Sunday, November 4, 2007

Let's Warm Things Up Around Here!

Well, the frost covering the ground here in the mornings is definitely showing that the icy tendrils of Winter are creeping in. What better way to overcome that than a little bit of "Hot Lotta?" I really like this album, but found it impossible to find any reviews or information outside of the line-up credits while perusing the Internet. With an all-star line-up led by Edward Vesala and including Peter Brotzmann and Peter Kowald (unfortnately I can't say I am altogether that much of a fan of the fourth, Aaltonen, and his flute work...) it is kind of a surprise that this has fallen by the wayside. This session reminds me a lot of watching a fire. Sometimes there are concentrated little bursts of energy bouncing around for brief moments, sometimes it just smolders with an underlying intensity and sometimes it catches with a burst into a roaring inferno. Actually for the time period, Brotzmann sounds fairly restrained here at times and there aren't any complete sonic assaults here, but he does bring his trademark energy and sound. Anyways, I think this will be well-enjoyed, despite its mysterious two star rating on AMG (How can they rate something without a review? Odd...) so check it out!

Oh, on a personal note, in the last month and a haIf I have built a horse shed and paddock, and my wife and I pruned our roses and planted all of our bulbs for the spring. Things continue to look better and better around our new house. For you horse fans out there, my wife has a 15.2 hand Appaloosa and we have a little mule named Georgia Lee after the song on the Tom Waits album "Mule Variations." It has been a beautiful Fall here in Idaho (US), so it has been nice to be outside working!


(Gratuitous thanks go to Sambeck2001 for scanning the back cover and emailing it to me. Right on!)

Hot Lotta
Edward Vesala
April 19, 1973
Blue Master #306
AAC Files (this is also comes from fairly clean vinyl)

Juhani Aaltonen - Flute, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
Peter Brötzmann - Saxophone
Peter Kowald - Bass
Edward Vesala - Drums, Vocals


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back in the Saddle...

Things have been rather tumultuous lately, but after a busy summer of traveling moving and settling in to our new home, hopefully I will have the chance now and then to to keep up with blogging. I am sure that with whatever I get the chance to share, people won't complain much, or at least the people who are the rare music aficionados! Anyways, for this post I thought I would put up Clifford Thornton's "Ketchaoua" album from BYG-Actuel. I first got turned on to Thornton's music through one of his other albums, "Freedom and Unity." I have to admit that this was only a couple of years ago (Freedom and Unity is still available on CD--I actually found it while browsing through a music store in Santa Cruz, CA), but I have been furiously collecting anything that I can get my hands on related to him since. Now if only the sound on "Freedom and Unity" was a little crisper at times... Oh well--I can definitely manage!

As for "Ketchaoua," it basically is a star-studded line-up including such greats as Archie Shepp (Thornton also appeared on some Shepp albums around the time including "Attica Blues" and "Blasé/Live at the Pan-African Festival"), Grachan Moncur, Dave Burrell and Sunny Murray. For some reason, I don't really feel like summing the music up right now, so I think I will let Brandon Burke from do it for me, lazy you-know-what that I am:

"Clifford Thornton's only Actuel date as a leader is, like many of the others in this BYG series, an all-star blowing session highly indicative of the times. For some, it will be difficult to tell whether taking credit for composing these pieces is a lost cause. This is some very free music and, save for a handful of scored passages, almost wholly improvised. A number of the scene's top players make appearances here in different groups. On the large ensemble pieces Thornton is joined by Grachan Moncur III, Archie Shepp (on soprano sax), Arthur Jones, Dave Burrell, Beb Guerin, Earl Freeman, and Sunny Murray. Otherwise, "Brotherhood," a piece for quintet, is performed by Thornton, Jones, Guerin, Freeman, and this time, drummer Claude Delcloo, while on "Speak With Your Echo" only the two bassists (Guerin and Freeman) accompany Thornton's cornet. This piece in particular is especially enjoyable and reminiscent perhaps of Arthur Jones' fantastic ballad, "Brother B," from his own Actuel LP, Scorpio. At times the ensemble pieces sound like a Pan-African Morton Feldman, and at others, hazy, psychedelic post bop. Fans of brooding and contemplative improvised music will find a great deal to enjoy here. In fact, many would argue that this is the best LP under Thornton's leadership."

Pretty nice stuff, even if it can get a little bogged down at times, and something I haven't seen posted on any blogs yet. Kind of surprising considering the wide variety of rare albums being posted out there...

Clifford Thornton
Recorded Aug 18, 1969
AAC Files - iTunes ready (m4a file extension)

Dave Burrell - Piano, Bells
Claude Delcloo - Drums
Earl Freeman - Bass, Percussion, Conga, Gong
Beb Guérin - Bass
Arthur Jones - Sax (Alto)
Grachan Moncur III - Trombone
Sunny Murray - Drums
Archie Shepp - Sax (Soprano)
Clifford Thornton - Percussion, Trombone, Trumpet, Conga, Cornet

Tracks (split into Side A and Side B, but labeled)
1. Ketchaoua (Thornton)- 12:35
2. Pan-African Festival (Thornton) - 7:50
3. Brotherhood (Thornton) -10:40
4. Speak With Your Echo (And Call This a Dialogue) (Thornton) - 9:15

Two choices for the same file (Sharebee is a mess right now):
*Updated links*--the original zip file was corrupt--sorry!

p.s. Did I mention how much I like "Freedom and Unity?" Oh yeah, well, I couldn't resist throwing up a track here--track 7, "O.C.T." Go find yourself a copy of it if you don't have one already!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Spoils of the Hunt

A few months ago I was meandering around the Internet and came upon the Zebulon Cafe Concert site. For those of you who haven't checked it out (, it has a really slick design and interface--definitelly one of the places on my list to check out on my next trip to New York. While I was browsing, I noticed this infectious flute track playing in the background of the site (playing in Flash?) and found myself returning ot the site the next day just so I could hear the track again. I tried to contact the Zebulon about the name of the track, but ended up getting a generic email back thanking me for visiting the site. Feeling a bit manic, I then decided to try and track down the people who designed the site (The Artbox). They were very helpful and friendly, but could only tell my that someone at the Zebulon had sent them the track a few years back for the site and that they couldn't remember the name of it. Not to be stopped (borderline compulsive now), I tried contacting the people at the Zebulon again with far better results. I finally got an email back from them with the info about this great group from Chicago (I hadn't heard of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble before) and the track info, only to find that the album in question was out of print! Thoroughly obsessed, I went on eBay and eventually found a used copy for a pretty good price. Was it all worth it? You had better believe it!

The music itself is phenomenal, but after a little research I found out why. Kahil El'Zabar, one of the founding members, was fresh from the AACM school when the group was formed. That would make a good start, right? Early on, the group also played with such notables as Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre and then just recently with Corey Wilkes (you might recognize his name as the trumpet player who stood in for Lester Bowie in the AEC after his passing). El'Zabar has also worked outside of the Ensemble with Pharoah Sanders, Billy Bang, David Murray, Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors--the list goes on and on. How I hadn't heard of this group (or El'Zabar) I will never know, but they sure crossed paths with quite a few people I follow. El'Zabar feels like one of those people who you can go on and on about and still not do them justice.

The album itself has some great tracks. The thing that probably stood out the most to me after first hearing it was the amazing African rhythms that these guys knock out. It almost reminded me of certain Don Cherry projects, but this definitely has its own feel. The tracks "Jam for the Babas" (the flute track that I originally obsessed over from the Zebulon site) and "Great Black Music" are probably my favorites (funny how they cap the album), but the rest of the stuff also provides plenty of great listening. The use of the traditional African instruments also adds to the ethnic vibe, but the group still maintains a forward-thinking edge This stuff just feels so natural and fluid, and it all just pulls you right in. It grooves--you'll see!

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
128 Rate AAC files (Equivelent to 192 rate MP3 files)

Joseph Bowie - Percussion, Trombone, Conga, Djembe, Photography
Ernest Dawkins - Flute, Percussion, Soprano, Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor)
Kahil El'Zabar - Percussion, Drums, Mixing, Sanza
Atu Harold Murray - Flute, Drums

1. Great Black Music (El'Zabar) - 11:33
2. Sweet Meat (El'Zabar) - 5:52
3. Ka-Real (Bowie) - 7:49
4. Hang Tough (El'Zabar) - 9:42
5. Kampfumo Shuffle (Dawkins) - 9:15
6. The Christening (El'Zabar) - 7:33
7. Jam for the Babas (Murray) - 10:34

Here's some more links to related information: (El'Zabar's website) (More info about the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and FREE audio samples!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Brandon Evans Solo Recording

Positive events keep unfurling through this blog--this site now has another regular contributor involved! A little while back, Caos contacted me about lending some obscurities from his own collection. A true gentleman and scholar (with fantastic tastes in music to boot), Caos sent along this recording from Brandon Evans. If the name Brandon Evans sounds familiar but you can't quite place it (don't feel bad--it happened to me as well), you might remember him from a Sonny Simmons post over at Church #9 a little while back. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful to Caos not only for this wonderful recording, but for the background information as well.

On to the disc--Evans switches between clarinet and tenor, with great results. He has a very lyrical sound at times, but is obviously capable of stretching his instruments out to fit his creativity as well. I had to keep in mind that this was all coming from a 25 year old musician (at the time of the recording). After listening to this album, I was surprised that Evans wasn't a bigger name on the jazz scene. Fortunately, Caos was there to help explain the situation:

"Indeed Evans is an interesting musician, but he pretty much fell completely out of the scene in 2004 or so. He used to run Parallactic Records, a label that put out over 30 recordings by him, Braxton, Simmons, and others from the Middletown, CT/New York City scene(the Wesleyen school of players surrounding Braxton). An insider of the scene who I spoke to suggested that personal/lifestyle problems caused him to stop doing the music thing (hopefully temporarily but who knows),
which is odd and kind of tragic, considering the artistic heights he was attaining in such a short amount of time. The liner notes he's written in some of his recordings and the innovations he made in notation and approaching improvisation bespeak someone of incredible depth. Braxton himself has also spoken very highly of Brandon, and even gave him a lucrative role in the performance of his major opera Trillium R.

"The core of his output centered on a series of recordings of his Ellipsis/Elliptical Axis compositions, based on two invented notation systems of the same names. In his words, "[these] are systems that define a world of sound as a kaleidoscope of sound alignments, sound cycles, sound configurations; a platform for a 'global improvisational axis point'". Other things in his liner notes are almost impossible to understand, especially the more in-depth discussion on these notation systems and how they are approached.

"The Parallactic records homepage and, an mp3 store that Evans opened both fell off the face of the earth last year and disappeared without a trace, so clearly some stuff has been going down with him, but who really knows? Damned
horrible shame if he doesn't rejoin the scene eventually."

Caos also found this biographical snippet from the web to lend a little more info about Evans:

"New York-based multi-instrumentalist Brandon Evans was
born in San Francisco in 1972. He began playing music
as a teenager while a student at the San Francisco Art
Institute, and later began studying and performing
with jazz saxophonist Sonny Simmons. Eventually, Evans
relocated to Connecticut to study composition with
Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan University. Even after
moving to New York in 1994, Evans continued to work
closely with Braxton: he has appeared on a number of
Braxton's recordings, and he often performed with
Braxton as a member of his Ghost Trance Ensemble.
After arriving in New York, Evans and Andre Vida also
founded the Creative Trans-Informational Alliance
(CTIA), which organized concerts featuring prominent
avant-garde jazz musicians. Evans' own music, often
issued on his own Parallactic label, explores a
combination of improvisation and composition, for
which he has developed a new system of notation,
called the "'Ellipsis & Elliptical Axis Notation
System." In addition to a number of solo recordings,
Evans has also appeared on disc with Simmons, Seth
Misterka, Jackson Moore, Harris Eisenstadt, Martin
Vanduynhoven, and Kevin Norton. Evans also works as a
filmmaker, and he created a feature-length documentary
about Simmons entitled Multiple Rated-X Truth."

I'd have to wholeheartedly agree with Caos about Evans. This guy is an amazing young talent and it is a tragedy that his recordings are sliding into obscurity (himself as well?). Are there any other Evans fans out there with some material they would like to share? Lord knows his stuff can be hard to dig up. Heck, it might even make our days to hear what he has been up to recently. Even better if it had something to do with a reed...

Brandon Evans - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Solo Musics - Century Theatre Ballroom
(parallactic #2)
(No album artwork available)
192 Rate mp3 files (Equivalent to 128 AAC Files...har, har)

Track information:
(from the liner notes)

1. Structure as it occurs in (the separation of images in)
a. dreams
b. visions
c. mental & physical (sonic) projections
d. groups of vibrations
e. the growth cycle of trees

2. Spirals as they occur in:
a. shells (sea-shells, snail shells, etc. )
b. celestial phenomena
c. fingerprints
d. vertigo syndrome (hallucination of falling)
e. water (whirlpools)

3. Repetition as it occurs in:
a. language (spoken language, ideographic language,
sign language, musical language)
b. historical weather patterns
c. bird song
d. the evolution of societal structures and dynamics
throughout history
e. imaginary symbolic systems (self-referential
coded-information maps that signify sounds)
f. the periodical rise throughout recorded history of
global natural disasters that change the evolution of
a species, favoring those able to adapt to the
resultant climate (e.g. earthquakes)

4. Inversion as it occurs in:
a. the sun setting and rising
b. humans coming up with the concept of the man in the
moon (species reflecting itself in all things)


Monday, April 16, 2007

Hell's Kitchen mixes up a true delicacy

When I first purchased this album, it was mainly due to my interest in Brotzmann and Cherry tracks. Little did I know, Odean Pope can really get it going! I think the first track, his Improvisation 1, has become my overall favorite from this disc. He really establishes a solid groove to explore from. I shamefully admit that despite how much I enjoy this track, I have not gone in search of any of his other efforts. Can anybody shed some light on this guy? Is he worth checking out?

About the Brotzmann track, it doesn't disappoint either (despite the fact that it is quite an adjustment from the first song). About halfway through it, I could have sworn I heard some hints at "Lonely Woman" mixed in there. Things get back to some chaos and then again, at about the ten minute mark, Brotzmann grinds through the first couple notes of it. I could be wrong (I REALLY like "Lonely Woman"--maybe it was just wishful listening?), but I thought it was pretty cool anyways. For a true version of Brotz wrenching out LW, I'll have to post the track from his 14 Love Songs album. A very powerful interpretation! (Wait, is anything he puts out not powerful?)

The next two tracks from Brackeen and Blackwell are fine, but nothing really to write home about in my opinion.

Which leaves me with the Don Cherry tracks, actually recorded in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky (US).(That's actually him on the front of the album with his spelunker hat on) Art and caves have been linked for some time now (the above picture even has a stick-guy with a drum--I thought it was fitting) but Cherry really brings it to the next level. This is some creative and earthy stuff. The reverberations and echoes from the stalagtites (the ones on the ground, right?) throughout the cave provide a powerfully haunting vibe. This is definitely something to listen to late at night when the lights are low and everything is quiet. His flute music on the sixth track is brief and not all that ground-breaking, but you can hear the running (dripping?) water in the background if you listen carefully. What I would have given to have been there! The following is from the liner notes (by Ann Mayo -reprinted from the Village Voice, November 13 1976) and describes much of the experience:

"On a morning in early October I watched the great free jazzman Don Cherry as he scaled a ledge high on the sheer wall of the Longest Cave in the World and played rocks like a xylophone. Far below, our guide had fired up two kerosen lantersns so that we were able to doff our miner's hats.

"Cherry, on the ledge, gave off vibes of the leopard-spirit of the Ngbe tribe as he improvised a roller-coaster of sound.

"Throughout Cherry's performance, producer Verna Gillis sat on the cave floor, at one with her Stellavox tape recorder, earphones like a ceremonial headress, flashback to Wild Cave Woman taking part in the first of the lost Adena Indians who inhabited proto-Kentucky a thousand years ago.

"Adjusting the AKG mircophone, in overalls with wispy hair and beatific smile, a hippie farmer, was sculptor Bradford Graves.

"Cherry darted from one rock to another, striking them with two hickory branches he'd brought along at the guide's suggestion.

"The Cherry/GIllis expedition guide, Joe McGown, realls, "Some people are just scared of caves." Grraves had been spelunking in the cave for many years and gave Gillis the idea for this unique expidition and it had taken Gillis two years to wheelde permission for his happening from the National Park Service. Gillis has been interested in silence as the other side of sound since she was 16 years old. "Here in the cave, Don is playing a kind of duet between himself and the echo."

"When Cherry played the rocks, he'd made a stronger human statement than anyone else. He also drew out an ancient Taos Indian block flut that he had borrowed from the Dartmouth College Museum and translated his breath into its sound.

"The flute/whistle sound seemed imprisoned in the cave, calling to be set free. Ancient music of this continent, it spoke of the upper regions and seemd to carry us up the steps. The journey to the end of night was over. The door swung open and we saw the late afternoon sun. Cherry broke into a grin. "I wouldn't have missed that for anything. Can hardly wait to hear the tape. But I'm not going back in any cave, not me. Once is enough."

Interesting stuff for sure. Enjoy!

Live from Soundscape: Hell's Kitchen
Various Artists
128 Rate AAC Files (Equivalent to 192 rate mp3)

Tracks and Credits:

Odean Pope Trio [Odean Pope, tenor saxophone; Gerald Veasley, bass; Cornell Rochester, drums]:

1. Improvisation 1 (14.23)
Recorded 26 February 1983.

Peter Brötzmann Trio [Peter Brötzmann, tenor saxophone; Harry Miller, bass; Louis Moholo, drums]:

2. Improvisation 2 (18.49)
Recorded 28 November 1980.

Ed Blackwell, drums; Charles Brackeen, tenor saxophone:

3. Improvisation 3 (09.20)
4. Improvisation 4 (05.45)
Recorded 16 February 1980.

Don Cherry, stalagtites (5), flute (6):

5. Improvisation 5 (08.18)
6. Improvisation 6 (02.59)
Recorded October 1978.

All recorded at Soundscape, 52nd Street, NYC, apart from (5) and (6), recorded in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Let's end this day on a postive note!

A while back when I posted "For Don Cherry," Flux'us expressed some interest in some more Mats Gustafsson. Here is an album that is definitely out of print and fairly hard to find, "One to (Two)." Gunter Christmann really matches the style of Gustafsson well, and the album swirls with punctuated twists and turns. Gustafsson also manages to get some seriously strange and amazing noises out of his horn (Christmann does as well out of his cello and trombone for that matter). My wife and I have a green-cheeked conure (parrot) and one night it was making some very odd squawking noises. I went out to the living room and put select parts of this album on for my wife and she couldn't believe how organic and similar to the parrot this sounded at times. Art imitating life or life imitating (mimicking?) art? I'd like to think that soon our parrot will start imitating all kinds of wild jazz--it sure would save me a bundle on album expenses! Either way, we both had a good laugh about it. Seriously though, this album is way more than just that. If you are in the mood for something different, definitely check this out--you won't be disappointed. There are some intense spurts of unbridled fury on this album as well--it definitely runs the gamut. Here's a review I snagged from the Okka website giving a bit more of a detailed description:

"Rarely heard German provocateur Günter Christmann plays cello on twelve of eighteen freely improvised duos with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. On the other six, he is heard on the trombone, for which is he is better known. It all works exceedingly well, as Christmann ruptures more than a few bastions of complacency with percussive scratches and highly infectious scurried patches of pulverized explosions, while Gustafsson continues to impress with his perfectly drawn puffs, pants, and snorts. Together, their intense, puckered chops rip through stereotypical tediousness and blast charmed lines of unending fascination. Often quiet, swift, and supple, almost like lizards darting in the desert eve, these two intertwine magnificently, with little percussive sounds predominating, and breathy snorts meeting scratched ruffles. On trombone, Christmann is Gustafsson’s equal, never grandstanding, while both tweak uncharted skies. The trombonist favors muted forays, with intense, yet quiet blats the predominant focus. Both Christmann and Gustafsson can be hard-core, and the saxophonist enjoys energetic bursts to startle and surprise. Mostly, though, this is music that challenges as it subverts, its highly esoteric, yet disarmingly attractive lines an attractive hook. Highly ambitious, subtly exciting, and always formidable, Christmann and Gustafsson make a delightfully revolutionary pair. Not easy listening, but rewarding listening, and continuously challenging listening, these guys shake the heavens with heartfelt cries of mercy. There are no liner notes but what could be said? Powerful stuff, but you have to look below the surface."
— Steven A. Loewy, Cadence, May 1999

One to (Two)
Günter Christmann — cello, trombone
Mats Gustafsson — saxophones
Okka Disk
Recorded at the Kesselhaus in Hanover, Germany, August 15 (during live concert) & 16, 1997
128 Rate AAC Files (Equivalent to 192 rate MP3)

Track List:
1. One to... (3:30)
2. Two to... (4:07)
3. Three to... (1:07)
4. Four to... (3:29)
5. Five to... (4:54)
6. Six to... (2:26)
7. Seven to... (1:38)
8. Eight to... (5:32)
9. Nine to... (1:51)
10. Ten to... (3:41)
11. Eleven to... (3:34)
12. Twelve to... (3:42)
13. Thirteen to... (2:44)
14. Fourteen to... (5:01)
15. Fifteen to... (3:48)
16. Sixteen to... (2:25)
17. Seventeen to... (1:16)
18. Eighteen to... (7:07)

Total Time: 62:01

Bummer of a day...

What a sad Thursday it has been. The creative collective lost a huge contributor today when Kurt Vonnegut passed away at the ripe young age of 84. I don't know why, but he always just seemed like one of those people who would carry on forever. Maybe that was just wishful thinking. Vonnegut's crass, wry wit made me an instant fan and I chewed threw his entire library the summer after high school. I had planned in my mind to someday meet him (or at least hear him speak), but it seemed that money or life always got in the way. Whatever the situation, I couldn't believe when I heard of his passing. His sometimes ascerbic viewpoint, brutal honesty and humor will be sorely missed. If only the earth could once again be graced with the smell of mustard gas and roses. Ahhh, as he would say, "So it goes."

As a FAR less tragic side, it appears that this site was "trolled" (I think that is what it is referred to as). None of the links on the front page work, but I am working to remedy that. Hopefully I will have this situation fixed by this weekend. I plan on using RapidSafe as an alternate after doing a little snooping around. It won't be quite as simple as before, but I don't think this will happen again. Anyone else have any better services/ideas? I am more than open to suggestions!

Oh, one last thing to tie these two situations together. Before his tragic passing, Mr. Vonnegut was actually able to quickly sketch the person who trashed the links. The sketch looked like this:

Hi, ho!

UPDATE!: Well, that sure went surprisingly fast... Try the new RapidSafe links for each post--when you reach the link page just click the middle (Download) button and you should be good to go. This works fine even if you have a premium account. Enjoy!

Oh, to have been a fly on this wall...

Oh, to have been a fly on this wall...
For those of you who don't know, this is a photo of Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker and Anthony Braxton, reed gods incarnate.