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Jazz / Free Jazz
Drone / Ambient
Outsider / Art Brut
Rag captures the best from a series of freely improvised meetings between saxophonist George Cartwright and percussionist Davu Seru, recorded at various Minneapolis venues over the course of 2009. Cartwright – longtime leader of Curlew, and owner of a musical c.v. which includes Ornette Coleman, Half Japanese, Alex Chilton and Loren Mazzacane – can be restlessly melodic or jaggedly guttural on the reeds, although his bedrock lyricism is never far from the surface. Seru’s playing is atrompe l’oreille marriage of forward motion and suspended stasis; over the past decade, he’s performed with Milo Fine, Paul Metzger and Evan Parker, among others. From the anthemic opening of “Titus” to the miniature coda of “I Think Eudora Knows,” Rag is a lively dialogue between two masters of their craft.
“Cartwright is a protean reed player. On tenor he is capable of reminding the listener of Rollins one minute and Ayler the next. On alto, the Dolphy tinge is evident one minute but there’s also the impassioned melodic streak of Julius Hemphill. But these are all reference points. Cartwright ultimately sounds like himself, obviously a multi-faceted player. He’s well matched by Seru. I suspect if Seru were based in New York instead of Minneapolis, he’d be on everybody’s first call list. He’s a remarkable free player, imbuing the music with a constant motion: ebbing and flowing, responding to and instigating Cartwright to go into different areas with subtle shifts in texture and tempo. These two respond to each other like they’ve been playing together for years. The duets are varied and Cartwright’s shifting of saxophones assures diversity. The only disappointment is that this wasn’t a 2-LP set.” – Robert Iannapollo, Cadence
“Across five improvisations, Cartwright is heard on soprano in addition to his usual alto and tenor saxophones. Seru is an interesting foil for Cartwright, start-stop jitters and sound-rhythm cut with an extremely broad stroke, he surges, piles and disappears against hard-bitten, heel-digging tenor on “Titus,” as reedy lines bunch, billow and shout, flaming out and recharging. “Saint Joe to Himself” lopes and wanders at the outset, Cartwright’s soprano hanging behind Seru’s startling rumble and thrash before sending spikes through the mass.The centerpiece of the album is the 18 minute “Troubles like Old Dirt,” which takes up most of the second side, Cartwright’s alto in bubbly, flywheel-charged cycles that recall Oliver Lake at his fiercest. Seru drops out to allow the reedman a space to explore the clicks of his pads and spin out soft, breathy tendrils and terse patter. That patter becomes a bevy of bitter screams as the drummer’s taiko-like jabs and ceremonial weight return to encircle and shove off Cartwright’s volleys, which shift from coiled multiphonics to a sinewy blues processional before reveling in jaunty hops. Rag is an excellent duo, finding two musicians engaged in an epic conversation and tug of wits, breath and rhythm.” – Clifford Allen, All About Jazz
George Cartwright And Davu Seru – Rag
“Not since the early days of MC5 at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, circa 1968, had there been such an organic melding of sheer metalesque maelstrom and free jazz. These archival recordings from the legendary punk club CBGB capture a moment in time when open-minded musicians from the ‘downtown scene’ were exploring the possibility of bringing Lou Reed’s feedback-infested Metal Machine Music together with Albert Ayler’s Love Cry. Dissipated Face guitarist Kurt “Hologram” Ralske and special guest saxophonist Daniel Carter provided that implausible link between punk rock and avant garde jazz on these 1986 live recordings. Fueled by the throbbing rhythms of Steve “X Dream” Popkin and Ben “Face” Munves, who alternated on bass and drums, Ralske’s twisted, thrashing power chords and shrieking licks blend with Carter’s cathartic alto sax wailing to make the perfect union of disparate worlds."
“Ralske would go on to attain a certain level of indie rock fame with Ultra Vivid Scene and subsequently make an impact as a London-based producer-conceptualist-avant-popmeister and visual artist. Carter would become one of the most ubiquitous figures on New York’s free jazz scene, recording with William Parker, David S. Ware, Billy Bang, Alan Silva and Matthew Shipp and the cooperative bands Test and Other Dimensions in Music. But for this one moment back in 1986, their paths crossed with bandmates Popkin and Munves, and the results were frighteningly intense.” – Bill Milkowski.
“Don’t let the Raymond Pettibon cover fool you—this ain’t exactly some SST discard that cluttered up the amerindie record collections of the late-eighties! Dissipated Face, although they could have made it as a fringe signing to that infamous label, are a tad different’n the reams of collegeboy experimental bleats that were getting a whole lotta hosannas from cloistered clods like myself. As if you actually knew, Dissipated Face were a hot trio that was romping through the post-fun era of NYC rock back when they laid these sides down at CBGB on July 31st of 1986, and their mix of everything from free jazz and late-seventies avant-prog to punk rock made for some of the wildest mergings of the form since Red Transistor. Nothing as out-there as that group, but better’n many a similar-minded excursion into freedom aesthetics. What’s best is that none other’n noted avant saxist himself Daniel Carter sat in giving a particularly Albert Ayler-ish air to these excursions, so if you were a fan of this guy’s various endeavors on the stage of the CBGB Lounge during the final days of Hilly you’ll be glad to know that he was in on the punk jazz game for a longer time’n you could’ve dreamed!” – Christopher Stigliano, Black To Comm
“Oddball discovery of a live meeting of an early group led by Ultra Vivid Scene’s Kurt Raiske with the always amazing Daniel Carter guesting. Carter’s on sax here, and the blend – right near the end of New York City’s post-SIN Club trajectory – is a very cool collision between free jazz and lateperiod scum-rock readymades. Why was this not known of before?” – Byron Coley, The Wire
“If you’re like me, and you got into standard rock music that had choruses and verses and bridges as a child, but always longed for something more extreme, you probably remember the moment you first heard Septic Death or Albert Ayler or Wolf Eyes or Mr. Bungle or whatever it was that destroyed the musical parameters previously established by your brain. I bet if I stumbled into CBGB’s in 1986, everyone probably would’ve been like “who the hell let a five year-old in here, where are his parents?”, but supposing I was a teenager or something, Dissipated Face probably would’ve cracked my skull open with their flailing, post-no-wave free-rock assault. They sound like one of those early ’80s downtown NY groups like Lounge Lizards or Material or Golden Palominos, had they crashed into Reagan Youth on the cab ride over with the few surviving members improvising live.” - Yellow Green Red
“Frantic free punk, that reminds me of Easter Monkeys, then Flipper, then Pere Ubu… it’s wound up post VU sounds from the streets of NYC when that still meant something, inflections of no wave spurting saxophone and weirdly HC-esque guitars, but the swagger and fuck-you take over and overpower the skronk…It’s reminiscent of MC5′s incursions into jazz, not jam Ginn band shit, but fucked up on PCP Les Dirtbags out for blood, armed with Sun Ra and the Dead Boys. Sick Pettibon cover art too. Eat it or beat it!” – Layla Gibbon, MaximumRockNRoll
“In the mid-1980s, Dissipated Face were one of a number of groups weaned on New Music Distribution Service catalogs, cut-out bins, and ready to occupy something of a vacuum. Punk rock, prog, free jazz, funk, modern composition and Downtown art scum were all part of the landscape and exactly what went into their melting pot. Consisting of guitarist Kurt “Hologram” Ralske and Stephen “X. Dream” Popkin and Ben “Face” Munves trading off bass, vocals and drums, their approach ranged from cut-throat punk slop to unhinged bluesy sleaze (the wonderfully bizarre “Streets Of New York” with its hardcore breakdowns). The guest appearance of alto saxophonist Daniel Carter on these four archival cuts recorded live at CBGB in 1986 adds an extra dose of fire to the proceedings. A regular in the groups of bassist-composer William Parker and a fixture in the New York free jazz environment since the mid-70s, his jubilant squall nudges Ralske’s wiry, feedback-drenched statements to unbridled heights. Given more room to stretch it would be interesting to hear what these players could accomplish, but the seven-inch format gives these tracks an extreme urgency, as though if one blinked the music’s gifts would be lost. Thanks are due to Minneapolis’ Roaratorio Records for releasing this snapshot (replete with Raymond Pettibon artwork) of an ecstatic DIY moment.” – Clifford Allen, Tiny Mix Tapes
Dissipated Face With Daniel Carter - Live At CBGB 1986
A revelatory debut album by a 64 year old pianist/composer may beg the question: where has Carei Thomas been all this time? Born in a culturally diverse neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Thomas cut his musical teeth in Chicago during a particularly fertile period for that city: gigging with Sun Ra as an improvising vocalist in 1959-60, joining up with the AACM for one hot minute in 1966, co-founding a group called The Light with Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre (which also included Jerome Cooper and Wadada Leo Smith), and forming the compositional concepts that would provide a springboard for tireless exploration in the ensuing decades.
Thomas moved to Minneapolis in 1972, where, in the mode of Horace Tapscott, he eschewed the industry-driven career path, choosing instead to work within the Twin Cities’ community. Recorded live with a group that features, most notably, the unfettered talents of Curlew saxophonist George Cartwright, Mining Our Bid’ness represents the range of Thomas’ no-boundaries Feel Free Ensemble, running the gamut from gorgeous Ellingtonian ballads to combustible free jazz testifying. Packaged in a mini-LP gatefold sleeve, with cover artwork by Judith Lindbloom, and liner notes by, among other contributors, Douglas Ewart and Anthony Cox. Until now, Thomas’ name has been known mostly to fellow musicians (David Murray, Sunny Murray and James Newton are counted among his admirers); this recording serves as the first opportunity for the general public to hear this important figure in the world of creative improvised music.
“Thomas displays an intuitive element for inspiring action from the musicians who surround him….on this series of mostly quintet performances, he works wonders as a stimulating wellspring of ideas.” – Frank Rubolino, One Final Note
“Like Duke Ellington, Thomas conducts via the piano, using it to cue and cajole the ensemble… while his approach is considerably more freewheeling than Ellington’s, the end result is equally appealing.” – Rod Smith, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“His compositions, in true AACM style, are harmonically complex and allow for numerous changes of tempo and instrumentation… ‘Tippy/One Ahead’ says more in nine minutes than most musicians do in a whole album…” – Dan Warburton, The Wire
“[Thomas'] user-friendly compositions lighten the theoretical rigor of avant-jazz with playful humor and friendly tunefulness.” – Cecile Cloutier, City Pages
“It seems that every few years, some unknown treasure of American improvised music pops up after decades of toil in relative obscurity… this is fine, passionate music… a pleasant surprise, and [it] will surely please listeners as it did me.” – Jason Bivins,Cadence
“…[Thomas'] phrasing caresses the ear and his melodies have a yearning quality that makes Cartwright and Sandberg’s in-out-and-back-in solos sound right at home…well worth hearing.” – Francois Couture, All Music Guide
Carei Thomas Feel Free Ensemble – Mining Our Bid'Ness
"Second album by the dream pairing of Joe McPhee and Chris Corsano. A follow up to Under A Double Moon, which featured McPhee’s alto saxophone, Scraps And Shadows finds him largely on tenor. Recorded live in Milwaukee in 2011, the album consists of seven dedicatory pieces, from the delicate balladry of “For Adrienne P” to the appropriately combustible “For Han Bennink.” Corsano’s stupendously detailed drumming and McPhee’s free-soul love cries weave a master latticework together. Cover art by Judith Lindbloom."
“Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee is 72 years old, far enough along that he could be forgiven for kicking back and letting people put laurels upon his brown. But as Fred Anderson, one of the seven dedicatees on this LP of dedications, was reminded every night that he walked off the stage of his club and went right back to stocking the bar, the free-jazz receiving line is a short one.
McPhee knows this, too. Like Anderson, he’s carrying on as he always has, pushing himself to evolve and proving his mettle anew each time he plays. And he makes a special point of celebrating not just the people who’ve come before him, but the people who are making things happen now. Two of the people honored on Scraps and Shadows are no longer with us, but the other five still have earthly hands to receive the bouquets that McPhee and his much younger partner Chris Corsano have picked for them.
But for these two men, paying tribute does not mean making nice; there are plenty of thorns in these bunches of flowers. Sticking mostly to tenor saxophone, McPhee pushes his horn beyond the bounds of convention; he sings through it, or along with it, obtaining otherworldly polytonal effects that’ll put the hairs right up on the back of your neck. He also plumbs his sax for vibrato-laden lines that arc out from whatever cloud the Ayler brothers smile down from these days and gnarled utterances so compacted it’ll take a dozen listens to decode them. He’s more frankly lyrical on his other instruments, using a patiently expressed pocket trumpet melody to set up a fractious tenor-drums duel on “For Paul Flaherty,” and honoring artist/musician/bartender Adrienne Pierlusi with a brief, tender clarinet air.
Corsano is scrupulously attuned to McPhee’s wavelength, using a light rain of cymbal tones to ratchet up haunted anguish of McPhee’s cries on “For Jim Pepper” and powering the saxophonist with gale-force bursts on the unfettered closer “For Han Bennink” before pulling back, way back, to erect the transparent but sturdy scaffold of stick-work for him to ascend at the tune’s end.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted
“Scraps And Shadows is a new duo LP with Joe McPhee [and Chris Corsano]. This time, Mr. McPhee plays mostly tenor sax, and his deep, gurgling tone hits tons of places — from pure R&B honk to ripping fiery gusts of sheer overblown freedom. The pieces are dedicated to different saxophonists and drummers, and the results are a lush, grounded and highly jazzic LP.” – Thurston Moore & Byron Coley, Arthur
“…a lyrical and tough expansion on the art of McPhee and Corsano.” – Clifford Allen, Ni Kantu
Joe Mcphee & Chris Corsano – Scraps and Shadows
Both the 1970 Hope College premiere, performed by a 14-piece ensemble, and a 1977 recording from Wesleyan University, performed by a 43-piece orchestra. The first commercially available release of this eerie, beautiful, and important Oliveros work. “Shortly after it was published in 1968 the SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas fell into my hands. Intrigued by the egalitarian feminist principles set forth in the Manifesto, I wanted to incorporate them in the structure of a new piece that I was composing. The women’s movement was surfacing and I felt the need to express my resonance with this energy. Marilyn Monroe had taken her own life. Valerie Solanas had attempted to take the life of Andy Warhol. Both women seemed to be desperate and caught in the traps of inequality: Monroe needed to be recognized for her talent as an actress. Solanas wished to be supported for her own creative work. Commissioned by the Music Department of Hope College, Holland Michigan, To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of Their Desperation had its premiere in 1970. Though everyone knew Marilyn Monroe hardly anyone recognized Valerie Solanas or took her Manifesto seriously. I brought the names of these two women together in the title of the piece to draw attention to their inequality and to dedicate the piece.” – Pauline Oliveros.
“Much of Oliveros’s aesthetic is best understood as environment, areas of aural doldrums providing momentary and slightly queasy resting points, like the requisite standing back from a massive architectural work to take in the whole before venturing back in. In To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe, the hallmarks of Oliveros’s later philosophy and aesthetic are brought into direct play with politically-charged expressionism. Kudos to Minneapolis-based Roaratorio Records for uncovering such a significant work, a piece of music that will probably scare the living shit out of you. Valerie Solanas would be proud.” – Clifford Allen, Paris Transatlantic
“…it’s beautiful and strange, emotionally articulate, and I also believe it succeeds as a much less stilted approach to open composition than Cardew, Cage or Stockhausen. It is truly natural and unforced organic music, semi-scored and collaborative, making efficient use of the energy of the musicians she works with.” – Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector
**** 4 stars : “Oliveros’ magnum feminist opus has a protracted tonal structure comparable to the work of Giacinto Scelsi. Its tenebrous expressivity is beautifully matched by the cover art…” - All Music Guide
To Valerie Solanas And Marilyn Monroe In Recognition Of Their Desperation: for any group or groups of instrumentalists (6 to large orchestra), Smith Publications, c1977.
1970 Performance: at Wichers Hall, Hope College, Hope, Michigan; 6 October 1970. 1977 Performance: at Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut; 7 April 1977.
Pauline Oliveros - To Valerie Solanas And Marilyn Monroe In Recognition Of Their Desperation
Since 2003, NYC’s Talibam! have been charting a course through the improv waters in a way that few other groups can pull off. Rock, jazz, noise and all stops in between collide in an aggressive mix that defines free music in the best sense of the term: nothing is deemed out of bounds. Too much fun to be a po-faced postmodern exercise, and too expertly played to be sunk in a morass of good intentions, The New Nixon Tapes hurtles through two side-long pieces in an agile cascade of rhythmic and melodic ideas. Kevin Shea (drums) and Matt Mottel (synthesizer) have worked with Cooper-Moore and Rhys Chatham, among others; here they’re joined by master saxophonist / trumpeter / flautist Daniel Carter. Recorded live in the WFMU studios. Digital download coupon included.“…Mottel and Shea move so effortlessly across the musical map, from ESP / BYG brainfry to psychedelic drone to truly evil boogie (try side two), there’s no point in trying to pigeonhole what they do anymore… exciting stuff.” – Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic
“The synth and percussion duet of Talibam! is well-served by the addition of reedsman Daniel Carter, a fixture of the NYC free jazz scene… Melodies shoot in every direction but for as free as it is, it’s expertly guided and adheres to a vicscous vision.” – Justin Wunsch, Dusted
“[Shea] appropriates the spare detail of John Stevens and distracted antics of a young Han Bennink in a churning, ornate approach to free time. The ensemble is quite well-integrated; Carter’s language, while hard-bitten, is equally that of a slightly differential colorist, so his keening exhortations are textural flits rather than blustery overblowing. To a degree, Mottel and Shea appear to soften their playing, foregoing a penchant for raucousness and knitting together an intensively active instrumental landscape… The New Nixon Tapes offers another equally curious side to Talibam’s art, all of which confounds image and expectation to a truly musical point.” – Clifford Allen, The Austinist
“All in all this is really rather enjoyable and will appeal to those who don’t mind some electricity and the invasion of Rock-punk elements into an out soup.” – Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence
Talibam! With Daniel Carter – The New Nixon Tapes
First digital version of long sold out first full-length vinyl outing from this British free music collective, featuring Neil Campbell (A-Band, Total, Sunroof!, numerous solo releases), Julian Bradley (Negative Kite), Bridget Hayden, Michael Flowers, and Adam Davenport.
“…two sides of gloriously ethereal ambient-drone epiphanies that reveal an ensemble remarkably adept at building melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic intensity without ever prompting the listener to think that they are repeating themselves.” – Kevin Lian-Anderson, One Final Note
“…the triumphant glee of turning a Glenn Branca E chord-only symphony into an Eastern psychedelic free for all.” – Jim Haynes, The Wire
“…one of the finest organic ebb ‘n’ flo moments I’ve EVER heard.” – Steve Hanson,Ptolemaic Terrascope
1. September 1999 (i)2. Just Before Christmas 1999 (i)3. Just Before Christmas 1999 (ii)4. Just Before Christmas 1999 (iii)5. September 1999 (iv)6. Just Before Christmas 1999 (iv)7. Just Before Christmas 1999 (v)
Vibracathedral Orchestra – My Gate Is Open, Tremble By My Side
David Maranha’s recordings stretch back over 20 years with the Portuguese avant trio Osso Exótico, as well as collaborations with Z’ev and Minit. A followup to Marches Of The New World (2007), Antarctica is made up of two side-long excursions into monolithic drone-rock. In the vein of Tony Conrad & Faust, “Venus In Furs,” La Monte Young and Terry Riley, Maranha’s ensemble is driven by keyboards, strings, and hypnotized-heartbeat percussion. Like the great white expanse of the titular continent, it can be taken in simply as a glorious wash of sound; listen to it closely, however, and you’ll hear the smallest details jump out in high relief: a feather can move a mountain."
"They started playing this album and there was this really heavy, slow, dragging rhythm to it, a bit like John Cale's viola drones, times a hundred. It sounded so warm that it was like embers from a bonfire." - Elias Rønnenfelt
“The keening violin nicely shorts out most higher thought, the buzzing organ evaporates the rest, and the music’s stolid trudge will lure your pulse into locked step. The textures are raw, the sound hypnotic, the effect nicely time-stopping.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted
“Favoring intensity over sheer volume, Maranha and co achieve a focused minimalism that riff based drone rockers aspire to but cannot reach.” – Nick Southgate, The Wire
“Sottilli le variazioni tra la prima e la seconda facciata (niente titoli): batteria che dipana un 4/4 lento e mortuario, organo che naviga e gorgoglia, violino dissonante che disgena, stira e allunga refrain insistiti, un suono che avvolge e stranisce i sensi colpendo al cuore con movimenti di nostalgia irrimediabile (splendido il lavoro di basso di Pilia e di chitarra di Wanke nel secondo late, un letterale capolavoro) che delineano scenari di ghiaccio immoto, solitudine – bianchissimi.” – Stefano I. Bianchi, Blow Up
David Maranha – Antarctica
In the spring of 1998, guitarist Jeff Fuccillo (Irving Klaw Trio, Wham-O, Hochenkeit) met avant-folk guru John Fahey while opening for his trio at a gig in Portland, Oregon. Fahey was sufficiently impressed, and booked studio time to record Fuccillo for his label. On the day of the session, Fuccillo arrived prepared to make a solo acoustic guitar album. To his surprise, Fahey had brought along a pile of samples — random snatches of music, all manner of sound effects — and without warning, began shooting them out into the studio room through the monitors, effecting a guerrilla collaboration of sorts. Disturbed Strings captures the highlights of that day: veering from hardscrabble stringrattling to modal melodicism, the album is ample testament to Fuccillo’s wide-ranging inventiveness as an improvising guitarist, as well as a window into an aspect of Fahey’s artistry not previously represented on record. Released in an edition of 542 copies, with artwork by Fahey and Judith Lindbloom.
“Damn, what a great record!… The hepness of the way this guy bends and hammers strings makes it impossible to peg stylistically, seeming as it does, to owe equal debts to Derek Bailey, Robbie Basho and Jandek.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
“…an enticing introduction to Fuccillo’s ‘solo’ art, and something that Fahey completists will need to own.” – Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen
“…fascinating and stylistically dizzying…” – Ethan Covey, Dusted
Jeff Fuccillo - Disturbed Strings
On a hot Minneapolis night in the summer of 2001, the legendary avant/jazz group Curlew played a scorching gig at the now-defunct Gus Lucky’s Gallery. Gussie documents that evening: the veteran improvising group dispensed with their compositions altogether and took an eminently successful walk along the free-improv tightrope. The ever-evolving lineup featured George Cartwright (saxophones), Davey Williams (guitar), Chris Parker (piano), Fred Chalenor (bass), and Bruce Golden (percussion). A limited edition of 436 copies, with hand-drawn covers by Anne Elias.
“A monster of soul-churned improv snacks… pressed in fidelity that can only be described as dandy. What a treat.” — Byron Coley, Arthur
“This limited edition LP contains none of that tight avant-jazz riffing any fan of the band is used to. That being said, anyone who has witnessed George Cartwright’s group in the flesh knows that free improv is part of their modus operandi… Once the shock subsides, the intricacy of the playing and the inspiration of the musicians can percolate.” – Francois Couture, All Music Guide
“…shows the group taking chances… Each member plays with surprising restraint, focusing on the creation of gauzy electronic textures that stretch in improbable and satisfying ways.” – James Beaudreau, One Final Note “It’s a woolly pile of noise, but listened to in the right frame of mind, very exciting.” – Jerome Wilson, Cadence “Curlew sound in top form as they scrape, scratch, tinkle and blow their way through a set bulging with surprises and thrilling moments.” – Edwin Pouncey, The Wire
Curlew – Gussie
"Live album by virtuosic musical carpenter Paul Metzger, culled from many hours of concert recordings. Side one comprises Metzger's public debut on his modified banjo, recorded in 2002 at a former church-turned-underground art space in Minneapolis. One of his most memorable compositions, 'After Milo' later turned up as an untitled improvisation on his CD for the Chairkickers label. Jumping ahead six years (and several more banjo alterations later) to side two, the glittering 'Orans' gets a workout at a memorial show for the artist Matt Zaun. As an acknowledgment of the occasion, Metzger also gave a one-time-only performance -- 'Dark Green Water' -- on another of his mutant instruments: an acoustic guitar with the body drilled out to accommodate a cymbal set into its face, and ten assorted strings of varying lengths laid over the top, giving it a particularly metallic and dissonant sound."
1. After Milo - 20:292. Dark Green Water - 7:253. Orans - 13:48
Side one recorded 5 July 2002 at the church, Minneapolis, MN Side two recorded 18 January 2008 at the Ritz, Minneapolis, MN
Paul Metzger – Anamnestic Splitter
A major figure in 20th century arts and music (and beyond), Philip Corner studied with Henry Cowell and Olivier Messiaen, and was one of the original Fluxus conspirators, among other highlights of his long and storied career. As part of the body of his 'Metal Meditations' work, Gong/Ear is a decades-long series of improvisations with dancers. Utilizing his favorite Paiste tam-tam, these two recordings from Corner's NYC Leonard Street loft in 1989 are a feedback loop of perceptions between gong and dance: 'the initiating sound (or is it the dancer's posture?) is made physically audible. Responsive movement is turned back into sound. Musical attentiveness sends it back and it continues.'
It’s 1989 in NYC. Public Enemy is winding them up for “Fight the Power” and Philip Corner is elsewhere, with dancers. He bangs a gong and they get it on. Two long, meditative tracks of nothing but gong and the stray om chant, but what a sound this makes – these are ostensibly cassette recordings but they explore the resonant frequencies of Corner’s favored Paiste tam-tam within the kind of loft space that artists in the city can’t get anymore. These documents allow you to access, against the tension of tape hiss, the entire surface of the instrument, the physicality of playing it and the measurement of that response. Here’s where I’d tell you about Corner’s history in the arts but let’s skip that for now and concentrate on the gong show at hand, a beatific sound that seems to go beyond the realm of meditative and into the connections between our atoms. You can feel this. Edition of 305 with a metal gong mounted on the cover with silkscreened calligraphy. Seriously, you need to experience this.” – Doug Mosurock, Still Single
“Recorded at his New York City loft on two separate dates in April 1989, Gong/Ear: Dance-ing, 1 & 2 forms part of Corner’s continuing metallic meditations exploring the reverberating qualities of bells and other metal objects. Unfolding over many decades, the Gong/Ear series explores the spontaneous feedback between a gong player and a dancer, interacting with each other as they perform together. “Responsive movement is turned back into sound,” he notes of these sessions. “Musicianly attentiveness sends it back and it continues.” The two performances preserved here, one with Claude Cossette and the other with Elisabeth Vittori, convey with direct simplicity the physical intensity of the sounds produced.
Corner’s favourite Paiste tam-tam becomes a sounding board for the entire room: the natural timbre of the instrument is intensified not only by the often vigorous tempi with which he keeps pace with the individual dancers but also by the unpredictable distortions produced as the recording device becomes overloaded by the extreme volume levels produced. These, as Corner specifies in the short sleevenotes to this LP, “are inherent and desired”. The tape machine becomes in effect a third participant in the performance: everything it picks up is accepted as part of the finished piece. There is a wonderful moment near the start of the Vittori session when a telephone rings somewhere in the room, the metallic chimes of its bell contrasting neatly with the resonant swell of the gong; rather than stop the recording and start again, Corner briefly answers the call, barely missing a beat before he continues playing.
This acceptance of the complete and unedited performance as it was recorded is indicative of Corner’s rejection of those aesthetic distinctions that separate music from noise, unanticipated occurrences or the movements of the body.” – Ken Hollings, The Wire
Philip Corner – Gong Ear dance-ing, 1 & 2
It takes a certain amount of confidence for a musician to stand alone on a stage or in a recording studio and play an instrument. One of the few masters of jazz reed instruments, Joe McPhee still proceeds to make music as if for the first time. He is a master of the instruments he plays because, like an athlete, he maintains the physical chops as well as an openness to the application of the musical vocabulary he has cultivated over time.
The music was recorded at a live performance on May 4, 2009, at Local 269, a small club on the Lower East Side of New York City. And, for this performance, he chose to play two instruments rather than one: the alto sax and alto clarinet.
1. Lower East Side Shout (for Alton Pickens) - 13:082. Old Eyes (for Ornette Coleman) - 6:403. W.I.S. (for Warren Smith) - 6:364. Soul Of A Poet (for Steve Dalachinsky) - 8:315. Take The V Train - 6:27
Joe Mcphee – Alto
"A document of Joe McPhee’s first solo concert devoted exclusively to the straight horn, Soprano is both a companion volume to his previous LP for Roaratorio (Everything Happens For A Reason) and a follow up to his classic album Tenor, which raised the bar for solo saxophone music over 30 years ago. Recorded live in St. George’s Church at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 1998, Soprano was inspired by Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening performance at the venue the previous year. The acoustics of the church provided a natural web of reverberation and delay, and compose as much a part of the sonic palette as Michael Overhage’s farmhouse did for Tenor. McPhee’s art is informed by the head and the heart in equal measures, and Soprano is thoughtful, passionate music from one of jazz’s most eloquent practitioners."
“The musicality encountered in each of the four pieces transcends any quotidian meaning of the word… The shape of [Mcphee's] ideation is direct; the underlying message is deep and the beauty of the music, awe-inspiring.” – Lyn Horton, All About Jazz
“…another fine notch in McPhee’s discography of unaccompanied music.” – Clifford Allen, Paris Transatlantic
“Hearing this lovely recital, it’s hard to believe this one sat for nearly a decade… fantastic stuff.” – Jason Bivins, Cadence
“…this album is a wonderful souvenir of Joe’s playing at his most mesmeric and spatial. The way he interacts with the natural acoustics of the chapel is spell-binding.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
1. Response Ability Part I - 8:592. Response Ability Part II - 4:063. A Night On Rose Mountain - 11:214. In Order To Hear - 8:08
Joe Mcphee – Soprano
"In the ever-growing discography of master musician Joe McPhee, his solo albums have stood out as supreme ur-texts of his consummate improvising and compositional skills. Joining the ranks of such landmark records as Tenor, Graphics, and As Serious As Your Life, Everything Happens For A Reason is an unadorned showcase of this influential pioneer in the world of creative improvised music. Recorded live in Austria in November of 2003, Everything Happens For A Reason features McPhee on pocket trumpet, soprano and alto saxophones."
“…this is a magnificent recording and bountiful evidence of McPhee’s spirit-flame.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
“This Roaratorio disc is a thing of beauty…Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee ensures that the sounds that emanate from the speakers are equal to the high quality packaging.” – David Dupont, Cadence
“A beautiful addition to the shelf” – David Keenan, The Wire
(****) 4 stars - Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, 8th edition
Joe McPhee / saxophone, trumpet
1. Mythos - 7:332. Vieux Carre - 9:113. Come Sunday - 7:284. Everything Happens For A Reason - 9:355. J2 - 5:436. Voices - 5:26
Joe Mcphee – Everything Happens For A Reason
Debut of the now classic duo of Corsano & McPhee, recorded at Les Instants Chavirés. “With a career now spanning over 40 years and more than 100 recordings, Joe McPhee has shown that emotional content and theoretical underpinnings are thoroughly compatible — and in fact, a critically important pairing — in the world of creative improvised music. Since recording The Hated Music with Paul Flaherty in 2000, Chris Corsano has been hyper-active in far-reaching corners of the free improvised world. Under A Double Moon, recorded live in Paris during a spring 2010 tour of Europe, is their first album together (and, given how phenomenally simpatico a partnership they’ve forged, we hope it’s not the last).”
“Both Corsano and McPhee share an autodidactic approach to jazz, using anything from thriftstore miscellany to customised electronics to explain the white heat of their creativity. Both have almost unquantifiable discographies that extend well beyond the confines of ‘jazz’; McPhee studied Deep Listening techniques with Pauline Oliveros and Corsano has sparred with everyone from Jim O’Rourke to Björk. Both have lived in Europe, enjoying the hospitality extended to innumerable US free jazz expats that had eluded them in their native terrain. Most impressively, both are lavishly gifted musicians. If McPhee’s 1969 album, Underground Railroad, represented a watershed in high velocity, second generation free blowing, then Corsano’s debut with Paul Flaherty, The Hated Music, saw the drummer pick up the baton, skewer a bouncing ball with it and rub it against a cymbal until it sang like a sea lion. Suffice to say Under A Double Moon goes beyond the scorched-earth Fire Music you might expect. The two long tracks that comprise side one, “Dark Matter: Parts 1 And 2”, shows Corsano at his most flexible as he switches from gamelan-inflected tuned percussion to subtle brushwork to omnivorous hard bop, providing a multiplicity of textures for McPhee’s assorted reeds. McPhee is dominant in the mix, which can obscure the sheer multi-dimensionality of Corsano’s drumming, but both players leave ample room for the other to solo. In fact, both use silence like a weapon – loading the pauses with dramatic intent before unleashing another blizzard of ideas. “For Giuseppe Logan” is an exuberant tribute to the underrated ESP-Disk alto player and is probably the most melodically engaging piece, while album closer “In Lieu Of Flowers” is a beautifully ponderous, starspangled soprano workout that shows yet another dimension to their repertoire. This is an intricately detailed set by two titanic players, spanning two generations. The fire ain’t out yet, baby.” – Alex Neilson, The Wire
Joe Mcphee & Chris Corsano – Under A Double Moon
Paul Metzger continues to pile up the plaudits from critics and peers alike for his virtuosic string-slinging, gaining notice through his CD on Chairkickers and his split LP with Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano on Roaratorio. Metzger’s modified banjo is tricked out with additional sympathetic raga strings, although the compositions onGedanken Splitter are informed by much more than Eastern drone music alone. Recorded in the same period as 2007’s Deliverance on Locust Music, this is a more jagged and aggressive (although no less accessible) affair. Metzger winds these improvisations around thornier threads than on his previous releases, and while never turning completely abstract, Gedanken Splittermoves even further away from anything resembling typical banjo fare. This is mesmerizing and singular playing.“Gedanken Splitter is ferocious, frantic, yet entirely on-course — easily Metzger’s most aggressive waxing yet.” – Bill Meyer, Signal To Noise
“Metzger’s furious banjo virtuoso returns for another perplexing, yet rewarding set of avant-tantrums. Taking on percussive qualities as well as sounding like a mutation of sitar, steel acoustic, and banjo just, he’s restrung and modified his instrument to take on tasks it was never designed for, so his composition accounts for what he’s allowed himself to do as much as where his head is to bring it across. Since nobody else has ever written for this variation of the instrument before, a lot of what you hear on Metzger’s recordings takes this innovation into account, tempering clawhammer playing styles with what he’s been able to create outside of it, applying an atonal, clashing chord structure across prickly rhythmic playing. Use of space seems to be frowned upon, and few notes are allowed to ring out as Metzger thrashes away at his monstrosity, playing in uncharted territory and shaking up the audience in the process. Engaging but quite uneasy.” – Doug Mosurock, Dusted
“If Paul Metzger’s last album Deliverance evinced his yearning to free the banjo from the shackles of convention, Gedanken Splitter shows what comes after the chains hit the earth… Metzger’s attack is unmatched in the new American Primitive camp.” – Bill Meyer, The Wire
“His music can remind you of a raga with its long introductory sections and spiraling modal fretwork, or suggest a careening detuned front porch blues, but it’s often hard to relate what he’s doing to any familiar musical style.” – Clifford Allen, Signal To Noise
“A stellar little record” – Patrick Marley, Bixobal
Paul Metzger / banjo, guitar
Recorded by Dave Onnen.
Paul Metzger – Gedanken Splitter
The Al Maslakh label (translation: The Slaughterhouse) has been documenting far-thinking sounds from the small but vital Lebanese scene since 2005. The “A” Trio’s first release, Music To Our Ears, was one of the most startling debuts of 2011; now, Roaratorio is proud to present their second album (and first vinyl release): Live In Nickelsdorf, recorded at the Konfrontationen Festival in 2012. While far from the first to employ extended techniques on their respective instruments, Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet), Sharif Sehnaoui (acoustic guitar), and Raed Yassin (doublebass) create a music that bears little relation to others who traffic in the same outer realms. Heavily textural, frequently perplexing, sometimes unsettling but always suffused with a provocative intelligence, this is the sound of a collective ur-mind that favors the long gesture over pointillistic strokes. Their capacity for generating aural illusions – one would be hard-pressed to identify the instrumentation as three acoustic instruments, with no electronics or overdubs whatsoever – is astounding, but it’s their skill at harnessing these uncanny tones into a consistently engaging and powerful sound-world that elevates the “A” Trio into the front rank of contemporary improvisational groups.
“Having taken their exploration of acoustic extended techniques even further on again from their 2010 debut, so little remains of the traditional sound of trumpet, guitar and double bass that it feels like the relevant traditions have been passed through a mincing machine. It’s so oppressive and frequently unnerving in its insistent and uncompromising intensity that when traditional instrument sounds do poke their heads up through the subterranean grittiness, they serve as a reminder of how remarkable the trio’s unedited, overdub-free approach really is.” – Richard Pinnell, The Wire
Sharif Sehnaoui / acoustic gutarRaed Yassin / double bassMazen Kerbaj / trumpet
Recorded live at the Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf on Saturday 21st of July 2012 during the 33rd Konfrontationen Festival. Photography by Tanya Traboulsi. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Michael W. Huon.
"A" Trio – Live In Nickelsdorf