Saturday, April 30, 2011
Gratifyingly, many of Billy Bang's recordings remain in- print and available. On Soul Note, Justin Time, Black Saint , CIMP, and a fistful of smaller labels. Even 'oddities' like the solo violin 'Commandment' on the tiny 'No More' label can be obtained with minimal searching. That so many of the records are so good, and in so many diverse settings and styles, is a testament to the musicianship of the man.
Only a few things have slipped through the cracks and remain unavailable, with little likelihood of reissue. One of them was posted here, Feb 2009 (Live at Green Space with Charles Tyler).
Here's another one.
3 of the 4 tracks were recorded in trio with William Parker and the Japanese percussionist Toshi Tsuchitori. Then, a free-jazz avant-guardist, in the following decades Tsuchitori has explored worlds of ancient instruments, releasing a number of recordings including "“The Sounds of Prehistoric Painted Cave: Playing in the Cave of Cougnac, France”. For over 30 years he has collaborated on and off with British theatre and film director Peter Brook
The other Japanese musician on this record - on the 'Playful Spring' duet is trombonist Masahiko Kono. A determined experimentalist, in 1980 he would have been on a visit from Japan, having studied and worked there with Toshinori Kondo, tenor player Mototeru Takagi and violinist Takehisa Kosugi. Unlike Kondo, he moved to the USA permanently and has played extensively with groups led by Jemeel Moondoc, William Parker and William Hooker, as well as being a frequent member of Cecil Taylor's big band.
It is likely redundant to mention William Parker in an introductory context. Suffice to say that both Parker and Bang debuted on record within a year of one another (Parker 1973, Bang 1974) and that their musical association goes back at least to this time. More than 2 decades after Changing Seasons was recorded, the two formed, with Hamid Drake, the Violin Trio, releasing the beautiful Scrapbook album on Thirsty Ear. In the interim, Parker played bass on outstanding Bang records like The Fire From Within (Soul Note, 1984), and Sextet - Live at Carlos 1 (Soul Note, 1986).
The crickets (noted in the title of Track 1) are audible on all 3 of the 'Studio Henry' tracks - giving an evocative feel of a hot New York summer. The duo with Kono was recorded 2 days after Christmas of that year - at a guess, the 'Changing Seasons' of the title comes from the disparity between the 2 sessions (seasonally speaking).
160 kbps MP3's of this have been available in blogland for quite some time. Anecdotally, membership of a stern Russian free-booty site would allow you to access MP3s at 320. Hell, bits of this album have even appeared on YouTube (accompanied by a static photo).
But these are FLACs - from a clean LP copy and very low on the pop & crackle quotient.
The sound is good.
And the music is wonderful.
Seriously, consider buying some fantastic in-print Billy Bang music - it would be a fitting respect and farewell to the man. If you don't know his String Trio of New York or Soul Note or Justin Time records - you need them ! Any of these will pay royalties on sales to his estate - he is survived by his daughters Hoshi and Chanyez, his sons Jay and Ghazal, - and his partner Maria.