Sunday, October 28, 2012


Label: Envoi Recordings
Catalog#: env0501
Format: CD, Album; Country: US; Released: 2006
Style: avant-garde, free improvisation, Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz
All Compositions by Andrew Bishop
Recording in Solid Sound Studios, Ann Arbor, MI.
Photographer: Glenn Bering

The trio of Andrew Bishop (saxophones and clarinet), Gerald Cleaver (drums), and Tim Flood (bass) draws its aesthetic through the use of diverse methods to find a balance of composition and improvisational forms along with a search for a cohesive equilibrium of musical genres.


On his inaugural release as a bandleader, saxophonist/clarinetist Andrew Bishop proves that avant-garde jazz benefits greatly from the touch of a skilled composer. Sure, you need chops, and Bishop has chops to burn, whether navigating the Lacy-esque architecture and parallel time universes of "Cleaver's Loops" on soprano or blistering the wallpaper with his tenor overtones on the ten-plus-minute fiery "People's Republic" -- the former titled after this trio's drummer, Gerald Cleaver, and the latter a tongue-in-cheek but affectionate reference to everything liberal and progressive about Bishop's Ann Arbor hometown. But an ability to raise the roof is only part of the picture. A composer of contemporary orchestral and chamber music, Bishop combines a jazzman's fire and flow with a rigorous compositional sensibility, resulting in a potent and highly satisfying blend. Even his "free jazz" maintains a strong sense of thematic development. Upon hearing the entirety of Time & Imaginary Time from "Prologue" to "Epilogue," you will perceive a narrative cohesion and sense Bishop's overarching theme "inspired from theories on human understanding and conception of time," even if, like the best jazz composers, Bishop approaches thematic material from oblique angles and doesn't hit you over the head with obviousness.

The CD's sense of continuity is enhanced by the recurrence of "Fragments" themes in various guises here and there -- a solitary 40-second "Fragment," executed with stop-and-start precision by Bishop (on tenor), Cleaver, and supple bassist Tim Flood, reappears later as the launching point for five minutes of expressive pyrotechnics from the trio members on "Fragments in Imaginary Time," a disc highlight. Meanwhile, the two parts of "(Shattered Fragments)" are brief vehicles for clarinet, bass, and drums to break the "Fragment" into smaller shards of sound, and "Fragments on a Curve, to Find" twists the theme into yet another shape, stated principally by Flood as Bishop gently swoops and flutters above on soprano. As an additional wrinkle, Bishop sequences the "Fragments" inventively, hinting at the theme in an early context and revealing it more explicitly later. This and the disc's quieter, spacious, and exploratory interludes can lead to some pleasurably deep listening, but Time & Imaginary Time can whomp you on the head even if you aren't paying close attention, as the trio burns through a funked-up uptempo cooker like "Get It!" (exclamation point entirely appropriate) and the aforementioned "People's Republic." Meanwhile, the paradoxically ultra-tight and free-flowing "Picking Up the Pieces" benefits greatly from Flood's in-the-pocket basswork and Cleaver's ability to conquer even the most challenging rhythms. Bishop, Cleaver, and Flood have been intermittently active in Ann Arbor since the late '90s, weathering even Cleaver's move from Michigan to become an in-demand drummer on the New York City creative jazz scene. So they are far from strangers to one another, and the nearly telepathic communication heard during this disc's improvisations attests to that fact.

As for Bishop himself, the reedman can be heard as a bandmember on releases by Ann Arbor jazz stalwarts like pianist Ellen Rowe, guitarist Carl Michel, and flügelhornist Ed Sarath, and thanks to Envoi Recordings his projects as leader are finding their way to CD circa 2005. More Bishop recordings can be expected, and on the basis of Time & Imaginary Time creative jazz fans have much to anticipate.

_ by Dave Lynch

Andrew Bishop

Andrew Bishop is a composer and improviser in highly diversified musical idioms. As a composer he has received over 20 commissions from professional organizations and universities, numerous residencies, and recognition and awards from ASCAP, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Andrew W. Melon Foundation, and a nomination from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He leads a variety of his own ensembles and his two recordings as a leader Time and Imaginary Time and the Hank Williams Project (both on Envoi Recordings) received high praise from the New York Times, Downbeat, and All About Jazz, among others. He has performed with Karl Berger, Sandip Burman, Kenny Burrell, Eugene Chadbourne, Ray Charles, Gerald Cleaver, Drew Gress, Jerry Hahn, Chris Lightcap, Mat Maneri, Tony Malaby, Hank Roberts, Jacob Sacks, Craig Taborn, Clark Terry, Matt Wilson, and John Zorn among others.

Read more: International Society for Improvised Music (Member details: Andrew Bishop)

Tim Flood 

Tim Flood is a bassist and composer based in Ann Arbor, MI. As a jazz bassist, he has performed with artists such as Uri Caine, Frank Lowe, Hank Roberts, Roswell Rudd and many others. His original electronic compositions and mixed-media installations have been shown at venues such as The Detroit Institute of the Arts, Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening Space, and the Sync '05 Digital Art Festival. Tim recently completed a Masters Degree in Media Arts from the University of Michigan.

I also recommend mini-album:  Tim Flood Quartet - "Mag Mell" (2012)

Blowing many minds is "Mag Mell" , an uncanny mini-album from the Tim Flood Quartet on Null Records . Flood plays bass and acts as a producer/arranger for these 7 short studies on the darker parts of spiritual jazz. Sounding like "Meditations" or "Ascension" style Coltrane on a serious death trip, cloaked in delay and a teeth-gritting look inward, Andrew Bishop plays horns (and some sick doomsday flute on the last track), Gerald Cleaver does the drums and Jacob Sacks plays piano that gets twisted into some hissing insect buzzes. The songs are mostly done in three minutes, trading the usual extended-form exploration of free jazz for a fragmented, highly edited bigger picture. The cover art (by Tom Hohmann from Mounds/USA is a Monster/Scheme ) makes it look like a commune psyche record, the thing plays on 45 and there's only a couple hundred floating around. Strange and beautiful, entirely.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

MARK HELIAS' OPEN LOOSE – New School (2001)

Label: Enja Records – ENJ-9413 2
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany; Released: 2001
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Recorded on September 21, 2000 at The New School for Social Research, NYC.


On September 21, 2000, bassist Mark Helias and Open Loose took the stage at Manhattan's New School University as part of an annual concert series produced by the Jazz Composers Collective. Happily, the tape was rolling and this superb CD is the result. The aptly named trio features tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey. Helias pilots the group with a selfless spirit; his compositions walk a fine line between structure and freedom and any of the three instruments can take the lead or recede into the background at any time. Lurching unpredictably between stirring cacophony and wily precision, Open Loose rewrites the rules of jazz trio interaction even as they summon a sound rooted in jazz tradition. Highlights include the driving quasi-funk of "Mapa," the unison themes and frequent tempo shifts of "Startle" and "Pick and Roll," and the moody ballad "Gentle Ben."

-- David R. Adler

                   Mark Helias' Open Loose

BBC Review:

[They] produce a dynamic balance between written and improvised music.

The trio's name "Open Loose" refers not only to its musical style, but also to its personnel, which has seen frequent changes. Mark Helias' compositions are written with plenty of space in them, and are designed to be interpreted openly and loosely. They allow for seamless transitions between composed passages and improvisation, never easy to achieve.

This threesome fully exploits the creative possibilities of the compositions, never opting for a clichéd theme-solos-theme format. The group has the knack of starting with a rather loose - sometimes even ramshackle - piece and slowly allowing it to evolve until it emerges as a tight theme; for example, "Mapa" has a rather impressionistic opening and builds to a tightly syncopated ensemble finale.

Last time out, on the fine album Come Ahead Back, Open Loose featured Ellery Eskelin on tenor, plus Helias and Rainey. In this incarnation, now together for some two years, Malaby replaces Eskelin. Malaby's star has been rising in recent years, thanks to work with Marty Ehrlich, Tim Berne, Mark Dresser, and his own quartet. His playing here will further advance that rise. In freely improvised passages, he displays a penchant for melody and structure that gives them a sense of order. The trio's time and experience together is clearly evident from their interactions; they know and understand each other's playing. No-one dominates because no-one needs to; the three players seem to know and trust each other. They play with great economy throughout - there are no grandstanding gestures here, despite this being a live recording - and produce a dynamic balance between written and improvised music.

_ By John Eyles 2002-11-20

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Sunday, October 21, 2012


Label: Rare Music – RM 026
Format: CD, Album Country: UK Released: 1996
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded By – Paul Westwater
Recorded By, Mastered By – Dave Bernez
Recorded at Birmingham Midland Institute on March 5, 1993
New Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA – 2012
Artwork and Complete Design by Vitko Salvarica

"Life is really unpredictable. Just in time to prepare for the publication of this album, came the news of the death of David S. Ware. It wouldn't, of course, any nothing unusual, that my planned post, it was not covered with beautiful memories of a particular event, and the memory of the second anniversary of the death of one of my favorite British drummer Tony Levin.
In that spirit, I wrote a few words, and made, specially designed for the occasion, a new look album.
Of course, because of the urgency of the situation, I am respond quickly, and pay tribute to the great creator David S. Ware, but, by then I had to "Birmingham Concert" moved for a few hours later.

Well, if it was meant to be, that we have two "memorial posts" in the series, then so be it".


Recently, digging through my music library looking for something else of course, I am stumbled on this brilliant album, and promptly forgot his original intention. The memories and emotions began to haunt my mind, and with each new listening, I was totally fascinated by Tony's masterful drumming.

For several months, it will be twenty years from the legendary concert (one of my favorites of this quartet), and two years since the death of Tony Levin.
Tony Levin, an internationally respected free jazz drummer, has died aged 71, on 3 February 2011.

In honor of Tony Levin and this unique concert, I decided to create a completely new design of the album.

Salute, and enjoy the music.


In many ways, this is the kind of "typical" all-star, British, free improv session heard during the '90s: robust, muscular playing by an impressive cast. In concept, it's not very different from dozens of others; its special quality lies in both the intensity of the performance and in the choice of players, particularly the pairing of saxophonists Parker and Dunmall. The former, by this time, was an eminence grise of the movement, a veteran who, while still capable of surprising developments, had essentially established his language and who had already influenced a younger generation of players. Dunmall, while hardly a youngster, was in the process of cementing his own identity and his approach contrasts deliciously with his elder's. Parker tends to attack matters from a fairly intellectual stance, achieving his own brand of ecstasy, one suspects, through a rigorously applied system that, at its best, explodes from its own hermeticism. Dunmall appears to take a more intuitive, less formal approach, using a larger sound that comes across as pastorally romantic to Parker's urbanity. This makes for a fine tension as each player coaxes or accedes to the other, constantly shifting the balance of the general tenor of the improvisation. And this is without even mentioning the contributions of the extraordinary Barry Guy on bass, a musician of awesome sensitivity to the playing of his bandmates as well as one capable of producing sublime and innovative music of his own. Finally, Tony Levin is entirely adequate drummer, to ignited just the right amount of extra fire and invention to propel this session into even higher realms. 
As is, Birmingham Concert is a fine release and is easily recommended to any fans of the musicians involved.

~ Brian Olewnick, All Music Guide

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In memory of

DAVID SPENSER WARE (November 7, 1949 – October 18, 2012)

Glory to you Mr. S. Ware, and thank you for decades of enjoyment in your music.
From you I learned a lot.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Label: FMP – FMP CD 11
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany; Released: 1989
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded live during "Improvised Music 11/88" on June 30th, 1988 at the "Kongresshalle" Berlin
Mastered By – Jonas Bergler
Music By [All] – Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker, Tristan Honsinger
Photography By – Dagmar Gebers
Producer, Recorded By, Mixed By, Design, Layout – Jost Gebers
Recorded By – Eberhard Bingel


While sold separately, this CD is also a part of the limited edition 11 CD box, entitled "Cecil Taylor in Berlin '88".


Recorded in 1988 as part of Cecil Taylor month in Berlin, this trio, which consists of Taylor, saxophonist Evan Parker, and cellist Tristan Honsinger, is an improviser's dream. Here are two personalities actually strong enough to rein Taylor in and bring the music up out of him instead of the force. Parker chose tenor for this gig, and he and Honsinger play to each other for the first couple of minutes, establishing a mutated kind of blues groove as Taylor sings in his tinny voice and claps in the background. Honsinger's bowed chord voicings offer Parker plenty to work off of tonally, and he does, turning the blues riff into a vamp on thirds, and then elongated harmonic structures that bring Taylor in on the piano after about ten minutes. Taylor enters with arpeggios blazing, but he is reined in by the architecture created by Honsinger in his phrasing. When Taylor is forced to play inside it, his creativity rages; he is full of colors, glissandi, dynamics, and a palette of textures that is dizzying — so much so that Parker stops playing for a while. When he reenters, it is to slow things down and build upon some of the tonal structures Taylor has been tossing off within Honsinger's phraseology. Parker becomes a mode setter, creating a new layer of intervallic order from each set of overtones, where any player is allowed to push against its walls but not to break them. And from here, a language is established within the trio, making the musicians move into one another more closely, taking bits and pieces and growing ideas out into entire musical universes made by three — not one plus one plus one. This is a devastatingly fine gig, and one of the best Taylor played the entire month he was in Berlin.

 ~ Thom Jurek

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

SPRING HEEL JACK – The Sweetness Of The Water (2004)

Label: Thirsty Ear – THI 57146.2
Series: The Blue Series – Format: CD, Album
Country: US; Released: 08 June 2004
Performer: Spring Heel Jack, Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker, John Edwards, Mark Sanders
Album: The Sweetness Of The Water
Style: avant-garde, free improvisation, Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz
Recording information: Gateway Studios, Kingston, Jamaica.

Spring Heel Jack:
Ashley Wales - acoustic guitar, trumpet, congas, samples, electronics
John Coxon - guitar, organ, harmonica, vibraphone, samples, electronics

                    Spring Heel Jack


When the U.K. hard drum 'n bass "duo" Spring Heel Jack began collaborating with Thirsty Ear and their Blue Series curator Matthew Shipp, one doubts they had any idea that their own sense of proportion and direction would shift so far away from their source material as it has. Sweetness of the Water is the band's fourth outing in the Blue Series, and as such, it is their most provocative, challenging, and beautiful yet. John Coxon and Ashley Wales have become musicians in the old-fashioned sense of the word on this completely improvisational outing. Their guitars, vibes, keyboards, trumpet, and hand-percussion chores equal and even surpass their sampling and electronic contributions. In realizing this project, the "duo" once again turned to saxophonist Evan Parker (who has been a fixture since 2000) and brought together a rhythm section consisting of Mark Sanders on drums and John Edwards on bass. In addition, trumpeter and vanguard composer Wadada Leo Smith is present this time out. There are eight pieces on the set, none longer than eight minutes, the shortest of which is just under three. Sweetness of the Water exists in a far less controlled environment this time out, and since the language is free improv, Smith and Parker dialogue with one another uninhibited, and often, in unhurried, non-confrontational language. There are no intense flurries of engagement, but the lyrical communication is stunningly intuitive. Coxon's electric guitar on "Track Four" that opens the set walks slowly through the center as a bridge between the rhythm section and Smith's gorgeously long lines. Harsh feedback and improvisational elements are underneath the two main instruments, but they simply fill space with texture and layers of dynamic possibility. On "Quintet," Parker and Smith begin the first of their dialogues, with Coxon again creating an edge for them to walk along. Pace, tension, and texture are the points of congress here, and they come together seamlessly as Sanders and Edwards dance around the edges, bringing them into sharper focus. Harsh electronic sounds, drones, and an organ usher in "Lata," as Parker solos in the middle register. Pulse is the language of rhythm, though drums are absent. Think My Bloody Valentine meeting Gavin Bryars with Evan Parker soloing and you have it. The intricate guitar and drum encounter on "Duo" is a wooly and thoroughly engaging exercise in control and listening. But the recording's grandest piece, "Autumn," closes the set. Coxon's church organ blares out a majestic series of open chords as electric guitars, shimmering drums, and a confluence of lines by Parker and Smith punctuate the Wall of Sound. It's eerie, strange, and crystalline in its strange elegance and shifting dynamics where elements of drone and pulse are woven with multi-dimensional sonics and tight, restrained harmonics. The sonorities as they mutate and change shape are so haunting and pervasive they become their own esthetic.
Sweetness of the Water is not for everybody, but for those who like their free improvisation drenched in beauty, this is your album.

By Thom Jurek

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SCOTT CUTSHALL – Zyphoid Process (1994)

CMP Records; CMP CD 76 
(P) (C) 1996 CMP Records GMBH 
Recorded: June 1994; Released: 1996, Germany
Recorded by Kent Heckman at Red Rock Studios, Saylorsburg, PA, June 1994 
Assistant Engineer: Jessica Everett
Produced by Scott Cutshall, Dave Liebman, Russ Lossing and Tony Marino
Associate Producer: Lesli Cutshall
Art and design for CMP by Ulf v.Kanitz / Photo of Scott Cutshall by Jim Gaffney

„Law Years “ is dedicated to my first mentor – Floyd Williams Jr., 2 April 1929 – 18 January 1994.
(Scott Cutshall)

1. Zyphoid Process (20:53) [S.Cutshall, R.Lossing, T.Marino]
2. Law Years (9:03) [Ornette Coleman]
3. Poetics (14:42) [S.Cutshall, D.Liebman, R.Lossing, T.Marino]
4. Dear Lord (7:42) [John Coltrane]

Musicians :
Scott Cutshall : drums, percussion
Dave Liebman : soprano saxophone on 3,4
Russ Lossing : piano
Tony Marino : bass

"If you work with great musicians, you get great results," Cutshall said. "I feel very fortunate to be able to do this."

Linear Notes:

Scott did the „RIGHT THING “!! He let the musicians just play – no words, no directions, no attitude – just make music. The result is three and four musicians talking DIRECTLY with each other, rather than a specific piece of music acting as the subject of discussion. In other words, no intermediary „thing “ as a reference point. All each of us had was the moment and the other people playing. After all, isn't that the point of improvisation? 
However, when there was a piece of music, what could be lovelier than one of the most simple diatonic, melodic/harmonic combinations ever written by one of the most sophisticated and complex musicians who ever lived? ... - ... John Coltrane’s prayer – „Dear Lord “ . 


By David Liebman

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

MAYBE MONDAY – Saturn's Finger (1998)

Label: BUZZ-Records – ZZ 76007
Format: CD, Album; Country: Netherlands; Released: 1999; Style: Free Jazz
Recorded live 2nd & 3rd July 1998 at Unity Temple, Chicago
Edited and mastered at Headless Buddha Lab, Oakland.
Cover – Amy Trachtenberg; Design – Dolphin Design
New Design (page 2 & 3) by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA - 2012
Edited By, Mastered By – Myles Boisen


Saturn’s Finger is a new release by the trio which calls itself “ Maybe Monday ” consisting of saxophonist Larry Ochs, guitarist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith along with master “ koto ” performer Miya Masaoka who also utilizes various electronics.

What we have here are three performers who possess extensive, disparate resumes along with exemplary credentials. The title track, Saturn’s Finger clocks in at 33 minutes and features unabashed, serious minded improvisation as Larry Ochs assumes the role of the speaker or lead voice via his articulate, full bodied phrasing and implementations of contrasting tonal colors. The proceedings continue with Fred Frith ’ s masterful guitar work as he whips the pace into full throttle with feverish and rapid fire strumming. Here, Ms Masaoka provides a backwash of electronics while the listener partakes in this journey into the cosmos.........Surreal interludes, dreamscapes fulfilled along with artful improvisation while Ms Masaoka ’ s proficient “ koto ” performances become more prominent as the piece develops, which adds an entirely different dimension to the overall vibe. Mid way into “ Saturn ’ s Finger ” , Fred Frith ’ s subtle utilization of tremolo on his electric guitar evokes sounds that seem to emanate from some undetermined origin. Frith proceeds to twist his guitar into knots along with adept utilization of harmonics, which could be some deranged version of “ Flight of the Bumblebee ” . A mixed bag of themes, contrasts and delectable intricacies along with some truly deceptive tactics come to light as though the band - “ Maybe Monday ” were shamans of some unknown habitat.

The piece, titled, “ Helix ” features Ochs ’ whirling and circular phrasing on soprano sax supported by Frith ’ s delicate, pensive guitar performances and Masaoka ’ s fleet-fingered koto work. A strange yet beautiful tone ensues as the composition becomes somewhat penetrating and gradually intensifies which counterbalances the third and final work titled, “ Beyond The Hard Darkness ” . Here, Frith ’ s electric guitar sounds like a piece of machinery while Ochs ’ scat singing approach to the tenor sax and Masaoka ’ s up front employment of electronics maintain the metronome like pulse.......

Saturn’s Finger is a multifarious extravaganza featuring some of the finest improvisers on the planet. The dawn of a new age? Perhaps – yet the trio calling themselves “ Maybe Monday ” celebrate the vitality of the spirit through dazzling interplay.........fascinating stuff! * * * * 1/2

By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: January 1, 2000 (AAJ)


Maybe Monday is a tour de force of musical improvisation uniting three of today's foremost innovators: guitarist Fred Frith one of the seminal figures in the meeting of rock, improv, and new music; Japanese koto virtuosa and electronic music pioneer Miya Masaoka; and saxophonist Larry Ochs , a founding member of the world-renowned Rova Saxophone Quartet now leading several other bands. With its unique instrumentation, wide-ranging influences, and peerless expertise, the trio conjures a sound of striking unity from a would-be clash of opposites: the electronic and the acoustic, the East and the West, the lyrical and the explosive.
The compelling sound of Maybe Monday is captured magnificently on the band's debut album, Saturn's Finger (BUZZ-Records) — a thrilling live set recorded at Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark Unity Temple in Chicago on tour in 1998. Frith thunders on guitar, then plucks a soft tapestry of shimmering tones; Masaoka darts nimbly between echoes of Japanese court music, rasping bowed phrases, and other-worldly live electronic samples; Ochs soars above a guitar-koto groundswell with searing bursts of tenor sax, then evokes a beguiling dance of ethereal notes on his sopranino. Throughout this fresh interplay of moods and textures, it's obvious that this is not only an ensemble of expert players, but of unsurpassed listeners — musicians who value the total sound over the riff.
Maybe Monday first unveiled its collaboration in 1997, on-stage at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. In retrospect, this meeting of talents seems almost inevitable: the three members of the group have been crossing each other's paths for years — Ochs with both Frith and Masaoka through numerous Rova projects, and Frith with Masaoka on a tour of Europe. Together, the trio embarked on a tour (primarily) of the West Coast in 1998 — Frith's first U.S. tour of any kind in more than a decade — culminating in the supercharged recorded performance in Chicago. Now, on the heels of its second album, the group started the new millennium back in SF at the Great American Music Hall, this time featuring special guest Joan Jeanrenaud on cello. An appearance by the same quartet follows at Victoriaville, Canada's festival: Musique Actuelle. The original trio then makes its first major tour of Europe performing in Marseilles, Brussels, Nancy, Bordeaux, Lille, Frankfurt, and other cities — all rare opportunities to catch one of the most exciting and fastest-evolving collaborations in new music today.

Miya Masaoka

Miya Masaoka works simultaneously in the varied musical worlds of jazz, Western classical music, traditional Japanese music and free improvisation, and is currently the director of a traditional Japanese court music ensemble, the San Francisco Gagaku Society. Hailed as "a world-class innovator with uncompromising musicality" (New York Press), she has performed in Japan, India, Canada, and the United States, collaborating with such wide-ranging artists and ensembles as Pharoah Sanders, L Subramanium, Steve Coleman, Henry Kaiser, Wadada Leo Smith, James Newton, Mark Izu, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, and the Berlin Opera. She also leads a trio featuring jazz masters Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille — heard on her 1997 CD, Monk's Japanese Folk Song — and has had a residency at STEIM in the Netherlands, where she developed a MIDI (electronic) interface for her koto. Her most recent commission was from Alonzo King's Lines Ballet, and she is currently on tour performing the commission live with the ballet company.

Fred Frith

Fred Frith is a musician of "undying curiosity, bitter wit, child-like sense of play, and creeping melancholy" (Guitar Player). A pioneer in both rock and new music, he was a co- founder of the classic '60s and '70s British underground band Henry Cow. Following a move to New York City, he became a key member of the Downtown scene, playing in John Zorn's Naked City, in the trios Massacre (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher) and Skeleton Crew (with Tom Cora and Zeena Parkins), and in Keep the Dog, a sextet performing an extensive repertoire of his original compositions. In addition to a wealth of performances as a solo improvising guitarist, he has also collaborated over the years with the likes of Brian Eno, the Residents, and the all-star band of French, Frith, Kaiser, Thompson (with drummer John French, guitarist Henry Kaiser, and guitarist Richard Thompson). He has composed works for the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Moderne, Asko Ensemble, and his own critically acclaimed Guitar Quartet. He now resides on the West Coast, teaching full-time at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Larry Ochs

Larry Ochs has been a powerful influence on a generation of saxophonists as a member for more than two decades of the Rova Saxophone Quartet. With Rova, he has appeared on more than two dozen recordings, toured North America, the former USSR, Europe, Japan, and collaborated with the likes of Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Terry Riley, Marilyn Crispell, Wadada Leo Smith, Margaret Jenkins, Kronos Quartet, and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Outside of Rova, he performed and recorded with the late saxophone innovator Glenn Spearman's Double Trio, and has also played extensively with the quartet Room, the trio What We Live, The John Lindberg Ensemble and the new Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core. As a composer, he has written some two dozen works for saxophone quartet and numerous other pieces for mixed ensembles. He also composed the music for the film Letters Not About Love, which was voted "Best Documentary Film" at the 1998 South-by-Southwest Film Festival.


The koto is a Japanese instrument with moveable frets in the long zither family of Asian instruments. Its evolution reflects the continuum of change through the epochs of Japanese history, and includes ritual, sacred and secular folk and court forms. The full name, kami no nori koto, means literally, "Oracle of the gods" and was used in Shinto practices that continue in modern Japan. It is made of the rather soft kiri wood, and is over six feet long. The length of the vibrating part of the strings is determined by the placement of the moveable bridges (ji), each string having one bridge. Different placement of the ji produce different tunings. There are some 200 scales in Japanese music. The strings are plucked with ivory plectra (tsume) of varying shape. Miya Masaoka performs on the 17, 21 and 25 string koto. Her 25 string koto was made for her by Takashi Nakaji, and she is one of the few performers on this instrument.

In addition to studying traditional koto with Seiko Shimaoka, Masaoka has studied with teachers of Chikushi, Sawai and Ikuta schools. The koto is one of the instruments in the gagaku orchestra, and Masaoka formed the San Francisco Gagaku Society in 1990 under the leadership of Suenobu Togi, an organization that was dedicated to studying, performing and preserving gagaku. Togi Sensei traces his family lineage in the gagaku tradition more than 1200 years to China. He was educated at the Japanese Imperial Court Music School where he studied Japanese court music and dance since boyhood. Members of the esteemed Togi family were the first Imperial Court musicians in history to teach gagaku to non-Imperial Court Japanese civilians, to non-Japanese and also to women, all prohibited from learning gagaku.

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UBU Editions and Jazz Masters Presented – Music Overheard (Placard - 2007)

Graphic Design:

UBU Editions and Jazz Masters Presented - Placard (2007)
An Audio Response To The Exhibition Super Vision
Editor – Damon Krukowski
In cooperation with:
Dartington College of Arts – England and Bard College – New York, November 2007

Original Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA – 2007
Artwork and Complete Design by Vitko Salvarica

Welcome to new prog-blog "Different Perspectives In My Room...!".
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Regards, Vitko

Monday, October 8, 2012

GEBHARD ULLMANN Basement Research - Don't Touch My Music, vol. 1 and vol. 2 (2007)

Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research - Don ’ t Touch My Music vol. 1
Label: Not Two Records – MW 803-2
Format: CD, Album; Country: Poland; Released: 2008
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded Live in concert at Alchemia, Krakow on October 22, 2007. 
Mixed and mastered by Jens Tröndle in March 2008. Band photos by Katarzyna Paletko. Cake drawing by Marta Wajda. Cover photo and design by Marek Wajda. Produced by Gebhard Ullmann for NotTwo Records.
All compositions by Gebhard Ullmann

Gebhard Ullmann – bass clarinet & tenor saxophone | Julian Argüelles - soprano & baritone saxophones | Steve Swell – trombone | John Hebert – bass | Gerald Cleaver – drums

Liner Notes:

How to celebrate your 50th birthday 

I don’t know how most people feel, but when I reach a certain milestone, such as a 50th birthday, I can think of no better way to mark the occasion than by playing great music, your own music with great musicians to enthusiastic crowds from Poland, to the Czech Republic and in your own hometown at a major European jazz festival, one of the biggest of them all. That ’ s exactly what my good friend Gebhard Ullmann did in 2007. Even it wasn ’ t MY 50th, it was great to be there, enjoying his performing with the great musicians you hear here. Not to mention the music was so very hot!!! Being my own DIYer, I know how hard it is to put a good tour together, logistics, hotels, trains, planes. Geb did a fantastic job on this one and everybody in this band understood all the work involved. We just had a ball playing. Those are the ingredients that make a good band great. Not to mention everyone had each other ’ s back. Listen to this disc and you ’ ll see/hear what I mean. From the first night in the Czech Republic this band was spot on. Everyone jumped into Geb ’ s music, tearing up the great music he writes and contributing great solos and support all around. The vibe in this band is so positive, I would vote for some of these guys for President of the U.S. or Germany, if I could. And the people at Alchemia and of course Marek Winiarski of NotTwo were so fantastic some of us hung out at the club till the wee hours. It seems every band I play with at Alchemia does the same thing. It must be the water there.

As far as working with Geb, he really knows how to lead, which is part psychology part musicology. He knows how to get us to play and have a great time doing it. His joy was our joy. He is such a first class guy. We really enjoyed getting down for Geb on this one. And I don ’ t think he touched my music once.

Steve Swell, NYC April 2008


Multi-instrumentalist and composer Gebhard Ullmann lays down the ground rules without ado with the slam-bang title Don't Touch My Music. There should be no qualms about that, Ullmann's music is made to draw rapt attention. The closer one listens, the more there is to discover. Ullmann brings in an evolving, and revolving, cast of characters to give voice to his music. Each ensemble brings certain attributes and direction to his compositions that absorb various strains to enrich them. Basement Research with Steve Swell, Julian Arguelles, John Hebert, and Gerald Cleaver has marked an indelible presence with their earlier work. And there's no messing around with them this time either.

The members of Basement Research have honed empathy to a fine skill. Surprise is the hallmark of their cross-pollination of genres. The band dons and doffs styles in seamless motion, playing in sweet consonance at one moment and taking off at tangents the next. An intimate conversation warps into disparate strain. And with the wit and sly humor they inject, this CD turns out to be quite the excellent entertainer. “ Don't Touch the Music ” is a fine showcase for their creativity. Ullmann brings in the tenor saxophone and blows a myriad of blustery notes. Swell and Argulles lay down calmer lines in tandem leaving Ullmann to his own devices.

The melodic theme wisps in and out, the band romps into swing, the horns honk and bop, while the rhythm section lays down a steady beat. The spirit of New Orleans permeates “ Kleine Figuren No. 2 ” with the sounds of Mardi Gras and a funeral march saturating the melody before they turn on the switch and move into a Latin snap, the samba and uppity swing with the meter and tempo making for infectious bedfellows.

Every track is tantalizing.
No matter which way the ear is cocked, the music has vitality, panache, and verve.

By Jerry D'Souza (AllAboutJazz)

Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research - Don ’ t Touch My Music vol. 2
Label: Not Two Records – MW 804-2

Gebhard Ullmann – bass clarinet & tenor saxophone | Julian Argüelles - soprano & baritone saxophones | Steve Swell – trombone | John Hebert – bass | Gerald Cleaver – drums


When Gebhard Ullmann took his Basement Research into Krakow 's Alchemia Club to celebrate his 50th birthday, he recorded two sets of music. The first was released as Don't Touch My Music, Vol. 1. Like the first, this second set is unedited and unchanged, and shows just how intuitive and empathic the band is.

Ullmann's compositions encapsulate several idioms. He goes from blues to a march, transforming into free idioms without a twinge. And just as his writing is earthy, so too is his playing. He never wastes a note and creates music that leaves its mark on the anvil of time. And if his playing is the cornerstone of the band, his accomplices are no less distinguished in essaying their craft.

Ullmann fires up "Das Blaue Viertle" from a funereal beat into a hot and grinding climax. Along the way, he has Julian Arguelles (soprano and baritone saxophones) and Steve Swell (trombone) help in the transition. The deep growl of the baritone and the wailing cry of the trombone are muscular trajectories, but a waft of swing that cools the air, and the silken curtain that Swell and Arguelles drop behind Ullman, brings their vision full circle.

"New No Ness" takes concept and resolution to another level. In an elegiac encounter, John Hebert (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) are cool protagonists holding a conversation in almost hushed voices. Their path is unhurried as the bass gives voice to a soft shower of chords tempered by the rhythm of the drums. The mood is rent asunder by the invasion of the brass. Shards fly, volatile darts criss-cross, tumultuous lines leap, and the energy is intense. The phases are distinct but just as the calm tells its own story, the storm sets up its own pitch.

In the exquisitely delightful nugget "Don't Touch Our Music," Ullmann, Arguelles and Swell set out on individual roads, marking their journey with breathy phrases, tongue-slapped interjections and quaint melodic lines that disappear almost as soon as they come in. They stop for brief conversations and then traipse off again. It is all quiet and the curtain ringer for a performance that should stay long in the memory.

By JERRY D'SOUZA, Published: August 6, 2009 (AAJ)


Gebhard Ullmann, Steve Swell, Julian Argüelles, John Hebert, Gerald Cleaver

With 'Basement Research' Gebhard Ullmann released his first cd for the italian label Soul Note / Black Saint in 1995.
Four of the most interesting individualists out of the new generation of contemporary jazz players realized their very personal and intense musical ideas. The cd has been widely critically acclaimed and been listed in the us-college-radio-jazz -charts for several months.
The second cd 'Kreuzberg Park east' (with Ellery Eskelin, Drew Gress, Phil Haynes) released on Soul Note in 2000 had even more impact in jazz circles.
After a European tour with Tony Malaby replacing Eskelin in 1999 (documented on the cd 'Live in Muenster') and a 5- year pause the new 'Basement Research' project went on tour again in 2004 as a quintet. the final 2005 line-up featured Gebhard Ullmann (bcl, ts) Steve Swell (tb) Julian Argüelles (bs, ss) John Hebert (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (dr).
The 4th cd 'New Basement Research' was released 2007 once again on Soul Note as part of Gebhard Ullmann's 50th birthday celebrations, made a lot of best-of-the-year lists and received a 4 1/2 star review in DownBeat in March 2008. A very successful tour followed closed by a concert at the prestiguous Berlin Jazzfestival in November 2007.
'New Basement Research' was among the best of 2008 cds in DownBeat and 'Don't Touch My Music vol.1' was named one of the best cds of the year by Allabout Jazz New York.
'Don't Touch My Music vol.1 & vol 2.' recorded live at the Alchemia club in Krakow, Poland was released in 2009.
The band toured Europe again in october 2009. for this tour Tim Daisy replaced Gerald Cleaver.
We are looking forward to record the 7th cd and tour again in February/March 2013. Pascal Niggenkemper will replace John Hebert for this one.

Gebhard Ullmann - tenor saxophone and bass clarinet (photo by Josl. Knaepen)

Budd Kopman in Allaboutjazz about 'Basement Research live in Muenster':
 "Ullmann thrives on playing without a net, and being caught live only enhances the experience. i have always thought that deep inside, Ullmann was a blues man, but in the same way as Coleman Hawkins, neither come right out and play the blues per se, but it always lurks beneath the surface. Perhaps it is not coincidental that "in Muenster" starts with "Blaues Lied (blue song)" a very deep but also deeply twisted blues ...
The band is very, very hot on this record. Malaby gives as much as he gets, Gress plays powerfully, and haynes injects his percussive sounds at will. The music twists and turns, never standing still, as many waves go, crest and crash, only to start again. This performance manifests the sound of surprise that is at the core of the best jazz."

Germán Lázaro in Cuadernos de jazz, Spain about 'Kreuzberg Park East': 
 " dense as Dolphy's 'Out To Lunch'. Without doubt one of the best cd's of the year 2000"

Steve Day in Avant magazine, UK 2000:
 " Kreuzberg Park East is just about the best thing i've heard in this century."

Andrew Bartlett about 'Basement Research' 1995: 
" Ullman's bleating and blatting into spirals and multiphonic mayhem with the utmost reserve. so far, one of the year's finest mergers of jazz vocabularies."

Steve Swell - trombone (photo by Daniel Theunynck)

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Steve Swell has been living, working and performing in New York city for all of his adult life. He has toured and recorded with such diverse jazz personalities as mainstreamers Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, to so-called outsiders like Anthony Braxton, William Parker and Jemeel Moondoc. Swell has twelve recordings as a leader or co- leader and is a featured artist on more than sixty other releases.
He first came to public attention performing with Makanda Ken McIntyre in the multi-instrumentalist's concert at Carnegie recital hall in 1985. He toured and recorded with altoist Tim Berne and his group 'Caos Totale.' (two cds on the jmt label). During this time Steve also toured and recorded with Joey Baron's 'Barondown' who released three cds on jmt, New World and Avant.
Even though he is identified with the 'downtown scene' Swell has been developing his style in the more so- called 'traditional avant-garde' arena. Co-leading projects such as 'Space, Time, Swing' with Perry Robinson, being a sideman in William Parker's 'Little huey creative music orchestra' and working with other similar people has kept him on this circuit.
His newest cd, 'unified theory of sound, this now' featuring Jemeel Moondoc, Cooper Moore, Wilber Morris, Kevin Norton and Matt laVelle, was released on the Cadence label in March 2003. Swell was a featured soloist in Anthony Braxton's opera, 'Shala Fears For The Poor'.

Julian Argüelles - baritone and soprano saxophones (photo by Daniel Theunynck)

Julian began his career as a musician at the age of fourteen touring throughout Europe with the European community big band. Quickly he gained recognition as an original musician and joined the much acclaimed 21 piece UK big band "Loose Tubes".
In 1986 he was awarded the prestigious pat smythe award and has also been awarded several BBC awards.
In 1990 the Julian Argüelles quartet, with John Taylor, Mick Hutton and Martin France recorded their first cd "Phaedrus".
The second cd "Home Truths" was released in 1995 with Mike Walker on guitar, Martin France on drums and Steve Swallow on electric bass. The BBC commissioned Argüelles to write 60 minutes of music for a new band to be premiered at the 1996 Bath Festival, the octet was formed and the music became his fourth album "Skull View" which was Voted Jazz cd of the year 1997 by the independent on sunday. His previous two albums had been Voted Jazz cd of the year in both 1995 and 1996.
Julian has worked with musicians drawn from around the world including Archie Shepp, Tim Berne, Hermeto Pascoal, John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, Peter Erskine, Chris McGregor, John Scofield and Carla Bley. He is also a member of several big bands including the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Django Bates' Delightful Precipice and Colin Towns' Mask Orchestra.
In 1999 Julian released his first album for provocateur the critically acclaimed "Escapade". His second, some 5 years later, was the much anticipated "As aAbove So Below", a large scale work for jazz and classical musicians featuring the 20 piece trinity college of music string ensemble.

John Hebert - bass (photo by Daniel Theunynck)

John moved to New York city from New Orleans in 1994, where he has become a highly in demand jazz bassist. he has worked with Andrew Hill, Paul Bley, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Liebman, Maria Schneider, Fred Hersch, John Abercrombie, Greg Osby, Tim Berne and many others.
As well as performing John also teaches clinics and master classes world wide including the Rhythmic Music Conservatory of Copenhagen, Portland State University and the maine jazz camp. John holds a b.m. in jazz performance from William Paterson University.

 Gerald Cleaver - drums (photo by Daniel Theunynck)

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. inspired by his father, John Cleaver, also a drummer, he began playing the drums at an early age.
In 1995 he accepted an appointment as assistant professor of jazz studies at the University Of Michigan, and in 1998 also joined the jazz faculty at Michigan State University. Gerald taught at both universities until 2002, at which time he relocated to New York. He has been a part of several personally significant working ensembles, Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory being the longest and most important. While a student at u of M Gerald met pianist Craig Taborn and has continued a fruitful and inspiring musical relationship with the fellow note factory member. In Detroit he also met and played with legendary saxophonist Charles Gayle, with whom he has recorded and continues to play with from time to time. In 1999 pianist Jacky Terrasson asked Gerald to be a part of his then-quintet, and also later his favored improvisational ensemble, trio.
Once in New York, Gerald found work with several other ensembles: Mark Helias' Open Loose, David Berkman and Joe Morris' Quartets, and Mat Maneri and Matt Shipp's Varied Ensembles, with whom he has recorded several times. Tim Ries, Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus, Kevin Mahogany, The Detroit Jazz All-Stars, featuring Kenny Burrell, Hank Jones and Frank Foster, Marilyn Crispell, Ralph Alessi, Muhal Richard Abrams, Marty Ehrlich's Traveler's Tales, among others, are also those whom Gerald has toured with.
Most recently, he has formed the ensemble, Veil of names, and has recorded "Adjust", for the Fresh Sound new talent label.

Enjoy the music.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

PAUL FLAHERTY ‎– Voices (solo alto and tenor sax) 2001

Label: Wet Paint Music – 3002
Format: CD, Album; Country: US; Released: 2003; Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded Sept 18, 2001 and mastered Nov 23, 2001 at PBS Studios, Westwood, MA.
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Producer, Artwork – Paul Flaherty
[Prepress], Design – Mark Saunders; Photography By – Deborah Everett
New Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA - 2012, (collage of fragments of drawings by Paul Flaherty); Designer - Vitko Salvarica
Recorded By, Mastered By – Peter Kontrimas

From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003) 

Saxophonist Paul Flaherty has been playing free-improvisational music for many years and was introduced to us in the past year through his collaborations with drummer Chris Corsano and with Corsano and trumpet player Greg Kelley. Flaherty's latest effort is a 70 minute solo set of free-improv jazz played on alto & tenor saxophone. This is an album that has grown on me over multiple listens, the power of the music lying in Flaherty's passionate and expressive playing style. His sax can be beautifully melodious or sonically harsh. Music that grabs you by the throat.... and caresses you. I like the considered moments of silence. They're typically barely a second, but are noticeable. It's like Flaherty is allowing himself and the listener an instant to breathe, or maybe even a moment of reflection before he launches into the next phrase. I also like the technique used on "Little Death", which sounds like Flaherty talking through his saxophone. And there's "But We Will Keep The Secret", on which we hear vocal yelps at the beginning that preface one of the most frantic pieces on the album.

Improvisational music typically consists of very personal statements that come from the depths of the artists' soul, and in the liner notes of Voices Flaherty has chosen to share some inner thoughts that let us into the details of his musical world and make for a richer listening experience. It's interesting to learn that of 20 albums he has been involved in, Voices is his first solo release. However, this is far from being his first solo experience, having performed thousands of times alone, usually between 1:00-4:00am on the streets of his native Hartford, Connecticut. Listening with the headphones on I imagined myself walking under a bridge at night and spotting a lone man with a saxophone filling the night air with strange but seductive sounds.

Recommended to fans of the free-improv avant-garde . If you're in the mood for one man's moving and passionate musical explorations, then surrender yourself to Voices.

— by Jerry Kranitz 

The pictures Paul Flaherty paints of himself , both figuratively and literally, in the liner notes of Voices, show a man divided, a personae which Flaherty describes as the meeting of the conscious self with other personalities, namely that which bursts with the emotional medium of improvisation and that which melds the conscious self and emotional self into the music that's produced. Listeners have had little chance to meet Flaherty's conscious self; during the past twenty-five years, he's been involved in the release of twenty scattered albums and rarely left the NY/New England area, but Voices, his first solo release, gives the public a chance to encounter all sides of his musical personae all at once.

Flaherty uses the alto and tenor saxophones over the course of Voices' nine tracks to produce over seventy minutes of live, free improvisation. A solo release of such duration is an intense proposition for most musicians, but, seeing as this is Flaherty's first solo release, it seems appropriate that he takes as much time as he needs, regardless of whether it's easy to make it through Voices in one listen. Any allusion to this difficulty is surely not a sign of a weakness in Flaherty's technique or ability. In fact, Voices proves him to be extremely flexible, creative, and full of a musical passion that many of his contemporaries might wish for. His melodic work is jagged but encircled by a strong pathos, and Flaherty easily forces a melodic line to dissolve into a noisy, red-cheeked fury before coaxing it back out, unharmed, into focus. He sometimes locks into small minimalist permutations that coil around themselves tightly before exploding into molten aural lava or ever so slightly coming untwined and shifting shape into something new. Comparisons to Peter Brцtzmann seem apt at times, especially in regards to the blustery tone that even many of Flaherty's more balladic pieces give off, but there's nothing in the way of mimicry or hat-tipping to be found here. Flaherty's saxophone explores plenty of sonic ground that's little comparable to anything but inspiration in the outside world: crying babies, the whinny of a horse, or a distant jet engine.

Paul Flaherty has waited a long time to release his first solo album, and the countless hours of public performance (sans audience) on the streets of Hartford, CT, have paid dividends in an album of improvisatory fire which doesn't wane over the course of the album's duration. That such intensity and skill can seem commonplace by the end of Voices may seem to detract from the album's quality, but it's a signal that Flaherty is a force to be reckoned with, and one whose voice should be heard by far more people than it has thus far.

-- Adam Strohm,

In his liner notes to Voices, Paul Flaherty admits: "I don't know who I am. That's where the music...comes alive." Most people, even avant-garde jazz fans, don't know who Paul Flaherty is. He rarely stepped out of his native Hartford, CT. But his Voices album speaks more than the busy careers of run-of-the-mill saxophonists. It speaks of human emotions, raw and sometimes violent, of the unfairness of life, of artistic expression as a safety valve. One could use the fire music tag to describe these solos — there's fire for sure in his raspy horn and there's a highly personal understanding of free jazz, too, but this moves beyond jazz or under it, into something almost atavistic, primal but not primary. Flaherty blows. His lungs are so powerful and his use of multiphonics so peculiar that it sounds as if he is pushing too much air into the instrument; it is about to burst at the joints, every piece of metal vibrating at its own frequency (the listener waits for the explosion during "Our Tears Are Always Young"). And then he turns to a soulful melody, irresistibly moving, just to prove to you that there are more voices in him than what could meet the ear at first. He can push his tenor sax into the range of a baritone (in "You Can't Go Home Again") and make his alto sax cry in a plaintive high-pitched tone reminiscent of a suona (the aptly titled"Little Death"). Music like this lives and dies on the notion of honesty, and on the involvement of the artist. These voices are very much alive.

~ François Couture, All Music Guide

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Label: Leo Records– CD LR 369
Format: CD; Country: UK; Released: 2003: Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live on September 14, 2002 at Tonic, NYC.
Artwork [Cover Art] – Wally Shoup
New Design (pages: 2,3,4,5) by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA - 2012; Designer - Vitko Salvarica
Engineer, Edited By – Leo Feigin, Simon Brewer
Liner Notes – Dan Warburton
Photography – Stefano Giovannini
Producer – Leo Feigin; Recorded By – Chris Habib


This is a dream date, and unlike most dream dates this one works. Saxophonists Wally Shoup and Paul Flaherty have so much in common. They share a raw delivery of emotion, a passion that sets their free improvising on fire, and a history of dwelling in the shadows of American improv for way too long. Prior to this live date, they were both engaged in a revitalization of their careers — or was it simply that their music was finally falling into the right ears? Flaherty had released important albums on Boxholder, Ecstatic Yod, and his own brand-new label, Wet Paint. Shoup was about to have a fresh session released on the influential label Leo. And here they are sharing the stage at Tonic in New York City, pushing each other into a blowout contest of epic proportions. Between their towering presence, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore throws his mean guitar playing, matching their intense wails and feverish spurts. His presence occasionally becomes overwhelming, but in general he contributes an essential part to the exciting music, his relevance hitting peaks in "Tonic Two" — is this a free jazz quartet or Borbetomagus? Chris Corsano makes the perfect drummer for this group.
His playing is extremely busy, saturated, but he stays in the back, leaving the three already loud voices of the saxophones and guitar to tear up the front of the stage. Live at Tonic contains two or three episodes of confusion, especially in "Tonic Three," but in general it makes a compelling, exhausting, hell-raising session of fire music from the post-fire music era.

~ François Couture, All Music Guide.

 Liner Notes:

Should one wish to explore the thorny question of where "free jazz" ends and "free improvisation" begins (I don't particularly want to get into it, but..), it's perhaps the continuing need on the part of some musicians to retain the idea of a theme, a "head" (albeit symbolically) that ought to be discussed (that and the role of the rhythm section bass and drums, but that's another story). Despite its audacious title, Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz" followed the time-honoured bop structure of head (ensemble) alternating with individual solos (horns first, rhythm section last), and the idea of a head remained central to Coltrane, Ayler and Frank Wright, to name but three major players. Though it soon lost its earlier role as central organising pillar (either vertical, as harmonic "changes" to be played over the legacy of bop or horizontal, as melodic/intervallic material to be developed by the soloist Monk, Ornette, Lacy...) the head nevertheless retained a structural function. (Ayler used it to delineate form, marking the end of one solo and preparing the ground for the next.) When American free jazz, as Sunny Murray put it, "got lost" in the late 1970s (some musicians crossed over into funk; others retreated into academia; some plied their trade wherever they could in draughty lofts; others disappeared altogether and died in the street), a few brave souls established links with like-minded explorers in Europe and Japan, where younger generations of players (free from the constraints of the Tradition imposed by the American media, that pompous self-appointed arbiter not only of what jazz is, but also apparently of what's good and bad jazz), had taken the plunge and dispensed with themes altogether. 

Twenty years down the line, discovering that they can quite easily do without the head, and the melodic and/or harmonic information it contains, what do musicians improvise "over"? Answer: they improvise full stop, they play, they take it to the edge. Parameters other than pitch, harmony and rhythm (in the strict metrical sense of the word) are less important here than timbre, event-density and volume. To adopt an analogy from the visual arts, we've moved away from figurative to abstract expressionist it's no coincidence that a Jackson Pollock was chosen as cover art for "Free Jazz", and no coincidence either that many improvising musicians are also painters: Alan Silva, Bill Dixon, Peter Brötzmann, Ivo Perelman, Jack Wright and, as you can see, Wally Shoup. 

Shoup and Paul Flaherty have doggedly pursued the goal of improvised music for over two decades in a United States where jazz (and its attendant codes of behaviour) still holds sway. (This isn't to say that they are uninfluenced by it name me a saxophonist who is both men possess a strength and purity of tone and a determination to pursue musical ideas that clearly points not only to Ayler and Coltrane, but further back to Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins.) Until recently they've had to labour on in relative obscurity between 1984 and 1994's "Project W" (Apraxia), Shoup only released his work on self-produced cassettes, while Flaherty curated his Zaabway imprint with kindred spirit Randy Colbourne until 2001's magnificent "The Ilya Tree" (Boxholder) and the sensational "The Hated Music" on Ecstatic Yod. 

Guitarist Thurston Moore needs little introduction, of course, neither as a performer in his own right with Sonic Youth nor as a tireless champion of free music. In an interview in 1998 with The Wire's Biba Kopf, he recalled the thrill of his discovery of the "amorphous [...] spontaneous blowout" at a New York loft session in the early 1980s featuring guitarists Glenn Branca and Rudolph Grey (whose group The Blue Humans with Arthur Doyle and Beaver Harris was one of the first improvisation outfits to cross over into the ugly, noisy world of No Wave). Moore subsequently asked writer Byron Coley to compile some free-music tapes to take on a mid-80s SY tour (Coley made sixty!) and "then someone gave me a copy of [Brötzmann's] "Machine Gun" and it was all over..." Coming from rock, Moore arrived in free music without the baggage of a jazz soloist (i.e. notes matter he recalls being bemused the first time he heard Derek Bailey) but with an arsenal of extended techniques that would make any jazz guitarist (with the possible exception of the late Sonny Sharrock) shudder with fear. 

Drummer Chris Corsano (who partners Flaherty to perfection on "The Hated Music" and the more recent "Sannyasi" on the saxophonist's new Wet Paint imprint) is, as he has to be in such company, a veritable powerhouse, just as adept at exploiting percussion's timbral potential as he is its rhythmic propulsion. Sunny Murray would be proud of him. 

It's only just that this magnificent work should find itself on the venerable Leo label, and I for one can't wait to hear more of it, especially now that the likes of Matt Shipp, William Parker and David Ware are sliding progressively back towards orthodoxy, secure in the knowledge that the safety net of Tradition be that bebop or hiphop lies beneath them. It's good to know there's still somebody on the edge willing to come back and remind us what it's like out there. 

_ Dan Warburton

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