The Squid's Ear
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Cecil Taylor:
Respiration (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

An incredible solo concert from legendary New York pianist Cecil Taylor in October, 1968 at the Sala Kongresowa (Congress Hall, Palace of Culture and Science) in Warsaw during the Jazz Jamboree, recorded by Polski Radio and remastered in 2021, an excellent example of the nimble mind and quick technical skills of Taylor's personal take on improvisation; stunning! ... Click to View

Steve Coleman and Five Elements:
Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume II (Mdw Ntr) [2 CDs] (Pi Recordings)

Recorded a year after Volume 1, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman's Five Elements band with Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Anthony Tidd on bass, Sean Rickman on drums and, replacing guitarist Miles Okazaki, improvising vocalist Kokayi credited as "wordsmith", performing at The Village Vanguard for a sophisticated, rhythmically fascinating and energetic concert; exemplary! ... Click to View

Miles Okazaki (w/ Mitchell / Tidd / Rickman):
Thisness (Pi Recordings)

Trickster, the stellar quartet of New York guitarist Miles Okazaki with Matt Mitchell on piano, Fender Rhodes & synth, Anthony Tidd on electric bass and Sean Rickman on drums, in a sequel to The Sky Below, blending acoustic and electric jazz in four captivating compositions that Okazaki describes as striving towards something like collective dreaming. ... Click to View

David Virelles:
Nuna (Pi Recordings)

Cuban/NY pianist David Virelles in his first solo album, 14 original compositions and 2 from Cuban composers, blending modern jazz with Cuban, African and European influences, a tour-de-force of clear and balanced, irrepresible rhythms and elegant ballads, an inspired album opening on marimbula and expanded with percussion from Julio Barreto on three tracks. ... Click to View

Musson / Moore / Brice / Prevost:
Under the Sun (Matchless)

Quartet, the masterful grouping of Rachel Musson on tenor sax, NO Moore on electric guitar, Olie Brice on double bass and Eddie Prévost on drums, an improvising ensemble of wonderfully unpredictable momentum, from passages of quiet introspection to thunderous density, but always with attentive listening and imaginative responses, heard in this spectacular 2021 concert at Iklektic. ... Click to View

Obstacle Illusion (Astral Spirits)

Taken from concerts during Thollem's 3-month European tour, at Centro d'Arte dell'Università di Padova; AngelicA at Teatro San Leonardo in Bologna; and Rassegna di Nuova Musica 39, performing on acoustic pianos or a Korg Wavestate, showing his technically impressive, creative drive over a diverse set of approaches to solo piano improvisation. ... Click to View

Tern (Philipp Wachsmann / Martin Hakett / Emil Karlsen):
In AIr (FMR/Bead)

Two sessions from the free improvising electroacoustic trio of Philipp Wachsmann on violin & electronics, Martin Hakett on synthesizer and Emil Karlsen on drums & percussion, first for three studio recordings in 2019, and then in concert at the 2020 "Sounds Like This" festival at Leeds College for two wonderfully idiosyncratic and masterful conversations. ... Click to View

Action & Tension & Space:
Tellus [VINYL] (Rune Grammofon)

With one foot in fusion-oriented improv and the other in psychedelic/prog rock, the 4th album from the Norwegian quartet of Per Steinar Lie on lapsteel & electric guitar, Oystein Braut on guitar, organ & Mellotron, Julius Lind on double bass and Orjan Haaland on drums are joined by keyboard wiz Sigbjorn Apeland and percussionist Stale Liavik Solberg. ... Click to View

Nandor Nevai w/ Tim Dahl / Trevor Dunn:

A dark trio of NYC heavyweights Tim Dahl and Trevor Dunn on bass and Nandor Nevai ( _ (Underscore)) on drums and conducting, in Nevai's fifth iteration of the _ ("UNDRSKOR") project, following a fusion of forms referred to as 'Neauxtheque' invoking "Danger Classical", the Martial Pop subgenre of Industrial and the virtuosic demands of Technical Death Metal. ... Click to View

Reinier van Houdt :
Drift Nowhere Past / The Adventure Of Sleep [2 CDs] (elsewhere)

Interested in compositional work involving sound, timing, space, physicality, memory, noise & environment, Dutch composer Reinier van Houdt shares six works developed for erstwhile record's festival AMPLIFY 2020: quarantine, each piece focused on a specific day of the month; and a complementary set of four compositions about everyday recurring situations. ... Click to View

Quentin Tolimieri :
Monochromes [3CDs] (elsewhere)

Berlin-based composer & pianist Quentin Tolimieri's goal for the 15 compositions of "Monochrome" was to hear the acoustic piano differently, removing traditional structures of European harmony, each piece focused on a single or "monochromatic" theme that unfolds over an extended period of time, whether languorous or intensely active, each piece unique and self-contained. ... Click to View

Dan Clucas / Kyle Motl / Nathan Hubbard:
Daydream and Halting (FMR)

A collective West Coast trio from double bassist Kyle Motl (Treesearch) with cornetist Dan Clucas, also on violin and moxeno (an Andean wind instrument) and drummer Nathan Hubbard, imbued with a spiritual and natural chamber jazz feeling, their improvisations influenced by concepts of daydreams, incandescence and zephyrs; a beautiful and open-minded album. ... Click to View

Hippie Diktat:
Fire On (Self Released)

Six raw instrumentals bridging free jazz and free rock forms, clearly influenced by both Brötzmann and Sunn O))) (as referenced in the track "SunnA)))") from the French Hippie Diktat trio of Antoine Viard on amplified baritone sax, Julien Chamla on drums and Richard Comte on guitar, recording at l'Ecluse, in Reims in 2013 for six ruggedly inspired tracks. ... Click to View

Sun Ra Arkestra & Salah Ragab:
Meets Salah Ragab in Egypt [VINYL] (STRUT)

The last installment in Strut's Sun Ra reissue series is also the first time that Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab in Egypt album has been reissued, bringing to light these studio recordings between the Arkestra and Egyptian drummer Salah Ragab, recorded during Ra's 1983 Egyptian tour, and featuring two Ragab compostions from his Cairo Jazz Band. ... Click to View

Forkelid / Carlsson / Hielm:
Can't Hide [Vinyl] (FRIM Records)

The first release on the Swedish label Association For Free Improvised Music (FRIM) is the trio of Gustaf Hielm (Mats/Morgan Band) on bass, Elin Forkelid (Anna Högberg Attack!) on saxophones and Erik Carlsson (Swedish Azz, Skogen) on drums, a free-blowing session of heavy collective playing in the European Free Jazz tradition for two extended "Question" & "Answer" sessions. ... Click to View

Trio Xolo:
In Flower, In Song (577 Records)

The debut of Trio Xolo, bringing together Mexican-American bassist Zachary Swanson, inventive Lithuanian ex-pat & long-time New York drummer/percussionist Dalius Naujokaitis and lyrical Baltimore saxophonist Derrick Michaels, three players steeped in both tradition and avant free playing, captured live in-studio for an album of perceptive creative jazz. ... Click to View

Gabby Fluke - Mogul :
Love Songs (Relative Pitch)

An album of raw and emotional "love songs", 17 unique solo violin improvisations and vocal utterance as the New York improviser runs her bow with passionate openness and intimacy through raspy edges, ardent plucking, introspective aching, and moments of beauty, all displayed through immense technique and powerful control over her instrument. ... Click to View

Jessica Pavone:
...of Late (Astral Spirits)

Borrowing from traditional music notation, Jessica Pavone's compositions for her string ensemble with Aimée Niemann and Abby Swidler alternates between metered and time-based scores allowing the performers freedom to move between long tone sounds and clusters at the performer's chosen rate, responding to each other while creating a "collaboratively sewn musical fabric". ... Click to View

Jessica Pavone:
...of Late [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Borrowing from traditional music notation, Jessica Pavone's compositions for her string ensemble with Aimée Niemann and Abby Swidler alternates between metered and time-based scores allowing the performers freedom to move between long tone sounds and clusters at the performer's chosen rate, responding to each other while creating a "collaboratively sewn musical fabric". ... Click to View

Thanos Chrysakis / Jason Alder:
Milieu Interieur (Aural Terrains)

Employing multiphonics, circular breathing and unusual sonic phenomena of immense control over the lowest of clarinets--the bass clarinet and contra bass clarinet--UK-based multi-reedist Jason Alder performs the two-part "Milieu Interiuer" composition by Greek composer Thanos Chrysakis, along with three other Chrysakis compositions for solo and layered clarinets. ... Click to View

Hippie Diktat:
Black Peplum [VINYL] (BeCoq)

Using raw and primal rhythms, deep textures from amplified baritone saxophone and trance approaches to rock instrumental music balancing Steve Reich and Sunn O))), the French Hippie Diktat trio of Antoine Viard on baritone sax, Julien Chamla on drums and Richard Comte on guitar has toured Europe since 2011, here in recordings at l'Ecluse, in Reims from 2013. ... Click to View

Richard Comte:
Innermap (Coax)

Addressing the perception and representation of physical space through 9 solo guitar works of sonic textures and treatments imbued with rich solo playing, each track named by coordinates of remembered towns and cities, creating a succession of interconnected sonic landscapes of drones, resonance and clear tones as a metaphor for an internal, mental, cartography. ... Click to View

Richard Comte:
Innermap [VINYL] (Coax)

Addressing the perception and representation of physical space through 9 solo guitar works of sonic textures and treatments imbued with rich solo playing, each track named by coordinates of remembered towns and cities, creating a succession of interconnected sonic landscapes of drones, resonance and clear tones as a metaphor for an internal, mental, cartography. ... Click to View

The Residents:
WARNING: UNiNC.: Live And Experimental Recordings 1971-1972 [VINYL 2 LPs] (CRYPTIC CORPORATION)

The Pre-Residents years, as exhumed from the band's extensive master tape archive. BLACK 2xLP. Double LP set featuring two live shows recorded in 1971 and 1972 plus the complete '1-10 (with a touch of 11)' album, recorded in 1972 and previously only released in short excerpts. ... Click to View

Federico Ughi:
ULERS Two (577 Records)

Percussionist, drummer and improviser Federico Ughi performed this live recording in Brooklyn, 2001 using field recordings captured in Rome on a journey from Piazza S. Cosimato, Trastevere to Via Alberico, Borgo Pio, using those recordings, live sampling and live editing along with drum and percussion techniques to create a unique journey in sound. ... Click to View

Paul Dunmall / James Owson / Taymotusz Joziwiak:
This Time In Beautiful Space (FMR)

Performing on tenor, alto and C-melody saxophones plus alto flute, Paul Dunmall's trio brings together drummer Taymotusz Joziwiak (heard on One Became Many, Unmasked and Awoto) and younger generation bassist James Owswon, for an album of expressive and lyrical free jazz, a well-paced example of tempered collective interplay highlighting all three musicians. ... Click to View

Rick Countryman / Christian Bucher:
Once (FMR)

From the same 2017 session that was released as the album Estuary, this concert in the Philippines between American expatriate saxophonist Rick Countryman and visiting Swiss drummer Christian Bucher expands on the free playing of these two empathetic improvisers, presenting a mix of textural, conceptual, melodic and rhythmic interplay steeped in their personal histories. ... Click to View

Raymond McDonald / Robert Burke / Paul Grabowsky / Nick Haywood / Antony Floyd:
Dangerous Decision (FMR)

A stellar collective collaboration between British and Australian improvisers recorded at the Kazz Lab/Jazz Club, in Melbourne, Australia as part of a joint recording project between MONASH and RMIT Universities, with performers Raymond MacDonald on alto sax, Robert Burke on tenor sax, Paul Grabowsky on piano, Nick Haywood on double bass and Antony Floyd on drums. ... Click to View

Udo Schindler / Michel Wintsch:
Le Demon de l'analogie (FMR)

"The Demon of Analogy", reedist Udo Schindler on clarinets & saxophone and Michel Withsch performing on a Pleyel piano, take inspiration from the concepts of French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallamé (1842-1989), who considered his texts as instruments of harmonic complexity and ambiguity, interpreted in eight improvisations recorded live at Krailing, in Munchen, Germany in 2016. ... Click to View

Lasse Marhaug / Jerome Noetinger:
Top (erstwhile)

A tribute to late experimental sound artist Peter Rehberg (Pita) from collaborators and friends Lasse Marhaug and Jérôme Noetinger, ten recordings of wildly creative, slippery electronics, crunching sound bunts, rapid fire electronic turmoil and tapehead jamming, ending with a beautifully drifting tribute to an artist who widely influenced modern sound culture. ... Click to View

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Heard Out

Reviews of live performance

April 2003
   review by Kurt Gottschalk
Derek Bailey and Ikue Mori (Tonic) - April 10, 2003
Derek Bailey and Cyro Baptista (Tonic) - April 11, 2003
Derek Bailey and Shaking Ray Levis (Tonic) - April 12, 2003

Derek Bailey is a masterful soloist whose collaborations can fly or fall flat. So it was more than promising that he began a three-night stint in New York with one of this town's master collaborators.

Ikue Mori often burrows deep in the mix during joint projects, but in this duet each opened with defined roles: Mori setting a fluid, pastoral mood and Bailey gently playing atop. As if looking to upset the apple cart, Mori soon shifted her laptop from elemental sound to jagged electricity, coaxing Bailey into harmonics and hum. From there, it was anyone's game, the duo somehow working as a quartet, each playing both under and over the other. Simply put, great improvisers often make great music.

The question has been posed before whether Bailey really listens when he plays with others. The answer seems clearly to be yes, but only when viewed from afar. Bailey isn't the sort of player who engages in call-and-response and riff mimicry. He's as often engaged in soliloquy as in dialogue. But that's in part because his vocabulary on the guitar is just so extensive. His playing varies with different projects, and he refers more to the way in which collaborators plays than to what they just played. With Mori, he left open spaces of feedback and hum, custom built for her to fill. He thumped his low strings to suggest her percussive flights, he strummed quickly and laid on and off the volume pedal, emitting distorted shrapnel as Mori's rhythm lines sometimes explode, pan and fade.

Bailey and Cyro Baptista, who paired off for the second night, are an odd and long-standing duo. The percussionist is full of fast and abrupt shifts, moving helter skelter through an array of drums and devices. Bailey's changes are just as fast, but aren't built of alterations in instrument, tempo or mood. With no central nervous system, the duo presumably would need to be aware of where the other is at all times for anything to happen at all.

That, however, is a challenge for Baptista, who leads far more than he follows. For this duet, he had an unusually large arsenal in tow, including a six-piece gamelan, bass, conga and clay drums and electronics, in addition to his myriad of handheld devices. As it happens, his unending evolutions worked well with Bailey; while there's never a thing to hold on to for more than 10 or 12 seconds, the broken phrases and splintered thoughts kept motion forward, and Bailey, surprisingly (and to his credit) became the backbone. Baptista's electronics (primarily reverb and delay applied to voice or mouth instruments, and an electronic drum pad) weren't used to smooth the edges of his scattershot playing, but did help to create some less hyper atmospherics.

For the second set, however, roles were reversed, with Cyro in charge, swinging Brasilia, laying down funky harp, looping, speeding up and singing along with himself on "All the Way." Bailey played Oscar Peterson to Baptista's Ella Fitzgerald, a pure accompanist, chordal structures and arpeggios. The meeting of two good-humored souls shone through. It's a bit of camp, and all told not the most satisfying of Bailey's meetings, but pure entertainment, right down to Bailey blowing the smoke off his pistol-finger to close the set.

The third night's meeting with the Tennessee two, the Shaking Ray Levis, featured Bailey's heaviest playing of his visit, going more for volume and overdrive than in the previous two relatively subdued affairs. His distorted guitar meshed nicely with Dennis Palmer's keyboard wash, and his fast lines fit well with Bob Stagner's quick drumming, making this the most overtly ensemble playing of the three nights. The Levis alone are a dynamic ensemble, mixing drum flurries and swaying electronics with occasional vocals.

If the previous two nights were about Bailey's circuitous, obtuse means of collaborating, this was straightforward from the top, at times verily avant rock. Bailey let distortion ring over clustered notes, while Palmer let loose the occasional blues holler. "Well, George Bush is doing alright," he drawled. "You can bet he's raking in the cash like nobody's business, and he's losing control like a sorcerer's apprentice." And if Bailey didn't exactly play the blues with Palmer, he somehow still played like a bluesman.

Over the course of three nights, what became apparent is that Bailey's choices makes sense, even if sometimes they make sense of something that happened 20 minutes ago. He's ike a grandfather sitting at a table, whittling or maybe fixing a clock, who suddenly answers a question that was asked, ignored and forgotten already. And you didn't think he was listening.

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