DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY 30th Anniversary Celebration Continues with:
This Saturday, August 28th at Oliver Coffee, Outdoors
From 2 to 5pm:
LESTER ST. LOUIS / LEO CHANG / SANDY EWEN (cello / electronics / guitar)
MADISON GREENSTONE (contrabass clarinet)
ZEKKEREYA EL-MAGHARBEL / CHRIS WILLIAMS (trombone trumpet)
This Sunday August 29th at Columbus Park, Chinatown
DMG Presents 75 Dollar Bill,
and will be selling records as part of the first People’s Pavilion Happening
for more info visit The People’s Pavilion Soundcloud Page
Next Wednesday, September 1st, in the Store
7pm - 9pm
TATSUYA NAKATANI / GABBY FLUKE-MOGUL / FRANK MEADOWS
This Week’s DYNAMITE DISCS Begin with this one:
CAROLINE DAVIS with MARQUIS HILL / JULIAN SHORE / CHRIS TORDINI / ALLAN MEDNARD / MAZZ SWIFT / JOSH HENDERSON / JOANNA MATTREY / MARIEL ROBERTS - Portals, Vol. : Mourning (Sunnyside SSC 1628; USA) Featuring Caroline Davis on alto sax & compositions, Marquis Hill on trumpet, Julian Shore on piano, Chris Tordini on bass, Allan Mednard on drums plus a string quartet with Mazz Swift, Joanna Mattrey, Mariel Roberts & Josh Henderson. I’ve come to admire alto saxist & composer Caroline Davis over the past couple of years. She played here at DMG twice: once in a trio with saxist Maria Grand & scientific scat singer Loren Benedict, as well as a duo with Kim Cass, both sets were superb! Ms. Davis now has a half dozen discs as a leader or collaborator, each one completely different. She also lived in Chicago for eight years before she moved to NYC in 2013. Ms. Davis worked with several Chicago musicians when she was living there, two of whom are in this, her current ensemble: the in-demand trumpeter: Marquis Hill and diverse keyboardist Julian Shore. Adding a string quartet to her current quintet is a bold and adventurous move.
“One challenge of this frustrating time has been finding methods to handle grief. The loss of loved ones, enforced isolation, and abounding uncertainty have only heightened anxiety and its painful effects. Learning how to cope with grief and work through it is imperative for one’s mental health. // Saxophonist and composer Caroline Davis has done much to try to allay her own emotions after the harsh period she dealt with in 2019. Davis lost her father early in the year and was trying to cope with this devastating event when the pandemic descended. She turned to research and creation to work herself out again. Her new recording, Portals, Volume 1: Mourning, is a culmination of a year of suffering, accepting, and channeling her mourning through a unique process to find equilibrium through composition and reflection. // Davis has always found ways to deepen her musical work by allowing her current preoccupations drive the generation of her art. When her father suddenly passed, Davis was stunned and needed to find a way to express her feelings.” - Sunnyside notes
When I read the above words, I was reminded of something many of have been struggling with through the year long pandemic: frustration, anger, loneliness, confusion and the deep feeling of loss due to so many folks known and unknown who’ve passed on due to Covid 19. This disc starts off with several members of the ensemble adding bits of spoken words over a slow, solemn cushion which soon turns into an M-Base like circular groove, speeding up and then slowing down to a medium tempo with Ms. Davis’ tart alto at the center. I like that Ms. Davis’ sax solo morphs right into Mr. Shore’s piano solo seamlessly. On “Hop On Hop Off” (this is what it says for bus rides around Manhattan), the ensemble plays this enchanting, circular line over & over while the string quartet adds to the interconnected web. Virtuosic cellist Muriel Roberts takes a short yet inspired solo next, the rest the string quartet adding some quirky pizzicato plucks next. At the beginning of several of these songs Ms. Davis will read from what sounds like a diary setting the vibe for the song they are starting. The combined jazz quintet & string quartet are well-integrated on “Highlighter Hearts”, swelling together in ever-rising waves. This disc is long (65 minutes) and consistently engaging .There is way too much to comment on here. Take your time and dive in, you will be glad you did. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
BRANDON LOPEZ TRIO with STEVE BACZKOWSKI / GERALD CLEAVER CECILIA LOPEZ - Live at Roulette (Relative Pitch RPR 1123; USA) Featuring Brandon Lopez on contrabass & direction, Steve Baczkowski on saxes, Gerald Cleaver on drums plus special guest Cecilia Lopez on synth. This set was recorded live at Roulette in Brooklyn, Roulette being one of the best places to check out creative/challenging music for some 40 years. Contrabassist Brandon Lopez has come a long way moving to NYC perhaps a decade ago, constantly pushing himself into a number of wide ranging and ever-demanding projects. I’ve caught Mr. Lopez in a large number of solo, duos & trio situations and am often astonished by each one. This trio features saxist Steve Baczkowski who worked with Mr. Lopez on another trio date for the Relative Pitch label as well as the ever in-demand drummer Gerald Cleaver plus guest synth player Cecilia Lopez who is also known as a composer with a great disc out on the XI label from 2019. This disc begins with a marching beat by Mr. Cleaver with Mr. Lopez’ bass locking in and Baczkowski’s muted sax simmering his own unique bent-note fragments. The bass is pulsating like a heartbeat at the center. Lopez’s contrabass is featured on the second piece where he taps the bow end in between the strings to provide is unique sound which works quite well with Cleaver’s skeletal drumming and Baczkowski’s fractured note sax sounds, the trio definitely has its own unique sound. Eventually the trio get into an intense pulsating whirlwind groove which feels/sounds great! Eventually Ms. Lopez’ eerie synth slowly comes in, adding a layer of mysterious, Sun Ra-like electronic weirdness. The sax and synth actually sound similar, carefully twisting their notes together or around one another. The music has a dark, undulating, spooky quality which is most effective. It feels as if we are balancing on a raft in the middle of the sea, trying not to fall into the water. The music on this disc and the three headed dog-like creature on the cover do match each other’s mysterious vibe just right. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
CECELIA LOPEZ / BRANDON LOPEZ / GERALD CLEAVER / JULIA CAVAGNA - Red (DB) (Relative Pitch RPR 1133; USA) The cover hits you immediately, the siren-red background, the diagrammetical typeface. A bunch of acoustic basses are caught in a fishing net. On the flip, same fishing net, different icons: snare drums ensnared, rescued from the deep. (And, for emphasis, two minutes of duration in the disc, those ambulance sirens emerge as a visceral reminder.) What is conspicuous by their absence are Cecilia Lopez’s electronic gizmos; they’re only viewed on the inside digi-panels, the artist herself hunched over her console. Unlike the basses and drums, have those gizmos arrived safe and sound, brought back from the abyss, shorn of graphic pretense, monkey-shocked of sonic flesh? Oh my, yes. Lopez’s gadgetry are the stars of this trio date, a single fifty-minute improvisation recorded live at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn on July 28, 2019, in the pre-pandemic, ‘normal’ time, and it’s a doozy, though listening to it now, in the pandemic, ‘abnormal’ time, it might well make you woozy. Featuring Ms. Lopez on hauntological electronics, Brandon Lopez manning double bass, and Gerald Cleaver at the percussion seat, it’s surely a group effort, but it's Cecilia’s party without question. Her circuitry commands the spotlight. The opening few minutes of signals and sines suggest a Van de Graaff generator on overload, blue light arcing through halogen tubes, the residual humming of extraterrestrial electricity itself a malleable piece of putty to be reverse engineered by the artist at will. Then the bass arrives, its full-bodied thrum the electronics’ literal analog, matching the taut pulsations note for note, scree for scree. Those electronic whorls begin to whoop and holler, like steam rising off superheated tectonic plates. Bass bleats flitter across the stereo-field, primordial birds flying the (un)friendly skies. Imagery is evoked: the red planet’s war machines of George Pal’s War of the Worlds and their weird, otherworldly skank; some creaky Bernard Herrmann score where Lopez’s ’tronix mirror corroded theremins and dusty trautoniums. Sixteen minutes in, Cleaver’s brushed snares smear metal dust over everything as Brandon Lopez’s strings cut mournful, eerie shapes. Are you scared yet? You should be. This is improv as illustrative sensation, fully satisfying, cohesive, and scintillating. You might not find a better record of its type this year. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DOUGLAS J. CUOMO with NELS CLINE / AIZURI QUARTET - seven limbs (Sunnyside SSC 1641; USA) Featuring Douglas J. Cuomo - composer, Nels Cline on acoustic & electric guitars & effects and the Aizuri String Quartet. I don’t know very much about composer Douglas J. Cuomo, although I did hear a CD by him on Innova several years ago, a chamber opera based on the Bhagavad Ghita. The blurb comes from the Sunnyside website: “Composer Douglas J. Cuomo’s new piece, Seven Limbs, is unique and unusual. The suite features the simultaneous performance of inspired improvisations by guitar genius Nels Cline and meticulously-notated music performed by the Aizuri (String) Quartet. Inspired by an ancient Buddhist prayer, also called Seven Limbs, it is music of great power that is put in service to a spiritual ideal, in the tradition of John Coltrane’s 'A Love Supreme' and the music of Arvo Pärt.”
Since Nels Cline is one of my favorite guitarists as well as a good friend, I had to check this disc out and I am so glad I did. ‘Seven Limbs’ is broken into seven sections, which is based on a Buddhist practice with the same name. The thing I like most about Nels Cline is his ability to weave his way into any project which gives his space to stretch out. The first section, “Prostration”, starts calm and quietly with sublime strings and subtle yet expressive stripped down, with tasty, sustained effects. I can’t think of the last time I heard a string quartet play with an electric guitar so this is indeed an inspired blend. I have long dug the Bartok String Quartets, which some of this music reminds me of. Nels’ guitar is integral to this project and it is at the center of the quartet. Here’s what I find most interesting: Nels Cline has played in all sorts of rock, punk, jazz, fusion, noise and prog bands, as well as playing country licks for a Willie Nelson tribute CD. This disc shows another side of Nels’ diverse abilities, from delicate & lyrical to the occasional frantic flights of fancy. Some of this music is rather sad and I am touched by its gracious, lyrical quality. “Confession & Purification” reminds me of dusk, when the sun sets and the birds start chirping. It is a time I look forward to when I am at home. On “Rejoicing”, Cuomo has the guitar & strings both playing their pizzicato lines together at times and it sounds wonderful, especially when Nels plays some slide. When Nels switches to acoustic guitar on “Requesting”, his playing is even more elegant. This entire works as one connected suite, the more I listen, the more I hear the way it is altogether a piece of Art. Bravo to all participants. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SAM RIVERS QUARTET with JERRY BYRD / RAEL-WESLEY GRANT / STEVE ELLINGTON - Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 5: Undulation (NoBusiness 146; Lithuania) Featuring Sam Rivers on tenor sax, flute & piano, Jerry Byrd on guitar, Rael-Wesley Grant on electric bass and Steve Ellington on drums. The very first free/jazz concert I attended in NYC was in the summer of 1973 at Ornette Coleman’s Artist House in Solo. It was the Sam Rivers Trio with Dave Holland & Barry Altschul and I remember being both confused and exhilarated simultaneously. It was around 100 degrees outside and there was no AC in this performance place. Oye! I felt overwhelmed on many levels. I would continue to hear Sam Rivers live after that at the Public Theatre and his own loft-space, Studio Rivbea. Often the same trio or adding a tuba player at times. I had become a Sam Rivers fanatic and continue to be now, some 40 years later. Eventually Dave Holland & Barry Altschul left to start their own groups and collaborate with others. In 1981, I heard the Sam Rivers Quartet at some little known jazz club on the West Side Highway which lasted only a year or two. I hadn’t heard Rivers play with electric guitar & electric bass before then and was surprised at how strong & spirited the quartet sounded. The guitarist at that gig was Kevin Eubanks, someone I hadn’t heard of yet, all four members of the quartet were amazing! Mr. Eubanks left and eventually played with the Dave Holland band in the late 1980’s. He was replaced by Pittsburgh guitarist Jerry Byrd, another musician I hadn’t heard of. The drummer remained Steve Ellington who has worked with Sam Rivers on a couple of his Blue Note releases from the late sixties. Mr. Ellington also went to work with the Dave Holland Quintet later on.
This particular quartet also recorded a disc in Paris in April of 1981 for the long-gone Blue Marge label. This disc was recorded in May of 1981 in Florence, Italy, a month later, perhaps from the same tour. For this date, all four members of the band get a chance to stretch out and solo unaccompanied as well as with the rest of the quartet. The quartet is in fine form here, sprawling, free, intense, just the way all or most of Rivers’ previous (and future) trios/quartets always were/are. Guitarist Jerry Byrd has a spirited, jazz-like hollow-body tone. In the first long section, the quartet soars with the tenor sax & guitar playing their furious lines around one another, the rhythm team also erupting tightly together. For more than a decade, Sam Rivers concerts followed a pattern where he would switch off on his instruments: tenor & soprano saxes, flute & piano with 15-20 minute sections of each per set. A similar pattern is found here as well. In the second tenor sax section, the quartet gets into a sly, funky groove for a bit which works well and makes me want to dance for a short while. What I remember best about all the Sam Rivers trios & quartet gigs, was the feeling of jubilation from the way the musicians play together. The jubilant feeling runs throughout this entire set & disc so why not join in and go along for the ride. OUT-standing as always! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
RODRIGO AMADO MOTION TRIO & ALEXANDER von SCHLIPPENBACH - The Field (NoBusiness 141; Lithuania) Featuring Rodrigo Amado on tenor sax, Alex von Schlippenbach on piano, Miguel Mira on cello and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. Recently the Clean Feed label released a half dozen CD’s by mainly Portuguese musicians, mostly from players that I am familiar with. Portuguese saxist, Rodrigo Amado, was one of the first local musicians to record for Clean Feed and can be found on some three dozen discs for Clean Feed & a few other labels. His own Motion Trio now has a half dozen discs of their own, two of which with a different guest: Peter Evans, Jeb Bishop. For this disc they’ve invited legendary German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. Legendary German free/jazz pianist, Alex von Schlippenbach, still tours with his longtime trio with Evan Parker & Paul Lovens, but records infrequently: a trio CD with Frank P. Schubert & Marin Blume, a duo release with Dag Magnus Narvesen and a co-led Dolphy tribute with his wife Aki Takase.
The Motion Trio began in 2009 and for their 10th anniversary, the played & recorded live with Alex von Schlippenbach at the Vilnius Jazz Festival in Lithuania, where this the NoBusiness label is established. Over the decade, the Motion Trio have found their own powerful, singular voice. Adding Schlippenbach to their cause was indeed a great idea. The quartet sounds like they’ve been played together for a long time, their sound united, intense and inspired. Although this was an improvised session, there is quite a bit more going on here on several levels. After an explosive, free opening and a great solo from Schlippenbach, the quartet calm down to a more reflective section, eerie, cautious, dream-like. Things build up again from there, with some amazing interaction going on between all four members. Both Mr. Amado & Mr. Schlippenbach continually exchange lines, with some powerful dialogue building to a frenzy of activity. When Schlippenbach solos again midway, he brings in a series of melodic fragments which keeps altering as he repeats certain phrases, the trio tightly matching his varied lines as they evolve. Things slow down even more for a sparse, suspense-filled section, later on, every note hushed and carefully placed. Things again escalate as the quartet slowly build to another powerful plateau of heated interplay. This disc, this date is free improv at it's very best, reaching for the heights and going further still. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ITARU OKI QUARTET with YOSHIAKI FIJIKAWA / KEIKI MIDORIKAWA / HOZUMI TANAKA - Live at Jazz Spot Combo 1975 (NoBusiness 143; Lithuania) Featuring Itaru Oki on trumpet & flute, Yoshiaki Fujikawa on alto sax & flute, Keiki Midorikawa on bass and Hozumi Tanaka on drums. Itaru Oki was an iconic yet under-recognized trumpeter who was an original member of the ESSG Free Jazz Group (started in 1969) along with Masahiko Sato, Masahiko Togashi & Mototeru Takagi, free-music legends all. Itaru Oki started his own band there after, his first recording as a leader was released in 1974. This is a live recording of his own quartet recorded at Jazz Spot Combo in Fukuoka, Japan in December of 1975. The other frontline player here is Yoshiaki Fujikawa who was also a member of another legendary ensemble known as Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit. Bassist Keiki Morikawa also worked with Peter Kowald and the Seigen Ono Ensemble. The Itar Oki Trio with Midorikawa & Tanaka has a couple of their own releases out there. After this date Itaru Oki moved to Europe and eventually ended up in Paris where he lived until his death one year ago today, August 25th of 2021. He seemed to do quite a bit more recording while in Paris, working with Kent Carter, George Lewis, Louis Sclavis, Otomo and Linda Sharrock.
This quartet date is something else. Although I don’t know much about the other members of the quartet, the entire group sounds mighty fine. On the first piece, the rhythm team has a buoyant, free-flowing, organic sound with first with an explosive trumpet solo and then with two flutes (one wooden?) spinning together. Oki uses a bit of reverb or perhaps amplified room resonance to get a Miles-like sound at times, his sound is more pure with no distortion or wah-wah. This set was recorded on a cassette, hence it sounds to me alot like one of those seminal loft sessions that I attended (and taped) in the late seventies. Both frontline players whether on trumpet, alto sax or flutes sound great together and have a strong ongoing dialogue which erupts at times, sailing smoothly and soaring into the heavens as well. I was fortunate to have caught Itaru Oki once around a decade ago in an international trumpet ensemble at the Henry Street Settlement in a NOTA trumpet fest organized by Dave Douglas. I own perhaps a half dozen of Oki’s discs which is about a third of his rare catalogue. Time to do some searching for this amazing trumpet master! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
SATOKO FUJI - Piano Music (Libra 201-067; Japan) Featuring Satoko Fujii on solo piano recorded at home in Kobe City in March 0f 2021. Considering that the ever-prolific pianist, Satoko Fujii, has some 90 discs out in her 30 year career, her solo piano offerings are only occasional, perhaps 8 or 9 in three decades. Each one captures where she’s evolved since the last, releasing a variety of duos, trios, quartets and larger ensembles in between. This disc contains just two long pieces, one at 19 minutes and one at 27 minutes. The first sounds the appear here are some sort of organ-like drone with Satoko fanning some strings inside the piano, the overall sound is most enchanting. Hard to believe that this is just one piano. In the notes it says that Satoko is using an ebow or two to coax the drone(s) from her piano. Her work inside the piano just keeps getting better, more fascinating and she hasn’t even touched the keyboard yet. Stunning! The sound of rubbed strings is like several ghost voices emanating from the depths, reaching into our hearts and souls and trying to help escape the prisons of our our bodies. Eventually Ms. Fujii begins scraping something inside the piano while muting certain strings with her hand, the overall effect is most mesmerizing. In the liner notes, it mentions that Ms. Fujii and her longtime partner, Natsuki Tamura, are world-travelers who collaborate with many musicians from around the world: the USA, Berlin, Australia & Japan. During the year long pandemic, the couple had to stay home and not travel thus working on their alone & as a couple with little or no gigs. This music sounds to me Ms. Fujii is trying to exorcise her inner demons, universal loneliness and frustration, rising above all the things which are holding us down, keeping us inside and testing our faith in man & womankind. This music evokes quite a bit of inner turmoil yet somehow I can almost hear the hope that still bonds us all together. All that Ms. Fijii is playing alone in her home, we are her audience, her listening family from around the world. In many ways this doesn’t sound like a mere solo piano project, it sounds like so much more. It is your turn to be her audience, she is speaking to us all. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
NATSUKI TAMURA - Koki Solo (Libra 101-066; Japan) Featuring Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, piano, wok & voice. Recorded at home in November of 2020 during the pandemic. Japanese trumpeter, Natsuki Tamura, has been recording for some 30 years, often with his partner Satoko Fujii, in duos, trios, quartets and several orchestras. Mr. rarely records solo efforts, this being only his fourth in 30 years. His playing has long evolved, perhaps even more quirky, humorous and unpredictable over time. In the more than two dozen times I’ve caught Tamura live, I am more impressed with adventurous spirit and madcap behavior. In the liner notes, Natsuki tells us about his decision to become a musician some fifty years ago and the many odd things he’s done, including playing piano when he was younger and having to play drums in one band for their last set in the early days. Since this disc was recorded during the pandemic, Natsuki recorded it at home in a small soundproof room with no room for a drum set. Instead he played a wok with kitchen utensils, even going back to the piano, his original instrument from many years ago. From the gitgo, Mr. Tamura plays these quick spinning lines, showing his diversity, leaping from one idea to the next, fragments of melodies from somewhat familiar songs, bending certain notes and occasionally singing softly through his trumpet to create harmonies with appropriate notes. Even when Natsuki switches to cooking percussion on the second track, he sounds quite musical, carefully exploring those unique acoustic, metallic sounds, as well as singing in a few silly cartoon-like voice. On each piece, Mr. Tamura explores a variety of sounds on his trusty trumpet, never at a loss to come up with something fantastic or at least captivating, from quaint to explosive and everywhere in between. This is my favorite solo trumpet effort at the present since it sounds like a real human being expressing himself fully. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ANGELIKA NIESCIER / ALEXANDER HAWKINS - Soul in Plain Sight (Intakt 369; Switzerland) “When Alexander Hawkins played at the Jazzfest Berlin in a duo with the American trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, he met the saxophonist Angelika Niescier. Niescier was playing at the festival with her New York Trio with bassist Christopher Tordini and drummer Tyshawn Sorey ("The Berlin Concert", Intakt CD 305). Niescier has also been honored in Berlin with the Albert Mangelsdorff Prize, Germany's most prestigious jazz award.
Hawkins is fascinated by Niescier's saxophone playing, and Niescier in turn is ardent about Hawkins' music. They stand on the same ground – both have their roots in jazz, and both love the jazz avant-garde of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. Two technically skilled instrumentalists with sparkling temperament, drive and joy in experimentation.
After several duo concerts, the studio album by Niescier and Hawkins, recorded at the Loft in Cologne, is now available. The American jazz critic Stephanie Jones writes in the liner notes: "Soul in Plain Sight reveals layers of mutual navigation. Angelika Niescier and Alexander Hawkins court similarities and delight in differences … Buoying and challenging each other's inclinations, the artists navigate shared sound with compassion and nuance."
SARAH BUECHI SEPTET / CONTRADICTION OF HAPPINESS / JENA PHILHARMONIC - The Paintress (Intakt 368; Switzerland) I recall meeting Swiss vocalist Sarah Beuchi several years ago and being impressed by her early discs on the Intakt label as well as her wonderful singing with Christy Doran’s New Bag. This Ms. Beuchi’s fourth disc for the Intakt label as well as an early disc on Unit and two on the Jazz Haus label. Ms. Beuchi wrote all of the music and lyrics on this disc, her septet (a/k/a Contradiction of Happiness) now includes three string players plus the Jena Philharmonic ensemble is utilized as well. Right from the opening gambit, we know we are in store for a grand journey with hypnotic layers of brass, strings and a piano trio all swarming around Ms. Beuchi’s superb, heart-warming, ever-sweeping voice. Who does sound like: Kate Bush, perhaps? Hmmmm. It is orchestral writing that is so impressive here. If this disc was on a major label and not an experimental label like Intakt, it might actually be embraced by the masses who deserve to hear something deeper that the usual obvious pop poop. Ms. Beuchi sings in English so we will have no problem knowing what she is singing about. I like the way Ms. Beuchi uses her voice, often like the lead instrument in an ensemble, sometimes soaring but never screaming or bending notes too far out. She does a fine job of singing, swinging sort of modern jazz on “C-Void 91”, speaking the inner voices that many of us think about when we worry about the ongoing anxiety of our communal Covid ordeal. Aside from her wonderful, enchanting voice, it is Ms. Beuchi’s superb septet that really stand out throughout: Vincent Membrez on piano, Wolfgang Zwiauer on el. bass and Lionel Friedl on drums plus three strings: Estelle Beiner, Isabelle Gottraux on and Simon Gaudenz. There is way too much impressive music going on here to describe it all so I will leave you with this: if you enjoy serious progressive jazz/rock with strong singing then this disc is for you! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
JOHN CAGE / MORTON FELDMAN // AKI TAKAHASHI - The Works for Piano II / Cheap Imitation (Mode 327; USA) There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding the music on this disc. If you want to reads the entirety of the description, go here: https://downtownmusicgallery.com/search.php?id=2021_08_12_06_59_19. John Cage’s piece, “Cheap Imitation” (composed 1969), was originally based on an Erik Satie piece called, “Socrate” and written for a Merce Cunningham choreography. Cage couldn’t get the permission for the Satie transcription so he rewrote it to avoid copyright problems, plus he changed to title to “Cheap Imitation”. Hence, we get two different versions of the piece here: one for solo piano played by Aki Takahashi and another version arranged by Cage’s friend & composer Morton Feldman for a trio of piano, flutes and glockenspiel. I’ve become a fan of Erik Satie’s music over the past decade or so, there is something both quaint, stark and playful going. His career took place in Paris in the early part of the 20th century. I can easily see/hear why John Cage and Morton Feldman admired what he did, there are some similarities in the way all three used careful stark space in their more minimalist works. The solo piano version of “Cheap Imitation” is especially stark yet somehow compelling with each note carefully placed on a white backdrop. These Cage pieces sound stripped of any sentimental ornamentation. The trio version of “Cheap Imitation” arranged by Morton Feldman is even more subdued, striking in its own way. It sounds as if the notes are being equally shared amongst all members of the trio. To call this version Feldman-esque would be quite apt. Morton Feldman’s music often has an extremely careful balance of ultra-subtle sounds. Each note is carefully shaped. It takes a bit of getting used to as most of us are surrounded by some many (audible) distractions and anxieties. This music seems to be moving or submerged below what usually is surrounding us sound-wise. The final piece, “All sides of the small stone for Erik Satie” was allegedly given to James Tenney and is attributed to John Cage, but no one is certain who really composed it. No matter. It again sounds like another long lost Satie work and sounds just right at the end of this modest yet rich disc. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
BERNARD PARMEGIANI - Stries (Mode 328; USA) Further proof (as if any were needed) of the enduring genius of Bernard Parmegiani, electroacoustic composer extraordinaire, a man who bridged whole synthetic worlds—academia, classical, electronic appliqué—to realize his elaborate visions, unwittingly birthing both post-modernism and turn-of-the-millennium electronica in one fell swoop. It’s unclear if Stries is considered a ‘lost’ work (it’s only prior release was on an obscure LP from decades back), one not performed live for over thirty years, but upon experiencing this recording it’s doubtful anyone would argue the veracity of either the original compositions or its wonderful interpretations contained herein. Colette Broeckaert, Sebastian Berweck, and Martin Lorenz are the three synthesists on record, delineating their own powerful matrices of sound as they dig through Parmegiani’s unique triad. The title track, originally scored for violin and tape for the 1963 composition “Violostries”, is a breathtaking movement of hovering bleeps, mutant Martian sine waves, speedy synthetic whoosh, digital howl, and various other unidentifiable flotsam and jetsam; anyone with even a passing interest in the more contemporary experiments wrought by The Hub, David Tudor, and Gordon Mumma, or even some of the wilder artists scattered across the Leo Records catalog (such as the marvelous Green Room) will be simply dazzled by these crazy-quilt patterns of machine (il)logic and diodic spasm. “Strilento”, with its shuddery low-end bass throbs and portentous atmosphere, might easily soundtrack an 80s John Carpenter flick, its twitchy aesthetic the very kind of stark, early aughts electronic music that champions cursing the darkness instead of lighting a candle. Of the three tracks, the shortest comes in the form of “Strio”, which makes ample use of coarse, metallic sheets of sound and whispery filaments of circuit crush in its depiction of warm worlds and otherwise. Rather than the often cold, disassociative stigmata usually found in European ‘acousmatic’ music, the three performers artfully concoct a variety of tones and timbers that enshroud their preternatural vistas in boldly colorful hues. One of this year’s top reissues, perhaps? Absolutely essential. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
ROGER REYNOLDS / JACK QUARTET - “FLiGHT / not forgotten” (Mode 326; USA) JACK Quartet’s performances of Roger Reynold’s vignettes “FLiGHT” and not forgotten, provided me with a welcome introduction to Reynolds within a familiarly masterful execution by one of the most notable string quartets working today. The liner notes provide a fascinating group interview style that shows both a high level of mutual respect, and deep collaborative history. This disc is the first in a series to be released by MODE celebrating Reynolds’ 85th birthday. Both cursory online research, and the qualities of this music, suggest that Reynolds is one of the great remaining voices from the mid-20th century “birth” of New Music as it largely exists today. Reynolds past and relationships with the like of Cage, Xenakis, Carter, and Takemitsu is both embedded in the foundations of his vocabulary, and directly attributed in the presentation of these pieces. Conceived initially as an expansive multi-media collaboration between Reynolds and JACK, “FLiGHT” is presented here as an audio-only work containing gestures suggesting a boundless permutation into other dimensions of experience. Reynolds pushes the range of each instrument into its outer radius with a graceful chaos. The foundation of his language is the classic (at this point) approach of timbre as harmony, but with radiant ornamentations needle-threading movements across a full dynamic range. At times, these points of departure explore the crisp materiality of the instrument, and elsewhere present cellular fragments of classic serialism. “not forgotten” contains six short movements that each embody the composer's memories of a person or a place. The two outer movements are fixed and the four inner movements can be arranged at the discretion of the ensemble. This open, cyclical, and collaborative construction provides a window into Reynold’s larger working methods as an experimentalist, and directly name Xenakis, Takemitsu, and Carter as not only musical inspirations, but as providers of human input and memory. Each inner movement begins with a solo, and the final movement “Now” is defined as a “tutti solo”, an usual but somehow necessary signifier for the approach to ensemble playing within. I look forward to Mode’s continued exploration of Reynolds’ work, a witness to the progression of modern composition whose work certainly bears more repetition. - Frank Meadows for DMG
CHORD with NICK DIDKOVSKY / TOM MARSAN - Chord IV (Self-released; no number; USA) Now here’s one that’ll do your head in. Like big, brawny, heavier’n hell guitar experiments? Amp-sizzling, feedback freakin’, balls-to-the-walls gee-tar noisewag? Look no further than the mighty, meaty, metal majesty that is Chord. Comprised of longtime downtown stalwart Nick Didkovsky (of perennial local outfits Dr. Nerve and Bone, and participant in the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet) and fellow string-slasher Tom Marsan, Chord is fast, fleet, and fierce, and, true to its moniker, a veritable quakebasket of a beast, pulverizing the soundstage with its twenty thickly-callused fingers. This duo drinks deep of its antecedents, many of them inhabitants of the same concrete island: Rhys Chatham and his hydra-headed ensembles, Lou Reed’s metal machine orgasms, Elliott Sharp’s thorny fret-skronk and bullish distortion. But lest you think this is an exercise in absolute harmonic dissonance—well, yes, it surely trucks in that area, no doubt about it—such a kneejerk exclamation does this abject lesson in textural confrontationalism a grand disservice. This be no party, this be no disco, neither rock nor jazz but filtered through both, neither free nor confined to any defined ethos, in fact, no way to pin a simple categorical tail on this kickin’ donkey. Didkovsky is by any measure a great guitarist; he’s expanded the outer bands of his instrument, particularly through the auspices of Dr. Nerve, under heavy manners few have considered, and though it’s difficult to figure out who’s doing what across these five sonic briquettes, Marsan’s skills ain’t chopped liver, either. What’s really telling about Chord’s full-on embracing of bent-string tech is that there’s obvious intelligence at work here, cast within the intrinsic joys of beautifully sculpted feedback, amplifier autopsy, and mid-range madness, two guys simply getting their ya-ya’s out in pure, unadulterated glee. So, ’tis not just noise, boyz ’n’ girlz, all evidence to the contrary; there’s intent, substance, and true grit amongst them thar gnash. “Half Life” gets right to it, full of trembling earache where notes snarl as they coalesce, sputtering, elongating, then finally fading down in a picture perfect coda. The mere two-plus minutes of “August” dials back the ferocity to reveal a pensive study of blissful strokes and coiled tension. “Death Spiral” does just that, but you might be surprised how engaging the journey actually is, our two dudes sluggin’ fer Jesus as they trade licks laced with arsenic, their frets dripping with acid. “At An End” spends another brief two minutes introducing the duo’s contemplative side, something of a breather before “Rise” tears the air apart with its immense tonal fluctuations and galvanizing, whiplash effects, Didkovsky and Marsan stripping what little meat is left off the bone. Thankfully there’s so much to chew on here that guitar aficionados, hirsute noiseniks, and all sorts of aural entrepreneurs will never starve. Strings speaking truth to power—in spades. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
DAVID LEE MYERS - Reduced to a Geometrical Point (Cronica 173-2021; Spain) Myers’s Cronica CD debut is an entirely different kettle of fish compared to the kind of work he produced on his sister Arcane Device release, the yin to Nodes’ yang, psyche to drama. If anything, this lengthy, four-track recording of miasmic, buzzing drone and minimalist linear formatting resurrects the original AD motivators but recontextualizes them in the service of ‘meditative’ music in the abstract, as the artist himself concedes in the liners. At first glance, this material is hardly what one might use to achieve contemplative, low-energy/impact balance; the brillo-like textures and tart flavor of these pieces suggest Phill Niblock picking o’er the bones of early, discarded tones, or Merzbow in a unusually warm and fuzzy mood. Further investigation reveals that Myers is keen on situating the listener in the moment, as he notes, rather than shattering the silence; one’s ears become intensely dialed-in to these oscillating penumbras, surrendering to their concentrated magnetism instead of ‘using’ them for more mentally restrictive purposes. To that end, the music works on a variety of levels. The Earth signifiers of each track, prefaced “Geo”, do certainly suggest the tug and pull of crumbling tectonic plates, immense continental divides altering their positions, and the constant magma flow of terran topography. So “Laurentia” feels rugged, sharp, and as thoroughly enigmatic as a specimen of smoky quartz; “Pannotia” is a study of abject trills whose vibrations respirate like the warbling timbres of ancient monks; “Gondwana”, with its high-altitude pitch and mysterious undertow, drills black holes through the firmament; the concluding “Pangaea” hints at the explosive aftermath when gigantic landmasses collide. Awe-inspiring stuff this, nary a dull moment, and immersive as all get-out. No matter how you slice it, Myers’s is simply one of the most original electronic musicians on the planet. - Darren Bergstein, DMG
CELER - In Light Of Blues (Room40 4130; Australia) Will Long's work as Celer traverses a nebulous and morphing galaxy of sound that centers around textured ambience and extended durational pieces. A long-time resident in Tokyo, his work explores the way in which sound can operate in an evolving atmosphere, coalescing with everything, and everyone, around it. With In Light Of Blues, Long pivots away from long-form works to create a series of vignettes that capture the essence of his aesthetics interests. The record condenses and refines his compositional methodologies forming each piece as an acoustic miniature speckled in hazy harmony and evocative tonality.
From Will Long: "It was months ago, but it could have been weeks, days, or even hours since then. I stopped wanting to hear loops, I wanted to stop it. I added brass; trumpets, trombones, and more horns. I cut it out like words from a book, and sewed it back together. Burroughs. These movements are merely to stay alive, to stay moving. You wake up from a truck horn passing in the early morning hours on the nearby freeway, or from a dream that you can't tell was a nightmare or a loving memory. Someone walks by on the street wearing the same perfume. I drew out each place, each scene, and put the story there. It might have been with you, or without you. All I know is that you were there some-how the whole time, even if you weren't. I saw rainbows from under the bridge by the river, and the sun shot up through the clouds of the golden hour. It didn't help, and there was no one around. Your chest is even with your knees, and you're sitting in the dirt. The sun keeps going down, and eventually you make your way home. It's not very much the same as it was anymore. The horns are deafening, but after, the echoes let me see the way away. The light keeps coming, and it keeps going. Songs of surroundings, the silent, the heartbeats, the tears. We've all had them, and we'll never be rid of them."
HISTORIC & ARCHIVE RECORDINGS:
SUN RA with EDDIE GALE / JOHN GILMORE / MICHAEL RAY / MARSHALL ALLEN / JAMES JACSON / LUQMAN ALI / ELOE OMOE / JULIAN PRESLEY / DANNY THOMPSON / DALE WILLIAMS / et al - Lanquidity (Strut / Art Yard 237; EEC) “While one can't quite call it the Sun Ra dance album, this 1978 recording, made for a tiny Philadelphia record label, finds the Sun Ra Arkestra's rhythm section settling into a steady groove on each of the lengthy tracks, while horns, reeds, guitars, and Sun Ra's keyboards solo in overlapping patterns on top. The title number recalls Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" in its slow pace and elegiac tone, while the middle three tracks have livelier beats with playing that often answers to the style of fusion played by many jazz groups in the late '70s. "There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)," the nearly 11-minute concluding tune, is the closest to more familiar 1960s and early-'70s Sun Ra, with its less cohesive lead work and the "ethnic voices" that speak, sing, and whisper about outer space. Lanquidity was extremely rare in its original vinyl pressing. It was reissued by Evidence Music on September 26, 2000, with liner notes in which John Dilberto discussed Sun Ra's 25-year residence in Philadelphia and Tom Buchler, who organized the recording session, discussed the making of the album.” - reviewed from Evidence CD reissue by William Ruhlmann, AMG
‘Languidity’ (from 1978) was always one of my favorite Sun Ra records since it had a certain cosmic/free-flowing funk groove at the center. One of the main differences here is the additions of two electric guitarists (Dale William & Disco Kid?!?) added to the brew. Mr. Ra plays a host of keyboards: ARP synth, Fender Rhodes Electric Piano, Hammond organ, minimoog, acoustic piano and Crumar electronic keyboard. The second disc here is an unreleased alternate version of the same album with slightly different timing and mixing. Essential for all Sun Ra Fan-Addicts, cosmic curiosity seekers, fine folks of the Planet Earth and other worlds of wonders. - BLG/DMG
2 CD Set $18
SUN RA and HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA - A Fireside Chat with Lucifer (Modern Harmonic 217; Planet Earth) This is a rarity amongst the more than 200 releases under the Sun Ra or Sun Ra Arkestra name. It was released on Saturn (Records, not the homeworld) in 1983. But since some Saturn Record release were put out in very limited editions and only sold at Sun Ra gigs to his devoted fans, many of us have seen an original copy of this gem. This is a smaller version of the Arkestra with just 12 members, all well known to Sun Ra devotees: John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, June Tyson, Vincent Chancey and Samarai Celestial. The opening song is called “Nuclear War” and every time I hear it, I have to crack up! The groove is so laid back, nothing can be better that Sun Ra chanting: “Nuclear War, It’s a motherf*cker!” and “If they push that bottom, your ass gotta go”! This session was recorded at Variety Recording in Manhattan with the great percussionist Warren Smith as one of the engineers. The vibe is completely laid back as well as cerebral, like floating in a cosmic dreamscape. The title track, “A Fireside Chat with Lucifer”, is an LP long (20 minutes) piece. The overall sound is superb thanks to restoration experts Michael D. Anderson (Sun Ra archivist) and Irwin Chusid (liner notes, music historian & ace WMFU DJ). Although the music sounds free and calm, there is quite a bit of layered interconnections and spirited activity going on. This is one of the best long lost Sun Ra sessions of recent memory. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ANNE WALDMAN with WILLIAM PARKER / LAURIE ANDERSON / DEVIN BRAHJA WALDMAN / DEB GOOGE / GURO MOE / AMBROSE BYE / HAVARD SKASET - Sciamachy (Fast Speaking Music 2020; Earth) No time, review next week.
LP $20 [Limited edition of a couple hundred/ LP only]
MUSICA ELETTRONICA VIVA with ALVIN CURRAN / FREDERIC RZEWSKI / ALLAN BRYANT / RICHARD TEITELBAUM / et al - Spacecraft (Our Swimmer 104LP; Germany) Musica Elettronica Viva, or MEV for short, was formed in 1966 in Rome by Allan Bryant, Alvin Curran, Jon Phetteplace, Carol Plantamura, Frederic Rzweski, Richard Teitelbaum, and Ivan Vandor. From the very beginning the group was based on musical freedom and the shunning of convention. Using contact microphones to record and manipulate sound wherever it could be found -- from box springs to vibrators -- and improvisationally combining those recordings with tenor sax, homemade synths and the very first Moog to trek cross the Atlantic, MEV made some of the most imaginative and abrasive sounds of the time. Recorded in live performance at the Academy of Arts (Akademie der Künste) in Berlin on October 5, 1967, Spacecraft is made up of a single piece of the same name -- a slow building, jarring and disquieting work that reveals the entire MEV ethos in its lone half hour. As group member Alvin Curran put it, "the music could go anywhere, gliding into self-regenerating unity or lurching into irrevocable chaos -- both were valuable goals. In the general euphoria of the times, MEV thought it had re-invented music; in any case it had certainly rediscovered it." Our Swimmer presents this first ever vinyl issue of MEV's Spacecraft, an early piece from the most free-spirited group of the 20th century avant-garde. Translucent green vinyl.
Personnel: Alvin Curran - kalimba (mbira thumb piano mounted on a ten-litre Agip motor oil can), electronics (contact microphones), trumpet (amplified), voice; Frederic Rzewski - performer (amplified glass plate with attached springs), electronics (contact microphones); Allan Bryant - synthesizer (homemade from electronic organ parts); Richard Teitelbaum - synthesizer (modular Moog), electronics (contact microphones), voice; Ivan Vandor - tenor saxophone; Carol Plantamura - voice.
FRANK FOSTER with MARVIN “HANNIBAL” PETERSON / CECIL BRIDGEWATER / AIRTO / STANLEY CLARKE / et al - The Loud Minority (WeWantSounds 049LP; UK) “Wewantsounds present the first vinyl reissue of Frank Foster's The Loud Minority, originally released on Bob Shad's Mainstream Records in 1972. A landmark album and one of the key political works of the '70s. Featuring an all-star cast of superb musicians including Elvin Jones, Stanley Clarke, Airto, Cecil Bridgewater, and Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson, it is also Dee Dee Bridgewater's earliest full recordings. This special edition comes in a gatefold sleeve and includes a 20-page booklet featuring amazing unseen session photos recently unearthed, an introduction by Judd and Mia Apatow (Shad's grandchildren), an essay by British journalist Kevin Le Gendre and an exclusive interview of Cecil and Dee Dee Bridgewater by Paul Bowler. Includes original photos and the audio newly remastered from the original tapes. When he recorded The Loud Minority in 1972 for Bob Shad's Mainstream Records, Frank Foster had been a solid sax player for nearly twenty years, playing with the likes of Donald Byrd, Thelonious Monk and The Count Basie Orchestra. For this special session, he gathered a stellar line up of old fellow musicians like Elvin Jones and Harold Mabern and young turks including Stanley Clarke, 'Hannibal' Marvin Peterson, Cecil and Dee Dee Bridgewater. As usual for Mainstream sessions, the studio was booked for two days and the record was cut live, supervised by arranger Ernie Wilkins and engineer Carmine Rubino. What came out of these two days is now the stuff of legend, four long funky jams fueled by two distinct line ups playing simultaneously augmented with a powerful six-piece brass section led by Foster. The Loud Minority is a key militant jazz manifesto and one of the landmark jazz funk albums of the 20th century. The album was recorded in two days but its legacy lives on and still resonates loudly in the BLM days.”
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 one is from CHRIS CUTLER, original member of Henry Cow, Art Bears, News from Babel, respected author and founder of Recommended Records. This is Chris’ wonderful podcast and I urge you all to give it a listen…
Guitarist and DMG-pal HENRY KAISER has a monthly Video Solo Series on Cuneiform’s Youtube page:
he recently changed it to a monthly solo series - Here are the three previous shows:
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/
Bushwick Improvised Music Series
downstairs @ The Bushwick Public House
1288 Myrtle Avenue (across the street from Central Ave M train)
$15 at the door gets you in all night (5 sets of music)
Monday August 30th
7pm Juan Pablo Carletti's "Biggish"
Juan Pablo Carletti - drums
Yoni Kretzmer - tenor saxophone
Christof Knocke - clarinets
Rick Parker - trombone
Kenneth Jimenez - bass
8pm Nebula the Velvet Queen -theremin
Maria Nazarova - bass
Ayumi Ishito - saxophone
Damien Olsen - keyboard
9pm Bushwick Series House Band
w/ Stephen Gauci - tenor saxophone
Sandy Ewen - guitar
Adam Lane - bass
Colin Hinton - drums
10pm Cheryl Pyle -c flute /alto flute Michael Eaton -soprano sax
Roberta Piket -piano
Billy Mintz -drums,
Judi Silvano - vocals
11pm Aaron Quinn - guitar
Alex Koi - vocals/electronics
David Leon - woodwinds
Lesley Mok: Drums
Live at Scholes Street Studio, Friday August 27th
Brandon Lopez - bass
Ingrid Laubrock - tenor/soprano saxophones
Tom Rainey - drums
Two sets at 8 & 9:30pm
$15 at the door
Live audience/Live recording!
Scholes Street Studio
375 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (718) 964-8763
the WHATEVER GUITAR FESTIVAL
Sat, September 11, 2021, 6:00 PM
Green Lung Studio (117 9th St #122, Brooklyn, NY 11215)
Sun, September 12, 2021, 4:00 PM
Barbès (376 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215)
Free admission w/RSVP
Please visit the Green Lung (https://www.greenlungstudio.com/) and Barbès (https://www.barbesbrooklyn.com/) websites for further details.
BOB DOWNES is a Legendary British flutist & multi-reeds wizard with a long history of Creative Music making. He currently lives in the Black Forest in Germany and sends us his occasional solo flute vids. Here is his most recent one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezE8JFWSM_s
These come from a UK trumpeter & composer named CHRIS DOWDING:
I am a trumpeter and workshop leader based in Norwich, UK, and I have just finished this subscription project of a 'Black Lives Matter' project - a collaboration with an artist here in Norwich, Laure Van Minden.
I've made two tracks each month for the last year, and Laure has responded with artwork. Each track is a playing of the name of someone who has died or been attacked in relation to the BLM movement, using an alphabet system to make a melody from each name, surrounded by loops and electronics.
The project is here: https://chrisdowdinglaurevanminden.bandcamp.com/subscribe
Here are a couple of individual tracks:
'Breonna Taylor' -
'Trayvon Martin' -
We'll be collecting all 24 tracks on a double cassette album available in November, and we've got a few live performances of the project lined up, including the album launch at Cafe Oto, London.
b) I also thought you might enjoy this new octet project, called holding hands, which I'm co-leading with the Norwich-based saxophonist Rob Milne. We made this EP during lockdown:
The longer piece, 'another black death', was written at the time of the death of George Floyd, and actually I'm working on an arrangement of one of the BLM subscription tracks, for the octet, so there's a connection...
c) I also have a group called hymn, also based here in Norwich, and we released this album on Mark Wastell's Confront Recordings label (it sold out - there might be some CDs left with SquidCo). I thought you might enjoy it: https://thehymnal.bandcamp.com/album/silence-then-birds