Thursday, April 25, 2013

Borbetomagus and Friends-(Kowald,Honsinger,Kondo,Fine)Industrial Strength-1980

The all out inventive pure acrid belch ego less sensory assault produced almost unfailingly by long lived hard core free noise trio,Borbetomagus (who are still actively making music) , was an experience i cherished highly as a young man  , coming out of an adolescence largely musically informed and pervaded by heavy metal, hardcore and post punk,

 their more typical noise trio was probably as near to what we now recognize as classic free jazz, as i aurally ventured. in those fondly remembered far away, days.

they were where a band like last exit  seemed to want to go in  their more blissed out freest moments, but never quite did, except Borbetomagus were there relentlessly all the time
i certainly heard their early records on Agaric before any incus or FMP album.

The roots of their more typical trio sound though grounded in free jazz, also seems to draw equally on noisy concrete music, and the aggressive propulsion of , no wave garage rock...and has more in common with today's Japanese noise bands like  say,incapacitants.

This Lp and the wonderful Borbeto Jam recorded in the same month of october in 1981, are about the most bucolic , spacious classic, plinky scratchy 'Euro' 'Free' these guys ever got.

The Fact that their musical interlocutors here are Masters of free Improv in that sense probably mitigates what might be seen by some, though not me as their worst excesses..... anyway enough prattle

 Click on the cover...  you have 4 improvisations  untitled... by

Jim Sauter & Don Dietrich saxes, Donald Miller-G, Toshinori Kondo- trpt
Peter Kowald -db, Tristan Honsinger-VC, and Voice..& Milo Fine-Piano 
recorded in NYC, on the 18 oct 1981..
Leo LR ,LP 113.

the other record by this exact grouping, Borbeto Jam can still be seen on the Cadence Klompfoot catalog site, at least it could for as long as i can remember , maybe they have finally sold out... (worth checking!!)

This one sadly (Cause its so good!!) is unlikely to be one which Leo resurrects in a hurry.

Agaric BorbetosM's own label is reissuing systematically everything they have ever done as a trio.

if one needed only one 'Snuff Jazz' , circa 1990 is a very fine example, i was going to write" a devastated, denuded mental topography full of demons in heat.... lots of kinky demonic ejaculations of pure sulfur". but that would obviously be a very personal psycho sexual interpretation which would be inappropriate...So lets just say, the most turbulant passages of Alan Silva's the seasons stretched out to 40 minutes, played by a trio of punk arsed hardcore dudes.
Agaric Records @ Discogs (i,cant find their actual web page at the moment)


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Plays Butch Morris - New York City Artists' Collective [NYCAC 503]

So this is the 3rd tribute posting here for Butch Morris that had just been sitting unpublished for weeks, uploaded and all ready to go - pending saying something vaguely interesting or intelligent about it.
The filehost link is going to expire, so here's the post and nevermind about 'interesting or intelligent'.

Not a jazz record - nor is it really 'compositional' in the sense that the title implies.
Is it 'downtown improv pop'? Someone tell me what to call it cause I don't know.

New York City Artists' Collective was initiated in the mid 1970's by vocalist Ellen Christi and underground drummer Tom Bruno (underground drummer, literally - he spent much of his performing life in the NYC subway system).

Check out the late Tom Bruno - member of TEST with Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen & Matthew Heyner - here. For some time he resided at 501 Canal Street (NYCAC 'headquarters') with 1970's outsider fellow travellers David S. Ware and Cooper-Moore. Jeanne Lee, Keshavan Maslak, Ray Anderson and drummer Jimmy Hopps amongst other musicians were making use of the rehearsal and/or available living spaces in the building.

Check out the very much alive and underappreciated Ellen Christi at her website-

Juan Quiñones as far as I know, is still playing guitar in NYC . He played with with the NYAC on record again, with the legendary Arthur Rhames, informally and moved away from music altogether at at least one period.
Lefferts Brown was a punky, pretty, synthy experimenter in the mid to late 1980's. By the time he drowned in 2005 he was 'a respected electronic music composer, sound designer and installation artist' with tenure at Long Island University in Brooklyn.
Steve Buchanan is still playing saxophones & guitar in experimental styles and performing. He is very probably this youtube contributor I think.
Of the 2 bass players, Rita Wood and Issac Falu, I know next to nothing . If anyone knows.. ?

Website of the New York City Artists' Collective

Go buy some music of  some unknown musician you vaguely like the sound of.
Or buy the music of anyone mentioned above.

Vale Butch Morris. And Vale Tom Bruno .

Extra Note April 11th 2013

My identification of who's who on the cover is
Back Row [left to right] - Juan Quiñones, Isaac Falu, Rita Wood, Ellen Christi.
Front Row [left to right] - Lefferts Brown, Tom Bruno, Steve Buchanan

For Tom Bruno I meant to add, have a look at this CD release and read Thom Jurek's cogent summation - . For ten dollars, it's an absurdly cheap buy.

I mentioned Ellen Christi's website. If you're of the vinyl persuasion and you enjoy her avant vocal stylings, a good (inexpensive) buy is Christi's Live at Irving Plaza LP. One of the seemingly least loved Soul Note releases (admittedly an uninspiring cover), copies can be found plenty of places for reasonable money. Her band on the record is 'Menage' - co-vocalist Lisa Sokolov with William Parker, Tom Bruno, and piano player Rahn Burton. The audio fidelity ain't great, but the music's real.
If you're not vinyl obsessive, Christi's diverse back catalog of recordings (including Grateful Dead theme records[!]) can be seen summarised here - some of which are still readily available.
I haven't heard, but am wanting to, Reconstruction of a Sound from - I think - 2000. Masahiko Kono's on there, the samples sound intriguing ...

Side 1
1. Beyond
2. Music For the Love of It

Side 2
3. Alexandre at 2
4. The Current and The Feather

Butch Morris    -conductor, arranger, acoustic piano
Ellen Christi    -vocals
Lefferts Brown    -synthesizer
Tom Bruno    -drums
Juan Quiñones    -guitar, harmonica
Steve Buchanan    -alto saxophone
Rita Wood    -electric bass on Music For the Love of It & The Current and The Feather
Issac Falu    -electric bass on Beyond, Alexandre at 2 & Music For the Love of It

Recorded November 19th 1982, NYC


Monday, February 18, 2013

Current Trends in Racism in Nth America - Butch Morris [Sound Aspects SAS-4010]

Given the necessary discussion of 'conduction' in talking about the career of Butch Morris, and the repeated mention of conduction in obituaries of the man, it seems only fitting to add one of Morris' conduction albums to the earlier small-group post.
This one was the first one - first conduction on record, and one of the first times  - if not the first - that he got up in front of an ensemble with a baton, blank-sheet-of-paper open mind and possibly a slight sense of trepidation. "Conduction No.1" as it says on the back jacket.
The results are sometimes wildly successful and at other times less absorbing in terms of musical tension - an occupational hazard of the conduction method perhaps.
Overall, it's a very worthwhile listen and Morris' ensemble largely do him proud.

Nearly didn't post this - it's been out previously in blogland I'm sure, although possibly only at low-bitrate.
Have just been made aware too, that the guys at Destination Out posted one piece off this [as well as the second side of the previous In Touch But Out of Reach].  So, looks like I can't be accused of originality of selection !  Coincidence - never mind.
This here is the entire record.
Sound Aspects - Pedro De Freitas' label - has its entire catalogue available only on the 2nd hand market these days, which is a pity. This album was issued on CD it seems - this is a vinyl rip however. 
The first piece runs to a side and a half long.
Hopefully anticipating the intent of artist and producers, I have edited out the break that occurs due to the side break so that Part One is one continuous piece.

Some tasty textures and some nice tumultuous sounds. Feel free to leave a comment, and enjoy .

1. Current Trends in Racism in Modern America Part One
2. Current Trends in Racism in Modern America Part Two

Butch Morris -conductor
Frank Lowe -tenor saxophone
John Zorn  -alto saxophone, game calls
Tom Cora -cello
Curtis Clark -piano
Brandon Ross -guitar
Zeena Parkins -harp
Eli Fountain -vibraphone
Thurman Barker -marimba, snare drum, tambourine
Christian Marclay -turntables
Yasunao Tone -voice

Recorded live at The Kitchen, NYC, 1st February 1985

Sound Aspects sas4010   

Sunday, February 3, 2013

In Touch...But Out of Reach - Butch Morris [Kharma PK-9]

Butch Morris - Feb 10 1947 - Jan 29 2013

In Touch...But Out of Reach
Butch Morris

Butch Morris -cornet
Grachan Moncur -trombone
Charles Eubanks -piano
Wilbur Morris -bass
Bobby Battle -percussion
Steve McCall -percussion

Side 1

1. Irin Sun
2. Narobia

Side 2
3.Lovers Existing On The Dunes / Lonely Thrill

Recorded live at ENVIRON, NYC, 22nd & 23rd December 1978

Kharma PK-9

I would have first heard Butch Morris on one of David Murray records, can't remember which. Very memorably he played on Murray's incandescent 'Home' (1982) as well as Frank Lowe's wonderful 'Exotic Heartbreak' (1981).
Butch played cornet - not trumpet.  Beautiful laconic style. Seeming always to be more interested in the sound & texture of *the ensemble* rather than simply blowing  hot on his own horn. And always - in his own improvising - that feeling of the blues.

His development of and move toward Conduction produced an always-interesting string of records - some arguably more successful than others. Right now I am playing 'The Arkbank Conduction' of The Suleyman Erguner Ensemble - traditional Turkish musicians augmented with electric guitar, electronics, drum machine, harp, and Hugh Ragin on pocket trumpet - conducted by Butch Morris. It works - it's fantastic.
By the early 90's - evidenced on Dust to Dust and the mammoth 10CD Conduction series on the New World label - Morris was playing much less cornet and focussed on developing his conduction, for wide varieties of ensembles in a wide variety of countries.
That he could still return to small group playing on cornet and produce brilliant music can be heard on the terrifyingly good Burning Clouds on FMP from 1993.

In Touch..But Out of Reach was recorded live in 1978 (though there is no audience noise).
Even in 1978, Morris seems most interested in tones and textures he can produce from *the band* and not merely in head-solo-head arrangements or collective free improv. Rhythmically, he's included 2 drummers for a reason, and both Steve McCall and Bobby Battle play off one another as well as off the pitched instruments - even if the recording quality is not best placed to allow the processing of many of the details unfortunately.
His other players however are damn monsters - those who know Moncur will relish the chance to hear more of him, Butch's brother Wilbur is a energetic and creative bass player, and Charles Eubanks is in no way outclassed by his colleagues.

Anyone that followed the earlier INTERface/ENVIRON posts might be interested that this record was made at the Environ loft (2 days before Christmas 1978) 

Interesting Links

Butch Morris

Testament: A Conduction Collection 10CD set by Lawrence Butch Morris - New World Records

Farewell note and recordings at Nublu Records where Morris had a strong association

Grachan Moncur III Please please - if you derived enjoyment from this recording, visit Moncur's website, check it out and buy one of the recordings of this still living and grossly undervalued yet outstanding musician. Exploration from 2004 on Capri Records is superb.

Charles Eubanks

Charles Eubanks (cousin of the well known Kevin and Robin) has recorded solo records for CIMP - as well as with Oliver Lake on Black Saint and Dewey Redman on ECM

Bobby Battle

The Offering - his record as a leader (w/ David Murray) on Mapleshade

Steve McCall

McCall has appeared on many records... Under his own name (w/ Fred Anderson), there's Vintage Duets on Okkadisk. As a third of the trio Air, McCall plays superbly on - among others - Air Time (Nessa), Live Air, and Air Mail

Both Butch and Wilbur Morris and McCall played in David Murray's great octet of the early 80's. They made wonderful records like Ming, Murray's Steps and Home

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Live at the Village Vanguard - Noah Howard [Freedom FLP40127]

Here again - Earl Freeman playing bass. Fuzz-bass in fact, on part of 'Dedication (To Albert Ayler)'. Fuzz bass should probably be outlawed as just being awful and thoroughly bad. But this record isn't either of those. [And Earl thankfully stomps on his pedal to turn the distortion off after a few minutes.].  Sotise posted files from the
(rather dodgy-looking, [bootleg?]) CD of this album a few years ago on Inconstant Sol. I was inspired to go and track down a LP copy at the time.  Those files he posted back then at IS. seem long gone, so I thought this vinyl rip could be timely.

3 tunes.  One excellent solo saxophone number from Howard, one side-long congregationally wailing Ayler tribute, and one extended workout on a simple, even naive, bluesy
riff (reminiscent of Schizophrenic Blues [FMP] and other simple themes of Howard's).

Earlier in 1972, Noah's band had consisted of Freeman, drummer Art Lewis and Arthur Doyle.
By August though, with a 2 month residency of Sundays at the Vanguard, Frank Lowe had replaced Doyle on tenor. This was 'young' Frank Lowe (he was 30) - who had already
played in Alice Coltrane's group, but had yet to record the turbulent Black Beings for ESP or Duo Exchange with Rashied Ali - both to come, in 1973.
Rashied Ali himself was a reported late sub for Art Lewis who couldn't make the gig.
Piano player Bob Bruno has had a kaleidoscopic musical career - in the late 1960s he made 2 albums with Jerry Jeff Walker - be-hatted country music troubadour of 'Mr
Bojangles' fame. By the early 70s he was playing free jazz piano. Since then he seems to have played all kinds of music, on all kinds of instruments as well as moving into
visual computer art.
Juma Sultan is of course the same percussionist that played with Hendrix and whose own Aboriginal Music Society played on the New York loft scene and was more recently the
subject of the excellent 'Father of Origin' boxset from Eremite.
These 6 guys make a big sound, the recording is a typical rough and ready club taping and in all honesty I have difficulty hearing Sultan at all in this.

There's additional material that exists of Noah Howard's 1972 Vanguard residency - with a slightly different group - Art Lewis for Rashied Ali, another percussionist for
Sultan, and  a French Horn player as well as Lowe, Bruno, Freeman and Howard. In addition, Noah Howard reportedly had extra taped material of this band that he would allow
played on European radio.
In terms of chronology of issued material of Howard's playing, Live at the Village Vanguard sits between Frank Wright's Uhuru Na Umoja and Church Number Nine, both featuring Howard and Wright’s twin saxophone frontline.

Old hands will have this material and remain unexcited, although some might wish to upgrade their old 192kbps files.
To others coming afresh to this, I hope you enjoy the sounds from these dynamic musicians .

Interesting Links

Noah Howard's site, still maintained by his wife Lieve, a new recording available, older titles for sale - VISIT ! -
Juma Sultan's Archive -
One of Bob Bruno's many web pages -

Vis-a-vis the front jacket - I don't think that the bass player pictured is Earl Freeman, nor the robed tenor player to be Frank Lowe.  Anyone ?

Earl Freeman - Footage

By way of a follow up for anyone that was interested in the Earl Freeman / Sound Craft 75 post - 2 pieces of video footage of Earl Freeman playing. Interestingly, both from the same year - 1972.
Earl plays bass violin with Joachim Kuhn and Jacques Thollot for French TV.
Thanks to Adam for pointing this one out - a beautiful piece of footage
I find Earl's fingers fascinating.
Same uploader on Youtube has posted some outstanding other clips of Paul Bley, Howard Riley, Jeanne Lee with Ran Blake & Ted Curson.

Second clip is frustratingly without sound !  It's Noah Howard's 1972 group with Arthur Doyle, Art Lewis and Freeman on electric bass.  From Juma Sultan's archive site, which is fascinating - many of Juma's clips have yet to be matched to sound recordings. At Sam Rivers' Rivbea Studio, the band look like they're tearing it up and Freeman appears in a quite different light

Most of the video clips at Juma's site are fascinating even if a disproportionally high number of them suffer from a lack of audio - recommended.all the same.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gil Melle-Tome VI (the Jazz Electronauts)-1968,

Gil Melle, somewhat unjustly remembered almost exclusively for creating the unique very effective Musique Concrete score to the Classic 1966 Science Fiction Film 'the Andromeda Strain"
also Happened to be one the most adventurous and varied composer band leaders of the 50's and 60's , roughly working in the same territory as better known Contemporary Counterparts
such as, Jimmy Guiffre, George Russell, Duane Tatro,Teddy Charles and others.. introducing textural, and Harmonic elements and Complex arrangments previously foreign to Jazz language.

Quite apart from his innovative musical achievements, he was also  a painter, sculptor , graphic designer and instrument maker(the Tome VI being a primitive mini synth of his creation) who from the late 40's on created some of the most distinctive inventive record covers in History , Often Starkly Abstract they go a long way to making the records special, and in the case of his classic Monk covers for Prestige, or his own early Blue Note releases vividly underscoring ,almost embodying the mysterious 'ultra modernist' contents within..

like a lot of mostly white middle class educated Jazz musicians in the early Sixties Melle stopped making Records ,and opted for more lucrative studio and Film work ,largely as a Composer.

This record, made 18 months or so after the Andromeda strain ,is the first jazz record to incorporate,an electro acoustic element, with additional live processing by all the musicians as they improvise, a practice which is now common place among European, and American free improvising musicians,notably Evan Parker, Barry Guy , Acid Birds and Many others.

Musically its an effective fusion of Modal to free jazz,with some modest modish psych rock elements, quite good overall if not quite as fresh and urgent as his peak output from the 50's..(some of which is currently available on CD)

This was reissued on CD (2007) in Japan in limited edition, but alas has long since disappeared...

another  of his records in this vein from a few years later in 1970-1, 'waterbirds' never to my knowledge reissued can be found as MP3'S by googling.

Tome-VI- 1968, the Jazz Electronauts-Verve Lp V68744
Gil Melle-Soprano Saxophone, Effects Generator,Composer
Forrest Westbrook-Piano, and Electar
Benfaral Mathews-bass , cello,and envalope
Fred C.Stofflet-Percussion, Electric cymbal,

From the Liner notes (Regarding the Electronic instruments used)
the Electar
"theoretically the operation of this instrument, approximates the fundamentals of stringed instrument playing,in that conditions are employed by the player through controls,to determine, pitch,decay and amplitude."
the Envelope
'tones heard through this instrument,are not electronically generated but are conventionally produced mutations, it is used in conjunction with bass and Cello,the overall effect being rhythmic"
Doomsday Machine
'Best described as a lower register Electronic Cymbal'
Tome Vi
"Transistorized oscillator/Modulator envelope, a hybrid instrument consisting of a subminiture system of transistorized circuitry, built into a conventional Soprano Sax"
Effects Generator
"A Console Device,capable of Producing arpeggiated passages of infinite variety and complexity,Polyrythmic patterns are also Possible"
Green Safe 1and2
"are used are used to convert,the electricity from the above mechanical Energy"

Melle at IMDB
Melle on Amazon
Note although only his Prestige Sessions 'Primitive Modern","Quadrama'and the perennial "Gil s Guests" appear to be in print, there is a lot that can be purchased second hand
including some very reasonably priced , original lps of this very album!

it Seems that Zippyshare's free account Login Function is somewhat prone to Mal function , so in this instant i have uploaded as a non account holder,i can't guarantee the longevity of the upload , so feel free to create mirrors !!

Ripped from an original Stereo Copy, no Eq, Compression or other processing after the initial conversion of the Analog signal

Monday, December 24, 2012

Years End..

Another awesome year in the modern world.

If Christmas is your bag, have a fine one.
Happy New Year for 2013.
Dance your dance, sing your heart, play your tambourine.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Rumasuma - Sonny Simmons [Contemporary S7623]

Side A
Back To The Apple
Side B
For Posterity

Sonny Simmons - alto saxophone
Barbara Donald - trumpet
Mike Cohen - piano
Jerry Sealund - bass
Bill Pickens - bass
Billy Higgins - drums

Recorded Los Angeles - August 1969

So a copy of this just sold for $172 on Ebay - plus shipping .
Fucking Mad.

The $ figure of course is a reflection of it's out of print, desirable and 'colectable' status - and not it's musical worth.
Like crazy little creatures, we seem compelled [as a species really] to covet, collect, obsess and fetshize over that we dont have or is hard to obtain. I'm as guilty as anyone. Really though, all that 'desiring the object' and the burning need to to be in possesssion of a 'near mint rare legendary disc' is mostly about a different area of human psychology than that which relates to the inner joy that the best art brings us.
It's all bullshit and has nothing to do with the music in other words.
How does the artist feel - when recent releases struggle to sell 1000 copies worldwide, on tiny little profit margins?

If you were in the luxurious position of having $172 to spend -and you wanted some of the music of the exceptionally creative vibrant and beautiful alto saxophone and english horn player Sonny Simmons - I would go here to check out his in-print discography. And then spend the lot.

This is a great little session - dare I say it, quite 'boppish' in tone and feel. Sonny directly weaves a Bird phrase in to one of his tunes here, Contemporary's Lester Koenig produced, and ex-Dial records man Ross Russell wrote the liner notes.
It's a much more 'inside' record than the excellent Manhattan Egos from the same year - but thoroughly enjoyable on its own terms.

Hope you enjoy the music

This is for sotise - who has managed to eliminate 'desire of the object' from his psyche.(well, almost)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sound Craft 75 - Fantasy for Orchestra
Earl Freeman / Universal Jazz Symphonette [Anima 1001]

Soundcraft 75 - Fantasy for Orchestra
The Universal Jazz Symphonette

Side A
1. Nemesis

Side B
1. Oreo

Earl Freeman director, composer
Zane Massey tenor saxophone
Daniel Carter tenor saxophone
Kappo Umezu tenor saxophone
Ernest Washington tenor saxophone
Raphe Malik          trumpet
John Marshall trumpet
Malik Baraka trumpet
Daniel Carter alto trumpet
John Mingione flugelhorn
Michael Keith trombone
Richard Dunbar         french horn
Nancy Ancrum flute
Art Bennett         flute
Andrew Strasmech flute
Henry Warner clarinet
James Emory electric guitar
Mel Smith         electric guitar
Tyrone Nickens electric guitar
William Parker bass
Dave Wertman bass
Paul Chambers Jr         fender bass
Billy Bang         violin
Charles Burnham violin
Wade Barnes percussion
Roger Baird         percussion
Julio Cesar         tabla
Adeyeme(Philip Spigner) congas
Robert Sardo grand organ
Barbra Blick         reading
Patsy Wilkins (Patricia Nicholson) reading

Anima Records AN1001

Earl Freeman

This LP is the brainchild and creation of Earl Freeman - the closest thing there is to a 'leader's date' in his small - but always interesting - discography of appearances on record.
Earl Freeman was a talented, strange, sensitive artist who played acoustic bass, electric bass guitar - piano, flute, harp and percussion. He wrote poetry, and was a graphic designer - the unusual pen and ink contour-hatched illustration that takes up most of the front cover here is his.

Originally from California, and later working with Sun Ra's band in Chicago, Freeman travelled to Paris in 1969 and ended up as part of the BYG/Actuel recording frenzy of American free jazz players in that year.
Not so much a 'big name', as more of an outsider  -the word crops up again and again in descriptions of him - it was Kenneth Terroade the Jamaican tenor player who Freeman credited with an introduction to the Parisian scene.

Kenneth Terroade (left) with Earl Freeman (right)

Freeman appeared - memorably- on Terroade's great Love Rejoice LP (Actuel 22), as part of a two-bass lineup with Beb Guerin. He played bass on a bunch of Archie Shepp recordings from this time too, 

 as well as harp with Alan Silva's Celestrial Communications Orchestra and percussion instruments on a handful of BYG and 'America' LPs from around this time.
He appears on the very first Gong LP (BYG/Actuel 5) and performed at the legendary Amougies Actuel Festival in October 69.

left to right - frank zappa, philly joe jones, earl freeman, louis moholo, johnny dyani, grachan moncur, archie shepp. Amougies, Belgium october 1969 (foto - jacques bisceglia)

The twin bass approach with Beb Guerin was again used on Clifford Thornton's Ketchaoua (Actuel 23), memorably on the wonderful last track - 'Speak With Your Echo (And Call This Dialogue)'.

Both Freeman and Thornton were eventually barred from France as being undesirables with an overtly radical political stance. Freeman seems to have claimed that on his part - this was largely through misunderstanding and that he had no overt political stance.
He did go on a North African 'back to the roots' trip with Archie Shepp, Steve McCall, Cal Massey and Don Byas - with Eldridge Cleaver acting as tourguide !

[ Worth noting that Cal Massey's son Zane plays saxophone here on Soundcraft 75 ]

Despite being persona non grata in France, and making jaunts to both Holland and Britain - he returned to Paris - living there clandestinely when Val Wilmer interviewed him in early 1972.
By then he had recorded in London on drummer Selwyn Lissack's 'Friendship Next Of Kin' [which includes a spoken recitation from Earl]

- as well as a session with UK saxophone monsters Mike Osborne, John Surman and Alan Skidmore. With a second bass player - Harry Miller this time, and with Louis Moholo on drums, this was eventually released as 'Shapes' under Osborne's name - [ highly recommended ].

Freeman had also previously recorded in Noah Howard's group in Holland for the 'Patterns' LP from late 1971

Later in 1972 however, Freeman left Europe, returned to the USA and rejoined Noah Howard - appearing on Howard's 'Live at The Village Vanguard' record on Freedom Records with Frank Lowe, Rashied Ali, Juma Sultan and Robert Bruno.

In 1975, he put together the enormous group on Soundcraft 75, adding choreographers and dancers for a performance at the Washington Square Methodist Church on West 4th St, NYC  ('The Peace Church') - and chose the name Universal Jazz Symphonette for the project.

7 years later, Earl is playing electric bass with Sonny Simmons' group- again in a 2-bass configuration - on one of the two sessions that made up Simmons' Global Jungle

1984 - probably the last year of Earl's life, saw a  recording of his group with Henry P Warner and Adeyeme (Philip Spigner) - The Freestyle Band.  This trio recorded just one album which was privately released. Recently reissued, this is both fascinating and fantastic. 

Playing what sounds like a fretless electric bass through a phaser and perhaps a chorus unit, Freeman lays down basslines underneath Henry Warner's plangent clarinet and Spigner's dynamic congas to create a group sound that is totally sui generis in its field.

In the liner notes to The Freestyle Band's re-release CD, Ed Hazell reports that Freeman collapsed during a performance some time in 1984 "probably not long after that" he died. And that appears to be all that is known of Freeman's passing from the world.

A US armed forces veteran, Freeman shaved his hair very close, dressed only in dark colors and wore huge circular glasses - tinted or prescription. He frequently wore a leather aviators helmet, a steel service helmet, or both.

(foto - juma sultan's aboriginal music society box - eremite records)

The Album - Soundcraft 75

This was the first recording and release on the Anima label.

Associated with Billy Bang, who issued 5 LPs on Anima - the label actually belonged to John Mingione, a trumpet and flugelhorn player who ran it from a storefront on East 5th Street in Manhattan. He appears on this LP, and more recently, some of his playing with William Parker has resurfaced here.  I know of no other instances of him actually performing on record. He produced or co-produced all the label releases.
This was the 1st release on Anima in 1975. The final release was in 1982.

It's a large ensemble - nearly 30 players and is not a high fidelity recording by any stretch of the imagination.
The church acoustics, the size of the ensemble, the collective free-form style of musical approach all combine to produce a sonic result that I can best describe in one word as - dense.
Musically - on first blush, it's chaotic. If you've just spent a morning listening to and loving Alan Silva's Lunar Surface, followed by Dave Burrell's Echo - then this is record you might like to put on next.
Only this one is not as well recorded as those 2. . .
The keen ear, or subsequent listening, will reveal that it's not necessarily 40 minutes of mad chaos - that there is movement here, there are dynamics, there are some themes of sorts, and that there is solo playing (where audible) of a high calibre.
Opening with a swirling trio of flutes and spare percussion, additional instruments are applied in successive layers like paint until the whole ensemble is all in - a vast melange of sound.
Then after a hushed intermezzo at around the 5 minute mark, the music builds again and things begin in earnest.  The technique is repeated again, punctuating solos from trumpet, tenor saxophones and violin.
The soloists are actually not that difficult to make out - what is difficult to hear is what is going on musically in the vast sonic soup that is behind and around them.

Earl was fond of a good quasi-mystical recitation it seems, and Orea (Side B) opens with 2 recitations from female voices: - the first a mystical paean involving Jesus Christ and the second a seemingly randomly chosen poem in French.
The music builds again from here into a huge seething amorphous out-of-focus thing.

Brass and reed soloists are again, clearly discernible in the sonic foreground - at one point with 2 tenors - extremely clearly.
As to the background - it's clear that there are some written parts - even section work. And that the ensemble is being actively directed or conducted - it's no unfettered group improv freak-out.  It is just quite difficult to make out what is going on back there because of the quality of the recording.
I'm certain that the acoustics of the church didn't help in documenting such a large group.

In the excellent sleeve notes to The Freestyle Band's CD re-issue, Ed Hazell mentions Soundcraft 75, and lauds it as "..a valuable document of early work by Parker, Carter, Raphe Malik, Bang, and many other young free-jazz players of the early loft years..". Whilst I guess that is true in a way, it would be an utter challenge to hear - for instance - a single note on here that William Parker plays. Or Henry Warner for that matter. Or the tabla player...

Read Hazell's notes here, or go here for the excellent Freestyle Band CD

It's probably safe to assume recording conditions and equipment may have been a little rough - near the beginning of the record, a microphone is audibly scuffled and bumped and there are a few odd stereo channel leaps throughout.
The fades you hear are exactly as per the LP and haven't been changed in any way by me.
Technically, side 2 consists of 2 pieces - there is such a small gap between the 2 that I've left the whole second side as a single track - assuming somewhat of a symphonic intent on the part of Freeman.

The back jacket abounds in mis-spellings of the musician's names - "Henry Warnef" for Henry Warner, "Kappo Umega" for Kappo Umezu,  etc etc.
I've corrected the names that I know are clearly wrong - but any other corrections I've missed that are warranted - are welcome.
That this was a live performance, incorporating dancers - is evident by the credits for choreography.

As to the Washington Square Methodist Church - you can visit New York City and see it still - or the facade of it anyway.
You can't go in - it's no longer a church, it's private property.
These men


 - sold it.
" this graceful artifact enters a new beginning as Novare, a limited edition portfolio of eight extraordinary loft homes by the visionary architects at FLANK Architecture.. .Come to be reborn"
There's more of this sleazy drivel on their real-estate-for-the-brain-bogglingly-wealthy website.
Which seems like a truly sad way for the little church to end.
Me, I'd take 1975 any day.

So there you go - I hope you enjoy Soundcraft 75.
At least you can say that you've heard it, which hasn't been that easy for most - it's quite a rare record it seems

It's idiosyncratic, it's chaotic, it's 'fatally flawed' I suppose.
But at the same time it possesses something very akin to what I can only call a kind of grandeur.

Interesting Links

The Freestyle Band (Earl Freeman, 
Henry Warner, Adeyeme) - Self Titled, Re-issued album.
No one else made a sound like this -  Highly recommended .  Earl on processed electric bass
In the US - on the excellent 50 Miles of Elbow Room -
In Europe - No Business Records

Website of the estimable and overlooked Mr Henry Warner

Bio of Earl in the liner notes to The Freestyle Band, by Ed Hazell -

The outstanding Noah Howard 2-on-1 CD that contains Patterns with Earl Freeman, as well as the fantastic Message To South Africa

Wonderful box set on the same label (eremite) that features another underappreciated Earl (Earl Cross) - and the source of the photo of Earl Freeman standing in the street -

The obscure 'underground classic' - Selwyn Lissack's only album, featuring Earl Freeman - Friendship Next of Kin

Earl duetting with Harry Miller (acoustic) and playing with a shit-hot band [Mike Osborne, John Surman, Alan Skidmore, Louis Moholo] - Mike Osborne - Shapes

"“The music opens up their minds, opens up their hearts – it’s subversive, but it’s pure!”
- Earl Freeman 1972 -

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Olivier Messiaen-Visions de L'amen-1973(Yuji Takahashi-Peter Serkin)RCA ,ARL-0363 LP

A slight digression from the usual fare here at 9 Grey Chairs, this is repertoire I like to revisit often, this piece being rather special in that it was the first Messiaen piece i heard many years ago, having acquired many versions over the years , this superb performance by Master Pianist Peter Serkin and Yuji Takahashi (also known to exploratory music aficionados,as a master improviser) has always been a favourite, for one its much less impressionistic , and romantic in treatment than many lauded contemporary performances..(see the Martha Agerich-Alexandre Rabinovitch,version as a prime example of the latter)

 Olivier Messiaen -Visions De L'Amen, For Two Pianos         RCA Red Seal – ARL1-0363,1973          
 Visions De L'Amen 
A1  Amen De La Création
 A2  Amen Des Étoiles, De La Planète À L'Anneau
 A3  Amen De L'Agonie De Jésus
 B1  Amen Du Désir
B2  Amen Des Anges, Des Saints, Du Chant Des Oiseaux
  B3  Amen Du Jugement
  B4  Amen De La Consommation
Peter Serkin-Yuji Takahashi Pianos
No Processing of anykind employed, including superfluos track seperation!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

6 x 1 = 10 Duos For A New Decade - John Fischer [ReEntry 004]

  w/ Lester Bowie, Charles Tyler, Arthur Blythe, Perry Robinson,  Mark Whitecage, Rick Kilburn

6 x 1 = 10 Duos For a New Decade
John Fischer with Lester Bowie, Perry Robinson, Charles Tyler, Mark Whitecage, Arthur Blythe, Rick Kilburn

Side A
1. Walking Ahead
2. I Love You Mama
3. What If?
4. But Not For Me
5. February

Side B
1. 110th Street
2. Bull Pop
3. Squeal
4. How Long Has This Been Going On?
John Fischer - Piano & Voice

Lester Bowie - trumpet
Charles Tyler - baritone saxophone
Perry Robinson - clarinet
Mark Whitecage - alto saxophone
Arthur Blythe - alto saxophone
Rick Kilburn - bass
ReEntry Records RE-004   1980

Recorded 1977 / 1978

The final in a small sequence of records here from 1970's ENVIRON loft chief John Fischer - this time without his full group INTERface - but instead in duo performances with group members and others on the loft scene.
The New Decade of the title was the dawning of the 1980s. How madly futuristic and post-post modern it sounded at the time - the year 1980. Wow.
By 1980 - when this record was released, the New York jazz lofts were on the wane - many had fallen by the wayside.
Fischer's ENVIRON first moved from it's original Broadway premises to a few blocks along the street. But ENVIRON was closed, or closing soon, by the time this LP was released.

Perhaps significantly for a record looking forward to the new decade - the most recent piece is at least 2 years old (1978). According to the notes, all duets here were recorded 1977 / 1978.

Also according to the notes - the tune 'What If' opens side B - which it doesn't ( it is on side A).
Also according to the notes - Arthur Blythe is on 2 tracks - I have him on just 1   The order of the 2 Charles Tyler duets is also wrong - according to me.
Basically, I think they made a mess with the track listing on Side B - and my corrected version appears here.

If anyone has been following the INTERface 'thread' here - some elements here will be familiar - the tunes February and What If have appeared on earlier records (diff versions though) - and Fischer enlists Lester Bowie for one of his 'poum' vocal pieces (I Love You Mama).

No one plays poorly and the record remains interesting throughout.
For my money though, the 2 tracks with Charles Tyler are the absolute standouts and worth the price of admission.alone.
The price of admission here in 2012 is of course - free. So that should work well for most people.

Hope that some people get something out of this then.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wadada Leo Smith-Human Rights, 1985 Kabell/Gramm-lp 26

Wadada Leo Smith ,whom i believe Needs little introduction to fans of this music is surely one of the great Improviser Composers in the New Music of the last 40 years.

He also has a very distinctive and unique trumpet sound which developed and extended the unorthodox techniques pioneered by Miles Davis & Don Cherry,Bill Dixon and others but which seems simultaneously to delve much further back in jazz history than most current revivalists, and yet remain singularly Modern.

Somewhat of an oddity in many respects this lp was a co production between Smiths own Kabell label and the now little known Icelandic, Post Punk label Gramm who also have the Distinction of having released the first records by Icelandic experimental Punk band Kukl, Bjork's pre Sugar Cubes band (and they are real gems too as it happens)

Human Rights also happens to be the Smith Album(Side a ,notably) that most features his own Voice and songs in settings that have emphatic Reggae and Afro groove elements,idiomatic features which  bare a strong thematic similarity to 1993's Kulture jazz (ECM-1862)the latter being in my view one of Smiths most accessible and underrated albums.

Side B,is an entirely different Matter, A long Exploratory piece featuring, Peter Kowald ,Gunter Sommer and Koto Master Tadao Sawai..very rewarding listening to those Familiar with the great Touch the Earth -Break the Shells Cd on FMP (Now Currently Available for purchase as a Digital Down load on Destination Out, see link below)
I'm not sure why this Wasn't reissued as part of the wonderful very essential Kabell years box tzadik-7610 ,perhaps simply because it was recorded after 79, a cooperative release with another label or perhaps given it was Smiths most explicitly Rastafarian record,something he now at least partially disavows.. one can only conjecture , its one of the few relatively rare and OOP releases from a large Oeuvre
Spanning 40 years , and though perhaps not one of his finest , certainly well worth hearing ,side B is wonderful music ,precious...given how little official material exists of Smiths collaboration with Sommer and Kowald.


Human Rights-1985 Kabell
2-Don't you remember
3-Freedom Song #
Collective personel (see insert for specifics)
Wadada Leo Smith- tpt, Mbira, Voice, Composer
James Emery-E.Guitar
Thurman Barker-perc
Michelle Navazio-Ac Guitar
'Stanya'-guitar on freedom song
recorded in #Reykjavik 29-9,84 and 6-10-85
and  in North Haven Connecticut 18-3-1985

Humanismo-toutamonda Muziko, Human Rights World Music
Wadada L.Smith-Tpt, Perc, Voice
Peter Kowald-db, Tuba, Perc
Tadao Sawai-Koto, Perc
Gunter 'Baby' Sommer-dr, perc

recorded live to air by Tokyo Radio, Japan

NOTE-this is a straight LP rip , no processing of any kind  has been employed other than some removal of clicks and pops

Enjoy , Support Wadada Leo Smith, by buying as much as possible .... here are some links  of interest to those wishing to explore Smiths work, philosophy, methodology etc

Wadada Leo Smith Website-
Wadada Leo Smith on Soul Note-Black Saint (available releases)
Wadada Leo Smith on ECM-
Wadada Leo Smith at the Destination out-FMP store

Friday, April 20, 2012

Self Titled - INTERface [Composers Collective CC-722]


John Fischer - Piano & Voice
Perry Robinson - Clarinet
Mark Whitecage - Reeds
Armen Halburian - Percussion
Rick Kilburn - bass

On 'Poum #16 (Out to Lunch)' - Halburian and Kilburn are replaced by
Jay Clayton - vocal
John Shea - bass
Laurence Cook - drums

Side A
1. What If?
2. Poum! #5
3. Temple Passion
4. Short Pieces #3

Side B
1. Solo Poum!
2. Short Pieces #2
3. Poum #16 (Out to Lunch)
4. Sunday Afternoon
5. Short Pieces #1
6. In Search of A Word

Composers Collective Records CC-722
Recorded 1975

This is the group's first LP, from 1975.
Recorded at John Fischer's Leonard Street loft - by the time the record was pressed and available, the new Environ performance loft had opened, with Fischer running the show. The liner notes make mention of 'the new performing facility for new jazz and new music in the heart of SOHO, New York City - ENVIRON'.  See earlier posts here for some brief background on the Environ loft.
Here, the group is Fischer, Mark Whitecage, Perry Robinson and percussionist Armen Halburian.

On one track, Fischer is joined by different personnel for one of his 'Poum' vocal compositions. These are all based around wordless vocal improvisations , trying to use alternative techniques and different methods of making 'body noise'.
It's obviously something Fisher was dedicated to - 3 of the tracks here are in this vein, and his earlier album is simply called 'Poum!'.  If you’ve listened to any of the INTERface LPs previously posted, you know what to expect of the ‘Poum’ pieces.  As to the success, or longevity of the 'poum' method, I'll let the listener decide.  I wonder if in 1975, Fischer had heard Phil Minton. It seems unlikely, although it may have been salutary. .

On one of these Poum pieces, Fischer double-tracks himself.  Better, is the track where he's joined by the exploratory singer Jay Clayton. [More of her here soon] .
Also on this track are bass player John Shea, and Laurence Cook - a drummer many will know from his recording and performing with Alan Silva, Jemeel Moondoc, Bill Dixon (Dixon's 80's Soul Note gems like 'Thoughts', 'November 1981', 'Son of Sisyphus') - as well as with  'The Enigmatic' Michael Smith [more of him here soon]
It's a one-off for this aggregation though - the rest of the pieces on the album feature INTERface stalwart & regular bass player Rick Kilburn and percussionist/drummer Armen Halburian. 

Halburian is credited with only percussion here, although he pretty clearly plays the regular trap kit as well on 2 pieces. An American of Estonian descent, some may recognise his name from Woody Shaw's Rosewood record or Miroslav Vitous' Arista Freedom LP. His career goes back to the mid 50's, playing drums in Marion McParland's trio, although for much of the 1970's, his meal-ticket and claim to fame was in the groups of Herbie Mann. He appears on many of Mann's records of the period. Armen Halburian died last March (2011), aged 77. 

Kilburn, mentioned in an earlier post, sounds great. Bass players always get talked about as 'muscular' 'solid' 'brawny' or 'sinewy'.  We must - on principle - avoid these tedious clichés , and simply say that Kilburn has great intonation, sounds full and forward on a not-particularly super-hifi recording and is a great musician.

There's far less Mark Whitecage on this recording than the later records, more's the pity. As recompense we get to hear the wonderful Perry Robinson on clarinet - playing beautifully. His solo on the final track is funny, inspired and impassioned all at the same time.

I think I referred earlier to the sound Fischer got from INTERface as 'chamber jazz'. Interestingly, in the liner notes here, Fischer refers to 'Dry Jazz', which in some instances of his group's music, may be even more descriptive. According to the provided 'Glossary', Dry Jazz is 'Interfacing abstract sounds with jazz instrumentation in a non-sentimental aesthetic'. Even the fact that a Glossary is provided on the back of an album jacket suggests that Fischer is somewhat of a conceptualist, with a pedagogical bent.

In 1975, the 'wonder years' of the busy Environ loft - with its hugely diverse range of musician and performers - lay still ahead.  Quite how Fischer managed to run the busy place, book the many artists, and still run his own group, documenting them on records - I'm not sure. But he did, and this LP is from the early part of that recorded legacy.
Hope you enjoy.

Interesting Links

John Fischer's Website
Art, Poetry, Recordings. The recordings are hard to find –use link on previous post to jump straight there if required.

Perry Robinson’s MySpace

Mark Whitecage’s Website
Shared with Mark’s wife Rozanne Levine, a talented player and composer in her own right.

The late Armen Halburian’s Website
Armen was an inventor as well as pecussionist – his bar chimes and special drum key are detailed on the site, as well as a nice rundown of records he appeared on. Roy Ayers, Leonard Cohen….

Rick Kilburn
In lieu of a website, here’s his Linkedin. If you search there’s plenty of places you can find references to Rick’s recordings, gigs etc.  It is a bit embarrassing that if you Google “rick Kilburn bass”, 9 Grey Chairs is returned as 1st result. ( Have to just accept the consequences of worldwide fame and manic popularity I guess )
Props to Rick Kilburn

Jay Clayton’s Website
If you don't know Clayton, check her out, she is a fine musician. She's recorded with Muhal Richard Abrams, John Lindberg, Gary Bartz, String Trio of New York, Gary Peacock, as well as being a primary corner of the group Vocal Summit and performing works by John Cage amongst others. I believe she also sings jazz standards.

Remember folks – BUY recordings of musicians you value and enjoy !
That supports the musicians – which we must do, if there is to be a future for creative music.