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Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Paint (Hot Cup)

The first release by the piano trio configuration of Mostly Other People Do the Killing and features bassist/composer Moppa Elliott, pianist Ron Stabinsky, and drummer Kevin Shea, with each composition named after a small town in Pennsylvania that contains a color, and the town of "Paint, PA" lent its name to the title, with one apt Duke Ellington cover. ... Click to View


Moppa Elliott : Still, Up In The Air (Hot Cup)

Solo double-bass improvisations from Mostly Other People Do the Killing bassist and leader Moppa Elliot, consisting of sequences of contrasting themes, or musical cubism in the spirit of Picasso and Braque, presenting 7 of 14 sequences where the improvisation is a series of disparate musical ideas that transition rapidly in an attempt to disrupt the linear progression of thematic development. ... Click to View


Leandre / Minton: Leandre / Minton (Fou Records)

Phil Minton started as a trumpeter and became one of free improv's most outside vocalists; Joelle Leandre is a double bassist who also performs free vocal improv; this is their first recorded collaboration, and it's an unusual and wonderful album of heavy tone improvisation, plucked and bowed, and a masterfully odd free association of vocalisation. ... Click to View


Talibam! : Endgame Of The Anthropocene [VINYL] (ESP)

Talibam!'s 1st cinematic album of through-composed ecogothic geosonics, the "soundtrack to 2048's despotic nationalism and crumbling international infrastructure, underscoring an eco-mercantilistic tragedy and the desperate plundering of the last pristine landscape on Earth" from NY's duo of Matt Mottel on mini moog and synths, and Kevin Shea on drums, and midi mallet percussion. ... Click to View


Talibam! / Matt Nelson / Ron Stabinsky: Hard Vibe [VINYL] (ESP)

Talibam! with Matt Mottel on sax, Kevin Shea on drums, Matt Mottel on Fender Rhodes and synth and Ron Stabinsky on organ take inspiration from Herbie Hancock's 70's electronics, Miles Davis' "On the Corner" and Albert Ayler's New grass in compositions that transforms aspects of rhythm changes into a disciplined sequence, a new take on psychedelic jazz. ... Click to View


Crys Cole / Oren Ambarchi: Hotel Record [VINYL 2 LPs] (Black Truffle)

A double LP and the second release from the duo of Crys Cole and Oren Ambarchi, also romantic partners, as they explore their relationship through sound and voice, each side presenting a unique approach to their collaboration while maintaining a certain somnambulist feeling over rich guitar and organ work, and other unfathomable sound. ... Click to View


Boneshaker (Mars Williams / Paal Nilssen-Love / Kent Kessler): Thinking Out Loud (Trost Records)

The third album from this international trio of powerful improvisers--Norwegian drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, Chicago bassist Kent Kessler, and Chicago/NY saxophonist Mars William-- in four odysseys that take the listener from introspective playing to out and out blowing, using technique to serve their incredible dialog. ... Click to View


Sven-Ake Johansson / Alexander Von Schlippenbach : Schraubenlieder [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Drummer Sven-Ake Johansson is also a poet, writer and visual artist; here he joined forced with Alexander von Schlippenbach in 1988 to record these songs, never previously released, sung in German and English, for a set of 9 fascinating narrations that engage the listener independent of language, as von Schlippenbach improvises with prodigious technique. ... Click to View


Annette Peacock & Paul Bley: Dual Unity (Bamboo)

Reissuing the debut album by vocalist Annette Peacock and pianist Paul Bley recorded during their first European tour in 1970, in a quartet with compatriots Mario Pavone on bass and Laurence Cook on drums, Bley using an early Moog synthesizer; unique and original avant jazz. ... Click to View


Paul Bley Trio: Closer [VINYL] (ESP)

A vinyl reissue of Paul Bley's 2nd ESP album from 1966, a lyrical and lush trio setting with material mostly from Carla Bley, one Ornette Coleman number, and one from Annette Peacock, with Steve Swallow on bass and Barry Altschul on percussion, exploratory free jazz that uses melodic intention in assertive but not aggressive aways; a classic. ... Click to View


Pharoah Sanders : Quintet [VINYL] (ESP)

A vinyl reissue of Pharoah Sanders' 1965 debut release on ESP, in a quinet with Jane Getz on piano, William Bennett on bass, Stan Foster on trumpet and Mavin Pattillo on percussion, decidedly a jazz album from this outside player known for his association with John Coltrane in his freeist moments, here bridging lyrical and avant worlds with powerful playing. ... Click to View


Wadada Smith Leo: Najwa (Tum)

Paying tribute to musicians whose vision paved the way for modern creative players to use new approaches, language and philosophy in improvisation, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's band with four guitarists, electric bass, drums and percussion dedicates five incredible compositions to Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Billie Holiday. ... Click to View


Wadada Smith Leo: Solo - Reflections And Meditations On Monk (Tum)

An intimate album of solo trumpet from Wadada Leo Smith, performing compositions by Thelonious Monk, Smith professing in an essay in the accompanying booklet that he was motivated to become a composer by Monk above other contemporaries for his ideas of composition and bands; his admiration and love of Monk's work is clear in this beautifully lyrical album. ... Click to View


Aki Takase / Alexander von Schlippenbach: So Long, Eric! Homage to Eric Dolphy (Intakt)

Alexander von Schlippenbach and Aki Takase assembled an ensemble of Dolphy interpreters that includes bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall, saxophonist Tobias Delius, vibraphonist Karl Berger, trumpeter Axel Dorner, trombonist Nils Wogram, &c, for a fresh take on compositions from one of free jazz's most iconic composers, Eric Dolphy, captured live in Berlin, 2014. ... Click to View


Steve Noble / Yoni Silver: Home (Aural Terrains)

The two-headed snake on the cover of this album aptly describes the sublimely sinuous and dark interplay between London free jazz drummer Steve Noble and bass clarinetist Yoni Silver, their 4-part improvisation taking on sinister elements of exceptional cymbal techniques, unusual drum tones, and extended lower register tones and high harmonics; excellent. ... Click to View


Various Artists: Asian Meeting Recordings #1 (Doubtmusic)

Otomo Yoshihide started The Asian Meeting Festival in 2005 to foster creative interaction between Japanese and other Asian musicians, since 2014 curated by DJ Sniff, and here in the 2017 edition at GOK Sound, in Tokyo, Japan with a who's-who of players including Yoshihide, Ryoko Ono, Ko Ishikawa, Son X, KEITO, Yuji Ishihara, Yuen Chee Wai, &c. &c. ... Click to View


Jim Black Trio: The Constant (Intakt)

A beautiful example of the modern piano trio, led by in-demand drummer, Jim Black, with Elias Stemeseder the pianist and Thomas Morgan on bass, in a lyrical album that uses Black's compelling and elusive drumming on 9 original Black compositions and one unexpected standard, as all three deliver complex playing that sounds accessible and engaging, a true achievement. ... Click to View


Fred Frith / Barry Guy: Backscatter Bright Blue (Intakt)

Both bassist Barry Guy and guitarist Fred Frith are key artists of Switzerland's Intakt label catalog, but surprisingly the two have never shared a stage together; Intakt had a feeling about their pairing and brought them into the studio, this superb duo album being the result in 10 brilliant tracks intertwining acoustic double bass and electric guitar. ... Click to View


Fred Frith Trio: Another Day in Fucking Paradise (Intakt)

Proclaiming that he nothing more in mind then getting together with a couple of formidable musicians, guitarist Fred Frith and Mills College alumni Jordan Glenn on drums and Jason Hoopes on electric and double bass take their listeners through 13 connected pieces that reference rock, jazz and ea-soundscape in an impressive album from a remarkable new group. ... Click to View


Lotte Anker / Fred Frith: Edge Of The Light (Intakt)

An intimate dialog between frequent collaborators, UK guitarist Fred Frith and Copenhagen saxophonist Lotte Anker, both players listening carefully as they interact in a fragile dialog of profound technique and inventive approach, using texture and nuance to create unusual and captivating interchanges that demonstrate how compatible these two very different instruments can be. ... Click to View


Schlippenbach Trio (Schlippenbach / Evan Parker / Lovens): Features (Intakt)

The long-standing Schlippenbach Trio with Evan Parker on saxophone and Paul Lovens on drums presents 15 concise "Features", improvisations of great depth and diversity, from the beautifully stark solo piano that opens the album to intense collective interactions, avoiding excess in deference to the profound expression of an inspiring group chemistry. ... Click to View


Mark Dresser : Modicana [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Double Bassist Mark Dresser, a mainstay of the Downtown NY scene as an improviser and composer, and also prominent on the US West Coast and as an international touring artist, releases a powerful album of distinctive solo playing, both technically and melodically, with 2 tracks caught live at the Umea Jazz Festival and others recorded at the University of California, San Diego. ... Click to View


Bobby Bradford / Hafez Modirzadeh / Ken Filiano / Royal Hartigan: Live at the Magic Triangle [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

A live concert at Amherst, Massachusetts in 2016 as part of the Magical Triangle Jazz Series from the quartet of legendary cornetist Bobby Bradford, Turkish saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh on tenor, in-demand New York bassist Ken Filiano, and percussionist/drummer Royal Hartigan, the band performing two Bradford compositions, with one each from Filiano, Modirzadeh and Hartigan. ... Click to View


Andrew Lamb / Warren Smith / Arkadijus Gotesmanas: The Sea of Modicum [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Captured live at the 2016 Vilnius Jazz Festival, the free jazz trio of saxophonist Andrew Lamb and percussionists Warren Smith and Arkadijus Gotesmanas provide a unique orchestration, with the percussionists building rhythmic structures over which AACM alumni Lamb's powerful saxophone work emerges; a great album of solid exploratory free jazz. ... Click to View


Yedo Gibson / Hernani Faustino / Vasco Trilla: CHAIN (NoBusiness)

A fiery and energetic album of masterful free jazz from Brazilian saxophonist Yedo Gibson, Portuguese-Brazilian drummer and percussionist Vasco Trilla, and Portuguese bass player Hernani Faustino (Red Trio, K4 Quadrado Azul), recording in the studio for 6 dynamic dialogs that uses a variety of approaches and references to free jazz and creative improv. ... Click to View


TON-KLAMI (Midori Takada / Kang Tae Hwan / Masahiko Satoh): Prophesy of Nue (NoBusiness)

Ton-Klami was an influential Japanese free improvising band active in the 90s, and leading to the solo careers of percussionist Midori Takada, pianist Masahiko Satoh, and saxophonist Kang Tae Hwan; here the band is heard in a 1995 live concert recorded at Design Plaza Hofu in Yamaguchi, Japan, recorded by Chap-Chap Records but never released. ... Click to View


Liudas Mockunas : Hydro [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Lithuanian reedist Liudas Mockunas in an unusual record of clarinet and saxophone improvisations, from solo work of powerful technique to pieces using water prepared instruments to create a wealth of bubbling and aberrant sound on the instrument, side A presenting the 7 part "Hydration Suite", Side B the 3 part "Rehydration", and "Dehydration". ... Click to View


James Ulmer Blood W/ The Thing: Baby Talk (The Thing Records)

The Thing with Mats Gustafsson on tenor and baritone sax, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on electric and double bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and percussion, are joined by Downtown NY legend, guitarist James Blood Ulmer, for a live set at the Moldel International Jazz Festival in 2015 performing an exuberant and all-out impressive set of Ulmer composions. ... Click to View


James Ulmer Blood W/ The Thing: Baby Talk [VINYL] (The Thing Records)

The Thing with Mats Gustafsson on tenor and baritone sax, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on electric and double bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and percussion, are joined by Downtown NY legend, guitarist James Blood Ulmer, for a live set at the Moldel International Jazz Festival in 2015 performing an exuberant and all-out impressive set of Ulmer composions. ... Click to View


Sun Ra & His Myth Science Solar Arkestra: The Lost Arkestra Series Vol 1 & 2 [2 10-INCH VINYL RECORDS] (Art Yard)

A double 10" featuring unreleased and rare Sun Ra recordings, including a live track from Paris in 1983, two unreleased cuts from the "Disco 3000" concert tapes, a quartet session with Sun Ra on the Crumar Mainman synth, and three selections from the Sub-Underground series of Saturn LPs, including a ballad and new material from "Live at Temple" and "What's New". ... Click to View


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Notes from After Yodel: New Swiss Music


By Kurt Gottschalk & Brian Olewnick
Photos by Dominik Huber 2003-04-07

The eight-night After Yodel festival, curated by the Swiss-American turntablist Christian Marclay, was a part of the larger Swiss Peaks festival, three months of concerts, films and gallery exhibits displaying the best of Swiss art and architecture at 25 venues across the city. More than two dozen performers came from Switzerland to perform with New York musicians at the festival, which ran from March 21- 29 at Tonic in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The following overview was written by Kurt Gottschalk, with Brian Olewnick pinch-hitting on Day 7.

Day 1

Swiss Horns
MYTHA
If the blowing of 10-foot-long wooden horns isn't a traditional Swiss invocation, it's easy enough to pretend it is. In any event, it was with this festival and Mytha's first set opening night.

My penchant for the front row proved frightening; I was far closer to the bells of the huge Alpine horns than were the players themselves. Opening with a pleasant drone, they moved into jazzy arrangements, then into vaguely baroque settings, then New Orleans march, all within the first 15 minutes. It's easy, foolish and Amerocentric to imagine a group living in a mountain cabin, farming yaks and ordering World Saxophone Quartet cds from Amazon, wishing they had saxophones and making do with their granddad's big horns. Xenophobic, even, and I know it. But hell, this whole Swiss exchange program already has me imagining cultural mythologies.

In any event, the Alpine horn is a real instrument and a dynamic one, able to mimic soft trumpet lines and with a chamber resonant to make for an effective pe rcussion instrument as well. But it's a pitched instrument, without keys or valves, which limits the range. Some other use might be more interesting than Mytha's jazz combo stylings.

Before long, they'll no doubt be putting their horns through Powerbooks. The Alpine horn might be the only instrument left that hasn't been run through a laptop. I was excited to see Stephan Wittwer , and am still excited to have seen him, although why the wango tango of his electric guitar needs to be funneled through a Powerbook was not clear from his opening night set.

More of a revelation was Dorothea Schürch, who I'm adding to my shortlist of evocatively avant vocalists. (That list so includes Jaap Blonk, Shelley Hirsch, Catherine Jauniaux, Makagami Koichi, Phil Minton and David Moss.) Schürch demands less attention than those other vocalists, even with the pastryknot of hair atop her head. She doesn't command the proceedings, but listens and responds intently.

The local participant in the trio set with Schürch and Wittwer was Japanese expat Toshio Kajiwara. Someone had to hold the house together, and the turntablist seems to be a stonger improviser every month.

They were followed by another Wittwer trio, with Alan Licht and Lee Ranaldo. Notable for Wittwer's volume, Licht's fancy Flying V replica and Ranaldo playing bass (though perhaps not much else).

Day 2

Jacques Demierre opened his solo set in a fascinating fury. If I've ever before described someone as playing piano like a drum, I knew not of what I spoke. He worked the instrument over, inside and out, and it didn't fight back. He made sounds from parts not designed to make sounds. He chewed it up and spit it out.

Jaques Demierre
JAQUES DEMIERRE
I didn't get such a feeling of volatility from his duo recording with Sylvie Courvoisier (Deux Pianos on Intakt). He's capable of beautiful playing, but during this set I couldn't help feeling he was mad about something, mad at the country he was in, mad that there were only 15 people in the room, many of whom were also playing in the festival.

Demierre didn't leave the stage after his ferocious set. He just invited Min Xiao-Fen to the stage and began their duo without a break in energy. Xiao-Fen's thin, delicate pipa had a rough time keeping up with Demmere's intensity until she began, for the first time I've seen, applying a variety of electronic effects to her instrument.

An unstoppable force, after their set came to a conclusion Demierre motioned to Xiao-Fen for one more, and returned to some of the more delicate passages of the evening. For an acoustic player, he covers an incredible dynamic range. He's plays quiet like the wind and mighty like a hurricane.

Koch-Schütz-Studer don't waste their time with music. Instead, the horn-cello-drum trio is occupied with displays of simpatico. The idea of a solo would be ludicrous in this music; the stew is too thick for any ingredient to rise to the top (unusual when there's a horn in the mix - Hans Koch plays soprano saxophone and bass clarinet). The group isn't afraid of repetition, syncopation or simplicity. Nor are they above a balls-to-the-wall blowout.

Day 3

A nicely flowing set of static and tone, pop and chime from the dual laptops of Ralph Steinbruechel and New York's o.blaat, with the two seated at small tables in front of the stage, facing each other. One can't help but wonder if cubicles will b e the next stage setting for electronica improv. If the cycle of car alarms wasn't so predictable, the noise from outside would have fit in beautifully.

Okkyung Lee
OKKYUNG LEE
Following was a cello dual committed by Okkyung Lee and Martin Schütz. Lee left it to the latter to open, with a scrape, a pop and a long bowed note, then weighed in with her quick hammering. It took the pair all of two minutes to explode into a barrage of extended technique and mutual challenge, like two people playing speed chess without taking turns.

Lee is a great player, and Schütz pushed her as hard as anyone has. If this were a match (and it might have been), smart money would have been on Schütz, if only for his greater years of experience. But the duo met head-on, on equal footing, varying dynamics but never easing up. Lee's bow was threadbare and had to be replaced after the first 20 minutes.

Somehow it was with the trio of Schürch, Schütz and Wittwer that I finally felt deep in the heart of Zurich. While it's understandable that musicians coming to play in town want to play with New Yorkers, it can be disappointing to so rarely see visitors able to explore familiar ground. These three clearly know each other, and their familarity showed. Shards of sound fell in place, they didn't interrupt. Like a good basketball team, they knew where each other were and where they were headed without having to check. Wittwer's splinter metallics, the blasts from Schütz' electrified and effect-plied cello and Schürch's dramatic, understated vocalizing continually wove around each other without tying each other in knots.

Attendance was the lowest yet tonight. Are the Academy Award s really that interesting?

Day 4

An evening of improv resulted from some originally booked electro players not coming to town in protest of US actions in Iraq, resulting in the most total music meeting of the fest so far. Electronic duos and trios with Steinbruechel, Norbert Moslang (of the now defunct Voice Crack), Günter Müller and New York turntablists Christian Marclay and Toshio Kajiwara. Marclay and Müller started the night with a melding of sounds, as opposed to the previous nights meeting (and clashing) of styles. If Schürch, Schütz and Wittwer were an immersion into the Swiss aesthetic, Marclay and Müller were a melting of regionalism.

Electronics and turntables, perhaps, lend themselves to that loss of ego. The mechanized production of sound and the inability to always tell who's playing what blur distinctions of culture, predilection, instrument. It's a very different kind of free improv, like a string quartet jamming underwater, with a storm passing overhead.

Christian Marclay
CHRISTIAN MARCLAY

The night, in a sense, replaced the "open combinations" midnight sets which had been advertised but canceled, and the short sets had the feeling of a suite, one group picking up where the last left off. Müller was surprisingly loud (though of course still not loud) with Marclay, a dizzying mesh of grind, scratch, stutter and musical utterance. Marclay hadn't been scheduled to perform, but sat in for the missing Swiss.

Spoke with Schürch after the show, who said That the musicians who didn't come out of protest shouldn't be replaced, that their protest should be respected with gaps in the program. Besi des, she said, "I like gaps sometimes."

Following Marclay and Müller's great duet was a NY trio, breaking the festival theme or perhaps just the hole in the cheese. Maybe it was homefield advantage, but Marclay, Kajiwara and Shelley Hirsc h l aid down one of the most powerful, charismatic sets of the night.

The home team took the next inning as well, with Marclay, Kajiwara and DJ Olive delivering a strong five-minute burst before bringing Steinbruechel and Müller up to join them and finish the night, Marclay playing plastic and ceramic cups on his turntable.

Confronted at the end of the night by Schütz. "I looked at your Web site today. There is nothing about this?" You've got to give me a little time to write, I said. I'll do one piece when it's all over. "You should do it immediately, get it up there," he said. "That's important. Like us, we are naked when we're up there."

Day 5

176 keys and 176 strings. Four hands, ten fingers. Half the stage filled with piano, two baby grands like two giant onyx tortoises sleeping side by side.

Demierre and Sylvie Courvoisier woke them, gently tickling and prodding them, surprisingly gently for two such physical players. They opened with a brief, pastoral piece before moving into extension, caressing the Baldwins' innards. Pretty, really, like Chopin is pretty (only, of course, not).

The percussive pianist duo was followed by a purely percussion duet, with Raz Mesinai on hand drums and Fredy Studer on kit, interesting because they're both such syncopated players but both strayed so far from steady rhythm during the set. Studer played with his hands, matching Mesinai's delicate taps. Studer played muted high-hat runs while Mesinai sang into his drum. Mesinai played hand bells to Studer's fast snare rolls. They held at low volume, listening intently to each other, allowing for constant shifts in sonority.

Mesinai's drums are generally quiet, but he creates a fairly massive feedback machine by placing a microphone inside his instrument. Studer clearly enjoys volume, and together they conjured a tumultuous storm in the second part of the set, p e rhap s not meshing well (Mesinai's feedback drum has been used in other setting to better effect), but Studer still rose to the occasion, banging a large, heavy cymbal to meet Mesinai's attack. If a drum duet sounds like something only a drummer would love, Mesinai and Studer proved the setting to be rife with possibility.



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