Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MISHA MENGELBERG / HAN BENNINK – Bennink - Mengelberg (LP-1981)

Label: Instant Composers Pool – ICP 023
Format: Vinyl, LP; Country: Netherlands - Released: 1981 (?)
Style: Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
Recording Dates: 
     Tracks A1, A2 at De Kroeg, Amsterdam on 3 July 1979
     Track A3 at Bimhuis, Amsterdam on 28 March 1981
     Tracks B1, B2 at Bimhuis, Amsterdam on 2 November 1979
     Track B3 at Bimhuis, Amsterdam on 13 June 1980
Recorded by – Dick Lucas in Amsterdam
Produced by – the Instant Composers Pool
Cover art by – Han Bennink, 1981

HAN BENNINK – Drums, Percussion, Soprano Saxophone, Trombone

A1 - Kroeg A   4:42
A2 - Kroeg B   9:47
A3 - Bim A   7:50
B1 - Bim B (Jaquidic)   11:04
B2 - Islay Malt Jitterbug   3:06
B3 - Bim C (Di Qui Ja)   7:14
Composed By – Han Bennink (tracks: A), Misha Mengelberg (tracks: B)

Misha Mengelberg & Han Bennink (Archives)

... It was only available in a limited edition, and now it's sold out, but it was an essential little package for any record-collecting improv enthusiast. The 64 page hardback book is a treasure trove of information. Kees Stevens' complete discography for the Instant Composers Pool presents (intelligently) the recordings in chronological order-from ICP 001, the "New Acoustic Swing Duo" of 1967 (Han Bennink, percussion, and Willem Breuker, reeds) up to and including last summer's "The Heron" (Tobias Delius) [ICP 033]-and includes various related ICP projects on other labels [FMP, Entr'acte]. Kevin Whitehead's accompanying essay provides a clear and affectionate history of the label, and if your Dutch is up to it, there are several assorted old press clippings and articles to pore over. The book also includes numerous photographs, not only of Bennink and Mengelberg on and off stage, but also of the front and back covers of all the released ICP albums, most of them splendid original designs by Bennink himself. If you can still track down a copy, don't hesitate...

... Although the New Acoustic Swing Duo album was a Bennink/Breuker project, it was pianist and composer Misha Mengelberg who came up with the name "Instant Composers Pool," and over the years Mengelberg has remained the principal guiding force behind the organization. Breuker and Mengelberg, despite strong mutual respect for each other, never got along well enough to record together for ICP, and Breuker eventually split in 1973 to form the Willem Breuker Kollektief (though relations have remained cordial enough for BVHaast, founded by Breuker to promote and distribute his work, to handle the ICP catalogue). Over the years Mengelberg gradually assembled the ICP Orchestra (whose regular line-up includes Ab Baars, Michael Moore, Ernst Reijseger, and Wolter Wierbos, along with frequent guest musicians such as Steve Lacy and George Lewis), all the while continuing his duo concerts with Han Bennink.

Rarely have we seen such intense and long-lasting musical partnerships as Misha and Han; together they played with the legendary Eric Dolphy on the "Last Date" album in 1964-by which time they'd already been working together for three years-and though Bennink gigged with anybody he could in the sixties, from Sonny Rollins to Marion Brown, while Mengelberg was "as happy to think about music as play it," they have continued to play and record together both as a duo and as the heart of the ICP Orchestra rhythm section ever since. Quite apart from the extraordinary music they make, their appearance and antics onstage are unforgettable. Bennink, absurdly athletic and dangerously healthy-looking-with his close- cropped hair and khaki shorts he resembles the kind of demented scout leader who would lead unruly teenagers through a minefield-regularly breaks several pairs of sticks per concert through sheer exuberance, and has been known to play anything (he attacks walls, potted plants, empty glasses at the bar, and even once attempted to saw the stage in half). In total contrast, Mengelberg, eternally chain-smoking and slightly hunch-backed-tending to look far older than his sixty-three years-huddles over the piano stool at a rakish angle, plunking away as if he had never seen the instrument in his life (although he knows damn well what he's doing). The humorous element is not just visual though, but deeply rooted in the musical interplay between the two musicians; to quote Eugene Chadbourne:

"It's a real gift to be able to create comedy. Han Bennink is a genius. One of my favorite things is that something very serious and very funny is going on at the same time. It totally confuses the audience-they don't know if you're trying to be funny or serious, when in fact you're both."

This LP is a fine example of that-there are moments of high comedy, aggression, repose, and, yes, boredom.. for where does it say that everything you do has to be stupendously thrilling? Since when was life like that? Says Mengelberg; "I like puzzles in an open form, like chess or a game of bridge. Something with a development that can lead to something... or not! In an open chess game there can be attacks that are to no avail, events that are going wrong but the opponent makes a mistake, or somebody makes a brilliant move but falters and is mated in two. So no little tricks.. No first, second theme. No development section, no reprise. There are no simple calculations for life."...

_ critiques by DAN WARBURTON, Paris Editor

If you find it, buy this album!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

ZBIGNIEW SEIFERT – Man Of The Light (LP-1977)

Label: MPS Records – 68.163
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album; Country: Germany - Released: 1977
Style: Free Jazz, Fusion
Recorded: September 27 - 30, 1976, Tonstudio Zuckerfabrik Stuttgart, Germany.
Artwork By [Cover] – Thyrso A. Brisolla / B.R.M.
Photography – Reinhard Truckenmüller
Producer – Joachim-Ernst Berendt
Recorded By – Chips Platen

Zbigniew Seifert (6 June 1946 – 15 February 1979), Polish jazz violinist

 "Man of the Light" is a true desert island disc; one of the most exhilarating, important, and underexposed jazz albums ever recorded, and all the more tragic for its largely unfulfilled promise of even greater things to come.

A1 - City Of Spring  6:37
A2 - Man Of The Light  9:45
A3 - Stillness  5:00
B1 - Turbulent Ployer  7:27
B2 - Love In The Garden  6:12
B3 - Coral  6:54
Composed By – Zbigniew Seifert, except track A3 by Cecil McBee

JASPER VAN'T HOF – electric piano, organ
CECIL McBEE – acoustic bass
BILLY HART – drums

An incredible jazz album of refreshing quality for its year. These people here have captured the spiritual intensity of John Coltrane with with the grace of classical exuberance, romantic creativity and electric dynaminism. The outstanding whoppers of "modality" such as "City of Spring", "Man of the Light" and "Turbulent Plover" are just beyond my expectation. I usually am a bit annoyed by the long formulaic modal workouts of the acoustic piano, but the classical undercurrents on this album really make these bits shine more than just the usual display of technical fludity, which is mandatory anyway for any solid jazz musician.

And the man on one of my favorite instruments of all time is fiddling away like shining star, radiating unbelievable creativity at the avant-garde/fusion galaxies where people like Coltrane or Jean-Luc Ponty used to travel. What really makes this effort even more interesting are some of these ideas that exhibit some melancholic spiritualism, such as the threnodial number of "Stillness" that carries some folk baggage within its spheres of lamentation. Such a great and simple bass riff there as well. Superb! "Love in the Garden" stumbles on the plains of the same arcane spiritualism that Mahavishnu Orchestra used explore. It even reminds me of an ambient scape. The similarities fortunately aren't overbearing as the amount of interpetrational weight is just staggering in Seifert's expressive strokes of virtuosity.

Truly stunning interaction, interpretation and execution of musical ideas.

This exceptional album by Polish violin virtuoso / composer Zbigniew Seifert was the first major exposure of his talents outside of his motherland. Legendary MPS producer Joachim Berendt, who had close ties to the Polish Jazz scene, was aware of Seifert's incredible talent and managed to pull off this recording session, bringing on board a superb team of players, which consisted of German pianist Joachim Kuhn and an American rhythm section: bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart. Dutch pianist Jasper van`t Hof also participates on one track. Seifert composed all the music on this album, which is a great example of typical Eastern European Jazz, which cleverly combines elements of modern American Jazz, especially that of John Coltrane, with Folklore and Classical influences. Seifert's "obsession" with Coltrane's music and his improvisational technique are plainly evident, especially during the up-tempo numbers. The album's title track is dedicated to Coltrane's pianist McCoy Tyner. Hearing the album 37 years after it was recorded makes one realize how great music gets better with time, losing absolutely nothing of its initial grandeur. Both Seifert and Kuhn play some incredible solos here and the rhythm section supports them admirably every step of the way. Tragically, just three years after this music was recorded Seifert died, stricken by cancer, before his endless potential was realized and recognized properly. Seifert managed to record several albums in the US before his untimely death, but this album is definitely his most important and most perfect legacy.
Absolutely essential!

Friday, February 21, 2014

HANS KOLLER / WOLFGANG DAUNER – Kunstkopfindianer (LP-1974)

Label: MPS Records/BASF – 21 22019-2
Country: Germany - Released: 1974
Style: Jazz, Jazz-Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Experimental
Recorded 21.-23. 1.1974, Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg.
Design [Cover Design], Photography – Frieder Grindler
Engineer [Recording Director] – Willi Fruth
Engineer [Recording] – Martin Wieland
Photography – Jörg Becker

A1 - Kunstkopfindianer (Composed By – W. Dauner)  9:04
A2 - Suomi (Composed By – A. Roidinger)  2:34
A3 - Nom (Composed By – A. Roidinger)  6:29
B1 - Ulla M. & 22/8 (Composed By – H. Koller)  11:50
B2 - Adea (Composed By – Z. Seifert)  6:21

HANS KOLLER : soprano/tenor saxophone
WOLFGANG DAUNER : piano, electric piano synthesizer, nagoya-harp
ZBIGNIEW SEIFERT : violin, alto saxophone
ADELHARD ROIDINGER : bass, electric bass

Hans Koller,
...The dynamic creativity of this artist was well documented not only through a series of recordings under his own name but in a parallel career as an abstract artist. His solo discography starts up in the early '50s and includes a 1957 effort actually entitled Hans Across the Sea. He stopped performing in 1995, at that point choosing to focus on his painting activity...

Link in Comments!


Label: MPS Records – 21 21432-2
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1972
Style: Psychedelic Rock, Free-Jazz-Rock, Experimental, Prog Rock
Recorded at MPS-Studio, Villingen, March 1972.
Cover [Design], Photography By [Outside Cover] – Frieder Grindler
Engineer – Rolf Donner
Photography By [Inside Cover] – H. Mall, J. Becker
Producer – Willi Fruth

A1 - The Really Great Escape (Composed By – L. Coryell) .......................... 4:20
A2 - Sun (Composed By – W. Dauner) .......................................................... 6:38
A3 - Yan (Voice, Effects [Sounds] – Richard Ketterer) ................................ 12:55
B1 - Tuning Spread (Composed By – W. Dauner) ....................................... 11:05
B2 - Yin (Composed By – W. Dauner) ........................................................... 9:55

WOLFGANG DAUNER – keyboards, electronics [Electronic Devices]
FRED BRACEFUL – drums, percussion

Completely new standards were set with this recording in 1972. “ Knirsch ” became cult and still is until now, 42 years after its release. A unique example for the successful interweaving of jazz, rock, avant-garde and electronic.

With its follow-up, Knirsch, which is German for “ crunch, ” as alluded to by the trippy “ bite ” cover art of Frieder Grindler, who also designed ECM and Mood Records covers in the 1970s, the starry group was out and Dauner reconnected with MPS to hook up with American guitarist Larry Coryell (Chico Hamilton, Free Spirits, Gary Burton) and British drummer Jon Hiseman (aka John Hiseman, co-founder of the jazz-rock bands Colosseum and Tempest and, later, with Wolfgang Dauner, the all-star band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble).

This is a surpassing masterpiece.

Knirsch ” lost nothing of its initial musical stimulus. And for the primarily young generation, it may be a totally new discovery. Although some may know at least one title, the final track “ Yin ” . As this one (an honour not too many German composers experienced) was covered by Larry Coryell on his recording “ Introducing The Eleventh House ” .

The group on „Knirsch “ was named „Et Cetera “ by Dauner and he explained it as follows: „We want to make spontaneous music. Music, created at the very moment of playing and allowing its development as we go on. We let it continue on and on, but it must sound alive. We despise categories and limits. ”

High time for a new discovery of this path breaking recording.

If you find it, buy this album!

Monday, February 17, 2014

PHIL WOODS AND HIS EUROPEAN RHYTHM MACHINE – At Frankfurt Jazz Festival (1970-LP-1971)

Label: Embryo Records – SD 530
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album; Country: US - Released: 1971
Style: Free Jazz, Post Bop
Recorded live on March 21, 1970, at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival.
Album  Design – Haig Adishian
Photography [Black & White] – Giuseppe G. Pino
Photography [Colour] – Marc Riboud
Producer – Horst Lippmann
Producer [Executive Producer] – Herbie Mann

PHIL WOODS – Saxophone [Alto]
HENRI TEXIER – Acoustic bass
DANIEL HUMAIR – Drums, Percussion

A1 Freedom Jazz Dance (Composed By – Eddie Harris) 13:30
A2 Ode A Jean-Louis (Composed By – Phil Woods) 13:30
B1 Josua (Composed By – Victor Feldman) 13:00
B2 The Meeting (Composed By – Gordon Beck) 11:00

Altoist Phil Woods' European Rhythm Machine was the most adventurous group he ever led, bordering on the avant-garde at times. The 1970 version (which includes pianist Gordon Beck, bassist Henri Texier and drummer Daniel Humair) is showcased on this performing two group originals, Victor Feldman's "Josua" and "Freedom Jazz Dance." Beck's "The Meeting" is the briefest performance at 11 minutes, while the other three selections all clock in around 13. Woods' longtime bebop fans may not be that excited by these pretty free improvisations (although the musicians were clearly listening closely to each other), but the altoist's tone remained quite recognizable. Challenging and stimulating music.


Links in Comments!

PHIL WOODS AND HIS EUROPEAN RHYTHM MACHINE – Phil Woods And His European Rhythm Machine (1970-LP-1976)

Label: Inner City Records – IC 1002
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue; Country: US - Released: 1976
Style: Post Bop, Modal, Free Jazz
Recorded at Europa-Sonor Studio on July 5, 1970.
Album Design – Frank Vega
Engineer – Charles B. Raucher
Liner Notes – Nat Hentoff

PHIL WOODS – Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Recorder [English], Percussion, Voice
GORDON BECK – Electric Piano, Piano, Organ, Bells, Percussion, Voice
HENRI TEXIER – Acoustic Bass, Flute, Percussion [African], Voice
DANIEL HUMAIR – Drums, Percussion [Remo Roto-tom], Percussion [Woodblocks]

A1 Chromatic Banana
A2 Ultimate Choice
B1 The Last Page/Sans Melodie
B2 A Look Back
B3 The Day When The World...

In 1970, when Inner City Records was just getting off the ground, Phil Woods was in Europe enjoying himself, and collaborating with musicians who were definitely feeling the spell of the Miles Davis groundbreaking jazz fusion epic Bitches Brew. While always a staunch straight-ahead bebop player, Woods decided to mix it up a bit and incorporate elements of funk, rock, and free improvisation, much to the likely chagrin of his listeners. In fact, a vitriolic letter printed on the back cover from an unidentified fan residing in Chicopee Falls, MA, rips Woods for abandoning melody, criticizes his titles, and actually threatens him with physical violence should he ever show up in his town. Woods gives his terse reply, but as cynical as this discourse is, it could all have been whipped up by Woods to deflect any detractors to his "new thing." Truth be told, the music here is inspired and focused, even if it is not what devotees might expect. British electric pianist Gordon Beck (who took over for original keyboardist George Gruntz), French acoustic bassist Henri Texier, and Swiss drummer Daniel Humair are all extremely talented musicians, who alongside the excitable Woods forge strong bonds in amalgamating this modern jazz into a personalized sound. Bookended by really long jam-type pieces, the album also retains a certain amount of arranged and complex melody lines. The opener, "Chromatic Banana," is the piece that caused the letter-writing fan's consternation, and in the hilarious liner notes, Woods offers listeners a chance to win one in simulated plastic. Musically, it moves fast from 6/8 to free to 5/4, 4/4, and 7/8 meters in pre-fusion rock-funk modes, with the alto and Varitone-modified sax of Woods wheezing, wailing, improvising, and eventually vocally scatting. Beck's "The Day When the World..." has a folkish intro on the Hohner electric piano, moves from a steady rock beat to a poppish tune, and concludes with introductions of the bandmembers by one of the leader's children in English and French. A combo track of Beck and Woods, "The Last Page/Sans Melodie" starts as a pleasant ballad, then quickens to a bop and rock pace with Woods on a Varitone clarinet. The most straight jazz-oriented cut is also contributed by Beck: "Ultimate Choice" is a fleet bebop discourse between the pianist and alto saxophonist, with hard attacks and Woods digging in and establishing his territory. The short "A Look Back" is actually forward-thinking and progressive in a spontaneous manner via the spare recorder playing of Woods underpinning clacky percussion, rattles, and bowed bass...


Links in Comments!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TIM BERNE'S BLOODCOUNT – Memory Select - The Paris Concert Vol.3 (1995)

Label: JMT Productions – JMT 514 029-2
Format: CD, Album, Country: Germany - Released: 1995
Jazz Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live on 22-25 September 1994 at Instants Chavirés, Montreuil, Paris, France.
Cover Design and Artwork – by Sebastian Byram
Engineer [Mastering] – Carlos Albrecht
Engineer [Recording] – Joe Ferla
Executive-Producer – Hiroshi Itsuno
Producer – Stefan F. Winter
Photography – Susanna Schoenberg

Tim Berne's Bloodcount:
MARC DUCRET (electric guitar); CHRIS SPEED (clarinet, tenor saxophone); TIM BERNE (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); MICHAEL FORMANEK (double bass); JIM BLACK (drums)

Memory Select, the final release in the three-CD live series recorded by Tim Berne's Bloodcount at Instants Chavirés in Paris during September of 1994, begins in low-key fashion, with Chris Speed playing mournfully on his solitary clarinet before he is joined by Marc Ducret's skittering runs and begins to transfer some of the guitarist's energy into his own playing. The full-ensemble scored passages that follow in the 18-minute "Jazzoff" are akin to similarly subdued, chamberesque portions of compositions on the first two discs, Lowlife and Poisoned Minds, while Berne's buzzing multiphonics during the improvised segments place the saxophonist's fascination with sometimes abrasive textures on full display. Speed's clarinet, Berne's baritone sax, and Michael Formanek's arco bass draw long lines through a sometimes dark and melancholy sonic landscape punctuated by Jim Black's inventive, though comparatively laid-back, percussion. As suggested by the title, this is Berne at his least jazzy - - although there is plenty of room for skronky improvisation during the midsection of "Jazzoff." This is one of Berne's best pieces for sustaining a consistent mood, even if that mood might lead listeners expecting some upbeat music to reach for a bottle of Prozac. And like his most enduring extended-form music, it avoids the jarring cut-and-paste juxtapositions of lesser composers, while still taking listeners on a wide-ranging ride. "Jazzoff" is followed by the grand opus of the entire three-CD series, the 51-plus minute "Eye Contact." Here, Berne leads the band's slow buildup of energy with a stunning, soulful alto solo before bringing the dynamic back down to quiet, chamber music levels. A short burst of almost sprightly full-band harmony and counterpoint signals approaching showcases for Speed's wild and wailing clarinet and Formanek's soloing prowess; more tricky and complex charts then lead to a funked-up jam supporting a crazed, noisy guitar solo from Ducret. For sheer energy alone, this would be an apt conclusion to "Eye Contact," but there is much more to come. The track ends with Berne soloing over a dramatic buildup from the full band, unleashing torrents of notes and blistering multiphonics from his horn before joining a powerful unison melody line executed by Ducret's guitar and Speed's tenor, with Black and Formanek thundering in free jazz abandon below. It is such a grand gesture that it serves not only as a coda to "Eye Contact," but to the entire three-disc Instants Chavirés series. As Berne and Speed let their last sustained note slide into silence, Memory Select takes its place as a fitting climax to the three CDs, standing strongly on its own but also feeling, appropriately, like the series' grand finale. Any listeners interested in Berne's growth as a player, composer, and bandleader should pick this up if they can find it; better still to find all three of the JMT Bloodcount CDs to place Memory Select in proper perspective. While the Bloodcount Instants Chavirés discs are unfortunately out of print, Winter & Winter is planning to reissue all three, and Memory Select is tentatively scheduled to be available in November 2005. Meanwhile, a phenomenal big-band arrangement of "Eye Contact" by Berne and the Copenhagen Art Ensemble (also featuring Ducret and trumpeter Herb Robert) can be heard on the two-CD set Open, Coma, released by Berne's Screwgun label in December 2001.


Links in Comments!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Label: Marge – 28
Format: CD, Album; Country: France - Released: 2001
Jazz Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded on May 4 & 5, 2001 at La Fenêtre Studio, Paris.
Painting – Obeye Fall
Design – Laurent Groffe
Engineer [Assistant] – Sylvain Delafosse
Engineer, Edited By, Mastered By – Philippe Maté
Photography By – Thierry Trombert
Producer – Gérard Terrones

... Drake and Tsahar were in Paris as guests at a friend’s wedding. Turning the celebration into a busman’s holiday, the two subsequently went into a studio with veteran German bassist Peter Kowald and American trumpeter Hugh Ragin, who were specifically invited to take part, and produced OPEN SYSTEMS. It’s more than 72½ minutes spread among seven compositions that relate as much to hard core energy music of the late 1960s as the former disc does to spirituality...

... Take the saxman’s “ The Lizards in the Maze ”, one of four Tsahar compositions elaborated here. Beginning with a powerful Wilbur Ware-type string-punishing intro courtesy of Kowald, the freebop head soon gives way to a selection of solos. Even when he soars at the top of his range, Ragin still properly balances every note. In contrast, the tenorist’s tone sometimes slips into altissimo, but is always made up of staccato-inflected sound particles. Probably reminding Drake of his long-time employer Anderson, the percussionist usually meets Tsahar’s steaming thrusts with protracted tattoos, then follows the duet with a calm but heartfelt solo that starts off heavy on the snares and cymbals, but then turns proper attention to all parts of the kit.

Building from an early Ornette Coleman Quartet type of head, “ The Call ” offers more of the same, with Drake in his Ed Blackwell role providing a steady rat-tat-tat and Kowald as Charlie Haden providing the rhythmic bottom. On “ Lonely Woman ” -- a real Coleman line -- he authors a solo which has the different strings on his instrument dialoguing with themselves, and that let’s you know that his assumed identity here was just momentary role playing. Channeling Don Cherry, who spent some time in Paris himself, Ragin not only to creates whinnies and smears to follow Tsahar’s lead, but manages to expose a tiny, melodic passage of modulated beauty, built on short, sharp ascending horn bursts. Odd man out with his tenor tone obviously closer to John Coltrane’s or Ayler’s than Coleman’s alto conception, Tsahar spews out a well-nuanced solo, and after time spent chasing the brass man through the stratosphere, elaborates another motif that drags everyone back to the initial theme.

This drawing together seems to be the motif behind Tsahar’s “ Dream Weaverts ” (sic), dedicated to the newly married couple. Although Ragin, using a sort of funky burr sometimes sounds as if he’s playing Charles Mingus ’“ Weird Nightmare ” or Ayler’s “ The Truth Is Marching In ” -- and what are the brassman’s views on marriage? -- the bowed bass and bass clarinet mirror one another with irregular reverberating vibrations. Despite sections where each horn appears to be heading in a contrasting direction, they pull back to meld together before the end. Is there a wedlock partnership metaphor here somewhere?

Finally, Drake presages the pietistic passages he’d be singing three weeks hence in New York on “ Hearts Remembrance ”, where his measured Arabic (?) chanting is complimented by reverberating didgeridoo-like vocal sounds from Kowald and Ragin. Manipulating the buzz of the frame drum and adapting the bass clarinet ’ s natural resonance and some meshed, muted trumpet, the four allude to timeless, primitive music...


Links in Comments!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

TIM BERNE'S BLOODCOUNT – Poisoned Minds - The Paris Concert Vol. 2 (1995)

Label: JMT Productions – JMT 514 020-2
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany - Released: 1995
Jazz Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live on 22-25 September 1994 at Instants Chavirés, Montreuil, Paris, France.
Cover Design and Artwork – by Sebastian Byram
Engineer – Carlos Albrecht
Executive-Producer – Hiroshi Itsuno
Producer – Stefan F. Winter
Photography – Robert Lewis

Tim Berne's Bloodcount:
MARC DUCRET (electric guitar); CHRIS SPEED (clarinet, tenor saxophone); TIM BERNE (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); MICHAEL FORMANEK (double bass); JIM BLACK (drums)

Tim Berne continued Bloodcount's forays into extended-form creative jazz with Poisoned Minds, the second installment of the band's live CD series recorded at Instants Chavirés in Paris during September of 1994. There are only two pieces on the disc, "The Other" at 27 and a half minutes and "What Are the Odds?" at 41 and a half minutes; with running times like those, Berne was clearly not aiming for significant airplay on commercial radio. Instead, Poisoned Minds is for serious listeners without attenuated attention spans, a somewhat radical concept in itself. Yet aside from the lengths of the pieces, many elements of the music are not particularly radical despite Berne's avant-garde rep -- melody, rhythm, and theme are all important to the saxophonist, and the innovation comes from the way he manipulates structure, fitting the pieces of the puzzle together in unpredictable ways. "The Other" begins with Berne on alto and Chris Speed on clarinet, stating a bluesy, soulful, and somewhat melancholy theme in rubato time; drummer Jim Black uses this opportunity to color the music with textural embellishments rather than drive it forward. Urgent propulsion is dominant in the piece's middle section, where tension is stretched to the breaking point as Black and bassist Michael Formanek jam out with a twisted rhythm and Berne and Speed, scarcely taking time to inhale, throw long purple-faced lines over the top. And yet "The Other" perhaps finds its greatest power in an uneasy conclusion that combines elements of free jazz and chamber music, subverting any expectations of a slam-bang finale. Berne starts "What Are the Odds?" on alto accompanied only by Black, and he's not in the mood for rumination at this point, possessed instead by uptempo, boppish energy. As his sax lines leap and twist, bits of a Berne-ish melody become discernible, and suddenly the whole band is off to the races together on a highly charged theme that catapults forward even through abrupt, oddly timed stops and starts. Then Speed bursts through with a hot tenor solo over churning, chunky, and propulsive accompaniment from Black, Formanek, and guitarist Marc Ducret. The groove pulls completely apart in a cacophonous outburst from all the bandmembers, but Berne and Speed somehow find their way back to the theme and then drag the rhythm section back in line with them. An abrupt downward shift in dynamics leads to a beautifully subdued ensemble passage, and then Formanek is soon displaying his solo chops. From here on, unpredictability comes not in the piece's linear form -- which is in fact leading to a slam-bang finish -- but rather in the way Berne uses intra-band tension. In three separate waves, solo or group episodes informed by free improvisation are pitted against steadily rising backdrops of funky, twisted riffs that only Berne could write. Rhythmically off-kilter and yet with grooves that Black can drive a truck through, Berne's engaging riffs ultimately win the struggle, with so much energy expended that the listener is left -- happily -- exhausted.


Links in Comments!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

KAORU ABE and SABU TOYOZUMI – Overhang Party / Senzei - 1978 (2LP-2004)

Label: Qbico – QBICO 22/23
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP; Country: Italy - Released: 2004
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded on February 25 and April 15 & 30, 1978 live at Gaya, Tokyo, Japan.
(Previously unreleased material)
Cover Design by Sabu (front) & Qbico (inside)
Artwork and Design on info pages by VITKO
Mastered By – Harumi Hayashi
Photography By – Kenshi Sudoh, Masaaki Ohthu
Recorded By – Shinji Ohno

KAORU ABE – alto sax
SABU TOYOZUMI – drums, percussion

..."for sure one of the most legendary qbico release. Abe was a hero for me, i was a long time admirer of his music/unique, angry voice; so this was more then a pleasure and honour to put out. Sabu worked on the front cover, me on the inside and ltd ed. Sabu also found many original flyers of the 1st Memorial Concert dedicated to Kaoru Abe which we used for the collectors ed.. Sabu told me so many stories about Abe: how much fun they had together, how he assaulted Milford Graves screaming his sax in front of him, which let to the conclusion that Mr. Graves refused to play with him again (i'd have loved to see that scene), how poor he was at the end of his life..." Qbico

"A real find: a clutch of unreleased duo performances from starcrossed free Japanese altoist Kaoru Abe recorded a few months prior to his death aged only 29 on September 9th 1978. Though he obviously owed plenty to Ayler's righteous whoops and shrieks, Abe's playing also had a distinctive, deeply lonely and melancholic air. Indeed, he was often most comfortable playing alone, when he could carve huge chunks of weighty black silence to construct his dynamic of tension and release, sometimes he'd remain motionless for long minutes on end before blasting through the static mess. As such he has been a major influence on contemporary sound-thinkers like Masayoshi Urabe and alongside guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi stands at the forefront of the first wave of Japanese avant garde musicians. This stunning double gatefold LP bundles four ferociously powerful sets where he ’ s accompanied by powerhouse drummer Sabu Toyozumi who has played with Peter Brötzmann, Derek Bailey, Exias-J and Arthur Doyle. Side A is Feb 25th, 1978 (3rd set), B is April 15th, 1978 (1st set), C is April 15th, 1978 (2nd set) and D is April 30th, 1978 (1st set). Outer sleeve designed by Toyozumi himself, nice archival shots of the duo inside. Comes on psychedelic multi-coloured vinyl. A major historic event for sure." _ DK

Unrelease recording available here for the 1st time after more then 25 years. "Long ago, when i started listening to free jazz records, the abrasive sax sound of Kaoru Abe immediatly fascinated me and he instantly became one of my heros... i'd have never imagined that one day i'd have released an unissued record by him. This dream came true thanks to my friend Sabu, who discovered these very well recorded magical live sessions. Here, you still hear Abe piercing sound, few months before his tragic death for acute stomach rupture. His solo activity had been documented on more then 15 releases, but his collaborations have been less documented: three releases with guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, an LP with Motoharu Yoshizawa and finally group playing with Derek Bailey and Milford Graves. He was definitively one of the greatest improvisor from Japan and Sabu with his creative and powerful drumming, the ideal partner to let him freely express all his intense emotions." - Qbico

Links in Comments!

KAORU ABE – Solo Live At Gaya, Hatsudai, Tokyo, 1977-78 - Vol.1 and Vol.3 (1990)

Label: DIW Records – DIW-371
KAORU ABE – Solo Live At Gaya, Hatsudai, Tokyo, 1977-78 - vol.1
Format: CD, Album; Country: Japan - Released: 1990 
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at Gaya, Hatsudai, Tokyo, track 1 on September 30, 1977 
(2nd set), track 2 on October 29, 1977 (2nd set), and track 3, 4 on December 17, 1977 (4th set and 5th set, respecitvely)
Coordinator [Production Coordinated By] – Random Sketch
Design [Cover Design] – DIW Design Room
Painting [Cover Painting] – Hiroshi Ishihara
Producer, Illustration [Back Cover] – Emiko Gaya
Recorded By [Live] – Shinji Ohno

Kaoru Abe it was a very important free jazz player in the 70 ’ s, whose life was suffused in a haze of drugs, alcohol, depression and tragedy, culminating in his untimely death before his 30 th birthday. A perplexing individual, experimenting with wild improvisations and unfamiliar instruments, it is his saxophone playing for which he remains most acclaimed, possessing a tone harsher than Ayler and a technique on par with Coltrane. Yet to listen to Abe is an experience quite unlike anything else I ’ ve ever heard before. For one thing: culture. Abe ’ s music, while being technically “ jazz, ” is also strongly influenced by the music of his native Japan. On this set of solo performances for the alto sax, silence is often key, with gaps of almost a minute between bursts of dissonant horn honks. This unmelodious, almost percussion-like attack and treatment of his instrument is indicative of Japanese folk and classical music. There is no sense of time or rhythm or harmony or melody, just mere sketchings, vast empty spaces, unformed ideas sitting between the outbursts of what Abe wants to express at that time. The silence is often penetrating, tense and as alarmingly blunt as the moments when his horn screeches through the space like the cry of a murder victim, felled by the criminal ’ s dagger, echoing across the vast and bleak moors. After each blast, one can faintly detect the echo of what Abe has just played, somewhere far off in the distance, like a ghostly duet, an otherworldly, non-verbal communication between the living and the dead, the past and the present, of this world and the next. The communication between Abe and what ’ s he ’ s just played is important, taking cues, jumping onto new ideas, complimenting that sound, his mind constantly looking forward and back simultaneously. Often he ’ ll play a sustained note, wait for the echo and then play it again, creating the illusion of foresight, switching around the roles as if he is following the lead of the echo rather than the other way around. This deeply intelligent and spiritual sort of playing, this restraint and disciple gives this music a quality that escapes explanation.

Label: DIW Records – DIW-373
KAORU ABE – Solo Live At Gaya, Hatsudai, Tokyo, 1977-78 - vol.3
Format: CD, Album; Country: Japan - Released: 1990
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at Gaya, Hatsudai, Tokyo, on 10 March 1978.
Coordinator [Production Coordinated By] – Random Sketch
Design [Cover Design] – DIW Design Room
Painting [Cover Painting] – Hiroshi Ishihara
Producer, Illustration [Back Cover] – Emiko Gaya
Recorded By [Live], Liner Notes – Shinji Ohno

Solo Live At Gaya is like a sketchpad, presenting ideas in fragments, some more developed than others, but all going somewhere. And each of these ideas is deeply powerful, often disturbing and frequently harsh. This is not music for the faint hearted. Such naked aggression on a solo scale required your utmost attentiveness and demands more than just a lend of your ears. Merely listening to this will drive anyone mad: it ’ s about much more than that. Although I can ’ t know for certain, Abe ’ s sax playing seems to represent his inner turmoil, his depression and addictions and pains, and his channeling of these emotions into his playing. We hear each triumph and tragedy in his life, the anger and the struggle and so much more. It is, in fact, the perfect analogy. Although Abe ’ s playing implies a certain level of personal expression and tragedy, it nevertheless remains speculative, and only provides us with a brief picture of the artist at his most tortured and passionate. The inner workings of his mind and personal details remain a mystery: the fragments of music are clues towards revealing his inner self, yet some clues are missing. There is much to learn from his playing, but not everything. Abe puts up a wall, a shield, never revealing more than is necessary. Unlike the likes of Beethoven, whose entire inner being is projected through his Ninth Symphony, for example, Kaoru Abe ’ s music has the effect of reflecting his own personal abstruseness. We are offered a brief glimpse into some significant periods of his life and then shooed away. What he chooses to reveal in his music is as important as what he chooses to omit. Perhaps his method of projecting his emotional turmoil was a sort of coping mechanism… who knows. Due to his untimely death I think it ’ s safe to say much of his life will remain a mystery. Nevertheless, the glimpses into his life that we are offered on this disc are fascinating in their tragedy. Solo Live At Gaya represents one small step towards unlocking the enigma of Kaoru Abe.    (Words – Adam)

To be continued.

Links in Comments!

Monday, February 3, 2014


Label: Jazzwerkstatt – jw056
Format: CD, Album, Reissue; Country: Germany - Released: 01 Aug 2009
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Bohus Sound Recording, Kungälv, Sweden on March 14, 1999.
The first realization: Slask Records – SLACD019; Sweden 1999
Artwork – Chris Hinze
Design – Klaus Untiet, wppt:kommunikation
Executive-Producer – Ulli Blobel
Producer [Original Album] – Peeter Uuskyla
Recorded By – Dragan Tanaskovic

Swedish cover (1999), Design – Andrew Cowie, Brötzm

"We all know what Brotzmann does; that astonishing burst of energy which seems to boil out of the bell of his saxophone, that extreme sensitivity masquerading as bully-boy macho antics. His is one of the most extraordinary voices on the instrument around, and although well- known, his real talents are regularly underreported because of a tendency to view his playing in terms of noise, punky high-volume confrontation and retro-Aylerisms.

Well, this disk isn't going to change that perception for those who are still in the dark about Brotzmann's towering achievements. Only one track, entitled "A Real Dilemma, This One", reminds us of his ability to play slowly, carefully, and with extreme sensitivity to the reed. As often happens, it's the tarogato which leads him into this more reflective frame of mind. But even that track is a slow-burning whiskey ballad which Brotzmann growls his way through as if looking for someone to start a fight with. That coiled energy is a part of what makes him so special; it's unlike anything else in the world, and the suspicious would do well to start here.

Elsewhere, then, the wonderfully barrel-chested sound of the Brotzmann tenor is allowed to roam free. Nielsen is a free jazz drummer, with Andrew Cyrille's ability to swing even when the pulse seems almost lost, but he's a much sparser player than that early generation with their attachments to ride cymbals still strong. He seems able to describe the rhythm of the music with the smallest of gestures; an extremely valuable player.

Uuskyla plays bass like a percussion instrument, hitting it hard and staying, for the most part, in the bottom register where pitch can come second to attach and articulation. He seems to really love playing with Nielsen -- this writer suspects they're a regular duo -- and Brotzmann audibly enjoys their company. In short, the three lock together tightly and cook.

Nobody works harder than Brotzmann, and he makes his playing partners sweat just as hard as he does. Fortunately, it seems that neither Uuskyla nor Nielsen is afraid of hard work, and they pitch in with the kind of muscular, driving free jazz which makes the reedsman feel at home. A twenty-minute piece which moves between furious blowing and gentle passages with a sense of inevitable destiny crowns an excellent and very generously filled-out CD. Fans will find it essential; if you haven't heard Brotzmann yet, here's where to get on the bus. Highly recommended."


Links in Comments!