Friday, May 22, 2015

ROSCOE MITCHELL – Old-Quartet / 1967 (LP-1975)




Label: Nessa Records – N- 5
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1975
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
„Old“ recorded May 18, 1967, „Quartet Part ½“ recorded May 19, 1967.
„Solo“ recorded November 25, 1967.
Liner Notes [1975] – Larry Kart, Terry Martin
Producer – Chuck Nessa
Recorded By, Photography – Terry Martin

A1 - Old .............................................................. 8:09
A2 - Quartet Part 1 ............................................ 19:40
B1 - Quartet Part 2 ............................................ 18:03
B2 - Solo ............................................................. 5:34

Roscoe Mitchell – alto/soprano sax, clarinet, flute, performer little instruments
Lester Bowie – trumpet, flugelhorn, performer little instruments
Malachi Favors – bass, performer little instruments
Phillip Wilson – drums, percusson, others little instruments

In the mid to late 60s, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell was at the center of a group of young Chicago-based musicians who were extending the language of the free jazz revolution, until then largely a New York-based phenomenon. That was about to change. Mitchell led a quartet that also included trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors, and drummer Phillip Wilson. By the time the group made its first record. The style of this seminal ensemble was being defined when the rehearsal tapes that comprise Old/Quartet were made in 1967. Mitchell & Co. were not afraid to blow through the roof in the fiery style of their New York counterparts, but they also liked to reach back towards musical roots (“Old” is a 12-bar blues on which the traditional structure is respected, if not overmuch), as well as towards contemporary classical developments, or anywhere else that suited them. The tone can be passionate, ironic, whimsical, or sedate, sometimes all at the same time...
By Duck Baker


Recorded in the year prior to his groundbreaking Congliptious but not released until 1975, Old Quartet captures the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble (which would later coalesce into the Art Ensemble of Chicago) on a clear pathway toward the later album's majestic heights. In fact, it leads off with "Old," which closed the other album, and this performance is arguably superior both in its greater expansiveness and in Lester Bowie's incredibly poised trumpet work. That they slightly flub the ending (and joke about it) only adds to the relaxed air of the piece. "Quartet" is in two lengthy parts, and is a loose, somewhat rambling exploration that anticipates the title track from Congliptious less, perhaps, than it does Mitchell's quasi-narrative epic "The Spiritual" from two year later. The amount of freedom already at hand in 1967 is breathtaking, however. The group never meanders aimlessly; each little sound or moment of silence contributes to the flow. Vocal hums, whistles, harmonica tootles, and struck bells share equal footing with the more "traditional" instruments. Early on, Mitchell had realized that "free jazz" didn't only mean screaming at the top of one's lungs; there was room for quiet. The group would mature greatly over the next year, but all the seeds are clearly here. The album ends with a solo performance by Mitchell, augmenting his alto with bells, harmonica, and percussion. It's almost frightening how he's able to seesaw between delicate, music box-like melodies and the most harrowing slabs of sonic assault possible.
While perhaps a small step below Congliptious, it is nonetheless a beautiful album in its own right and one that ranks very high in Roscoe Mitchell's discography.


50 Years of AACM - Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians



If you find it, buy this album!

ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO – People In Sorrow (LP-1969)




Label: Nessa Records – N-3
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1969
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Recorded at Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 7th of July, 1969.
Photos By – Terry Martin
Design By – Schoengrund
Pathe Marconi Recording
Distributed by – Flaying Fish Records

A - People In Sorrow Part 1 .................................. 17:05
B - People In Sorrow Part 2 .................................. 23:05

Roscoe Mitchell – soprano, alto, bass saxophone, clarinet, flute, percussion
Joseph Jarman – alto saxophone, bassoon, oboe, flute, percussion
Lester Bowie – trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion
Malachi Favors – bass, zither, percussion instruments

In 1969, the Art Ensemble of Chicago (which had recorded just one official record, Congliptious, as a group at that point in time), moved to Paris for two years and recorded eight albums during their first year overseas alone.


This is one of those albums that completely shifts thinking about music. The unity of vision on this album is uncanny, offering two sides of a slow, almost a-rhythmic flow of immensely sad sounds, coming from a variety of instruments played by Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman and Malachi Favors (this is still the period before Famadou Don Moye joined on drums). There is no real soloing, just sounds and phrases interwoven in a stream of music that is both welcoming and strange, with a beautiful theme that once every so often becomes explicit when it emerges out of the background on the first side, and becoming more dominant on the second side, guided by Lester Bowie's beautiful trumpet playing, over a background of increasing mayhem and ritual shouts and incantations and little percussive sounds and other tribal goodies. Even after all these years, modern listeners will be surprised at the audacity of the music, as much as for its listening relevance today, and hopefully as emotionally impacted as your servant when listening to this album, again and again.

This is an absolute must-have for any fan of free music.Please also note that the early albums of the Art Ensemble of Chicago explicitly mentioned AACM and/or "Great Black Music".

_ By Stef
http://www.freejazzblog.org/2015/05/50-years-of-aacm-1975-1984.html


50 Years of AACM - Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians



If you find it, buy this album!

ROSCOE MITCHELL QUARTET – Roscoe Mitchell Quartet in concert at A Space (LP-1975)




Label: Sackville Recordings – 2009
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Canada / Released: 1975
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded in concert at A Space, Toronto on the 4th and 5th of October 1975.
Photography By, Artwork – Bill Smith
Recorded By – Dan Allen
Produced by Onari Productions
Master tapes, Prepared By – Phil Sheridan
Composed By – Roscoe Mitchell (tracks: A1, B1, B2)

A1 - Tnoona ........................................................................... 6:42
A2 - Music For Trombone And B Flat Soprano .................... 14:35
        (Compiled By – George Lewis)
B1 - Cards ............................................................................ 10:00
B2 - Olobo .............................................................................. 9:42

Roscoe Mitchell – soprano B Flat / alto / tenor saxophones
Muhal Richard Abrams – piano
George Lewis – trombone
Spencer Barefield – guitar

The main dictum of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was a self-reliant sense of Afrocentrism, and this notion of do-it-yourself ruggedness may even eclipse the pan-stylistics that are part of the AACM’s diverse aesthetics. Reedman and composer Roscoe Mitchell was one of the early members of the collective, which stemmed from pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band. Mitchell’s 1960s small groups with figures like trumpeter Lester Bowie and bassist Malachi Favors eventually developed into the Art Ensemble of Chicago, with the addition of reedman Joseph Jarman and, later, drummer Famoudou Don Moye.

As a solo performer and bandleader outside of the AEC, Mitchell’s music has often presented itself singularly and somewhat severely – it’s not necessarily monolithic, but carved out in an objective, laid-bare fashion. Whether hard or delicately-latticed, Mitchell’s phrasing is materialist, but in a fashion that is transcendent and direct. That’s especially true in his solo work, but in group music the focus is expanded – one could always tell Mitchell’s pieces immediately apart from other works in the AEC canon, as they are frequently rooted in repetition and didactic clarity.


One particularly interesting ensemble that recorded under Mitchell’s leadership was a 1975 quartet featuring Abrams, trombonist George Lewis and guitarist Spencer Barefield, an otherwise undocumented unit drawing from the first and second waves of the AACM that set the stage for Mitchell’s later work with Detroiters Barefield, drummer Tani Tabbal and bassist Jaribu Shahid. Recorded live at Toronto’s A Space over two nights in October 1975, four tracks from these sessions made it onto an eponymous LP for Sackville Records, run by saxophonist, promoter and journalist Bill Smith.

This recording was the first appearance on record of George Lewis. He’d later record solo for Sackville, and his membership in Braxton’s and Barry Altschul’s groups would cement his status as one of the AACM’s most commanding improvisers and thinkers, and he’s given significant space here. “Music for Trombone and Bb Soprano” has the trombonist front and center for much of its fourteen-minute duration, Lewis’ commanding facility and garrulousness approaching both first-chair symphonic trombone and the expressive detail of someone like Roswell Rudd or Albert Mangelsdorff. As a professor, composer and theorist for whom the academy seems at first blush to have replaced the immediacy of performance, his playing here should serve as a not-so-gentle reminder of Lewis’ creative vibrancy. Mitchell may be slightly back in the mix at times, but his straight horn curls and darts around Lewis’ phrases with curious and shapely specificity, at other times purring and striking up against the trombonist’s blats. Their rapport is developed from equal parts aggressive interplay and comely partnership. “Olobo,” which closes the original LP, is in fact completely given over to Lewis’ unaccompanied playing and concentrates Mitchell-like on repeated cells that explode into paint-peeling shouts, multiphonics and measured density.

“Cards” is a piece that Mitchell has done for both small group and orchestra; each player is given six cards with musical notation that can be arranged by the player in any order and any tempo. Something of a “directed improvisation,” this early iteration of the piece is ruggedly pointillist, slushy brass and terse, acrid alto brays ricocheting off Abrams’ clusters and filigree. Barefield’s contributions include brief, folksy interludes and arcing, reverbed electricity. It’s hard to say who’s responsible for the occasional whirs of a power drill, but they provide Cageian levity to these sharp ten minutes.

Moment's Notice:
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD44/PoD44MoreMoments5.html


Listening to this exquisite LP is, without a doubt, demanding but it is also a rewarding and thrilling aural and intellectual ride.


50 Years of AACM - Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians



If you find it, buy this album!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

CLIFFORD THORNTON – Ketchaoua (Actuel – 23 / LP-1969)




Label: BYG Records – 529.323
Series: Actuel – 23
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: France / Released: 1969
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded – August 18, 1969 in Paris, France
Composed By, Arranged By – Clifford Thornton
Coordinator [Coordination] – Jacques Bisceglia
Engineer – Claude Jauvert
Executive-Producer – Claude Delcloo
Photography By – Jacques Bisceglia
Producer – Jean Georgakarakos, Jean-Luc Young

A1 - Ketchaoua ...................................................................... 12:22
         alto saxophone – Arthur Jones
         bass – Beb Guerin
         congas, gong, percussion – Earl Freeman
         cornet, congas – Clifford Thornton
         drums – Sunny Murray
         piano, bells – Dave Burrell
         soprano saxophone – Archie Shepp
         trombone – Grachan Moncur III

A2 - Pan African Festival ....................................................... 7:50
         alto saxophone – Arthur Jones
         bass – Beb Guerin, Earl Freeman
         cornet, congas – Clifford Thornton
         drums – Sunny Murray
         piano – Dave Burrell
         soprano saxophone – Archie Shepp
         trombone – Grachan Moncur III

B1 - Brotherhood .................................................................. 10:43
         alto saxophone – Arthur Jones
         bass – Beb Guerin, Earl Freeman
         cornet – Clifford Thornton
         drums – Claude Delcloo

B2 - Speak With Your Echo (And Call This Dialogue) ........... 9:05
         bass – Beb Guerin, Earl Freeman
         cornet – Clifford Thornton

23rd volume in the BYG Actuel series; gatefold sleeve, 180 gram vinyl. This album was recorded in Paris on August 18, 1969 by Clifford Thornton (cornet and conga drums) with Grachan Moncur III (trombone), Archie Shepp (soprano saxophone), Arthur Jones (alto saxophone), Dave Burrell (piano), Sunny Murray (drums), Beb Guerin (bass), Earl Freeman (bass) and Claude Delcloo (drums).
"Clifford Thornton was a player and a composer whose obscurity was offset by the high esteem in which he was held by his fellow musicians... like Shepp, Thornton was actively involved in advancing the ideology of the black  movement... and all of his recordings are intense and important about those matters that were close to his heart -- liberation, communication and unity."
_ Byron Coley




Clifford Thornton's only Actuel date as a leader is, like many of the others in this BYG series, an all-star blowing session highly indicative of the times. For some, it will be difficult to tell whether taking credit for composing these pieces is a lost cause. This is some very free music and, save for a handful of scored passages, almost wholly improvised. A number of the scene's top players make appearances here in different groups.
Otherwise, "Brotherhood," a piece for quintet, is performed by Thornton, Jones, Guerin, Freeman, and this time, drummer Claude Delcloo, while on "Speak With Your Echo" only the two bassists (Guerin and Freeman) accompany Thornton's cornet. This piece in particular is especially enjoyable and reminiscent perhaps of Arthur Jones' fantastic ballad, "Brother B," from his own Actuel LP, Scorpio. At times the ensemble pieces sound like a Pan-African Morton Feldman, and at others, hazy, psychedelic post bop. Fans of brooding and contemplative improvised music will find a great deal to enjoy here. In fact, many would argue that this is the best LP under Thornton's leadership...

1969's Ketchaoua leaps through many styles in a way that reminds me of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and also Archie Shepp in this era—Shepp appears on half of the album.  Side A contains two long tracks that feature large ensembles and a lot of simple, interweaving percussion.  Both tracks gradually evolve into brief periods of recognizable jazz styles before floating back into more abstract terrain.  The opening title track might be the least prominent appearance from drummer Sunny Murray, who blends into the massed percussion.  The two tracks on side B are opposite extremes, though both feature smaller groups.  "Brotherhood" draws from New York energy jazz, with Claude Delcloo's percussion prominent in the mix.  "Speak with Your Echo" ends the album with its sparsest arrangement, featuring only Thornton and two bassists.  The recording quality varies, with the large groups sounding better than "Brotherhood", where the explosive percussion reverberates awkwardly in a boxy room. Who cares, it still sounds great.

Yes, definitely raw, awesome, volatile and atmospheric. Brilliant!



If you find it, buy this album!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

WILDFLOWERS 1 – The New York Loft Jazz Sessions (Douglas / LP1-1977)




Label: Douglas – NBLP 7045
Series: Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions – 1
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1977
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded May 14 thru May 23, 1976 at Studio Rivbea, 24 Bond Street, New York.
Engineer [Assistant] – Les Kahn
Engineer [Chief] – Ron Saint Germain
Engineer [Remote Assistant] – Matt Murray
Executive-producer – Harley I. Lewin
Liner Notes – Ross Firestone
Mastered By – Ray Janos
Photography By – Peter Harron
Producer – Alan Douglas, Michael Cuscuna, Sam Rivers

A1 - Kalaparusha – Jays ...................................................................................... 6:00
        Bass, Electric Bass – Chris White
        Drums – Jumma Santos
        Tenor Saxophone – Kalaparusha (Maurice McIntyre)

A2 - Ken McIntyre – New Times .......................................................................... 7:25
        Alto Saxophone – Ken McIntyre (Makanda)
        Congas – Andy Vega
        Percussion [Multiple] – Andrei Strobert
        Piano – Richard Harper

A3 - Sunny Murray & The Untouchable Factor – Over The Rainbow ................. 5:30
        Alto Saxophone – Byard Lancaster
        Bass – Fred Hopkins
        Drums – Sunny Murray
        Tenor Saxophone – David Murray
        Vibraphone – Khan Jamal

B1 - Sam Rivers – Rainbows ............................................................................. 10:00
        Bass – Jerome Hunter
        Drums – Jerry Griffin
        Soprano Saxophone – Sam Rivers

B2 - Air – Usu Dance ............................................................................................ 7:45
        Alto Saxophone – Henry Threadgill
        Bass – Fred Hopkins 
         Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall

In the mid-1970s, a jazz renaissance blossomed in large New York loft spaces that the musicians had reclaimed from the depressed blocks of the trendy Soho and Noho areas. The Wildflowers sessions, originally released on Douglas on five LPs, captured performances by almost 100 musicians in numerous configurations. The recordings were made over two weekends at the most famed of the lofts, Studio Rivbea, the home and workspace of saxophonist-flutist-composer Sam Rivers and his wife, Beatrice. Rivers orchestrated the lineup, played host to patrons, and performed as well. The sessions featured many figures well-established in New York, including Rivers, drummer Andrew Cyrille, and pianist Randy Weston, but they also attracted players from the seedbed of so much African American aesthetic jazz exploration in the 1960s and '70s, Chicago.

In addition, Rivers invited to town some key players from Philadelphia and New Haven; there were several newcomers to New York, too, including, from out West, a very young David Murray. The music all had immediacy and urgency fitting to the aesthetic task at hand--to consolidate the gains of the free-jazz and New Thing movements of the 1960s. Indeed, many of the players remain key figures today in that project: Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, and Leo Smith among them. In addition to their performances, highlights of the package include Rivers's radiant meandering over his composition "Rainbow"; pianist Weston's impassioned homage to his father; and performances by important, but often under-recognized innovators, including saxophonist Ken McIntyre and pianist Dave Burrell. Here is a seminal document in American music...



If you find it, buy this album!

WILDFLOWERS 2 – The New York Loft Jazz Sessions (Douglas / LP2-1977)




Label: Douglas – NBLP 7046
Series: Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions – 2
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1977
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded May 14 thru May 23, 1976 at Studio Rivbea, 24 Bond Street, New York.
Engineer [Assistant] – Les Kahn
Engineer [Chief] – Ron Saint Germain
Engineer [Remote Assistant] – Matt Murray
Executive-producer – Harley I. Lewin
Liner Notes – Ross Firestone
Mastered By – Ray Janos
Photography By – Peter Harron
Producer – Alan Douglas, Michael Cuscuna, Sam Rivers

A1 - Flight To Sanity – The Need To Smile .................................................. 10:47
         Bass – Benny Wilson
         Congas – Don Moye
         Drums – Harold Smith
         Piano – Sonelius Smith
         Soprano Saxophone – Art Bennett
         Tenor Saxophone – Byard Lancaster
         Trumpet – Olu Dara

A2 - Ken McIntyre – Naomi ............................................................................ 6:00
         Congas, Percussion – Andy Vega
         Flute – Ken McIntyre
         Percussion [Multiple] – Andrei Strobert
         Piano – Richard Harper

B1 - Anthony Braxton – 73°-S Kelvin ............................................................. 6:30
         Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Contrabass Saxophone – Anthony Braxton
         Bass – Fred Hopkins
         Drums – Barry Altschul
         Guitar – Michael Jackson
         Piano – Anthony Davis
         Percussion – Phillip Wilson
         Trombone – George Lewis

B2 - Marion Brown – And Then They Danced ............................................... 7:00
         Alto Saxophone – Marion Brown
         Bass – Jack Greg
         Congas – Jumma Santos

B3 - Leo Smith & The New Delta Ahkri – Locomotif N°6 ............................. 6:00
         Alto Saxophone – Oliver Lake
         Bass – Wes Brown
         Drums – Paul Maddox, Stanley Crouch
         Piano – Anthony Davis
         Trumpet – Leo Smith

Note:
A1. Due to technical live recording problems, the beginning of "The Need To Smile" was not properly recorded. The producers felt the performance strong enough to include it with a logical beginning at the soprano saxophone solo.
B1. "73°-S Kelvin" is an excerpt of a continuous performance.
B2. "And Then They Danced" is presented here in its entirety. It fades rather than ends with applause because it was part of a continuous set where one composition followed into the next.

... Free jazz being almost synonym of Jazz during short period of late 60s-early 70s disappeared from American jazz scenes blown away by fusion.Yesterday stars trying to survive changed their music to more accessible (as Archie Shepp)or moved to Europe where free jazz stayed alive founding its niche in small clubs for years.In late 70s though American free jazz experienced some renaissance in a form of so called "loft jazz scene" - avant-garde jazz musicians activities based around New York Soho district former industrial lofts, refurbished to musicians studios. One of central such studio was Sam Rivers Studio Rivbea. Lot of concerts took a place there and some cult albums were recorded as well...

The second volume in this seminal series from the mid 70s – one that did a great job of documenting some of the formative underground playing that was happening in the New York loft scene, almost more creative work than in previous generations, thanks to a lack of commercial venues, and hence, commercial constraints on the music. Tracks include "And Then They Danced" by Marion Brown, "Locomotif" by Leo Smith, "Naomi" by Ken McIntyre, and "The Need To Smile" by a group with Byard Lancaster, Sonelius Smith, Don Moye, and Olu Dara.



If you find it, buy this album!

WILDFLOWERS 3 – The New York Loft Jazz Sessions (Douglas / LP3-1977)




Label: Douglas – NBLP 7047
Series: Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions – 3
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1977
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded May 14 thru May 23, 1976 at Studio Rivbea, 24 Bond Street, New York.
Engineer [Assistant] – Les Kahn
Engineer [Chief] – Ron Saint Germain
Engineer [Remote Assistant] – Matt Murray
Executive-producer – Harley I. Lewin
Liner Notes – Ross Firestone
Mastered By – Ray Janos
Photography By – Peter Harron
Producer – Alan Douglas, Michael Cuscuna, Sam Rivers

A1 - Randy Weston – Portrait Of Frank Edward Weston ............................... 8:50
         Bass – Alex Blake
         Congas – Azzedin Weston
         Piano, Written-By – Randy Weston

A2 - Michael Jackson – Clarity ....................................................................... 5:15
         Acoustic Guitar, Written-By – Michael Jackson
         Bass – Fred Hopkins
         Drums – Phillip Wilson
         Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Oliver Lake

A3 - Dave Burrell – Black Robert ................................................................... 6:30
         Bass – Stafford James
         Drums – Harold White
         Piano, Written-By – Dave Burrell

B1 - Abdullah – Blue Phase .......................................................................... 12:37
         Double Bass – Rickie Evans
         Drums – Rashied Sinan
         Electric Bass – Leroy Seals
         Guitar – Mashujaa
         Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Charles Bracken
         Trumpet, Written-By – Ahmed Abdullah

B2 - Andrew Cyrille & Maono – Short Short .................................................. 7:30
         Bass – Lyle Atkinson
         Drums, Written-By – Andrew Cyrille  (Rights Society: ASCAP)
         Tenor Saxophone – David Ware
         Trumpet – Ted Daniel

...The jazz of the 1970s, particularly in New York, was a vital and searching music, just as the best jazz has always been. Musicians like Sam Rivers, David Murray, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the World Saxophone Quartet, Cecil Taylor and many others worked tirelessly, expanding their tonal vocabularies and creating shimmering and brilliant soundscapes for whoever was still listening. The audiences were, indeed, smaller. But the scope of the artistic achievement was as grand as ever.

This is an astonishing document, sonically wide-open to anyone with an ear for music of the spirit. The performances are varied enough, and sequenced in such a manner, that the most palatable, groove-oriented works will draw the listener in that he or she may appreciate the more abstract, experimental works as well. This music’s vitality is timeless; these recordings should be heard by anyone with anything more than a glancing interest in jazz...



If you find it, buy this album!