Tuesday, April 24, 2007
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 www.injazz.net, 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
(No album artwork available)
192 Rate mp3 files (Equivalent to 128 AAC Files...har, har)
(from the liner notes)
1. Structure as it occurs in (the separation of images in)
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recorded at the Kesselhaus in Hanover, Germany, August 15 (during live concert) & 16, 1997
128 Rate AAC Files (Equivalent to 192 rate MP3)
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
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:
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!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Photo copyright Michael Romanos (www.michaelromanos.com)
Here it is by request from Centrifuge, the great album from Arthur Blythe, "Lenox Avenue Breakdown." How this ever managed to go out of print I will never know. This recording sports a truly dynamic line-up that shares a tremendous amount of chemistry. I remember reading that the group had only been together for a short while before this was recorded, but there aren't any hints in the music to suggest that. Simply stunning. The opening track, "Down San Diego Way" has a real exuberance about it, and it swings with some great ethnic melodies and lyricism. My wife usually isn't a huge fan of the music I listen to, but she really digs this tune when I put it on. It just feels like San Diego itself--sunny, active and vibrant. Or at least the more pleasant aspects of San Diego...)
There are two things that I also really enjoy about this disc that set it apart. First of all it showcases some tuba, and I can't think of too many other albums that make that work. Not just any old tuba work, either--Stewart really gets a lot out of his uberhorn! Secondly, this album also has some great contributions from James Blood Ulmer. If you have been keeping track of this blog and the comments associated, you might have already read that I wasn't always a huge fan of guitar in jazz. This was one of the albums that got me thinking differently about all of that.
What else can I say? Really give this one a chance to sink in--highly interesting and entertaining, cohesive and it never seems to get stale!
Lenox Avenue Breakdown
128 Rate AAC files (Equivalent to 192 rate Mp3 files)
Arthur Blythe - Sax (Alto), Mixing
Jack DeJohnette - Drums
Guilherme Franco - Percussion
Cecil McBee - Bass, Guitar
James Newton - Flute
Bob Stewart - Tuba
James Blood Ulmer - Guitar
1 Down San Diego Way Blythe - 7:44
2 Lenox Avenue Breakdown Blythe - 13:11
3 Slidin' Through Blythe - 9:33
4 Odessa Blythe - 9:30
Monday, April 2, 2007
Well, here's a little bit extra due to some interest over at Church Number 9. I am sure Atanase already has his hands full with everything else that has been posted there lately (absolutely amazing music, by the way) and I thought I would throw this up for everyone to enjoy.
Yup, this album definitely lives up to the hype. Imagine ragtime jazz gone free, and that pretty much sums this up. It has some fantastic swinging moments, mixed up with the creative inflections of Hopkins, McCall and Threadgill. I think the thing that stands out the most that really drags you in to the music is the infectious sense of fun created here. Quite a session, and dang, I was going to try and single out a song to talk about, but it all jams. The folks over at Destination Out posted a couple tracks and some interesting information about Buddy Bolden, the book Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje (highly recommended--very vivid), and another version of "Buddy Bolden's Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton. Needless to say, an amazing post and I haven't been able to listen to the song in the same way since. Here's the link if you are interested (you should be):
Unfortunately the tracks there are dead, but the important stuff you can get here...Enjoy! As Flux'us said, part of the Air "Holy Trinity"!
128 Rate AAC Files (Equivalent to 192 MP3)
Fred Hopkins - Bass
Steve McCall - Drums
Henry Threadgill - Sax (Alto)
1. Ragtime Dance - 9:20
2. Buddy Bolden Blues - 9:27
3. King Porter Stomp - 3:48
4. Paille Street - 2:19
5. Weeping Willow Rag - 11:35
(photo : Damien Lafargue / GetThePicture)
I apologize for not getting this post up last week, but with the weather taking a nice turn here, sitting in front of a computer was the last thing on my mind. On to the album...
Lester Bowie stood out as one of the truly interesting, entertaining and enlightening personalities in the jazz world. His sense of humor always seemed to find its way out in whatever he did (just check out this photo above--this guy was one eclectic individual), yet he took his music very seriously. I was just watching an Art Ensemble of Chicago DVD last weekend with our 5 year-old, and it really made me realize just how talented Bowie was. He had a definite showman's air about him, but he was very much in tune and focused into what was being created on the stage. He energized his work with so much soul and feeling, it would seem impossible to not get into it. Oh yeah, our little guy was fascinated with the amount of instruments on the stage as well (About Don Moye at one point, "How many different drums is that going to try and play?")and was totally into it. What kind of effect will this have on him? Positive, of course! :)
While I admit that my favorite Lester Bowie stuff was recorded with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, this album definitely has its great moments. Here he is paired with his AEC buddy Malachi Favors and manages to put together a pretty decent session. Kind of cool that a younger Arthur Blythe appears on this album as well. This definitely has its hard blowing moments, but much of it is more laid back--as always, very creative. Enjoy!
The 5th Power
128 Rate AAC Files (Equivalent to 192 MP3)
Arthur Blythe Sax (Alto)
Lester Bowie Trumpet
Malachi Favors Bass
Amina Claudine Myers Piano, Vocals
Giacomo Pellicciotti Producer
Phillip Wilson Drums
1 Sardegna Amore (New Is Full of Lonely People) Bowie 6:20
2 3 in 1 (Three in One) Bowie 9:32
3 BBB [Duet] Blythe, Myers 5:52
4 God Has Smiled on Me (Traditional Gospel) Bowie, Myers 18:02
5 The 5th Power (Finale) Bowie 4:58