Monday, March 28, 2016

ALBERT AYLER – Nuits De La Fondation Maeght Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (LPs-1970)




Label: Shandar ‎– SR 10 000, Shandar ‎– 83 503
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album & Country: France & Released: 1970/72
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at Saint-Paul de Vence, July 25 and 27, 1970.
Engineer [Sound] – Claude Jauvert
Liner Notes – Daniel Caux
Photography By [1-4] – Philippe Gras, [2-3] – Jacques Robert
Cover, Artwork – Patrick Sabatier
Matrix / Runout (A): SR 10000 A
Matrix / Runout (B): SR 10000 B

A1 - In Heart Only .......................................................................... 5:10
A2 - Spirits ................................................................................... 15:00
B1 - Holy Family ........................................................................... 11:40
B2 - Spirits Rejoice ........................................................................ 7:25

Composed By – Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler – saxophone [tenor, soprano]
Call Cobbs – piano
Steve Tintweiss – bass
Allen Blairman – drums, percussion
Mary Maria – vocals, saxophone [soprano]



Albert Ayler was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1936. In 1952, on alto saxophone, he joined the band of blues singer and harmonica-player Little Walter. A few years later he switched to tenor, and met Cecil Taylor, who had preceded him to Scandinavia, in 1962. In the following year he formed a trio with Gary Peacock on bass and Sunny Murray on drums. With this group, plus Don Cherry on trumpet, he toured Denmark, Sweden and Holland. In 1963 he played at Town Hall with his brother, trumpeter Don Ayler, altoist Charles Tyler, bassist Lewis Worrell and Sunny Murray. The arrival of Albert Ayler on the jazz scene has provoked great enthusiasm but also great rage and sarcasm. His first journey to Paris, in 1966, as the final act in a programme which aimed to trace the history of jazz, unleashed a scandal gave rise to a great deal of controversy. Such a reception had the effect of making his eventual return to this country unlikely for a long time to come, until the announcement of his participation in the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght in 1970. He came to St-Paul de Vence, with pianist Call Cobbs, bassist Steve Tintweiss, drummer Allen Blairman and singer Mary Maria, and made a huge impact. He was called back on stage for encores six times, eight times, ten times, and it was the first great triumph in his career.



It might seem astonishing, that someone previously regarded as the champion of anti-jazz is now promoted to the rank of an innovator whose art is the most deeply rooted. The reason is that Ayler’s stance is precisely to wed the very foundations of Negro-American music (“swing”, the atmosphere of spirituals or blues, for example) to the strengths of this music, even the most vertiginous, the most “irrational”… Certainly at first hearing, the multiphonics, the huge vibrato, the growling, the wheezing and other effects can take the listener aback. Something else which can cause amazement is the contrast between the improvisation and the themes on which it is based.. These can be marches, fanfares or blatant repetition. This apparent naivete should not, however, mislead anyone, since Albert Ayler “vampirises” everything he plays in a treacherous derailing of the senses, thanks to the extremity of an expressiveness which masks subtle rhythmic and melodic displacements, while making them more effective. Contrary to popular belief, what is most striking about Ayler is that in spite of the great spontaneity which, according to all the evidence, characterises the arrangements of the pieces he creates, almost all of them appears as a perfectly articulated, coherent and definitive ”whole”. Albert Ayler finds himself in a musical universe which it is customary to call the “New Thing” just as it was natural for Charlie Parker to find himself categorised as be-bop. It seems to us that his contribution has to be acknowledged like an outpouring of indescribable lightning.. On this basis, no jazz improviser apart from Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker can be compared to him. 
(by Daniel CAUX)


ALBERT AYLER – Nuits De La Fondation Maeght Volume 2 (LP-1970) 




Label: Shandar – SR 10 004
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: France / Released: 1970/72
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at Saint-Paul de Vence, July 27, 1970.
Engineer [Sound] – Claude Jauvert
Liner Notes – Daniel Caux
Photography By [1-4] – Philippe Gras, [2-3] – Jacques Robert
Cover, Artwork – Patrick Sabatier
Matrix / Runout (Runout Side A): SR 10004 A
Matrix / Runout (Runout Side B): SR 10004 B
Composed By – Albert Ayler

A1 - Truth Is Marching In ................................................................... 7:55
A2 - Universal Message ..................................................................... 8:15
B1 - Spiritual Reunion ........................................................................ 7:20
B2 - Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe .......................... 10:30
        (Written-By – Mary Parks)

Albert Ayler – saxophone [tenor, soprano]
Call Cobbs – piano
Steve Tintweiss – bass
Allen Blairman – drums, percussion
Mary Maria – vocals, saxophone [soprano]

By the end of the year 1970, the musician who was thought of as being the strongest personality of the free jazz died in mysterious circumstances.
Albert Ayler had disappeared from his New York City home since November 6. His body was found in the East River three weeks later. His funeral was held discreetly on December 4 in his native Cleveland. Members of his family and several friends attended the funeral. He was 34.

After having scored his first major triumph at the Nights of the Maeght Foundation, he was scheduled to come back to France at the start of 1971 and was eagerly expected there.



LeRoi Jones said several years ago “Albert Ayler is a master of stupefying dimensions and it is frustrating to think that many people might take a long time to be aware of it”. As a matter of fact, there were few of us to acknowledge the importance of this exceptional innovator who was thought of as being a weird musician, one that would be listened to out of curiosity or as a scandalous impostor. However one can wonder if there has ever been a purer and more sincere artist in the jazz field than Albert Ayler. It is true that what he played was both very simple and also very subtly complex, a situation that puzzled listeners who had to revise their usual criteria.
The music of Albert Ayler was as distanced from the intellectual ghetto in which for a time free jazz was confined as from the entertaining without consequences it was later reduced to so as to lessen its impact while ignoring its most radical aspects. Simplicity does not mean simplism and there was no demagogy in the words of Albert Ayler when he spoke of a music from the people for the people. He was perfectly aware of its objectives: “I want to play the melodies I sang when I was a kid. Folk melodies that every one could understand. I would use these melodies as starting points and several simple melodies that move inside the same tune. From a simple melody to complex textures, then back to simplicity and the more complex sounds and more dense ones.”



People tended to see in the triumphant joy that is expressed in the music of Albert Ayler and in its ironic humour a will leaning on destruction through derision, an idea that is alien to us and one that would be at the very least too limitative. Albert Ayler stated on several occasions that what he was playing was essentially a love cry and that can be taken for granted. A universal love that is expressed with a frightening conviction and one that would attach in a single swoop the numerous contradictions that usually tear the human. Love meaning joy, supreme happiness but also happiness in danger. Out of this probably comes the ineffable emotion that is never absent from his music and which constitutes one of its specific elements.
The album we present gathers on one side the start and on the other one the last two numbers from the second concert given by Albert Ayler at the Maeght Foundation. A fervour-laden “Truth is marching in” reminds one of the New Orleans funerals and we know it was played by Ayler at the funeral of John Coltrane. A high level of expressive intensity was to be maintained during the concert. One notes the interventions of pianist Cal Cobbs who was once one of Billie Holiday’s accompanists and whose poetic playing matches happily Ayler’s. Taken at a very slow tempo “Music is the healing force of the Universe” which was the last tune played by Albert Ayler at Saint Paul de Vence seems to mark a will to retain the passing of time. Mary Maria sings with ‘soul’ while Albert Ayler accompanies her with countermelodies of dramatic lyricism that can only raise singular resonances today. (by Daniel CAUX)



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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

JULIUS HEMPHILL – 'Coon Bid'ness (LP-1975)




Label: Arista ‎– AL 1012, Freedom ‎– AL 1012
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1975
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Side A - Recorded on January 29,1975 at C.I. Studios, New York City.
Side B - Recorded in February 1972 at Archway Studios, St. Louis, Missouri.
Art Direction – Bob Heimall
Artwork [Cover Art] – Bill Hoffman
Engineer – Elvin Campbell (tracks: A1 to A4), Oliver Sain (track: B)
Liner Notes – Michael Cuscuna
Liner Notes [Poem On Sleeve] – Julius Hemphill, Wilma Moses
Photography By – Ron Warwell
Producer – Julius Hemphill (track: B), Michael Cuscuna (tracks: A1 to A4)

A1 - Reflections .......................................................................... 2:30
A2 - Lyric .................................................................................... 7:24
A3 - Skin 1 ................................................................................ 10:07
A4 - Skin 2 .................................................................................. 2:28

Julius Hemphill  /  alto saxophone
'Black' Arthur Blythe  /  alto saxophone
Hamiet Bluiett  /  baritone saxophone
Abdul Wadud  /  cello
Barry Altschul  /  drums, percussion
Daniel Ben Zebulan  /  congas

B  -  The Hard Blues .................................................................. 20:07

Julius Hemphill  /  alto saxophone
Hamiet Bluiett  /  baritone saxophone
Baikida E. J. Carroll  /  trumpet
Abdul Wadud  /  cello
Philip Wilson  /  drums, percussion

This historic LP includes a 20-minute performance with altoist Julius Hemphill, trumpeter Baikida Carroll, baritonist Hamiet Bluiett, cellist Abdul Wadud and drummer Philip Wilson ("The Hard Blues") taken from the same session that resulted in Dogon A.D. In addition, there are four briefer tracks that feature Hemphill, Bluiett, Wadud, altoist Arthur Blythe, drummer Barry Altschul and the congas of Daniel Zebulon. The music throughout is quite avant-garde but differs from the high-energy jams of the 1960s due to its emphasis on building improvisations as a logical outgrowth from advanced compositions. It's well worth several listens.


Julius Hemphill is a composer and an improviser: a composer in the tradition of Ellington, Mingus, and Ra, and an improviser with deep roots in the blues.
Side one of ‘Coon Bid’Ness (four tracks) works as a single composition. The opening piece, “Reflections,” begins with a slow lament, the three horns and cello creating dark, rich harmonies and utilizing a subtle vibrato to underline the music’s pathos. “Lyric” continues in this vein; then the space begins to open up. Hemphill, it seems, likes to work with several layers of sound, to slowly take them apart – to the point of near dissolution – then to put them back together again (though not necessarily the same as they were before). This is what happens during “Lyric” and also during “Skin 1.” The latter piece especially works its way into some very free space. Then “Skin 2” offers alternate choices as to the side’s resolution; yet there is no real resolution, only lingering afterthoughts. (Review: Henry Kuntz, 1975)

In ancient times, when the preferred form of recorded musical conveyance was a grooved vinyl disc called the "LP," there was a thing called the "side-length track" a single piece of music that took up an entire side of a 2-sided disc. "The Hard Blues" is one of those: 20 minutes of raw, grooving, R&B-drenched free jazz (with a small dose of bebop) that makes up Side Two of saxophonist Julius Hemphill's classic album 'Coon Bid'ness (the acerbic title is the African-American Hemphill's deliberate co-optation of a racial slur). Free jazz was ideal for the side-length track; the better for the improvisers to stretch out ... which is, after all, what free jazz musicians are wont to do. The musicians on "The Hard Blues" pack every possible ounce of content into their allotted 20 minutes, imbuing leader Julius Hemphill's avant-soul composition with enough energy to light up Motown on Devil's Night. Other free jazz guys worked from an R&B perspective, both before and after, but few adopted as gritty an approach as Hemphill and Co. take here. Especially notable are the hyper-agile cellist Abdul Wadud, whose trebly bassline twangs and grooves simultaneously, and Hemphill himself, who puts his experience in Ike Turner's band to good use. Trumpeter Baikida Carroll is terrific as well; his almost Dolphy-esque flights are a revelation. This is rare and raw stuff of a kind seldom heard, then or now. (Review: Chris Kelsey)



In the U.S., it seems, the Seventies have been more a period of consolidation rather than of innovation (as if the advances of the last decade had to be justified before being built upon). In the process, however, some highly original and beautiful music has been made, bringing together various (and sometimes diverse) stylistic elements. Hard to say exactly where this music will lead, but much of it will easily survive the moment of its own creation and is well worth appreciating. Julius Hemphill’s album offers music of this sort, and it’s recommended.


Excellent stuff, comes highly recommended for anyone interested in avant-garde jazz.



If you find it, buy this album!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ARCHIE SHEPP – Three For A Quarter One For A Dime (LP-1969)




Label: Impulse! – AS-9162
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo / Country: US / Released: 1969
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at the Both/And Club in San Francisco on February 19th, 1966.
Issued in a gatefold sleeve
Design [Cover] – Byron Goto, Henry Epstein
Engineer – Wally Heider
Liner Notes – Nat Hentoff
Producer – Bob Thiele

A - Three For A Quarter ....................................................... 17:27
B - One For A Dime ............................................................. 15:26

Personnel:
ARCHIE SHEPP – tenor sax and piano
ROSWELL RUDD – trombone
LEWIS WORRELL – bass
DONALD GARRETT – bass
BEAVER HARRIS – drums, percussion

Shepp and his regular quintet of 1966, which also includes trombonist Roswell Rudd, drummer Beaver Harris, and bassists Donald Garrett and Lewis Worrell, really stretch out on this live blowout, there is some solo space for his sidemen, but Shepp dominates the performance, and his emotional style and endurance are in peak form. Intense and rewarding music.



Although “Three for a Quarter One for a Dime” was not released until 1969, it was actually recorded in 1966 at the same show that made up the album “Live in San Francisco”.  Only available in the original vinyl format, the 33 minute piece is divided into 17 ½ minutes on side one, and 15 ½ on side two. “This LP is in  the massive gatefold packaging generously supplied by the Impulse! label is a work of art in itself.

Almost any musical genre seems to enjoy its best years when that style is being invented. The excitement of discovery seems to push a musician’s physical limits beyond their usual capabilities. You can hear this in late 20s jazz and early 40s be-bop, and you can also hear it in the ‘free jazz’ of the 60s. Despite all the attention given to Coltrane and Ornette during this freedom era, quite possibly Archie Shepp, along with Albert Alyer and John Gilmore, were the ones who took the emotional frenzy of this music to its highest level, and “Three for a Quarter” provides an excellent example of Shepp doing just that.




This album opens with Shepp and tromobonist Roswell Rudd leap-frogging an odd melody that’s part bop, part circus music and completely ‘out to lunch’, there is no doubt that we are in for a wild ride. As the band digs in, Rudd and Shepp do some quick exchanges before Rudd backs off and gives Shepp the floor. Archie responds with one of the most intense sax solos you will ever hear anywhere, no shrieks or screams, just an endless assault of notes played with a very gnarly expressive guttural sound. Towards the end of side one, Rudd re-enters and the two soloists raise a wonderful chaos that sounds much bigger than just two. On side two, Rudd takes a solo ride while Shepp backs him on the piano before picking up his horn for one more double solo to close things out. Throughout the precedings, Beaver Harris keeps up a steady roar on the trap set while the two bassists rumble around in the background, although not always particularly distinctively.

Archie Shepp is a restless spirit who has played many styles of music in his career, “Three for a Quarter One for a Dime” is an excellent example of how much furious energy he brought to the ‘new thing’ of the sixties before he moved on to other things.



If you find it, buy this album!

Friday, March 11, 2016

SAM RIVERS – The Live Trio Sessions (2LP-1978)




Label: Impulse! – IA-9352/2
Series: The Dedication Series – Vol. XII
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP / Country: US / Released: 1978
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Liner Notes – Robert Palmer
Mixed By – Al Schmitt Jr. (tracks: A, B), Baker Bigsby (tracks: C1 to D2), Ed Michel (tracks: C1 to D2), Michael Cuscuna (tracks: A, B)
Producer – Ed Michel
Design by – Vartan/Rod Dyer Inc.
Photography by – Charles Stewaet

A  -  Hues Of Melanin - Part One (Soprano Saxophone Section) ................................. 15:30
B  -  Hues Of Melanin - Part Two (Flute And Vocal Section) ........................................ 18:47
C1 - Hues Of Melanin - Part Three (Ivory Black - The Piano Section) ........................... 4:13
C2 - Hues Of Melanin - Part Four (Violet - The Tenor Saxophone Section) .................. 5:38
C3 - Encore ..................................................................................................................... 3:05
C4 - Mauve ..................................................................................................................... 4:17
C5 - Indigo ...................................................................................................................... 1:28
D1 - Suite For Molde - Part One ..................................................................................... 8:06
         a. Onyx - The Soprano Saxophone Section
         b. Topaz - The Flute Section
D2 - Suite For Molde - Part Two (The Tenor Saxophone Section) ............................... 11:27

Tracks A-C2 recorded live on November 10, 1973 at the Battel Chapel, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Track C3 recorded live on July 6, 1973 at The Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland.
Tracks C4, C5 recorded live on October 27, 1972 at Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan.
Tracks D1-D2 recorded live on August 3, 1973, at the Molde Jazz Festival, Molde, Norway.

Sam Rivers – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, piano, vocals
Cecil McBee (tracks: A1 to C3) – bass
Richard Davis (tracks: C4, C5) – bass
Arild Andersen (tracks: D1, D2) – bass
Barry Altschul (tracks: A1 to C2, D1, D2) – drums, percussion
Norman Connors (tracks: C3) – drums, percussion
Warren Smith (tracks: C4, C5) – drums, percussion


Recorded live at concerts in Molde, Norway, Yale University, the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival and at Rochester, Michigan, this long-out-of-print double LP has all of Sam Rivers' recordings from the 1972-73 period. The music "Hues of Melanin" (here divided into four parts) lasts 47 minutes. In addition to three much briefer pieces, the two-part "Suite for Molde" is over 19 minutes long. On these numbers Rivers is joined by either Cecil McBee, Richard Davis or Arlid Anderson on bass and Barry Altschul, Norman Connors or Warren Smith on drums. There is surprisingly little tenor playing from Rivers during the performances (including just 5½ minutes of "Hues of Melanin"); he does stretch out more on soprano, flute, piano and even a little eccentric vocalizing. The passionate music is quite adventurous and outside, as close as Rivers came to free jazz. Excellent, but definitely not for all tastes.
_ Review by Scott Yanow


Excerpt from the Liner Notes by Robert Palmer:

...this is a part of the ambitious program Backer and Michel effected during their Impulse tenure. The exceptions are „Onyx“ and „Topaz“, recorded at the Molde Festival in Norway; and „Ivory Black“ and „Violet“, recorded at Yale. These performances were included in „Hues“, an Impulse album of short excerpts from long trio performances, while most of the rest of the present album was scattered over „The Saxophone, Impulse! Artists on Tour, No Energy Crisis“ and „The Drums“. Michael Cuscuna has gone back and restored the integrity of the original sessions, so that the remarkable „Hues of Melanin“ from Yale, with the rhythm section of Cecil McBee and Barry Altschul that Rivers prefers today, and the „Suite for Molde“ are heard complete for the first time.
Rivers may have begun the Yale and Molde performances with an empty stage, but the stage did not remain empty for long, for these are remarkably rich and cohesive examples of group improvisation. Like any discipline that is practiced long enough, Rivers's trio performances have developed their own conventions–the uptempo and midtempo swing sections, the vaguely Eastern sounding drone sections, and so on–but it's remarkable how little convention and how many new sound and new ideas are present here. One could point to the overwhelming momentum of the Yale concert or to the alchemy that occurs between Rivers's flute and Arild Andersen's bowed bass on the second part of „Suite for Molde“ as particular highlights, but in fact, everything here is exceptional. And since Rivers has really recorded very little of his free-form trio music–most of his later trio dates, such as the brilliant „The Quest“ with Holland and Altschul, bring compositional elements into play–the addition of this album to his discography is particulary welcome...



...Rivers's feelings about this music make the album doubly welcome. „Trio performances are the only thing I like to leave completely free“, he said in 1974. „That's really my style of playing, and I've been doing it long enough to be very conscious of developing forms. I start to build into some kind of form and set it up so that there's a rise and fall throughout. I didn't really feel that „Streams“ was one of my best trio performances. I flew over to make the gig in Montreux, and it was kind of hectic. The selections which they put on „No Energy Crisis“ and „Impulse! Artists on Tour“ [these were excerpts from the Yale and Molde concerts] „were better performances; they showed more emotion than „Streams“.“
That should tell you something about the way Rivers evaluates his own music. „Streams“ is a marvel of inventiveness and stamina but it is, perhaps, a little icy. Rivers at his best, as he was at Yale and Molde, is warm and expressive as well as technically formidable. In the end, both these attributes are equally important. „You can't survive in his business on just your intuitive thing“, he said when I interviewed him again in1978. „You can come out here and be an intuitive musician and be really happening, but your dreams and visions won't last forever. If you don't get into the books and get this technical thing together while your intuitive thing is happening, it's over.“ Rivers's great strength is that he has so much of both, the technical and the intuitive. He isn't in the music for one short, apocalyptic instant, he's in it for the long haul. His work, which he considers American classical music, is intended to last, and it's fortunate that these performances, restored to their original length, are going to last along with the rest of his recordings.

Enjoy!



If you find it, buy this album!

Friday, March 4, 2016

ANTHONY DAVIS – Hemispheres (LP-1983)




Label: Gramavision – GR-8303
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1983
Style: Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
Recorded at Vanguard Studios, New York City in July 1983.
Mixed at Gramavision Studio, New York City in August 1983.
Cover – Francesco Clemente
Photography By [Photo By] – Robert Mapplethorpe
Design [Album Design] – Peter Corriston
Engineer – David Baker
Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Mixed By – David Baker
Producer – Anthony Davis, Jonathan F. P. Rose

A1 - Mvt I: Esu At The Crossroads ....................................................... 4:52
A2 - Mvt II: Little Richard's New Wave ................................................. 8:31
A3 - Mvt III: Ifa: The Oracle, Esu The Trickster .................................... 4:46
B1 - Mvt IV: A Walk Through The Shadows ....................................... 13:26
B2 - Mvt V: Clonetics ............................................................................ 7:06

Composed By – Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis – piano
Dwight Andrews – flute
J.D. Parran – clarinet
Leo Smith – trumpet
George Lewis – trombone
David Samuels – vibraphone
Shem Guibbory – violin
Eugene Friesen – cello
Rick Rozie – bass
Pheeroan AkLaff – drums, percussion


Written as music to accompany the choreography of Molissa Fenley, Anthony Davis followed the huge artistic (if not commercial) success of his albums Episteme and Variations in Dreamtime with yet another wonderful recording along similar lines. Using many of the same musicians and, in fact, recycling some of the same thematic material (as he was to do often in his career), Davis once again finds enormous richness and power in a territory straddling advanced jazz and contemporary minimalism, here even enjoining the services of Steve Reich's violinist of choice, Shem Guibbory. The compositions combine propulsive, oddly metered rhythms with fascinating and often gorgeous melodies including, especially his bitterly beautiful "A Walk in the Shadows," here given arguably its finest, most intense performance with Guibbory doing gut-wrenching work. The ensemble is incredibly tight and features superb playing by, among others, trumpeter Leo Smith and trombonist George Lewis. The cover painting by Francesco Clemente and the portrait photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe indicate how closely Davis was becoming involved with the New York avant-garde in the early '80s. This would lead to an increased "classicalization" of his work, largely to its detriment, in oncoming years, and Hemispheres would prove to be perhaps his last unqualified success. Very highly recommended.
_ Review by Brian Olewnick




It would be nice to read this:
Commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival
Molissa Fenley and Company/ANTHONY DAVIS and EPISTEME
HEMISPHERES - An evening length dance work with live music

http://molissafenley.com/view_works.php?id=51



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THIS MONTH – ALBUMS THAT YOU REQUEST !!!



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