OTOROKU

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أحمد [Ahmed] – the quartet of Pat Thomas, Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Seymour Wright – make music of heavy rhythm, repetition and syncopation set deep into an understanding of jazz and the obscure depths of its history. Across the 2 LPs which make up ‘Super Majnoon [East Meets West] ’the group work and rework the music of the late musician Ahmed Abdul-Malik to create a stamping, swinging, relentlessly propulsive record where profundity and physicality root right back to ecstatic feeling.  Abdul-Malik was a NYC bassist, oudist, composer, educator and philosopher who fused aspects of American, Arabic and East African thought, ethics, meanings and beliefs in open and experimental ways to make vital, forward leaning jazz. [Ahmed] reimagine the notes of Malik as they push for new ground. Melodies respirate, swell, escalate and combust in a driving jazz which yes is technical, yes is accomplished, but ultimately just foot-to-the-floor swings.  ‘Super Majnoon [East Meets West]’ is a title fused from the leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka Bechir Attar’s description of [Ahmed] after hearing them in Switzerland last year (Majnoon is the arabic slang for ‘crazy’), and Abdul-Malik’s 1959 album East Meets West. Arriving as a double LP, the first comprises studio recordings of [Ahmed] at Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery in 2018 and the second a scorched live recording at OTO from August 2018. The record features photos by Bert Glinnand Taku Unamiand ‘in and out’ liner notes by James G. Spady – historian and journalist from Philadelphia, the author of books on Marcus Garvey and the trilogy of groundbreaking books on hip hop (Nation Conscious Rap, Street Conscious Rap, The Global Cypha).  --- [Ahmed] are: PAT THOMAS / piano  ANTONIN GERBAL / drums  JOEL GRIP / bass  SEYMOUR WRIGHT / alto saxophone  --- LP 1 recorded by David Sum at Empty Gallery Hong, March 31, 2018. LP 2 recorded by Paul Skinner at Café OTO London, August 25, 2018. LP1 mixed by David Sum. LP 2 mixed by Pat Thomas. Mastered by James Dunn. Liner notes © James G. Spady. Cover photo © Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos. Design by Maja Larsson. Produced by John Hawthorn, Jens Löwius and Seymour Wright.

Ahmed – Super Majnoon [East Meets West]

Otoroku is extremely proud to present the first vinyl reissue of one of the most legendary free jazz records ever produced. Originally released in 1978 on Ogun recordings, Louis Moholo Octet’s Spirits Rejoice! is a high achievement in the movement of the era as it soars beyond oppression with a raucous and spiritually uplifting surge of movement and melody  Featuring Harry Miller, Johnny Dyani, Keith Tippett, Evan Parker, Nick Evans, Radu Malfatti and Kenny Wheeler, this is former Blue Note artist Louis Moholo’s first album under his own name and is a classic example of the cross-pollination between South African and British players. Mongezi Feza’s ‘You Ain’t Gonna Know Me ‘Cos You Think You Know Me’ alone is enough to make your life a better place. From Matthew Wright’s new liner notes:  The South African melodies, now so familiar, were wholeheartedly taken on board by the individual musicians, their unity of purpose mirroring the belief in the strength of the collective. Stunning solos, often close to the edge, feature throughout –  Evan Parker and Keith Tippett on “Shine Wherever You Are”; the contrasting trombone styles of Nick Evans and Radu Malfatti on “You Ain’t Gonna Know Me...”; the octet sounding like a full big band; and behind them, the relentlessly rhythmic urgency of the piano, bass and drums. Add to this Kenny Wheeler’s moving and all-encompassing trumpet on the elegiac “Amaxesha Osizi” and the joyous flamboyancy of “Wedding Hymn” with Parker’s relatively straight-ahead tenor and Tippett’s dextrous piano solo over a bed of riffing horns, (fast) walking bass lines and a supreme sense of swing. Louis’ early hero, Big Sid Catlett, would have loved it! This 2019 re-issue has been made with permission and in association with Ogun records. Features an exact reproduction of the original artwork and liner notes along with new liner notes from Matthew Wright. Remastered by Giuseppe IIelasi and packaged in a high gloss sleeve this is the definitive release of one of the absolute free jazz classics of the 20th Century. Edition of 1000 copies.

Louis Moholo Octet ‎ – Spirits Rejoice!

This recording from the earlier years of Cafe Oto documents the impossible pairing of four contemporary giants. Its one of those miraculous one off groupings that reminds us why the venue opened in the first place.’ “The magic of the first minutes – an alto solo by Joe McPhee of true purity – soft-spoken, masterful and accomplished – brought back to mind the blissful Coleman/Haden duet last year at the Royal Festival Hall. ‘Ornette gave me freedom to move in a certain way,’ said McPhee. He searched hesitantly and carefully for his words, all the more surprising from such an articulate musical (or, as he might say ‘muse-ical’) practitioner and campaigner. Coleman’s 80th birthday coincided with McPhee’s stint at Cafe Oto. McPhee and his co-musicians delivered an intense performance which was both creative and restrained. With Evan Parker ‘s tenor in tow – a collaboration going back to the late 70s – and Lol Coxhill, sitting with head bowed intently, a soprano master – it could have gone anywhere, yet they worked off each other, often in the higher registers, building up almost bird-call like interactions and trills. Earlier, Chris Corsano‘s drumming presented a dense bedrock for McPhee to play against, and his solo spell was a crisp exercise in sonic curiosity. McPhee picked up his soprano mid-way through the second set, heightening the lyricism of the three saxophones. Then, being a devotee of Don Cherry, he switched to pocket trumpet, allowing him to interject, and punctuate the concentrated sound layers built up by the quartet, and lead the music out through a different door”- Geoff Winston (londonjazznews.com) Recorded 10th March 2010, this is also a document of the only time Lol Coxhill and Joe Mcphee shared the stage. The recording is a little rough, but hey, so was your birth! Limited to 500 copies packaged in mini gatefold sleeve.

Lol Coxhill / Joe McPhee / Chris Corsano / Evan Parker – Tree Dancing

Charles Gayle is a saxophonist, pianist, sometimes a clown and radical musical performer wrapped into the body of a humble person living in Downtown Manhattan since the 1960s. As this set attests to, It is sometimes hard to predict what he will do on stage... In all his musical (and personal) life Charles Gayle has remained outside of any form of mainstream, carving his own singular path. There is no player on the scene today with the emotional wallop of Charles Gayle. John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with  Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others. Ubiquitous, diverse and constantly creative, drummer Mark Sanders has worked with a host of renowned musicians including Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Mathew Shipp, Roswell Rudd, in duo and quartets with Wadada Leo Smith and trios with Sirone and William Parker. Here we present a 2CD set documenting the two very special sets delivered on the 15th of November, 2017 at Cafe Oto, Dalston, London. In classic ecstatic fashion one would expect from these three stalwarts of blazing transcendence these 2 sets swerve from the sublime to the this is an exquisite document of one of the most exciting trios operating today, Limited to 500 copies packaged in mini gatefold sleeve.

Charles Gayle / John Edwards / Mark Sanders – Seasons Changing

Keiji Haino, one of the foremost exponents of the Japanese avant-garde, always provides a masterclass in constantly shifting improvisation. John Butcher is a saxophonist of rare grace and power, who has expanded the vocabulary of the saxophone far beyond the conventions of jazz and other musics, to encompass a staggering range of multiphonics, overtones, percussive sounds, and electronic feedback. Haino and Butcher met when Butcher opened for Fushitsusha at the show Cafe OTO arranged at St. John, Hackney - 5 years ago. In 2016 they were invited to play two duo concerts – at The Empty Gallery in Hong Kong and at Cafe OTO in London. Otoroku is proud to present the audio documentation of their first UK meeting. Recorded live at Cafe OTO in July 2016 the results are an uncompromising milieu of swirling sound played out as a total union of these two legendary performers.  Haino’s blues drenched guitar entices skittering notes from Butcher’s sax playing as numerous sonic clues unravel over the course of of this unique and compelling journey. Light Never Bright Enough comes in a limited edition of 500 LPs and 500 CDs with matt sleeves and japanese removable obi-strip. --- Keiji Haino / vocal, guitar, flutes   John Butcher / saxophones and feedback --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on the 9th July 2016 by Luca Consonni. Mixed by John Butcher. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. Photography and design by ORGAN. 

HAINO KEIJI / JOHN BUTCHER - LIGHT NEVER BRIGHT ENOUGH

Dedicated to the memory of Tony Marsh The recordings on this double LP are taken from the first night of Roscoe Mitchell's inaugural two day residency at Cafe OTO in 2012 and his first time playing with drummer Tony Marsh and double bassist John Edwards. It was one of those nights where the music electrifies the room. Everyone on edge. Everything alive with the possibilities. Although there was much talk after the concert of the group playing together again this would sadly be the first and last time the trio would play. Tony passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks later making this his last documented performance and a fitting tribute to a truly great drummer and percussionist. Roscoe Mitchell is one of the most important saxophonists and composers of the 20th Century. Active since the 1960s as a bandleader, mentor, collaborator and teacher. Mitchell was a founding member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago. He has been a pivotal figure in the collective re-imagining of what is possible in jazz, improvisation and beyond combining an instantly recognisable sound on the saxophone with staggering technique (check the lengthy stretch of sustained circular breathing on SIDE C) and an arresting, fractured melodic sensibility. On this date he quickly realised he was in the company of two musicians who could match his vision and create music that is more than the sum of its parts. John Edwards is a vital presence in London's creative music community. A true virtuoso, his staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role. No one else played or plays drums like Tony Marsh. Richard Williams had previously described Tony's "marvelous ability to erase the boundary between time and no-time" and here, on the jerry-rigged suspended percussion set-up he'd developed (no kick or hi-hats) he opens up a beautifully resonant space, quietly directing the pulse whilst allowing you to fully hear the upper-register harmonic detail and flickering pizzicato of John Edward's bass. You'd be hard pressed to hear anything in the playing that would hint at his shock passing only a month later.
 "Listen closely, take a chance, keep going even if money's tight, and you'll find the real reward – that's why Tony was hip in the most meaningful sense … And he didn't need to play loud, or be loud, to get that intensity. It's like splitting diamonds or something. If you know exactly the right place to make the impact, you don't need to hit anything hard." - Evan Parker 

 (Quoted in John Fordham's Obituary for Marsh)

Roscoe Mitchell / Tony Marsh / John Edwards - Improvisations

We're very pleased to announce Pat Thomas's ‘The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari’ on our in-house OTOROKU label. Recorded live at OTO in May 2015 and mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi, the LP comprises four typically genre-defying and sonically dexterous pieces from one of the UK's most extraordinary pianists. In Pat's own words: The title for this Album, was inspired by the incredible automatic water clock invented by Badi' al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari. Al Jazari refers to the fact he was born in Al Jazira which lies between the Tigris and the Euphrates in what is now Northern Iraq. Badi al Zaman means prodigy of the age. He is known by historians of technology as the father of modern robotics. The Elephant Clock at seven metres high is a testament to his engineering genius, it utilizes Greek water raising technology, combined with an Indian elephant, Egyptian phoenix, Arabian figures, Persian carpet and Chinese Dragons celebrating the diversity of cultures in the world. This and other marvels of engineering can be found in his Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices translated by Donald Hill (Pakistan Hijra Council). Over 50 devices are mentioned. Amongst them the first analog computer, his remarkable Castle Clock, however, the debt the world owes this muslim genius is found in his remarkable water raising devices, particularly water raising device number 4 where for the first time a crank connecting rod system is used. The crank is considered to be the most important single mechanical device after the wheel, by 1206 this is found fully developed in Jazari`s machines predating Francesco di Giorgio Martini by 3 centuries. 'For Al Haytham' is dedicated to the great polymath genius who wrote the great book on vision, the first person to give us a true understanding of how we see. 'Lubb' is an Arabic word meaning innermost consciousness whilst to conclude proceedings 'Done' is loosely based on a well known standard. - Pat Thomas 26TH May 2017 Pat Thomas began playing  piano at the age of eight. He studied classical music and reggae was an early interest. Thomas was inspired to take up Jazz after seeing legendary pianist Oscar Peterson on television. By 1979, Thomas was performing seriously as an improviser. In 1980 he became a member of oxford based group Ghosts with Pete Mcphail and Matt Lewis. Has worked with Mike Cooper, Steve Beresford, Geoff Hawkins, Chuck Berry, Tim Hill, Alex Ward, Eugene Chadbourne, Steve Noble, Jimmy Carl Black, Thurston  Moore, Mats Gustafsson, Evan Parker, Oliver Lake, Alan Silva, Bill Dixon, Joe Gallivan, Alan Wilkinson, John Edwards, John Zorn, John Butcher, John Russell and a duo with Mark Sanders since 1986 a duo with Steve Noble (who first met in 1979).  Current activities include Black Top with Orphy Robinson, Valid Tractor with Lawrence Casserley and Dom Lash, About Group with Alexis Taylor and John Coxon, Albert Newton with Charles Haywood and the Founder Effect with John Coxon, a duo with Han Bennink and a trio with William Parker and Hamid Drake. Pat Thomas received Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers in 2014. --- Pat Thomas / piano --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on the 4th May 2015 b Mark Jasper. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. Photo by fabio Lugaro. Design by Maja Larsson. 

Pat Thomas - The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari

"Japanese bluesman Kan Mikami is nothing less than an unalloyed force of nature. A skin-shredding blast of frozen wind from the poor, rural north of Japan that he calls home. In the late 1960s, like thousands of other Japanese young people Mikami made his way to Tokyo in search of a life different from that of his parents. Since then he has forcefully carved out a space for himself in the culture as a modernist poet, a raging folk singer, an author, a actor, an engaging TV personality, and one of Japan’s most uniquely powerful performers. For most of Mikami’s career as a singer, he has performed solo. Just him and his electric guitar against the world, creating jagged A-minor vamps to drive along the surreal wisdom of his lyrics. But he’s equally at home in more demanding improvisational contexts such as those provided here by John Edwards on bass and Alex Neilson on drums. Their dense propulsive textures seem to spur on Mikami, his voice arcing powerfully into fragmented spaces, his guitar darting, colliding, shedding jagged and angular splinters of sound. A pulsing, raging maelstrom of serrated-edged energy. Gruff, rough, honest and very, very real." - Alan Cummings --- Kan Mikami / vocals, guitar John Edwards / bass Alex Neilson / percussion --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on 3rd April 2013 by James Dunn. Mixed by John Chantler. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi

Kan Mikami / John Edwards / Alex Neilson - Live at Cafe OTO

2016 Re-Press. Pre-orders taken now. Shipping 4.7.16. Recording of the stunning first set performed by the trio of Peter Brötzmann, Steve Noble and John Edwards at Cafe OTO in January 2010 during Brotzmann's first residency at the venue. This was also the first time the trio had played together. Recorded at Cafe OTO by Shane Browne, mixed by John Edwards and Mastered by Andres [LUPO] Lupich at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. REVIEWS "On an east London side street, Café Oto hosts a programme of international experimental sounds to shame subsidised arts temples, drawing demographic-defying crowds of all ages through its doors. The first release on Oto's own label, available as an authentic vinyl slab or a slippery download, is a 40-minute splurge of sax, drums and bass skronk, live at the venue in 2010, from the German free-jazz giant Brötzmann and two stars of the London improv scene. Unrepeatable moments of collective inspiration and sudden sunlit shafts of modal near melody punctuate the continuing energy blur. Business as usual down Dalston Junction." Stewart Lee, The Sunday Times  "Since it opened in Dalston in April 2008, Café OTO has become London's new music venue of choice for the likes of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Joe McPhee, Mats Gustafsson – and Peter Brötzmann, whose first residency at the club in January 2010 yielded this inaugural release on OtoRoku, Café OTO’s new in-house label. The night in question was the first time Brötzmann had played with bassist John Edwards and drummer Steve Noble, and the decision to team them up was inspired. With Alan Wilkinson, or in Decoy with Alex Hawkins and NEW with Alex Ward, Edwards and Noble have a deserved reputation as a thrilling high-energy rhythm section. And as Brötzmann is no slouch when it comes to high-energy playing, the combination is explosive. Right from the start of the set – the first that evening – it's obvious why this was selected to christen the label. All three players jump straight into top gear, with Brötzmann setting a cracking pace, his torrent of sound characterised by that hard-edged tone which makes him such compelling listening. ...the worse the better sets a high standard for subsequent releases to match. But, as every night at Café OTO is recorded and there's a wealth of fine music waiting in the wings, including quality recordings from Otomo Yoshihide and Wadada Leo Smith, OtoRoku looks like a label to watch." John Eyles, Paris Transatlantic "These two extended improvisations, recorded in January 2010 during Brötzmann’s first residency at OTO, finds the group attaining near-telepathic modes of interconnectedness, despite this being the trio’s first outing together. From the off, Brötzmann’s gills are gurning, throwing up torrents of molten roar, while Noble’s mule-kicking at the traps reels out ride hits like a baby sporting a bonnet of bees." - Spencer Grady, BBC Music "Does the world need another Brötzmann album? Probably not, but as the inaugural release on Cafe OTO's in-house high quality vinyl-only label, this one is cause for celebration. Recorded there - superbly well, too - during Brötzmann's residency in January 2012, this is no frills straight-up free jazz, solos and all, pitting the Firebreather of Wuppertal against the might local rhythm team (yes, they can and do swing hard) of John Edwards and Steve Noble. All three are on outstanding form, from the opening yelp - when it comes to Big Bang beginning, nobody does it better than Brötzmann - to Edwards's snarling drone 38 minutes later. Shame engineer Shane Browne slammed thos faders down so brutally: for once, you feel like joining in with the whoops and hollers of the punters." - Dan Warburton, The WIRE

BROETZMANN / EDWARDS / NOBLE - THE WORSE THE BETTER

Yukihiro Isso: Nohkan (noh-flute), shinobue, dengakubue, gemshorn and recorder. Roger Turner: percussion Born in 1964, Yukihiro Isso is a Japanese Noh flutist (hayashi-kata fue-kata) from a family that has been playing this instrument since the 16th century. He received his initial instruction in flute playing from his father Yukimasa Isso and performed on the Noh stage for the first time at the age of nine. From his middle school years he began to listen to a variety of different kinds of music and studying new instruments including the recorder, flute and piano. An acclaimed performer of classical Noh repertoire, Isso is also an accomplished improviser and has performed with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Peter Brötzmann and John Zorn.. Born 1946, Roger Turner grew up amongst the Canterbury musical life of the 1960’s with a strong jazz foundation. Since 1974 work has been concentrated on exploring a more personal percussion language through the processes of improvisation. Solo work, collaborations with experimental rock musics & open - form song, extensive work with dance, film and visual art, involvements in numerous jazz-based ensembles, & workshop residencies have formed part of that development. Takanehishigu is the audio documentation of the first time these artists played together. The results are a breathtaking new music which remains respectful to the individual traditions whilst simultaneously subverting them. Takanehishigu was recorded live at Cafe Oto on 23rd Sep 2015 by Shaun Crook Mixed by John Chantler. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. Artwork by Paul Abbott. Edition of 500 copies.

Roger Turner / Yukihiro Isso: Takanehishigu LP

This recording gathers all of the music from the final night of Otomo and Sachiko's first residency in 2009 which saw the pair joined by the long running trio of Evan Parker, John Edwards and Tony Marsh and special guest John Butcher. Butcher played duos with both Otomo and Sachiko and joined the quintet for a rousing sextet: stunning twin saxophone interplay, the unparalleled open-ness of the Marsh/Edwards rhythm pairing, Sachiko's deft high frequency interventions and Otomo's guitar at the centre - moving between abrasive textural invention and suggestive single note runs of ever-shifting melody. REVIEWS "As for indicating a place in the curiously sculpted bridges between improvised music and sound art, well, the simple singularity of these daring and committed performances should bear out their significance." Clifford Allen, Tiny Mix Tapes "This Quintet/Sextet album is recorded beautifully and it needed to be to capture all the nuance involved ... These are musicians at the top of their craft." Free Jazz Blog "...fresh and inspired. The recording stands as a finely-honed classic of classically approached free improvisation: the players dance and flow smoothly and effortlessly with and around the sounds of their partners." - Henry Kuntz Point of Departure Review

Otomo Yoshihide / Sachiko M / Evan Parker / Tony Marsh / John Edwards / John Butcher - Quintet / Sextet / Duos