2017-11-16 A Muscal Improvisation Company

A Musical Improvisation Company

A Musical Improvisation Company by Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies, Christine Jeffrey, Jamie Muir, and Evan Parker.

Recently, the ECM label made much of its catalog of recordings available to stream from most of the major streaming services. ECM has a ridiculously diverse and rich catalog of music from Mal Waldron’s “Free At Last”, released in 1969, onwards, with everything from folk to jazz to new composed music represented.

One of the earliest artifacts of the UK “Free Improvisation” scene, “A Musical Improvisation Company”, was released on ECM in 1970.

As you can perhaps tell, I am interested in the intersections of Composition and Coincidence. Music and Noise. Nature and Art. Silence and Sound.

While the New York Free Music scene worked out its transcendental Fire Music, the English improvised music scenes, along with groups related to the AACM in the US, developed something more like instantly composed modern classical music. That is, they incorporated more textural and non-tonal elements in their playing, instead of just energy.

This record is a great exploration of those ideas, and, some 47 years later, still thought provoking.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #AMusicalImprovisationCompany #ECMRecordings #DerekBailey #HughDavies #ChristineJeffrey #JamieMuir #Evan Parker

2017-11-15 Worse for the Wear


Worse for the Wear by Ballister.

Bandcamp Link: Worse for the Wear

Most recent release from Dave Rempis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Paal Nilssen-Love’s Ballister ensemble.

Energetic and eclectic free jazz from three great players recorded live at Constellation in Chicago. Sax, Cello, Percussion, and a little bit of electronics.

They say, “On this recording…Ballister’s trademark raw energy is tempered by a mix of introspective soundscapes and moments of quiet beauty…” I won’t disagree.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Ballister #DaveRempis #FredLonbergHolm #PaalNilssenLove #WorseForTheWear #CatalyticSound

2017-11-14 Barber: Adagio for Strings; Ives: Symphony No. 3; Copland: Quiet City, etc.

Barber: Adagio for Strings; Ives: Symphony No. 3; Copland: Quiet City, etc.

Barber: Adagio for Strings; Ives: Symphony No. 3; Copland: Quiet City, etc. by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, (Neville Marriner,) 1987.

I read about the SF Symphony performing Ives’ Symphony No 3 this week, and a friend is very inspired by Ives’ work, so I thought I should give it a listen.

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is generally a reliable ensemble.

For me, Ives’ work is a little hard to hear. So much of it ended up influencing 20th Century film music that it really is difficult to hear his inventions for themselves without thinking of the music and composers who borrowed from him.

His Symphony No 3 is a very nice piece, though I find myself grooving a bit more to the Barber and Copland.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #IvesSymphonyNo3 #CoplandQuietCity #BarberAdagioForStrings

2017-11-13 Absent Personae

Absent Personae

Absent Personae by Kepla and DeForest Brown, Jr.

Boomkat Link: Absent Personae
“The piece is a post-industrial Dérive considering the psychological liminal zones between old and new industry and urbanity, the changing landscapes of labor: a fractured genealogical memory trace obscured by intercepted signals and the liquidating flux of late capitalism.” From the liner notes.

Uh, right.

Basically, we have a sound landscape created by digitally manipulating the sounds of Afro-European and African-American culture. The sounds are often a-rhythmically bent, spindled, and mutilated beyond recognition. Into this base sound environment, DeForest Brown, Jr, occasionally intones, Andy Fairley-like, upon the nature of the “black body”, scars, and cultural issues.

Similar, I suppose, in practice, to Jlin’s Black Origami, but quite different in result, largely due to the fact that Kepla and Brown do not impose a rhythmic framework beyond the normal cadences of the human voice.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Kepla #DeForestBrownJr #AbsentPersonae

2017-11-09 Glorious Ravage

Glorious Ravage

Glorious Ravage by Lisa Mezzacappa.

Label Link: Glorious Ravage

A song cycle inspired by the letters of female adventurers and explorers of the late 19th and early 20th century featuring the vocals of Fay Victor. “The idea for Glorious Ravage was born from my first musical meeting with Fay Victor, in fall of 2011 … our musical chemistry was instant, and I knew I needed to write for her unique talents. I started composing trio music, and in my search for texts that would become lyrics, I began with Fay’s journey west, from where she lives in Brooklyn, New York, to the Bay Area. I had also made that journey years before, not knowing where it would lead. So I began reading journals, letters and travelogues of women who had made epic trips—first pioneer women headed west in covered wagons, then all sorts of women from all over the world, each of them hitting the road for their own reasons.” Lisa Mezzacappa, September, 2015.

A large ensemble recording featuring amazing performers, this is a sort of Art-Jazz Song Cycle. A bit Jazzy, a bit Proggy, and a bit Symphonic. An outstanding, and extremely ambitious, release from Ms Mezzacappa.

#LisaMezzacappa #GloriousRavage #FayVictor #NicoleMitchell #KyleBruckmann #VinnyGolia #CoryWright #DarrenJohnston #MichaelDessen #DinaMacabee #JohnFinkbeiner #MarkDresser #MyraMelford #KjellNordeson #TimPerkis #JordanGlenn

2017-11-08 Magic Circle

Magic Circle

Magic Circle by Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc.

Label Link: Magic Circle

An album of Soprano Saxophone and Piano duets. 
Newsome is one of the top, and most inventive, modern practitioners on the Soprano Sax.

Some standards and some original tunes.

I really like how both players mix in “out” techniques while remaining within the form of the tunes.

All the performances are great, but their take on Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso is particularly outstanding.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #SamNewsome #JeanMichelPilc

2017-11-07 Tooth


Tooth by Raime.

Bandcamp Link: Tooth

Raime is known for being, I dunno, kind of “goth” electronica. Spare, moody instrumentals. Dark.

Tooth is their most recent album.

There is a danger with sample and loop based music. Let’s call it “accretive music”. The challenge is providing enough variety, that it isn’t apparent you are simply playing several samples against each other. The equivalent of running two metronomes, simultaneously, at two different tempos.

I’m not sure that “tooth” rises to that challenge.

About all I can think about, as I listen, is identifying the loops, and hearing them play out.

There’s no real tension created, just a slight sense of atmospheric dread.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #Raime #Tooth

2017-11-06 Bay Head


Bay Head by Gunn – Truscinski Duo.

Bandcamp Link: Bay Head

Steve Gunn, Guitar and John Truscinski, Percussion, are a long running Los Angeles based duo. The album sounds mostly live in studio with a little digital fx.

Another album I found out via online acquaintance @pfcidb.

Atmospheric and jammy, but not too spacey. Styles range from Surf to Spanish to Saharan to Blues to Television-esque squonk. Some drone interludes, essentially playing the amp. 
Really, quite enjoyable. It’s clear that the two really enjoy playing together and have a near psychic interplay that only comes with lasting familiarity.

#GunnTruscinskiDuo #SteveGunn #JohnTruscinski #BayHead

2017-11-02 Anna Högberg Attack

Anna Högberg Attack

Anna Högberg Attack by Anna Högberg Attack.

Label Link: Anna Högberg Attack

I forget where I heard about this album from Swedish Saxophonist Anna Högberg’s Attack Sextet. I think, a couple years ago, a few jazz bloggers wrote about it.

In any case, I bought it, sort of forgot about it, and didn’t listen through it until this morning. As, unfortunately, happens all too frequently with digital assets.

A fun mix of free and composed music, harmony and noise. Listening, I think the artist she owes the most to in her compositions is probably Charles Mingus. His concepts of harmony and “folk jazz” seem to permeate a lot of the written parts on this album. Which isn’t a bad thing.

The “out” bits are pretty out. The most extreme probably “Regnet”, where one of the sax player limits themselves to spitty, slurpy, gurgling. Pretty “Punk Rock”, if you ask me, and I’m not easily shocked. And the nice bits of the playing are quite nice. There are some almost hymn like chordal harmonies on “Familjen”. Also, there is a song called, “Lisa med Kniven”, which, unless I’m mistaken, means, “Lisa with Knives”. I wish I’d listened sooner.

Also, best album cover ever!

#AnnaHögberg #AnnaHögbergAttack #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-11-01 Crime Waves

Crime Waves

Crime Waves by Moor x Jewelry.

Bandcamp Link: Crime Waves

A collaboration between Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, and Steven Montenegro, aka Mental Jewelry.

More than her other releases, the music on this release reflects trends in popular music, from both the US and the UK. I hear more influences of where the music formerly known as rap is today and/or grime/dubstep than on Ayewa’s other projects.

In some ways, I suppose it makes it a more accessible release. On the other hand, there is a lot of harsh language, not just in terms of subject matter. As regards the lyrical content, it is probably more repetitive and terse than on either her Moor Mother or Irreversible Entanglements projects. I suppose this reflects something more tangentially connected to popular music.

An interesting experiment, but I find it less compelling than either Fetish Bones or Irreversible Entanglements.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MoorXJewelry #MoorMother #MentalJewelry