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NEWSLETTER - October 24th, 2008
Four New Tzadiks incl. Zorn Film XXI, and Brown Wing Overdrive! Pavone/Malby Double Tenor Qnt! Wayne Horvitz Festival and Rarities! Ochs/Masaoka/Lee!
Clean Feeds incl Nilssen-Love/Evan Parker Townhouseorchestra, Angela Sanchez, Daniel Levin, Morris/Phillips! Peter Delano/Dewey Redman! Paul Bley Barrage! Arthur Russell!
THE Downtown Music Gallery Free Music Series Begins Again with...
Sunday, October 26th at 6pm:
Modest DMG Celebration for our move & the future..
RAS MOSHE & KYOKO KITAMURA!
Sunday, November 9th at 6pm:
JUDITH INSELL & JOE FONDA! Superb Viola & Contrabass duo
Celebrating the release of their new duo CD!
Sunday, November 16th at 6pm:
RADIO I-CHING - New York's finest Avant/rock/world Trio!
Sunday, November 23rd at 6pm:
JAMES ILGENFRITZ & JAY ROZEN!
Acoustic bass & tuba duo!
Four New Tzadik CDs for October!
JOHN ZORN - FilmWorks XXI: Belle de Nature/The New Rijksmuseum [sndtck s] (Tzadik 7370; USA) 2008 proves a busy year for Zorn and film, with this, his third release of soundtrack music. FilmWorks XXI contains two very different film scores for two very different movies - one, a bit of French S/M erotica and the other a documentary about the renovation of the world-famed Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. From baroque minimalism to a sensual fusion of harp, guitar and bass, the cues on FilmWorks XXI are some of the most unique and charming in the entire series, with Belle de Nature being one of Zorn's greatest scores to date.
TZADIK ARCHIVAL SERIES
BROWN WING OVERDRIVE [CHUCK BETTIS/MIKEY IQ JONES/DEREK MORTON] - ESP Organism (Tzadik 7410; USA) Angry shamans, burning circuitry, lonely poltergeists, sandpaper, dental work, alarm clocks, hallucinogenic claw hammer banjos, trash trucks, human beat boxes, chaotic analog synths and modular meltdowns - three young certifiable lunatics come together to dig deeper into the depths of the human psyche than anyone ever could or should. Influenced by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Aleister Crowley, pollution and more, this bizarre trio of musical misfits creates acoustic/electronic compositions that will keep you on the edge of madness until the last frightening sound.
TZADIK LUNATIC FRINGE SERIES
"I've watched this bizarre trio develop over the past few years and they have certainly matured/mutated into something unique and strangely compelling. I've heard quite a bit of weird music in my long life, but I haven't heard anything like Brown Wing Overdrive. Even checking them out live, it is hard to believe what they are doing will produce the twisted outcome we hear. Each piece on this disc features layers of odd sounds, so recognizable and some from another dimension. I can hear Mikey's jews harp, yet it is bathed in echoes and sounds even more surprising. This music has a kaleidoscopic feel as it shifts through different textures or sections. Former DC bred artist, Chuck Bettis, has sung and played in more than a half dozen bands. Chuck is a strong vocalist, yet keeps us all guessing by altering his voice and tweaking it with his laptop. What makes this disc so successful is that this trio keeps things moving, never holding on to any idea or sound for too long. There are some funny moments and quite a bit of surprising twists and wacky sounds. Each time I listen to this gem, I hear more unexpected sonic jewels. It is not that easy to end up on John Zorn's "Lunatic Fringe Series", you have to be truly beyond the pale. It is an honor bestowed on a few of Tzadik's favorite lunatics." - BLG
"Partially formed in the cesspool of the DMG slavepit [Chuck B, and Mikey IQ when he was still with us at da stoa], this is a strange journey through a montage of all the sounds you wouldn't want your body making .. or maybe you would? Lovecraft never had it so bad. Highly Recommended (y'know, the THUMBS deal - ALL of 'em)!" - MannyLunch
MAMORU FUJIEDA - Patterns of Plants II (Tzadik 8061; USA) In his third CD for Tzadik, Mamoru Fujieda continues his fascinating exploration of the creativity of, by and about plant life with five more pieces from his continuing series Patterns of Plants. Utilizing the violin in combination with two Japanese traditional instruments, the koto and the sho (mouth organ) Fujieda has again created a sensuous and evocative musical universe, unique in sound and conception that both challenges the idea of composer and composition in the 21st century. Modest in approach but orchestral in design, this is another masterful CD from one of the most original and radical composers in Japan today.
TZADIK COMPOSER SERIES
ZAKARYA [YVES WEYH et al] - The True Story Concerning Martin Behaim (Tzadik 8129; USA) Based in France, Zakarya is one of the most exciting and cutting edge bands working in the ever-growing community of Radical Jewish Culture. Always thought provoking, their fourth CD for Tzadik presents an imaginary film score about the life and thought of Martin Behaim, the 15th century cosmograph/converso who was the first to represent the world as a sphere. Blending new music, klezmer, rock and jazz in their inimitable "klezmer jazzcore" style, this is more madness from one of France's most creative young bands. TZADIK RADICAL JEWISH CULTURE SERIES
MARIO PAVONE DOUBLE TENOR QUINTET With TONY MALABY/JIMMY GREENE/PETER MADSEN/GERALD CLEAVER et al - Ancestors (Playscape 11508; USA) Ancestors is bassist/composer Mario Pavone's 10th recording as a leader/co-leader on Playscape Recordings and the recorded debut of his newest working ensemble, the Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet. This recording features eight original Pavone compositions written specifically for its all-star line-up of veteran Pavone collaborators, and was further shaped by guest arrangers Dave Ballou, Steven Bernstein and Michael Musillami. The music is dedicated to recently passed jazz legends Andrew Hill and Dewey Redman, whom Pavone calls "part of the spectrum of his musical forebears." "I had been playing with Tony and Jimmy for more than eight years, but always separately, so I was keen to combine their complementary yet contrasting styles into one group," Pavone explains. "Gerald and I have played and recorded a lot together and the great Peter Madsen, who has appeared on my last nine CDs, is almost indispensable to me. Wrapping my rhythm section around a double tenor color like this, especially one with this much grace and power, was a dream come true. The resulting sound seems larger than just five players and is almost orchestral. It may well be my favorite album so far."
"We got this CD in a couple of months ago and I caught this fine quintet live at Cornelia Street Cafe earlier this month and was knocked out. Mario Pavone has put together a marvelous all-star quintet and this disc captures them gloriously. The title track is first and it features one of those strong bass-led grooves and great solos from both tenors. Pianist Peter Madsen is a longtime member of many of Mario's previous groups and always sounds marvelous. On very piece here, Peter is astonishing, whether soloing or playing ensemble passages, he remains one of the most gifted jazz pianists alive. What makes this music special is the consistently demanding charts that Mario has written for this quintet. The entire quintet must navigate the treacherous rapids that Mario has come up with. Another special member of this unit is drum ace Gerald Cleaver who seems like the perfect percussionist for this magnificent quintet. One of this years' finest!" - BLG
LARRY OCHS/MIYA MASAOKA/PEGGY LEE - Spiller Alley (RogueArt 16; EEC) "This music of exquisite sensibilities, profound listening and genuinely laid-back cloth at first throws you; nobody is trying to do anything, just play as together as possible. Nobody gets in anybody's face, including the listener. Nobody solos more than the depth they listen at; nobody never wanted not to be there... Anyway if this ingenious blend of scents from Masaoka's ancient koto, Lee's middle-European cello and Ochs' out of hock saxes is any indication, "musica da camera" - that old elite art of chamber music - is going to be around for some time yet." Alvin Curran, excerpt from the liner notes
New On Clean Feed!
TOWNHOUSE ORCHESTRA [PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE/EVAN PARKER/STEN SANDELL/INGRBRIGT HAKER FLAKEN] - Belle Ville [2 CD set] (Clean Feed 125; Portugal) Evan Parker, tenor saxophone / Sten Sandell, piano / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, double bass / Paal Nilssen-Love, drums & percussion. Recorded live at Belleville, Oslo Norway on the 18th of February 2007
Something so special as this European project would need to have a future. After a first recording with the joined forces of British legendary saxophonist Evan Parker and the very special Scandinavian rhythm section of Sten Sandell (piano), Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), here is the double CD that confirms the superband status of the Townhouse Orchestra. Not an orchestra, in spite of the name, but a quartet, truth is it sometimes sound as such. The extensive techniques used by the performers multiply the possibilities of each instrument, opening up the perspectives of the music played. Totally improvised, Belle Ville is a wonder of energy, commitment and interplay, with two long tracks (one in each disc) of constant surprises. If the individual contributions are astonishing, proving the versatility of the musicians involved, even more magnificent are the collective combinations. No-one tries to overshadow the others, the only rule being the cooperative focus of every moment. Music can't be more democratic and free than this..
2 CD set for $20
ANGELA SANCHEZ With MARC DUCRET/TONY MALABY/DREW GRESS/TOM RAINEY - Life Between (Clean Feed 128; Portugal) The emergence of Angelica Sanchez on the international scene dates back to 1995 when she relocated from Arizona to New York. She has left her personal mark in numerous collaborations with world-class musicians and her remarkable CD Life Between documents her individual improvisational and compositional voice. Her playing has a beautiful spacious abandon and a spirited willingness to let go and follow the essence of the music. Sanchez's compositions are multi-themed emotional landscapes. Each composition functions in harnessing and framing the dynamic improvisational power of her virtuoso ensemble.
Saxophonist Tony Malaby, is one of the most compelling living voices on his instrument who is able to musically expand in multiple musical directions. Drummer Tom Rainey, can capture, abstract and reconfigure rhythms, creating texture and multi-layers of propulsion as individually as any drummer on the planet. Drew Gress, MVP of bass players, distinguishes himself with profound tone, time, wonderful harmonic hearing and the ability to always serve the music first. Marc Ducret, the wonderful electric guitar virtuoso can rhythmicize, develop and fuse linearity, sound and microtonality into one fluid musical language.
If a band is a metaphor for a family, then the 'family values' of this ensemble is to blur the conventional boundaries of improvisation within composition. This has been developed to near telepathic levels between all the players. Delicate but free-flowing, the music in "Life Between" couldn't be more expressive of what is happening in new music today.
DANIEL LEVIN TRIO With INGEBRIGT HAKER FLAKEN/GERALD CLEAVER - Fuhuffaf (Clean Feed 129; Portugal) It's been said that instrumental music is at its root an extension of the sounds we produce with our voices. In the title track of Fuhuffah the music began in just this way. First there was an abstract vocal sequence, which was translated to the cello, and finally, when set in trio format, the introduction of the other instruments (Ingebrigt Haker Flaten's bass and Gerald Cleaver's drumset) amplified and intensified the results. Bowed and plucked strings versus percussion: decidedly, this cello-bass-drums trio has something valuable to add to contemporary jazz music. Levin is surely one of today's masters of cello improvisation. His strong classical background was the starting point in developing his own personal jazz language, which has been enriched through his collaborations with musicians like Joe Morris, Rob Brown, and William Parker, among other stars of the avant firmament. The rhythm section of the Daniel Levin Trio is the best we can dream about, and it's wonderful how Flaten combines his double bass with the violoncello - sometimes like a bass player in a traditional jazz setting, sometimes as a chamber musician would - and how Cleaver both floats above it all and fuels the music from underneath at the same time. On Fuhuffah, we find subtlety, drive, and positive energy in equal measure. Amazing!
JOE MORRIS/BARRE PHILLIPS - Elm City Duets 2006 (Clean Feed 130; Portugal) Guitarist (and sometimes bassist) Joe Morris has in Elm City Duets a new chapter of his ongoing objective to play with his lifetime heroes: after the meeting with the renowned multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, resulting in a box with 4 CDs released by the label Clean Feed, here is another duo with a veteran of improvisation: Barre Phillips. And what a wonderful encounter this turned to be! The most magnificent music was created spontaneously by these two improvisers of the finest order, one a much respected protagonist of the current avant jazz scene, the other a cult and historical figure who performed with the greatest, like Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Giuffre and Archie Shepp, among many others, released the first solo double bass album ever in 1968, Journal Violone, and, with Dave Holland, also recorded the first bass duo LP, in 1971, Music From Two Basses. Morris admiration for Barre Phillips is very clear in the liner notes he wrote for this CD, but his playing isn't reverential and passive. What we have here is a vivacious dialogue between two equals, with precious and incisive arguments by both parts. Your record collection will be incomplete without this!
PETER VAN HUFFEL/SOPHIE TASSIGNON With SAMUEL BLASER/MICHAEL BATES - HuffLiGNoN (Clean Feed 126; Portugal) Sophie Tassignon, voice / Peter Van Huffel, alto and soprano saxophones / Samuel Blaser, trombone / Michael Bates, bass. You may not be familiar with van Huffel's and Tassignon's names, but don't direct your attention to something else so quickly. Why? Because you're gonna hear about the saxophonist and the singer very often in the years to come. Both are values in fast ascension in the international scene and it's best to follow their tracks since the beginning. The Canadian, but living in New York, Peter van Huffel is a pupil of tenor great Tony Malaby, and only that information would be sufficient to have an idea of his profile - the words 'powerful' and 'lyrical' come to mind. But we have more data about him: he played already with people like Chris Potter, Clarence Penn and Danny McCaslin, and knowing this is enlightening. Belgian of origin and a former student of David Linx, Sophie Tassignon is getting more famous in Europe because of her very personal and unique way to deal with 'unsingable melodies' and her quick and inventive reactions in improvising situations. And she's not shy at all doing so, as we can verify listening to the vocal band she co-founded, Screaming Bitches. Trombonist Samuel Blaser and bassist Michael Bates are their partners in the quartet effort titled HuffLiGNon, and the same we have to say about them: watch out!
JON CORBETT/NICK STEPHENS/ROGER TURNER - Dangerous Musics In '91 (Loose Torque 17; UK) Featuring Jon Corbett on trumpet & valve trombone, Nick Stephens on acoustic bass and Roger Turner on drums. I was honored to have Jon Corbett and Nick Stephens played here at DMG earlier this year, they were splendid. Both Corbett and Stephens have worked with John Stevens and Paul Dunmall. Corbett was also a member of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, while Stephens has also worked with Frode Gjerstad, Lol Coxhill, as well as running his own label, Loose Torque. Roger Turner is one of the more distinctive British drummers and has worked with Phil Minton, Derek Bailey, Konk Pack and Lol Coxhill. I am not sure how "dangerous" this music is, but it sure does sound intense and inspired. The first half of this disc is sort of suite called "5 Impromtus in a Flat". The trio play with excitement and fast, yet nimble free flowing streams. What makes this great is the way all three musicians spin their ideas around one another in a constant flow that shifts but never lets up. Considering that this was recorded on a cassette, the sound is just right. There is a fascinating story unfolding as we listen: a more restrained section for somber reflections followed by an explosive bit that is nearly over-the-top. This is edge-of-your-seat thrills throughout. - BLG
Originally assembled by Jon Corbett, for BBC Radio's 'Jazz Today' in April 1987, Dangerous Musics featured: Jon, Evan Parker, and two percussionists Will Evans and Thebe Lipare. Later, pianists replaced percussion with first Chris Burn and later Pat Thomas. According to my diary, the first gig with the Dangerous Musics trio heard on this recording was in April 1989 at The Plough Stockwell. The first five tracks are part of a session recorded by Jon (to cassette) at Rogers flat in Notting Hill. The cover photograph was taken the same day. A year or two later, after dinner at his house, Jon said "Oh! I found this down the back of the sofa - I don't know where it came from, I didn't record it." He passed me an unmarked cassette. (Ironically the day that Fay took the cover photo, she also took one of us in rubbish dump - sitting on a sofa! Punk Jazz? The negatives have, unfortunately, gone missing.) It's a live recording at an unknown venue, obviously by someone in the audience. It's a very lively room and judging by the small, but enthusiastic applause, not enough bodies to soak up the sound. I think it's a case of LowFi HiEnergy, but a typical Dangerous Musics gig. I remember playing the tape to Roger, we both thought that it would be nice to have some way of releasing it. Well, seventeen years or so later here it is. - Nick Stephens
New or Remastered from ESP Disk!
PAUL BLEY QUINTET With MARSHALL ALLEN/MILFORD GRAVES - Barrage (ESP Disk 1008; USA) "Paul Bley recorded the compositions of Carla Bley with a quintet that included Eddie Gomez, on the evening of October 20, 1964, at Mirasound Studios, with Alfy Wade as engineer. His group included Milford Graves, Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, and Dewey Johnson. Today, Marshall leads the Sun Ra Arkestra.'Pianist Paul Bley's early ESP free jazz session combines the influence of the Jazz Composer's Guild with Ornette Coleman. On Barrage, Bley is joined by alto saxophonist Marshall Allen (in one of his few appearances outside of Sun Ra's Arkestra), trumpeter Dewey Johnson (who would go on to play on Coltrane's Ascension the following year), Eddie Gomez on bass, and Milford Graves taking care of percussion. All compositions are by Bley's former wife, Carla Bley, with a definite nod to Coleman's hyperactive stop-start punctuation (Paul Bley had fronted one of the earliest incarnations of the original Coleman quartet). Graves and Allen are especially irrepressible here, making Barrage a lost free jazz classic.' - Al Campbell, All Music Guide"
THE LEVITTS - We are The Levitts (ESP Disk 1095; USA) "13 year old guitarist Sean Levitt was improvising on a borrowed guitar at the Central Park fountain for a young attentive audience when he was spotted by ESP. While being auditioned, Sean mentioned his musical family, which included his father, drummer Al Levitt; his mother, vocalist Stella Levitt; his 15 year old drummer brother George; his singing sisters Michele (16), Minou (14) and Teresa (11); and his two younger brothers Billy (9) and Robin (6) who had not as yet chosen their instruments, although Billy was convinced that if he could get his hands on a flute, he could play it. New digipak format. 'Drummer Al Levitt brought together his famous musician friends, including Chick Corea, and his vocalist wife Stella and their guitarist son Sean in a joyous musical celebration of life in New York City, featuring several original songs.' - Bernard Stollman"
ALAN SONDHEIM - Ritual (ESP Disk 1048; USA) "Alan Sondheim was the young, exuberant leader of a pack of improvisers in their communal loft in Providence, Rhode Island. Undaunted by attempts to categorize electronic music as the province of academic tinkerers, a cold, unfriendly realm, with its own authorities, and audiences and mystique, they plunged fearlessly, joyously and unselfconsciously into the medium, discovering a new way to express their ideas. Their ESP CDs, ESP 1048, Ritual all 7-70 and ESP 1082, T'Other Little Tune, merge free improvisation and electronic instrumentation. New digipak format. 'Ritual All 7-70 is a curious collection of short improvisations by the multi-instrumentalist Alan Sondheim -- who plays, among others, koto, English horn, electric and acoustic guitars, and various percussion and reed instruments -- and a bassist, percussionist (doubling on tabla and bongos), and drummer, with the wordless vocals of Ruth Ann Hutchinson echoing the horn lines and occasionally spiraling off into the ether on their own. Although they largely sound like live improvisations by a full band, the fact that Sondheim plays the majority of the instruments by himself suggests that these pieces were painstakingly overdubbed. Although Sondheim's 1968 follow-up, T'Other Little Tune, is a largely electronic effort with quite a bit of pioneering synthesizer and oscillator work, this album is much more traditional in its sound and format. Some of these short pieces -- all of them given numbers between 770 and 782 for titles, except for the almost traditional-sounding 'June' -- recall John Cage's occasionally harsh '40s and '50s vintage work, when randomness and indeterminacy were the primary focus of his composing method, while the more overtly jazz-oriented works, like the fascinating '780' (which features a rat-a-tat rhythm that may be of electronic or found-sound origin), are more in tune with the usual ESP ethos.' - Stewart Mason, AMG
YXIMALLOO - Unpop (ESP Disk 4047; USA) "Yximalloo is a one-man mysterious phenomenon. He has maintained obscurity, even though he has been making and recording music since the 1970s and his champions include artists as diverse as Jad Fair (Half Japanese), Momus, and members of Animal Collective. This is Yximalloo's first recording in 9 years, and it is his first to include his one-man-band sound of guitar, laptop and vocals. It builds on his primitive trance-like rhythms mixed with offbeat pop sensibilities by way of crude electronic sampling. A true masterpiece, a modern-day Moondog off the streets of present-day Tokyo, London, NYC, and wherever you happen to be. 'He's John Lee Hooker with a synth, Wild Man Fisher with a bone. He's totally central and totally unknown.' -- Momus"
CELEBRATING WAYNE HORITZ' MUSIC - a founding member of NY's Downtown Music Scene in the early '80s - along with Sharp, Zorn, Laswell, Kondo, and Chadbourne..
There is a mini-WAYNE HORVITZ FESTIVAL - of part of Seattle's Earshot Festival, with an amazing schedule that puts New York to shame - that features resurrections of the great bands he, and Robin Holcomb [Mrs. Horvitz], have led in the last 25 years, including The President, the HMP (Nine Below Zero) trio, the 'Larks They Crazy' ensemble, The New York Composers Orchestra, Pigpen, and Zony Mash
[Some member substitutions were inevitable, such as Ron Miles for Butch Morris (who hasn't played cornet for at least 5 years, focusing on his conductions), Timothy Young for Elliot Sharp in The President, etc, but most of the old stalwarts will be present and kickin'!]
Saturday, November 1st, 2008, 9PM
@ The Tractor Tavern
5213 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle
Zony Mash ÉPlus Horns!
This raucous night of free-blowing jazz funk kicks off a 20-year retrospective of Seattle-resident master keyboardist Wayne Horvitz. Tonight, it's the scorching Pigpen and deep-groovin' Zony Mash, augmented with an all-star horn section. During a three-night series, Horvitz will call on national stars like Bobby Previte, Ron Miles, Briggan Krauss, Skerik, and Doug Weiselman.
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 8PM
@ Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Avenue (downtown), Seattle
HMP (Horvitz/Miles/Previte) Trio
Robin Holcomb: Larks, They Crazy
In the second of three evenings of the Horvitz retrospective, the keyboardist welcomes trumpeter Ron Miles and drummer Bobby Previte to advance the legacy of Horvitz's memorable trio with Previte and cornetist Butch Morris. Robin Holcomb shares the bill in reprise of her landmark release.
Monday, November 3nd, 2008, 7PM
@ The Triple Door
216 Union Street (beneath Wild Ginger at Third), Seattle
The New York Composers' Orchestra
Horvitz presents NY Composers Orchestra West, an amalgamation of Seattle and New York players, and a reprise of his early New York band, The President (just in time for the election). Opening: an adventurous big band of Garfield High School alumnus Sam Gray.
for more info:
ALSO, in celebration, for a limited time only, private re-editions have been made of these early LEGENDARY and long out-of-print Horvitz albums from the 1980s [with sound better than the old editions, would'ja believe!]
WAYNE HORVITZ/LAWRENCE 'BUTCH' MORRIS/ROBERT 'BOBBY' PREVITE [HMP]- Nine Below Zero (CDR; EEC) only ever released in Germany; CD-R with all the original artwork.
"Nine Below Zero is a relatively early recorded example of two of the players involved - Butch Morris already having been a veteran of the 70's loft-jazz scene in David Murray's band among others - and, interestingly, one of their freest and most rewarding. Horvitz and Previte, in particular, would go on to much more thematic music, drawing heavily from rock, jazz, and fusion, though hints of those borrowings certainly show up here. These pieces are somewhat closer, in miniature form, to the "conductions" which Butch Morris would champion in oncoming years, striking a delicate balance between composition and free improvisation. The general mood is subdued and introspective, Horvitz' signature keyboard sound playing very nicely off Morris' lovely, melancholy cornet. The pieces, with the exception of two typically gorgeous numbers by Robin Holcomb, are all by Horvitz and, when the melody eventually surfaces, have his sense of off-kilter, slightly poppy feel to them, as though rescuing the lone delicious kernels from an otherwise forgettable Top 40 ditty.. Still, as all three artists have garnered larger followings in the ensuing years, Nine Below Zero is a very worthwhile picture of one aspect of the roots and a fine recording in general." - Brian Olewnick, AMG
"An Incredible slice of a very different kind of minimalism -a truly rare jewel. You should know how many thumbs up by now - ALL!" - MannyLunch
WAYNE HORVITZ/LAWRENCE 'BUTCH' MORRIS/ROBERT 'BOBBY' PREVITE [HMP] With BILL FRISELL/DOUG WIESELMAN//ROBIN HOLCOMB - Todos Santos: The Music Of Robin Holcomb (CDR; EEC) only ever released in Germany; CD-R with all the original artwork
Animated session from the late '80s with the HMP trio engaging in spirited dialogues that were sometimes nearly chaotic, but always impressive, exclusively playing the compositions of Robin Holcomb, which was geared towards this stripped-down outfit
ROBIN HOLCOMB With MARTY EHRLICH/DOUG WIESELMAN/WAYNE HORVITZ/DAVE HOFSTRA/ROBERT 'BOBBY' PREVITE - Larks, They Crazy (CDR; EEC) Actual 1st Holcomb album (pre-Nonesuch/Elektra) is instrumental with Robin on piano except vocal on title track; only ever released in Germany. CD-R with all the original artwork
"A graduate of the University of Santa Cruz, Robin moved to New York with her husband, Wayne Horvitz, and co-founded Studio Henry ca. 1980, a performance outlet where she gave poetry readings and concerts. She also wrote big band pieces for the New York Composers Orchestra, which she co-founded with Horvitz.
This recording marks a venture into composed and improvised creative music for Holcomb. Her musical ideas are for the most part solemnly focused, but there is a big difference in the approach, which is much more expansive and developmental. While her acoustic piano playing is center stage, she is surrounded by some brilliant improvisers, including multi-reedists Marty Ehrlich and Doug Wieselman, electric keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, tubaist/bassist David Hofstra, and drummer Bobby Previte. High drama is the basis for Holcomb's 11 compositions, only one of which she vocalizes on. At its most extreme, "Silence in the Square" is hardly quiet, with wistful piano and Horvitz's keyboard dementia contrasting pining dirge horns. "Continuity" has so many elements that it's difficult to describe the myriad of motifs present in the song's four-and-a-half minutes. Wieselman's ribald clarinet and Ehrlich's alto glide over march drums and tuba on "Dixie," which is entertaining and funny. The most intricate piece, "Thirds," goes from peaceful to squeaky to reverential, and the hilariously titled "Larks, They Crazy" features Holcomb's raspy vocal, a free mezzo piano section, and religious overtones. "The Natural World," with its slow, heavy piano in a funeral setting, showcases Ehrlich's lush soprano and Wieselman's soulful tenor. Holcomb's piano is more prominent on the Kurt Weill-like intro to "Tala/Davenport," with tuba oom-pah-pah leading to minimalistic piano and deeper bass clarinet motions by Ehrlich. Holcomb adopts a Cecil Taylor stance for her wild solo during "March," a hard-swinging, full-bodied ensemble chart, and goes it alone on the delicate "Solo." The first piece, "New," is perhaps her definitive work, featuring a challenging mix of call-and-response horns, swing rhythms, and an Irish/Scottish flavor. Graced by some truly ambitious music, this project deserves a lot of attention" - Michael G Nastos, AMG
WAYNE HORVITZ With ELLIOTT SHARP/CHRIS BROWN/DOUG WIESELMAN - Dinner At Eight [aka This New Generation] (CDR; EEC) CD-R with all the original artwork of the German LP edition
"Before joining John Zorn's Naked City and long before leading such relatively popular bands as Zony Mash and Pig Pen, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz released several albums in Germany only, this being the first. While entirely instrumental and deceptively minimalist, Horvitz' tunes tend to have a sugary sweetness that is surprisingly poppish and catchy, as though he'd taken the tasty nubbins from a Top 40 number and elaborated on them. Guitarist Elliot Sharp is on hand to leaven the proceedings with enough acerbity to counteract any saccharine quality, however, along with Chris Brown on two Sharp-designed instruments. The pieces are fairly percussive in nature, but all percussion sounds are generated electronically. While Horvitz and crew do this better than most, it still lends a slightly trite quality to the sound, one that pegs the period a bit too precisely. But the thematic material, often soulfully stated by Doug Wieselman on reeds, generally rises to the forefront and makes this difficult-to-locate album worth searching out. You'll find that several of the compositions tend to linger quite pleasantly in one's memory." - Brian Olewnick, AMG
WAYNE HORVITZ/THE PRESIDENT With BILL FRISELL/ELLIOTT SHARP/DOUG WIESELMAN/DAVE HOFSTRA/BOBBY PREVITE - The President (CDR; EEC) the FIRST President album [pre Bring Yr Camera], only ever released in Germany and never on CD; CD-R with all the original artwork .
"Following his 1986 'solo' album Dinner At Eight, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz released the first album from his performing group The President. The President follows several precepts of the earlier album, especially with regard to Horvitz' penchant for writing tasty, almost poppy (and often funky) melodies and fleshing them out with slightly off-kilter instrumental elaborations. Here, he adds guitarist Bill Frisell, who contributes a nice sweet and sour combo with Elliot Sharp, the latter providing enough grit and tang to ward off any creeping sugariness. For all Horvitz' beguiling compositional ability, one of the real highlights is drummer Bobby Previte's surging piece, "Short of Breath," the kind of propulsive number he would develop further in bands under his own name.. This is a very enjoyable, buoyant, ofttimes explosive, and catchy release that fans of Horvitz' more popular work with Pig Pen and Zony Mash should certainly attempt to hear." -Brian Olewnick, AMG
Just so ya unnerstand - if you want some Flavah in you ear, ALL FIVE albums above rate my ALL-THUMBS UP CLASSICS AWARDs [just didn't want you to read it five times and think it was some rubber-stamp I was using carelessly] and if you need more proof, see me in Seattle next weekend! - MannyLunch
AI ASO - The Chamomile Pool Show [DVD] (Archive DVD-7; USA) Hauntingly beautiful slow songs whipped up by six of Japan's psychedelic freaks; Ai Aso (ex- White Heaven) on vocals & guitar, Soichiro Nakamura on drums, Chiaki Teranishi on keys, Michio Kurihara (ex- White Heaven/YB02) on guitar, Wata (from Boris) on guitar, Ritsuko Sakata on guitar. Aso's music on this disc may be too straight ahead for those weened on a strict DMG palette, but with a line up such as this, we couldn't resist. Aso's guitar playing is slow and delicate. Perhaps she is Japan's version of "slow hands". Wata & Aso have previously collaborated on a cover of King Crimson's "Islands" on the "She's So Heavy" compilation, but the music on this dvd is mainly a collection of sweet lullabyes until half way through the disc when some heavy psychedelic blues jams kicks in and out for a short while (come on, what did you expect, most of these musicians are on PSF, you think they would hide that?) . Definitely for those who need a sonic chill pill. RECOMMENDED! - Chuck Bettis/dmg
HUNTSVILLE [IVAR GRYDELAND/TONNY KLUFTEN/INGAR ZACH] - Eco, Arches & Eras [2 CD set] (Rune Grammofon 2079; EEC) This is the second album from Huntsville, the Norwegian trio of Ivar Grydeland, Tonny Kluften and Ingar Zach. Eros, Arches & Eras is the follow-up to their highly-acclaimed 2006 release, For The Middle Class, also on Rune Grammofon. Grydeland and Zach founded the Sofa label for improvised music in 2000 and appear together and in various projects on several of the label's releases. They have worked with Kluften since 1998, as the core of improvising ensemble No Spaghetti Edition. Here they are joined by the mother of all young Norwegian female jazz singers, Sidsel Endresen, for a short and beautiful vocal contribution. The second CD is a recording from the concert they did with Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche from Wilco at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2007. In general, the Huntsville project contrasts sharply with their other work, and reveals a quite different, more groove-based approach with strong elements of composition. "In Huntsville, improvisation is just one of the tools we use," Zach comments. "It still is a very important factor in the way we make music, but during the last few years, our interest in country music and electronic music has developed into a sound we really wanted to investigate -- also Feldman and Cage, drone music, folk music." Hence, their music has been described in such terms as abstract drone Americana and hypnotic country yoga. The group's multi-instrumentalism means that this is no conventional guitar/bass/drums trio. On acoustic and electric guitar as well as banjo, Grydeland mixes finger-picking technique with various types of bow, as well as acoustic and electronic devices. Tonny Kluften on double-bass uses various bows, sticks and rubber bands, while Zach produces a wide range of sounds on the drum kit -- but with all players indulging in idiosyncratic devices, it's almost impossible to know who's producing what hauntingly unusual or strangely beautiful sound. Huntsville are Ivar Grydeland, (guitars, banjo, pedal steel guitar, etc.) Tonny Kluften (double bass, etc.) and Ingar Zach (percussion, tabla machine, sarangi box, shruti box, etc.).
2 CD set for $20
PHILIP JECK - Suite: Live In Liverpool (Autofact 011; USA) Suite: Live In Liverpool follows Philip Jeck's acclaimed collaboration with Gavin Bryars and Alter Ego on a new version of The Sinking of the Titanic. It is the companion release to his latest solo album, Sand; a set of five new compositions that highlight Jeck's mastery of vinyl manipulation, personal and collective memories. During the past year, Jeck has refined and consolidated his unique sound, playing superb sets at the Faster Than Sound festival and at York Minster for Spire. Suite... is at once elegiac, celebratory, mournful and uplifting. Those who have followed Jeck's development since his first release (Loopholes, 1995) will observe his return to the industrial textures that colored that collection, though here they are fused with his symphonic grace and continued development as a composer and live performer . Philip Jeck studied visual art at Dartington College of Arts. He started working with record players and electronics in the early '80s and has made soundtracks and toured with many dance and theatre companies in addition to his solo concert work. Over the last few years, he has returned to visual art -- making installations using from six to eighty record players including Off The Record for Sonic Boom at The Hayward Gallery, London (2000). Philip Jeck works with old records and record players salvaged from junk shops turning them to his own purposes. He really does play them as musical instruments, creating an intensely personal language that evolves with each added part of a record. Jeck makes genuinely moving and transfixing music, where we hear the art, not the gimmick. This is Philip Jeck's sixth solo album for Touch after Loopholes, Surf (1998), Stoke (2002), 7 (2004) and Sand (2008). Boomkat said of his performance with Gavin Bryars in Rome: "The most noticeable addition is Jeck, whose expertise and unique style seems to fit like the final piece of the puzzle as his crackles and motifs melt into the architecture of the recording as if they had always been there. This additional layer of nostalgia brought forth by these found sounds adds a significant sense of history, forcing the mind back into hazy film footage and decomposed photos, a perfect match for the subject matter." First 150 copies on blue vinyl.
SPIRE [CHRISTIAN FENNESZ/PHILIP JECK et al] - Spire Live - Fundamentalis [2 LP set] (Autofact 012; USA) Spire Live - Fundamentalis is a double LP-only collection of exclusive live tracks recorded at various Spire events held throughout 2005 and 2006. Released in association with U.S. label, Autofact, Touch presents a selection of tracks performed by the main performers of Spire: Fennesz, Philip Jeck, BJNilsen, Charles Matthews and Marcus Davidson. Improvised pieces from Fennesz, BJNilsen and Philip Jeck contrast with a performance by Charles Matthews of a scored composition by Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, "In Nomine Lucis," and Marcus Davidson's self-penned "Standing Wave," which ends side two with a locked groove. Cut to preserve and enhance the bottom end frequencies, Fundamentalis is not merely a document; the tension between and within the individual pieces is palpable. As the Touch label places it, Fennesz's set "...evokes the rolling centuries in all their pain and beauty, leaving us at once becalmed and energized, but never oppressed under the weight of time." Electronics breathe new life not only into the organ, but also into the setting. But a new technological successor does not mean replacement. Ultimately, it's the majestic sound of the organ, so steeped in centuries of tradition that one remembers above all else. Spire is one of the most innovative projects around, drawing on the full canon of organ works, from the very first annotation in the Robertsbridge Codex from the 14th century, to Max MSP patches and software sampling. With two CD releases and nine performances in cathedrals and churches throughout Europe, Spire remains a potent live force in harnessing the sounds of the ages. Art direction and design by Jon Wozencroft.
2 LP set for $20
BLINK. [JEFF GREENE/QUIN KIRCHNER/DAVE MILLER/GREG WARD] - The Epidemic Of Ideas (Thirsty Ear 57185; USA) Force fields emanate from and pour back into a source. This dynamic creates a self-generating system. When a group of musicians conglomerate, each playing a different instrument, each intent on developing a specific sound idea, but all beginning from a center, their dynamic is a self-generating system similar to the way force fields work. Blink embodies the boldness to self-generate, The Epidemic of Ideas its recorded results.
The minute-long first track, appropriately titled "Sum," is an overture for how each instrument will proceed. The growth of the recording comes in how each instrument subsequently reaches out to the other, how they combine to eventually expand into a huge sound ("Secret Weapon pt 1)." Each cut seems to establish a step to an apotheosis ("Rivers and Tides," "Glass"), measuring the breadth of each instrument's capacity to be itself.
The alto saxophone carries the reins for much of the album in carefully appointed single tones ("Rivers and Tides"). The guitar follows closely behind, counteracting the sax line or melding with it ("Rivers and Tides," "I Am"). The bass and guitar connect to reinforce tones that seem scattered but which are really shunted to a specific place. The bass clearly controls the spine-full undertones("Rivers and Tides," "I Am," "Underground Games"), while the drums are struck fervently into drawing together the instruments and keeping them within the same channel. Sometimes, the whole group unites in a march-like forwardness ("Rivers and Tides," "Glass," "I Am") that takes over the sense of time.
The instrumentality shifts gears a bit when the concept of the whole finds a resting place in the details of a variety of new and playful sounds ("Sources," "Displacement," "Glass," "I Am," "Misadventures") that reset the group's direction. It is notable how the acoustic instruments lean into an electronic tendency. Questions can be raised about what is electronic and what is not, given the tempo or the intercession of one instrument with another, particularly with regards to the use of percussion ("Glass""). The guitar seems to be the only electric device and its sound pushes the climb towards a summit where the musical heights of this recording are realized ("Glass"). The guitar also explores territory that upends the idea that it is a string instrument ("I Am").
The recording has a shape. The music is coherent and small at the beginning, and expands and contracts throughout the recording's progression, reaching ostensible finales. But the instruments retreat and regain their separateness only to then reinvest themselves through a ceaselessly melodic sound; they put themselves into another constrained space that has the same potential of opening up to the skies. On the closing and appropriately titled "We Disappear," the guitar brings the group home, producing a quiet resonance that is nothing less than healing. - Lyn Horton, AAJ
PETER DELANO With DEWEY REDMAN/DOUG WEISS/ANDERS HENTZE - For Dewey (Sunnyside 1200; USA) If the nineties was the decade of the Young Lions, then New York pianist Peter Delano was the leader of the pack: a photogenic child prodigy; an impossible teenage amalgam of McCoy Tyner's chordal power, Bud Powell's linear luminosity, and Keith Jarrett's pianistic poetry. A student of Red Rodney's pianist Gary Dial, Delano performed and recorded with the likes of Michael Brecker, Gary Bartz, and Lewis Nash, and burst on the scene with his self-titled 1993 Verve debut CD, at the age of seventeen, followed by his 1994 Polygram release Bite of the Apple. He enrolled at Columbia University, but tragically, suffered a debilitating back injury that forced him to stop playing, until he resumed his career in 2007.
This CD - recorded in 1996 and released here for the first time is a posthumous tribute to the late great tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, with Danish drummer Anders Hentze and bassist Doug Weiss. As the esteemed jazz critic Ira Gitler writes in the CD liner notes, Peter continued to fulfill his great promise with his 94 release, Bite of the Apple. What is now For Dewey was to be his third CD. It didn't make it to the public because Peter began to matriculate at Columbia University. He wasn't available to tour in support (as they say) of his recordings and labels want their artists to be visible. For Dewey was yet another forward step. The originals reflect a still-growing Peter, as do his interpretations of the three standards. Redman is a presence on three of the five originals and there is magic in the interaction of the two principals.
Indeed, Dewey's full-throated, Texas tenor/Coltranistic sheets of sound approach complements Delano's profound-for-his age-pianisms and compositions, on the spirited Latin-tinged opener Zoning, the Wayne Shorter mood of Sound Spirits, and the slightly Spain-sketched Too Long to Wait. Delano, Hentze, and Weiss display their intricate trio intricacy on Inner Limits, a light-speed workout played in the so-called burnout style of the 90s, and Summer Song, an elegant waltz. For All We Know, the tango-centric Everytime We Say Goodbye, and If I Should Lose You, all belie Delano's respect for, and love of, the standard tradition that every jazz musician must master.
For Dewey represents for Peter Delano not only a return to the world of recorded music; it also marks the re-emergence of a shining star in a galaxy of jazz talents. Now he is reclaiming his seat at the piano and the helm of his career, Gitler writes. Just listening to the sheer energy, joy and overall mastery of For Dewey, makes one more than half-past ready for Peter's re-entry in the new millennium. I'm willing to bet it is going to be a giant step. Good health to him and the world of jazz.
KIRK LIGHTSEY With MARCUS BELGRAVE/CRAIG HANDY/DAVID WILLIAMS/EDDIE GLADDEN - Lightsey To Gladden (Criss Cross 1306; EEC) In 1990, when he recorded this scintillating date, now released for the first time, pianist Kirk Lightsey was one of New York's first-call pianists, a regular in the rotation at Bradley's, the legendary New York piano saloon, with the likes of John Hicks, Walter Davis, Jr., Tommy Flanagan, George Cables, and Roger Kellaway.
Here he convenes a cohort of New York A-listers --- trumpet giant and fellow Detroiter Marcus Belgrave; tenor saxophonist and flutist Craig Handy, then making his first impact on the scene; bassist David Williams, who could boast a decade's experience as Cedar Walton's bassist of choice; and drummer Eddie Gladden, Lightsey's bandmate with Dexter Gordon's group before --- to play a program that includes strong repertoire by Lightsey, Wayne Shorter, Detroit drummer Lawrence Williams, and choice standards.
ARTHUR RUSSELL - Love Is Overtaking Me (Audika 1010; USA) "Four years ago, Audika Records began releasing the exceptionally varied, long sought-after music of Arthur Russell, and in the process has succeeded at helping the beloved, late artist find the broader audience he always believed he would reach. A new generation of listeners and critics has come to appreciate Russell as a visionary and an influence upon a broad range of today's most compelling musical artists. On October 28, Audika will bring to light an as-yet-unavailable side of Russell's body of work -- the most rare and, at the same time, arguably the most accessible part -- in Love Is Overtaking Me, which comprises 21 demos and home recordings of unreleased pop, folk and country songs from his vast catalog. While much critical and popular affection for Russell's music has come about well after his untimely death from AIDS in 1992, many fellow artists believed in his genius and were drawn to collaborate with him during his lifetime. The legendary producer John Hammond (Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen) recorded Russell on several occasions; a number of these recordings will finally be heard on Love Is Overtaking Me. So, too, will songs recorded with various incarnations of The Flying Hearts, a group formed by Russell and Brooks whose shifting line-up included, by turns, Jerry Harrison, Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon and Peter Zummo as well as Larry Saltzman and David Van Tieghem. Several other Russell projects are represented on Love Is Overtaking Me, including The Sailboats, Turbo Sporty and Bright & Early. Compiled from over eight hours of material, three years in the making, Love Is Overtaking Me reaches back further to Russell's first compositions from the early '70s and spans forward to his very last recordings, made at home in 1991. Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear contributed mixing, restoration and editing to the album, whose tracks were selected by Audika's Steve Knutson, Ernie Brooks and Russell's companion, Tom Lee. A number of the songs feature prominently in Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, Matt Wolf's film, which had its world premiere this year at the Berlin International Film Festival and will be released theatrically and on DVD by Plexifilm. Love Is Overtaking Me is the fifth release of Russell's material by Audika Records, whose work has proven that the music remains as contemporary today as when it was first recorded. The label launched with the disco/new wave collection Calling Out Of Context (2004) and continued with a reissue of the cello-and-voice masterpiece World Of Echo (2005); the instrumental compositions double-disc First Thought Best Thought (2006); and the hip-hop-inspired Springfield EP (2006), which includes a DFA remix of the title track. Extensive Love Is Overtaking Me liner notes by Tom Lee provide an intimate perspective on Russell's diverse catalog, which spanned an extraordinary diversity of styles and won the love of artistic communities that would seem utterly disparate, from Philip Glass, John Cage and Allen Ginsberg to rock bands like The Talking Heads and The Modern Lovers; the pre-Studio 54 disco-party scene of Nicky Siano's Gallery and David Mancuso's loft; and DJ-producers like Francois Kevorkian and Larry Levan, among others."
ROLF KUHN QUARTET - Rollercoaster (Jazzwerkstatt 39; Germany) Featuring Rolf Kuhn on clarinet, Ronny Graupe on guitar, Johannes Fink on double bass and Christian Lillinger on drums. Considering that German clarinetist, Rolf Kuhn, will turn 80 next year, he has retained his adventurous spirit for his entire career. Rolf has worked with a diverse group of musicians like his younger brother Joachim Kuhn, Albert Mangelsdorff, Ornette Coleman, Phil Woods, Alan Skidmore, Lee Konitz and Martial Solal. For this fine disc, Rolf has put together a fine quartet with younger German players, none of whom I've heard of previously. Rolk wrote all but three of these pieces with one Ornette cover, a song by Rolf's brother Joachim and a tune by their guitarist. "What a F... Day" opens with a tight, challenging, theme with some fine clarinet and guitar interplay. The title track has an older, bluesy, more hard swinging structure with a nod to the past that feels just right. Joachim's sly "Changing the Umbrella" keeps shifting through difficult changes throughout, charted at the beginning and then free in the mid-section. Guitarist, Ronny Grauper, is a perfect foil/partner for Rolf throughout this fine disc. I hadn't heard of him before this, except for another disc on Jazzwerkstatt by a trio called Hyperactive Kid. One of the things that I like most about this disc is that many of the songs embrace both old styles and newer ones at the same time or within the same song. This keeps the quartet on their toes throughout, since the songs often take unexpected twists and turns. The quartet sounds like they enjoy the challenge of switching styles and dynamics throughout, giving the proceedings a joyous yet intense vibe. On "Total Reflections" the guitar, bass and drums go on an inspired, furious, near fusion-like section before the clarinet solo brings things back down to earth for a bit. It is interesting to hear Ornette's "Round Trip" played on clarinet and sound like it was from an earlier jazz era. The extraordinary Jazzwerkstatt label does it again! - BLG
MARK O'LEARY/EYVIND KANG/DYLAN VAN DER SCHYFF - Zemlya (Leo 507; UK) Featuring Mark O'Leary on guitar & electronics, Eyvind Kang on viola & processing and Dylan Van Der Schyff on drums, percussion & laptop. Irish electric guitar explorer, Mark O'Leary, now has some 15 discs out as a leader/collaborator in less than one decade. Mostly international trios that Mark selects with care: Matt Shipp, Mat Maneri, Steve Swallow, Tomasz Stanko, Cuong Vu, Uri Caine, etc. This disc's choice of musicians feature the great Eyvind Kang, psychedelic sorcerer & string wizard, and Dylan Van Der Schyff, perhaps the best percussionist to emerge from the healthy Vancouver scene. And sure enough, we find ourselves inside of a wonderful, hushed, dreamscape. This year, it sounds as if Mr. O'Leary is going through his space/rock meets Terje Rypdal stage. On the epic-length, "Vashon", Eyvind plays some scary acoustic viola while Mark burns with a Terje-like tone in the distance and Dylan plays with DeJohnette-like splendor and power. Even the freer parts like "Impish" glow and shimmer magically. On "The Story of Iceland", they brings things down to a calm vibe, a great slow-burning, freer thing. There are four shorter (about 2 min or less) pieces that do a good job of balancing the longer space jams. Mark does a good job of selecting explorers/improvisers who can match his flights of fancy, create scenes or scenery and help tell stories. Although some folks wince (or complain) when I use the "F' word (fusion), there continues to be a steady stream of those who are successful at picking up where our fusion heroes once left off, before that mythic ocean liner (the USS Fusion) sank to the bottom of the ocean from excessive wanking and predictability. - [air-guitarist] BLG
LAPSLAP [MICHAEL EDWARDS/KARIN SCHISTEK/MARTIN PARKER] - Itch: 10 Improvisations For Instruments And Live Electronics (Leo 516; UK) "Lapslap is a trio from Edinburg, Scotland. The triad of Michael Edwards - sax, computer, midi wind controller / Martin Parker - french horn, computer / Karin Schistek - piano; brings to mind compositions based on the controlled tempo of breath. With a pace similar to a traditional Sanjo, slowly breathing in ideas and bellowing out well thought out processed thoughts, each player giving just enough titillation to provoke the other to reciprocate. Lapslap creates for the listener a suspenseful and exciting auditory world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!" -Chuck Bettis/dmg
THE DORF [JAN KLARE et al] - The Dorf (Leo 523; UK) The Dorf are an avant orchestra from Dortmund, Germany led by Jan Klare. The Dorf have been playing monthly since 2006 with 15-25 musicians at each gig. The hokey cover and simple band name, had me questioning just what Leo would unleash on us now, but as it turns out, my fears were unjustified. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that this was some long lost prog/jazz/rock big band from the mid-seventies. Tight, Zappa-like precision yet exuberant big band jazz/rock pounding. Occasionally, they sound as if they about to go into some bombast, but always seem to settle down to impressive, tight, complex big band thunder. For "Film", they lay back and play somber, middle-eastern soundtrack-like music. What is interesting is that very little of this is "free" yet it still adventurous, complex in part and filled with surprising changes. "Miniatures" sounds like some hand directed conduction and is most impressive. "Torn" starts like some sort of Zappa-ish boogie, but does feature a few smokin' solos (trumpet) and spirited ensemble passages. I get the feeling that these folks don't take themselves too seriously so that some/much of this is just plain fun! This is one of unexpected delights that we have to remind ourselves just who it we are listening too. It seems to good to be true but is a blast pretty much throughout! - BLG
Hot reviews for the latest two releases on our own DMG/ARC label!
RAOUL BJORKENHEIM/WILLIAM PARKER/HAMID DRAKE - DMG @ The Stone Vol 2: December 26 2006 (DMG ARC 722; USA) [upc 808713072228] Match the premier rhythm team of the era with one of the most exploratory electric guitarists on the international scene and sparks are sure to fly. Raoul Bjorkenheim, William Parker, & Hamid Drake combine for an evening of spontaneous guitar trio heroics on DMG At The Stone, Volume 2. The main piece they construct, 'Lithotone I,' comes right at you, then dances around the room for quite some time before it dissolves. The quasi-ethnic dance of 'Lithotone II' has Parker switching to the double-reed shawm and Bjorkenheim playing a rolling bass part on viola da gimbri (probably the Moroccan lute-like instrument). Marvelously transportive music that goes by in a flash." - Stuart Kremsky, The Journal
CURLEW [GEORGE CARTWRIGHT/TOM CORA/NICKY SKOPELITIS/BILL LASWELL/BILL BACON or DENARDO COLEMAN] - Curlew (1st Album) + Live at CBGB 1980 [2 CD set] (DMG ARC 704; USA) [upc 808713070422]
Extra tracks are usually a good thing, but an entire extra disc (or more) of previously unknown material puts a reissue into another realm of discovery. That's the case with the fabulously unclassifiable Curlew, whose 1981 debut is extended with bonus tracks plus a live show of the period on First Album + Live at CBGB 1980. This quintet of misfits, led by saxophonist and main composer George Cartwright, also featured guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, innovative (and deeply missed) cellist Tom Cora, and electric bassist and scene maker Bill Laswell. Bill Bacon was the drummer on the first album, which combines 1980 studio material with live tracks - same year - taken from a performance at CBGBs. Disc one is filled up with more performances from that show, while the second previously unissued disc comes from later '80, with Denardo Coleman taking over the drum chair and sounding solidly at home. Curlew always seemed to have trouble deciding what it was really about while the music churned and smoked, an attitude of genre-straddling that was part of their charm. In retrospect, it's not that hard to hear how Ornette Coleman's electric Prime Time gave Cartwright a starting place for his new-jazz/new-rock/ new-dance fusion sound. It may not be as danceable as Cartwright intended, but the propulsive rhythms and gutsy solos will have you moving one way or the other. Cartwright has kept the group together for decades now, with many personnel changes. This exemplary reissue shows you where it all began. Definitely recommended! - Stuart Kremsky, The Journal
2 CD set for $22
BLUE NOTES [CHRIS McGREGOR/LOUIS MOHOLO/DUDU PUKWANA/JOHNNY DYANI/MONGEZI FEZA/NICK MOYAKE] - Complete Ogun Recordings: Blue Notes For Mongezi/In Concert/Blue Notes For Johnny/Legacy: Live in South Afrika 1964 [5 CD box set & bklt] (Ogun 024-28; UK) A box set containing ALL the music recorded for or released by Ogun by the legendary BLUE NOTES (LOUIS MOHOLO-MOHOLO, DUDU PUKWANA, JOHNNY DYANI, MONGEZI FEZA, NICK MOYAKE and CHRIS McGREGOR):
* Blue Notes for Mongezi (1976) - with Chris, Dudu, Johnny, and Louis - never before on CD (2 full length CDs with the entire double LP PLUS previously unreleased material)
* Blue Notes In Concert (1977) - with Chris, Dudu, Johnny, and Louis - never before on CD (PLUS previously unreleased material from that concert)
* Blue Notes For Johnny (1986) - with Chris, Dudu, and Louis - never before on CD (PLUS previously unreleased extra material from the studio recording)
* Blue Notes Legacy-Live In South Afrika (1964) CD - with Chris, Dudu, Mongezi, Nick, Johnny, and Louis - previously on CD from Ogun but out of print for many years.
AND a booklet with contributions from an international collection of writers, and musicians with photos collected from various archives!
"The good folks at Ogun continue their run of important reissues with Blue Notes : The Ogun Collection. This box set documents the legendary South African jazz group as they sounded right before their arrival for good in Europe until the band eventually unraveled due to the deaths of two of it's members, Dudu Pukwana and Johnny Mbizo Dyani. The 5 CDs include the two records previously unavailable on CD, Blue Notes For Mongezi and Blue Notes For Johnny, along with two live recordings, one from South Africa in 1964 and the other recorded in England during 1977. All the CDs include unreleased material from each recording session. There is also a booklet with personal notes from an array of legendary musicians and family that were touched by these fantastic musicians.
The story of the Blue Notes is an extraordinary one. The group was created in the turbulent 1960s in early-Apartheid era South Africa. This of it's self is not astounding as there had been an active and supportive jazz scene begun years before due to the inspiration of recordings and performers brought from America to the ports of Cape Town. The Blue Notes stood apart from most groups because they were a mixed race band. The de facto leader, pianist and white Chris McGregor was born the son of a Scottish Missionary who had established a school in the Transkei region of South Africa. McGregor grew up speaking the native Xhosa language and was heavily influenced by the tribe's culture especially it's music. After quitting school, McGregor began performing professionally on the behest of Dollar Brand and soon discovered saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, who joined McGregor's working band playing the Vortex Club in Cape Town.
The remaining members of the Blue Notes came from a number of competitive combos that performed at local Jazz Festivals. Tenor saxophonist Nikele Moyake joined the group after touring with the Jazz Giants with Pukwana. Trumpeter Mongezi Feza, who was 18 years old, came to the band's attention at the 1962 Jazz Festival in Johannesburg along with drummer Louis Moholo who had been performing with the Jazz Ambassadors. Bassist Johnny Dyani joined the group after the band decided to tour and was left without its original bassist who left due to homesickness. He was 16 years old. The band's name was used so the racial make up of the group could not be discerned and thereby endanger the limited performance opportunities/spaces that were found.
Blue Notes Legacy documents the band on their farewell tour of South Africa in 1964 while they visited Durban. The band had been preparing itself for what the members thought would be a successful trip to Europe to play the Antibes Jazz Festival (where they had been invited by the expatriate pianist Dollar Brand). The music is a blend of heavily swinging original tunes penned either by McGregor or Pukwana along with the standard, 'I Come To the Waterfront.' There is a relaxed, bluesy feel to the music featuring melodies that would easily fit into the folksy vocal harmony groups that dominated the early jazz scene. Texturally, the lineup sounds much like the Mingus Sextet of the late '50s and early '60s with a three-horn front line comprised of trumpet, alto and tenor but there is certainly less polish and a wonderful brash feel of communal play that is entirely their own. Pukwana's solos definitely stand out with his sweeping, sing song lines reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's vocal style. Nick Moyake, who was the eldest member of the band, is heard here on his final recording with the Blue Notes as he left a short while into their European trip because of homesickness and a mental imbalance due to an injury he sustained before the band left South Africa (he was to die a year after his return home). His voice is competent and full, it makes one wish that he would have been able to stay and develop along with the other members. Pukwana's jump blues 'Dorkay House,' named for the Johannesburg artist commune and practice space, stands out and has the crowd enthusiastically howling for more.
The next recording, Blue Notes For Mongezi, was recorded eleven years later  and finds the Blue Notes another member short. Originally a double LP recorded a week after trumpeter Mongezi Feza died of pneumonia and neglect in a hospital, these 2 CDs include four long tracks that are now unedited from their original tapes. The recording is a reunion of sorts; Dyani was living and recording in Denmark, McGregor in France and leading his Brotherhood of Breath, Moholo as an in demand drummer in London, and Pukwana also in London and recording with Hugh Masekela, Brotherhood of Breath and his kwela-rock band Assagai/Spear. There are obvious feelings of remorse and mourning but also those of celebration. These collective improvisations showcase the breadth of the member.s talents as they mix completely free percussive jamming with snippets of song from the Blue Notes' cannon. The near 3 hours of material proves a moving tribute to the band's fallen comrade especially as they are moved to chant Mongezi's name during a lengthy segment. This is perhaps the most moving recording of the box set and shows the member's highly developed personal styles.
Blue Notes In Concert is a live recording of that same 1975 quartet at the 100 Club in London during the spring of 1977. This gig that proved the band was just as sharp as they had been when they initially came to Europe. The Blue Notes are in good spirits and do wonders with the material comprised mainly of their arrangements of traditional folk melodies of South Africa.
The last recording is another tribute to a fallen member, Johnny Dyani. Blue Notes For Johnny was recorded in 1987, nearly a year after Dyani passed away in Berlin. Instead of the long, cathartic tracks from their earlier tribute record, the trio of McGregor, Moholo and Pukwana chose to focus on shorter compositions. The recording features three tunes written by Dyani, most notably 'Funk Dem Dudu' which is danceable township jazz propelled by Pukwana's repeating motif and the charging drums of Moholo. The rest of the album is made up of traditional songs and tributes written by Pukwana for both Nick Moyake and Mongezi Feza. This recording is a beautiful bookend to the Blue Notes career as both Chris McGregor and Dudu Pukwana passed away during the summer of 1990.
It's astounding that the Blue Notes could have such profound affect in Europe. They injected warm emotion and earthiness into the either cold or blustery worlds of European improvised music. It is a credit to the musicians and their talent that they were able to be so movingly joyous in their music while going through such professional and personal tragedies. This box set is the most extensive collection of recorded material from the Blue Notes (there is a compilation on Proper UK entitled Township Bop and Fled'gling's Very Urgent presents an expanded version of the group). I can't sing the praises of this music enough. Get this set if you are a fan of South African jazz, European avant-garde and/or passionate music in general. If you are reading this newsletter, you are probably a fan of one or all of these" - Brett Sjerven, DMG
5 CD box set for $90
GEORGE DUKE - My Soul - The Complete MPS Fusion Recordings: Solus/The Inner Source/Faces In Reflection/Feel/I Love The Blues She Heard My Cry/The Aura Will Prevail/Liberated Fantasies [4 CD Box Set] (MPS/SPV; Germany) While he's gone on to become a renowned pop producer and, in recent years, has veered towards smooth jazz territory, keyboardist George Duke has, in fact, the credentials, skill and intuition to tackle most anything he chooses. So, while his early days might be considered by some to be more significant in that they were closer to a jazz aesthetic and further from the R&B spirit that has moved him since, the fact is that Duke has always followed his own heart with respect to his musical choices. Few can challenge his navigation of the late Frank Zappa's classic and complex "Inca Roads" on One Size Fits All (Ryko, 1975), breezy Brazilian contributions to Flora Purim's Butterfly Dreams (Milestone, 1974), his blinding yet undeniably funky synth solos on John Scofield's Loud Jazz (Gramavision, 1988) or the greasy groove of "Cobra," on Miles Davis' last significant studio album, Amandla (Warner Bros., 1989).
Equally, while distanced from the jazz sphere, it's hard to deny a talent that has produced successful albums for Natalie Cole, Smokey Robinson, Philip Bailey, Jeffrey Osborne and Gladys Knight. But when Duke first emerged at the age of twenty, releasing his first album on the now legendary MPS label, Presented By the Jazz Workshop of San Francisco (1966), he was a relatively straight-ahead jazzer. Perhaps not the titular Overnight Sensation of Frank Zappa's 1973 hit album, he quickly proved himself a remarkably mature and innovative player just out of his teens on emerging violinist Jean-Luc Ponty's electric post bop The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio and all-Zappa program King Kong, both released in 1970 and later reissued as Cantaloupe Island by Blue Note. - John Kelman, AAJ
[for the longer version of this review, go to AAJ.com]
4 CD set for $65
AZAD QIZILBASH - Sarod Recitalz: Live In Peshawar (Sub Rosa 283; Belgium) Asad Qizilbash has been the only master of the sarod in Pakistan since 1992, keeping this traditional instrument and its music alive. Asad was born in 1963 to the famous violinist K.H. Qizilbash, who was responsible for closing the gap between Western and Eastern classical music. After attending a concert performed by his future Master, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Asad decided to devote himself to the instrument. Today, Asad Qizilbash has the honor to perform regularly at his President's house where Head of State Representatives, monarchs, diplomats and guests from all around the world have witnessed and appreciated his unique style of classical narration. Peshawar is the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan. The city, once called Purushapura, "City Of Flowers," was the capital of the ancient Greco-Buddhist center of Gandhara. Over the centuries, it has been the entry-point to invaders, conquerors and refugees. It remains an important military crossroad today. This, Asad Qizilbash's sarod recital in Peshawar, was carried out under extremely perilous and rather singular circumstances. An outstanding performance -- a moment of freedom from war. Asad Qizilbash (sarod), Mustafa Khan (tabla).
IBIMENI [V.A.] - Garifuna Traditional Music From Guatemala (Sub Rosa 273; Belgium) The Sub Rosa label presents the Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala. Ibimeni, a term associated with childhood and youth, means honey or sweetness in Garifuna. Ibimeni is also the name of a group of Garifuna musicians and dancers from Livingston, Guatemala, who interpret their traditional sounds on this album. This collection includes lullabies, festive chants, processional marches, and songs of religion and labor. Livingston is a small region located on the Caribbean coast at the mouth of Rio Dulce, Guatemala. It is accessible only by boat or airplane. This isolation allows the conservation of many cultural elements, such as music and dance. Ethnogenesis and location of Garinagu: A series of villages inhabited by the Garifuna (plural, Garinagu) are located throughout the coasts of the Gulf of Honduras, (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and the Laguna de Perlas -- Nicaragua). The Garinagu are the Afro-Amerindian people with the most transnational presence in Central America. With a particular ethnogenesis, produced by the encounter of Caribs and Arawaks in the Lesser Antilles, they remained throughout the conquest period, due to race-mixing with black slaves. Constituted as "Maroons," as a clear resistance against the English, they were the protagonists of the so-called "Caribbean War" during 1795 and 1796 in Saint Vincent Island, from where they were defeated and later deported to Central America in April 1797. After being abandoned in Roatan (Bay Islands), they negotiated with the Spanish crown to be transferred to Puerto Trujillo, in continental lands, where they started to scatter to the east and west. They established their own lands on the edge of the coast of the Honduras Gulf. Halfway through the 20th century, they began their migration to the United States. Music and dancing -- vehicles of religiosity -- are central in the Garifuna culture. This musical expression is based on the group of two, three, and even four drums, garaon (primera -- the high pitched and segunda -- the lowest), and sonajas sisiras that interpret rhythms accompanied by a solo singer and a choir that repeats a verse. The relationship between the primera drum-rolls and the dancer is that the dancer responds to the movements made by the drum as if it were a dialogue. In tandem to the polyrhythmic universe of Garifuna drums, they cultivate another intense field of musical expressions that plays an important role in society, most of the time of ludic and recreational character.
KEVIN COYNE - On Air (T&M 44; Germany) Live recording made in Germany, August 18th 1975. Featuring Kevin Coyne on vocals & songs. Andy Summers on guitar, Zoot Money on keyboards, Steve Thompson & Peter Woolf. Includes 'Eastbourne Ladies', 'Saviour' & 'House On The Hill', "Strange Locomotion, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". One of England's finest singers, songwriters and unique performers.
CHRIS WHITLEY - On Air (T&M 43; Germany) Featuring Chris Whitley on guitar and vocals., recorded live for Radio Bremen in September of 2003. This is an extremely powerful solo performance from the late NY legend, Chris Whitley. It is no secret that Chris Whitley was plagued by his own personal demons, his music career had its highs and lows. What is less well known is that when you caught him on a good night, he was just f**king incredible! This long, 18-song set is Chris at his best and most intense. Even, the handful of covers that he does are well selected and well done, Jimi Hendrix's "Drifting", Bob Dylan's "Fourth Time Around", Muddy Waters' "She's Alright" and The Doors' "The Crystal Ship". There is something completely captivating about this set often puts you at the edge of your seat, listening to every word that Chris sings, as he bends his voice around every note. Chris has a unique and memorable voice that often compelling and occasionally most haunting. I think I've just found another disc to soothe my soul from the everyday abuse that life provides. - BLG
A third batch of ECM classics reissued in mini-LP covers at midline prices!
[in stock Monday]
JOHN ABERCROMBIE With VINCE MENDOZA/JON CHRISTENSEN - Animato (ECM 1411; USA) Vince Mendoza (who wrote six of the eight pieces on this John Abercrombie CD) sets the mood of each selection on his synthesizers, either playing long tones, drones, minimalistic chordings or (in rare cases) a repetitive rhythm. Drummer Jon Christensen contributes some rhythms and percussive sounds while guitarist Abercrombie solos on top, either adding to the downbeat mood or displaying his technique - Scott Yanow, AMG
ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO [LESTER BOWIE/ROSCOE MITCHELL/JOSEPH JARMAN/MALACHI FAVORS/DON MOYE] - Full Force (ECM 1167; USA) Lester Bowie trumpet; Joseph Jarman reeds, flute, gongs; Roscoe Mitchell reeds, percussion; Malachi Favors Maghostus bass, percussion, melodica, vocal; Famoudou Don Moye sun percussion. Recorded January 1980
Nice Guys was the first Art Ensemble of Chicago album released after a five-year recording hiatus and the group's first for the ECM label. During those five years, the Art Ensemble toured Europe and continued to expand its compositional, improvisational, and theatrical jazz fundamentals, captured abundantly on Nice Guys. Broken up into six pieces, two each from Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman and one each from Lester Bowie and Don Moye, the album reveals how the AEC managed to turn individual compositions into a fully realized, surprisingly accessible, avant garde group collective. Nice Guys maintains its edge while incorporating reggae, New Orleans marches, and a wide use of space complemented by "little instruments" (car horn, whistles, etc.). The strongest portion of the disc is the finale "Dreaming of the Master," dedicated to Miles Davis and sounding not unlike Davis' mid-'60s quintet -- while maintaining the AEC edge. - Al Campbell, AMG
LESTER BOWIE - The Great Pretender (ECM 1209; USA) Lester Bowie trumpet; Stanton Davis trumpet; Malachi Thompson trumpet;Rasul Siddik trumpet; Steve Turre trombone; Frank Lacy trombone; Vincent Chancey French horn; Bob Stewart tuba; Phillip Wilson drums
This is one of trumpeter Lester Bowie's most accessible albums; certainly his brief versions of "It's Howdy Doody Time" and "When the Moon Comes over the Mountain" are not difficult to understand. But actually the bulk of this album is taken up with the 16-minute title cut and a variety of Bowie's colorful originals. The highly expressive trumpeter is mostly heard with a quartet (although "The Great Pretender" also adds two vocalists and baritonist Hamiet Bluiett) and this set offers many fine examples of his original approach to making music, technically avant-garde but also borrowing aspects of earlier styles in unusual combinations. - Scott Yanow, AMG
ANOUAR BRAHEM - Conte de L'incroyable Amour (ECM 1457; USA) Anouar Brahem oud; Barbaros Erkose clarinet; Kudsi Erguner nai; Lassad Hosni bendir, darbouka.
Conte de L'incroyable Amour is Tunisian composer and oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem's follow-up to his excellent ECM debut, Barzakh. Like its predecessor, this release contains original material that mixes Arabic music and jazz improvisation and features a stellar band comprised of some of Turkey's finest musicians (this time out Brahem is joined by clarinetist Barbaros Erkose, nay (reed flute) player Kudsi Ergune, and the percussionist from Barzakh, Lassad Hosni). In contrast to Barzakh's livelier mood, though, the sound here is more meditative and even stark at times, especially on solo flights by both Brahem ("Iram Retrouvee") and Erkose ("Etincelles") and by way of Erguner's ethereal improvisations ("Diversion"). The pace picks up on the sympathetically played and joyous ensemble piece "Conte de L'incroyable Amour" and on the impassioned Brahem and Erkose duet, "Nayzak." ECM's typically sparse and airy production compliments Brahem's ascetic material without making it sound too dry. A wonderful album that, upon repeated listening, reveals many transcendent moments. - Stephen Cook, AMG
EGBERTO GISMONTI/NANA VASCONCELOS - Duas Vozes (ECM 1279; USA) "Aquarela do Brasil," an unofficial anthem of Brazil, may have received literally thousands of different version and interpretations, but even then, Egberto and Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos (his sole accompanist here) were able to devise an extremely original version, which opens with an unassuming stylized samba introduction, slowly bringing elements which conduce the listener to the piece's identification. Egberto is very fond of percussive attacks and ethereal configurations, both acquiring superior importance in his music, not being necessarily attached to or supportive for a musical theme or melody. Therefore, the next defined melody presented (in the low strings of his 10 string viol‹o) is at track six, "Bianca," which is a complex yet lyrical construction based in which seems a folkloric rhythm motif. Follows "Dom Quixote," another beautiful, lyrical, courageously simple theme delivered at the piano, with Nana's emulating of an African chant and his triangle playing in the forr— tradition. - Alvaro Neder, AMG
JON HASSELL With BRIAN ENO/J. A. DEANE/MICHAEL BROOK/RICHARD HOROWITZ et al - Power Spot (ECM 1327; USA) (With J A Deane, Brian Eno, Michael Brook, Richard Horowitz, Miguel Frasconi, Jean-Philippe Rykiel, Richard & Paul Armin; produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno) Power Spot opens with the surging, polyrhythmic title track featuring Hassell's sinuous trumpet lines and dense electronic percussion from one of the album's most significant collaborators, J.A. Deane . Ambient keyboard textures drone in the background and, together with the percussion, form a mesmerizing tapestry over which Hassell's trumpet glides and soars. Images of the African continent emerge from the cyclic rhythms and harmonic stasis; a meditative calm hovers behind the swirling surfaces. The opening title track clearly sets the stage for what is to follow. During the murky, down-tempo "Passage D.E.," Hassell conjures stillness from his horn, breathy clouds laced with echo. In "Solaire," the trumpet weaves through watery, transparent textures and pulsing percussion. "Miracle Steps" opens with brazen trumpet declamations accompanied only by irregular rhythmic patterns from the percussion. An evocative blend of quasi-elephant calls and train whistles, the solo trumpet eventually winds its way downward until it is quietly submerged. "Wing Melodies" recalls the surging motion and dense fabric of the title track. Multiple keyboard parts interlock with aggressive percussion while Brian Eno's stuttering bass line remains fixed. Hassell's exuberant trumpet solo is possibly his finest on the album. "The Elephant and the Orchid" recalls the slower tempo and darker shades of "Passage D.E," but lingers there for a rather long time. Ambient keyboard drones and weary percussion provide the accompaniment for Hassell's remarkably flute-like sound. The shimmering flutes of Miguel Frasconi are a welcomed addition to the gently concluding "Air." Throughout Power Spot , Hassell's distinctive "raga" trumpet sound is breathy and vocal. He accomplished this by singing into the trumpet rather than the traditional method of blowing into it. Furthermore, Hassell often harmonized his principal trumpet line in real time, creating chords from just one note. At the time, he accomplished this real-time harmonization by using "tuned" tape loops to create parallel harmonies in fourths and major chords. Released in 1986, Power Spot marks Hassell's only release on Manfred Eicher 's ECM label. Recorded in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1983-1984, the co-production and engineering team of Eno and Daniel Lanois faithfully captured Hassell's musical vision while remaining unobtrusive. The larger ensemble sound of Power Spot expanded on Hassell's pan-global "Fourth World" music, which he began with Eno on the groundbreaking Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics album of 1980. While perhaps not as stunning as Possible Musics, Power Spot is nonetheless one of the most significant recordings from this utterly unique musician. - Mark Kirschenmann, AMG
PAT METHENY GROUP With LYLE MAYS - First Circle (ECM 1278; USA) Pat Metheny guitars, synclavier guitar, guitar synthesizer; Lyle Mays trumpet, synthesizers, piano, organ, bells; Steve Rodby acoustic bass, bass guitar, drum; Pedro Aznar voice, guitar, percussion; Paul Wertico drums, percussion.
In First Circle, the Pat Metheny Group settled into a lineup that lasted for quite a while -- with Metheny, keyboardist Lyle Mays, bassist Steve Rodby, and new drummer Paul Wertico forming the core quartet. The ever-restless Metheny also mixes up the music, not quite leaving the Brazilian glide behind but coming up with some fascinating permutations always affixed with his personal stamp. "Forward March," the album opener, is a bizarre parody full of detuned instruments and half-cocked trumpet from Mays; one wonders if this was directed at a few silly skirmishes of the day (Grenada? the Falklands?). "The First Circle" has Brazilian elements, but now in the service of a grander architectural context, while nothing could be simpler and yet more sophisticated than the delicate ballad "If I Could." "End of the Game" might be the best track on the record, equipped with a beautiful pop-flavored set of tunes and harmonies, with a rock beat fused to the floating ambience of South America as personified by the new Argentine percussionist/vocalist Pedro Aznar. "Praise," the closer, is an out-and-out rock tune, an affirmative flip side of "Forward March" and the last of a series of delightful surprises. - Richard S Ginell, AMG
OREGON [GLEN MOORE/RALPH TOWNER/PAUL McCANDLESS/TRILOK GURTU] - Ecotopia (ECM 1354; USA) Given the death of Colin Walcott, a virtual architect of Oregon's sound, it would natural to assume the band would have to search for a way to fill that void. It would also be quite natural for them to make a record that reflected that void. That said, and allowing for the exception that Oregon was leaning in a somewhat, shall we say, "more accessible" direction before Walcott's untimely demise, there is no excuse for this waste of studio time and Manfred Eicher's energy. It is no wonder that he began the ECM New Series a few years before, given the junk churned out by some of label's stable between 1983 and 1988, and this record is a stellar example - of the nadir. Simply put, this is a trite, new age piece of dreck slopped out by a group of musicians whose combined creativity should always take them to stellar heights. There are no redeeming tracks on this disc, and few redeeming moments (the 12-string and tabla introduction to "Innocente" is one) where one can remember that this was a band that opened a new door in chamber jazz in terms of composition and free improvisation. Worthless. - Thom Jurek, AMG
You get the idea? - For die-hard Oregon completists only
TERJE RYPDAL/MIROSLAV VITOUS/JACK DeJOHNETTE - Rypdal/Vitous/DeJohnette (ECM 1125; USA) An otherworldly soundscape of aching beauty, this album is a must-have for aficionados of any member of this trio. Rypdal's guitar is hauntingly reverbed and distant throughout, though occasionally on "Seasons" he becomes too fond of caterwauling guitar synth. But this is truly an effort of trio fusion, with ineffable pieces like "Den Forste Sne" ("The First Snow") appearing and melting away without any tangible solos or structure. From the opening cymbal strikes of "Sunrise," this album is marked by DeJohnette's best drumming on record; his cymbal sound, pushed to the front and recorded with mikes both above and below the cymbal's bell -- "because that's how the drummer hears it" -- is nothing short of revelatory. Vitous' bass steadies Rypdal's flights of fancy, while his subtle electric piano lines float above. These elements combine most powerfully in "Believer," which builds from atmospheric shimmers of electric piano into a whorl of bass and plaintive guitar set against the dry rasp of resonating cymbals. - Paul Collins, AMG
DINO SALUZZI - Kultrum (ECM 1251; USA) Dino Saluzzi bandoneon, voice, percussion, flutes. Bandoneonist and composer Dino Saluzzi has the long shadow of Astor Piazzolla to contend with, and on Kultrum, his stunning debut for the ECM label, he extends his countryman's chamber music explorations with the Munich-based Rosamunde String Quartet. Saluzzi plays with the quartet as his orchestra, keeping a parallel track for the bandoneon to play rhythmically against the longer violin and cello tones and then reverse roles, himself playing magnificent sheets as the strings jut out. But even "Sal—n de tango" sounds off to the left of anything recognizably tango, with puzzle pieces laying about that create the dance energy only when taken together. It's hard to get out from under Piazzolla's shadow with a bandoneon in hand, and while Saluzzi is certainly not trying to skirt influences, he moves quickly into a territory where the strings have diverse roles here, making the eight pieces feel more genuinely chamber-like than some of Piazzolla's works. In any case, Kultrum is undeniably an important move in the small circle of chamber music for bandoneon. - Andrew Bartlett
[This recording is not to be confused with a later Saluzzi ECM release called 'Kultrum - Music For Bandoneon And String Quartet' - two entirely different recordings]
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