Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunny Murray/Untouchable Factor: Charred Earth

The info:
Sunny Murray/The Untouchable Factor-Charred Earth
Kharma 1 USA rec NYC 1/1/77


Sunny Murray-Drums
Byard Lancaster-Reeds
Dave Burrell-Piano
Bob Reid-Bass


1. Charred Earth
2. Seven Steps to Heaven
3. Tree Tops
4. Happiness Tears
5. Peace
The album is from a live gig that opened up the new year in 1977. The title track starts the record off on a dark, solemn note. I guess after seeing way too much news footage of buildings that have been firebombed and of dead bodies burned beyond recognition as the powers that be pursue a scorched earth policy in Iraq and elsewhere, that the term "charred earth" takes on an especially urgent air to it. The pace picks up significantly on "Seven Steps to Heaven" with a rhythm section that lurches as Byard Lancaster solos - let's just say these cats tear the roof off the sucka. "Tree Tops" goes into free jazz ballad mode, with a soothing melody provided by Lancaster on sax (not to worry, he provides fire as needed, especially about 5 or so minutes into the tune), a droning bowed bass in the background, and Murray and Burrell providing some fireworks (albeit subdued). "Happiness Tears" is a pleasant, up-tempo piece that veers almost into boppish territory. "Peace" rounds out the album on a hopeful ballad-like tip, picking up where the previous tune left off while slowing things down a few notches. Lancaster and Burrell both get plenty of solo time on these last two tracks. I don't really know anything about the bassist, but he seems to hold his own throughout the gig with these free jazz veterans. Again, Murray doesn't really solo per se on the album, but his drumming provides the pulse and thus propels the music throughout.

Sound quality is reasonably good. Expect the usual snap-crackle-pop that comes from mp3 rips from vinyl.

Download Charred Earth

Sunny Murray: Big Chief

The Info:
Sunny Murray - Big Chief
(EMI Pathe LP, 1969)


1. Angels and Devils
2. Hilarious Paris
3. Now We Know
4. Angel Son
5. Straight Ahead
6. This Was Nearly Mine


Sunny Murray - drums
Francois Tusques - piano
Alan Silva - violin
Bernard Guerin - bass
Bernard Vilet - trumpet
Kenneth Terroade - tenor sax
Ronnie Beer - alto sax
Becky Friend - flute
H.Leroy Bibbs - poem

Recorded January 11, 1969 at studio ETA, Paris
This album starts out with a bang. "Angels and Devils" is pure free jazz cacaphony at its finest, with the fun starting just as soon as the theme is stated and quickly abandoned. "Hilarious Paris" proceeds in a similar manner, this time sticking with the opening theme for the first minute before the collective improv takes over. "Now We Know" puts the sax players in the spotlight, though just barely, as they scream above the rest of the ensemble - followed by an extended solo by Tusques on piano. "Angel Son" takes the volume and tempo down a few notches, but not the intensity. Flute, piano, and violin figure prominently on this piece, that has a dirge-like quality to it. "Straight Ahead" follows on a similar vibe, this time featuring spoken word by Bibbs, and violin, trumpet, and saxes prominent in the mix. The last track, "This Was Nearly Mine" ends the album on a lyrical tip - a free jazz hymnal that one can hum to while listening. Even though Murray doesn't really take any of the spotlight for himself per se, his presence as the drummer and anchor for each tune is always felt.

Some of Sunny Murray's albums are in that hard-to-impossible-to-find category, and Big Chief is one of 'em. Aside from its initial run in 1969, I am under the impression that there has not been a proper reissue of this album. Murray's larger combo albums are quite a ride, so don't miss this one.

Download Big Chief

Here's the re-up of the high-quality (256 kbps) mp3 version of Big Chief.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Andrew Cyrille & Milford Graves: Dialogue of the Drums

The info:
Andrew Cyrille & Milford Graves - Dialogue Of The Drums
(Institute Of Percussive Studies LP, 1974)

side 1:
1. Message To The Ancestors 10.14
2. Blessing From The Rain Forest 6.16
3. Nagarah (Tymapni Duet) 6.16
4. Rejuvenation 5.19

side 2:
1. The Soul Is The Music 7.46
2. The Substance Of The Vision 7.07
3. Call and Response 6.13

ripped by murksonic
cleaned up by nonwave
A review via
Two drummers with roots in the groups of Cecil Taylor (among many others) joined forces for this live performance at Columbia University in 1974. Both musicians are steeped in African drum traditions as well as being free improvisers of the highest order, so it's not surprising that the resulting concert is highly rhythmic, densely "noisy," and always very imaginative. Utilizing an enormous arsenal of percussive instruments in addition to the standard drum set, Cyrille and Graves, as the album title suggests, engage in intense conversations with each other, interacting with loose precision and exploding into frenzies of clattering assault. Isolating the individual contributions is virtually fruitless, but one can discern Cyrille's patented foot stomps and body smackings, as well as Graves' vocalizations and call and response activities with the audience. The LP release is something of a collector's item, but the bracing and unusual music make it one well worth seeking out.
This album is a drum/percussion lover's paradise. As the title suggests, this really is a dialogue - between the musicians through their instruments and between the musicians and audience. As far as I know there has never been a proper digital reissue, but thankfully these mp3s sound reasonably good. Enjoy!

Download Dialogue of the Drums

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Leo Smith: Human Rights

First some info:
Leo Smith
Human Rights
Gramm/Kabell records

1. Ethiopia/Africa
2. Don't You Remember
3. Freedom Song
4. Rastafari #4

5. Humanismo Justa (human rights)
6. Trutmonda Muziko (world music)

Leo Smith: voice, trumpet, chinese hand gong, mbira, fluegelhorn, percussion
Stanya: guitar, synthesizers on 3
James Emery: guitar on 1, 4
Thurman Barker: drums on 1, 4
Michele Navazio: acoustic guitar, synth bass on 1, 4
Tadao Sawai: kotos, percussion on 6
Peter Kowald: bass, tuba, percussion on 6
Guenter Sommer: drums, percussion on 6

recorded between 1982 and 1985

a rip by nonwave
thanks to d. smith
I don't often post 1980s recordings here, but every now and then I stumble across a gem that is worth passing along. Leo Smith (these days known as Wadada Leo Smith) recorded this album in the early to mid 1980s and as I understand it, the album was released in the mid 1980s, before vanishing in the ether. Side 1 has some definite 1980s touches, from the electric guitar stylings that would fit within any rock or fusion band of the period, but it never sounds corny or over-produced. Mainly the tunes on the first side are a mix of jazz, reggae, funk, and blues - some of it instrumental, some of it includes Smith singing. Side 2 is a whole different experience altogether, and starts out with a spoken word statement by Smith, followed by some spirited world music-inspired free improv jamming that goes on for nearly a half hour. To an extent it reminds me of the music that trumpeter & multi-instrumentalist Don Cherry had been doing during the 1970s and 1980s, and I can easily imagine that fans of Cherry's world fusion recordings will like this offering as well.

It would have been a difficult recording for marketing wonks to categorize, and I really think the recording deserves to be simply listened to for what it is - nothing more, nothing less. The sound quality on this one seems pretty good. Still would be great if a proper digital reissue became available.

Download Human Rights

Friday, November 17, 2006

Marion Brown: Duets

Duets is actually a compilation of two albums: Creative Improvisation Ensemble and Soundways. What I'll be sharing for your listening pleasure are the two separate albums. The info:

Marion Brown/Leo Smith: Creative Improvisation Ensemble

Freedom FLP-40136
Freedom/Trio Kenwood PA-9717 (J) [cover, back cover]
Freedom TKCB-70334 (J) (CD) [cover, back cover]

May 12, 1970
Paris, France

1. Centering [1:12] (Leo Smith)
2. Njung-Lumumba Malcolm [18:05] (Leo Smith)
3. And Then They Danced [16:05] (Marion Brown)
4. Rhythmus #1 [3:30] (Leo Smith, Marion Brown)

Marion Brown (as, perc, etc.)
Leo Smith (tp, petc, etc.)

Marion Brown/Elliott Schwartz: Soundways

Century V-41746 (US)

February 18, 1973
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, USA (live)

1. Soundways [19:33] (Marion Brown, Elliott Schwartz)
2. Soundways Part 2 [20:14] (Marion Brown, Elliott Schwartz)

Marion Brown (as, cl, p, perc)
Elliott Schwartz (p, synth)
The sound on each record is spare and spontaneous, and each record has its own unique character - with Leo Smith on the first album, you'll get some trumpet in the mix; with Elliott Schwartz, the sound of the synthesizer makes its presence felt at various points in the recording. The touchstones for both records are Brown's Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (which consists of a larger ensemble) and various recordings of the period by the AACM crew. Aside from the last two tracks on Creative Improvisation Ensemble, none of this music has seen a proper digital reissue. A pity really, as both outings offer some spirited and rewarding listening.

Download Creative Improvisation Ensemble

Download Soundways

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blogging around

I thought I'd point out a few other interesting downloads that y'all should check out.

First via Reality Unit Concepts, check out two very hard-to-find avant-garde jazz barn-burners: Byron Morris & Gerald Wise - "Unity" and Ofamfa - "Children of the Sun". The latter will be of interest to folks digging on some of the Black Artists Group & Human Arts Ensemble material I've posted on my blog - and of course it will be of interest to those who dig on what cats like Last Poets and Watts Prophets were doing back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Note that Reality Unit Concepts is planning on upping some more BAG recorded material in the near future.

The blog church number nine has all sorts of cool recordings to check out on a free/avant-garde tip, including more Frank Wright recordings than you can shake a stick at (all of which are out of print and hard to find), an Arthur Doyle recording (Live at the Dorsch Gallery), and several Noah Howard recordings (Berlin Concert, Live in Europe Vol. 1, and Schizophrenic Blues).

The blog pharaohsdance has among other items Juju's classic Strata-East album A Message from Mozambique.


Frank Wright: One for John

The info:
Frank Wright
One For John

Frank Wright - tenor sax
Noah Howard - alto sax
Bobby Few - piano
Muhammad Ali - drums

Recorded 12/5/1969, Studio Saravah, Paris, France

Released on BYG/Actuel, catalogue # 529336

1. China
2. One for John
Frank Wright's ensembles tended to tear the roof off the sucka - in particular those joints featuring Noah Howard. If you're already a fan of Frank Wright's music, you know what to expect. Be forewarned, the sound quality is a bit dodgy in spots, especially near the beginning of "China" where the vinyl sounds as if it's skipped. I keep hoping for a proper digital reissue. So far, no dice. In the meantime, this one will suffice.

Download One for John.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Frank Wright: Center of the World Vol. 1

This recording and its companion (Center of the World Vol. 2: Last Polka in Nancy?) are well worth tracking down. Both were reissued toward the end of the last decade on Fractal, and are back to out of print status. If you can find either cd, it'll fetch a premium these days.

The info:
Frank Wright Quartet-Center of the World

Center of the World 001 F recorded at Rotterdam, Doelen 5/26/72
Alan Silva-b,cel,voc; Muhammad Ali-d,voc; Bobby Few-p,voc; Frank Wright-ts,voc
1. Center of the World, Part 1 (Wright/Silva/Few) 19:51
2. Center of the World, Part 2 (Wright/Silva/Few) 19:45

Bonus tracks for cd reissue (Fractal FRAC 006) recorded at Detmold, Neue Anta 1978
3. No End (Wright) 17:32
4. Church Number 9 (Wright) 13:11
Review from
Originally recorded in 1972 in Rotterdam, this Frank Wright date stands as one of the unsung classics of the free jazz era. For years sought out by collectors at outrageous prices, the folks at Fractal have done us all a favor and reissued the original album on CD with two previously unreleased performances from a reunion date in 1978. Featuring Wright on tenor and bass clarinet, pianist Bobby Few, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Muhammad Ali (no, not that one), the music captured here is one vast exploratory landscape where anything went and the intensity is blistering. While Wright is the leader of the ensemble and was capable of blowing the hell out of his horn, the true star on these sessions is Few, who joined Steve Lacy's Sextet upon departure from this group. Few doesn't support Wright -- he drives him, pushes him to the limit and causes Silva to seek refuge in Ali's drums. There are vast tonal expanses being explored here, and it's only Few who can map them, from both outside and inside the piano. His use of right-hand arpeggios is stunning considering the size of the chords he's laying out with the left. Far more lyrical than Cecil Taylor, Few pushes the range of Wright's instruments to the very limit of his abilities to play them and then extends them a bit. The title track is almost 40 minutes long and stands as a free jazz endurance test. Wright astonishes for many reasons, not the least of which is his ability to blow at the intensity he does for the entire gig. The 1978 show is more laid-back, and the band makes use of ostinato and other kinds of repetition to create the myth of a tune á la Albert Ayler, especially in "No End." Here Wright plays the insistent "call-to-prayer-and-revelation" honk that Ayler loved so much, and Few works with Silva (who is badly recorded on these two tracks) to bring up an entire battery of responses that shift meter, tone, and, because of the consistency of the phrasing, intervallic shifts and staggers. Throughout, Ali plays his best Elvin Jones, and pulls it off; his are the sticks that usher in the speed of this freight train of movement and fluidity, and he dances the kit with propulsion and true grit. Whatever you do, get this.
Due to file size issues, I've broken this up into two parts. Part one consists of the two sides from the original recording. Part two consists of the bonus tracks included on the cd reissue.

Download Center of the World Vol. 1, part one.

Download Center of the World Vol. 2, part two.

Note: Image courtesy of stofftreiber. Thanks!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

RIP Malachi Ritscher

A note in passing: Malachi Ritscher, a fixture in the Chicago jazz scene, passed away earlier this month. My take on the story can be read here. Today, November 12, there is a memorial at Elastic for those in the Chicago area who may be interested.

Milford Graves & Don Pullen: Nommo

The info:
Milford Graves (dr,perc)
Don Pullen (p)

Rec. 30.4.1966 in New Haven
LP: SRP LP-290 (1967)


Side 1:

Side 2:
Spirited drum/piano duet, that's been out of print forever. I have no idea when or if it will ever get a proper digital reissue. In the meantime we have this 192 kbps mp3, ripped from vinyl by someone named nonwave. It actually sounds pretty decent. Both Don Pullen and Milford Graves have had fascinating careers.

Download Nommo.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Charles Bobo Shaw & Lester Bowie: Bugle Boy Bop

The details:
Label: Muse Records
Catalog#: MR 5268
Format: LP
Country: US
Released: 1983
Genre: Jazz
Style: Free Jazz


Drums - Charles Bobo Shaw
Producer - Michael Cuscuna
Trumpet - Lester Bowie
Notes: This album was recorded live at Studio Rivbea on February 5, 1977.


A1 Bugle Boy Bop (6:11)
A2 Go Bo (6:00)
A3 Cootie's Caravan Fan (3:55)
A4 Latin Recovery (4:17)
B1 The Girth Of The Cool (7:28)
B2 Chop'n Rock (6:29)
B3 Finito, Benito (6:23)
This is a trumpet & drum duet that will please fans of AEC & Human Arts Ensemble. If you are someone who loved Don Cherry & Eddie Blackwell's album Mu, you'll probably like this one.

The title track gets things off to a high-energy start. The second track ("Go Bo") is where Shaw cuts loose & Bowie lays low (at least somewhat). A barnburner. "Cootie's Caravan Fan" slows things down, but just barely, with a pulsating rhythm giving the tune a very trance-like feel. The title "Latin Recovery" is fairly self-explanatory, with Shaw going bossa nova as Bowie freaks out on the trumpet. The flipside starts with what amounts to a free improv ballad "The Girth of the Cool" - slow-tempo late night feel to it, but by mid-song builds in intensity and eventually the duo picks up the pace and the ferocity. "Chop'n Rock" is characterized by a choppy, rockish beat through much of the tune, seemingly nodding to an old AEC tune, "Rock Out". "Finito, Benito" ends the album on an entropic note. Be aware, the mp3s on this one are a bit dodgy, and the last tune seems to cut off in the middle. As the saying goes, better dodgy mp3s than no music at all.

I don't know if there ever will be a proper digital reissue of this album. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. In the meantime, these mp3 files help to document just a bit of what was going on during the late 1970s NY jazz loft scene.

Download Bugle Boy Bop