Friday, July 15, 2011

New York Collage - Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble [Anima AN-1002]

New York Collage
Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble

Billy Bang - violin, poetry, bells, shaker, percussion
Bilal Abdur Rahman - tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bull-horn, percussion
Henry Warner - alto saxophone, bells, shaker, percussion
William Parker - bass
Khuwana Fuller - congas
Rashid Bakr - drums

Side A

1.Nobody Hear The Music The Same Way (Dedicated to John Coltrane) [Billy Bang]
2.For Josie Part II [Billy Bang]

Side B

3.Illustration [Poetry - B Bang, Music - Bilal A Rahman]
4.Subhanallah [B.A. Rahman]

Anima Records A.N. 1002

[EDIT] - Feel free to read on for my ramblings re. this record - they still stand. In what is rather exciting news though, this HAS BEEN REISSUED ON CD, along with another HITHERTO UNRELEASED SURVIVAL ENSEMBLE RECORDING. Amazing and thrilling at the same time: - it's called Black man's Blues / New York Collage - 2CD, and LP. Label is NoBusiness, link here -
Access to original tapes was apparently involved. This is good.
Download link here for this is now pulled, and I'd urge people to consider this new reissue.
Review here [or at least a few words] , as soon as I get my copy ..

This is the first Billy Bang record. The band, the Survival Ensemble, is a sextet - it's from 1978.

The few reviews that will find of this record on the web will suggest to you that it's vaguely interesting in a historical sort of way but inessential musically - 'diverting juvenilia' in almost as many words.
That - is crap. It's a great record.

Of it's time sure - but revealing of the reality of Billy Bang's 1978 - a reality you can still smell and feel and that has grip and resonance even now - 33 years later in a world that bears little resemblance . . .

The tunes are not complex, not the section-work razor-sharp - but it grooves and it crackles throughout with a totally unpretentious honesty and urgency. Both 'outside' and 'in' - a concept that will be familiar to longtime fans of Bang's. And some of the simple arranging, is quite beautiful. It's noticeable that Billy plays with a lighter bow and touch than he came to use later on, when he developed that *deep,deep* horsehair attack.

'Illustration' is a spoken-word piece, a protest poem - engaging socially, politically, poetically - in a way that works (and still stands up) better than many more well-known famous poetic efforts of the era.
'Subhanallah' is a concise 1/4 hour of grooving tear-it-on-down that's fantastic
The Coltrane dedication is in "Nobody Hear The Music The Same Way" - I don't hear the Coltrane in the music [explicitly I mean] but I love the *song* the band makes here
'For Josie Part II' is driven through its atmospheric shapes by Rashid Bakr & Khuwana Fuller, but is a group performance of light and shade ...

Henry Warner on alto - is still active in NYC, after some time reportedly away from public musicmaking in the 80s/90s. A veteran of the NYC lofts of the 70's, he's on Bang's 'Outline #12' record (1982), as well as on William Parker's first record . Warner's webpage, with contact email is at
Go to to check out his Vibrational Therapists band.

Bilal Abdur Rahman is a mystery and a cipher. Would love to know more about him. Anyone? ... This seems likely to be the only released recording he appears on.
A tune of his called 'Know Your Enemy' was recorded by Bang a number of times on later albums. He is credited with both tunes on side 2 here. He generates a great head of steam and plenty of excitement on Subhanallah, propelling the music forward madly.

Rashid Bakr is fantastic (some places here he's hitting *really hard*)

And Parker is exceptional - with or without a bow - a mighty player.

(John) Khuwana Fuller - like Warner - also appeared on 'Outline #12' 4 years later with a different band.

A Note on The Sound
This sounds almost exactly the same as the vinyl record does in this room - no noise reduction, or signal processing other than *manual* de-clicking. Initially, I ran the recording through a sophisticated piece of auto-declicking software. The clicks and pops were largely gone, and the sound was much cleaner, but I felt that 'something' had gone from the edge of the music too. If I A/B'ed the 2 , I could *barely* tell the difference in the music - but it was there, almost imperceptible. So - I went back to the original and started de-clicking manually. My litmus test in approaching this was that if I could hear any difference whatsoever after a single click removal - even a perception of difference - then the click stayed in. If there were no detectable difference in any way in that portion of music, then the click was removed - and on to the next click. And so on. It took ages, but the result is pretty true to the original. The fact I have done no other processing, means that the general noisefloor is higher than a processed recording. The point here is that you can EQ it yourself if you want to make a 'personal listening' copy that you're comfortable with. I'm trying to make here the closest thing I can to the sound of the vinyl on my turntable - not master a CD. Admittedly, the (manual) click-removal is a concession toward listenability that a totally 'pure' approach would eschew. Closest I can get to imagining the sound of the new vinyl, store-bought, 1978 is the justification. Everything is relative of course, and in the end you're relying on my ears making all these qualitative judgments. Res ipsa loquitur.

The recording acoustic is slightly dry and boxy - the ear quickly adjusts.

Go buy some music – support musicians and keep them and their families alive. Otherwise there will be no next generation and our kids kids’ will have nothing but shit to listen to.

Buy Bang CDs – buy Henry P Warner’s CDs – buy Other Dimensions In Music CDs (W. Parker & Rashid Bakr).

If everyone just sits at home at their computers downloading the universe, then no-one is helped, no one is supported, no-one is energized, there’s no path forward.
Everyone just gets a lot of solitary pleasure true - but that’s just the same as masturbation.

So anyway - "What's the remedy for a Saturday Night Fever?"


serviceton said...

FLAC New York Collage Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble
421.21 MB

onxidlib said...

What a surprise - you do this again and again during the last weeks.

And your description really makes me eager to hear it.
I can sense your enthusiasm - wonderful!


Wallofsound said...

Thanks. A sad reason to post such stimulating music.

pwr2thepeopleman said...

F the critics with their condescending "juvenalia". this is great. thank you for the rare share

Anonymous said...

YES ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Thank you!


Frédito said...

Thank you Serviceton.
I particularly like For Josie Part II.

serviceton said...

There never was (on record at least) a 'For Josie Part 1' that I am aware of...

Thanks for your comments onxidlib, Wallofsound, pwr2thepeopleman, brian, Frédito

brian h said...

thanks for posting this!

Igor said...

Thank you for sharing this jewel, serviceton.

Arcturus said...

drat - late again!

I'll keep my eyes out ...

you might wanna check out these 2 Folkways releases:

Bilal Abdurahman - African American Musical Roots Revisited - Echos of Timbuktu [1979]

East New York Ensemble de Music - At the Helm [1974]

be well,


serviceton said...

Hi arcturus! Know those releases you mention - but a different guy altogether.
*This* Bilal Abdur Rahman is - intriguingly - also on the new BB Survival Ensemble reissue CD and LP set. And nowhere else on record that I know of..

Arcturus said...

so much depends

a second

and glisten of

white between the

serviceton said...


Anonymous said...

Links Are Gone. Any Chace To Re-Up???

matt w said...

Sadly, a commenter at destination out said that s/he heard that the Bilad Abdur Rahman who plays on this record was murdered sometime back. Hopefully it's not true.

serviceton said...

still trying to find out more on B.A. Rahman, matt w

Hookfinger said...

Thanks for the link to purchase. If considering so, you must hurry as they are only releasing an edition of 1000.

unitstructure said...

I caught him on several occasions over the last couple of years playing solo concerts,leading his own group,and as a sideman with Bill Cole.On one occasion Henry Warner and his plastic alto sax was in Bang's band.On several occasions he appeared to be ailing though I had no idea how ill he really was. When it was his turn to solo he always went all out,holding nothing back.

Anonymous said...

i was very happy, when i saw this post...but the link is dead and that,s making me desperate, cause that's the only early Bang's album i can't find for free, so if circumstances permit please reup

sotise said...

the links were removed ,precisely because the album is now available....if yr that desperate why dont you just shell out and buy the thing?

Anonymous said...

yeah, i guess i should, if this is the only way to have it)
thank you, sotise