Tuesday, February 26, 2013

GUY, SCHWEIZER, PARKER, BAUER, PHILLIPS, LYTTON – Elsie Jo - Live (1995)



Label: Maya Recordings – MCD9201 
Format: CD, Album; Country: UK - Released: 1995 
Style: Free Improvisation, Avant-garde Jazz
Recorded at the Amadeus Centre, London on 23 March 1991. 
Cover art (reproduced above) 'Berthon' by Albert Irvin
Elsie Jo was first released with a different cover (re-issued early 1995)

 Irène Schweizer
Barre Philips
Konrad Bauer
Paul Lytton, Evan Parker, Barry Guy

Note:

Elsie Jo are five of European free improv's most experienced and respected performers, plus an American virtuoso bassist. Barry Guy, Irène Schweizer, Evan Parker, Konrad Bauer, Paul Lytton and Barre Phillips have all worked together in the impressive London Jazz Composers Orchestra, and Parker, Guy and Lytton as a long established trio. In other words, all of these musicians know each other's game – and my word it shows! Clocking in at nearly 45 minutes, Megalops Presents can only be described as consummate collective improvising. Ideas flow with amazing surety, develop into thickly textured structures and peel away almost imperceptibly: a trio emerges where only a moment before a sextet had existed and so on. After this Ta'ay (Now), a sparkling duet between Evan Parker and Irène Schweizer, featuring ornate multi phonics on soprano which are complemented by the piano's rippling attacks. Then everybody gathers for a further 20 minutes of collective improvising.

How the group came buy their curious name is revealed in Barry Guy's notes which you can read when you buy this magnificent album.



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Thursday, February 21, 2013

STEN SANDELL & DAVID STACKENÄS with PARKER / GUY / LYTTON – Gubbröra (2004)




Label: psi – psi 04.10 
Format: CD, Album; Country: Japan - Released: May 2004 
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded in concert at Freedom Of The City 2004, Conway Hall, London on 3 May 2004.
Photographer: Caroline Forbes
Distributor: Northcountry Distributors
Personnel: Sten Sandell (piano, electronics, voice); David Stackenäs (guitar); Evan Parker (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Barry Guy (double bass); Paul Lytton (percussion)


Sten Sandell

 David Stackenäs

Album Notes:

Recorded live at the 2004 Freedom of the City Festival, this album features the visiting Swedish duo of pianist Sten Sandell and guitarist David Stackenäs, on their own at first, and later joined by the trusty Parker/Guy/Lytton trio. Sandell is a powerful player and a resourceful improviser, resolutely belonging to the expressive camp. His use of preparations and occasional electronics (even his voice at times, although not much in this concert), and his extremely large dynamics palette deserve comparisons with Keith Tippett and Howard Riley. Best known for his tenure in the improv collective No Spaghetti Edition, Stackenäs is less easy to characterize, his playing seemingly borrowing from every meaningful guitarist in classical, jazz and avant-garde history, from Bailey to Segovia and Lussier. As a two-headed unit, Sandell and Stackenäs light sparks, their dialogue often turning into argument. "Jansson's Temptation (Part 1)" is a heated debate, the pianist hammering one point after another before laying a gripping solo consisting of sharply contrasting elements (as if he were now arguing with himself). The second part of this duet cools down and lingers on, Stackenäs' use of a hand-held fan (or other rotating device) on the guitar strings bringing little more than a cliche to the improvisation. The 34-minute quintet piece with Parker, Guy and Lytton is all over the place, ranging from near-chaotic five-way exchanges to an almost silent middle section and a couple of uncomfortable points of hesitation in between. Stackenäs' acoustic guitar often gets buried by the force brut of the English trio (to which Sandell seems more than happy to add), but there are also a few minutes of true group communion. Despite being entertaining and varied, Gubbröra rarely steps beyond that line, making it a rather unessential item. 

~ François Couture



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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SPRING HEEL JACK - The Blue Series Continuum – Masses (2001)




Label: Thirsty Ear – THI57103.2
Series: The Blue Series – (Artistic Director of Blue Series: Matthew Shipp)
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 2001
Style: Abstract, Downtempo, Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
Recorded upstairs at the Strongroom, London & Sorcerer Sound NYC, 2001
Executive Producer – Peter Gordon; Producer – Ashley Wales, John Coxon
Mastered By – Nick Webb
Mixed By – Oliver Meacock
Recorded By – Chris Flam, Oliver Meacock

The British electronica duo Ashley Wales & John Coxon with Tim Berne, Guillermo E. Brown, Roy Campbell, Daniel Carter, Mat Maneri, Ed Coxon, Evan Parker, William Parker, Matthew Shipp and George Trebar.

Review:

Spring Heel Jack entered the electronica scene in the mid-90's, clearly on the living-room listening side of the drum-n-bass spectrum. The beats on 1996's 68 Million Shades came complex, but despite their rapid pace the overall sonic texture was subdued, making for a smooth, pedestrian vibe. The following album, Busy Curious Thirsty, locked into the harder dance groove that was developing at the time, though a closer listen showed that the real intent was the creation of a roughened, more diverse sound. The new direction lost a lot of their audience, though, and the ambient pieces were numbingly repetitious. In a typical major label move, Island dropped the duo from its roster.

Since then, John Coxon and Ashley Wales have been working hard, and each of their recent endeavors have been more successful-- from the driving, eerie Treader to the slightly softer, more cinematic Disappeared and the noisy ambient experiments collected on Oddities. They've also taken a cue from Fila Brazillia, who produced the strangely pristine luster on Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers project. Coxon & Wales collaborated with Low in 2000 on the Bombscare EP, in which all junglist tendencies vanished, subsumed into Low's stark minimalism; likewise, Alan Sparhawk & Co. found their fragile song frames reinforced by a mesh of synthetic subtlety and carefully controlled drones. The union got called "experimental" mostly due to the uncomfortable tension the album evoked.

Masses invigorates the Thirsty Ear label's fusion project, "The Blue Series Continuum." Spring Heel Jack have toyed with jazz since their early days-- sampling a brassy trumpet trill here, employing a live percussion sample from Tortoise there-- but as time progressed, they showed interest in jazz as a structural template rather than cut-and-paste decoration. For Masses, they recorded a number of ambient soundscapes composed of crackling feedback and found sound (once again absent of breakbeats), and gathered choice labelmates to improvise over the recordings. Some of the most influential names in the new breed of free jazz participated, from the dynamic duo of pianist Matthew Shipp and double bassist William Parker to mercurial saxophonist Evan Parker. The result is the most intense, fascinating album of Spring Heel Jack's career.

"Chorale" opens in static pulses. Shipp hesitantly takes lead with four- and five-note piano clusters, while William Parker's bass explores the space between the rumbling drones. One aspect of the prerecorded soundtracks is that the musicians can slow down and test intimate, abstract harmonies usually only available to duos and trios. Evan Parker's lone soprano sax line repeats after long intervals, intriguingly programmatic considering his usual repertoire. This melancholy motif is the only semblance of melody in the entire song, and the noir ambience would fit perfectly in Blade Runner when Deckard sips his drink alone in the dim living room.

"Chiaroscuro" defines an opposite approach-- an amplified two-note bassline followed by a handclap serves as the rhythmic anchor for the entire track. Hardly boring, this relentless, aggressive reverb is the current through which Daniel Carter runs his saxophone, at first a playful expedition that becomes increasingly strained and frenetic. Guillermo Brown busts three minutes afterwards with overlapping bass-drum rolls and snares, adding to the uneasiness. Trying to isolate the organic from the preprocessed is difficult; at times, the streaks of Ed Coxon's violin blend seamlessly with the humming bed of distortion.

The title track, on which all players are involved, is by far the standout. Brown plays schizophrenically liberated percussion, abusing cowbells and the drumstand itself as pianist Shipp jabs at the low register ivory keys. A sudden crescendo: seconds too late, you realize these were pebbles before the rockslide. The onslaught erupts, burying the listener in a lung- collapsing surge of saxophone wails, trumpet squeals and double-bass throttling. The moment ends as soon as it began, dispersing into Brown's maniacally inspired building-block clatter. If the ascendant free jazz of the 1960's came to be known as "Fire Music," the elemental force here takes place somewhere between metamorphic earth and storm-strewn air, though the electrical fury can hardly be traced back along its silicate tangents to any original resting place.

But don't assume that the entire album is impenetrable noise. A few short interludes separate the longer works, giving single musicians the chance to test their mettle against the compositions. On "Cross," I felt transported to a swirling fantasia, sure that the background was tampering with Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" until I realized that this was just Mat Maneri in the foreground on acoustic and electric viola. "Salt" is a comparatively straightforward number, launched by Brown and William Parker's hard-bop rhythm and spiced by Shipp's Monk-like vamping. But the final track, "Coda," returns to the spatial acoustics of the first. Coxon and Wales pull the buzzing chimes of their earliest work off the lathe, causing the trumpet-like microtonality of Maneri's viola to recede into the background.

Masses compresses so many components: improv artists from New York jam with Londoners and other Europeans, organic instruments collide with digital spree, free jazz is tempered by prerecorded loops. Curated by Matthew Shipp and sequenced by the Spring Heel boys, this is steaming hot fusion, a record whose density and emotional nuance requires repeated listening to decipher. Many questions are raised, but the one that tugs most anxiously in my mind is whether Coxon and Wales will attempt improvisational electronics themselves on future projects.

_ By Christopher Dare, June 5, 2001 (Pitchfork)



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SPRING HEEL JACK – AMaSSED (2002)




Label: Thirsty Ear – THI57123.2
Series: The Blue Series – (Artistic Director of Blue Series: Matthew Shipp)
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 2002
Style: Free Jazz + Electronics
Recorded upstairs at the Strongroom, London & Gateway Studio, Kingston, 2001 
Mastered at Abbey Road
Design, Photography – Cynthia Fetty
Executive-producer – Peter Gordon;  Producer – Ashley Wales, John Coxon

Review:

John Coxon and Ashley Wales are back with their second installment of "Free Jazz plus Electronics" for Thirsty Ear's Blue Series. The Blue Series has, over the past couple of years, been a much-needed shot in the arm for recorded Jazz, presenting different approaches and ideas than the saccharine parade of dusty reissues and nostalgia acts still being churned out by most of the Major labels. Thirsty Ear has, effectively, thrown down a gauntlet by depicting Jazz as a living, thriving, and still-evolving musical genre. Moreover, while their releases depict the incorporation of such controversial material as electronics, dance-hall beats and DJ- ing, the focus is never on mere novelty, but is backed up by strong and committed performances from the participating musicians. AMaSSED is no exception.

AMaSSED brings back a few of the players from last year's Masses, but also features collaborations with several new musicians. Returning are pianist Matthew Shipp (curator of the Blue Series), saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist George Trebar and violinist Ed Coxon. The fresh faces are drummer Han Bennink, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, trombonist Paul Rutherford and bassist John Edwards. In addition to jazz musicians, AMaSSED is graced by a prominent figure from the Indie Rock community -- Billed as J Spaceman, Spiritualized's Jason Pierce contributes guitar work to the recording. No interloper, Pierce is clearly at home in this musical environment.

AMaSSED does not present itself simply as a sequel -- Son of Masses, as it were. Instead, the combination of players new to the project and continuing participants allows SHJ to both invent entirely new compositions and to reinvestigate some of the material from Masses. The most notable example of the latter is the recycling of George Trebar's ostinato, open-string, one-note bass groove, first used on the Masses track "Chiaroscuro", on the even-more frenetic AMaSSED cut "Obscured". Gotta love the alliteration, by the way. Comparing the two pieces, one hears different sets of musicians, many accustomed to a more atonal atmosphere than the one-note ground provides them, seeking to obliterate its insistent low E with increasing violence. They create a pair of berserk yet inspired jams (for lack of a better word). There seems to be some resonance in these pieces with the effect achieved on Radiohead's Kid A by the horn section that plays on "National Anthem".

Another inspired effort is "Maroc"'s duet between Pierce and Parker. Parker plays his characteristic cascades of notes, while Pierce interjects both judicious feedback and spare textural playing. Despite the resultant flurry, neither seems to get in the other's way. Kenny Wheeler's always affecting playing is nicely featured, particularly his negotiation of the most stratospheric register trumpet will allow, on "Lit". "Double Cross" finds string players Edwards and Coxon playing with Parker and Wales on an ethereal composition that presents itself with the intimacy of chamber music.

Han Bennink and Ed Coxon tear it up on "Duel"; this cut is also an excellent demonstration of SHJ's more overt contributions. Throughout, the electronic duo are never heavy-handed with their interjections of beats and sound material. Turning this music into some kind of raver's bad trip by loading it with heavy, pulsing backgrounds would be a tragedy, given the flexibility of rhythm found in Avant-Jazz in general and especially when considering the sensitive playing found here. SHJ instead react appropriately to the sounds created by their collaborators, with flexible and fleeting beats and well-spaced dabs of synthetic sound.

In addition to the aforementioned "Obscured", "100 Years Before", "Wormwood" and the title track all feature larger cross-sections of the participants. One might suppose that the danger in these ensemble efforts, especially once electronics are added to the mix, is that the result will be dense and cluttered. However, this never appears to be a problem. Whether due to judicious editing, sensitive interaction, or some combination of the two, the music on AMaSSED is possessed of both clarity of texture and narrative flow.

Will the innovations and trends depicted in the Blue Series prove enduring? Only time will tell. However, the rapprochement between two wings of experimental music (Avant-Jazz and Electronica) indicated by AMaSSED and other recent recordings, seems to hold out the promise of much fertile musical creation in the future. Unlike many other recordings released this past year, Spring Heel Jack's latest seems to speak to the here and now instead of the past, all the while keeping an eye on what comes next.

_ By Christian Carey, 5 November 2002



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Sunday, February 17, 2013

PETER BRÖTZMANN / PEETER UUSKYLA – Born Broke (2CD - 2008)




Label: Atavistic – ALP185CD
Format: 2 × CD Country: US - Released: 2008
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Bohus Sound Recording Kungälv, Sweden on September 9, 2006.
Cover – K.Untiet, Brötzmann
Re-Design by ART&JAZZ Studio; Designer - VITKO Salvarica - 2012
Engineer – Dragan Tanaskovic
Photography By – Amanda Protidou

Saxophone-drums duos are not commonplace in free jazz or improvised music, frequently producing something a bit special. The format dates back (at least) to John Coltrane & Rashied Ali ’ s Interstellar Space, with other notable contributions coming from Dewey Redman & Ed Blackwell, Jimmy Lyons & Andrew Cyrille, Evan Parker & John Stevens, and Anthony Braxton & Max Roach. Peter Brötzmann himself is a repeat offender, his long- standing duo with Han Bennink being particularly noteworthy.

The duo format allows no hiding place for either player. Not only is there no underpinning structure to fall back on, each player is in the spotlight constantly, being continually challenged by their playing partner. (This probably explains why the list of those who attempt this format reads like the premier league of sax players and drummers.) And so it is here with Brötzmann and Peeter Uuskyla.

Review:

German multi-reedist Peter Brötzmann, the grandfather of European free jazz, and Swedish drummer Peeter Uuskyla have been playing together in various line-ups for the past ten years. Although Brötzmann's dynamic range has expanded considerably since his early days as the fire-breathing author of the seminal Machine Gun (Atavistic, 1969), he hasn't lost any of his vivaciousness. Guided by the stalwart rhythmic focus of Uuskyla, the duo finds ample territory to explore throughout this double disc set.

Brötzmann's blast furnace intensity is legendary, and there are plenty of opportunities to bear witness to his acerbic testimonials over the course of these discs. The Ayler-esque folkiness of "Beautiful But Stupid" yields stretches of unflagging turbulence; Brötzmann wails with fervent abandon on tenor while Uuskyla flails like a whirlwind, every limb in motion. Trading velocity for volume, the bluesy swagger at the core of "Ain't Got The Money" is just as severe as the circuitous assaults that bookend "Dead And Useless."

With a conversational acumen years in the making, their subtle asides and interjections are proof of their acute listening abilities. The duo's finely tuned rapport manifests most clearly during the occasional introspective passage. As the second half of the title track subsumes to a hushed cry, Uuskyla's brushes waft over his snare, accompanied by gentle pulses from his bass drum, while Brötzmann unfurls muted multiphonic cries from his clarinet, invoking an air of melancholic discontent.

Uusklya is a far more orderly drummer than the proto-typical free jazz percussionist. Repeatable rhythms and pulse-based patterns are paramount to his approach, as roiling toms and staccato snare rolls interlock with well-timed cymbal crashes, unveiling liberally abstract swing. Eschewing lower case improv-styled theatrics, he embraces spontaneous composition from a far more traditional angle.

Uuskyla's structural aesthetic allows Brötzmann a series of formal constrains to improvise within and against. Their artistic temperament forms a virtual yin and yang balance; Uuskyla reins Brötzmann in, while Brötzmann pushes Uusklya. The creative tension between their approaches makes this session one of Brötzmann's more compelling and accessible releases.

Brötzmann has played with more apocalyptic ear-splitting frenzy elsewhere, but not with as much clarity and diversity. Full of visceral beauty, passion and pathos, Born Broke is a prime example of contemporary free improvisation and a perfect introduction to one of the innovators of European free jazz.

_ By TROY COLLINS, Published: February 13, 2008 (AAJ)



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CHARLOS BECHEGAS and PETER KOWALD – Open Secrets: A Suite in 13 Parts (2001)



Label: Forward – Forward/01
Format: CD, Album; Country: Portugal - Released: 2001
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded by Nana Sousa Dias at ´TIA studios´ (Lisbon) in October 1999
Mixed by Frank Engelmann and Peter Kowald @ ´Pro Audio´, Wuppertal (Germany)
Produced by Carlos Bechegas
Cover painting: Catarina Castel-Branco; Design: Carlos Santos
Liner notes: José Duar te, Gérard Rouy

Excerpt from the booklet:

(…) Enjoying the flute is not easy, but to enjoy it in all the ways it can be played (…) is practically impossible. Carlos Bechegas (…) knows all the secrets of the flute and how to practice transgression with it, talking to it, suffering with it as it is blown.
(…)
Even though the flute is one of the oldest musical instruments in the history of humanity, it is one of the least used in the world of free improvised music. (…) Born in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1957, Carlos Bechegas studied (like Keith Rowe or Peter Brötzmann) visual and graphic arts, and while pursuing an academic classical education, played jazz- rock, Portuguese popular music, and big-band Jazz. After taking part in improvised music workshops with Steve Lacy, Evan Parker, Richard Teitelbaum and playing with his compatriot Carlos Zingaro, he decided to give up his alto and soprano saxes in 1988 and go in search of new musical territories by transferring contemporary flute playing extended techniques to improvisation and by using electronics. After the release of his trio-CD ´Movement Sounds´ (1997) and a remarkable solo album (´Flute Landscapes´ , 1998) he decided to play live with other improvising musicians. He made contact with Peter Kowald through an improvised music workshop held by the bassist at Lisbon´s Goethe Institute in 1997, followed by a duo concert at the ´O da Guarda´ Improvisation Festival in 1999. The similarity of intention, attitude and material between the two men convinced them to record together in duo.
(…)
Peter Kowald, a celebrated and prize-winning practitioner in the field of improvised music (…) turns the bass into a machine for commentary and direct speech. (…) He brings new unorthodox playing methods to bear, both in his pizzicato work alternating deep sonorities and harmonics, and in his use of the bow (particularly in combining low notes with his voice), contributing to create complex structures and a dreamlike universe with hypnotic qualities. On flute, Carlos Bechegas covers his nervous and timbered phrasing with a great variety of colours and effects borrowed from contemporary music: multiphonics, flutter-tonguing, micro-tonality, percussive key effects, glissandi, use of the voice, circular breathing. Together, they create bright and rugged landscapes where the listener is carried away in the maelstrom of their passionate and generous play.

_ by Gérard Rouy, José Duarte


Review:

On his 1998 solo CD Flute Landscapes, Carlos Bechegas was applying extended techniques developed by free improvisers like Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, and bassist Peter Kowald. In the case of the last artist, it led to a fruitful relationship, as Open Secrets testifies. Recorded in a Portuguese studio in October 1999, this CD demonstrates how like minded the two musicians are. Their level of communication is exemplary. Bechegas integrates his voice in his flute playing, something that has become a trademark for Kowald, especially when using the bow. Therefore some of these duets sound like quartets; "Part 10," featuring the bassist's scary basso profondo, is simply stunning. At the beginning of "Part 7," it is the bassist who mimics the flutist, playing the high register. The 13 free improvisations are kept short (nothing over eight minutes), dense, and electrified. In "Part 3," Bechegas' flute jumps all around, unstoppable, while Kowald tries to keep up, obviously amused. The flute's flutter-like exuberance completes the bassist's more introverted playing to a surprising extent — they were born to play together. Some free improv records are inhabited by a magical atmosphere. Open Secrets is one of them. All the promises found in Flute Landscapes have been kept. This is the first release on Bechegas' imprint Forward, and his first recording with a renowned improvisor. Strongly recommended .

— by François Couture



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I remember Zeke's Gallery – Poster - No. 3


Graphic Design:
Poster – No. 3
Live Performances At Zeke’s Gallery – Montreal, Canada – 2005/07
Different Perspectives In My Room ...! about Zeke's Gallery, which stopped working in August 2007
Poster dimensions: 101 X 71,5 cm
Artwork and Complete Design by VITKO Salvarica
ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA – 2012
The used materials are the old photos, for the new posters.

The Zeke’s Gallery Performances & Interviews , were included live band recordings, poetry readings, theater performances, and interviews with artists and other people involved in making art and culture in Montreal. A fiercely independent art gallery started in 1998, Zeke's Gallery began recording the bands and poets who performed in their space in 2001. As time progressed, the recordings began to expand in scope and incorporated in-depth interviews with artists exhibiting at the gallery.

Zeke's Gallery, sadly, closed its doors in August 2007.


Periodically, in several episodes, I'll introduce you to some interesting shots, which occurred on the premises of Zeke's Gallery. The material I found on "The Zeke's Gallery Podcasts".
I fixed the sound quality, digital audio format is MP3@320, and you can find a link in the comments.
As such, this material, will be published only on this blog.
I hope that you will discover something new.



This is the third walk through the Zeke's Gallery:

LES POULES - Live at Zeke's Gallery (February 21, 2006)
Joane Hetu (saxophone and voice), Diane Labrosse (sampler) & Danielle Palardy Roger (percussion)


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Thursday, February 14, 2013

PHIL RANELIN – The Time Is Now! (1974)




Label: Hefty Records – HEFTY 032
Format: CD, Album; Reissue Country: US Released: 2001
Style: Free Jazz, Jazz-Funk
Recorded between November 11, 1973 and April 28, 1974.
Artwork By [Original Album Design, Cover Artwork] – Bili Turner
Photography – Hugh Grannom, Leni Sinclair, Marcus Belgrave, Norm Snyder
Engineer [Assisted By, Coordinated By] – John Hughes
2.,7.,8. was recorded November 11, 1973.
1.,3.,5. recorded April 27, 1974.
4.,6. recorded April 28, 1974 at Pioneer Studio.
Restored and mixed at Soma Studios.
Mastered at SAE Mastering.
Tape transfers performed at Electrical Audio, Sound Factory, and Soma Studios.
Catalogue number appears on Cover and CD as HEFTY32. Reissue of the original TRCD 4006 / Tribe Vol.6 album on Tribe (in Discogs: Tribe (3) from 1974. Tracks 7, 8 and 9 were previous unreleased



Note:

Phil Ranelin (b. May 25, 1939) is an American jazz and experimental music trombonist.
Ranelin was born in Indianapolis, and lived in New York before moving to Detroit in the 1960s. He played as a session musician on many Motown recordings.
In 1971, he and Wendell Harrison formed a group called The Tribe, which was an avant-garde jazz ensemble devoted to black consciousness. Alongside it he co-founded Tribe Records. He released several albums as a leader in the 1970s, and continued with The Tribe project until 1978. following this, Ranelin worked with Freddie Hubbard.
Ranelin worked mostly locally in Detroit in the following decades, and did not find widespread acceptance among jazz aficionados. However, he eventually came to the attention of rare groove collectors who became increasingly interested in his work. As a result, Tortoise drummer John McEntire remastered some of Ranelin's older material and re-released it on Hefty Records.



Review:

Phil Ranelin's first record as a leader is worlds away from his later 1976 offering, Vibes From the Tribe. The Time Is Now is a vanguard jazz record, full of the spirit, determination, and innovation inspired by John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Pharoah Sanders, and Archie Shepp. Recorded in 1973 and 1974 and released at the end of 1974, the set shows Ranelin to be an imposing composer and frightfully good trombonist. The original album contained six compositions that are a deep musical brew of avant-garde improvisation, hard bop jazz esthetics, and soulful melodic ideas that were superimposed as a jump off point for both harmonic and rhythmic (read: Latin) invention. The stamp of Detroit is all over this thing. Tracks like the title and "Black Destiny" reflect the anger and vision of the era, while moving it all in a positive musical direction. Soloists on the set include the rest of the Tribe collective -- Marcus Belgrave and Wendell Harrison -- as well as local players who deserved far more than they received in terms of national recognitions: bassist Reggie "Shoo-Be Doo" Fields, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist Keith Vreeland, drummer Bill Turner, and others including Ranelin himself. The arrangements on The Time Is Now were ahead of their time, clustering a rhythm section as part of the horn's front line ("13th and Senate" and the title track) and a stylistic angularity that reflected both musical history and futurism in jazz and R&B ("Time Is Running Out" and "Times Gone By"). Tortoise drummer and mastermind has remixed and remastered the entire album (and added three bonus tracks). Its sound and fidelity have changed substantially, but not the spirit or the letter of the music -- a remarkable achievement. The Time Is Now is a must for any vanguard jazz aficionado or anyone interested in the strange, rhythm-oriented evolution of Detroit music.

_ by Thom Jurek , AMG



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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

JOEL FUTTERMAN QUARTET – Vision In Time (1988)



Label: Silkheart – SHCD 125
Format: CD, Album; Country: Sweden - Released: Sep. 05, 1994
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
"Vision In Time" album by Joel Futterman Quartet with Joseph Jarman, recording date 1988.
Linear Notes by William Tandy Young, November 8, 1989
Re-Design by ART&JAZZ Studio

Note:

"He exists in the present moment, which allows his musical expression to speak in reflective tones conveying the numerous sensations he is experiencing from the coalition."
_ Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine and One Final Note

Pianist Joel Futterman is recognized internationally as one of the foremost pioneers in the musical genre of free jazz and collective improvisation. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Futterman resides now in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He began studying classical piano at an early age and grew up playing bebop in Chicago's after hour jazz clubs as a teenager. Joel quickly migrated to freer and less structured forms of musical expression. He owes a musical debt to such innovators as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Eric Dolphy. However, he stamps his own unique personality to his music by combining adventurous voicings, impassioned energy, and spectacular technique. His masterful technique is the product of a practice regiment of 8-10 hours a day on the piano. But for Joel, technique is invisible. It is only the means for total expression unencumbered by physical limitations.
Describing his approach to improvising, Futterman has said he anticipates only one or two phrases ahead of what is he is playing---the third phrase becomes clear only as he begins his second phrase. His improvisations unfold unpredictably, yet are guided by a strong sense of purpose and coherence. His piano style relies on his uniquely developed technique of rapid overlays and looping hand cross-over techniques such that a first time listener to his recordings might think that multi-track recording was used. In recent years, he has introduced a new dimension to his music when he leaves the piano to pick up the curved soprano saxophone or Indian wooden flute.
Joel has performed around the world with many jazz greats including Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jimmy Lyons, Joseph Jarman, Richard Davis, Edward "Kidd" Jordan, William Parker, Hal Russell, Fred Anderson, and several other noted jazz artists. He has amassed a discography of over 40 recordings.



"Of all the forms of expression, music can enter most deeply into the whole being, the emotions, memory, and the intellect as it connects with feelings and desires. Of course, for this to happen the musician must be in full communication with himself. That is apparent in listening to Joel perform."
_ Nat Hentoff

"Total mastery of the piano…"  _ Paul Niles, Jazzbeat Magazine



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Sunday, February 10, 2013

FRODE GJERSTAD / NICK STEPHENS / PAUL HESSION – Live At The Termite Club (2003)



Label: Loose Torque – LT 009
Format: CD, Album; Country: UK - Released: 2003
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded live at the Termite Club, Leeds 2003
Artwork – Fay Stephens

Description : Recorded live at the Termite Club in Leeds in September of 2003 and featuring Frode Gjerstad on clarinets and alto sax, Nick Stephens on bass and Paul Hession on drums. Finland's finest free sax player, Frode Gjerstad, never seems to rest as he can be found on 40+ discs from a half dozen different labels. His long-term relationship with John Stevens & Johnny Dyani in Detail and 3 discs with Derek Bailey, remain amongst his most visible successes. He chooses to work with the best players from around the world: Bobby Bradford, Borah Bergman, Peter Brotzmann, Paal Nilssen-Love, William Parker & Hamid Drake, to name a few.
Here with matches wits with some of the UK's best, Nick Stephens on acoustic bass and Paul Hession on drums. Consisting of two long pieces (25 1/2 & 37 minutes) and one shorter piece and well-recorded as are all of Nick Stephens' superb Loose Torque releases. "Meeting at the Adelphi" begins quietly with Frode playing a great deal of eerie clarinet as Nick bows expressively, the piece is filled with suspense. Paul Hession, also takes his time and delicately knits with his equally subtle drumming. Nick's immense bass is again at the center of the storm as it builds through intense sections. This mighty trio obviously mean business as they take us all for wonderful ride up and down the mountains and valleys, there is no turning back as soar to the stratosphere and beyond. - BLG

Note:

FRODE GJERSTAD is one of the few Norwegian musicians playing modern improvised music outside the 'ECM-school'. He has chosen to play with foreign musicians because there is no tradition in Norway for free improvised music.

His relationship with John Stevens which started in 1981 and lasted up until Stevens' death in 1994 was of great importance both musically as well as on a personal level. Through Stevens, he became acquainted with the playing of some of the finest British improvisers. His longstanding group with Stevens, 'Detail', started as a trio in 1981 with keyboardist Eivin One Pedersen, though Johnny Mbizo Dyani came in on bass in 1982 and Pedersen left later that year. The group played mainly as a trio until Dyani's death in 1986, though they did invite occasional guests to fill out the lineup; they undertook a tour of Britain in 1986 as a quartet with Bobby Bradford on cornet. Bradford did another tour with Detail with Paul Rogers on bass and then one with Kent Carter on bass; a quartet tour of Norway was organised with Billy Bang in 1989. The group then continued as a trio with Carter till 1994 when Stevens died.

Frode Gjerstad has also been active, running a group of very young Norwegian musicians, Circulasione Totale Orchestra, where he is dealing with electric instruments and modern rock- oriented rhythms. He has used the band to present his own compositions as well as a workshop and place for young people to get to know free improvisation. The band presented a commissioned work at the Molde Festival in 1989 with a 13 man band combining free improvisastions, compositions as well as rapping and scratching (three horns, three bassists, three drummers, accordion, guitar, a rapper and a scratcher).

His current groups include: the Frode Gjerstad Trio with William Parker,bass and Rashid Bakr, drums; the Circulasione Totale Orchestra with young Norwegian musicians; and a quartet completed by Hasse Poulsen, guitars, Nick Stephens, bass, and Louis Moholo, drums. Frode Gjerstad has received several grants from differnt foundations and has been very active in the Norwegian Jazzmusicians Federation as well as in the committee for the Norwegian Contemporary Music Federation. He runs his own label, Circulasione Totale.


NICK STEPHENS - Born Sutton Coldfield 1946. Double bass, bass guitar.

Nick Stephens started his first group aged 14, playing bass guitar, with schoolfriend guitarist Dave Cole. Through their teenage years they played the pubs, clubs, dance halls and US Bases of the UK and Europe. At 21 he returned home, bought a double bass and joined the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra. Here he met and played with Dave Panton and Jan Steele. And then, Stephens, says, "One afternoon a hurricane of energy with a snare drum under his arm and the look of Rasputin, burst into the orchestra rehearsal room. It was my first experience of a John Stevens workshop."

In 1975 Nick Stephens took his bass guitar to Riverside Studio for a blow with John Stevens and Trevor Watts who were re-forming 'Away' This marked the beginning of a long friendship and musical partnership between Stevens and Stephens. A record deal with the Phonogram Vertigo label produced 3 albums and 2 singles, one of which - 'Annie' - an Alternative Charts topper, featured John Martyn. Away made regular radio broadcasts and appeared twice on BBC Two's Old Grey Whistle Test. They played two national tours of large rock venues - one with The Jazz Crusaders and opposite Ornette Coleman at London's Victoria - but John never lost sight of the collective, group improvisation ethic that he had first nurtured in the SME and at The Little Theatre Club. Nick continued to work with John until his death in 1994 playing in The Dance Orchestra, Folkus, Freebop, Fast Colour and umpteen small group gigs and workshops.

In 1988 Stephens received his first of two Arts Council Bursaries for composition and formed the Nick Stephens Septet. In 1994 Stephens and Frode Gjerstad formed Calling Signals with Paul Rutherford and percussionist Terje Issungset. Alongside Stephens and Gjerstad, later incarnations of the group have featured: Louis Moholo-Moholo, Hasse Poulsen, Paal Nillsen- Love, Lol Coxhill and Jon Corbett. Stephens is also a member of Gjerstad's international improvising orchestra the Circulasione Total Orchestra.

In 2005, to make available music that has escaped documentation and as an outlet for new recordings, Nick Stephens started the Loose Torque label.



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ERIC STACH Free Music Unit - II Improv Sets, 96/02/15 + London 2008



ERIC STACH Free Music Unit - II Improv Sets, 96/02/15 + London 2008
(Recordings from a private collection)
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation, Avant-garde 

Set 1 - ERIC STACH Free Music Unit – 96/02/15
Eric Stach - Alto & Soprano
Stephen Reick - El Piano
Jayne Hysen - El Piano
Bob Glidden - Bass
Rob Bell - Drums
4 Untitled Improv Tracks (46:44)

Set 2 - ERIC STACH Free Music Unit – London 2008
Eric Stach - Alto / Soprano , Bass Clarinet
Stephen Reick - El Piano
George Mitchell - Bass
Terry Fraser - Drums
4 Untitled Improv Tracks (70:13)


Since these the rare recordings are not Eric Stach's regular album, reviews does not exist, but I am for this opportunity found this interesting text of the incredible James Reaney's (The Free Press's resident A & E columnist on the London arts scene and his place in it) from 2008, I think it will be interesting to read.

Eric Stach & the most outstanding titles & freeeeeeeeest sounds in London music
(2008-01-25)

Nobody around has titles quite like Eric Stach. The saxophone colossus of lower Clarence Street tried on Destroy the Nihilist Picnic and Ron Martin Special with Mustard as the guiding light of the London Experimental Jazz Quartet and Love Sonnet to a Magenta Maiden under his own name with the same basic group in the 1970s.

I plays those two album's (1974's Invisibile Roots by the LEJQ on the dear departed Scratch Record label) and 1975's Stach's own Fruit From Another Gardent (Radio Canada International RCI 425) every now & then.

Because Eric is often playing - and playing well with a good interesting group - somewhere in person, I haven't kept up with all his recordings.

Now, in early 2008, Eric has sent along a really good CD - titled The Abandonment of Everything Superfluous (still, those great titles) - of two performances from 2000. One is a 44-minute set /piece titled Not for Nothing with Eric and Canadian cellist Doug Ennis from the 2000 No Music Festival. (I think I was actually there for the event at Aeolian Hall. I remember Eric and Ennis sounding terrific at one of the fests). The other is a much shorter piece titled Double Scotch in the Cathedral with the late Peter Kowald, a German bassist whose is called a major figure in the development of European improvisation by the jazz encyclopedias.

Apparently, No Music fest organizer Ben Portis didn't feel the Stach-Ennis sounds fit on the boxed set No Nothing. Too soft or something. Well, it is sounding just fine right now. Soft & harsh & tender & squawks & Ennis really inspiring Eric and vice versa. Listening to it right now, I am back at Aeolian Hall leaning over to say to vibes master Peter Denny (& he played as a guest on the 1974 LEJQ album) how this is some of the best Eric I'd ever heard. Over at least parts of four decades. Still true.

The Kowald-Stach duo was recorded at the Gulf Coast Museum in Largo, Fla. (Eric was living in Florida at the time) earlier in March, 2000. Kowald's presence makes it of obvious historic importance & Eric plays as if he has found a kindred spirit. That's how he felt when he met Kowald at the concert. The German player asked for a double scotch for himself and a double scotch for his new friend in music during an interlude at the museum's bar. The then- new museum had cathedral-like ceilings and so now we have another classic Eric Stach title and performance.

There don't seem to be plans to make The Abandonment of Everything Superfluous available for sale. I respect that but hope that it changes. This is prime Eric. (For more details about the Eric Stach Free Music Unit and downloads of the Kowald concert, check www.rieck.ca/rebel.html)

London names that jump off the CD jacket include Tim Glasgow, Wendy Saby and Portis.

Anyway, on a good run of Fridays at his Clarence Street home base, Eric has continued to invite musicians into make freeeeeeeee & freeeeeeeeeeeeeing sound & sounds with him. (I believe they're on winter hiatus). There has often been a fine, fine bassist Art Lange (sp?) who plays with the K-W orchestra, I think. He provides the same brand of drive & bottom that Ennis and Kowald do on the duo sets.

I await more live and in-person Eric.
For now, I embrace Abandonment.

_ By James Reaney



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Friday, February 8, 2013

BENGT FRIPPE NORDSTRÖM – The Environmental Control Office (2CD-2003)




Label: Ayler Records – aylCD-021/022
Format: 2 × CD, Album; Country: Sweden - Released: 2003
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded in concert at Jazz Club Fasching, Stockholm, Sweden, June 4, 1988.
Cover painting and Design by Åke Bjurhamn
Executive-producer – Jan Ström; Liner Notes – Peeter Uuskyla
Mastered By – Per Ruthström, Photography By – Gudrun Edel-Rösnes
Recorded By – Thomas Mera Gertz


Review:

Swedish jazz legend Bengt Frippe Nordström died in 2000. He had taken up the clarinet after hearing Tony Scott, and tenor saxophone after hearing Sonny Rollins. Then exposure to the music of Ornette Coleman and especially Albert Ayler lured him towards less regulated spontaneity and the isolation of solo concerts and small edition, self-released records.
Occasionally, venturesome and supportive figures such as Don Cherry would join him in duets. In mid-1970s, Nordström found he was able to convene a group, the Environmental Control Office, and at last he had a sustaining context. By the time of this recording at Jazz Club Fasching, Stockholm in June 1988 the line-up featured bassist Björn Alke, who also died in 2000, drummer Peeter Uuskyla and violinist Lars Svanteson.
It was the last time the quartet met.
The first disc features a sprawling 50-minute improvisation that speaks of Ayler's influence from the opening burst of weighty vibrato. It's a curious kind of freedom that is so circumscribed by homage, and Nordström rareley matches Ayler's raw force. Still, beyond the mannered copying of earthy honks and righteous tremors, he also touches on Ayler's spirit. He has real feeling for the richness of his instrument's sound and an aptitude for piecing together fragments into open-ended solos, packed with allusions to folk music and children's songs.
Svanteson makes a lively foil to the tenor's bulk. His presence may suggest a parallel to Ayler's inclusion of violinist Michael Samson in his ensemble sound. This quartet is more inclined to dip into mainstream methods and techniques to sustain the momentum. That tendency is given its head on the second disc, which opens with a version of Tony Scott's "Swinging In Sweden". Nordström transfers his vigour to the clarinet and allows small eccentricities to creep into his orbit around the theme.
On "Fripping", he pushes the instrument further out, goaded by Svanteson's brisk and inventive obliqueness and Alke's responsive bowing. Uuskyla at this point sounds too comfortable marking time, reining in a little too effectively. For the concluding "Fasching", Nordström's return to tenor and Ayler's ghost stalks once more through the music.
Overall, a welcome opportunity to hear an overlooked musician playing with commitment and power, but a few more risks collectively taken would have intensified his impact.

This kind of music won’t necessarily shock anyone with its radicalism or newness (though it was a good deal fresher when it was recorded 15 years ago). But it sounds pretty damn good.

_ Julian Cowley ( for The Wire)



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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

RUF DER HEIMAT – Erste Heimat (1995)




Label: Konnex Records – KCD 5067
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany - Released: 1995
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded in public at Kulturhaus Peter Edel, Berlin 1st February 1995.
Mixed By – Tom Müller
Producer – Manfred Schiek
Recorded By – Julius Krebs

Review:

It bursts forth. Sound Awesome. As a pressure wave. The Ego and the Id and the We. "Ruf der Heimat" (Call of the Homeland) leaves a collective sentiments are awakened that has nothing to do with the division of labor handicrafts.
The energy flux of the game developed their own forms. Great suspense and intricate engravings of powerful pieces of music thrown into the arena. An archaic ritual, however a bid for utopia.
Finally totally present: the immediacy of playing music, the music-making. Physical directness and emotional outcry, pain and pleasure from the moment of creation.
True to the tradition of the "sound of the cry," the Jazz as a life and survival medium. Loudly personal setting to official announcements. Opposition and self-assertion without protection.
Heimat probably means forever "more less and less concrete Geography. If it ever makes sense to interpret the group name, topic, would be to ask the association areas of the Heimat musical, for roots in jazz tradition and the branches in a thicket of free improvisation.
Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, to the sound of jazz has been challenged in the fifties may farthest back and still in close touch with Thomas Borgmann, the younger, both views before.
They all, including Christoph Winckel and Willi Kellers came into the turbulence of free jazz to new inputs and prospects. Broken game and experience wholeness. Confidence in the unreserved self-expression. In the power to make the moment. In the ability to respond to the Ruf. Not as an echo, but with their own voices and their own songs on their lips.
Even the winds make the rhythm in this quartet, sing the bass and drums and screaming. In the spectrum of Holzblaskombinationen the ballad comes as the association field as the study material.
The narrative gesture, like the sound collage. Heimat lines lead back to the heated years of upheaval and the black liberation processes of European jazz. Emancipation with consequences.
Free Jazz is not a dirty word and without the prefix "post-". Rear and advance grip. Current music that requires neither an explanation nor a justification. Music is burning their hot breath on your skin.

_ BERT NOGLIK

Confidential conversation in 5 phases:

1
2
3
 4
5


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