Sunday, November 30, 2008

Arthur Doyle Plus Four: Alabama Feeling

Here's a personal favorite from the Arthur Doyle vaults - Alabama Feeling. This album was originally released in 1978, and then reissued on CD 20 years later. It's an intense ride from beginning to end. Doyle has made an art form out of lo fi free jazz recordings, as well as serving up a unique style of sax playing: the cat can sound like he's playing multiple reeds with just one instrument, and views the various instruments he plays (tenor sax, bass clarinet, and flute on this album; recorder on other albums) as an extension of the human voice. His approach may be an acquired taste, but as far as I'm concerned it's a taste well worth acquiring. I first got turned on to Doyle when I picked up a Blue Humans recording (Live NY 1980), and was intrigued not only with his work from that gig, but also a review of Doyle's earlier work on Noah Howard's classic album Black Arc included in the liner notes:
Doyle is another matter. This man is dangerous - he never plays anything you could recognize, just furious blasts of rage. His solo on "Domiabra" couldn't be written down, or even sorted out. It sounds more like raw energy than anything I've ever heard. He's nasty, man.
Given my unabashed love of all sorts of unorthodox music (this blog focuses on my jazz side, but I have had a long-standing love of punk, postpunk, and early industrial music), the moment I read descriptions of an artist as "dangerous" and "nasty" - I want to know more. I've been spending the better part of this decade trying to get a hold of as much of Doyle's recorded work as possible.

A review of the album by Dan Warburton (who has occasionally performed with Arthur Doyle):
In late 1977, Arthur Doyle brought his quintet to New York to play at the Brook, a loft space on West 17th Street managed by Charles Tyler, with whom Doyle formed the label Dra that same year. The saxophonist/flutist/vocalist was joined by old friends from his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Charles Stephens on trombone, and Rashied Sinan on drums (whose only other memorable appearance was on Frank Lowe's 1973 ESP album Black Beings). Sinan turned up with a student of his, Bruce Moore, "to give it more rhythmic feel," and Richard Williams was brought in on Fender Bass to take on both drummers. From the opening splendidly titled "November 8th or 9th -- I Can't Remember When," Alabama Feeling pounds the listener into the ground with thrilling energy, playing easily on a par with classic albums on labels such as ESP and BYG Actuel. Doyle released this recording of the concert, whose dreadful sound quality was perfectly in keeping with the prevailing no wave ethos of the period (Doyle was, incidentally, one of the first jazz musicians to play Max's Kansas City in 1978, with Rudolph Grey and Beaver Harris as the Blue Humans), on Dra in an edition of 1,000, and the first CD reissue 20 years later in 1998 (also limited to 1,000 copies) was transferred by Glenn Branca's house percussionist, Wharton Tiers, direct from vinyl, complete with surface noise and dodgy editing. Connoisseurs of Sun Ra (with whom Arthur Doyle also played but, alas, never recorded) have long been prepared to forego quality sound in the name of great music, and any listener prepared to do the same will not be disappointed. It's worth it for Doyle's snarling entry on "Ancestor" alone.
The track "Ancestor" to which Warburton refers is interesting in that it seems to be a capsule summary of the history of the human species boiled down to a handful of minutes. The references to ESP-Disk and BYG recordings seems apt - if you dig much of the material from those legendary labels, you'll fall in love with Alabama Feeling.

Arthur Doyle (tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute)
Richard Williams (Fender bass)
Rashied Sinan (drums)
Bruce Moore (drums)
Charles Stephens (trombone)

1. November 8th or 9th – I Can’t Remember When
2. Something for Caserlo, Larry, & Irma
3. A Little Linda, Debra, Omita, Barry & Maria
4. Ancestor
5. Mother Image, Father Image
6. Development
a. BaBi Music for Milford & Huge
b. Alabama Soul for Arthur
c. Ramie & Master Charles of the Trombone

All compositions by Arthur Doyle (BMI)
Recorded live at the Brook, November 11, 1977
Engineer: Rashied Sinan
Mastering Engineer: Rashied Sinan
Cover Art: Martha Hurd
Photos: Ken Mermel
Transfer to CD: Wharton Tiers, Fun City Studios, NYC, 2-25-98

Dowload Alabama Feeling

Update: Rank Records has reissued an LP of Alabama Feeling. Check it out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Arthur Doyle: Live at the Dorsch Gallery

I think this one was once posted on the gone-but-not-forgotten Church Number Nine blog. This is truly an Arthur Doyle solo appearance, with Doyle playing sax, flute, and also singing on six untitled tracks. The session dates from August 11, 2000, at the Dorsch Gallery in Miami, FL., and was released as a very limited edition CDR two years later. If you're familiar with Doyle's work, you'll know what to expect. He's arguably a kindred spirit to such cats in the rock world as Thurston Moore.

Download Live at the Dorsch Gallery

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pharoah Sanders: Wisdom Through Music

Another gem from Pharoah Sanders' Impulse! days. What I'm sharing is the album as it's circulated around the usual p2p sources. Sound quality should be pretty decent, but beware that the track "Love is Everywhere" that I have seems to be cut short - over two minutes seem to be missing. I've also corrected a couple errors ("High Life" and "Wisdom Through Music" seem to have been mislabeled) [Thanks to a comment, those errors are no longer an issue - see new link at the end of this post]. Regrettably I have no access to the original album, but maybe someone here will be able to rip a better set of mp3s. The celebratory "High Life" is Sanders' interpretation of the West African style of music by that name - a style that Sanders would revisit from time to time during his career. "Love is Everywhere" is an abbreviated version of the extended track appearing on the album Love in Us All. The title track is a slow moving meditative drone with plenty of Badal Roy's tabla playing. There seems to be some uncredited vocal and kora playing on "Golden Lamp" - a tune that has an almost folky feel to it. The final track starts out as a slow predominantly vocal hymn that eventually gets cooking - some very spirited, fast-paced free-form instrumental jamming. Roy's presence contributes a distinctly South Asian feel to the tracks appearing after "High Life."

Interesting bit of trivia: flutist James Branch is also known as James "Plunky" Branch - the guiding spirit behind the legendary 1970s jazz combo Juju and Oneness of Juju (a band that is still alive and kicking in one form or another). Tabla player Badal Roy and percussionist Mtume played together in Miles Davis' touring and studio band in the early 1970s.

The info: Impulse! catalogue # AS 9233. Copyright 1973 - presumably released 1974.


Pharoah Sanders - Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, Flute
James Branch - Flute
Joseph Bonner - Piano
Cecil McBee - Bass
Lawrence Killian - Percussion
James Mtume - Percussion
Babadal Roy - Percussion
Norman Connors - Drums


1. High Life
2. Love is Everywhere
3. Wisdom Through Music
4. Golden Lamp
5. Selflessness

Download Wisdom Through Music via Magic of Juju!

Michael White: Go With the Flow

Here's another one from the Michael White canon. Compared to the previous album, Father Music, Mother Dance, this one is a considerably funkier affair with the combo pared down to six performers, including holdovers Jenkins, Nash, and King and newcomers pianist Ed Kelly (who also appeared with Pharoah Sanders on a couple albums) and drummer Paul Smith. The title track and "In the Silence" are my personal faves - those tracks could easily appear alongside some mid-1970s Oneness of Juju tunes on a mix-tape or CD; in other words, kozmigroov at its spaciest and finest. "Moondust Shuffle" is a bluesy tune that swings like a mofo. Impulse! during the early to mid 1970s was a very special label, and generated plenty of music for which to be thankful.

Impulse! - Catalogue # ASD-9281


1. Go With the Flow
2. The Lady Sirro
3. In the Silence (Listen)
4. Spaceslide
5. Her
6. Moondust Shuffle
7. Go With the Flow


Michael White - Violin [Electric], Tambourine, Synthesizer, Percussion [Small]
Kenneth Jenkins - Bass [With Wa-wa Pedal], Bass [Fender]
Kenneth Nash - Congas, Bells [Griot], Kalimba, Vocals, Gong, Synthesizer [Moog], Percussion [Small]
Paul Smith - Drums
Ed Kelly - Electric Piano, Piano, Organ [Hammond]
Bob King - Guitar

Download Go With the Flow

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Michael White: Father Music, Mother Dance

Another beautiful late-period Impulse! recording. "Reiko" may easily be the highlight of this album - a gentle ballad with some wonderful conversation between violin and guitar. The title track, "Commin' From" and "Way Down Inside" serve up the funk. "Water Children" is another instrumental ballad, albeit with more prominent percussion than "Reiko". The final track comes the closest to a straight-ahead jazz track. Cosmic, but not too far out. Some info:

Father Music, Mother Dance - Impulse AS-9268 (LP) quadraphonic

1. Father Music, Mother Dance
2. Reiko
3. Commin’ From
4. Way Down Inside
5. Water Children
6. Mary's Waltz

Michael White - electric violin, rhythm violin, African tambourine, bass drum, handclap, Moog synthesizer, vocal
Norman Williams - alto saxophone
Bob King - guitar
Clifford Coulter - piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ
Kenneth Jenkins - amplified bass, Fender bass
Clarence Becton - drums, agogo
Kenneth Nash - congas, North African sakara drums, Knole drum, Chinese temple bells and gongs, cowbell, tambourine, wood bells, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano bottom, pepper-filled Kodak film can shaker, and assorted African and South American percussion instruments
Marti McCall - lead and background vocals
Josef Powell - background vocals
Myrna Matthews - background vocals

From the liner notes:
Recorded at Wally Heider Recording, SF, January 16-18, 1974, and sweetened at ABC Recording Studios and Royal Hidley Hall, LA. Engineering by Baker Bigsby, assisted by Valerie Clausen (Heider’s) and Dominic Lumetta.

The producer would like to express his appreciaton to the following honorary members of the Neo-Z-Mtg. Co. Gross Art Production Team for their much-needed assistance and aid: Professor George Hormel for his continued encouragement; his wiling henchman, Judge La Palm, for Moog services above and beyond the call of friendship; Thomas Q. Hidley for thick carpets and snappy dressing; the redoubtable Sandra Axelrod for her new found negotiating skills; Valerie and Debbie for their knowledge of hotcha gourmet spots in the City By The Bay, and their unfailing courage in the face of fainting spells and other errata; and the dreaded Susan Atamain, for both her patience and restraint, to say nothing of her incomparable ability to get her old man up in time, no matter the adversity of curcumstance.

The album was mixed by means of the Standard Matic system for fully compatible stereo and quadraphonic reproduction, and should provide and exceptional when heard on any high quality playback system.

The louder the better.

Peace, serenity and very grateful thanks to Ed Michel, Baker Bigsby, all the musicians that made the date possible, including Marti McCall, Myrna Matthews, and Josef Powell, Ed Riley, and, most of all, for inspiration, Mary.

Michael White.
Music as a creative medium has always excited me. Everywhere you turn you'll find another point if view; another universe of knowledge available to those who heed, and as diverse as is the talent of artists.

Micheal White has been adjudged to be a man of gentle character, impressionable difference immense serenity. His preceding Impulse recordings, Spirit Dance (AS-92150, Pneuma (AS-9221), The Land Of Spirit And Light (AS-9241), validate the aforementioned character references in full, but for a minute, because as the spectrum of Michael White's music turns with this album,he unleashes fire, depth, and the strong blues roots born to him (Boogaloo if you will). Particular note should be taken with fervent foot-stomps, ass-shakin' and porous sweat to the title tune "Father Music, Mother Dance" to "Way Down Inside" and not to be outdone, "Commin' From" to characterize the fiery side. Then on to the immaculately beautiful "Reiko", a composition by the extremely talented and highly diverse guitarist Bob King.

As multi-faceted as is the the talent of Michael White, so be it reflected, promulgated and supported by his formidable bassist Kenneth Jenkins and extremely articulate drummer Clarence Becton. Master percussionist Kenneth Nash's composition "Water Children" brings to mind an excerpt of poetry on this occasion: "But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed for you shall flow with the water, flow with the gale winds, you shall not be an anchor, you shall be a mast". To close the curtain (for a minute) on this album, Michaels "Mary's Waltz" is the flowing effervescent sensitivity that is so indicative of Michael's personality as attributed to his soft-spoken, gracious, and striking beautiful Lady Mary.

It is almost impossible for one man to describe another mans music as intended here, and to do it justice. However, the creation and stimulus - the motivational force behind the music - is the descriptive essence of this music. Michael White is the music - the music is Michael White.

Ed Riley. Miles Ahead. February 4, 1974
Download Father Music, Mother Dance

If you dig this, you'll probably groove on Pneuma and Land of Spirit and Light - both of which I believe are commercially available as of this writing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pharoah Sanders: Live at the East

The work of Pharoah Sanders seemed fitting for a 100th post. Live at the East is one of several albums from Sanders' Impulse! days that has yet to see a proper reissue in the US (an effort to reissue the Impulse! back catalogue was aborted at the end of the 1990s). It's a bit of a shame really, as the music on this album is nothing short of stunning. It's been a couple years since anyone in blogtopia posted Live at the East (see Orgy in Rhythm, who provides some excellent commentary), so I figure the time is ripe for a new upload. I came by my first set of mp3 files for this album on the old Napster - the sound quality was dodgy, but after reading so many tantalizing descriptions of the album, I was just thankful to have the opportunity to hear the tunes at all. The sound files I'm providing here are considerably higher quality - I found them on Soulseek about four years ago. "Healing Song" takes up much of the first side of the original LP, opening with the lush sound of piano, percussion, and voice over which Sanders offers up a lilting melody before letting loose. The piece is very free, but never overwhelming, instead lulling the listener into a near-meditative state before reaching its climax. Bassists Cecil McBee and Stanley Clarke get to showcase their mad skillz about five or so minutes into the piece, setting a fairly funky pace for the rest of the performers. Since Joe Bonner co-wrote the piece, it's not too surprising that his piano work is front and center. "Lumkili" starts out with a similar sax line that began the first piece, but goes in a somewhat different direction - the warm sounds he offers up would not seem out of place on, say, some of his later albums like Journey to the One. After that rather laid-back tune, the session closes with "Memories of J. W. Coltrane" which goes for a monastic vibe: the gentle bells, gong, harmonium, bailophone, and bass provide a drone over which the vocalists slowly chant. Given the spiritual direction of John and Alice Coltrane toward the end of John's life, this seems like a fitting tribute to a great artist and mentor. Here, Sanders' sax serves merely as another chanting voice - almost Tibetan on the occasions when it briefly appears.

Impulse! Catalogue # AS-9227

Pharoah Sanders - Saxophone
Cecil McBee - Bass
Stanley Clarke - Bass
Lawrence Killian - Congas, Percussion [Bailophone]
Norman Connors - Drums
William Hart - Drums
Carlos Garnett - Flute, Voice
Joseph Bonner - Piano, Harmonium
Harold Vic - Tenor Vocals
Marvin Peterson - Trumpet

1. Healing Song (Sanders/Bonner) - 21:37
2. Lumkili (Sanders) - 8:43
3. Memories of J. W. Coltrane (Sanders) - 12:51

Dowload Live at the East

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jihad Records

Consider this a mini-discography brought to life, thanks to the miracle of mp3s. Jihad Records released only three albums during its existence, but at least a couple of those recordings are well-sought-after by fans of the jazz avant-garde. Each of these albums is radically different from the others, save for one common denominator: the appearance or involvement of beat poet, playwright, and activist Amiri Baraka (in an earlier time known as LeRoi Jones). Here's a brief overview of the Jihad label:
Jihad was a label that was formed by Imamu Amiri Baraka to broadcast the work of the Jihad Cultural Center, Newark NJ. It produced and issued ... three discs ... , but recorded much more. The first two items are the target of most serious collectors of Free Jazz, each for a different reason.

Sonny's Time Now brought together a fantastic group of free improvisors during the ferment of the "New Thing" of the mid Sixties (Don Cherry-tp; Albert Ayler-ts; Louis Worrell, Henry Grimes-b; Sunny Murray-d; LeRoi Jones [now Imamu Amiri Baraka]-recitation on last track) at a time when their work was causing discussion and argument through-out the jazz world. In many ways Sonny's Time Now may be viewed as a continuation of two classic ESP titles: New York Eye & Ear Control (ESP 1016) and The New York Art Quartet (ESP 1004).

A Black Mass is a morality play about the races of man, written, directed and performed by Baraka and a cast drawn from his Cultural Center. The reason it is so greatly sought after is because the incidental music was done by Sun Ra and members of his Arkestra. This disc is truly a rare item in the Sun Ra discography, being even more difficult to find than all but one or two of Sunny's own Saturn lps.

The third release, Black and Beautiful....Soul and Madness featured Baraka reading his poetry, "...backed by a vocal group and an uncredited band (definitely, an artifact from the 60's)", to quote Jihad collector Anthony Rogers.

It has been said that Imamu Amiri Baraka has many other tapes that he was never able to issue on the Jihad label. A Japanese release of Sonny's Time Now has been reported, with an additional track, but it would appear that the CD is as elusive as the original vinyl release. Chuck Nessa said that the DIW release was an "...lp in Japan with a one sided 7" 33 1/3 rpm bonus disc. The bonus disc is #850925 (I.M.-0598 A). The "tune" on the bonus disc is "The Lie". I believe they later issued a CD of all the material." Ed Rhodes states that "...the CD reissue is 35DIW 14CD. There is no selection titled "The Lie" on this disk, just the three titles from the original lp. Page 130 of Baraka's Black Music refers to "The Lie" but the short promo on page 177 does not. I believe there is a reference somewhere that refers to "The Lie" as part 2 of "Justice", which was split between sides 1 and 2 of the original lp. Will post again if I find it."

Baraka has stated that he would like to see all of the material gathered by Jihad to be released correctly. I hope that this can be done while I'm still far enough away from senility to enjoy the music.

The version of Sonny's Time Now presented here is the one with "The Lie" included. If you groove on mid-1960s free jazz, such as the recordings released at the time by ESP-Disk, you'll dig on this. If the lineup looks intense on paper, it is even more intense to actually here. This music is raw energy. As Thurston Moore put it:
his recording is super-lo-fi and is awesome. On it play Ayler (tenor) and Don Cherry (trumpet) as well as Leroi Jones (now known as Amiri Baraka) reading a killer poem called "Black Art". This music is very Ayler but more fractured and odd.
Indeed, Ayler smears and skronks like a man possessed, and in a manner that anticipates such cats as Kaoru Abe. Don Cherry is quite recognizable, playing much as he would during the period. Murray is the pulse driving the rest of the music. Bassists Worrell and Grimes are a bit hard to hear in the mix, save for the quieter passages. Baraka's contribution to this group of free jazz power players is "Black Art" which features such strident passages as, we want "poems that kill." Assassin poems, Poems that shoot guns. The words, like the music, are as far from peace and love as anything from the stereotyped and romanticized 1960s that has been packaged by the corporate media since.

Jihad 663

Sunny Murray - Drums
Albert Ayler - Tenor Sax
Don Cherry - Trumpet
Louis Worrell - Bass
Henry Grimes - Bass
LeRoi Jones - Voice (on "Black Art")

1. Virtue
2. Justice
3. Black Art
4. The Lie

A Black Mass is typically sought-after more for the inclusion of Sun Ra's Arkestra as musical accompaniment. Truth be told, you barely get much of Sun Ra except for a flourish here and there. So if you're a Sun Ra fan looking for a lost gem, you'll be a bit disappointed. The sound quality is also a bit dodgy, so you'll have to strain to hear the dialog. Those with the patience to hear the words will be treated to a portal to one particularly volatile period in the struggle for civil and human rights that still continues to this day.

I'm not sure about the personnel on this one, beyond Baraka and members of Sun Ra's crew at the time. The piece itself is broken up into two parts due to the constraints imposed by LP format.


Catalog # Jihad 1968

A play by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)

Carl Boissiere - Jacob
Barry Wynn - Tantil
Jacquie Bugg - Eulalie
David Shakes - Beast
Yusef Iman - Nasafi
Elaine Jones - Olabumi
Sylvia Jones - Tilla
Bob Washington - Narrator

and the Sun Ra Myth-Science Arkestra

Black and Beautiful, Soul and Madness (credited to The Jihad) is a recording that would have fit in with recordings by contemporaries such as Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, and The Watts Prophets. The musical backing might be a bit dated, but the words still pack a contemporary punch. If one is interested in the historical origins of rap and hip-hop, one can find here some of the Zietgeist that would produce some incredibly powerful rhymes and tunes a generation later by such cats as Public Enemy and KRS-One, and today's underground rappers such as Common and Mos Def. If I recall correctly, this one was posted by Reza at one of his blogs a while back.

Jihad LP1001

Spirit House, Newark


Bobby Lyle - Bass
Russell Lyle - Saxophone [Alto], Flute
Aireen Eternal - Vocals [2nd Tenor]
Gilbert Monk - Vocals [Baritone]
Yusef Iman - Vocals [Bass], Congas
Freddie Johnson - Vocals [Lead Tenor]
Leonard Cathcart - Vocals [Tenor]
LeRoi Jones - Voice [Poetry]

Weusi - Liner Notes
Daniel Dawson - Photography

1. Beautiful Black Woman
2. Miss Natural Soul
3. Form is Emptiness
4. Mishap (So Much Soul)
5. Madness
6. Nineteen Sixty-Something
7. Sacred Chant
8. Unity
9. Fight

The music on these three albums portrays a 1960s far different from the version shoved down our throats like so many commercials with Peter Fonda pitching compilation cds of folk rock and psychedelia from the era. It's a 1960s that deserves a hearing and a viewing all the same. It is a 1960s that is arguably as timely as ever at a time when so many seem bound and determined to pretend that the issues of the day have been "resolved."

Download Sonny's Time Now

Download A Black Mass

Dowload Black and Beautiful, Soul and Madness

Don Cherry: Organic Music Society

Here's another artist whose work I've grooved on for a long time - at least since I stumbled upon his contributions to various tracks on an ECM sampler that my parents unloaded on me back in 1980. That ECM sampler (Music for 58 Musicians) offered examples of Don Cherry in both world fusion (Codona) and free jazz (Old and New Dreams, which covered Ornette Coleman tunes) settings. I tend to gravitate toward his world fusion recordings, and this out-of-print gem is a personal favorite.

Here's the lowdown (via this Don Cherry discography):

Don Cherry: trumpet, piano, harmonium, vocals
Maffy Falay: muted trumpet
Tommy Goldman: flute
Tommy Koverhult: flute
Tage Siven: bass
Okay Temiz: drums
Youth Orchestra
Mok Cherry: tamboura, vocal
Nana Vasconcelos: berimbau, percussion
Helen Eggert: tamboura, vocal
Hans Isgren: sarangi
Bengt Berger: drums, percussion
H'suan: percussion, trumpet
Chris Bothen: doussn' gouni


1. North Brazilian Ceremonial Hym - (N.Vaconcelos) - 12:30 MONO
2. Elixir - (D.Cherry) & Manusha Raga Kamboji - (Hans Isgren) - 8:30 STEREO
3. Relativity Suite Part One - (D.Cherry) - 6:53 STEREO
4. Relativity Part Two - (D.Cherry) - 12:02 STEREO
5. Terry's Tune - (T.Riley), Hope - (D.Cherry), The Creator Has A Master Plan - (P.Sanders/L.Thomas), Sidharta - (D.Cherry), Utopia & Visions - (D.Cherry) - 20:30 STEREO
6. Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro - (D.Brand) & Terry's Tune - (T.Riley) - 6:34 MONO
7. Resa - (D.Cherry) - 7:43 MONO

Documentary recordings made 1971-1972 by Göran Freese, Rita Knox, Jan Bruér.
Editing and mastering: Göran Freese.
Liner notes: Jan Bruér.
English translation: Keith Knox.
German translation: Juliane Backman.
Album production: Jan Bruér, Keith Knox, Rita Knox.
Album cover and painting: Moki.
Only the recordings from August 14th, 1972 (Elixir-Relativity Suite) were made in a recording studio. The rest of the material consists of documentation recordings made on portable machines, some of them carried out under awkward acoustic conditions.
The tracks and times I list are as found on the mp3s that I've found floating around the Internet tubes - otherwise, all information regarding the the tracks and their composers (and whether the recordings were in stereo or mono) are as presented in the discography. Expect plenty of percussion, chanting, singing, and non-Western jazz instrumentation. A lot of "world music" or "worldbeat" got a bad name for being bland, lowest-common-denominator pabulum, but I can guarantee that much of what Cherry was recording sounded (and still sounds) quite engaging and experimental. Given the circumstances in which this album was recorded - i.e., varied times, locations, and recording conditions - the sound is strikingly coherent throughout. Only the sound quality of Resa (the last track) seems dodgy. The first four tracks have the least in common with what we would normally consider jazz. The last three tracks mix non-Western instrumentation and ideas with instrumentation more typical of an avant-garde jazz performance. Very spirited and spiritual music. Don Cherry would later collaborate with Nana Vasconcelos on several Codona albums, and with Bengt Berger for the album Bitter Funeral Beer.

Download Organic Music Society

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Julian Priester: Polarization

Love, Love got a proper reissue on ECM not too long ago. Perhaps this recording will also get a much-overdue reissue. Long before I became a jazzer, I fell in love with the recordings released by ECM. Perhaps it overstates things a bit to say that there was an ECM "sound" during the 1970s and early 1980s, as the roster of artists was certainly a diverse bunch, but there is definitely something strikingly consistent in the production that comes across. I'd probably use the term "atmospheric" to describe a typical ECM listening experience, with Priester's recordings for the label well-exemplifying that experience. Polarization (released in 1977) doesn't have the butt-shaking grooves that characterized 1974's Love, Love - instead offering a program of avant-fusion that leaves one imagining meditating in a warm cabin on a Scandinavian winter's eve. Only Anatomy of Longing, at the end of the program, offers a dose of understated funkified fusion - suggesting what Herbie Hancock's early 1970s pre-Headhunters sextet would have sounded like had that crew stayed together.

1. Polarization - Rhythm Magnet- Wind Dolphin
2. Coincidence
3. Scorpio Blue
4. Anatomy Of Longing

Heshima Mark Williams - bass
Augusta Lee Collins - drums
Ray Obiedo - guitar
Curtis Clark - piano
Ron Stallings - sax
Julian Priester - trombone

Produced by Manfred Eicher.

Download Polarization

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jacques Coursil: Black Suite

Here's Eugene Chadbourne's review in
This amazing trumpeter led two album sessions for BYG, both highly respected projects. This might be the one to take off to the desert island, as the presence of Anthony Braxton as part of the band really makes for an intoxicating brew, if abstract free jazz is the cup of tea on order. Braxton is just fantastic in a collaboratory role, cutting loose with even more of an edge than when leading the band and adding texture with his contrabass clarinet that brings to mind the fog rolling into the forest right before the scene where the villagers storm the evil castle. Arthur Jones cuts loose on alto sax in the manner that makes all his appearances on this label so delightful -- fiery, full of spirit, always an exciting presence. As kind of the lost voice of the trumpet in modern jazz, Coursil is not only a great discovery for the modern jazz fan, but a fine creative vintage that holds up to repeat visits over the years. His control of the difficult horn and totally original melodic thinking really makes his playing stand out among the admittedly thin ranks of avant-garde trumpet players. None of the players who have Coursil's technical mastery play with as much heart and soul. He also proves himself a great bandleader, passing some of the key tests of this distinction with the music featured on this album. One composition after which the record has been titled takes up the entire slab of vinyl, clocking in at a bit over a half-an-hour. Only a good bandleader can pull off an epic of this sort, and only a good bandleader can pull together a rhythm section that on paper promises the excitement of the local newsboys sitting in. The French bassist and drummer featured here were this label's Grade Z rhythm section, and sound better playing quietly than they do when hitting loudly. That's because of the recording, which distorts the drums and bass after a certain level of attack. On the other hand, the quiet sections are not picked up as well by the microphones -- assuming there were microphones -- and, as a result, the horns have even more room to maneuver. Let's allow the artist to serve as his own critic in the case of pianist Burton Greene, who would later publicly dismiss all of his playing from this era as being claptrap. Like another much more famous and prolific modern jazz trumpeter and bandleader, Coursil takes even questionable music contributions, such as the entire existence of this rhythm section, and turns it into a highly useful musical function. Jazz scholars who feel rhythm sections are unimportant can, of course, gloat over the musical success of this particular album. At any rate, it is one of the best examples of just how beautiful modern jazz can be.
Released on BYG/Actuel, catalogue # 529349.

The crew on this album:
Jacques Coursil - trumpet
Arthur Jones - alto sax
Anthony Braxton - bass clarinet, soprano sax
Burton Greene - piano
Beb Guerin - bass
Claude Delcloo - drums

The music is a continuous piece broken into two parts due to the necessary constraints of the old vinyl LP format. There's not much I can add to the Chadbourne's review. Suffice it to say that music on this recording lives up to the hype. It's not a noisefest (as free jazz is often stereotyped), but rather the emotional intensity gets expressed through the open spaces and abundant quiet passages. Highly recommended for fans of Arthur Jones' recordings Scorpio and Africanasia.

Download Black Suite.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mixed Bag: Mixed Bag's First Album

Another gem from the gone-but-not-forgotten T.R.I.B.E. label. It got released at some point as a Japanese import, but as far as I am aware never got reissued stateside. The recording is indeed a mixed bag, starting with an upbeat Latin-flavored jazz tune ("La Margarita"), slowing it down for a gorgeous post-bop ballad ("I Wish"), then offering up the straight-ahead "Maxine". The last half of the album goes into fusion territory. "Ziaus" fits in nicely with the sort of soul jazz that was T.R.I.B.E.'s stock in trade. The pensive "New Moon" throws Latin rhythms into the mix, and "Shark" closes out the album with a solid dose of funk. Folks who dig the T.R.I.B.E. and Strata-East labels will probably like this offering.


1. La Margarita
2. I Wish
3. Maxine
4. Ziaus
5. New Moon
6. Shark


Ron Brooks - Bass, Producer, Mixing
Gaff Dunsun - Keyboards
Jerry Glassel - Guitar
Dave Koether - Percussion, Drums
Larry Nozero - Flute, Reeds, Cuica
Dan Spencer - Percussion, Drums

Bob James - Liner Notes
Greg Reilly - Engineer, Mixing
Norm Snyder - Photography, Back Cover Photo
Bud Spangler - Producer, Mixing
Marie Tapert - Graphic Design, Art Direction

Download Mixed Bag's First Album