This Week’s Grand Gems Starts off with This One:
DAVE DOUGLAS with RAFIQ BHATIA / MELVIN GIBBS / SIM CAIN - Marching Music (Greenleaf 1078; USA) Featuring Dave Douglas on trumpet & compositions, Rafiq Bhatia on guitar, Melvin Gibbs on bass and Sim Cain on drums. Downtown trumpet hero & composer Dave Douglas never ceases to amaze me! As long as I’ve known Mr. Douglas, he has had a series of ongoing bands, all different and consistently engaging. Aside from the fact that Mr. Douglas shared the spotlight with John Zorn in the original Masada quartet for a decade or so starting in 1993, which was no easy feat I assure you, Mr. Douglas has led a series of bands, each one drawing from a a variety of influences and genres. Just two weeks ago, we listed a wonderful quintet disc which was co-led by Joe Lovano and which included Linda Oh and Joey Baron (also from Masada). That disc is superb and has become a fave of all three DMG employees. And now this! At first glance, I thought that this might be a Miles Davis-like electric jazz unit, but there is much more going on than that. Oddly enough, the rhythm team of Melvin Gibbs on electric bass and Sim Cain on drums first worked together in the (Henry) Rollins Band, a hardcore punk quartet that were powerful, inventive and actually improvised instead of playing any of those tired hardcore formulas (short songs, super fast and with anthemic choruses). I’ve known Sim Cain since the early eighties when he was with Regressive Aid, Scornflakes, Gone and went on to play with John Zorn, Elliott Sharp and Marc Ribot. I’ve also known bass great Melvin Gibbs almost as long, catching him with Ronald Shannon Jackson, Arto Lindsay, Sonny Sharrock, Elliott Sharp and a number of his bands. For the past 15 or so years, Mr. Gibbs has been a member of Harriet Tubman, an incredible power trio! I can’t say that I has heard of guitarist Rafiq Bhatia before now, but it turns out that he is a member of Son Lux and has played with Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche and Sufjan Stevens, as well as the International Contemporary Ensemble.
The reason this disc is called ‘Marching Music’ is that it was made to accompany us while we march, protest organize and unite. Whatever it takes to help us become a more just society. “Parables” opens with a most hypnotic throbbing groove, slow, mysterious with a layer of guitar swirls and Mr. Douglas’ probing trumpet on top. Both the trumpet and guitar are using similar subtle echo effects so that they sound as one force. Guitarist Bhatia has a great tone, closer to the more progressive sounds of Anthony Pirog. “Ten to Midnight” has a reggae-like bass groove with some sublime muted trumpet and simmering guitar with tasty effects. “Whose Streets” starts off with some mysterious (Hugh Hopper-effects-like) electric bass and then gets into a laid back, somber groove with a pair of exquisite trumpet and guitar solos and even a nifty fuzz bass solo near the end. “Forlorn” is an aptly titled sort of spooky song with some more hypnotic fuzz bass throbbing underneath. “Lenape” also has that cosmic throb poking through with Douglas’ steamy muted trumpet matched by Bhatia’s ghost-like guitar. One of the things that makes this disc special is the way the guitarist is often inserting different licks and sound effects which work so well with whatever Mr. Douglas is doing on trumpet. Instead of soloing, Mr. Bhatia adds different colors and shades to help change the mood at times. On the final song, “Persistent Hats”, the bass adds a dark undertow while Mr. Douglas plays some modest yet eerie trumpet on top. Overall this is a marvelous disc which works well to create a series of different moods. Most impressive! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
* JAMES BRANDON LEWIS RED LILY QUINTET with KIRK KNUFFKE / CHRIS HOFFMAN / WILLIAM PARKER / CHAD TAYLOR - Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms 05; USA) “Jesup Wagon is the astonishing new work from the fertile creative mind of ascendant tenor saxophonist–composer James Brandon Lewis. Voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist in the 2020 DownBeat Magazine International Critic’s Poll, for his ninth release (and his TAO Forms debut) he leads the Red Lily Quintet, an exceptional inter-generational ensemble assembled specifically for this project. The album speaks eloquently to the forever-evolving continuum of the jazz tradition.
Essentially a collection of tone poems – or, as Duke Ellington might have called them, “tone parallels” – Duke being the instigator of this type of programmatic jazz. Jesup Wagon is an evocative appreciation of the life and legacy of turn-of-the-19th century African-American musician-painter-writer-scientist George Washington Carver. [Sustainable agriculture was a key component of Carver's prescient thoughts into action; his Jesup Wagon was a part of that ]. The album consists of seven pieces that create a portrait of stunning clarity and depth. Jesup Wagon marks another remarkable step for James as player and composer. Helping him get it all out on this release is the Red Lily Quintet, anchored by the tectonic rhythm section of bassist William Parker and drummer Chad Taylor, and rounded out by cornetist Kirk Knuffke and cellist Chris Hoffman. The album also features liner notes by the great American historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who in 2009 released the definitive Monk biography, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. His notes contain much historical detail about Carver, particularly as they relate to the tunes.”
* The JAMES BRANDON LEWIS RED LILY QUINTET will be playing at Roulette in Brooklyn, tomorrow night, May 7th, at 8pm. Purchase tix here: https://roulette.secure.force.com/ticket/#/instances/a0F1R00000dFmhqUAC
SATOKO FUJII TOKYO TRIO with TAKASHI SUGAWA / ITTETSU TAKEMURA - Moon on the Lake (Libra 203-065; Japan) Featuring Satoko Fujii on piano & compositions, Takashi Sugawa on bass & cello and Ittetsu Takemura on drums. This set was recorded live at Shinjuku Pitt Inn in Tokyo in September of 2020. Aside from being immensely prolific with more than 100 discs as a leader or co-leader, Satoko Fujii also has several ongoing projects, from duos to large ensembles to many sized in between. Her most constant collaborator is her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, plus she rarely records with a regular piano/bass/drums trio. For this disc and live set, Ms. Fujii organized a new trio with two younger musicians who she had on recorded with only once previously, in separate projects. The five pieces here are relatively long (between 8 & 18 minutes) and were composed by Ms. Fujii, also a prolific composer. On the the things that I’ve aways dug about Ms. Fujii is the way she writes, leaving here collaborators quite a bit of creative freedom. After the trio play the opening theme on “Hansho”, the bassist takes a short, strong unaccompanied solo. The theme itself is a most intriguing one, rather quirky and hard to peg down to any one style. The drummer also takes an impressive solo as well, which runs right into some furious piano eruptions as the trio emerges together, tight and intense. The them kinda reminds me of the equally quirky, “Ictus” by Carla Bley. “Wait for the Moon to Rise” is an eerie piece with rustling cymbals and sparse, mysterious piano, a strong feeling of suspense runs throughout. “Aspiration” is the longest piece here and it is also the name of one of my favorite discs by Ms. Fujii which includes elders, Wadada Leo Smith & Ikue Mori. Ms. Fujii take a long, majestic opening unaccompanied solo, playing on the keyboards as well as inside the piano which is followed by a thoughtful cello solo and then a spacious cymbals & drums solo. The title track is last and is very sparse and filled with cautious suspense. Although there are very few notes used, the piece sounds like a large blank canvas with notes painted carefully, the essence of which makes certain sense if you stand back enough and see the way the notes are collected. This disc is a collection of five gems arranged in an exquisite pattern that will be known to those searching for buried treasure wherever it may be. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
THE DOM MINASI GUITAR QUARTET with HANS TAMMEN / HARVEY VALDES / BRIGGAN KRAUSS - Eight Hands One Mind - In Memory of Bern Nix (Unseen Rain; USA) Featuring Don Minasi, Hans Tammen, Harvey Valdes and Briggan Krauss on guitars. Jazz guitarist, Dom Minasi, has had an unusual musical path in his long musical journey. He started off in 1974 & 1975 with two albums on Blue Note, which he felt were not really representative of what he really wanted to do with his talents. He was frustrated with the way those records worked out and didn’t record again for 30 years, starting his own label with a new CD in 2004. Since Mr. Minasi has recorded a half dozen discs, exploring the further reaches of free/progressive jazz. Mr. Minasi took some time off again and decided to challenge himself by writing for an electric guitar quartet, a group whose instrumentation is still relatively rare. The personnel here is also an odd one since none of these guitarists do not have very much in common. Originally, the great Bern Nix (from Ornette’s Prime Time band), was a member of the quartet but passed away right before the quartet was supposed to record. Hence, this disc is dedicated to him. I’ve heard Hans Tammen play experimental guitar placed upon a table as well as lead his own unique orchestra. I’ve caught Harvey Valdes playing with Blaise Siwula, as well as playing solo, his influences range from Joe Diorio to thrash metal. Most Downtown fans know Briggan Krauss from his work on alto sax, working with Wayne Horvitz, Andrea Parkins and Andrew Drury. The last two times I heard Mr. Krauss play live, he had switched to electric guitar, certainly a surprise for anyone who had heard him play sax is his own unique way.
Unlike most of Mr. Minasi’s other freer releases, he decided to compose for this date. The opening piece starts off with layers of angular guitar parts, tightly organized yet still strange sounding nonetheless. Things slowly break into different solos, duos, trios and quartets. It actually sounds as if Mr. Minasi had written for four different versions of himself, since each guitarist adds another shade of what sound like atangled yet tight collective. Layers of interlinked bent chords, as well as odd single note insertions. While one guitarist solos, Minasi adds his own twisted jazz chords as punctuation. The other guitarists also add their own unique/weird chords so that there are several layers of lines all revolving around one another. Although things rarely get too dense, there are so many interconnected fragments all swirling simultaneously that it is a marvel to capture this fleet spirit. When things do approach a more dense level, the heated activity is almost too much to believe yet always settles down into a more relaxed section or conclusion. It sounds as if Mr. Minasi has written some skeletal themes which are interspersed with various layers of focused and free chords from his collaborators. This guitar quartet don’t quite sound like any other quartet that I’ve heard before and I must admit that this is some of the most fascinating music I’ve heard in recent times. Take some time and listen closely to this unique new world. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MICHAEL MARCUS with WARREN SMITH / TYLER MITCHELL / DENTON DARIEN / JOHN AUSTRIA / LAWRENCE FELDMAN - Stone Jump (Not Two MW 1015; Poland) Featuring Michael Marcus on soprano & tenor saxes, clarinet, tarogato & octavin, Denton Darien on piano, John Austria on Fender Rhodes electric piano, Tyler Mitchell on acoustic bass and Warren Smith on drums plus Lawrence Feldman on alto flute. I’ve been checking out multi-reeds wizard, Michael Marcus since he started playing on the Downtown Scene around 1990. Mr. Marcus has recorded more than a dozen albums as a leader, as well as another half dozen co-leading the Cosmosamatics with the late Sonny Simmons. What’s interesting about Mr. Marcus is that he plays different reeds on each release and uses different personnel on each. The personnel here includes two musicians I know well: Warren Smith (plays with everybody!) and Tyler Mitchell (from Sun Ra Arkestra & Art Taylor’s Wailers). The two keyboard players here are both new names for me although they have worked with Michael Marcus and/or Sonny Simmons in the past.
Although Mr. Marcus does have a spiritual, freer jazz style, here he seems to be dealing with a more relaxed, somber dream-world. Marcus plays some lovely, sublime and at times Trane-like soprano sax on “Stone Jump”, which is backed by some simmering electric piano. “The World Street” features some tasty soprano sax and flute interplay (Lawrence Feldman) which I found to be subtle yet enchanting. “Dawn at Qumran” features some older style sound tenor sax, which is both inside and quietly outside at the same time, calm yet stirring also. Mr. Marcus switches to an octavin on “Baja”. An octavin is a rare reed instrument which was invented in 1893 and looks like a bassoon or smaller version of a tarogato. The octavin sounds like a double reed, kinda snake-charmer like with some dreamy electric piano underneath. I like the lush harmonies that Marcus writes for the soprano & flute on two pieces. At first listen, I though that this disc was too mellow at times but now that I’ve listened to it at home a few times, I realized that there is something restrained yet magical going on here. In the last year of the pandemic (March 2020-March 2021), there has been too much stressful news & fake news. I haven’t taken a yoga class during the entire time so I am jonesing for more peaceful vibes within. Hence, this disc seems to capture that inner calm yet it still is uplifting in its own way. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
MARCO OPPEDISANO - Electroacoustic Compositions for Electric Guitar (OKS Recordings of North America OKSRNA-007; US) Many an artist has explored the guitar’s potential for sound, that its ability to be a transmutator of genre is absolute, that it can be pushed beyond style and substance to be a formidable noisemaker in its own right. Springing to mind immediately are such disparate signposts as Phil Manzanera’s 1982 sorely under-recognized Impossible Guitars album, which bridged those contexts and exploited them; experimentalists Fred Frith and David Torn, who arose out of rock and jazz idioms but actively sought regular escape from their confines; avant-gardian Elliott Sharp, deconstructing his strings to fit yet-undefined categories; and contemporaries such as Fennesz, whose warps, whorls, and eddies subjugate electronic music’s contrails in staggeringly deft ways. There are, of course, many others. Oppedisano’s relationship to his instrument (sometimes but not quite au natural) and its bastardization thereof (signal processed, sampled, and resampled beyond recognition) neatly bisects both a visceral and thinking man’s approach. In his hands, the guitar (and bass) are but mere foundational blocks upon which entire sim cities are interconnected through a prismatic maze of detours, false exits, cul de sacs, and infinite spaces. The twelve pieces here span from 1999-2005, each representing but a single tantalizing puzzle piece of Oppedisano’s textural canvas, and like his forebears, the differential breadth of his aural worlds are stunning to behold. The earliest works, four tracks collected as “Scenes from Dante’s Inferno”, favor whispery, ebony tones of elongated ambience cloaked in regal, neo-classical shrouds that, for all their steely grace, posit mysterious purgatories filled with menacing figures that squeak and moan in orgiastic penitence, as the last two short episodes briefly reveal. Other pieces inhabit a broad spectrum of impressionistic color: “Frozen Tears” (2001) writs large the kind of brillo-coarse soundscapes erected in recent years by Richard Pinhas; the machinistic pulsations of “Time Lapse” (2004) recall moments of Tangerine Dream’s 70s analog vivisections resolved in an arpeggiated Frippery of kaleidoscopic gamelan. But the most wholly arresting piece of all is 2003’s “What’s That Noise?”, which mashes together rusty koto irregularities, Subotnick-forged neuro-topographies, ghostly arias, and heavy-metal airbursts in a blazing, ever-surprising feast for the senses. Gnostic and gnarly. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
MARCO OPPEDISANO - The Ominous Corner (OKS Recordings of North America OKSRNA-016; USA) Oppedisano is one of NYC’s best-kept secrets, and by all means, we need to put a stop to that. Bring his wares out in the open, for heaven’s sake, ‘cuz the dude and his phantasmagorical guitar apparati is flat out required listening if you possess even the slightest interest in how bent strings can really get. This intense bit of drugged-out distortion, ascending chordal calamity, and alien-bitmapped fuzzfry is the ideal copy for your hungry, isolationist ears; the fact that it was released twelve years ago matters not a whit, for its raw power and febrile imagination hasn’t dimmed by a day. Think Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music stripped of its busted-amp ego, colleague Robert Poss’s similarly enigmatic gradients, Bruce Gilbert’s ear-scrubbing mentasms, or the symphonic windstorms of Rhys Chatham, artistic antecedents all but deprived of Oppedisano’s singularly askew perspective. The title track alone covers a broad tract of form and function, from downtown skronk reminiscent of Elliott Sharp’s lone wolf vibrato, oscillating radio static and feedback detritus to episodic shoals of Enoid ambience and disassociated drone tucked amongst odd bursts of noise and bleep that wouldn’t sound out of place on a INA-GRM library test record. There’s even a degree of ’normalcy’ flailing about, as Oppedisano enthusiastically lets loose some proto-metal licks laced with a Crimson-ized Red-tinted menace. It’s obvious the artist is having a grand time throughout, whether basking in the glow of some twinkling electronic kosmische sequences or hacking his way through a jungle of rush, brush, and thrush. Even better is that you never quite know what’s next coming 'round the (ominous) corner. Brilliant stuff. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
MAHOGANY FROG - In the Electric Universe (Moonjune MJR114; USA) Talk about your mighty surge, or perhaps more accurately, Serge (as in Serge modular synths). This seventh album by Canadian ensemble Mahogany Frog is a near-apocalyptic mind-melter wherein the aforementioned modules and other sundry electronics jockey for position amongst chrome-burning guitars, a rhythm section the equivalent of boiling mercury, and a surplus of fierce attitude that puts most other ‘prog’ outfits to shame. Members Graham Epp (guitars, etc.), Jesse Warkentin (guitars, etc.), Scott Ellenberger (bass, etc.), and Andy Rudolph (drums, etc.) not only double up on a veritable mountain of ’tronix, they ceaselessly, thunderously, magnificently blast away on their requisite instruments with a molten power that lays waste to easily categorizable modes of psychedelia or fusion. This is, simply put, space rock on steroids, a quartet bangin’ Gongs minus the pixie dust, as much about throwing Lightning Bolts as igniting the oxygenated thermals of hot and humid Hawkwinds. The opening “Theme from P.D.” plays out like the soundtrack for veterans of psychic wars: great shifting tectonic plates of synth collide with a fusillade of balls-to-the-walls bass and perpetually detonating drum skree in a rush of IMAX-ian glory. Its mirror image is reflected in the equally epic seventeen-plus minutes of the finale, “Sundog”, charting a rising curtain of mellotron and synth that recalls the Euro-prog fantasias of Anekdoten or Anglagard before hurtling forward through the space-time continuum, replete with dueling guitars, soaring keyboards, and the kind of percussive gusto pioneered by any number of hirsute former Krautrockers hulking across labels like Ohr or Vertigo. Ear-rational stuff, twisting your cochlea into Dali-esque pretzels, meaty, beaty, big, and bouncy. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
VASKO ATANASOVSKI ADRABESA QUARTET - Phoenix (Moonjune MJR108; US) Moonjune’s knack for releasing true outsider projects from various obscurantist geographia knows no bounds, and it is that very approach that brings us the likes of reeds player Vasko Atanasovski and his band of merry men. On this utterly delightful recording, the Slovenian bandleader culls together a number of able-bodied musicians whose talents and origins crisscross the globe: accordionist Simone Zanchini from Italy; French tuba and ’serpent’ player Michel Godard; Polish-German percussionist Bodek Janke; and special guest cellist Ariel Vei Atanasovski, brother of Vasko. Like a sonic potpourri, the Quartet take a bit of influence from here, a grand motif from there, liberally swirling the leader’s Eastern European folkism into its multi-stylistic fabric. Whether or not the casual listener will identify the group’s artfully constructed works as ‘jazz’ is up for question, but there’s no doubt that their performative zeal and surefooted instrumental combinations work through the canon's broad vernacular. Zanchini’s enthusiastic refrains conjure a rich historical tapestry of celebratory gypsy dances across “The Partisan Song” and “Green Nymph”, and he takes the reins as “Liberation” opens, parsing a traditional course on his keyboard before downshifting into a morose, minor-key waltz of pungent aromas and bitter tinctures, Atanasovski’s martial flutes providing vivid contrast, while Godard’s tuba and Janke’s drums clock a triumphant march across verdant shires. Bursting at every moment with unbridled enthusiasm and nonlinear compositional tactics that continually refresh the stereofield, this boisterous music, beautifully recorded and played, embraces its ancestry by channelling a contemporary energy brimming with the juices of life. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
BISBAYE - Le Sens de la Fin / The Sense of an Ending (Cuneiform RUNE 474; USA) This powerhouse quintet from Quebec takes no prisoners; hell, they blow the whole place to smithereens. A technical metal outfit from Canada seems to be a pretty unlikely proposition anyway, though there’s surely no dearth of prog and/or experimental rock hailing from the country’s various provenances. But these guys don’t play, jack, meaning, well, they *play*, what with their arsenal being a two-guitar, bass, and twin drummer attack squadron, they erect towering edifices of complex ostinatos, intertwining polyrhythmic mosaics, and a bottom end that carves an expressway thru yr skull. Guitarist and leader Jean-Pierre Larouche cites such seemingly disparate influences as Don Caballero and Meshuggah, but “Virtue Becomes Plague” exorcises a whole host of Black Sabbath and King Crimson demons (“Red” and “Vrooom” especially), lumbering relentlessly towards absolute critical mass. Larouche along with second guitarist Nathanaël Labréche make a formidable pair, charging forward where others fear to tread, ducking and sluicing across each other’s line of sight one moment, trading some seemingly impossible slash ’n’ burn chords like raging helicopters the next. Drummers Julien Daoust and Hugo Veilleux, anchored by bassist Vincent Savary, erupt with a ferocity seldom seen since the halycon days of Magma; though unafraid of dissonance when it’s called for, they can also carve out some unholy grooves, spastic, heaving, and dizzying, as so noted on the seven minute stomp of “Soliton”. Prog metal never sounded this carefully orchestrated, this structurally dynamic; it might sway in the wind but it’ll never break. Speaker shredding materiél, and, it goes without saying, demanding of high-volume. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DANIEL GOODE // THE FLEXIBLE ORCHESTRA - AnnCela Express (New World Records 80828-2; USA) “If you ask a random group of people familiar with contemporary classical music to categorize the style or type of music that Daniel Goode (b. 1936) creates, you would probably receive as many answers as the number of people in that grouping: minimalist, gamelan, process, improvised, folk-based, solo, chamber, orchestral, spoken word, electro-acoustic, intermedia, graphic, and more.
This CD features two types of instrumental music: solo/small ensemble music and orchestral (or, to be more precise, music for Flexible Orchestra). Of AnnCela Express, written for the latter, Goode notes, “I was going to make the whole of AnnCela Express out of a traditional Serbian tune I heard on a movie soundtrack, called in English, roughly, ‘Don’t ride the horse, young man, with your head down,’ but it didn’t turn out that way, exactly. This tune does appear a few minutes into my piece played by the clarinet, but exits pretty soon, leaving a glow, a trace that becomes the armature on which the final slow dance rotates.”
Piano Sonata #2 (2015) is subtitled “Memories of Pre-Minimalism, 1959 and Now.” It uses material from a very early piano suite composed in 1959. It is deceptively simple, and yet is complex, presenting challenges for the pianist. Clarinet Quintet (2015), which is in one movement and is inspired by Brahms’s great Clarinet Quintet, opus 115, uses two short quotes from it. The piece is engrossing with its subtle changes juxtaposed with sudden outbursts. Sonata for Violin and Piano (2014) takes you for a romp, with at times a flurry of notes, but then ends wistfully, floating off like a balloon into the ether at the end.
Although all of the pieces on this CD were written in the 2000s, they seem to cover a much wider span of time by the use of self-referential techniques used throughout his compositional career. There are memorable melodies that evoke a nostalgia for the past, be it the lushness of Mahler and Bruckner or the use of folk melodies, be they real or imagined. There are the sudden changes in mood, from stillness to busyness, slow to fast. Even though the pieces on this CD are through-written, they maintain the kind of spontaneity heard in his more experimental pieces for open instrumentation and structured improvisation. And overall, they have a sense of joyous movement apparent in all of his work.
FOUR MORE GREAT DISCS from CLEAN FEED and SHHPUMA:
JONAS CAMBIEN TRIO with ANDRE ROLIGHETEN / ANDREAS WILDHAGEN - Nature Hath Painted the Body (Clean Feed 567; Portugal) Belgian-born, Oslo-based pianist Jonas Cambien couldn’t have chosen better partners than Andreas Wildhagen and André Roligheten to perform his cleverly constructed compositions. On its third studio album, his trio shows itself as a tightly interacting ensemble, with a free and playful approach. Cambiens compositions often start with simple ideas, never saying too much or too little, paving the way for collective improvisations that can go from explosive and wild to intricate and dreamy. In that way, the music displays a wide range of moods and types of energy. From the joyful, Ornette-reminiscent ‘1 000 000 Happy Locusts’, to the introspective, repetitive ‘Bushfire’, to the contemporary sounds on ‘Freeze’ that lead up to the stubborn ostinato on ‘Yoyo Helmut’. Throughout the album, the trio is using a variety of sounds and techniques that make the music sound fresh all the way, and full of surprises. Like the prepared piano in dialogue with Wildhagens imaginative percussion on ‘The Origins of Tool Use’, the animal-like sounds evoked by Rolighetens bass clarinet on ‘Herrieschoppers’, or the organ on the beautiful, deconstructed ballad Helium. On one track, there is no piano at all, but instead a short soprano sax duet played by Roligheten and Cambien, that serves as an intro to the irresistible, trance-like rhythms on ‘Mantis’.In Jonas Cambien Trio’s world, nothing is out, nothing is prohibited: the music goes everywhere, including corners you weren’t aware of at the start. Unpolished, yet surprisingly accessible, this is free music many will enjoy.”
SPACE QUARTET with RAFAEL TORAL / HUGO ANTUNES / NUNO MORAO - Directions (Clean Feed 568; Portugal) “Not to Interrupt someone who is talking, is giving space. To stand aside and not in the doorway is creating space. To refrain from judging too fast is leaving space. We need space more than ever now. To back off. To slow down. To be quiet. Anything that happens in open space, happens in a more positive way. More vulnerable, hopefully more grounded.”If you thought that Rafael Toral’s quartet was named after some reference to Sun Ra’s spatial jazz, here is the confirmation that there’s much more at stake than that, even if the many allusions to the Saturn envoy are also true. Space is the valorization of pauses, interstices, a certain measure of expression and narrative, a way to create transparencies and, most of all, a return to a human dimension, aware of its heart beating, its organic, silent thinking/ inner living of bodily functions. It’s in the air surrounding us and inside us. Since his seminal “Space” (2006), Rafael Toral has been playing with custom electronic instruments paradoxically inadequate for jazz phrasing, but making of them, however, a vehicle for music as free as conceivably possible. Powerfully propelled by the inventiveness and clarity of double-bassist Hugo Antunes, the cross-boundary, sharp drumming of Nuno Morão and the multi-language intelligence of alto saxophonist Nuno Torres, Toral’s electronic feedbacks are molded by a galaxy of things including noise, rock, ambient and electronic music, inspired by the thinking of “space” pioneers like Bill Dixon or Miles Davis. If, nowadays, there’s plenty of acoustic ensembles playing as if the conventional instruments were electronic, in “Directions” the approach goes inversely. It couldn’t be more defying.”
THE SELVA MACHINEFABRIEK - Barbatrama (Shhumpa 064; Portugal) “The Portuguese word Selva means “Jungle”, and this collaborative opus with Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek is one more incursion towards Paradox. The Selva made this paradoxal enterprise its trademark: a trio with two string players (cello, bass) and a drummer with free improvisation and creative jazz as the matrix of their playing, but combining it with other musical languages, going from a de-territorialized kind of imaginary folk or world music to the picking of Renaissance and contemporary chamber music motives and formats. In “Barbatrama”, the band extends this kind of approach to experimental electro-acoustics. The post-production electronic processing of Machinefabriek enabled Ricardo Jacinto, Gonçalo Almeida and Nuno Morão to go to unpredictable consequences: a puzzling sort of cybernetic tribal music, primeval dance rhythms associating with the space imaginaries introduced by Sun Ra but also Tangerine Dream. All musical appropriations introduced between these two parameters acts as flashes through human music history, and you can hear, here reflected, a plurality of sound visions, temporal and geographic: for instance, echoes of the string quartets from Mozart to Kurtág combine with pulsating structures that could come either from progressive rock or post-rock. All this with a disconcerting naturalness, resulting in a fascinating trans-idiomatic music which dissolves in each one of the quoted idioms. In such a way that every attempt to label this album is an impossibility. A welcomed impossibility, that is.”
OKER with TORSTEIN LAVIK LARSEN / ADRIAN FISKUM MYHR / FREDRIK RASTEN / JAN MARTIN GISMERVIK - Susurrus (Shhpuma 063; Portugal) “The instrumentation of this quartet from Oslo could suggest that this is an ensemble rooted in jazz - a rhythm section consisting of double bass and drums plus two "soloists" on guitar and trumpet.However, here you won't find any burning solos or rapid changing chords, and neither will you hear the gestures or outbursts associated with free form jazz or improv.Even if these musicians have a clear connection to the aforementioned genres, Oker’s project is a more egalitarian approach to acoustic music making,not only implicating equality between the members, but also between their different creative approaches, existing somewhere between composition and free improvisation. There are inspirations here from folk, minimal composed music, improvised music and maybe even post rock, all formed in a way that sounds like nothing but Oker."Sussurus" gives us a kind of concrète, acousmatic music where tapes or electronic devices are replaced by acoustic instruments.This involves a fair amount of what is normally labeled "extended techniques". But in Oker's hands these techniques never sound foreign - a trumpet mute used as a percussive extension of the trumpet, a guitar producing long stretched drones with electronic bows, the drumkit extended with coffee mugs and glockenspiel, the dampen strings of the double bass being rapidly plucked - all these things sound just as natural as any conventional rhythmic or tone-producing approach in the fabric of Oker's music.”
HISTORIC & ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS:
WARNE MARSH with LEE KONITZ / SAL MOSCA / BILLY BAUER / JOE ALBANY / BILL EVANS /RONNIE BALL / OSCAR PETTIFORD / RED MITCHELL / PAUL MOTIAN / KENNY CLARKE - The 50’s Collection (Enlightenment 9196; EEC) “Born in Los Angeles in 1927, American tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh's playing first came to prominence in the 1950s as a protégé of pianist Lennie Tristano; he earned major attention in the 1970s as a member of Supersax. Though he remains something of a cult figure among jazz fans and musicians, his influence has grown since his death; younger players such as Mark Turner have borrowed from his music as a way of counterbalancing the pervasive influence of John Coltrane. Marsh's discography remains somewhat scattered and elusive, as much of it was done for small labels, but more and more of his work has been issued on compact disc in recent years. This collection brings together Warne Marsh's work as leader or co-leader during the decade when his star shone brightest. Featuring eight original albums all here re-mastered and presented on 4CDs, the set illustrates what a fascinating and gifted player Marsh was, despite never receiving the plaudits often placed on his less-talented contemporaries. A perfect starting point for beginners to this great musician's music and a welcome reminder for these somewhat more accustomed, this collection provides the ultimate compilation of Warne Marsh's finest work”
4 CD Set $18
GARY BARTZ NTU TROOP with CHARLES MIMS / CURTIS ROBERTSON / HOWARD KING - Live In Bremen 1975 (Moosicus 1315; Germany) "The musical life of the American jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz is busy and eventful. The eighty-year-old American Bartz jammed with Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and Pharoah Sanders at a young age. In 1965 he became a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. In 1970 Bartz joined the Miles Davis Band, played with Davis at the Isle Of Wight -- Festival and on his studio/live album Live Evil. In 1972 Gary Bartz founded his own band, NTU Troop. He borrowed the name from the Bantu language. Bartz: 'Ntu means unity in all things, in time and space, life and death, in the visible and the invisible. Musically, it stands for an alliance of bop, free, rock and African music.' On 8th November 1975, Gary Bartz performed with the NTU Troop in Bremen's Post-Aula. Radio Bremen was there and now the recording is being released physically and digitally on Moosicus. Gary Bartz was joined on stage by drummer Howard King, bassist Curtis Robertson and pianist Charles Mims, an extraordinary, musically brilliant quartet that was well-rehearsed and coordinated. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, because quite soon after this performance, the NTU Troop went their separate ways again. For Gary Bartz, jazz is 'improvised composing', which can be heard on this live album recorded 46 years ago."
2 CD Set $22
IAIN MATTHEWS & ANDY ROBERTS - Live At The Bonington Theatre: Nottingham, 1991 (Angel Air 642; UK) Andy Roberts and I go way back. 1970 to be precise. Yet, in 1990, we hadn't seen each other, or even been in touch for nigh on eight years. Not since the demise of Plainsong and my move to California. All of that changed one chilly evening in Brighton and re-cemented our ongoing friendship up until and including last years lockdown.
I'd been living in Texas for a couple of years, playing and recording with my producer Mark Hallman and had just secured a decent UK tour on my newest album ''Pure and Crooked.'' Mark however was unavailable due to studio work, or so he said. Just a year before, he and I had weathered a harsh British winter, both of us felled by a heavy flu on arrival, before eventually driving the length and breadth of those fair isles fulfilling our obligations. Close to the end of the tour we ended up in the nondescript back room of a pub in Brighton. I knew Andy was somewhere in the area, but didn't know how to contact him and certainly never expected to see him. It must have been the second, or third song when I scanned the crowd and low and behold, there he was, three rows back, dead center, with his then girlfriend ( soon to be wife) Sal, beaming at me like the proverbial Cheshire Cat. My heart soared.
Here we are in 2021 and still working together when the urge comes. We have tentative plans, pandemic willing, to play a few shows later this year and who knows, as long as we can remember the words and the chords, maybe even deeper into the millennium.
I'd like to tell you I remember details of the Bonnington Theatre concert, but I don't. After all, it was thirty years and a few hundred shows ago. I do remember that it was family affair and we were playing a guest spot with Simon Nicol and Rick Sanders, our extended Fairport family. I do remember that touring and playing with Andy back then was always a blast. The performances never fell below an eight on the one to ten scale and this was no exception.
KAIROS CD SALE - Part 4:
GEORGES APERGHIS // KLANGFORUM WIEN - Solo (Kairos 15099; Austria) "I always have this mental image of a small, imaginary theatre. When I compose music, however, I don't think of the musicians' bodies and their movements. I simply think of the music. I compose sound-gestures, not bodily gestures." (Georges Aperghis) In accordance with his line of thinking, he sets sound gestures to music in his instrumental pieces, proceeding from linguistic units - even in pieces which have absolutely no textual source. One might be able to describe his works for solo instruments as literally inventing a new sound language, as "speaking music". This album is part of Klangforum Wien's "Solo" 5-CD series of recordings of pieces for one performer, which is the ensemble's response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
LUIGI NONO // IRVINE ARDITTI / EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO / et al - No Hay Caminos, Hay Que Caminar… (Kairos 12512; Germany) An observation from 1981 is characteristic of this consciousness. For him it was primarily to do with the attempt "to find something, but not something certain."
2 CD Set $28
WOLFGANG RIHM // KLANGFORUM WIEN - Gejagte Form (Kairos 12072; Germany) Art, working with art and making art, is in and of itself an invitation to boundless freedom. There can be no submission here, writes Wolfgang Rihm. 1.Gejagte Form - Pursued Form? Pursuit: Movement? Form: Equilibrium?
There is a moment in which the pursuit of (a) form turns into (its) form. But this moment can neither be frozen nor stored; at best it can be conjured. Repeatedly. Shortly before and shortly afterward. But you cannot pin it down. Hunting forms: flying, fleeing forms (Fuga?) Malevich squares are rectangles in flight. A corner is drawn out - have you seen that already? But: it cannot be heard...
2. Pursued Form is a piece of music, written to be heard for instruments; the score was completed on 12 February 1996 (completed?) The composition is perhaps 15 minutes long? short? high? wide? deep?... aha, we understand: Where would the fulcrum be? It is true I dedicated the piece to my friend Helmut Lachenmann for his 60th birthday. He also hunts. For forms. They sound different - as any fool can hear.
3. At the very moment that I look out of the window, a bird flies through my field of vision. I identify "Magpie". Why do I write that here? Someone has asked me for "an introduction to the work" for the "American presenters". I cannot imagine that there is anyone in America who is not interested in birds which fly through my field of vision and happen to be magpies. Or does anyone perhaps still seriously believe in Santa Claus who also attempts to illustrate on the blackboard the existence of the Christ-Child using formal logic? And then gobbles up the chalk?
4. The same holds true: the only guides towards the understanding of the effects of music (in a positive or negative sense) are the ears of the listener. Based on sheer liberalism, I plead for a great variety of ears. On each head should be installed at least two completely different channels linked to at least two completely differently-conditioned auditory mechanisms. Is that possible?
One shouldn't define any immutable conventions at this point. Everyone perceives differently anyway. A composer who must first invent a kind of listening for his music is a sad case, but also immensely fortunate.
5. There is no justice in Nature: it exists quite well despite us. We do not want to know all its details. Thank God it is kept secret from us. Have I already mentioned that Gejagte Form (Pursued Form) is a piece of music? It is definitely not a bird. Outside it is getting dark. "Music is always something completely different", says someone at the next table.
SALVATORE SCIARRINO // KLANGFORUM WIEN - Quaderno Di Strada (Kairos 12482; Austria) Light and air in a state of constant, subtly detailed movement: this is also the nature of Sciarrino's music, as if it had soaked up all those delicate colours and adopted the mobility of air, captured its nocturnal buzzing-sounds with a netted veil and transformed them into fluctuating sonorities, roaring and murmuring.
"Quaderno di strada," roughly "notebook road," is a cycle of miniatures, "12 songs and a proverb," featuring Salvatore Sciarrino's idiosyncratic vocal and instrumental style. The 14-member Klangforum Wien, directed by Sylvain Cambreling, is superb in bringing Sciarrino's soundworld to life, a quiet, curious, twilight world of strange, rustling timbres.
Otto Katzameier is spectacular here -- clearly he has mastered Sciarrino's swooping lines, unique, but rooted in an early Baroque vocal technique known as "sillobazione scivolata": "a supported note is held -- crescendo decrescendo -- and then suddenly breaks off in a very rapid sequence of small intervals whose pitches are almost indeterminable, often falling -- stepwise glissandi..." - Autonomeus
STEVE REICH // ENSEMBLE LINKS - Music for 18 Musicians (Kairos 0015043; Austria) With Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, the French ensemble Links, conducted by Remi Durupt, presents a classic of the 20th century: Written in 1978, it was Reich's first work for a larger ensemble. From today's perspective, it is an icon of American post-minimalism which has not lost any of its fascination. Rhythmic precision, a large dynamic spectrum and a unique range of colors guarantee for an unforgettable listening experience.
OLGA NEUWIRTH // KLANGFORUM WIEN - Lost Highway (Kairos 0012542; Austria) The illustrations of these sound spaces and notes naturally are only an attempt to approach the experience in the theater. Fortunately, the possibilities of surround-techniques have come to our aid, which envelop the listener with alternating, overlaying sound-strata. Thus, the present production was intended to be mixed for 5.1 surround.”
Lost Highway is based on David Lynch's famous film and tells the story of Fred Madison who becomes increasingly alienated from his own existence. Doubts about his wife's fidelity, about himself, and ultimately about their own true identity lead increasingly to obsessions and to a continuous loss of reality. Ominous videotapes and sinister figures appear and evoke the growing feeling of a horror scenario. Video and reality also intermingle when, finally, Fred, to his own surprise and fright, finds himself with bloody hands in front of his wife's dead body. He is arrested and sentenced for murder. In the death cell a mysterious transformation takes place: the trumpet player Fred Madison changes into a completely different person, the car mechanic Pete Dayton. The second part of this nightmare starts, with augmented speed, but is no less terrifying: like a perpetual whirl, from which no one can escape...
"The score is enigmatic and labyrinthine, constantly morphing from one thing to the next. Ms. Neuwirth... knows how to bend and twist sound like no other." — New York Times
"Neuwirth has done more than adapt a movie: She has created an ode to an artwork... Neuwirth leads you through a landscape of musical explosions and violent images... Her instrumental music creates a disorienting world of distantly familiar scraps that flit by like a city seen from a hurtling car." — New York Newsday
2 CD Set $28
BILLIE HARRIS with HORACE TAPSCOTT / DAVID BRYANT / DAA’OUD WOODS / EVERETT BROWN, JR. / WREN FULLER - I Want Some Water (Nimbus West Records 3924; USA) Featuring Billie Harris on reeds, compositions & vocals, Horace Tapscott on piano, David Bryant on acoustic bass, Daa’oud Woods on percussion, Everett Brown, Jr. on drums plus Wren Fuller - vocals. Recorded at United Western studio in April & May of 1980. It has been more than 35 years since Nimbus West has released a new album, on high quality vinyl and with no digital BS used in the process. The label was started by Tom Albach in 1979 and has released more than 50 recordings, first on LP only and later on CD. The main artist on the label was pianist/composer/multi-bandleader/community organizer Horace Tapscott and the majority of albums were the music of Mr. Tapscott and his many L.A.-based collaborators. I’ve known and was friendly with Mr. Albach for nearly 30 years, talking on the phone with him was always a blast since he is an Old School jazz producer with a golden heart and curt sense of humor. His passing last year (2020) was sad but his legacy continues with a few upcoming LP releases like this one, as well as a 3 LP set to be released in the near future.
Billie Harris plays a variety of reeds here and composed all of the music on this LP. All members of the quintet have worked with Horace Tapscott in different projects. I get the feeling that there is always some spiritual magic going on within the music of Mr. Tapscott and his cohorts. This is indeed the feeling I have here as well. Starting off with “Prayer of Happiness”, our lovely, organic, cosmic journey has begun. Beginning with two luscious voices chanting over that modal groove and then a superb flue solo from Mr. Harris and a McCoy-like piano solo by Mr. Tapscott. Bassist David Bryant is at the center of this unit and sounds especially warm and enchanting. The title track, “I Want Some Water’ has an elegant Trane-like repeating undertow and with Mr. Harris’ tenor sax riding joyously on top. Above all, I love the vibe and mood here, a solemn transcendence flows throughout. Mr. Harris plays soprano sax on “Blues for Lupe”, his tone & playing most sublime, most uplifting. Horace Tapscott is also in great form here, his magical piano spinning a web around all the members of the wonderful quintet. The all analogue sound here makes this date even better, more refreshing, more organic. A toast to producer Tom Albach for all of his hard work and enduring spirit. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
LP $30 [Limited edition of 500, now sold out & we have only 10 copies]
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.
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.
ARTS FOR ARTS Presents:
Tonight, Thursday May 6, 8pm
Nasheet Waits - drums
Antoine Roney - tenor sax
Marcos Varela - bass
Tuesday May 11, 8pm
Whit Dickey - drums
Rob Brown - alto saxophone
Mat Maneri - viola
Brandon Lopez - bass
Thursday May 13, 8pm
Ellen Christi - voice
William Parker - bass
Francisco Mela - drums
Patricia Nicholson Parker - text, movement
Tuesday May 18, 8pm
Jason Kao Hwang - violin
Ken Filiano - bass
Andrew Drury - drums
Donate on our Website to Watch
Our mailing address is:
Arts for Art, Inc.
107 Suffolk Street #300
New York, NY 10002
William Parker Biography Celebration
w/ Joe McPhee Cisco Bradley
Saturday, May 15, 8 PM
Elysium Furnace Works
HOWLAND CULTURAL CENTER
477 Main Street
Beacon, NY 12508
KEN WEISS interviews JAAP BLONK for the new Cadence magazine:
This comes from Multi-Instrumentalist/Composer/Futurist SCOTT ROBINSON:
https://youtu.be/amsOS00qieQ - This is the best music video I’ve seen in recent memory.
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=wHUc8FYsWxg - new interview with Mr. Kaiser
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0-qbKTem9o - Tribute to Milford Graves
My good friend & guitar master GARY LUCAS is playing half hour sets at his apartment in the West village every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 3pm EST on Facebook. Different songs & improvisations on each episode.
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/gary.lucas.5836/