUCI - tenor sax
8pm - STEPHEN GAUCI - tenor sax / ELI WALLACE - synth / KEVIN SHEA - drums
THE FINAL VOLUME OF JOHN ZORN’S ARCANA—MUSICIANS ON MUSIC!
JOHN ZORN // ARCANA - X : OREN AMBARCHI / PETER BLEGVAD / SUSAN ALCORN / RAN BLAKE / CHRISTIAN WOLFF / MARK HELIAS / TYONDAI BRAXTON / JOHN BUTCHER / ANNE LOCKWOOD / HANNAH LASH / HENRY THREADGILL / ANNA WEBBER / FAY VICTOR / DAVID LOMBARDO / et al (Tzadik B001; USA) “Initiated in 1997 and now in its tenth and FINAL installment, John Zorn's acclaimed ARCANA series is a major source of new music theory and practice in the 21st-century. Illuminating directly via the personal vision and experience of the practitioners themselves, who experience music not from a cool, safe distance, but from the white-hot center of the creative crucible itself, ARCANA elucidates through essays, manifestos, scores, interviews, notebooks, and critical papers.
Over twenty-five years the ten volumes of ARCANA have presented the writings of over 300 of the most extraordinary musical thinkers of our time, who address composing, performing, improvising, touring, collaborating, living and thinking about music from diverse, refreshing and often surprising perspectives. Technical, philosophical, political, artistic, and mystical in nature, these writings provide direct connections to the creative processes and hidden stratagem of musicians from the worlds of classical, rock, jazz, film soundtrack, improvised music and more.
Essential for composers, musicians, students and fans alike, these challenging and passionate essays provide a unique view into the musician’s inner sanctum, leading the creative mind towards an exciting new world of untapped possibilities for artists, writers, musical theorists, musicians and curious listeners alike.”
ZOH AMBA with MICAH THOMAS / THOMAS MORGAN / JOEY BARON JOHN ZORN - O, Sun (Tzadik 4038; USA) Featuring Zoh Amba tenor sax, Micah Thomas on piano, Thomas Morgan on contrabass & Joey Baron on drums plus guest John Zorn on alto sax (track 5). A few months ago, my good friend John Zorn mentioned to me about a young saxist that he was impressed with named Zoh Amba. William Parker also mentioned her to me as well. Around the same time Ms. Amba contacted me about playing a gig DMG’s in-store series, I happily gave her a night and she played on November 16th with another saxist named David Mirarchi. I was most impressed by this sax duo, considering I hadn’t heard about either of them until that time. It turns out that Ms. Amba was recording her debut CD around the same time (November 11, 2021). Ms. Amba put together a strong quartet with up & coming pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Thomas Morgan (who has worked with Bill Frisell, Tyshawn Sorey & Paul Motian) and drum master Joey Baron (from assorted Masada bands). Plus Tzadik mainman, Stone founder & curator and master saxist John Zorn sits in on one piece as well. Who could ask for anything more?!? This disc was delayed several times and finally arrived here earlier this week.
Zoh Amba is only 21, growing up down south in a mountainous area of Tennessee, studied in San Francisco and Boston. Her sound on tenor sax is way beyond her years. The first thing I noticed when this disc opened is that Ms. Amba is playing with that hushed, haunting, Pharoah-like tone, gentle yet somehow deep with floating piano, bass and drums surrounding her. The first piece is called “Hymn to the Divine Mother” and it has a dreamy, spiritual sound. The title track, “O, Sun” has a charming, folk-like theme which is most uplifting in vibe. Pianist Micah Thomas, a new name for me, is in fine form here, taking the quirky but fun-to-play theme and expanding upon it with a strong solo before Ms. Amba comes back to play the them in a sublime, child-like way. Ms. Amba moves into Ayler-like territory on “Northern Path”, the waters (other players) around her are more turbulent and intense. Everything is stripped down to skeletal pace/place on “Gardener”, a solemn, prayer-like piece, elegant, carefully-crafted, superb. Mr. Thomas plays a fragile, ECM-like solo before Zoh plays a gorgeous, touching, distant but rich-toned solo. Mr. Zorn always likes to push things further out and kicks off “Holy Din” with some refreshing restraint which slowly builds as both saxes ascend and bend tones together, warming up to the astonishing, blistering, free-jazz blast with lovely McCoy-like piano underneath. I am reminded of the Prima Materia gig (& CD) from the Old Knit (in the mid-nineties) where Mr. Zorn sat in with the ever-cosmic unit with Rashied Ali (Trane’s last drummer!), Louie Belogenis (Zorn’s pal) on tenor, Allan Chase (later to move to Boston to teach) on alto, William Parker & Joe Gallant on basses. “Crossing” brings us back down to a more peaceful Mother Earth. It is not so easy to achieve this level of Cosmic Free Music so it feels great to those of us searching for transcendence in these dark times. The final piece, “Satya”, has a lovely, ancient-sounding, prayer-like melody/vibe which I find most soothing to help calm down the restless spirits around me/us. It ends with a mind-blowing explosive tenor sax & piano duo which will knock you out! Ommmmmmmmmm… - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MYRA MELFORD'S FIRE and WATER QUINTET with MARY HALVORSON / INGRID LAUBROCK / TOMEKA REID / SUSIE IBARRA - For the Love of Fire and Water (Rogue Art 0119; France) Featuring Myra Melford on piano, melodica & compositions, Mary Halvorson on guitar, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor & soprano saxes, Tomeka Reid on cello and Susie Ibarra on drums & percussion. I have long admired Myra Melford as a unique voice amongst the many great pianists that I've known. Ever since checking her out at the first Roulette (on West Broadway, south of Canal) in the late-eighties with Marion Brandis, I recognized something special in her playing. I’ve watched her evolve and thrive through varied bands over more than three decades: her trio Lindsay Cooper & Reggie Nicholson, The Same River Twice, The Extended Ensemble, The Tent, Be Bread, Equal Interest (w/ Joseph Jarman & Leroy Jenkins), Snowy Egret, Trio M plus assorted duos & trios. Over the past few years Ms. Melford has recorded with a couple of great female trios: MZM (with Zeena Parkins & Miya Masaoka) and in 2020 with Joelle Leandre & Lauren Newton.
For this wonderful disc Ms. Melford has organized an all-star quintet with Mary Halvorson, Ingrid Laubrock, Tomeka Reid and Susie Ibarra. Each of these women are gifted musicians, bandleaders, composers and collaborators of the highest ranks. Each of the 10 piece here are named with roman numerals as their titles and the entire disc is a suite of connected parts. Starting off with “I”, the piano and cello interplay is warm & thoughtful. Susie Ibarra remains as one of the distinctive voices on percussion of all. When she enters, she adds her own unique sound to the duo which continues to build into a trio and then a quartet with Ingrid Laubrock on soprano sax. When Mary Halvorson enters on guitar, again it is her distinctive approach/tone that pushes things up another notch. The entire assembled quintet continue on “II”, which shows off Ms. Melford’s strong composing/arranging abilities with some strong ensemble playing. The quintet spins freely on “III”, which sounds joyous in its way showing what “free music” is really about when it works. There are a number of free sounding sections here, each of which sounds focused, playful, intense, the interplay often astonishing as it reaches higher and higher, yet remains succinct. The balance between the freer and written sections is well thought out. “VIII” starts off with the quintet all clapping tightly together, before launching into another well-conceived, ensemble writing/playing. In several ways this disc is both triumphant and modest at the same time, with a few occasional free freakouts. This disc is said to the first of several suites, can’t wait until the next one drops. - Bruce Gallanter, DMG
GARY LUCAS & PETER WILLEMS - Double Dare (Zennes ZR2203014; Netherlands) Featuring Gary Lucas on guitars & vocals and Peter Willems on contrabass & vocals. Gary Lucas and Peter Willems first met on a live radio show hosted by Co de Kloet, a Dutch radio producer & documentary maker who worked with Frank Zappa. Longtime Downtown guitar legend has done some thirty records since his first album was released in 1991: many solo efforts, a handful of duos (w/ Jeff Buckley, Najma Akhtar & Peter Hammill), several collaborations (w/ Urfaust & The Dark Poets), several Capt. Beefheart tribute bands (Fast N’ Bulbous & The Magic Band) and more often with his own Gods and Monsters band. Aside from being a master guitar player, Mr. Lucas has vastly diverse tastes, influenced by and drawing from many sources: 60’s rock music & 70’s prog-rock, the blues, folk, jazz, classical and film music from different eras.
This disc features a varied playlist: early blues, traditional & contemporary folk, a rare Velvet Underground cover, a Gillian Welch cover, songs by Franz Schubert and original songs by Gary Lucas and Peter Willems. The first two songs here are blues standards, “I’m So Glad” and “Spoonful”, were both covered by Cream in the late sixties. Yet, these versions are completely different than the Cream versions. Both Gary, with his world-weary voice and Peter (with a voice rather like Jeff Buckley), sing here and sound great together, their different voices somehow connected most soulfully. Mr. Lucas plays acoustic guitar while Mr. Willems plays contrabass, another combination that works especially well together. Mr. Williams sings lead on “Spoonful” and sings most righteously, especially given his young age. Although this song is stripped down, the spirit is just right with Mr. Lucas adding some sly slide licks like succulent spice. “Dance of Destiny” is an old instrumental written by Mr. Lucas which I haven’t heard in a long while. The version here works well with just these two acoustic instruments united as one unique force. “Hey Mr. Rain” is a rare Velvet Underground cover which is only found on one of their outtakes albums. Both Lucas and Willems sing together, their voices in strong harmony, the music around them most hypnotic and dream-like. It turns out that fifties TV comedian, Jackie Gleason, also was a composer/producer of a handful of eclectic albums. The duo cover his song, “Melancholy Serenade”, which is a quaint gem. Mr. Willems sings lead on the traditional song, “Fare Thee Well” and does a fine job with a voice that fits the song's sentiment just right. The duo also do “Scarlett Town” by Gillian Welch & David Rawlings. It turns that your truly is a big fan of Ms. Welch, whose album called, ’Time (The Revelator)’(2001), I continue to play often since it touches me so deeply. “Scarlet Town” is from a later record but no less enchanting. The version here by Gary & Peter is well done, different, but no less enchanting, rather ghost-like in sound with some immensely eerie slide guitar hovering in the distance and some scary guitar sounds before it ends. Gary Lucas and Jeff Buckley collaborated on a song called “Harem Man” which is covered here. Their version is most haunting with Mr. Willem’s voice in great form and Lucas’ echoed guitar evoking many different ghosts. “Better Than You Were” is the real jewel here with strong lyrics about the existential crisis that many of us have been living through since the pandemic began, great vocals by Mr. Willems and strong support from Lucas’ magic guitar. There are many different duo collaborations that work on different levels. This works especially since both of these musicians sound connected to a similar spirit which is inside all of us, but is not so easily translated into our regular lives. A very special disc indeed! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $15 [we are having a Gary Lucas sale of a dozen of his back-catalogue CD’s which will be listed in next week’s newsletter]
MICHAEL BISIO QUARTET with KARL BERGER / MAT MANERI / WHIT DICKEY - MBefore (TAO Forms 08; USA) “This Michael Bisio Quartet is a new kindred-spirit assembly featuring the veteran bassist alongside Mat Maneri (viola), Karl Berger (vibraphone) and Whit Dickey (drums). Their melodiously alluring debut album, MBefore, features the four virtuoso improvisers communing on a set of original compositions by Bisio & Berger, plus a free-minded take on the standard “I Fall in Love Too Easily”. “This is a banquet, a true feast. It was created by people who gave themselves over to the concept and revealed in the generation of beautiful sound.” – Matthew Shipp Michael Bisio has earned just praise for his textured solo performances as well as collaborations with the likes of veteran multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. But it’s perhaps his 13-year membership in the Matthew Shipp Trio that has earned him widest renown, having toured on both sides of the Atlantic along with recording numerous albums with the pianist. Cadence magazine marveled over the way Bisio’s playing “seems to be produced by sorcery.” From the liner notes by Matthew Shipp: “Michael Bisio is one of the greatest bassists on the planet – but this album isn’t about his bass playing. It’s about his humanity. Bisio is a thoughtful group leader who has a knack for bringing the right people together and setting them up in such a way that they feel at one with the group dynamic.” MBefore is about the ensemble and its collective consciousness – it’s about the group aesthetic, with the resulting sound having a transparent quality. With vibes and viola, there’s a sonic clarity, even a kind of sweetness. That clarity and transparency allows the contrapuntal quality of the music to be fully revealed – you can hear everyone’s lines at once, and the subtle harmonies created by the crossing of those individual lines. On that clarity and transparency.. there’s no more compelling improviser on a stringed instrument than Mat Maneri, and his viola sings darkly with light throughout MBefore. As for Karl Berger – the illustrious octogenarian vibraphonist who brought two new compositions to this album as well – he remains profoundly on top of his game. Bisio has worked with him regularly since moving a decade ago from NYC up to Berger’s neck of the woods in the Hudson River Valley. As Shipp notes, Berger is “a master of space, a master of restraint, a master of melding his sound in the sonic ambient.” TAO Forms is honored to present his very latest work as performer and composer here on MBefore.”
More from The Mahakala Label:
EDWARD ‘KIDD’ JORDAN / JOEL FUTTERMAN / WILLIAM PARKER / HAMID DRAKE - A Tribute to Alvin Fielder—Live At the Vision Festival XXIV (Mahakala MAHA-004; USA) This one hits the ground running and proceeds ahead full boil, but turns things down to simmer periodically across its breathless 45-minute running time. Drummer Alvin Fielder, a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), passed away in 2019, and this tribute is every bit as forthright and feisty, an enduring testament to Fielder’s life’s work. Futterman and Jordan collaborated with Fielder on many occasions, and their pairing with the rock-solid rhythm section of Parker and Drake, a partnership of equally grandstanding, portends a meeting of talents that is nigh on unmissable. Many of us were not fortunate to have witnessed this visceral work in its original live setting, but the superbly-produced recording herein fills that gap splendidly. Saxophonist Jordan is now a spry eighty-six, but the heaven-searing emotions on display belie his age; his acidic lines breathe fire and brimstone but they’re tightly controlled and never lapse into abject blowing. Pianist Futterman exudes a near-kaledioscopic range of rippling harmonies and sometimes discordant measures that equally channel Monk & Cecil Taylor, but it's his deft turns-of-phrase that keep one’s ears perpetually guessing where he might go next. What’s to say regarding Parker and Drake, whose partnership remains unparalleled in the annals of improvisatory and free jazz idioms, their work together unquestionably sui generis by this stage? Parker’s strident, formidable bass lines could anchor an ocean liner, his earthy tone expertly navigating the wellspring of ideas concocted by his bandmates, a force to be reckoned with. Drake’s percussive alacrity continues to dazzle; he surely doesn’t disappoint here, whipping his way across the often stormy seas of horn and keys with delicately staggered cymbal work and, at some of the quieter times during the proceedings, establishing a near groove that his comrades rally around. Overall, a wonderfully expressive recording that will no doubt get richer over time—Fielder would’ve been proud. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
IVO PERELMAN / MATTHEW SHIPP / JOE MORRIS - Shamanism (Mahakala 009; USA) Featuring Ivo Perelman on tenor sax, Matt Shipp on piano and Joe Morris on guitar. Although Free/Spirit/Jazz saxist, Ivo Perelman, has recorded some 60 CD’s for the Leo Label (mostly) over the past decade, many with Matt Shipp and a few with Joe Morris, this is the first trio effort by this particular trio. Mr. Perelman seems to be on some sort of journey to record & releases improvised sessions in duos, trio & quartets as often as is possible, thus the deluge of releases at our disposal. The lengthy liner notes here (uncredited) illustrate how rare it is for a guitarist to be involved in a small improvised duo or trio with instruments like the sax and piano, which often work well together. There may be some truth in that although Joe Morris has been a great improviser for several decades, often working with a handful of his well-chosen collaborators as well as many of his students for the past decade or so, the instrument is not as important as the way the musician works with it, often dealing with extended techniques and original sounds.
The name of this disc is ’Shamanism’ and all of the song titles deal with the influence of spiritual energy. When this disc begins, all three musicians erupt while the listener adjusts to what they are doing. The sax, guitar and piano are in a constant state of flux, quick, frenzied lines spin around one another in tight orbits, slowing down organically at times. On “Spirit World” the trio calm down to a more restrained, haunting sound, with Mr. Morris blending in just right, the piano & guitar strings resonating together while the sax & guitar also deal with similar textures & timbres. Matt Shipp plays a short solo piano piece called, “Altered States of Consciousness” which feels like an interlude and provides some suspense and tranquility before things launch off again. On “Spiritual Energies”, the pace and intensity increases as the trio break into a series of hills and valleys, the interplay strong, focused and balanced just right. I like the way Matt Shipp plays the darker, slower low end chords on the bass notes of the piano while adding those more fractured lines with his right hand, which is in constant action/dialogue with the sax and guitar. There are some magic elements going on here which connect the players with the serious listeners, both of which need each other for the flow to go back & forth, time & again. Mr. Shipp plays another sublime interlude on “Supernatural Faith” which leads directly into the last piece: “Religious Ecstasy” an aptly titled final blow up/conclusion. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ERI YAMAMOTO / CHAD FOWLER / WILLIAM PARKER / STEVE HIRSH - sparks (Mahakala Music 027; USA) Featuring Eri Yamamoto on piano, Chad Fowler on stritch & saxello, William Parker on contrabass and Steve Hirsh on drums. The great Mahakala label has unleashed a series of great discs over the past few years, each one dealing with Free/Spirit/Jazz vibe which many of us love and am inspired by. Eri Yamamoto has led her own trio for some twenty years with nine CD’s released since 2001 and a weekly gig somewhere in the West Village for many years. In 2006, Matt Shipp produced a disc for Ms. Yamamoto for the Thirsty Ear label. Every since Ms. Yamamoto has been involved in Mr. Shipp’s circle of musicians like William Parker and Daniel Carter, appearing on several discs led by Mr. Parker. This 2 CD set features Ms. Mamamoto playing in a freer situation with William Parker, Chad Fowler (who has a recent duo disc with Matt Shipp & who runs the Mahakala label) and a drummer named Steve Hirsh, whose name I am unfamiliar with. Ms. Yamamoto’s trio discs are often both lyrical and inventive. The music here, also seems to have a lyrical flame burning inside. The title piece is most sublime and sparse. Mr. Fowler’s stritch (a rare straight alto sax made famous by Rahsaan Roland Kirk) is featured and he has a wonderful warm tone/sound. The entire has a warm, thoughtful, free-yet-focused sound, the entire vibe/sound most enchanting. I hadn’t heard of Chad Fowler before he sent us a half dozen new discs on Mahakala. The sound his gets is unique and he sounds wonderful throughout this entire 2 CD set. Downtown elder, multi-bandleader & composer, William Parker’s acoustic bass is often at the center this quartet, his soft throb the heartbeat and soul of this fine quartet. There are some peaceful, calm sections sound great as well as some turbulent sections as well. There is some deep spiritual fire flowing throughout this entire disc/session, the more I listen, the better I feel about life. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2 CD set $16
GEORGE CARTWRIGHT / DAVE KING / JOSH GRANOWSKI - Stick Insect (Mahakala 023; USA) “Saxophonist, composer, guitarist George Cartwright has been pushing musical boundaries since the 1970s, when he moved from Mississippi to New York and formed the legendary Avant-Garde jazz rock band, Curlew. For many years now, George has lived and worked in Minneapolis. Joining him on this record are fellow Minnesotans, Dave King and Josh Granowski. Internationally acclaimed drummer King shares George’s penchant for eclectic musical backgrounds having played and recorded with a wide range of artists from his own extremely popular group, The Bad Plus to appearances with the who’s who of the “downtown” avant-grade music scene. ‘Stick Insect’ is an adventurous, freely improvised set from three masters of their art form.” - Wayside
2 CD Set $16
TODD CAPP / KURT RALSKE - Fire Alarm (Noncept 109; USA) Featuring Todd Capp on drums & cymbals and Kurt Ralske on soprano sax, flute, ney & vibes. I’ve known Kurt Ralske since 1979 when he was in high school and have watched him evolve as a musician, composer, experimenter & video artist. When we first met, Mr. Ralske was playing electric guitar and fronting a great rock trio called Dissipated Face. I ended up becoming good friends of the three Face dudes, helping them get gigs (in the 1980’s), as well as jamming with them throughout many years. After DS faded apart, Ralske signed with the prestigious 4AD label, who released three discs of great psych/pop/rock under the name Ultra Vivid Scene. After UVS split, Ralske began experimenting with video gear & putting his guitar in storage, eventually becoming a professor at several colleges in New England for a couple of decades. In recent times, Mr. Ralske has gone back to experimenting & improvising on several instruments. Aside from the occasional Dissipated Face and Suburban Bohemia reunion sets, Ralske has been working with drummer Todd Capp, multi-winds player Daniel Carter and avant sonic explorer Lele Dei. Drummer Todd Capp also has a long career going back to the Loft Jazz Scene in NYC in the late seventies. Mr. Capp also leads several bands and is always searching for kindred spirits to collaborate with.
This disc, ‘Fire Alarm’, is the first duo recording by Todd Capp and Kurt Ralske, although they have recorded and performed with select players whenever they do their thing. This session was recorded live in Brooklyn on September 6 of 2021 and there is a picture inside of a scene in Detroit in 1967, the city in flames during an extreme period of civil unrest and rioting. Some fifty-plus years later, similar scenes of civil unrest have taken place over the last few years due to the creeping influence of fascism here and around the world. The disc begins slow, soft and solemn with hushed soprano sax and brushes on the drums & cymbals. The vibe is both sad and lovely. The duo slowly ascend together, their playing interweaving like ghosts dancing together. Mr. Ralske eventually switches to flute or ney (a type of flute), with Ralske playing through a mic, adding a bit of reverb to his sound. This duo works well together, the organic flow between them is strong. There is a strong dialogue going on here, a push & pull, a constant exchange of ideas. A fire alarm is a device that rings loud and sends a signal to the Fire Department. I often get the urge to pull the (imaginary) fire alarm since there is a series of ongoing emergencies all around us due to the pandemic and Fake News alleged tragedies that surround us. This music shows that there is a connection going on between the two musicians and those who listen and get inspired by what they hear. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOACHIM BADENHORST’S CARATE URIO ORCHESTRA - Cosmos (Klein 11; Belgium) Featuring Joachim Badenhorst on clarinet, tenor sax, electronics & voice, Jeremy Thai on French horn, trumpet & narration, Simon Jermyn on el guitar & el bass, Brice Soniano on double bass & electronics, Liz Kosack on synth, Bert Cools el guitars and Sean Carpio on drums. This is the fourth disc from Dutch reeds great Joachim Badenhorst’s Carate Urio Orchestra, a unique mid-sized ensemble that has evolved over time since its first release in 2014. I’ve become a big Fan of Mr. Badenhorst’s over time, hearing him play with the Han Bennink Trio, Mogil, Baloni and a trio offering with John Butcher and Paul Lytton.
The Carate Urio Orchestra are Mr. Badenhorst’s most ambitious ensemble. The liner notes include a paragraph about the Great Mother (a/k/a Mother Nature) and life itself beginning with tadpoles. Started off with a piece called “Outer Space” which does consist of spacey sounds. “A tear fell from the forlorn sky” is a lovely, sad, laid back sort of ballad with a most enchanting melody played the entire ensemble. The song also includes a charming vocal chorus who also hum that lovely theme. Is the main instrument a muted sax or perhaps a synth> No matter, it is still charming & had me humming along immediately. The music here reminds me of a biblical epic or a fairy tale, an ancient sounding effort that is in between any established genres. It is not so easy to explain what is so unique and magical about this music, it sounds more like a soundtrack to semi-whimsical animation. Mr. Badenhorst narrates an odd tale about a swamp which is transformed into something else. The song itself is also transformed from a solemn tale into a merry-go-round like melody which swirls around our imaginations. I get the feeling that it will take several listenings to figure out how it all fits together and if there is a hidden story buried beneath the somber waves of sound which rise and fall organically through this entire cosmic tale. Inexplicably wondrous disc of the month, no doubt. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $17 [Super Limited Edition]
JOACHIM BADENHORST / SANEM KALFA / GEORGE DUMITRIU - Black Sea Songs (el Negocito Records eNR102; Netherlands) Featuring Joachim Badenhorst on clarinet & electronics, Sanem Kalfa on vocals & electronics and George Dumitriu on acoustic & electric guitars & effects. It has been a few years since we’ve heard anything new from Dutch reeds player, Joachim Badenhorst, although he did send out an email in January about a new release from his Carate Urio Orchestra, but we haven’t heard back since I wrote to him. Recently drummer Raf Vertessen left us with a box of (9) CD’s from the El Negocito Records label, which is based in Belgium. I am working my way through the batch now but only recognize a few of the dozen or so artists involved. This trio is similar in instrumentation to another trio the Mr. Badenhorst worked with a few years back called Equilibrium, which also featured a vocalist, a guitarist and Mr. Badenhorst on reeds. Although I hadn’t heard of Sanem Kalfa or George Dumitriu, it turns out that Ms. Kalfa has worked with Kaja Draksler & has a solo effort out while Mr. Dumitriu has worked with the Dutch couple Ig Henneman & Ab Baars as well as also with Kaja Draksler. All songs on this disc are traditional excpet for one by Ms. Sanem and one by another female composer called Elena Chirica-Tesa. This disc was recorded in a studio in Istanbul, Turkey (where Ms. Kalfa hails) and mixed in Amsterdam, Netherlands (where the trio lives I believe). Although I am not so certain but most of these songs are traditional Turkish ones. Right from the first piece, “Babamin Atmalari”, Ms. Kalfa’s voice is most enchanting as is/are the delightful melodies she sings. Ms. Kalfa is backed by subtle clarinet, plucked strings and hushed yet eerie electronics or effects. When Ms. Kalfa stops singing midway, the rest of the trio take off into some etherial space. Each of the traditional songs feature Ms. Kalfa’s enchanting (sensuous, solemn, sublime) voice at the center with often subtle yet quirky & inventive playing from her two collaborators. “Nani Nani Oy” reminds me of those wonderful Klez/middle eastern sounding songs which were popular in the Downtown Scene circa mid-nineties (like the Tiny Bell Trio or Pachora). One of the main highlights here is the way Ms. Kalfa’s voice is captured and at times, slightly manipulated with some subtle effects. Mr. Kalfa’s voice is warm, sad at times and especially mesmerizing. This entire discs is a pure delight, one of the most enchanting discs I’ve heard in a long while. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CD $15 [This was reviewed last month & remains one of my fave recent discs]
CHARLIE MORROW - Chanter (Recital 090CD; USA) “February 9th 2021 was the 80th birthday of composer Charlie Morrow. To celebrate the occasion, Recital announce Chanter, a new album collecting his voice works over the past 60 years. Chanter features guests such as Annea Lockwood, The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble (who worked with Philip Glass), Carole Weber, etc. 80 minutes of voice for 80 years of Charlie's life. While Morrow's previous two albums on Recital Toot! Too (2017) and America Lament (R 081LP, 2020) focused on chamber and electronic compositions, Chanter covers over 60 years of vocal explorations. Spanning from Charlie's first ever tape recording Ella (1960) to two intimate chanting improvisations made in 2021 for this CD. Curated by Sean McCann, the dozen tracks which comprise the album include pieces like "Drum Chant" (1971), a roaring percussive crescendo with chanter hyperventilation; "A Chant With Watches" (1974), a spatial work of watches placed on top of microphones across the stereo field, oscillating in octaves. Composer Annea Lockwood appears on the album playing a glass water jar over the telephone at a 1984 New York concert where Charlie dialed in performers from around the world to collaborate with him on stage. A central portion of the album is the large-scale shamanic opera "Spirit Voices" (1971), based on concepts from Siberian shamanism. With tape playback of Charlie's handmade electronics and amplified chanting voices, the 1987 staging also included fire artists, metal sculptors, brass ensemble, saw player, and dance troupe. Elements of sound poetry are fused with minimalist drone and sometimes violent electronics. Two beautiful choral works are included: "Hymn Transformations" (1983), a style of composition that mutates Sacred Harp music with numerical repetitions based on geographical coordinates, here sung by The Western Wind vocal ensemble who famously performed works by Philip Glass. A euphonious passage from "Genesis Song" (1968), a Māori poem translated by Jerome Rothenberg, taken from Morrow's The Light Opera (1982), which included Min Tanaka's Butoh dancers and a trio of jack hammers. Silver-leaf foil printed CD, with 16-page booklet.”
JOHANNA BEYER // ARIZONA WIND QUINTET - Music for Woodwinds (New World Records 80826-2; USA) Arizona Wind Quintet: Brian Luce, flute; Sara Fraker, oboe & English horn; Jackie Glazier, clarinet & bass clarinet; Marissa Olegario, bassoon & contrabassoon; William Dietz, bassoon with Daniel Linder, piano. Through her novel approaches to texture and melody, German-American composer Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888–1944) became one of the most distinctive modernist voices of the mid-20th century. Beyer was the first woman known to have composed for electric instruments (Music of the Spheres, 1938). Her compositions anticipate elements of minimalism, a movement that would manifest two decades after her passing. Beyer was long omitted from the written history of ultramodernism, but her activities as a composer and pianist in 1930s New York City placed her within the orbits of many important artists. Her mentors, friends, and collaborators included Ruth Crawford, Charles Seeger, Henry Cowell, John Cage, Lou Harrison, Otto and Ethel Luening, Marion Bauer, Dane Rudhyar, Percy Grainger, and choreographer Doris Humphrey. At last, in the 21st century, Beyer’s name is now invoked alongside these others, as the significance of her music is becoming more widely recognized.
Although her works for percussion ensemble, piano, and strings have garnered the most attention, Beyer composed a substantial amount of music for woodwinds. Thirteen solo and chamber works, all written between 1932 and 1943, represent an exceptional contribution to the wind repertoire. Only five pieces involving clarinet and flute have previously been recorded. This album brings to light the rest of Beyer’s known chamber music for winds, allowing for a more complete assessment of her achievements.
Beyer wrote to Cowell in 1940, “I am not a set piece of so many molecules. I am an ever changing something.” Nothing truer could be said of Beyer’s woodwind music, which reveals a composer in constant search of new approaches and instrumental colors. In little more than a decade of intense creativity, she produced inventive pieces in an ever-unfolding ultramodernist style. These works, now accessible for performance and study, confirm Johanna Beyer’s importance in the canon of 20th-century wind chamber music.”
BARETO - El Amor No Es Para Los Debiles (Agogo Records 137CD; Germany) “Praised as heirs of Amazonic psychedelia and chicha traditions, as well as sound innovators, Peruvian band Bareto mix exciting versions of cumbia classics with their own, unique compositions, in concerts that should be promoted as dance parties. Bareto were performers at Womex 2016, have toured Europe and North America, including Roskilde Festival 2015 and Montreal Jazz Festival 2017, among others. Recorded just before the Covid pandemic between Lima and Bogotá, El Amor No Es Para Los Débiles is Bareto's second effort with Colombian producer Felipe Álvarez. The album marks the debut of singer Javier Arias in duets with some renown Peruvian figures such as creole diva Bartola and techno cumbia queen Rossy War. The album also features sonero and comedian Melcochita and a bunch of Colombian guests, including singer María del Rosario Cardona and percussionist Chongo. The first single is "Tu Recuerdo", a song that mixes cumbia with an Andean flavor. Both their last two records of original material, Ves Lo Quequieres Ver (You See What You Want To See, 2013) and Impredecible (Impredictable, 2015), have been nominated for the Latin Grammy Awards. Line-up: Rolo Gallardo -- guitar, background vocals; Pedro Rodríguez -- guitar; Jorge Giraldo -- bass, background vocals; Jorge Olazo -- percussion; Sergio Sarria -- drums; Raffo Carlos -- keys, background vocals; Javier Arias - lead vocals.”
EL KHAT - Aalbat Alawi Op.99 (Glitterbeat 121CD; Germany) “Rough-hewn and exhilarating, EL Khat's second album Aalbat Alawi Op.99 is a deep dive into leader Eyal el Wahab's Yemenite roots and their inspired re-imaginings. A careening orchestra of percussion, horns, strings, electricity and el Wahab's own DIY instruments. Mesmerizing retro-futurist sounds. El Khat. Named for the drug used so widely chewed across the Middle East, the band's music is certainly addictive, more so with each outing. Their second album, Aalbat Alawi Op.99, is a disc full of joys, where the melodies unfold one after the other, involving and catchy. "I tried to be simple in the structure," explains Eyal el Wahab, the group's leader and heart, who composed and arranged almost everything on the album. Aalbat Alawi Op.99 is very much his vision. "It's a bit like pop music, where the soul is four chords and a melody. The difference is in the expression." That sense of expression and meaning flows through the first single, "Djaja," where he sings "From Yemen and beyond America/We are all together and I am alone." This is music that both looks over the shoulder to his family's past and forward to the world that lies outside. El Wahab plays many of the instruments on the album, things like the dli and the kearat that he constructed himself. A skilled carpenter, it's something he started doing several years ago, using his skills to make music from the items people discard. A child of the Yemeni diaspora who's grown up in Tel Aviv Jaffa, Israel, it's a practice that harks back to the family homeland, where even rubbish can become an instrument. Where the last album, Saadia Jefferon, saw Eyal el Wahab bring a funky, psychedelic re imagination to the traditional Yemeni songs that electrified him when he first heard them, this is a disc almost entirely filled with his own compositions, something close and personal that constantly looks back to his family's homeland on the Arabian Peninsula. "Joyously mixing authentically Arabic musical tropes with ethnomusicological forgeries. Vigorous psychedelic stomps...an exciting new discovery." --Uncut
HAMID EL SHAERI - The SLAM! Years (1983-1988)(Habibi Funk 018CD; Germany) "Full album dedicated to Hamid El Shaeri's work on the Egyptian SLAM! label. Hamid El Shaeri is the artist behind Habibi Funk's most popular song to date, 'Ayonha', originally re-released in 2017 on the first Habibi Funk Compilation. If you were to ask for a defining Habibi Funk track, there are a few that come to mind: from Fadoul's 'Sid Redad,' Dalton's 'Soul Brother' to Ahmed Malek's 'Omar Gatlato.' However, none are as widely connected with us at this point as Hamid Al Shaeri's 'Ayonha.' We heard the track for the first time when we were working on selecting tracks for your first compilation and we instantly loved it. We obviously had heard of Hamid El Shaeri's music before, but only material from his Al Jeel phase when he was already the full-blown superstar he is now. Listening to his releases from the early 1980's opened a whole new door for us. At the time, Hamid had just left Libya to pursue his career in Egypt via a detour in London, where he recorded his first album. Hamid's distinct sound of the sound is quintessentially reliant on heavy synths and so it was particularly important to purchase these synths in a timely manner. London also played an important role for Hamid as a musical epicenter. He fondly reminisces about the many live shows he attended there, including some of the biggest international musicians like Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson. After returning to Cairo where he also recorded his following albums, he connected with SLAM! for the release of his debut, laying the foundation of a collaboration that lasted for five albums. Luckily, we were able to connect with Hamid through our friend Youssra El Hawary, whose extensive network has opened many doors for us within the Egyptian music scene . . . While he was down to assist with an interview and his blessing for the project he also told us that for any license we needed to speak with the original label SLAM! who released these songs, still held the rights and also remained in business over the decades though they didn't actively release any new music. Hany Sabet had started SLAM! Records in the early 1980s and focused on cassette tape releases, the format that expedited the success of a new generation of record labels in Egypt. By the mid 1980s, SLAM! had become one of the most successful and economically dominant record labels in Egypt, with Hamid El Shaeri being just one of their key artists, alongside Mohamed Mounir, Hanan, Hakim, Mustafa Amar and many more. Luckily, Hany Sabet turned out to be a friend of our colleague Malak Makar's father, which probably helped to warm him to the idea of licensing 'Ayonha' to this -- in the scale of his world -- tiny label from Germany. Eventually 'Ayonha' ended up becoming a widely successful release and either Hany or we brought up the idea of a full album dedicated to Hamid El Shaeri's work on SLAM!..."
HISTORIC & ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS, RESTOCKS & REISSUES:
DAVID TUDOR - Three Works For Live Electronics (Lovely Music 1601CD; USA) 1996 release. Originally released on Lovely Music as Pulsers / Untitled in 1984. This re-release includes an additional piece from David Tudor, Phonemes. Pulsers explores the world of rhythms created electronically by analog, rather than digital, circuitry. With analog circuitry, the time-base common to the rhythms can be varied in many different ways by a performer, and can eventually become unstable. Untitled is a part of a series of works composed in the 1970s that were developed through experiments in generating electronic sound without the use of oscillators, tone generators, or recorded natural sound materials. Composed in 1972, it was designed for simultaneous performance with John Cage's vocalization of his Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham. The work was revived in 1982, and performed with improvised vocals by Takehisa Kosugi. Phonemes was commissioned by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for Cunningham's dance Channels/Inserts (1981), a work made both as a "filmdance" and for the stage. Phonemes employs two discrete processes which provide input source material for an array of sound modifying electronics, thus creating a multitude of outputs. David Tudor, electronics, with Takehisa Kosugi, electronic violin and vocals; produced and recorded by David Tudor, Nicolas Collins, and John D.S. Adams.”
JOHN LEWIS with SONNY ROLLINS / SONNY STITT / LEE KONITZ / KAI WINDING / RAY BROWN / CURLY RUSSELL / MAX ROACH / KENNY CLARKE / et al - Early Years: Before The MJQ 1946-52 (Acrobat 9119; UK) John Lewis was a jazz pianist best-known for his work as founder member and musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, famous for blending elements of classical music with individual and ensemble improvisation in a refined chamber style of jazz. The music of the MJQ was in many ways the culmination of the development of Lewis' musical ideas during the five years and more of his professional career before that quartet came together, as he worked with some of the most influential and notable names in jazz during the bebop era. Classically-trained as a child, he met drummer Kenny Clarke while serving in WWII, and after the war successfully auditioned for Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra in 1945. This great-value 75-track 3-CD set comprises recordings made over the next six years or so with ensembles led by Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Milt Jackson, Illinois Jacquet, J.J. Johnson, Lester Young, and Zoot Sims, which included landmark sessions that were, without exaggeration, among the most significant in the entire history of modern jazz. As well as those leaders, it includes performances alongside musicians like Max Roach, Kenny Clarke, Ray Brown, Sonny Rollins, Chano Pozo, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Curly Russell, Lee Konitz, Jo Jones, Percy Heath and many more. Lewis' contributions to these recordings as sideman and accompanist are rarely the most prominent element of the performances, but they underline his legendarily understated but masterful approach to the music.”
3 CD Set $20
ALBERT AYLER - The First Recordings Vol. 2 (Sowing Records 018; Italy) Recorded in Stockholm on October 25, 1962, this session is one of Albert Ayler's earliest recordings, featuring a European backing group he assembled during his brief stay there, before returning to the States in 1963 and beginning his legendary run with ESP-Disk' and Impulse. Though his genius is not yet fully formed, one can easily hear he's headed that direction, and this rare and long out of print recording is an essential piece of the history from one of America's most uniquely lyrical voices on the saxophone. Clear vinyl.
WENDELL HARRISON with PHIL RANELIN / RALPH “BUZZY” JONES / HAROLD McKINNEY / RON ENGLISH / et al - Farewell To The Welfare (Now-Again 5213; USA) "The first ever issue of this spiritual jazz album. The Tribe label, one of the brightest lights of America's 1970s jazz underground, receives the Now-Again reissue treatment. This is your chance to indulge in the music and story of one of the most meaningful, local movements of the 20th Century Black American experience, one that expanded outwards towards the cosmos. In the words of the collective themselves, 'Music is the healing force of the universe.' Included in an extensive, oversized booklet, Larry Gabriel and Jeff 'Chairman' Mao take us through the history of the Tribe, in a compelling story that delves not just into the history of the label and its principals, but into the story of Black American empowerment in the latter half of the 20th Century. The booklet features never-before-seen archival photos and rare ephemera from Tribe's mid-1970s heyday. The Tribe Records co-founder's lost album, rumored to exist no more. Mastered from the original tapes and lacquered by Bernie Grundman."
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.
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:
1990 video from WETLANDS in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfs5OuBfNxs
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:
Live at Scholes Street Studio
Saturday March 19th, 8pm & 9:15pm sets
Live recording/Live audience!
Noa Fort - vocals
Sam Newsome - soprano saxophone
Sean Conly - bass
$15 at the door, cash/venmo
@Scholes Street Studio - 718-964-8763
375 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY (near Lorimer J/M, Montrose L)
Beyond Flute Group live at the EV Gallery
Cheryl Pyle- c flute /alto flute/piccolo
Michael Eaton -soprano sax
Haruna Fukazawa-c flute/alto flute
Gene Coleman -bass flute /piccolo
Yuko Togami- percussion
EV Gallery 621 East 11th Street
(btw Ave B and C ) NY , NY
Tuesday March 22 ,2022
music at 5:00 pm