Celebrating “FREE JAZZ”, sixty years after it the term was coined!
The term “free jazz” began in 1961, sixty years ago this year, when Ornette Coleman’s ‘Free Jazz’ album was released. Free Jazz was pioneered by Mr. Coleman, John Coltane, Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra and has continually evolved ever since, not just through the jazz lineage, but through a variety of genres like rock, psychedelic, progressive rock and other more experimental music. As long as the term Free Jazz has been around, there have always been detractors who make claims to the authenticity of this music as being jazz or just music worthy of study. It took me some time to learn to appreciate this music, but I was inspired by bands like Soft Machine, Grateful Dead, The Mothers of Invention & Jimi Hendrix, all of whom drew from the freer aspects of this music. I realize that there is/are discussion groups (like “I Hate Music”) who love to poke fun at Free Jazz or just Free Music, but those in the know (like you & me), still recognize the Special quality the makes this music still important and relevant, more than a half century later. The Brooklyn-based label, 577 Records, which is run by drummer Federico Ughi & started in 2001, has released a half dozen gems over the past year and we just got them in. Most of what is listed below is what we would call “Free Jazz/Music” and all of these are pretty amazing!
THE AMAZING 577 RECORDS LABEL HAS BEEN BUSY OVER THE PAST YEAR!
Seven New Releases Now in Stock!
TEST and ROY CAMPBELL with DANIEL CARTER / SABIR MATEEN / MATTHEW HEYNER / TOM BRUNO - Test and Roy Campbell (577 Records 5819; USA) Featuring Roy Campbell on trumpet, Daniel Carter on alto & tenor sax, trumpet & flute, Sabir Mateen on alto & tenor sax, flute & clarinet, Matthew Heyner on acoustic bass and Tom Bruno on drums. Sometime in the early to mid nineties, I recall taking the subway at Astor Place in the East Village on a Saturday on my way to the store. As soon as the doors opened, there was a blast of intense Free Jazz practically knocking everyone around me on their tushes. This was a quartet called Test and even a longtime Free Music Freak like myself was shocked by this music, wailing in my face! I smiled since I knew these musicians & have always liked their sound while some of the folks around me put their hands over their ears. TEST! I caught Test many times through the years and knew each member through different previous encounters: multireeds & woodwind players Daniel Carter (who played with everyone, anywhere, anytime), Sabir Mateen (who worked with Horace Tapscott in L.A.), Matt Heyner (No Neck Blues Band) and Tom Bruno (my pal Steve Buchanan had brought Tom & Ellen Christie to some jam sessions I ran in NJ). TEST made three recordings in their time, each of which is/are out-of-print. Plus Tom Bruno passed away in 2012 and Sabir Mateen moved to Italy several years ago. Matt Heyner and Daniel Carter are still around and Mr. Carter continues to play with as many kindred spirits as he possibly can.
The session, Test and special guest Roy Campbell on trumpet, was recorded live at the Hint House in April of 1999 by Matt Mottel (from Talibam!). Roy Campbell was one of the greatest of all the Downtown trumpeters, has played in Other Dimensions in Music as well as several other groups with William Parker. Mr. Campbell passed away in 2014. Right from the gitgo, there is something special going on here, the music if focused yet free, intense and soaring. The rhythm team here is something else, connected and moving tightly together. There is a good deal of furious communication going on here, all three horns connected and spinning lines in tight flurries. There are a number of inspired solos which pop up from time to time. The closer I listen, the more connections and interaction I hear going on simultaneously and throughout. There is a constant shifting of subgroups or lines of notes going on, an organic rising and falling of internal and external waves. One of the things I have always dug about Roy Campbell is his ability to tap into the long history of jazz, phrases and licks from the ancient past which are transformed as he moves into the present and future. His playing has a calming, spiritual quality, which balances the freer flames with just the right amount of grace or spice. If you think that “Free Jazz” is dead, then you haven’t been listening to all of the great Free Music which seems to come from everywhere on our planet where musicians are still free to express themselves in whatever way they want to. I still believe in the Power of Freedom to open us up to other possibilities, looking beyond those self-made or societal borders. Good god, this is the Real Thing! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
DANIEL CARTER / MATTHEW SHIPP / WILLIAM PARKER / GERALD CLEAVER - Welcome Adventure! - Vol. 1 (577 Records 5837; USA) Featuring Daniel Carter on tenor sax, trumpet & flute, Matt Shipp on piano, William Parker on contrabass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Recorded at Sear Sound Studio in NYC in October of 2019. Although multi-winds wizard Daniel Carter has worked with Matt Shipp and William Parker in many different situations, this is Mr. Carter’s first recorded session with drummer Gerald Cleaver. This disc starts off with a sublime, friendly bass riff from William Parker, whose recent biography and 10 CD set have put in him the well-deserved spotlight of recognition. The ever-prolific pianist, Matt Shipp, soon joins him in playing with a lovely sense of calm, melodic elegance. Soon, the even more prolific (gig-wise) Daniel Carter enters on tenor with a tone so warm and tasty that it made me feel even more at home than usual. Perhaps the most in-demand Downtown drummer joins the crew and swings with an infectious subtle groove. These four are all mature elders and instead of showing off their over-the-top Free Jazz chops, they show a more refined, gracefully, understated freedom that feels so good to be surrounded by. “Scintillate” features Daniel Carter on some tender muted trumpet and is ever so exquisite. For “Ear-Regularities”, Mr. Carter switches to flute, the rest of the quartet spinning freer lines with much restraint. The quartet does a wonderful job of balancing itself between the lighter and darker currents, freeing itself from regular borders and entering a more dream-like space. Each member of the quartet seems to be part of a constant fabric which bends them together and provides a web for the listener to be held by. Considering that “Free Music” has been around for some sixty years now, it has indeed evolved and become an internal/external language which is spoken between the spirits within. There is some true magic going on here/hear. Listen close. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SABIR MATEEN / PATRICK HOLMES / FEDERICO UGHI - Survival Situation (577 Records 5811; USA) Featuring Sabir Mateen on saxes, clarinet, flute, Farfisa organ & voice, Patrick Holmes on clarinet and Federico Ughi on drums. Recorded at Jambona Lab in Pisa, Italy in March of 2018. Former Downtown sax great, Sabir Mateen has been living in Italy for the past five years. One of the great things about the longstanding DMG in-store concert series is giving opportunities to many under-recognized musicians over our 30 year history. More than 1,200 in-store nights have occurred with upwards of 1,000 musicians. I enjoy giving musicians as many chances to play as is possible so that the other serious listeners and myself can watch someone and evolve over time. Local clarinetist Patrick Holmes is one such musician who I’ve long admired, yet he has recorded on just a handful of discs, mostly in the last few years and most of which on the 577 Records label. Mr. Holmes’ distinctive clarinet opens this disc and it is soon joined by some eerie Farfisa organ and Mr. Ughi’s splendid mallet-work on drums. This piece is called “Freedom of Soul” and it has a wonderful, free floating vibe. The often playful Mateen, starts to sing/speak in odd sort of fairytale rhymes with some echoplex added to make things more humorous, less serious. Sabir’s Farfisa playing has a most hypnotic Sun Ra -like sound which adds a most mystical quality to this disc/session. On “Souls”, Mr. Mateen on tenor sax and Mr. Holmes on clarinet have much different sounds/approaches which work well in tandem, the high fragile sound of the clarinet with the low, haunting sound of the tenor, both of which are balanced just right with Mr. Ughi’s sympathetic mallet-work. The center of this trio is the playing of drummer Federico Ughi. He listens closely and knows how to support, respond and fan the flames when need be. This is Magic Music, calm at the center yet buzzing like bees around a hive. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SABIR MATEEN / CHRISTOPHER DELL / CHRISTIAN RAMOND / KLAUS KUGEL - Creation (577 Records 5820; USA) Featuring Sabir Mateen on tenor sax & voice, Christopher Dell on vibes, Christian Ramond on double bass and Klaus Kugel on drums. Recorded Live at the A-Trane in Berlin in October of 2012. Longtime Downtown reeds player, Sabir Mateen, moved to Italy several years back, leaving a hole in the scene here since he was one of the greatest of all of the Downtown/Free Jazz sax giants for the past couple of decades. Sad for us since Mr. Mateen rarely comes back to town and only records on rare occasions, mostly playing with Italian musicians. For this disc, Mr. Mateen put together a quartet with three German musicians. We've known the vibesman, Chistopher Dell, from his trio (3D), as well as working with Theo Jorgensmann & Christian Lillinger. Bassist Christian Ramond has also been working with Jorgensmann & Perry Robinson. One of the best drummers in Berlin in Klaus Kugel has worked with Ganelin Trio Priority, Steve Swell and Ken Vandermark.
This session consists of one long piece called “Creation” which is broken into two parts. It starts with the quartet playing tightly together with Mr. Mateen’s strong, Trane-like tenor tone on top and the vibes-led trio tightly backing him. Vibesman, Christopher Dell, is in especially fine form here, his playing is dense and busy, providing a thick cushion of spinning activity keeping the quartet together and interacting Mateen’s tenor with a tight-knit storm force. Mr. Dell provides an ongoing dialogue Mr. Matteen’s often fierce tenor playing. Mr. Dell takes a long, well-crafted vibes solo in the second part of this piece showing himself to be a dynamic musician who we should be hearing more from. All in all, this is a great, spirited, intense and sprawling set that should be heard time and again. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PAUL FLAHERTY / JAMES CHUMLEY HUNT / MIKE ROBERSON / RANDALL COLBOURNE - Borrowed from Children (577 Records 5843; USA) Featuring Paul Flaherty on tenor & alto sax, Mike Roberson on electric guitar, James Chumley Hunt on trumpet & conch shells and Randall Colbourne on drums. Considering the “Free Jazz” has been around for some sixty years, it has evolved over time with each generation of players adding to its long history. I am fascinated by the fact that there is now an older generation of musicians who have been playing in the style for most or all of their adult lives. What I find interesting is that each of these players are from different cities/backgrounds and have developed their own way of playing over a long period. Here’s a short list of who I am talking about: Jack Wright, Daniel Carter, Paul Dunmall, Oluyemi Thomas, Wally Shoup, Elliott Levin, Rick Countryman and Paul Flaherty.
I have had my eye & ear on saxist Paul Flaherty for several decades, his first album as a leader being released in 1978. Mr. Flaherty enjoys playing with powerful drummers and has worked at length with Randall Colbourne (1990-2001 & later) and Chris Corsano (2002-2017). After a falling out with Mr. Corsano, Mr. Flaherty rekindled his collaborations with Mr. Colbourne for several CD’s. Mr. Flaherty has also gone back to working with trumpeter James Chumley Hunt, who also played with several Flaherty/Colbourne bands in the 1990’s. I can’t say that I’ve heard of guitarists Mike Roberson before this session. This starts out with a slow, free flowing yet not too intense vibe. Flaherty on tenor and Hunt on trumpet are exchanging lines calmly while Mr. Roberson plays quiet yet noisy lines on his guitar, using a variety of effects yet never pushing things too far out. Since there is no bassist involved here, all members of the quartet stay busy and connected to keep that cosmic flow going. I can hear that all of the members of this quartet have been playing together for a long while since everything evolves organically. There are some strong focused unison segments here like midway through “Dark Leaves Linger” where the guitar and trumpet begin similar tight lines with strong backing by the drums and several lines of sax interaction rising and falling throughout. Unexpectedly, both Mr. Flaherty, Mr. Hunt & Mr. Roberson play what sounds like a haunting ballad toward the end of this long and winding piece. If you listen closely you will hear some inspired, intense and crafty electric guitar from Mr. Roberson, which I find interesting considering that I hadn’t heard of this musician before this disc arrived. Rather than Mr. Flaherty playing his fierce free jazz insanity throughout, this is much more a group effort in which all four members contribute to a group sound with lots of great interaction burning underneath. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
GERALD CLEAVER - Signs (577 Records 5832; USA) If for any reason you’re unfamiliar with the name Gerald Cleaver, then, well, shame on you. Or at the very least, your tastes don’t cast a wide enough net. Cleaver’s surely gotten around since the debut of his first recording as leader, way back in 2001. Since then, he’s played with a who’s who in the jazz-and-related fields, surrounding, grounding, and expounding upon any number of supremely satisfying dates alongside Tomasz Stanko, Matthew Shipp, Mario Pavone, Ivo Perelman, Craig Taborn, Miroslav Vitous, William Parker…the Discogs list is exhausting in and of itself. Basically, the man’s a much sought-after drummer and percussionist, adept in brush-stroking and snare-assault at a level only rivaled by such contemporaries as Hamid Drake or Manu Katche. Well, he’s now brought his multi-talented sensibilities to bear on a searing album of protean electronica. Having grown up in Detroit, the city of techno’s birth and its enduring legacy, it seems almost logical, perhaps innate, that he would channel his interests into more experimental realms. Whether or not this excursion is a one-off or the start of a more intensive series of projects remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that Cleaver pulls it off magnificently. And this isn’t anything near ’techno’, not by a long shot—there’s nothing resembling a four/four beat in sight. Instead, Cleaver rounded up a bunch of modules, tabletop devices, and sundry gadgets to initialize some pretty spellbinding, and it must be said, damn original edifices of pattern and sound. The drunken synth waltz propelling “Blown” fairly subjugates your equilibrium, thanks to its quirky sequencer-surge and gradual building of tension. The three-part title track weaves and bobs, squelchy one minute, shifty and aqueous the next, a triptych of strictly poised rhythms set against an atmospheric presence of charging infrared. One of 2020’s genuine surprises; beefy, bewildering, and brilliant, Signs of the times, indeed. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
MPT TRIO with FRANCISCO MELA / HERY PAZ / JUANMA TRUJILLO - Volume 1 (577 Records 5851; USA) Featuring Francisco Mela on drums, Hery Paz on tenor sax and Juanma Trujillo on guitar. I am still amazed at how many incredible drummers have moved to NY in the past decade. One of the best drummers I’ve heard in recent years is a Cuban percussionist named Francisco Mela. On this disc Mr. Mela is joined by two musicians from Argentina who are currently living in NYC. You would only know about guitarist Juanma Trujillo and saxist Hery Paz if you read the DMG newsletter regularly. Mr. Trujillo works with violinist Leonor Falcon while Mr. Paz works with a trio called Sferos with Trujillo & Dayeon Seok. Each member of the trio contributes 2 or 3 pieces each plus there is one improvised trio piece at the end of the disc. Mr. Mela’s drums kick off the opening piece, “Calipso” which does sound like a calypso of sorts. I must admit that the more I hear from guitarist Juanma, the more I am impressed! While Mr. Mela spins up a storm of shifting rhythms, Mr. Trujillo plays a series on interlocking lines tightly with the sax and drums as one thing. On “Sustain”, Mr. Trujillo does use some sustain to stretch out the notes on his guitar, to give things a more spooky sound. The one longer piece here is called, “Suite for Leo Brouwer”, things slow down for a more cerebral outing while Mr. Mela plays some congas and hand percussion and the guitar & sax have a long ongoing conversation throughout most of the piece, slowly adding different shades to the scenery provided. The trio stretch out on “Vino” giving the guitar and sax a chance to erupt together as the tension builds to a strong climax. On “Baldor”, the trio switches between some tight written parts with freer sections erupting intensely in between. Each piece involves a different strategy or idea worth exploring and listening to more than once. With each listen, more ideas are revealed so it will take some time to fully absorb all of the great things about this disc. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
HAFEZ MODIRZADEH with KRIS DAVIS / TYSHAWN SOREY / CRAIG TABORN - Facets (Pi Records 87; USA) Featuring Hafez Modirzadeh on tenor sax plus Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey or Craig Taborn on piano. Although this is a series of duets for tenor sax and piano, each piano has been re-tuned so the music no longer deals with equal temperament. Most of the pieces were written by Mr. Modirzadeh with adaptions of two Monk songs and one by JC Bach plus an improvised variation by each pianist. Each piece besides the two Monk covers is called “Facet” with another word or name attached. Mr. Modirzadeh claims to be inspired through the mysticism of composers: JS Bach, Erik Satie and a few Persian composers. Since I am not a studied musician, I can’t tell whether most music is in tune or not. However, I can tell when something is working or communicating something worthy. Things begin with a solo piano piece called, “Facet Taborn”, which sets the pace of quiet, calm yet suspense filled aura. Each of the 18 pieces are relatively short (all but three under 7:13 minutes). It sounds as if things are moving in slow motion - a kind of dreamscape, each note carefully placed and suspended. Mr. Modirzadeh has a warm, tender, supple tone which works well with stripped down, restrained elegance of the piano. Monk’s “Ask Me Now” seems to fit here since its bent chords do sound somewhat out of tune. “Facet Sorey”, another solo piece, shows Mr. Sorey to be especially exquisite, playing several layers of lines together, more virtuosic than one might think from someone who is more known as a composer/drummer/professor. Although things are often quite subtly played, these pieces sound like they are being stretched beyond what we think are regular melodic constraints. I found this disc to be mostly breathtaking in the way the music is poised and carefully crafted. It sounds as if we have walked into another world where things are slightly skewered but we can’t tell why until we adjust to the slight contours of what we know is correct or expected. It does take some time to adapt, but it is well worth the careful consideration. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
KEITH ROWE / MARTIN KUCHEN - The Bakery (Mikroton Recordings 46; EEC) Featuring Keith Rowe - electronics, guitar and Martin Küchen alto & baritone saxophones, radio, & iPod. Keith Rowe was invited to a residency that Martin Küchen, through support from the Swedish Arts Council, was granted a few weeks in the autumn of 2013 at the Vor Anker artist residency, Vienna, Austria. The artist Johannes Heuer and his wife Sandra Baer had invited Martin Küchen for this residency. The artist studio is located in the old Anker bread factory complex in Vienna. During these weeks work included recordings and concerts with Keith Rowe, both at Anker Brot Fabrik and at the Amann studio in Vienna. This CD is recorded live at Christoph Amann's studio in October; concerts with Matija Schellander, a visit to Radu Malfatti, recordings at a nuclear power plant and in an old water tower and recordings made to the exhibition work of Johannes Heuer.” - Soundohm.com
PEK SOLO - Semantic Notions (Evil Clown 9261; US) Does Dave PEK ever sleep? Me thinketh not. As evidenced by this absolutely massive, sprawling, epic three-disc set, it’s doubtful he ever leaves the studio except to down a quick nosh and slug of water. Anyway, the wow factor is not only markedly high, it’s nigh on brainbursting. After experiencing a combined near four hours of densely woven, intricately performed, expertly overdubbed sound, your endurance will either be severely tested or you will further recede in your barcalounger beaten, bruised, but roundly sated. It must be said that when you decide to wholly give yourself to anything coming from the Evil Clown camp, patience is a virtue, open ears a mandate, full immersion a requirement. Dave PEK’s work demands you get totally lost within its clutches, and believe me, you’ll be the better for it. Is there much in the way of categorical separation amongst these three magnum opuses, or even much that distinguishes them from earlier EC missives? No, but to think there would be again, misses the point. PEK creates what one may call absolute headphone music, multi-layered sonic world-building that feels composed but is made more remarkable thanks to it’s entirely improvised design. This might well be the key to PEK’s ongoing audiological genius. Nothing ever feels lazy or haphazard, nor do these lengthy discourses fall into sonic disarray, rampant atonality or causal drift. His releases are literal snapshots, recorded as he seizes the moment, striking when the aural iron’s hot if you will; his dogged, focused, highly disciplined work ethic necessitates the thorough examination of his ideas, regardless of limitations of time and space. Truth be told, the entirety of the EC catalog is all of a piece, and should be treated, regarded, and respected as such. There is so much magnificent sound-making on hand it’s difficult to break it down into its component parts, foolhardy, in fact, to even treat these gargantuan set-pieces so site-specifically. Suffice to say, all three discs trace vivid, confrontational, imagistic movies for the mind, alternating fat sax bursts and interwoven reed harmonics with vari-colored striations of moog electronics, throbbing sequencers, exotic percussives, random accessed metals, muffled primal screams, and numerous other complex motifs whose origins can only be guessed at. The list of instruments utilized boggles the mind, another example of PEK’s formidable prowess and seemingly bottomless ability to coax forth from these tools a mindmelt for anyone’s overtaxed pineal gland. Take the plunge, go deep, get buried—you won’t regret a moment. - Darren Bergstein
MICHAEL LAROCCA - Just a Drummer (1039 Records 002; USA) Featuring Michael Larocca on drums. Local drummer and Stone volunteer, Kevin Murray, recently left us with this disc since he is involved with this, the 1039 Records label. I don’t know very much about Michael Larocca outside of his working with local guitarist Aaron Rubinstein, another Stone volunteer, as well as with Michael Foster & Eli Wallace. The first thing I noticed about this disc is how well it is recorded. Mr. Larocca seems to be focusing on short phrases, one or two at a time, spinning short webs on the drums and cymbals. Instead of playing any rhythmic beats or grooves, he keeps changing his focus by spinning lines one moment and letting the drums or cymbals resonate the next. When he does get into a groove, he repeats it and then alters it several times. Mr. Barocca varies his play enough to keep things interesting throughout. Every time we think he is about to get into a regular drum solo, he moves into another area or approach. Modest yet impressive. If you listen closely, you will also hear some melodic fragments popping up or within the spinning web of percussion excursions. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MARC BARRECA - The Empty Bridge (Palace of Lights 001-2021; USA) "With The Empty Bridge, Marc Barreca again exploits his distinct talent for translating landscapes into sound. The music was created in and reflects the influence of contrasting environments -- the beauty and stillness of the Cascade Mountains and the muted industrial nightscape of the Duwamish Waterway, complete with its massive, now condemned, empty freeway bridge. The pieces are sculpted from layers of synthesized and sampled instruments, field recordings and processed vinyl. With these sources, Barreca achieves a level of compositional sophistication that deftly combines elements of ambient, drone, noise, and sound art with contrapuntal lines running above and below the dense and shifting aural environments. Composed during a period of tranquil isolation -- isolation created by a global pandemic, a broken concrete link to the city, and a remote mountain cabin -- The Empty Bridge evokes immersive, evolving, contrasting landscapes."
SPIRITUAL JAZZ 13 with STEVE REID / IDRIS ACKAMOOR / DAVID BOYKIN / ANGEL BAT DAWID / JAMIE SAFT QUARTET / THE PYRAMIDS / et al: NOW Part 2 (Jazzman Records 127; UK) Modern sounds for the 21st century featuring modal, progressive and esoteric contemporary jazz from the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, USA, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Germany, and Italy. The first 12 volumes of Jazzman Records' hugely popular Spiritual Jazz series have unearthed a wealth of historic recordings in the genre, collating a variety of works from the '50s to the '80s by artists from all around the world. And so, with Volume 13, the label turn their attention to what's happening NOW. Over the course of 24 tracks and spanning two sets, Jazzman Records present an overview of the contemporary exponents of spiritual jazz; musicians who are intent on bringing something personal to the table, as much as they recognize the importance of those who have paved the way for them. We feature music recorded within the past 20 years and from 15 different countries, including modern classics from veterans Steve Reid and Idris Ackamoor, providing a vital link between the past masters and the enlightened new generation. It's pioneers such as John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, et al, with their innovations in reaching another plane of consciousness that was and remains uppermost in the minds of exponents of spiritual jazz. Fittingly, several of the artists featured on this compilation, such as Cat Toren and David Boykin, are practitioners of the art of music therapy and sound healing, and have absolute conviction in the role of song as solace. The pioneers may no longer be with us, but their saintly selves loom large, shining a light in the darkness, inspiring many a brave new disciple today, as this album will testify: the new wave of jazz is gathering pace and still sounds fresh, vibrant and as relevant as ever. Extensive liners with pictures. Features The Cosmic Range, Vibration Black Finger, Abeeku, Wildflower, The Pyramids, Steve Reid, Carla Marciano, Angel Bat Dawid, Menagerie, Teemu Akerblom, The Jamie Saft Quartet, and Jonas Kullhammar.
JOHNNY SMITH with STAN GETZ / ZOOT SIMS / JOHNNY RAE / ARNOLD FISHKIN / DON LAMOMD / et al - The Classic Roost Album Collection (Enlightenment 9194; EEC) Johnny Henry Smith II, born June 25th 1922, became one of America's most revered cool jazz guitarist. This 4CD set features eight of Johnny Smith's most potent, dynamic and rewarding albums on which he served as band-leader, recorded for the Roost label between 1955 and 1960. Containing all of this most underrated Jazz master's finest compositions and performances, the collection will work equally well for those new to Smith's music and those who merely require a delightful reminder of his most extraordinary work and most unusual talent. Johnny Smith was one of the finest jazz guitarists of his era and was under-recorded, preferring to raise a family rather than seeking too much fame & fortune. A must-have for all you jazz guitar freaks! - BLG
4 CD Set $18
COUNTRY MUSIC with JOHNNY CASH / PATSY CLINE / HANK WILLIAMS / GEORGE JONES / SLIM WHITMAN / JIM REEVES / FLATT & SCRUGGS / MARTY ROBBINS / CARL PERKINS / TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD / LEFTY FRIZZELL / WEBB PIERCE / TEX RITTER / RICK NELSON / BOB WILLS / SPADE COOLEY / DOLLY PARSON / DON GIBSON / WILLIE NELSON / MERLE HAGGARD / DON GIBSON / et al - The Best of Country Hits (Blueline 1149922; EEC) The songs are timeless and the line-up equally impressive. Artists include: Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, George Jones, Slim Whitman, Marty Robbins and many more. All tracks have been digitally remastered for optimum sound quality. Six discs, luxury box set, 147 songs, extra album with Johnny Cash recordings and over 420 minutes of playing time! We have been listening to this wonderful little 6 CD set at the store for the past week and loving what we are hearing. Classic country from several decades and not a clunker throughout! - BLG
6 CD Set $20
WIZZ JONES - Wizz Jones (Sunbeam Records 1095; UK) “Sunbeam Records present a double-CD reissue of Wizz Jones's self-titled release, originally released in 1969. An undisputed giant of modern folk and one of the finest acoustic guitarists Britain has ever produced, Wizz Jones has been cited as an influence by stars including Rod Stewart and Keith Richards, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Folk Awards in 2019. His first solo LP appeared 50 years earlier, and receives its first-ever reissue here. A beguiling mixture of standards and originals with his outstanding playing to the fore throughout, it's unlike anything else he ever recorded. It's presented here in both its mono and stereo mixes, together with an insert containing background notes and rare images, and a repro shop flier from the original time of release. Double-CD digipack with eight-page booklet.”
2 CD Set $22
One of our distributors recently picked up the Kairos label, which has had distribution problems until now. Since we admire this label so much, we will be listing some of their back-catalogue titles for the next few weeks. The first 5 are listed below:
ARDITTI QUARTET & ENSEMBLE TACTUS & ENSEMBLE CONTRECHAMPS // EUNHO CHANG - Kaleidoscope (Kairos 15035; Austria) This album, containing the String Quartet No. 2, White Shadow, Gohok, Panorama from 2011 - 2015 represents Eunho Chang´s excellent mastery of composition technique in terms of camber music. The work String Quartet no. 2 draws its inspiration from a traditional Korean painting. White Shadow is written for a complex percussion ensemble was commissioned by Ensemble TaCTuS. Gohok which means in Korean „fascination" is a composition from 2013 for solo flute and five instruments. In Panorama the artist again undertakes a descriptive theme of beauty and reminds one of Giacinto Scelsi´s late works.
BEAT FURRER // VOKALENSEMBLE NOVA / ENSEMBLE RECHERCHE - Begehren (Kairos 12432; Austria) A contemporary performance piece by Beat Furrer (b. 1954) described by the composer as Music Theatre piece in 10 scenes, incorporating dancers, singers, orchestra and sound projection. This hugely imaginative staging was filmed at a live performance in 2003 and is presented for the first time on this DVD presentation. The film also includes an interview with Beat Furrer. “The 10 scenes show both figures, HE and SHE, in different stages of their development, in an intermediate area between memory and the search for one another – and at the same time the search for themselves.”
2 CD Set $28
BRIAN FERNEYHOUGH // ELISION ENSEMBLE / et al - Terrain (Kairos 13072; Austria) One of the advantages of having my CD player back is that I can listen, over and over again, to this new release from ELISION ensemble of the music of Brian Ferneyhough on Kairos. Now, the disclaimer here is that Terrain is pretty much a precision-targeted, Soundisgrammar-seeking love bomb. This is some of my favourite music in the world, performed by some of my favourite performers in the world, and there was pretty much no chance at all that I was going to dislike this disc. But that aside: It’s amazing.
Apart from being a collection of utterly brilliant, lucid, aggressively argued performances, this disc very much heralds the beginning of a new era in the performance of this music. A coming of age, as it were, of the performance tradition of the new complexity.
I’ve alluded before on these pages to the excitement of being at the coalface of developing performance practices for new music, and Ferneyhough himself has spoken often and eloquently on the subject of interpretation and performance practice in his own music. Here is a lengthy, but representative, example from an interview with James Boros:
In previous ages it was never performances which survived, but scores, notated music. If all the information necessary to a correct interpretation is not contained in a score, it is practically impossible to reconstruct original intentions with any degree of certainty. Only tradition can provide some sort of tenuous continuity in this respect. If you play a Beethoven sonata, you’re not interpreting the notes on the page, you’re interpreting many generations of interpretation, an entire corpus of slowly evolving conventions. Contemporary music has little of this sense of self-reflexive tradition, partly for the obvious reason of being new, but also because of the extreme fragmentation of stylistic continuity so characteristic of the present day. This results in a sort of institutionalized deracination where the performer is all too often reduced to putting the right notes in the right place with little sense of the larger perspective which would make it all make sense to him. If one considers interpretation as the art of meaningful deviation from the text, one will be saddened to hear music played (and – mutatis mutandis – composed and listened to) in this reductive manner. In terms of my own work, I employ what some consider to be over-definition of the musical image as a path to suggesting what might come to replace this interpretive overview. Composers who tend to restrict their notational specifications to a bare minimum end up getting one-dimensional representations of a possible sound-world rather than entering into that world’s inner workings. - Sound is Grammar
ROGER REYNOLDS // IRVINE ARDITTI / INAYTHENTICA - Aspiration (Kairos 01505; Austria) “One day, while I was composing the music, this title came into my mind as an inevitability: Aspiration. It is a double CD with four pieces for solo violin, where well renowned violinist Irvine Arditti plays four different pieces: Shifting/Drifting for violin and real-time algorithmic transformation, imagE/violin, Aspiration and Kokoro. In Shifting/ Drifting the computer algorithms manipulates the „seeds" from the soloist´s materials interactively during performance. The pieces imagE/violin 2015 and imAge/violin 2015 were originally composed for cellist Alexis Descharmes. While composing it for the violin pair, Reynolds worked closely together with Irvine, as was the case earlier with Kokoro. Kokoro was inspired by reading D: Suzuki´s Zen and Japanese Culture. In Aspiration Irvine´s playing is superimposed on the ensemble, figurative outbursts that serve to bring a listeners attention back to his role whatever is happening.”
HELMUT LACHENMANN // STAATSOPER STUTTGART - Das Mädchen Mit Den Schwefelholzern (Kairos 12282; Austria)"It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets.". Lachenmann's music no matter where situated, the purely instrumental seems to impart a subtext of the dramatic, some miniature narrative, even his piano solo as "Kinderlied" exploring evocatively piano harmonics gets away from the coldly abstract nature his music strives for, a creative dialectic.
This is an interesting opera, with two lines of thought, one from the celebrated Hans-Christian Andersen's tale "The Little Match-Seller", a disarming story where we can read it today as a metaphor for the homeless and the starving malnourished children around the globe. The other is text utilized here of Gudrun Ensslin who in 1968 set fire to a shopping centre in Frankfurt, with others who shared her convictions on the indifference of (then) West Berlin German consumer society. This opera is about the injustice in the Third World(we certainly could add the genocides witnessed since then in Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo very easily)the hunger and exploitation. Ensslin had written a letter in her Stammheim prison cell that is utilized in the text here as an insert. The music here is pure high modernity with extended timbres in all directions,a massive vocal vocabulary where singers and choir are called upon for pure vocal timbre not simply the delivery of text,clicking, percussive vocal sounds, whispering,babbling, shouting,murmurings,sexual angsts,declamations,wisses,glissandi,timbres on vowels and consonants. This finds its equivalent in the extended orchestra with the full vocabulary of string harmonics, plucking, Am Steg, sul ponticello,snarling muted brass pressing dynamic envelopes, glissandi,also extended scaled downwards in volume to threadbare piano mutings, harp mutings, striking the piano's insides. There is also a radio,or prerecorded material utilized at times that seems to come when you least expect it as part of the rich orchestral collage textures Lachenmann constructs. There are some obvious timbral cliques here, the stopping on a dime,halting the forces, changing gears, and where the shouting of single words triggers hammer blasts amongst the massive orchestral forces. I tended to bypass these obvious moments of high modernity for Lachenmann indeed construsts fanstastic, ethereal sheets, evocative blankets of timbres as the threadbare opening,"Auf der Strasse" barely audible moments,and of windlike timbres, string harmonics, and bowed strings muted producing a fascinating noise(s).There are 24 scenes,some constructed like miniatures as #2 "In deiser Kaelte" a mere 2 minutes, and then there are traditional like orchestral interludes(although the voices seem never to rest)#8 Die Jagd","the chase", has a kind of predictable violence to it,when the little girl lost her shoes, pointillistic scouring the entire orchestral canvas. There really is nothing beautiful here, perhaps that is a perceptive category modernity has done away with to death.The "jouissance" in the Lacanian sense is in the committment that modernity has ended, and that there remains starving humans throughout the globe.We take orgasmic pleasure in pure construction, in identification with injustice and its resolution.Lachenmann in the excerpted interview provided herein says that composing for him is a resolution of a trauma, one to find a voice in traditional genres, as this opera, but also string quartet, piano solo,all for which he has lent his imagination in servitude to tradition.
The black n' white photos included here in the booklet indeed peaked my curiosity, of the utilizing photographic images as scenic backdrops equivalent to the angular threadbare abstractions of the music. An opera in black n' white is indeed quite intriguing.” - Scarecrow
2 CD Set $28
75 DOLLAR BILL LITTLE BIG BAND - Live At Tubby's (Grapefruit 003; USA) "NYC's 75 Dollar Bill began its prolific career in 2012, after percussionist Rick Brown -- a veteran of the indie underground (Fish & Roses, Run On, V-Effect) -- and noise scene guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Che Chen -- connected via MySpace. Since that initial jam session, when Brown began experimenting with his signature plywood crate drum rhythms, they have released three LPs and a clutch of self-released cassette and digital releases. Last year's double album I Was Real received serious critical acclaim -- The Wire calling it 2019's Album of the Year. On their first live album, Live At Tubby's, 75 Dollar Bill assembled a unique 'little big band' [Sue Garner on bass, Cheryl Kingan on sax, Steve Maing on guitar, Jim Pugliese on percussion and Karen Waltuch on viola] for the small Kingston, NY club show. Recorded on the last day of their spring tour, the record puts a new perspective on themes from their body of work: a little more intimacy, a little more freedom, a little more controlled chaos. Brown's idiosyncratic rhythms are all the more hypnotizing in Tubby's cozy setting, and Chen's furious guitar work cuts and hums with sounds seemingly only attainable on stage. It's an album both challenging and immediate. The expanded 75 Dollar Bill's affinity for improvisation and the avant-garde even leads to a rousing take on the Ornette Coleman classic, 'Friends And Neighbors' that feels right at home in their own repertoire. The listener can't help but feel present and part of the communal joy and catharsis being shared here in this room. This performance at Tubby's turned out not only to be the last show of their tour, but the last show possible as the pandemic hit. Originally offered as a digital only release on 75 Dollar Bill's Bandcamp, Live At Tubby's now documents a highlight and closure of sorts; this kind of musical improvisation and community interaction being on hold for the foreseeable future. This double album on Grapefruit will have to tide everyone over until it can all happen again."
2 LP Set $28
EVAN PARKER - Six of One (Otoroku 009; UK) “Originally recorded and released in 1980, Six of One beautifully captures the detail in Evan Parker's high frequency split tones for which he is now perhaps better known. Five years on from Saxophone Solos and with circular breathing and polyphonics well-worn into his live performances, Parker's experiments here produce sustained passages of brilliant flight. Set into the echoes and resonances of a St Judes On The Hill church, the results are stunning. Transferred from the original master tapes by Thomas Hall at Abbey Road Studios and released in an edition of 500.
"The recital commences with a split tone line of twining sine waves that expand and contract in telepathic collusion. Pitch dynamics narrow and redefine themselves more emphatically on the second piece where sliding legato rivulets born of Parker's compartmentalized tonguing create the sonic semblance of up to three separate voices emanating from the single reed speech center. It's a feat he's accomplished innumerable times since, but every fresh hearing never fails to open an aperture into a style of improvisatory expression that is at once wholly alien and intensely mesmerizing. There's also something strangely subterranean about the flood of sounds, like the rush percolating water through an underground aquifer system enroute to unknown tributaries. The third piece trades tightly braided tones for leaner and more linear phrases, but a vaporous trail of phantom notes still clings to the central line. And so it goes, with the illusion of repetition guiding the momentum, though Parker never explicitly repeats himself." - Derek Taylor, All About Jazz, 2002
EVAN PARKER - Saxophone Solos (Otoroku 010; UK) “OTOROKU reissue Evan Parker's first solo LP Saxophone Solos. Recorded by Martin Davidson in 1975 at the Unity Theatre in London, at that time the preferred concert venue of the Musicians' Co-operative, Parker's densely woven and often cyclical style has yet to form; instead throaty murmurs appear under rough-hewn whistles and calls -- the wildly energetic beginnings of an extraordinary career. Reissued with liner notes from Seymour Wright in an edition of 500.
"The four pieces across the two sides of Saxophone Solos -- 'Aerobatics 1' to '4' -- are testing, pressured, bronchial spectaculars of innovation and invention and determination. Evan tells four stories of exploration and imagination without much obvious precedent. Abstract Beckettian cliff-hanging detection/logic/magic/mystery. The conic vessel of the soprano saxophone here recorded contains the ur-protagonists: seeds, characters, settings, forces, conflicts, motions, for new ideas, to delve, to tap and to draw from it story after story as he has on solo record after record for 45 years. 'Aerobatics 1-3' were recorded on June 17th 1975, by Martin Davidson at Parker's first solo performance. This took place at London's Unity Theatre in Camden. 'Aerobatics 4' was recorded on September 9th the same year, by Jost Gebers in the then FMP studio in Charlottenburg, Berlin. Music of balance and gravity, fulcra, effort, poise, and enquiry. Sounds thrown and shaken into and out of air, metal and wood. It is -- as the titles suggest -- spectacular." - Seymour Wright, 2020
MAKGONA TSOHLE REGGI - Makgona Tsohle Reggi (Umsakazo 106; UK) "The Band That Can Do Anything -- that's the literal English translation of the name of a band whose creativity, productivity and influence ran far and wide during the notorious era of racial oppression in South Africa. The Makgona Tsohle Band was easily the most popular and highly productive instrumental team in the African music business of the 1960s and '70s. Assembled by formidable talent scout and producer Rupert 'Bops' Bopape, Makgona Tsohle provided musical accompaniment on literally hundreds of Gallo recording sessions, as well as creating some of the biggest dance hits of the era. They are often credited with the invention of that staple township music, mbaqanga. A big boast -- but only a slight embellishment. Makgona Tsohle's members were utterly crucial to the style's formation and development, reinforcing the more modern, danceable, electrified jive as the leading force in township music until the mid-1970s. Makgona Tsohle Reggi was issued only once, in May 1970. It quickly became a collector's item. This sought-after album now makes its welcome return to African record stores as well as its debut in the international market. The stunning diversity of the Makgona Tsohle Band's musical genius spans pure sax jive through to swinging '60s soul, ska and even hints of rocksteady and 'reggi'. This is the authentic sound of Soweto as demonstrated by the experts!"
IBRAHIM KHALIL SHIHAB QUINTET - Spring (Matsuli Music 118; UK) "South Africa's lost jazz history contains many an overlooked classic. But even within that hidden tradition, there are few albums that suffered such an unlucky fate as Spring, the monumental 1968 debut album by pianist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, formerly Chris Schilder. Though Shihab was only twenty-two when Spring was recorded, he was already a lynchpin of the Cape Town scene, and the album was to be his first major statement as leader and composer. It is a magnum opus gilded by the presence of the upcoming saxophonist Winston 'Mankunku' Ngozi, who was soon to find huge acclaim with the hit album Yakhal' Inkomo. Three months of touring southern Africa in 1968 honed the band to the point that this entire album was recorded within the just two hours of allocated studio time. This album was repressed just once before the master tapes were destroyed by an ignorant record company executive. While it has remained out of print since then, the album was 'kept alive' as an 'add-on' to a 1996 CD of Mankunku's Yakhal' Inkomo. As a result, many modern jazz lovers still incorrectly believe these five compositions come from Yakhal' Inkomo. With this edition of Spring, Matsuli Music corrects an historic wrong. This edition of Shihab's stunning debut, produced with the blessing of the man himself, is the first time it has been properly available in over forty years, and the first time it has ever been available outside South Africa. Restored and presented with new liner notes by Valmont Layne, Spring can now be seen for what it is: a peerless masterwork of Cape Jazz, blessed by the presence of the great Mankunku, but truly animated by the subtle vision and original musical spirit of its creator, Ibrahim Khalil Shihab."
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. Many of us are going stir crazy staying at home so if you want to inspire us and help us get through these difficult times, please show us what you got. I listed some these last week but have also a few more.
MORE THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU ARE WAITING AROUND FOR THE WORLD TO END OR GET BETTER: STILL STIR CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!
THIS IS FROM MY GOOD FRIEND JESSICA HALLOCK,
This is from Jessica Hallock, please do check it out, there is so much to explore here and I know some of you are bored and need some inspiration/distraction:
Livestreams are obviously no replacement for live shows, but they're all the community we have right now––so experimental music calendar NYC-Noise.com now provides links to livestreams (with artist / curator donation info); a roundup of local musicians' releases; COVID-19-related resources, including links to grants, petitions, & a local venue donation list; & an Instagram account (@NYC_Noise) promoting artists and releases. Please let me know about your livestreams &/or new records at www.nyc-noise.com/submit.
THIS COMES FROM Flute Player CHERYL PYLE:
join us online this Sunday for music,
covid 19 has redefined call and response, improvisations and music at 4:00 .
healing wishes , and thank you for listening,
Beyond Flute Group
Cheryl Pyle , Michael Eaton, Judi Silvano, Sam Newsome,
Haruna Fukazawa, Claire de Brunner, Gene Coleman
Here's the meeting ID, passcode, and link :
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 572 797 8491
please mute your audio and video on zoom during the music , thank you
This one comes from experimental vocalist Viv Corringham:
Remembering John Russell:
February 21st 2 pm GMT
We have all been all deeply saddened by the loss of John Russell, excellent musician and founder of long-running London music series Mopomoso, who passed away on the 19th of January. Our February online episode will be devoted to celebrating the musical life and legacy of the man who started this wonderful Mopomoso community. Mopomoso TV is the sister project of the live Mopomoso events, which can be found at Mopomoso.com.
This post comes from HEROES ARE GANG LEADERS, Poetry/Jazz/Funk/Creative Music Ensemble. They sponsor other poets well worth checking out: RICHARD LEACH:
This comes from SCOTT ROBINSON - multi-instrumentalist and head of ScienSonic Records. Scott’s recent quartet disc with Milford Graves, Marshall Allen & Roscoe Mitchell is one of the best discs of the year! Get your copy soon!
This one comes from WILL GLASS who once played here at DMG in a trio with Kurt Gottschalk and Miguel Frasconi.
Lexiglass is a duo, myself on drums and Alexis Marcelo on keys. (Alexis is known in creative music for his work with Yusef Lateef, JD Parran, Malcolm Mooney, Mike Pride and Adam Rudolph). We have been around since 2014, often as a backing band for hip hop artists uptown, and sometimes as an improvising, instrumental hip hop band. We have released three tapes of mostly covers of artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep and Madlib. This EP is archival picks, including a memorable show at Resonance Cafe in Montreal--a rare moment for us with Alexis on a nice piano.
This comes from CHRIS CUTLER (Henry Cow, Art Bears & REcommended Records)
Chris has a podcast called Probes and this is Episode #28.2
During the earlier part of the pandemic/lockdown when I started going back to work at DMG in June, I listened to all of the Probes podcast series and on the train coming and going to NYC. Each one is fascinating as Mr. Cutler Probes the many aspects of Creative Music, unique instrumentation, the history of recordings and lots more. Please take some time and listen to these, they are most enlightening.
From INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM RAINEY:
Every Week for the entirety of this pandemic/lockdown INGRID LAUBROCK & TOM RAINEY have been posting a new duo offering. I have listened to every one of these as they were sent out and am much impressed by the way this duo continues to evolve and work their way through many ideas. You can check out each one here:
HENRY KAISER Continues with his Weekly Solo Series on Cuneiform’s Youtube page:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0-qbKTem9o - Tribute to Milford Graves
#45 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlkVBCOMu4E
#44 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afG82qVOEmg
#43 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVUUVOjZ6Bc
#42 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgVSkDLAQp4&pbjreload=101