In 1976, Joe McPhee recorded the landmark album Tenor, kicking off a solo period of finding and refining the distinctive voice that continues to inform his music to this day. Solos : The Lost Tapes (1980 – 1981 – 1984) is a collection of material from McPhee’s personal archives that shines new light on the legendary multi-instrumentalist’s work during this time. “Wind Cycles,” for tenor saxophone, explores the permutations of breath on reed and brass, from quiet whispers to full-throated cries and back again. With “The Redwood Rag,” McPhee takes a jaunty melody and gives it a swinging workout with Steve Lacy-like precision. The free-blowing alto excursion “Ice Blu” is, in McPhee’s words, “a sound which evokes an image, which asks a question ‘What is that?’ and the answer is, a sound which evokes an image which asks a question.” “Voices,” one of his signature compositions, gets a particularly haunting treatment here on soprano, with McPhee incorporating various electronics to mesmerizing effect. All together, Solos : The Lost Tapes (1980 – 1981 – 1984) is the distilled essence of one of the most important creative improvising musicians of our time.
“Whether it’s amplifying keypad pops or finding harmonics that split his notes into a mass of complex, unfurling tones, he gets you with a feeling as well as a sound… Although McPhee’s music is without compromise, he’s always struck me an excellent gateway figure for people trying to get a handle on free improvisation because the connections between his confrontational and approachable sides is never too hard to find.” – Bill Meyer, Still Single
Joe McPhee / saxophones, electronics
Artwork by Judith Lindbloom
Joe McPhee - Solo : The Lost Tapes (1980 - 1981 - 1984)
"These rehearsal tapes are anything but demo recordings. They are the building blocks for live performances, extended arranged samples. Sun Ra's constant rehearsals were more than just practice. The music here is meditative, soul nurturing medicine." - Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
One might think, with a discography as extensive as the one Sun Ra boasts, that the scope of his work has been fully apprehended by this point, but The Intergalactic Thing demonstrates its seemingly bottomless depths. This is not a complete surprise: anyone who saw Ra and the Arkestra perform will remember the sight of the band quickly shuffling through an imposingly thick stack of sheet music, when Sunny would call the next tune on the program with an encrypted hint on his keyboard. Band members tell stories of spending long hours practicing a newly-written composition, only to never play it again. Here, we have a taste of what’s been hidden: drawn from rehearsals at the Sun Ra house in Philadelphia from 1969, The Intergalactic Thing introduces a dozen never-before-heard pieces from Ra’s songbook – tunes that may have never even made it to the bandstand, let alone the recording studio – along with a handful of reworkings of such Ra classics as “Spontaneous Simplicity” and “The Exotic Forest.” Without a doubt, this is one of the most important augmentations to the Sun Ra catalog in many a moon.
Danny Davis / saxophone, flute, percussionMarshall Allen / saxophone, oboe, flute, percussionDanny Ray Thompson / saxophone, percussionAlex Blake / bassKeno Speller / congasRashid Salim IV / congasLex Humphries / drumsNimrod Hunt / drumsSun Ra / organ, clavinetJames Jacson / percussionCharles Stephens / trombone, percussionAkh Tal Ebah / percussion, trumpet, mellophone
Recorded August - November 1969, Sun Studios, Philadelphia, PA
Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra - The Intergalactic Thing
Roaratorio’s survey of the unheard Sun Ra continues with Sun Embassy. Consisting of recordings from Sun Studios (aka Ra’s house in Philadelphia) from 1968-1969, the album features nine tracks : six compositions which have never been heard before in any form, plus fresh coats of paint on such 1950s classics as “Sunology” and “Ancient Aiethiopia,” and an early rendition of “Why Go To The Moon?”. Essential listening for Sun Ra devotees.
Danny Davis / alto saxophone (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B2, B4, B5) flute (tracks: B1, B2)Marshall Allen / alto saxophone (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B2-B5) flute (tracks: A1, A4, B1, B2) piccolo flute (tracks: B4, B5)Ronnie Boykins / bassDanny Ray Thompson / bongos, flute (tracks: B1)John Gilmore / clarinet, tenor saxophone (tracks: A3, A4, B2-B5)Sun Ra / clavinet (tracks: A2, A4) organ (tracks: A3, B1, B3-B5) space master (tracks: B2)Carl Malone aka Nimrod Hunt / congas (tracks: B1)Lex Humphries / drums (tracks: A1, A3, B4, B5) Charles Stevens / trombone (tracks: A4)Walter Miller / trumpet (tracks: B2)
"The Stranger" recorded 1968-05-14."Dance of Fire" and "Cosmic Strut" recorded 1968-06-21."Why Go To The Moon?" and "Ancient Aethiopia" recorded 1968-08-08."Walk Around Saturn" recorded 1969-06-28."My Reality Is Real," "Sun Embassy," and "Sunology" recorded 1969-10-21.
Produced by Michael D. Anderson. Artwork by Emily Kaplan. Recorded at Sun Studios 1968-69)
Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra - Sun Embassy
“Les Barricades Mistérieuses,” the harpsichord gem by French Baroque composer François Couperin, has been a long-running source of exploration for Fluxus musician Philip Corner, who for years has used it as a jumping-off point for piano improvisations. Through Two More-Than-Mysterious Barricades comprises two very different takes on the same piece. The first dates from 1992, in collaboration with dancer Paulette Sears (who provides the ‘singings and screamings’ of the album’s subtitle); it moves from a frenzy of abstraction to a more meditative take on Couperin’s composition, with diversions and tributaries along the way. The second, from 2004, is a rougher beast: recorded with wildly over-saturated levels, the tape machine itself becomes a participant in the performance, with its heavy distortion bringing out stormclouds of overtones from Corner’s piano."
Paulette Sears / vocals
Philip Corner / piano
Improvisations after François Couperin. And more-of un-ashamed microphone in(ter)vention with Singings and Screamings
Philip Corner - Through Two More-Than-Mysterious Barricades
At age 78, Joe McPhee shows no sign of slowing down. Plan B is the master improviser’s new trio, with James Keepnews on guitar & laptop and David Berger on drums. A soundtrack to a science fiction movie existing only in their heads, From Outer Space finds McPhee and company envisioning the first encounter between alien life and a delegation of earthlings (while giving a nod to jazz’s original man from another planet, Sun Ra, with a side-long suite dedicated to him). It’s quite unlike anything else in McPhee’s vast discography. Cover art by Judith Lindbloom.
“Joe McPhee, who is one-third of the trio Plan B, was born in 1939. He’s old enough to have had the opportunity to see Buck Rogers in the newspaper, laser guns on projected in black and white on neighbourhood cinema screens, and Plan Nine From Outer Space upon its initial release. I can’t tell you if he actually did any of these things, but this much is known: McPhee is a science fiction fan of long-standing; he’s still making new work and taking real chances at the age of 78; and his playing is laser-like in its concentration of information drawn from his own life, the histories of jazz and improvised music, the complicated story of the USA and its relationship with its African-descended residents; and whatever is happening at the second he puts one of his several horns (pocket trumpet and alto and tenor saxophones on this record) to his lips. There’s always a lot of information in every note, reaction, and reference, and so it is with this LP.” - Francis Gooding, The Wire
Joe McPhee / tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet
James Keepnews / guitar, electronics
David Berger / drums
Artwork by Judith Lindbloom.
Plan B - From Outer Space
In an everlasting process that continuously repositions and reevaluates infinity as a consciously unachievable but ultimately rewarding goal since the early 90′s, David Maranha’s music has been riding that arc with ferocity and aplomb. A unique vision that has been translating the ETERNAL in a sprawling language through countless performances, approaches and records like Marches of the New World and the Roaratorio-released classic Antarctica. Always the unsettled mind, Maranha conveys his spiraling vision towards its core with this new ensemble. Comprised of Diana Combo on drums, Filipe Felizardo on electric guitar and David himself on organ and violin, they are a speculative tour de force around animic and sensory principles of movement, stillness and reaction. Long drawn out semi-riffs feedback along the drifting textures of the violin and the organ like rock’s ultimate coda stretched into nowhere. Drums plodding in restraint, sustaining the drone-like vortex of electricity without ever reaching any sort of conclusion in four pieces that inhabit their own universe continually. As it should.” – Bruno Silva
“Sometimes a man’s just got to cut loose, and so it has been with David Maranha. The Portuguese multi-instrumentalist (organ, violin) has been exploring the sounds that escape when drones rasp against each other for some time, but recently he’s turned up the rock elements in his sound. On Sombras Incendiadas, his duo with cellist Helena Espvall, that involved the radiant amplification of savagely stroked strings, but the flow of energy reverses on this recording. Maranha, guitarist Filipe Felizardo, and drummer Diana Combo seem less unconcerned with progress or any other sort of outward-bound motion. Instead they bear down on the riffs and repeat the beats, pounding the music into a ground that’s shrinking and crumbling, drawn into a black hole core. Sure, feedback tendrils escape and swipe around like sea monster tentacles swiping hapless sailors off some old whaling vessel, but they’re inescapably drawn back into the deep. Imagine how White Light/White Heat might have sounded if Faust’s drummer had taken over the band, broken the vocal mics, and thrown out all the songs, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this record is like.” – Bill Meyer, Dusted
Portuguese composer/EAI savant David Maranha has been in the game since the early ‘90s, having collaborated with artists as diverse as Z’EV, guitarist/cellist Helena Espvall (Espers), and Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai. In this lineup, alongside guitarist Felipe Filazardo and drummer Diana Combo, he explores every centimeter of the rough surface between his violin and its bow, along with a prepared organ, as guitars buzz and slash away underneath, and martial drumming pounds out the time. The scrape of Maranha’s violin bow remains the heaviest and most deliberate element of this sound, like a rusty anchor dragging across a scrapyard of a record that fits more comfortably amidst a small group of bands (Swans, Nohome, Caspar Brotzmann Massaker) than in a genre. You won’t soon forget it.” – Doug Mosurock, Still Single
Diana Combo / drumsFilipe Felizardo / electric guitarDavid Maranha / organ, violin
Recorded John Klima at Scratch Built Studio, on the 29th of July 2015 (A1), and on the 14th of September (A2, B1, B2). Mixed by David Maranhaat Violante do Céu in October 2015. Mastered at Esme by Christophe Albertijn. Cover photo from the sculpture tríptico by David Maranha, Manuel Mota.
David Maranha Ensemble – Salt, Ashes, Goat Skin
When psycho-spatial composer Nelson Gastaldi passed away in 2009 at the age of 77, he left behind a unique musical legacy that is only now beginning to be unveiled. A self-described “musical nihilist with noble and mystic origins” (as well as an accomplished visual artist), Gastaldi supported himself and his family with a job at an electric company in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while creating an astonishing body of work that went virtually unheard during his lifetime. Synthesizing his wide-ranging interests (medicine, linguistics, Chinese and German philosophy) into his music, he welcomed paranormal / initiatic experiences into the compositional process, creating homemade Sibelius-meets-Sun Ra symphonies. The only previous publication of his work was in Bananafish magazine, which featured an excerpt of Symphony No. 3 on an accompanying CD. The same issue also contained his sole English-language interview, in which he waxed: “The human being runs at the side of a river. When he is young, he runs faster than the river; in mid-life he runs at the same speed as the river; and at last he falls down and the river keeps going.” Take a dip into the strange and beautiful river of Nelson Gastaldi. Download coupon included.
Bananafish has kindly allowed the interview with Gastaldi to be accessed here.
“Argentinian outsider composer Nelson Gastaldi (1932-2009) comes across like a character from a Borges story, or maybe Don Quixote himself. ‘I’m a musical nihilist with noble and mystic origins,’ he confided in his one and only interview to Bananafish magazine. ‘I’ve experimented with pure sound — the crepitations of a fried egg, for example. Besides timbral explorations of specific objects, I have employed techniques like composing aleatory music based on feeding doves, listening to music inside dreams, and using numerology as a compostional tool.’
When Reynols member Roberto Conlazo met Gastaldi in Buenos Aires in 2003, he was astonished to behold him compile symphonic works using small cassette recorders and Casio keyboards, lots of toys, Chinese mechanical birds and a trumpet. Gastaldi clearly had colossal musical ambition, unconfined by his extremely limited resources: this is a symphony in three movements conceived along 19th century lines but with 20th century concerns such as micro- and polytonality stirred in. It takes a moment to adjust to his sound — lo-fi Bruckner with synth marimbas — after which it’s easy to be swept along.
The start of the second movement is orchestral, courtesy of Casio: strings hand over to brass, tympani crash in, but Gastaldi’s more emotional moments are even stranger, a ‘lost in space’ gamelan — and is that a wailing baby who has somehow made it onto the tape? Presumably he was constantly rerecording from machine to machine, so room sounds creep in and the whole work acquires a strange patina only possible in Gastaldi’s hyper-analogue world. As the composer himself put it, ‘With music there is always the possibility that you will fly.’ ” – Clive Bell, The Wire
“The story goes that a cab driver in Buenos Aires once threatened bandoneon player and Nuevo tango composer Astor Piazzolla for his crimes against the tango. He might given himself the ceremonial Mohawk and gone totally Travis Bickle if he’d ever gotten Nelson Gastaldi into his car, because Gastaldi does things with this symphony that you just shouldn’t do. The most noticeable transgressions are instrumental. Gastaldi, who died in 2009 at the age of 77, never released an album and never got an orchestra to perform his music throughout his life. He got around these barriers by performing and recording his music himself using bicycle wheels, wind-up toys, and a pneumatic hammer. Symphony No. 3: Siddhartha Gautama Or The Power Of Nothingness, his first recording to obtain commercial release, is relatively conventional; the strings and brass are supplied by Casio keyboards, the percussion by what sounds like a toy xylophone, and the bird cries by one of those wind-up toys. On first listen it sounds a little bit like late-‘60s Sun Ra, mainly because of the murky recording (Gastaldi used Sony black box cassette recorders and normal bias tape), but also because of the music’s outsized drama. Once you get past the recording quality, the piece’s links to 19th century orchestral music are pretty plain. If this symphony is anything to go by, Gastaldi got off the bus before Webern got on; there’s not a lot of dissonance beyond that generated by his crude tools. But neither does it proceed on a path towards conventional development and resolution. Rather, it’s discursive, elaborating on melodic notions, then revising them, then jumping to some other idea that seems like a footnote but changes the scene like clicking on a hypertext link. Roaratorio, a label that still flies the Rodd Keith flag with pride, seems like a good home for this music, and they’ve treated it well; it comes on clean black vinyl, the sleeve looks suitably paranormal, and it comes with a download coupon for those late night walks in the park. Oh, while Gastaldi never got to conduct an orchestra, he did jam with Reynols, whose Anla Courtis supplied Bananafish magazine with a mind-bending interview with the maestro in issue 18. You can read it here - Bill Meyer, Still Single
“A DELIGHTFUL AIRSCAPE. I RECOMMEND IT FOR ALL LOVERS OF EXPERIMENTAL COMPOSITION.” – Grant Hart
Composed By Nelson Gastaldi. Liner notes by Roberto Conlazo. Mastered by Carl SaffT. Tapes restored by Pablo Fagoaga, Rob Conlazo. English translation: "Siddhartha Gautama Or The Power Of Nothingness." Recorded 1972-1997.
Digital recording from the original Nelson Gastaldi home tapes.Photos: Reynols archives.
Nelson Gastaldi - Symphony No. 3