2017-10-06 Red October

Red October

Red October by Polyorchard.

A fine group of young men, playing freely and creatively.

Trombone, Saxophone, Percussion, and Double Bass.

Thinking about what language to use and differentiate this from yesterday’s DEK Trio album, other than just different instruments and different people.

Or, maybe that is enough?

Well, they both seem to be mostly improvised music and both are live albums. Red October is a larger group, (and particularly impressively recorded for being recorded live). Burning Below Zero has a piano, but no bass and a single wind instrument, giving it a different feel. Polyorchard’s album contains fewer allusions to popular music. Both have very impressive players. Both are great albums.

Will need to work on this idea of differentiating modern improvised musics. On the “to-do list”.

#JebBishop #LaurentEstoppey #ShawnGalvin #DavidMenestres #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-10-05 Burning Below Zero

Burning Below Zero

Burning Below Zero by Elizabeth Harnik / Didi Kern / Ken Vandermark aka DEK Trio.

Wonderfully diverse playing both in terms of technique and content. Everything from Free Squonk to Classical to African Pentatonics shows up as you pass by. Just waiting for you to dip in and and sample. A cornucopia of thoughts and feelings, bursting at the seams.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #DEKTrio #KenVandermark #ElizabethHarnik #DidiKern

2017-10-04 The Centre Cannot Hold

The Centre Cannot Hold

The Centre Cannot Hold by Ben Frost.

I’ve enjoyed Ben Frost’s albums in the past, so I was intrigued when I heard he was working with Steve Albini on this new one. Albini is known as something of an iconoclast and a fancier of obscure analog recording equipment, so I was curious what would happen when someone as tied to digital sound technology as Ben Frost would collide with Albini’s world view.

My initial reaction was that the album sounded a bit retro, reminding me of some of Tangerine Dream or John Carpenter’s soundtrack work from the 70s. Something about the keyboard washes.

However, digging deeper, I started to hear more interesting sounds. Sonar Pings, Heartbeats, etc.

So, I’m a little on the fence. I do like “Entropy in Blue” quite a lot.

The title refers to William Butler Yeats most famous, and most quoted, apocalyptic poem, “The Second Coming”. The titles of the songs themselves are quite topical. “A Single Hellfire Missile Costs $100,000” and “Healthcare” are actual song titles.

In any case, Yeats’ words “…what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem”, are, unfortunately, sounding far too prophetic. 

#BenFrost #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #TheCentreCannotHold

2017-10-03 No Perfect Wave

No Perfect Wave

No Perfect Wave by C. Diab.

The primary instruments here are bowed stringed instruments, (including electric guitar,) accordion, and occasional trumpet. And, well, tape delay. Actually, it could be argued that tape delay is the primary instrument.

It is, sort of, heavy folk music.

In any case, I really enjoy this album. It is drone-ey and meditative, yet sonically varied enough that it remains interesting through its whole length and after repeated listenings.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Drone #CDiab

2017-10-02 A Pouting Grimace

A Pouting Grimace

A Pouting Grimace by Matt Mitchell.

Wow. I was familiar with Mr Mitchell from his work with Tim Berne and others, but did not expect this! Crazy ambitious compositions. I guess I’d almost call it “Stravinsky meets Monk in the 21st Century”. Intellectual and driving, yet it swings.

Really cool! And also pretty hilarious song titles like, “bulb terminus”, “squalid ink”, and “gluts”. Though, my favorite track is, “mini alternate”. 

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MattMichell #APoutingGrimace #KimCass #KateGentile #ChesSmith #DanWeis #PatriciaBrennan #KatieAndrews #AnnaWebber #JohnIrabon #BenKono #SaraSchoenbeck #ScottRobinson #TyshawnSorey

2017-09-26 Sands


Sands by Steve Lacy.

Solo Soprano by Mr Lacy on Tzadik.

This album has more of a feel as if someone turned on a recorder while they were practicing, than if they were intentionally recording a solo album.

A lot of the time he will find a phrase, play it once, then repeat it down a key, then another, then another, to the lowest he can play it on his horn. Or take the same phrase and repeat it several different times with different emphasis or different techniques. There’s are also a lot of pseudo classical themes that pop up and things that sound like circus music, along with some Jazzy improvisation.

Sands is technically interesting, as someone who plays an instrument, and is curious about other musician’s thought processes or how they practice. I feel like I am being given a look behind the curtain. But, I don’t find it compelling listening, as a Jazz listener.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #SteveLacy #Sands

2017-09-25 The Following Mountain

The Following Mountain

The Following Mountain by Sam Amidon.

The most recent album from avant traditionalist Sam Amidon is his most eclectic and ambitious recording to date.

Including collaborators saxophonist Sam Gendel and bassist Milford Graves, (yes, THAT Milford Graves,) allows him to let this album swing freer than anything he has put to record before.

I really enjoy The Following Mountain and feel like Mr Amidon manages to capture something here that wouldn’t happen on his more carefully composed folkish albums. I hope he continues to experiment further in this vein!

Sam Amidon plays Tuesday, Sep 26 at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #SamAmidon #SamGendel #MilfordGraves

2017-09-22 Beginning To Fall In Line Before Me, So Decorously, The Nature Of All That Must Be Transformed

Beginning To Fall In Line Before Me, So Decorously, The Nature Of All That Must Be Transformed

“Beginning To Fall In Line Before Me, So Decorously, The Nature Of All That Must Be Transformed” by Nazoranai.

A trio of Oren Ambarchi, Keiji Haino, and Stephen O’Malley. Ambarchi on drums (etc.), Haino on acoustic stringed instruments and electric guitar, O’Malley on Bass.

A single performance, divided into two parts, Haino sticks to acoustic stringed instruments, (violin and hurdy gurdy, I think,) for the first part, building tension. About mid-way through, Ambarchi hits a groove that wouldn’t be out of place on a Can album, and Haino switches to Electric Guitar. Sonic events accumulate, building to a pitch, and then subside.


#Nazoranai #OrenAmbarchi #KeijiHaino #StephenOMalley #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-09-21 Scrabbling at the Lock

Scrabbling at the Lock

Scrabbling at the Lock by The Ex and Tom Cora.

Reasonable people can disagree about things like, “Best Album”, but for me this collaboration between Dutch band The Ex and Skeleton Crew Cellist Tom Cora is among my favorites.

From the most casual guitar swipe to the ecstatic drum beats, everything fits together. It’s magic.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #TheExNl #TheExBand #TomCora #TheExAndTomCora

2017-09-20 Time Lapse

Time Lapse

Time Lapse by Evan Parker.

Some solo, some multitracked, and some with real time electro-acoustics, all Soprano Sax. My understanding is these tracks were recorded and compiled over the course of several years.

Fairly accessible, as there is more traditional melodic content on this release than many of Parker’s other solo Soprano albums, this is still an outstanding tour de force from one of the great instrumentalists of our time.

Also, great titles like, “Those Doggone Dogon” and “Gees Bend”. Bonus points for a reference to one of my favorite Baudelaire prose poems with, “The Burden of Time”. 

#EvanParker #timelapse #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack