The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Ensemble 5 (Geisser / Blumer / Staub / Morgenthaler / Dell):
The Human Factor (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

The long-running quartet of percussionist Heinz Geisser, bassist Fridolin Blumer, pianist Reto Staub and trombonist Robert Morgenthaler have for years extended their 4-tet with a 5th guest, here asking vibraphonist Christopher Dell to join them in the studio after a successful live performance in the spring of 2022, capturing this spectacular, wide-ranging example of collective improvisation. ... Click to View


Kenny Dorham:
Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia To Matador - Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Revisiting and remastering two essential albums from New York hard bop trumpeter Kenny Dorham, a tremendous musican who died much too young but left a legacy of 20 albums as a leader, here in his 1956 Blue Note album in a sextet that included Bobby Timmons and Kenny Burrell, and his 1963 United Artists Jazz album in a quintet with Jackie McLean, Bobby Timmons, Teddy Smith and JC. Moses. ... Click to View


Silvan Schmid / Tom Wheatley / Eddie Prevost:
The Wandering One - High Laver Levitation Volume 2 (Matchless)

A live recording of freely improvised improv captured at All Hallows Church in High Laver, Essex in 2023 from the trio of AMM drummer and Matchless label-leader Eddie Prévost, Zürich and Maastricht trumpeter Silvan Shmid, and London double bassist Tom Wheatley of the group Widdershins, heard in three investigative conversations of great creative drive. ... Click to View


Natsuki Tamura / Jim Black:
NatJim (Libra)

Right out of the gate one feels the energy and excitement between Japanese trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and NY drummer Jim Black, each pushing the other through strong instrumental character and outrageous technique over nine Tamura compositions recorded in the studio in Switzerland, their first recording in 25 years since their 1999 Buzz Records album White and Blue. ... Click to View


Joe Mcphee / Ken Vandermark:
Musings of a Bahamian Son: Poems and Other Words (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

27 concise poems written and read by saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, punctuated by 9 musical interludes between McPhee on soprano sax and Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark on clarinet and bass, fortifying McPhee's captivating words that mix life observations among jazz references to Dolphy, Monk, Brötzmann, Coleman, &c.; a truly embraceable "book" of poetry. ... Click to View


Birgit Ulher:
Split Friction - Audiovisual Works [BOOK] (Private)

Published on the occasion of Birgit Ulher's exhibition Split Friction at Errant Sound in Berlin from November 24-26, 2023, an interdisciplinary project spanning the intersection between exhibition, video, performance, concert and sound installation, documented in this 96 page full-color book with images from the installation, graphic scores, and essays in English & German. ... Click to View


STHLM svaga:
Plays Carter, Plays Mitchell, Plays Shepp (thanatosis produktion)

The Swedish free jazz septet STHLM svaga work at the liminal edges of delicate improvisation and song, for this album commissioning works from Archie Shepp, Ron Carter and Roscoe Mitchell, Carter traveling to Stockholm to provide guidance on his composition "Desert Lament"; the band also performs Coltrane's "Jupiter" and Per Henrik Wallin's piece "Winter Rhapsody". ... Click to View


Bob Drake:
The Room In The Tower (Crumbling Tones)

A great set of 11 succinct songs and instrumentals from multi-instrumentalist, prog icon Bob Drake of Thinking Plague, The Science Group, VRIL, and Peter Blegvad fame, vignettes that play with pop formats in insidious ways around recurring Drake themes including a Planet of Dogs, three rustic tales, and a perturbing room in the tower, all noted in a colored foldout poster with lyrics. ... Click to View


Space (Ullen / Bergman / Lund):
Embrace the Space (Relative Pitch)

A startlingly exciting album of piano trio jazz from three creative innovators, in the followup to the 2022 debut of the Swedish Space Trio of Lisa Ullen on piano, Elsa Bergman on double bass and Anna Lund on drums, recording in the studio for eight collective improvisations of extremely well matched, highly interactive and exhilarating modern improv. ... Click to View


Yedo Gibson:
Conic Tube (Relative Pitch)

Born in São Paulo, Brazil and working in Amsterdam and Lisbon, and also part of the London Improvisers Orchestra, Yedo Gibson unleashes an album of solo improvisation on the soprano and tenor saxophones, his "conic tubes" which he uses to express the potential to change environment and energy through technically impressive, expressive playing. ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Rodrigues:
Intenso como o Mar (Creative Sources)

With the nearly telepathic communication that only a father & son duo could have, Lisbon violist and Creative Sources label leader Ernesto Rodridgues and cellist Guilherme Rodrigues recorded these two string improvisations live at Cossoul in Lisbon during the "Esta Noite Improvisa-se", a melding of remarkable technique, concentration and profound expression. ... Click to View


Violaine Gestalder :
Furtive (Creative Sources)

With an impressive resume in improvised and contemporary forms, French saxophonist Violaíne Gestalder presents three major conceptual works for multiple players, using studio layering to perform all parts herself on soprano sax, voice & effects, a comprehensive, yearning, powerful and often mysteriously beautiful album that draws on her skills as a composer, improviser and experimenter. ... Click to View


Loris Binot / Violaine Gestalder :
Loris Binot & Violaine Gestalder (Creative Sources)

A contemplative and building collection of electroacoustic improvisations from French alto & soprano saxophonist Violaine Gestalder, augmenting her horn with effect pedals, and pianist Loris Binot, using preparations, magnetic bows and electronics to create sustained and percussive elements, recording in the CIM auditorium in Bal-Le-Duc, France for five rich and fascinating dialogs. ... Click to View


Gabriel Vicens:
Mural (Stradavarius )

Reflecting on the slow decay of Roman and Egyptian murals, New York City-based, Puerto Rican-born composer, guitarist, visual artist and No Base Trio member, Gabriel Vicéns, presents a collection of chamber works including two piano trios, a wind quintet performed by Nu Quintet, cello & violin and violin & piano duos, a solo piano work, and a sextet conducted by David Bloom. ... Click to View


Simulacrum:
Archetypes (Evil Clown)

One of the more electronic/ea ensembles from the Boston area collective led by David Peck, Simulacrum is an offshoot of Metal Chaos Ensemble, the core being Peck on reeds, percussion & electronics, Eric Wood on analog synth and Bob Moores on space trumpet & guitar, joined by Michael Caglianone (sax), Faruq Hassan (sampler), and Michael Knoblach (percussion). ... Click to View


Leap Of Faith:
Cyclic Models (Evil Clown)

A larger ensemble for the Boston-area collective Leap of Faith of David Peck on clarinets, saxophones & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, here extended with two horns, three strings, and drums including Cecil Taylor bassist Albey OnBass, plus John Fugarino on trumpets & brass, Tor Snyder on guitar and Eric Rosenthal on drums & percussion. ... Click to View


Chefkirk:
Giant Size (Love Earth Music)

Eight distinctive works for electronics and sound from the alter ego of Roger H. Smith, using noise, percussive elements and unusual synthetics, layered around static and arpeggiated rhythms and punctuated with strange asides, the works run from 3:14 to 18:37 and were developed over a year and half; an excellent introduction to the sonic diversity Chefkirk revels in. ... Click to View


Midnight Only (RJ Myato / Jabe Ledoux):
Midnight Only (Love Earth Music)

An album of dense electronics, drums and gongs from Vermont drummer and experimenter Jabe Ledoux, aka Jo Bled, and Pittsburgh noise artist RJ Myato, co-founder of NNN Coalition and curator of Enforced Existence label, in three works from assertive jumbles of sound, to buzzy drones with muted percussion and ending with an ocean of blurred and swooping harmonics. ... Click to View


Liba Villavecchia Trio (Reviriego / Trilla) + Luis Vicente:
Muracik (Clean Feed)

Trumpeter Luís Vicente joins the Spanish saxophonist Liba Villavechia's Trio with double bassist Alex Reveriego and drummer Vasco Trilla for a studio album of four Villavecchia compositions, and one each from Reviriego and Vicente, propelling the band into hard swinging free improv balanced with introspective abstraction and sonic extensions; masterful. ... Click to View


TGB (Carolino / Frazao / Delgado):
ROOM 4 (Clean Feed)

Twenty years of activity and advancement is heard in this fourth album from the dynamic tuba power trio of tubist Sergio Carolino, guitarist Mario Delgado & drummer Alexandre Frazao, an electric jazz unit of deep power and drive, on this album leaving behind cover tunes that included Deep Purple and Thelonious Monk to focus on compositions from each band member. ... Click to View


Ghost Trees:
Intercept Method [VINYL 2 LPs] (Future Recordings)

Appropriately recording in New Jersey in the Van Gelder Studios, the North Carolina sax & drum duo of Brent Bagwell and Seth Nanaa stand in the shadows of Coltrane & Ali or McHenry & Cyrlle on their fourth release, a 2-LP, 180gm red-vinyl album of swinging, structured free jazz with a lyrically inclined outside attitude; twelve tracks of concise and compelling dialogs. ... Click to View


Garcia / Moimeme / Reviriego / Rodrigues / Santos:
Mars Reveri (Creative Sources)

An intense album of pyschedelic and subliminally detailed electroacoustic improvisation from the Portuguese quintet of Miguel A. Garcia on electronics, Abdul Moimeme on guitar & metals, Alex Reviriego on double bass, Ernesto Rodrigues on piano harp & viola and Carlos Santos on electronics, a powerful live set recorded in 2018 at Le Larraskito Kluba in Rekalde, Bilbao. ... Click to View


Eventless Plot:
Structures (Creative Sources)

Three configurations of delicately detailed, reductionist electroacoustic improv from the Greek Eventless Plot trio of Vasilis Liolios (inside piano, e-bow piano, objects & psaltiri), Yiannis Tsirikoglou (objects, guitar, MAX/MSP) and Aris Giatas (piano), in one piece as a trio, then with guest Chris Cundy on bass clarinet, and a third with Louis Portal on percussion. ... Click to View


Karin Johansson / Lisen Rylander Love:
Arter [VINYL] (Havtorn Records)

The Swedish title translating to "Species", the contemplatively elegant interactions between pianist Karin Johansson and tenor saxophonist Lisen Rylander are named for extinct species of animals and plants, as the two improvise over the loss of species that disappear from the earth every year, their wistful music augmented through preparations, kalimbas, live electronics and percussion. ... Click to View


Peter Van Huffel's Callisto:
Meandering Demons (Clean Feed)

A step into a darker world than Gorilla Mask from the debut of baritone saxophonist Peter Van Huffel's bass-less quartet Callisto with Lina Allemano on trumpet, Antonis Anissegos on piano & electronics and Joe Hertenstein on drums, a solid jazz quartet that shies from cliché in devilishly deep collective interplay fostered by Van Huffel's inventive compositions. ... Click to View


Dave Douglas:
Gifts (Greenleaf Music)

A new book of compositions and four interesting interpretations of Billy Strayhorn songs from trumpeter Dave Douglas' premier of a new quartet with tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and two members of the post-rock trio Son Lux — guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang — in a lyrically embraceable and sophisticated album dedicated to the gifts of life and music we all share. ... Click to View


Sean Ono Lennon :
Asterisms (Tzadik)

The chameleonic styles of Sean Ono Lennon are in full force on this instrumental record, merging rock, jazz, experimental and cinematic styles in captivating ways, performed with the spectacular ensemble of Devon Hoff (bass), Yuka Honda (electronics), Johnny Mathar (drums), João Nogueira (Wurlitzer), Ches Smith (drums), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) & Mauro Refosco (percussion). ... Click to View


Matt Mitchell:
Illimitable [2 CDs] (Obliquity)

"100% improvised, one take, no edits" from New York pianist Matt Mitchell's solo album in four extended improvisations of impressive detail and creative direction, eschewing any particular style while crossing many, Mitchell's technical skills making complex passages clear even when he names them as abstruse, an impressive accomplishment and an absorbing album of solo piano improv. ... Click to View


Steph Richards (w/ White / Takeishi / Cleaver / Jaffee) :
Power Vibe (Northern Spy)

Using a democratic compositional concept of cues that any of the musicians can employ to redirect all players into new structures, leading to exemplary improv from the core quintet of Steph Richards on trumpet & flugelhorn, Joshua White on piano, Stomu Takeishi on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drumset, plus Max Jaffe replacing Cleaver on drums & sensory electronics for one live track. ... Click to View


John Zorn:
The Hermetic Organ Volume 12 - The Bosch Requiem (Tzadik)

Part of composer, saxophonist and organ improviser John Zorn's 70th birthday celebration, this 12th volume in his The Hermetic Organ series finds Zorn performing on the two organs at the Grote Kerk (Great Church) in Den Bosch, The Netherlands, first solo and then with John Medeski, in a tribute to the 15th century proto-Surrealist painter Hieronymus Bosch. ... Click to View



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The Squid's Ear
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The Bottom Shelf is where artists keep the records in their collections that they might not want you to see. Revealing early influences, unusual appetites or just guilty pleasures, we offer a peek at the shelves of some of our favorite musicians.


  Anthony Coleman's Bottom Shelf  

Schlanger Jordan Parker
[Photo by Kurt Gottschalk] 
OK, here goes...My bottom shelf...well, first, a little cultural philosophy: Back in the day, there was some kind of frisson connected with liking/loving/being influenced by music that was outside of whatever was considered culturally acceptable. Jazz inched its way in slowly but surely, starting in the early '30s - and now it's part of a good Liberal Music Education. And I remember those great early days (in the '80s) where David Garlard (on WKCR at that time) would shock by announcing a "work" by Ferrante and Teicher or Esquivel with the same gravitas that another would give to the names "Mozart" or "Beethoven." But those days are over...WFMU, Zorn, Post-Modernism (in its decadent phase - if that's not a redundancy) changed all that. My Bottom Shelf is downright canonical.

How could I have found the perfect soupcon of Romantic Irony to counterpoise the weight of the mournful Sephardic songs in my Sephardic Tinge project if wasn't for the revelation of Irving Fields' Bagels and Bongos (Decca 8856). Magnificently cheesy arrangements for trio - Yiddish hits "Latinized." The version of "Belz" changed my life (in a small way). Why isn't this on cd? Fields glides over the keys with not one iota of Jazz feeling In (George) Lukacs-ian terms, that's what makes his version more "authentic" than my brooding cover version, redolent as it is with all kinds of references. He has a couple of perfectly played klezmer clarinet riffs that function as signifiers throughout the disc. I've stolen them all. He's like Ahmad Jamal - he just knows what will work on piano in a trio context and what won't. The master!

My used copy of Organ Jazz Samba Percussion by Andre Penazzi (Audio Fidelity DFS 7020) comes from the discard of the library of a Montreal radio station - CHOM. On the back is hand written "A bit of a nothing set - But???" A nothing set??? Philistines! They don't have any idea how long I looked for this one. It was a major item on the playlist at Soho Music Gallery, the record store where I worked in the late '70s/early '80s (along with Zorn, Tim Berne, Anton Fier, etc...). A nearly indescribable melange of rhythmic virtuosity, unbelievable facility with the variety of the stops available on that magificent dinosaur of an instrument - the '60s electric console organ. And a resolute, unbending, almost ascetic schlockiness. A footnote: For years this was one of the only Brazilian albums in my collection. I say that with neither pride nor shame - it just was.

Next - a whole series of discs connected to some sort of unhealthy but complex German fixation; I'll start with the most complex: Songs of the Spanish Civil War Vol. 1 (Folkways FH 5436). Let's face it, I was a weird kid. I loved this record - I knew all the songs by heart. In a way, this isn't even a Bottom Shelf record, except in how it relates to the others in this sub-group. Ernst Busch was a stirring, moving great singer. The lines from "Freiheit!" ["Die Heimat ist weit/ Doch wir sind bereit/Wir kaempfen und siegen fuer dich: Freiheit! (Far off is our land/yet ready we stand/We're fighting and winning for you/Freedom!)] still (today!) give me goosebumps. And Eisler's "Song of the United Front" and "The Peat-Bog Soldiers" are both acknowledged masterpieces.

But still . . . at the distance where we are, communism and communist anthems (especially the humorless German variety) have something touchingly kitsch about them. No such exegesis is necessary to locate the perverse moment at the heart of Hitler Is On The Air! (Radiola 2MR-8889) or Hitler's Inferno (Audio Rarities 2445). Ialso had the second one of these as a kid, and all of these discs have inspired endless reflections (which continue to this day) about the nature of the Political in music - especially when you consider the music alone and try to put the text on the side for a second (as virtually no critic in the history of rock has - even for a second). The similarities between music from the Far Left and the Far Right. The differences. The mediation of a foreign language - how that aids reflection. How it impedes it. I could write a book... Somehow, you haven't quite lived until you've heard the Storm Troopers sing "Wenn Die S.S. und die S.A. Aufmarschiert" or the Hitler Youth sing "Die Jugend Marschiert," and "On The Air" was my first exposure to the phenomenon which is Charlie and his Orchestra - the Nazi propaganda swing band. Parodies of American big-band hits - lyrics like "I hate to see the evenin' sun go down/because de German, he done bombed this town" (St. Louis Blues) played by the best jazz musicians the occupied nations had to offer... indispensable! (some of the Ernst Busch tracks are available on the CD Der Barrikaden Tauber Barbarossa (EdBa 01303-2), all Folkways are available from Smithsonian/Folkways on special order, and Charlie tracks have been lovingly reissued on a series on Harlequin (I have HQ CD 03).

OK...I could go on all day. But I'll leave you with a masterpiece of horrendous '80s Yugoslav Pop. To continue the "canonical" theme, my cd Disco by Night would have been impossible without this music. It helped me escape the dangerous tendency to fetishize the "folklorical" as the only significant product of a culture. Within its totally commodified nature, this music told important truths about the Yugoslavia of that moment in time. If they would've listened to their own truths....People often say it sounds like Turkish pop. Well, not to me, although there's no shortage of terrifying Balkan-isms. Anyway, I promisedyou a masterpiece ... The oxymoronically - titled The Best of Lepa Brena Vol.5 (JVP Vertrieb CD 018) contains her magnum opus "Sitnije Cile Sitnije," produced (unlike most of her hits) by the Brian Eno of Yugoslav Pop, Kornelije Kovac. The difference between this and other tracks is in Kovac's clever dialectical manipulation of the Western and Eastern elements: The parade bass drum of the Balkan brass band, the clarinet and accordion, the Eastern scales...and then the handclaps, the synthesizer hooks. The touch of a poet. New Year's Eve, Belgrade, 1981 turns into 1982. The Top 10 Video Hit Parade. Number 1: "Billie Jean," Number 2: "Sitnije Cile Sitnije." Do I really have to say more?




Previous Bottom Shelf Articles:
Our Own Bottom Shelves
Gary Lucas
Ron Anderson


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