Friday, December 18, 2009

paul bley - mr. joy

There are worse-sounding jazz albums, like Curtis Counce's Exploring The Future, but that was made on the cheap for Dooto, a label known primarily for raunchy party records. This was recorded in Seattle on either side of a concert date at the University of Washington, so maybe The Sonics and Wailers had all the decent studios booked solid for their concept albums. Cover art clearly targets the underground rock market, with Bley's lover and in-house theme genie Annette Peacock featured on the inside of the trendy Unipak folder having her breasts massaged. Endless fiddling with the stereo to try to make this thing sound a little better could spoil the mood, though. It's never been reissued on CD, not even in Japan.

paul bley
mr. joy
limelight ls 86060 (1968)
01 Only Lovely 6.20
02 Kid Dynamite 3.10
03 Nothing Ever Was, Anyway 5.44
04 El Cordobes 6.04
05 Ramblin' 4.44
06 Touching 4.49
07 Blood 6.10
08 Mr. Joy 3.50

vinyl @320

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

kaloum star - syliphone 45s

Kaloum Star managed only three Syliphone singles before the military takeover ended Guinea's great socialist cultural experiment. If you like these, check out World Service for live tracks recorded for Dutch radio in 1987, as well as the demo tape that got them the job. Then peruse the comments for links to more. When I left an inquiry about the two Kaloum Star 45s I was missing, saintly aduna supplied a link the next day. Just another internet miracle.

kaloum star
complete syliphone 45s (1975)

01 Lalaba 6.06 (SYL 568a)
02 Donsoloufa 3.40 (SYL 568b)
03 Mansane Cisse 5.23 (SYL 569a)
04 Maliba 3.20 (SYL 569b)
05 Sanu Bakary 4.45 (SYL 570a)
06 Gbassikolo 3.35 (SYL 570b)

vinyl @320

lennie tristano sextet - wow

Live recording of Tristano with his gifted protégés, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. Sound quality is a bit primitive, from tape or wire recorder or maybe tin cans and string. Marsh is one of the secret godheads of modern jazz - smoky and dreaming, drifting into the spaces between beats, deftly snaking his way into unmapped territory and then winding his way back. Konitz is a perfect foil, coaxing abstractions from his alto as Marsh explores the upper registers of his tenor. On their recordings together, I'm never absolutely sure which one I'm hearing in the first sax solo until Marsh steps forward, all smooth and smart and infinite. Listen to the two of them on the 1949 Capitol b-side Crosscurrent for an illustration, posted here along with its flip. Just another perfect single. For more, check out the Lennie Tristano Live At The Half Note clip on YouTube. Recorded in 1964 for a TV series on spirituality called Look Up And Live, now available to the entire universe just like Air Force Amy.

lennie tristano sextet
jazz records jr-9 cd

01 Wow 8.27
02 Remembrance 3.53
03 April Fool 9.51
04 Subconscious-Lee 3.51
05 Fugue In D Minor 1.04
06 Chord Interlude .27
07 Sound-Lee 7.52
08 Do The Things You Do 3.32
09 No Figs 7.42
10 Wow 3.19
11 Crosscurrent 2.48

1-9 recorded live circa 1950 New York City
10-11 recorded March 4, 1949 New York City, released as a Capitol Records single

cd @320

Friday, October 9, 2009

Voices of Matsulu

Intrigued by Chris Cutler's description of it in the catalog, as a startling, electronic document, or something to that effect, I obtained Voices of Matsulu from Recommended, along with Adio Kattalina by Oskorri, Feliu i Joan Albert and perhaps one or two other albums. Produced by Estonian Radio for the nature preserve, Voices of Matsulu was recorded by biologist Fred Jüssi between 1976-1979 and released on the Soviet Label, Melodiya in 1982.

This makes for an interesting contrast with the recording of birds in Venezuela, which was posted here by reservatory awhile back, but has its own beauty with moments of surprising drama. As I don't yet have scans, I've copied the English portion of the liner notes below. For more information see

Matsulu Bay is situated on the west coast of the Estonian SSR and it is one of the places richest in birdlife in the Baltic area. Observations of birds began to be made here already in 1870. The rich bird population is due to the existence of unique habitats. The more characteristic of these are reed-beds (3.000 ha), the water-meadows of the Kasari River (4.000 ha), coastal meadows and pastures, and islands in the sea.

For the protection of the peculiar nature of the area a state nature reserve was set up here in 1957. The Matsulu State Nature Reserve was included in Group A of ornitological reserves of all-European importance in 1962, and in 1975 it was accorded the status of a wetland of international significance (48,643 ha). 126 species of birds nest in the reserve and a total of 259 species had been observed here by the autumn of 1979. Matsulu as a whole is a veritable pearl of Estonian nature.

This record includes a selection of sound pictures typical of the reed-beds, water-meadows, seaside pastures, and islets of Matsulu. While making the recordings the author spent unforgettable days and nights under the skies of the nature reserve. Hence the wish to convey to the listener not only the sounds of Matsulu, but also something of its beauty.

1. Whooper Swans 1:36

2. Reed-beds 17:12
a. Midnight in the reed-beds (Spotted Crake, Bittern) 1:35
b. Great Reed Warbler (Tufted Duck, Redshank) 0:49
c. Reed Warbler 1:03
d. Sedge Warbler (Curlew) 1:17
e. Savi's Warbler 1:31
f. Reed Bunting 2:09
g. Black-headed Gull 2:13
h. Black Tern 1:06
i. Moorhen 1:22
j. Water Rail 2:08
k. Starling 1:41

3. Water-Meadows and Coastal Pastures 9:39
a. Midnight of Water-Meadows (Reed Warbler, Corncrake) 1:35
b. Corncrake 1:23
c. Marsh Warbler (Cuckoo, Garden Warbler) 2:13
d. River Warbler 0:47
e. Grasshopper Warbler 0:48
f. Barred Warbler (Blackbird, Thrush Nightingale, Corncrake) 1:51
g. Blacktailed Godwit 1:03

4. See Isles 6:38
a. Spring morning on See islet (Oystercatcher) 3:40
b. Caspian tern 1:04
c. Common Gull, herring gull 0:55
d. Greenfinch, Oystercatcher, Barnacle Goose, Redshank 0:57

5. Crane 2:32

download |Vinyl rip | .Flac | 162.3 MB

Friday, October 2, 2009

bembeya jazz sous la direction de diaoune hamidou

Bembeya's debut album somehow escaped reincarnation as a cheesy Syllart CD. Since all Syliphone master tapes seem now to be extinct (Sterns Africa's CD anthologies rely on borrowed vinyl), maybe Syllart had the same problem a decade before, skipping SLP4 because they were unable to come up with a clean copy to rip.

bembeya jazz national
sous la direction de diaoune hamidou
syliphone slp4 (1967)

01 Djanfamagni 4.17
02 Almamy Mamaren 3.40
03 Dembaty Galant 3.28
04 Guinée Hety Horémoun 4.31
05 Minuit 3.08
06 Bembeyako 3.04
07 Air-Guinée 3.22
08 Djamana Bara Sabati 3.32
09 Trafiquant 3.11
10 Loi-Cadre 3.55

vinyl @320

unwound - live in london ep

The flip side of Jimmy Webb, a swoon of dissonance as lush and dense and precise as Webb's sonority. Frontman Justin Trosper doesn't really wring chords or solos out of his guitar, concentrating on tone clusters and smeared chiming instead. From Tumwater, Washington, a few miles south of Olympia (exit I-5 @ ancestral Trosper Rd.), Unwound inspired cult worship throughout the nineties and beyond. A Portland friend dragged me outside to see them on their farewell tour, for which I am eternally grateful. This 12" finds our heroes playing for John Peel on May 20 1998. Call right now and you will receive bonus material including a perfect Unwound single from '96 as well as a compilation track by the Waydowns (a local teenage guitar-drum machine duo) released on Unwound bassist Vern Rumsey's Punk In My Vitamins label. Finally, a taste of Lifelikeweeds, a guitar duo featuring Eric Chenaux of Toronto's Rat Drifting collective, who appears to be in around sixty bands at any given time. Rat Drift for yourself @ eclectic grooves, then check out shiny grey monotone to see where I stole the shot of Unwound in flight.

live in london ep
loveletter lvlt 004 (1999)

01 Hexenszene 5.09
02 Side Effects Of Being Tired 6.28
03 Kantina / Were, are and was or is 9.46
04 Corpse Pose 3.05
05 Everything Is Weird 2.52
06 (Untitled) 2.31
07 The house is in between the porch and the barbeque on mouth speed 6.49

vinyl, cd and download @320

jimmy webb - cloudman demos 1972

Up Up And Away, By The Time I Get To Phoenix and MacArthur Park made Jimmy Webb a very wealthy young man. So he did what any happening 21 year old songwriter would do in 1968. He moved into the former Philippine Embassy in Hollywood and filled it with fifty of his closest friends, a green baby grand piano and (one imagines) drugs. Back then, I avoided The 5th Dimension and their flower power pep rally shtick like the plague, but MacArthur Park was harder to hate. Irish stage veteran Richard Harris, a singing King Arthur in the movie adaptation of Camelot, seemed an unlikely candidate for Top 40 appeal, and the overwrought seven minute epic he tackled after The Association turned it down was, well, slightly insane. But I always listened to the whole thing when it appeared on the car radio, unsure whether it was a psychedelic delusion or a brilliant hoax. In the early seventies, during a brief stint as a gofer (mole) in the LA music biz, I heard Joe Cocker's version of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and puzzlement turned to admiration overnight. Maybe it was sappy next to the Fun House and Faust Tapes I needed after ten hours in Studio A with Lon And Derek Van Eaton, but stately and heartfelt and flat-out beautiful as well. Webb knew his way around chord structure and melody like no one I'd ever been exposed to and filled a need I never knew I had. I kept the whole thing a secret for decades. These demos are straight to the point, just composer (in unusually good voice) and piano and some really good songs. Songs that, underneath all the pretty, are as fevered and deranged as Gary Wilson's 6.4 = Make Out, with Webb as Cloudman becoming vapor to haunt a beloved creature his obsession has driven away. I've also included When Can Brown Begin, from the Letters album for which these demos were intended. The title comes from a comment Sammy Davis Jr. made as he and Webb commiserated over cocktails one night in Vegas. Weary of the 'all-in-fun' racism his show biz pals routinely shoved in his face (clown of vengeance Jerry Lewis dragged him onto his live ABC TV variety fiasco in 1963 to ask about his recent triumph at the legendary Carnigger Hall), Sammy decreed it was time the world moved beyond black and white, to... brown?? Scatological implications aside, explaining how salt and pepper 'cook' together and fire and water make steam still seems like a dubious path to racial harmony. But there it is in all its glory, to musical accompaniment worthy of God's own choir. The coda features a smoky horn winding a path through one of Webb's immaculate chord progressions, which steps steadily skyward as violins saw away on a Möbius strip of ascending spirals that runs out of fretboard as it curls back for another run up the ladder. Avant MOR. He's here, he's air, get used to it.

jimmy webb
cloudman demos 1972
rhino handmade rhm2 7820 (2004)

01 Saturday Suit 3.01
02 Cloudman 3.44
03 Fingerpaint Me 3.53
04 Mr. Shuck And Jive 3.30
05 Simile 3.31
06 Piano 4.08
07 When Can Brown Begin 4.16

How much do I love you?
Just as far as I can reach you now
But the floor feels cold this morning
Yes, I feel there's nothing left to teach you now
Soon, sweet lady, you will walk away from me
Into your own reality
But just remember air
Air is everywhere
The cloudman always sees it there
And waits to paint you pictures on the wind around you
Please recall the days when love found you
When the tide breeze rustling curtains in the summer evening
Bears the imprint of some distant twinkling chimes
Think about the cloudman sometimes
Think about me sometime.

cd @320

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

mars - live @ irving plaza august 4 1978

I always saw Sumner Crane as the savant of No Wave. He didn't seem to be actively chasing rock stardom or a Soho art career. Mars terrorized lower Manhattan for about two years, committing 32 minutes of themselves to tape for the ages. Bassist Mark Cunningham writes in his liner notes to Mars - The Complete Studio Recordings: NYC 1977-1978 (G3G/Spooky Sound), "As Sumner once described it, it was a regression from ten to one, and so we reached an end." Crane, who died in 2003, told me he started listening to jazz as a kid, and that jazz, cool or chaotic, always felt like something humans had built piece by piece - the drums go here, this part is added to that. But his first encounter with Jerry Lee Lewis left him dumbfounded and disoriented. Here was something that seemed to have arrived fully formed from outer space. Mars were an alien force as well, with mangled pop hooks and gallows humor percolating through a stumbling, relentless urban squall. I got to see them once, at Max's Kansas City December '78, which seems to have been their final show. Clearly they had completed the mission and were moving on, with Crane spending much of the set blowing a battered trumpet from a battered chair.

live @ irving plaza august 4 1978

01 Outside Africa 2.30
02 Puerto Rican Ghost 1.36
03 Hairwaves 3.50
04 Fractions 3.12
05 Ich Bin Squat 3.20
06 N.N.End* 14.29
07 Eno's Autograph Session .40

Sumner Crane / Connie Burg / Mark Cunningham / Nancy Arlen
*and Rudolph Grey
Recorded live @ Irving Plaza NYC by Brian Eno (on safari) August 4 1978

cassette @320

super boiro band - niaissa & sa trompette

First album by another great Guinean regional orchestra, this one made up of Camp Boiro prison guards. Since Super Boiro were not releasing singles at this point, the best stuff was not being siphoned off, making this one of the better Syliphone long players. Note: original download was missing tracks two and three, link has been corrected as of 07/23. Believe me, you need the whole enchilada.

super boiro band
niaissa & sa trompette
syliphone slp 32 (1972)

01 Mariama (tentemba) 7.45
02 P.D.G. (bolon-rumba) 3.45
03 Kankou (yankadi) 4.38
04 Donsoke (soko-son) 4.32
05 Dioulou Maloyara (yankadi) 4.40
06 Yarabi Kani (rumba-guinée) 4.38
07 Singa (merengué) 3.02
08 Super Boiro Band (yankadi) 4.00
09 M'Ma Wouyama (merengué) 4.30
10 Sokho Yo (tentemba) 4.30

vinyl @320

steve reich: live / electric music

Steve Reich was one of the early musicians that fell into the loose genre eventually known as "minimalism", which may be a bit of an unfortunate name, but it will do. There can be considerable argument as to the origin of this type of music, and it could easily be said that numerous Asian cultures have been using drone-like musics for millennia. Certainly, Terry Riley started in the very early 1960s, and his contemporary LaMonte Young brought a great deal of force to this movement when he involved powerhouses such as the young John Cale and Tony Conrad in New York in 1964. But these were musicians playing instruments.

Steve Reich loved his tape machine. His earliest works, Come Out and It's Gonna Rain both employed spoken word with multiple copies repeated continuously at ever-so-slightly different speeds and allowed to run in and out of phase with each other. Come Out uses the simple phrase "come out to show them" and runs it for 10 minutes or so. It's Gonna Rain has 2 parts of about that length, the first uses the simple "it's gonna rain" while part 2 utilizes at least half a dozen fragments of a few words each, and weaves them all over each other. Magnificent! It takes up the entire album side of a Columbia Masterworks LP. While Come Out is often cited because it is simpler and was released first, I favor It's Gonna Rain because of its greater depth and complexity.

The other side of the vinyl LP Live/Electric Music is Violin Phase featuring Paul Zukofsky. I love this piece and consider it one of the towering masterpieces in all of minimalist music. It is grand, stately, and a perfect meditative tempo. Tragically and unconscionably, when the CD was released, the piece was re-recorded at a hyper-frantic tempo! It sounds ridiculous, and I cannot forgive Reich for utterly ruining one of his masterpieces! It sounds like he took the original 33rpm and played it, not at 45rpm, but at 78rpm. Heinous!
-i wish i was your catfish @ eBay guides

steve reich
live / electric music
violin phase / it's gonna rain
columbia masterworks ms 7265 (1968)
01 Violin Phase 23.37 w/ Paul Zukofsky 1967
02 It's Gonna Rain 17.35 w/ Brother Walter 1965

vinyl @ 320

Monday, June 22, 2009

paul bley trio - (canada)

I started listening to Paul Bley in the sixties and never heard of this until a big money eBay listing appeared a few years back. I finally located a seller in Montreal with a reasonably priced copy, which arrived at my address broken in half. Eventually another one turned up, with a Peter Dunn Vinyl Museum Toronto inner sleeve. Bley seems a little more intense than usual here, the muscular rhythm section keeping him on the move. In the coming months, Bley would unleash his controversial (+/- Annette Peacock) Synthesizer Show.

paul bley trio
radio canada international 305 (1969)

01 Blood 8.00
02 Nothing Ever Was Anyway 8.30
03 Paul 9.05
04 Pigfoot 8.55
05 Touching 11.50

Paul Bley / Mario Pavone / Barry Altschul
Montreal December 1968

vinyl @320

Monday, June 1, 2009

horoya band national - savane profonde

Here's another national orchestra from Guinea's golden age of authenticité. Horoya, from Kankan, were not as prolific as comrades Bembeya Jazz, Balla et ses Balladins, Keletigui et ses Tambourinis and Super Boiro. This was their only full-length Syliphone LP, although the label did release nine Horoya Band 45s, including a five-single sequence (SYL 557-561) from early 1974. Available where??

horoya band national
savane profonde
syliphone slp 41 (1973)

01 Zoumana (tentemba) 10.36
02 Konimba (rumba savane) 5.18
03 Paya Paya (rumba savane) 6.28
04 La Guinee Horoya (rumba savane) 4.17
05 Touraman (rumba son) 7.27
06 Djama Ba Labo (rumba savane) 3.55
07 N'Fala Dyamana (morna) 6.49

vinyl @320

ornette coleman - the great london concert

Ornette Coleman arrived in London in August 1965 as a tourist, for he was far too dubious a commercial proposition for any British promoter to risk engaging his trio. However Coleman did want to appear in public, so he simply became his own promoter; he persuaded me to organize a concert for him, and financed the whole operation himself. Within three weeks of his arrival, his European premiere had given him his first taste of unqualified acclaim from listeners and reviewers; the impact was so profound that Coleman was elected "Musician of the Year" and Izenzon "New Star of the Year" in the 1965 Melody Maker Critics' Poll (their first-ever poll victory) on the strength of just the one solitary performance, and later the Melody Maker remarked that, "The concert has already assumed almost legendary status".
- Alan Bates liner note

Scheduled for US release on the short-lived Arista/Freedom imprint in 1975, legal threats resulted in its cancellation after promotional copies had been sent out, banishing this historic document to obscurity in Coleman's homeland. Released on International Polydor as An Evening With Ornette Coleman and on Freedom and Black Lion as Ornette Coleman In Europe Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, it seems to have successfully eluded many fans there as well.

ornette coleman
the great london concert
arista/freedom al 1900 (1975)

01 Forms And Sounds For Wind Quintet 24.55
02 Sadness 3.05
03 Clergyman's Dream 11.58
04 Falling Stars 7.37
05 Silence 9.00
06 Happy Fool 6.50
07 Ballad 5.00
08 Dough Nuts 5.53

Ornette Coleman / David Izenzon / Charles Moffett
live at Fairfield Hall, Croyden UK August 29, 1965
w/ the Virtuoso Ensemble

vinyl @320

Sunday, May 17, 2009

charles ives / john kirkpatrick - concord sonata

Wild and beautiful Ives treasure as interpreted by John Kirkpatrick, who, in 1939, gave the first public performance of the piece - which had been lying around unplayed since Ives finished it in 1915. Kirkpatrick spent years discussing the sonata with its composer. When asked about sections of Emerson and Hawthorne labeled "(prose)", Ives explained that it meant "not to be evenly played... the tempo is not precise... It is not intended that the metrical relation 2:1 be held too literally." When asked about the countless pencil revisions he'd added to the sonata's privately printed first edition in the years following his first heart attack in 1918, Ives said, "Do whatever seems natural or best to you, though not necessarily the same way each time." As for the variants he improvised every time he sat down to play it, Ives confessed, "I don't know as I ever shall write them out, as it may take away the daily pleasure of... seeing it grow." After Ives' death in 1954, Kirkpatrick became curator of the Charles Ives Archive at Yale, cataloguing thousands of pages of manuscripts, even piecing together fragments of torn pages. He was the first to record the sonata in 1945, returning to Columbia for its stereo debut in 1968. Of the three or four Concord recordings I've heard, this one seems most aligned with Ives' taste for gleeful insubordination, skewing conservatory-trained propriety with the elasticity of Thelonious Monk.

charles ives / john kirkpatrick
concord sonata
columbia masterworks ms 7192 (1968)

01 Emerson 13.35
02 Hawthorne 10.02
03 The Alcotts 4.37
04 Thoreau 9.43

vinyl @320

globe unity orchestra - jahrmarkt / local fair

Here we find bassist Peter Kowald's large ensemble investigating matters of an Ivesian nature. The first of the two side-long compositions involves the deployment of 15 musicians throughout a recording studio in various configurations playing some loosely organized thematic material, freely improvising and interspersing various canonical material from Sousa to Monk. It's an all-star cast that includes Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker and Peter Brotzmann and they kick up quite a storm from the raging Machine Gun-like opening salvo through some fleet trombone multiphonics (presumably from Albert Mangelsdorff) to a subdued gasp of an ending. For the second piece, Kowald opted to literally take it to the streets and apparently invited every musician in Wuppertal (as well as a number of non-musicians) to participate. So in addition to the regular Globe Unity personnel, we have a 17-piece brass band, a Greek bouzouki quartet and Wupperspatzen - a 30-piece accordion ensemble. Chaos ensues. Performed and recorded in the town square, one has the dizzying impression of wandering through a space where the local bureaucracy made a horrible error and no one wants to budge. So you have a schmaltzy brass band butting heads with free jazzers while sidestepping the advancing accordion army and trying to ignore that raucous Greek clarinet player. Loads of fun in the best tradition of free music wackiness.
- Brian Olewnick @ AMG

globe unity orchestra
jahrmarkt / local fair
po torch ptr / jwd 2 (1977)

01 Jahrmarkt 23.28
02 Local Fair 21.02

vinyl @320

bembeya jazz national - authenticite 73

Greetings! To further a personal crusade of mine, here's Bembeya Jazz National at their very best. This was the orchestra's second studio LP, released on Guinea's state-run Syliphone label. Here's some background from Graeme Counsel's invaluable liner notes from the Stern's Africa Authenticité compilation:
The story of the Syliphone label is a remarkable tale of music in an era of African independence and anti-imperialism. Since its independence from France in 1958, Guinea's artists were radicalised by an official cultural policy which sought to modernise the arts while still being faithful to traditional roots. It was a policy called authenticité, and music was its prime focus.
Under the policy, each region in Guinea, some 34 in total, were represented by artistic troupes. These consisted of an orchestra, a traditional music ensemble, a choir and a theatrical group. The government purchased musical instruments for the orchestras and encouraged them to sing about topics such as African nationalism, anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism. These regional orchestras were known as Orchestres Federaux, and together with Guinea's Orchestres Nationaux they were at the vanguard of musical production in Africa during the independence era.
The Syliphone label's fame grew from these orchestras and was elevated by the high calibre of the musicians who appeared on the recordings - artists such as Sékou "Diamond Fingers" Diabaté, Demba Camara, Kouyaté Sory Kandia and, from South Africa, Miriam Makeba. Guinea's musicians toured all over the continent as well as to Europe, the United States, Russia, Cuba and South America.
The Syliphone label thus captured a moment in African history, when a new nation asserted its voice and placed music at the forefront of its cultural identity.
Unfortunately, Authenticite 73 would be lead singer Demba Camara's last stand.
Arriving in Dakar for a series of concerts, several members of the group were transported from the airport in a chauffeur-driven car. En route their vehicle was involved in an accident, overturning and seriously injuring Demba Camara. Camara later died from his injuries, plunging Guinea into national mourning. His untimely death had a profound effect on the other members of the band, and for three years Bembeya Jazz neither toured or recorded.
But Bembeya did rise again, continuing to evolve into the early eighties, when the death of President Sékou Touré and subsequent military takeover signaled the end of the party for everyone involved.
An icon of Guinea's golden age of independence and authenticité.

bembeya jazz national
authenticite 73
syliphone slp 39 (1973)

01 Touraman (Rumba Lente) 6.49
02 Moussogbe (Mamaya) 7.07
03 Dia (Tentemba) 6.06
04 Demba (Mamaya) 5.58
05 Paya Paya (Rumba Guineé) 5.43
06 Sou (Morna) 5.15
07 Senero (Rumba) 4.08
08 N'Gnamakoro (Tentemba) 10.50

cd @320