Sunday, November 30, 2014

FREE MUSIC QUINTET – Free Music One And Two (ESP Disk' / LP-1968)

Label: ESP Disk' – ESP 1083
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Holland / Released: 1968
Style: Free Jazz, Acoustic, Free Improvisation, Experimental
Recorded June 24-25 1968 in a brick barn in Baarn, Holland.
Producer, Engineer – Onno Scholtze
Cover Design – Erwin Somer
Photographs by – Job Otten

A - Free Music No. 1 . . . . . 19:04
B - Free Music No. 2 . . . . . 18:33

Boy Raaymakers – trumpet, bugle, percussion
Peter Van Der Locht – soprano / tenor sax, piccolo flute, percussion
Erwin Somer – violin, vibes, percussion
Ferdinand Rikkers – bass, percussion
Pierre Courbois – percussion, drums set

Very rare ESP release from 1968, Dutch free jazz group playing in an uniquely European manner.

One of the most uncompromising free jazz records ever made, this one-off improvisation by a group of Dutch players, led by percussionist Pierre Courbois, is an archetype of the style. Free jazz doesn't just require a lot of unrestrained blowing and freeform noise, although there are passages of that here. The two lengthy improvs build from placid beginnings, as each member adds various percussion instruments to the growing cacophony, before reedsman Peter van der Locht (at times playing two saxes at once á la Rahsaan Roland Kirk) and trumpeter Boy Raaymakers let loose. All five players get their chances to lead the quintet, although there's a minimum of soloing. Courbois drives both improvs, and there's a five-minute stretch starting about seven minutes into "Free Music Number One" where he simply explodes, bashing a trap kit and a variety of other objects like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil on a dozen espressos, armed with a pair of baseball bats. There's an impressive sense of dynamics to the improvs, both of which have sections of near-silence mixed in with the explosions, and there's a structural unity to each improv despite the lack of musical themes or other familiar signposts.


If you find it, buy this album! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

FRANK WRIGHT – Your Prayer (LP-1967 / ESP Disk')

Label: ESP Disk – ESP 1053
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1967
Style: Free Jazz
Recorded in New York City, May 1967, RLA Sound Studios NY.
Engineer – Richard L. Alderson
Photography By – Harlene Sandra Stollman
All compositions did Frank Wright, except Jones' "The Lady".

A1 - The Lady . . . . . 9:04
A2 - Train Stop . . . . . 7:32
A3 - No End . . . . . 6:49
B1 - Fire Of Spirits . . . . . 12:31
B2 - Your Prayer . . . . . 15:42

Frank Wright – tenor saxophone
Arthur Jones – alto saxophone
Jacques Coursil – trumpet
Steve Tintweiss – bass
Muhammad Ali – drums, percussion

Despite the fact that avant-garde jazz has often met with the criticism that its tonalities and rhythms put it far outside the jazz (and by extension black music) tradition, it is quite true that many of the forerunners of free jazz found their voice in blues and R&B outfits. Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Dewey Redman, Noah Howard, Prince Lasha and Pharoah Sanders all came up in blues bands in the South and Midwest, which in some ways predate both bebop and avant-garde credentials... 

Mississippi-born and Cleveland-raised tenor man Frank Wright (1935-1990) was one of the forerunners of the multiphonics-driven school of saxophonists to follow the direction pointed by Ayler, but with a more pronounced bar-walking influence than most of his contemporaries. Whereas Ayler's high-pitched wails, wide vibrato and guttural honks all belied an R&B pedigree, his solos still contained the breakneck tempos and facility of bebop, for which he had earlier earned the nickname "Little Bird. Wright, on the other hand, offers his honks and squawks with a phraseology derived from the slower, earthier funk of R&B and gospel music; indeed, he was a bassist in Cleveland blues bands until switching to tenor in the early '60s as a result of Ayler's influence (the same influence that brought Wright to New York in 1964).

Wright had not been playing tenor long when he was asked to make Coltrane's Ascension date (he had sat in with Trane on several occasions previously), but reportedly he declined it fearing his skills weren't at the level required by the music. Nevertheless, Wright did make his first session as a leader a few months later, in a trio with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Tom Price for then-fledgling ESP-Disk' (Frank Wright Trio, ESP 1023).

In the spring of 1967, Wright made his second date as a leader for ESP, the powerful quintet statement of Your Prayer (ESP 1053) featuring Wright in the company of Cleveland-born altoist Arthur Jones, expatriate Martinique-born, French-educated trumpeter Jacques Coursil, drummer Muhammad Ali and bassist Steve Tintweiss. Where the first date falters at a lack of dynamics and cohesion (not to mention experience), Your Prayer finds Wright refining the bag his solos come from, yet maintaining a firm hold on the ecstatic free-blues shout that makes up most of his solo language. The set starts off with Jones' composition "The Lady, a simple unison ascending-descending call for the horns peaking in vibrato, which gives way to a searing solo by the composer with echoes of Dolphy's speed and intervallic leaps coupled to Johnny Hodges' tone, a quality that clearly defined this altoist's style for the few years he was actively recording. Coursil follows with a deft series of punches and blasts, exuding the bubbly-yet-raw swing his solos always carry, even in the most 'out' contexts.

Wright's distorted squall seems like a real style now (though in the ensuing twenty-odd years, it would change some), a thick wall of sound that is less given to distraction, coming through pure and hot. In the Wright-Ali duo that follows, "Train Stop, Wright harps rhythmically on phrases, repeating and expanding upon them and wringing out every last growling breath before moving to yet another plane far eclipsing the ADD approach that hampers his first recording. Muhammad Ali, brother to the more well- known free drummer Rashied, approaches the kit with a more singular style that focuses on hurtling masses than the allover, coloristic palette that his elder sibling has employed. At over fifty minutes (for a single LP at its release), Your Prayer is a rather lengthy slab of high-energy grit, but its unified forward and upward motion make for a firmly rooted sonic liberation.

Slightly over a year after recording his second ESP session, Wright, Ali, Jones, altoist Noah Howard and pianist Bobby Few would leave New York together for Europe with the wave of American free players that subsequently descended on Paris. The Center of the World Quartet (Wright, Ali, Few, and Howard, who was later replaced by bassist Alan Silva) recorded prodigiously for BYG, America, Calumet, Sun and their own Center of the World label throughout the '70s, and brought the tools of post-Coltrane freedom to bear on a decidedly funkier and more populist approach to ecstatic jazz. As poet Larry Neal wrote in a 1969 review of Ayler's R&B record New Grass in the Cricket, "I know what the Brother is trying to do. But his procedure is fucked up. Though these ESP sessions are only an early indicator, Frank Wright was one to get it "on."

_By CLIFFORD ALLEN, July 13, 2005 (AAJ)

One of Frank Wright's finest recordings.

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ANTHONY BRAXTON QUARTET – Six Compositions: Quartet (LP-1982)

Label: Antilles – AN 1005
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1982
Style: Avant-garde Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded and mixed at Generation Sound October 21 & 22, 1981
Design [Album Design] – Nancy Greenberg
Engineer – Rob Eaton, Tony May
Executive-Producer, A&R [Consultant] – Steve Backer
Other [Executive Director] – Ron Goldstein
Photography By [Cover] – Benno Friedman
Producer, Written-By – Anthony Braxton

A1 - Unpk X Composition No. 40B . . . . . 7:11
A2 - Eggg (Mc- Composition No. 69N . . . . . 7:51
A3 - Pzq M C Wh Composition No. 34 . . . . . 6:20
B1 - Dk(Rhx) T U Gil-6 Composition No. 40A . . . . . 9:07
B2 - M R Rjm D Composition No. 40G . . . . . 5:01
B3 - G-Ho Mhh Rwp Composition No. 52 . . . . . 6:12

Anthony Braxton – alto / tenor saxophones, soprano saxophone [B-flat], soprano saxophone                                    [E-flat], contrabass clarinet
Anthony Davis – piano
Mark Helias – bass
Edward Blackwell – drums, percussion

Anthony Braxton (who on this album switches between alto, tenor, clarinets and contrabass clarinet) heads an all-star avant-garde quartet for a set also including pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Mark Helias and veteran drummer Ed Blackwell. There is plenty of diversity in Braxton's six originals and it is quite interesting to hear him perform with this unique one-time group.


Front cover art: Wassily Kandinsky, 'Black Relationship', 1924
Watercolor, 14½" x 14¼"
Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

If you find it, buy this album!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

CIRCLE / Corea, Braxton, Holland, Altschul – Paris - Concert (2LP-1972)

Label: ECM Records – ECM 1018/19 ST
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1972
Style: Avant-garde Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded on February 21, 1971 at the Maison de l'O.R.T.F., Paris.
Design [Cover] – B & B Wojirsch
Photography By – Jean-Pierre Leloir
Engineer – Jean Deloron
Producer – Manfred Eicher
Realisation by Andre Francis "Jazz Sur Scene"

A1 - Nefertiti ...................................................................................................... 19:17
         (Composed By – Wayne Shorter)
A2 - Song For The Newborn ............................................................................... 7:00
         (Composed By – David Holland)
B1 - Duet ........................................................................................................... 10:37
         (Composed By – Anthony Braxton, Chick Corea)
B2 - Lookout Farm / 73° Kalvin (Variation - 3) .................................................. 16:13
         (Composed By [73° Kalvin (Variation - 3)] – Anthony Braxton)
         (Composed By [Lookout Farm] – Barry Altschul)
C  -  Toy Room - Q & A ..................................................................................... 24:46
         (Composed By – David Holland)
D  -  No Greater Love ........................................................................................ 17:41
         (Composed By – Isham Jones, Marty Synes)

Anthony Braxton – reeds, percussion
Chick Corea – piano
Dave Holland – double bass, cello
Barry Altschul – drums, percussion

This 1971 document of one of the greatest jazz groups reveals a high level of musicianship and creativity in this quartet, used to make wonderful, huge, beautiful music. "Nefertiti" and "There Is No Greater Love" are stunning comments by the group in the context of the songs' forms and harmonies. These men have gotten inside of these tunes, down to the guts, where they can explore the farthest possibilities of their souls. (There is NO "free" playing on these tunes, which remains a challenge to those of us who wish to follow in these mens' footsteps.) The quartet appears again on Dave Holland's "The Toy Room" and "Q-A," an almost ambient cut. Mr. Braxton takes out the flute and clarinet on his Composition 6F ("73 Kalvin"), a classic Braxton fusion of composition and group improvisation. "Song for the Newborn" and "Lookout Farm" are superb solos by Dave Holland and Barry Altschul, respectively. Chick Corea and Anthony Braxton improvise an exciting duet. This is an album you'll have trouble putting away. Masterpiece.
_ By Michael G. Mcneill

...It's a very, very good recording. Corea of course is fine here, my prejudices notwithstanding; all four members are in top form. I often have some trouble with Altschul, finding him to be generally overbusy and there's some of that, though his percussion feature, "Lookout Farm", is rather impressive. But it's Holland and Braxton who steal the show. The former's "Q & A", which would be reprised the following year on "Conference of the Birds", is a wonderful hide 'n' seek piece, a fine balance between the Bailey-esque music Holland had been playing and the theme-driven work he'd settle into...
...They do a rocking rendition of Shorter's "Nefertitti" [sic] as well as closing out with "No Greater Love". At the time, it was a bit shocking to hear Braxton waxing so romantic! Little did we know....
...Strong concert, worth hearing, on purely musical grounds...
(By Brian Olewnick)

I wanted to note in passing another nostalgic fact: The smell of the original ECM pressings. Very unique and heady and still manifest 40+ years later! Not sustained when Polydor began printing the albums for US consumption. Mmmmm....ECM smell......

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ASSOCIATION P.C. – Erna Morena (LP-1973) Live at Auditorium Maximum of the University Freiburg, Germany

Label: MPS Records – 21 21542-3
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1973
Style: Free Jazz, Experimental, Free Improvisation
Recorded in concert at SWF Jazz Session Freiburg April 25, 1972
Design, Photography By [Cover] – Heinz Bähr
Engineer [Recording] – Anneliese Schroeder, Rainer Pöppl
Photography By – Jochen Mönch
Producer – Joachim E. Berendt

A1 - Frau Theunissen's Kegel . . . . . . . . . . 8:51
         (Composed By – Toto Blanke)
A2 - Erna Morena Part 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15:13
      a) Space Erna
          (Composed By – Association P.C.)
      b) Erna In India
           (Composed By – Jasper Van't Hof)
B -  Erna Morena Part 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22:45
      c) Erna Aude Maxima
           (Composed By – Jasper Van't Hof)
      d) Only Grass In My Stomach
           (Composed By – Siggi Busch)
      e) Schnoor 8
           (Composed By – Pierre Courbois)

Toto Blanke – guitar
Jasper van't Hof – electric piano, organ
Siggi Busch – bass, electric bass
Pierre Courbois – drums, percussion
Karl-Heinz Wiberny – alto clarinet, alto and tenor saxophones

Association P.C. was founded in 1969 by Dutch keyboarder Jasper van’t Hof along with the Dutch drummer Pierre Courbois and the German guitarist Toto Blanke. The bassist was sometimes the Dutchman Peter Krijnen, sometimes the German Sigi Busch. Association P.C released their first record “Sun Rotation” in 1971. The band produced a synthesis of jazz, rock and avantgarde music reminding sometimes Soft Machine and was highly acclaimed at the Berlin Jazztage of 1971.”Eighty percent of Association P.C. was electronics”, Jasper recalls.

In 1972 the band released their second record “Erna Morena”, the last with Jasper van’t Hof who left the band to form Pork Pie with Charlie Mariano and Philip Catherine.On the 1973 release “Rock Around The Clock”he was replaced by German pianist Joachim Kühn. The record moved away from the Canterbury oriented sound and integrated free-jazz elements. Their last record “Mama Kuku” (1974) contained live recordings from 1973, on which the band was joined by American flute player Jeremy Steig. Association P.C. continued to tour until 1975.

Erna Morena just exudes cool – the kinda cool that gives me a buzz anyway.  track two with the electronic pips and thrusts usually reserved for the brassy / reedy wind section the combination of electronic with the substantial grounding of the jazz breathes a fresh new life into a cruizy classic sound.  While its true that the postman was never likely to be whistling one of Association P.C. tunes as he did his rounds, the place music like this reaches inside is the place that life is forged. This music will change you, and change you for the better. Their aim was to: “transcend the boundaries of traditional forms” of music. This they did with considerable accomplishment, involving the talents at various times of some of Europe’s best new jazz musicians:

drummer Pierre Courbois
bassists Siggi Busch and Peter Krijnen
guitarist Toto Blanke
keyboard players Joachim Kühn and Jasper van't Hof
saxmen Karl-Heinz Wiberny and Lol Coxhill
flautist Jeremy Steig
I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  Anything that Lol Coxhill is willing to get involved in will rip you out and start you over.

“Erna Morena” is one of the two live recordings released by the band, and that was very much in keeping with what they were doing. I was fortunate enough to catch them at a gig at Brighton College of Art on England’s south coast. My memory tells me that this would have been around the time when “Erna Morena” was recorded in Freiburg – April 25, 1972. Unfortunately for what it says about my memory, they were joined on the occasion of my attendance by a young flute player, Jeremy Steig, who was already building a reputation as one of his generation’s shining stars and has since become a leading and widely- recorded jazz improviser. Officially, Steig and the band came together rather later than that, so this period is still a little hazy for me. I know, that’s what they all say…
From the liner notes: “The term “free””, in the context of “freeform music”, “after being used in the 60s mainly to mean “beyond tonality, melody and metre”…now stands for an entirely new quality of musical freedom in the music of Association P.C….it signifies really sovereign mastery over all musical areas.” Judging by what I saw, I have no grounds to dispute that statement.

_ By LISATHATCHER on February 28, 2012 In Music Reviews

If you find it, buy this album!

ASSOCIATION P.C + JEREMY STEIG – Mama Kuku - Live! (LP-1974)

Label: MPS Records – 21 21840-6
Format: Vinyl, LP / Country: Germany / Released: 1974
Style: Fusion, Free Improvisation
Recorded June 1973 live at Arkadenhof, Alte Universität Freiburg/Br., Germany (Tracks A1 to A5) and in Salle de Spectacles Epalinges/Lausanne, Switzerland (Track B)
Design – Bernhard Wetz
Engineer – Claude Blanc (tracks: B), Conny Plank (tracks: A1 to A5)
Engineer [Assistance] – Jean-Pierre Molliet (tracks: B), Raymond Bernard (tracks: B)
Mixed By – Conny Plank
Producer – Joachim E. Berendt

A1 - Mama Kuku . . . . . 5:46
         (Siggi Busch, Toto Blanke)
A2 - Bold'n Steig . . . . . 5:45
         (Jeremy Steig, Joachim Kühn)
A3 - Dr. Hoffmann . . . . . 4:30
         (J. Steig, J. Kühn, P. Courbois, S. Busch, T. Blanke)
A4 - Ecnelis . . . . . 4:46
         (Pierre Courbois)
A5 - Bassamagic . . . . . 4:17
         (Jeremy Steig)
B   - Lausanne . . . . . 21:52
         (J. Steig, J. Kühn, P. Courbois, S. Busch, T. Blanke)

Toto Blanke – guitar
Joachim Kühn – electric piano [Fender]
Siggi Busch – bass
Pierre Courbois – drums, percussion
Jeremy Steig – flute, piccolo flute, bass flute

With their clever combination of free jazz, rock and other musical markers, it's a wonder that Dutch percussionist Pierre Courbois and Association P.C. never received more credit. Released in 1974 on MPS, provides an opportunity to hear this largely spontaneous group in fine form, culled from a series of 1973 performances in Germany and Switzerland that also featured guest flautist Jeremy Steig.

Freedom needn't imply lack of form, as Mama Kuku kicks off with the effervescent title track. Bassist Siggi Busch opens alone with a combination of long, resonating notes, strummed chords and harmonics. Guitarist Toto Blanke joins in with a cued figure that signals Courbois and pianist Joachim Kühn to accompany in a fiery, overdriven modal solo that comes from John McLaughlin territory, albeit closer to John Surman's Where Fortune Smiles (Dawn, 1971) rather than the more rockified Mahavishnu Orchestra. Blanke ends his solo with another cue that leads into a relaxed, repetitive Latin-esque figure for Steig's solo, where the flautist moves seamlessly between the in and the out.

"Bold 'n' Steig" is a purely spontaneous Steig/Kühn duet. By this time Kühn had already established a reputation as a stylistically encyclopedic player, as comfortable in the mainstream with Joe Henderson as he was in more avant-garde settings with Don Cherry. Here, the duo covers considerable territory—from neoclassicism to outré but funky rhythms—but always with a sense of purpose that gives the piece a surprisingly structured feel. Steig made his name as one of the first jazz/rock flautists, but here his ability to move synchronously with Association P.C.'s ever-shifting landscapes proves that a traditionally mellifluous instrument can be as jagged and assertive as any other. Steig's flute dominates the droning but increasingly dynamic "Dr. Hofmann," but it's everyone in the pool on the idiosyncratic and aggressive "Ecnelis"—a tune that prompted Steig to ask Courbois and Busch, "How come you can play completely without rhythm—and it swings!"

Plans for the musicians to send each other sheet music prior to meeting and rehearse before their first performance never happened. A potential disaster for some, Association P.C.'s extant chemistry had already been honed on four other MPS albums. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Lausanne," a 22-minute free improvisation that, like the five other considerably shorter pieces on Mama Kuku, leaves an impression of preconception where clearly there was none.

Based on the varied textures, rhythms and tonalities of Mama Kuku, Steig's falling below the radar in the early 1980s is a real shame, a sentiment true for all members of Association P.C. save Kühn, who has gone on to a long, varied and internationally visible career. It's yet another example of a fine improvising group that disappeared into the flotsam and jetsam of history.

By JOHN KELMAN, March 29, 2008 (AAJ)

If you find it, buy this album!


Label: Munich Records – 6802 634 M1
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold / Country: Netherlands / Released: 1970
Style: Free Jazz, Jazz-Rock
Recorded at "Middelhorst" Studio Wageningen by "AUDIO" geluidsregistratie, Oct. 30 (A side) and 31 (B side), 1970.
Design [Front Cover Design] – Dick Muileman
Engineer – Dick Van Schuppen
Photography By – Rinus Smit
Photography By, Supervised By – Job Zomer
Producer – Wim Wigt

A1 - Spider . . . . . 4:26
         (Written-By – Toto Blanke)
A2 - Hit The P. Tit . . . . . 10:58
         (Written-By – Jasper Van't Hof, Pierre Courbois)
A3 - Elsen . . . . 1:42
         (Written-By – Jasper Van't Hof)
B1 - Earwax . . . . . 7:18
         (Written-By – Pierre Courbois)
B2 - Round A'bout Nine . . . . . 6:39
         (Written-By – Jasper Van't Hof, Peter Krijnen, Pierre Courbois, Toto Blanke)
B3 - Jazzper . . . . . 4:01
         (Written-By – Jasper Van't Hof)

Toto Blanke – guitar
Jasper Van't Hof – electric piano
Siggi Busch – bass (tracks: A1 to A3)
Peter Krijnen – bass (tracks: B1 to B3)
Pierre Courbois – drums, percussion

drummer Pierre Courbois and keyboard player Jasper van't Hof pose on cars in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 10th June 1984. (photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns)

ASSOCIATION PC was formed in 1969 by Dutch drummer Pierre Courbois and was originally known as simply ASSOCIATION. Just look at the album cover provided here and you'll see that that was the case with this the debut album released in 1970, while Pierre Courbois' name is in smaller print on the lower left side of the album cover. The band was a multi-national group with Germans and Dutch making up the lineups over the years. This is an all-instrumental affair with the music being in the Jazz/Rock and Free Jazz sub-genres. Some of you may have heard of the guitarist named Toto Blanke who puts on a show in his unique style but then I have to say that each member blows me away with their performances on here.

"Spider" is up first and it's an energetic, uptempo track with intricate guitar sounds and lots of cymbals, bass and keyboards. We get a brief drum solo(hey it's his band and there will be more solos to come) after 2 minutes then the keyboards lead the way a minute later but not for long. A complex opening number. "Hit The P. Tit" is the longest song at 11 minutes. The guitar sounds different here as he rips it up while we get some jazzy drum patterns and bass to fill out the sound. The guitar is almost experimental sounding here. The sparse electric piano reminds me of early seventies Miles Davis. Some insanity follows that makes me believe these guys were influenced by Free Jazz. We get a calm and the bass solos after 4 minutes and this continues until around 5 1/2 minutes in. A full sound returns after 6 minutes sounding much less experimental than before and quite jazzy. Another calm arrives as we get an interesting drum solo then back to the full sound before 9 1/2 minutes. Some fuzz here as well.

"Elsen" is one I really like. Just a feel good, melodic beauty but it's so short at just over 1 1/2 minutes. "Earwax" is a top three song for me and what a pleasure to focus on the instrumental work of all these guys. So intricate and sophisticated. A drum solo before 6 minutes that lasts just under a minute. "Round A'bout Nine" and the next and final track fill out my top three songs. This one starts with a bass solo and it continues for some time. Some drum work then the guitar joins in around 4 minutes along with more of that early seventies Miles Davis sounding electric piano. So good. "Jazzper" is another beauty as keys, bass, drums and guitar impress with their intricate and melodic sounds. The title of this song is a play on words i'm sure on the keyboardists first name(Jasper).

Review by Mellotron Storm

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

JOACHIM KÜHN – Cinemascope (LP-1974, MPS/BASF Records)

Label: MPS Records/BASF – 21 22270-5
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold & Country: Germany / Released: 1974
Style: Fusion, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded May 74 at Conny's Studio.
Artwork By [Cover Art] – Gabriele Laurenz
Artwork By [Design] – Bernhard Wetz
Engineer – Conny Plank
Photography – Bernhard Wetz
Producer – Joachim Kühn, Rolf Kühn

A1/A2 - Zoom - Part 1/Part 2 . . . . . 9:11
               (Written-By – Joachim Kühn, Toto Blanke)
A3 -       One String More . . . . . 8:17
               (Written-By – Joachim Kühn, John Lee)
A4 -       Vibrator . . . . . 2:23
B1/B2 - Travelling - Part 1/Part 2 . . . . . 11:35
               (Written-By – Joachim Kühn, Rolf Kühn)
B3 -       Success . . . . . 5:13
B4 -       Black Tears . . . . . 5:23

Joachim Kühn – leblanc alto sax, fender rhodes electric piano,
                           rabox loudspeaker unit, stramp amplifier
Toto Blanke – electric guitar
John Lee – bass, bass (electric)
Gerry Brown – drums, percussion
Rolf Kühn – arranged, conductor (string orchestra)
Zbigniew Seifert – electric violin (track A3)

Joachim Kühn, talented jazz and fusion keyboardist who had many albums through the 60s and 70s (and beyond). "Cinemascope" is probably the rarest from this time frame, and the one that is most aligned with my personal focus from a musical standpoint. A very strong fusion effort, with Toto Blanke lighting it up on guitar. Features a brilliant gatefold cover.

If you find it, buy this album!


Label: Sandra Music Productions – SMP 2114
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1979
Style: Fusion, Free Improvisation
Side A recorded 'live' in Kiel, 1978
Side B recorded 'live' in Stuttgart, 1978
Design – Wachnerdesign
Producer – Achim Torpus
Mastered By  – Sean Davies, Walter Quintus
Photography By – Achim Torpus, Michael von Gimbut, Zbigniew Stoklosa
Recorded By [Engineer] – Gerd Bischoff

A - Santa Barbara - First Dance . . . 12:36
B - Santa Barbara - Second Dance . . . 21:12

Joachim Kühn – piano (acoustic grand piano), composed
Jan Akkerman – synthesizer (guitar synthesizer) track A,
                           electric guitar (Gibson double neck) track B

Like all the best musical conversations between two improvising players, the dialogue on this album has not two voices but three. There are the solo contributions of Kühn and Akkerman, and a third composite voice provided by the blending of piano and guitar - a voice that represents the spontaneous musical rapport between these two outstanding musicians.

In a very real sense, this recording offers a fascinating portrait of the growth in a musical relationship which can take place when compitable, sensitive and listening players spend night after night in duo performances.

It was during an extended European tour of more than 40 concerts that these tracks were recorded, the first at the beginning of the tour and second some four weeks later. The same Joachim Kühn composition is featured on both tracks - a piece the pianist actually composed in Santa Barbara, California - and it is fascinating to see how the interact between Kühn and Akkerman and their development of the work changed during the period between the first recording and the second. As Joachim Kühn says: "When we made the first recording the piece was pretty new. But by the time we came to record it the second time, Jan and I were able to be much more adventurous and, of course, we had developed a much deeper mutual understanding".

The collaboration between Joachim Kühn and Jan Akkerman is the ultimate fruition of a friendship which began in Bonn back in the midseventies when Joachim was working with "Association P.C." and Jan guested with the band. Since then the two have made considerable inspiration from each other's music. They have also drawn increasingly enthustiastic audience response.

- On a sunny afternoon in October 1980 they played two duo-concerts before estatic audiences at the twice sold-out Philharmonic Hall in Wroclaw, Poland. In 1981 on their second European tour Joachim Kühn could be seen live on Polish TV performing solo-piano at the Congress-Centre, Warzawa, befire a tentative audience of 3.500 people.

The duo continued to tour numerous succesful concerts in major venues such as the "Berlin Art Academy" (Hochschule der Künste), "Schauspielhaus" Hamburg. Kühn & Akkerman were also featured on many TV- and radioshows.

Says Jan: "Joachim is one of the greatest piano players around and he really turned me on to play again. I'd drifted away from the guitar after Focus broke up in 1974, not being able to decide which musical direction to take. Teaming up with Joachim is one of the hardest things I ever did, but also one of the most rewarding."

Akkerman, who is heard playing guitar syntheziser on one track - for the first time on record - describes the music as "weird fusion of everything from blues to Bartók."

It goes without saying that Akkerman's high regard for Kühn's musicianship is fully reciprocated. "Jan knows the guitar so well and gets a fantastic big sound," says Joachim. "He is a natural musician and although he thinks of himself as a rock'n' roll guitarist, he has a very strong jazz feel. He has been turning me on to people like Joe Walsh and the Temptations and I've been getting him interested in McCoy Tyner."

That kind of musical exchange takes place on this album and it is fascinating to listen to the way in which each musician picks up on the "conversation" of the other, underlining it, adapting it, extending it, sometimes diverting it into another musical realm. This music on this album - spontaneous, technically brilliant, highly charged with self-expression and instinctive creativity - is improvised music at its best played by two mutually appreciative, superbly gifted instrumentalists. There is a cohesive compatibility throughout, no one hogs the limelight and the range of mood and dynamics sustains interest even though there is no formal chord sequence or reitarated theme pattern to serve as landmarks.

"The better we get to know each other," says Joachim, "the better we improvise together". The evidence of this album suggests that Jan Akkerman and Joachim Kühn know each other uncommonly well already.

_ By Mike Henessey

If you find it, buy this album!

ROLF KÜHN JAZZGROUP – Devil In Paradise (LP-1971)

Label: MPS Records/ BASF – 2021078-2
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1971
Style: Free Jazz, Fusion
Recorded at the Cornet-Studios, Cologne, 20 & 21 June 1971.
Producer By – Klaus Lorenzen
Engineer By – Wolfganf  Hirschmann
Cover Design By – H. Matthies

A1 - Diathyaminoathyl . . . . . 6:56
         (Composed By – Wolfgang Dauner)
A2 - Devil In Paradise . . . . . 6:45
         (Composed By – Joachim Kühn, Rolf Jürgensen, Rolf Kühn)
A3 - More, More, More And More . . . . . 5:25
         (Composed By – Rolf Kühn)
B1 - Wind In The Willows . . . . . 12:07
         (Composed By – Rolf Kühn)
B2 - Clowny . . . . . 6:50
         (Composed By – Albert Mangelsdorff)

Rolf Kühn – clarinet
Alan Skidmore – tenor saxophone
Wolfgang Dauner – electric piano
Joachim Kühn – piano
Albert Mangelsdorff – trombone
Eberhard Weber – bass
Tony Oxley – drums, percussion

When you read the names of the musicians in this unusual band, everything will be clear why I have this album here, now.

ROLF KÜHN JAZZGROUP / Devil In Paradise, five exceptional tracks, great time, and Tony Oxley, Tony is simply divine.

Also, I recommend that you find:

Rolf  Kühn Septet / Going To The Rainbow (LP-1970)
Rolf Kühn (cl), Alan Skidmore (ts), John Surman (bars, ss, el-p), Joachim Kühn (p, org), Chick Corea (el-p), Peter Warren (b), Tony Oxley (d)

If you find it, buy this album!

JOACHIM KÜHN – I´m Not Dreaming (LP-1983)

Label: CMP Records – CMP 22 ST
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1983
Style: Contemporary Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz
Recording and Mixing At Brunwey Studio, Hamburg, March 1983.
Producer – Kurt Renker, Joachim Kühn
Cover Design by Artworker – Kanitz/Gimbut
Photo By – Michael V. Gimbut

A1 - Bechstein . . . . . 2:30
A2 - Heavy Birthday . . . . . 10:12
A3 - Hands . . . . 4:01
A4 - I´m Not Dreaming . . . . . 5:59
B1 - Dark . . . . . 1:53
B2 - Except Anything . . . . . 7:37
B3 - Schloss Bredeneek . . . . . 12:16

Joachim Kühn – piano, composed
George Lewis – trombone
Herbert Försch – marimba, organ (pipes), percussion, cello (tri)
Ottomar Borwitzky – cello
Mark Nauseef – drums, percussion
Rolf Kühn – Arranged, [cello & trombone (track B3)], producer

Experimental jazz recording by Joachim Kühn produced by his brother Rolf Kühn. Not a free jazz record directly but still some seriously avantgarde elements. Stand out cut is Heavy Birthday but take a listen to the abstract Castle Bredeneek.

This album - released on CMP Records - bring together such disparate influences as free jazz, rock, modal jazz, sound experiments and chamber music. 'I'm Not Dreaming' from 1983 features trombonist George Lewis, cellist Ottomar Borwitzky (who adds a distinctly different sound) and percussionist Mark Nauseef. Enjoy!

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

MICHEL PORTAL / LÉON FRANCIOLI / PIERRE FAVRE – Arrivederci Le Chouartse (Hat Hut ‎– ART / 2LP-1981)

Label: Hat Hut Records ‎– ART 2007
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Box Set / Country: Switzerland / Released: 1981
Previously issued on HH2R22
Comes in a special cardboard box including one postcard.
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live October 3, 1980 at Lapin Vert, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Producer – Pia Uehlinger
Producer, Artwork By – Werner X. Uehlinger

A - Arrivederci I . . . . . . 16:00
B - Arrivederci II . . . . .  16:45
C - Le Chouartse I . . . . 17:40
D - Le Chouartse II . . .  18:45

Michel Portal – clarinet, bass clarinet, alto and tenor sax
Léon Francioli – bass
Pierre Favre – drums, percussion

On that particular day, for just a moment - the right moment - Léon Francioli, Pierre Favre and Michel Portal possessed eternal youth - "Youth is when one doesn't know what’s going to happen next" (Henri Michaux).

Michel Portal / Léon Francioli / Pierre Favre

This live date is a reunion of the reed and drum duo of Michael Portal and Pierre Favre that so freaked out French audiences in 1972 there was a televised debate about live improvised music. However, this time there is the addition of the formidable bass talent of Leon Francioli, a player of such distinction and diversity he is equally at home playing the music of Thelonious Monk or Hans Werner Herze. Playing in front of an audience for the first time -- there had been only two rehearsals -- Portal and Favre hadn't played together in years either; in Switzerland of all places, that feeling was obviously in the air because it can be heard here, that something unexpected was about to happen. It starts like an out improv date with "Arrivederci" with odd whispered rhythms played against an improvised bowed bass slipping along, trying to find a place to begin. The bow saws slowly and quickly from register to register, finding the trace of some ancient melody to bring in before tripping on as Favre kicks up the heat just a notch. Nothing else much happens except the tension of the ambience until about three minutes in when Francioli tags tough with a bit of "O Tannenbaum." Bass and drums continue to toy with one another, turning up the tension level until five minutes in, the atmosphere tight as a wire, Portal enters with an elegantly bluesy "Take the A-Train," improvising alone off the beauty of this cadence. When the band moves in to take him up on it, they slip through post-bop and modal territory like well-rehearsed schoolboys at exam time, all the while looking for the proper syntax to being the exploration. With Portal blowing the blues the way he is, there is little else to do except mine the emotion he lays out. Finally, there are a series of long singe notes, and the improvisation commences in earnest. Rhythm, melody, and harmony -- in almost the same manner as Bill Evans, Paul Motian, and Scott La Faro used them -- become a challenge. They are not to be undone so much as unwound, granting room for dissonance and subtle, yet fickle tonal sonances that normally find their way into only most extreme blowing sessions. Here, all three players share the rhythmic concern, grooving together in this unwinding musical sprawl where overtone and interval questions encounter melodic ones in the process of swinging through in mode and rhythmic meter. It's amazing, really. Semi-quavers appear every third or fourth interval, and the mode changes, as does the harmony. It's all jazz, but it's all improvisation. The swing is definitely the thing as bits of everyone from Ornette Coleman to Dave Brubeck find their way into the floating, slinky twists and turns this trio takes each other through on their way to someplace nobody's been yet. For 32 minutes, "Arrivederci" rolls on, with Francioli playing some deeply funky Horace Silver lines on the bass. The next two works are actually an improvisatory suite, "Le Chouartse," of about 35 minutes in length. Portal gets out the clarinets and puts them to work with the saxophones in a rhythmic counterpart to Favre. There is polyrhythmic in his embouchure before any melodic or harmonic idiom is established. The evidence for the confusion is the lack of Francioli's presence until about three minutes into the track when he realizes the rhythmic line Portal is playing is the melody. Once he's in, and Favre is using his hands all over his muted toms toms, the fun begins. This suite is a trip down the rabbit hole but without Alice and in the dark. It steams, and whispers, shouts, screams and coos with six sets of rhythms all playing against each other at once, Portal accomplishing his with microphonics à la Pharoah Sanders -- but on bass clarinet. There are long periods of near silent communication happening during this work, but when the dynamic changes, so does everything else, the notion of jazz tradition -- i.e., melody, rhythm, and harmony -- has been reinvented, extended to include dissonant harmony and fragmented modal ideas in its rhythmic concepts, thus, opening up an entirely new space for the definition of melody as an extension of rhythm which is the next extension of harmony. A truly remarkable session, one that should be far better known than it is.
Review by Thom Jurek

If you find it, buy this album!