The Squid's Ear
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Matthew Shipp : Magnetism(s) (RogueArt)

The creative NY jazz trio led by pianist Matthew Shipp with Rob Brown on alto sax and flute and William Parker on bass re-release and re-master their 1999 Bleu Regards album "Magnetism", a 20-part suite of concise and informed dialogs; and add a live CD of the trio recording three larger "Magnetism" improvisations capture live at the Stone, 2016. ... Click to View


Larry Ochs / Sax and Drumming Core: Wild Red Yellow (RogueArt)

Rova leader Larry Ochs takes his Sax and Drumming Core to the next level with this charged album of mind-bending album of free improvisation with an hallucinatory edge, joined by Libra artists Satoko Fujii on piano & synth and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, with Scott Amendola on drums, William Winant and Matthias Bossi on a wild set of percussive instruments. ... Click to View


The Seen: Archive: Volumes I - V (2005 - 2009) [5-CD BOX SET] (Confront)

Since 2005 bassist and percussionist Mark Wastell has been organizing concerts of ever-changing groups of improvising musicians under the collective name The Seen, using predominantly improvised material with occasional instructions or themes, here presented in 5 CDs, each a complete concert recorded at venues including Cafe Oto, Red Rose Theatre, &c. ... Click to View


Nicole Mitchell : Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records)

The second astounding album from Chicago Flutist Nicole Mitchell on the FPE label, continuing her project in the sphere of Sun Ra and Afrofuturists, merging fiction, fantasy and sound in an electro-chamber octet, encompassing contemporary classical, globally oriented fusion, gospel, avant-rock, spoken word, and funk-inspired groove research. ... Click to View


Nicole Mitchell : Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds [VINYL] (FPE Records)

The second astounding album from Chicago Flutist Nicole Mitchell on the FPE label, continuing her project in the sphere of Sun Ra and Afrofuturists, merging fiction, fantasy and sound in an electro-chamber octet, encompassing contemporary classical, globally oriented fusion, gospel, avant-rock, spoken word, and funk-inspired groove research. ... Click to View


Michael Foster / Ben Bennett: In It [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

The second release for the duo of Ben Bennett on drums, percussions and membranophones, and Michael Foster on tenor, soprano, sopranino saxophones and aerophone, in uniquely voiced improvisations that develop both carefully and, at times, erratically, but always with an ear to interesting dialog that captivates and confuses the listener. ... Click to View


Andrew Smiley : Dispersal [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

An uncommon solo guitar album from Andrew Smiley, a member of Little Women and the Chris Pitsiokos Quartet, creating textures on the guitar by applying unconventional techniques with his pick and fingers instead of using effects or guitar preparations, and accompanying himself on voice in Haino-esque ways, creating an album of sharp contrast and color. ... Click to View


Emmanuelle Waeckerle : Ode (owed) to O [2 CDs] (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

London-based composer Emmanuelle Waeckerle in a project of spoken word, flute and melodica with contributors including Antoine Beuger, using minimal and multiple narrations in texts that blend erotic literature, conceptual writing and verbal scores, presented as 2 Scores for voice(s) and instrument(s) based upon Pauline Reage's "Story of O". ... Click to View


HMS (Joe Houpert / Nathan McLaughlin / Erich Steiger): Tetrad [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Blurring the lines between experimental music, improv, and composition, the trio of Joe Houpert, Nathan McLaughlin, and Erich Steiger use the studio to rework their improvisations, accenting aspects of the acoustic and electronic elements and morphing them in unexpected ways; "think Henry Flynt meets Cluster meets Revolutionary Ensemble". ... Click to View


W-2 (Sam Weinberg / Chris Welcome): Fanatics [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

The Brooklyn duo of saxophonist Sam Weinberg (Captain Phillips) and synth player Chris Welcome (Chris Pitsiokos, Mike Pride) in an album of abrasive, rhythmically abraded and contorted electro-acoustic improvisation, each player embedding themselves into each other's sound, at time making their instruments indistinguishable from one another. ... Click to View


Steve Lacy: Free for a Minute (1966-72) [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Four sessions on a 2 CD set, all featuring Steve Lacy and Kent Carter: (1) DISPOSABILITY, the 1965 trio record with Aldo Romano of jazz standards, originals and free improv; (2) SORTIE, the 1966 free improv quartet + Enrico Rava album; (3) previously unissued 1967 'Free Fall' Film Cues in a quintet with Rava, Karl Berger, & Paul Motian; (4) two never issued '72 quintet pieces with Steve Potts, Irene Aebi on cello and Noel Mcghie. ... Click to View


Paul Rutherford : In Backward Times (1979-2007) (Emanem)

Four very different previously unissued concert settings featuring trombonist Paul Rutherford: 2 festival solos - one from 1979 with electronics and one from 2004 without; a 1988 duo with Paul Rogers a few months before their ROGUES CD; and a 2007 trio with Veryan Weston and Marcio Mattos, which turned out to be Rutherford's last public appearance. ... Click to View


Barry Guy: Frogs [VINYL 7-inch PICTURE DISC] (Trost Records)

A 7" limited vinyl picture disc made to celebrate legendary European Free Jazz bassist Barry Guy's 70th birthday, with Guy providing "acoustic sounds" along with his collaborating frogs, Wasserfrosch (Rana Esculenta) and Laubfrosch (Hyla Arborea), size A presenting Frogs & Barry Guy, and side 2, Barry Guy & Frogs; quirkly and wonderful free improv. ... Click to View


Christian Wolff : Berlin Exercises [VINYL] (God Records)

A series of shorter works composed by Christian Wolff written to explore the process of practicing and working within specified limits, exercises for both the composer and the performers, recorded live in Berlin in 2000 by an ensemble directed by Peter Ablinger and including Wolff on piano & melodica, Robin Hayward on tuba, Anette Krebs on guitar, &c. ... Click to View


Phill Niblock: Rhymes With Water [VINYL] (God Records)

A beautiful set of minimalist compositional drone from New York composer Phill Niblock, commissioned by the performers Natalia Pschenitschnikowa on bass flute and Erik Drescher on glissando flute, recorded at PIETHOPRAXIS, in Cologne, Germany by Marcus Schmickler, and in Berlin, Germany, by Thomas Ankersmit. ... Click to View


Simon Rummel Ensemble: IM MEER (Umlaut Records)

German composer and improviser Simon Rummel presents the 2nd release from his 11-piece Simon Rummel Ensemble, blending his interest in acoustic phenomena and improvisational harmonics in an extended work that shift from beautiful tonal work to disruptive cacophony and back to melodic music, blending jazz and 20th century approaches; a great achievement. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Bryan Eubanks: My Undocumented Alien Clarinet [VINYL] (Penultimate Press)

Recorded and presented as part of Pauline Oliveros Foundation's New Vanguard Series in Kingston, NY in 2006, the unusual duo of Joe McPhee on b-flat and e-flat alto clarinets and synthesizer and Bryan Eubanks on open circuit electronics explores unusual dynamics and psychoacoustic intersections of both acoustic and electronic instruments. ... Click to View


Blaise Siwula / Jorge Nuno: Waterscapes (Creative Sources)

Waterscapes is the performing duo of New York saxophonist Blaise Siwula and guitarist Jorge Nuno, interwining distinct approaches to acoustic and electric improvisation, creating rich sound environments and rapid interaction that draws the listener in and then sweeps them off their feet with passionate, complex and informed dialog. ... Click to View


Carlo Mascolo: My Tubes (Creative Sources)

A unique take on this large brass instrument from Italian trombonis and Free Flow Festival director Carlo Mascolo, using preparations, focusing on components of the instrument, and using extreme techniques to create a startlingly diverse set of sounds, vocalisations, microtonal output and simply bizarre utterances as Mascolo brings new language to horn. ... Click to View


Alfredo Monteiro Costa / Miguel A. Garcia: Aq'Ab'Al (Mikroton Recordings)

Audio experimenters Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Miguel A. Garcia join forces in an album titled after "Aq'ab'al", the Mayan Astrology Sign about polar opposites-- dawn and dusk, hot and cold, black and white--which represents renewal and change, through a series of opposing audio events, forceful sounds of texture, feedback, and intervention. ... Click to View


John Butcher / John Edwards / Mark Sanders: Last Dream Of The Morning (Relative Pitch)

A studio album between three UK master improvisers -- John Butcher on sax, John Edwards on double bass, and Mark Sanders on drums -- the trio pushing the envelope in technique and dialog in nearly telepathic playing that transports the listener into their environment, as the music builds and releases in effortless ways that are stunning and exulant; highly recommended. ... Click to View


Fred Van Hove / Roger Turner: The Corner (Relative Pitch)

Pioneering improvising pianist Fred Van Hove at UK's Cafe OTO for the first time, captured in a duo with UK drummer/percussionist Roger Turner, their first recording together, for a night of exceptional improvised interplay, sophisticated and complex playing that is constantly buoyant and charming, an enthralling conversation between two veteran players. ... Click to View


Magda Mayas / Jim Denley: Tempe Jetz (Relative Pitch)

A pairing of two innovative players, Berlin-based pianist Magda Mayas and Australian sound and wind artist Jim Denley, Mayas playing inside and out of the piano and Denley on alto sax and bass flute, both providing field recordings adding unexpected elements in a set of extremely balanced recordings that entrance the listener with unlikely and captivating settings. ... Click to View


John Butcher: Resonant Spaces [VINYL] (Blume)

Extreme acoustic space recordings from saxophonist John Butcher, part of Arika's Resonant Spaces event, with performances from resonant and remote corners of Scotland. ... Click to View


Lean Left: I Forgot To Breathe (Trost Records)

The 7th album from the quartet of Netherlands guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels (The Ex) with Chicago free improvising multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and Netherlands drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in an album balancing amazing energy with profound introspective moments in thrilling edge-of-your-seat improvisation - excellent! ... Click to View


Lean Left: I Forgot To Breathe [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The 7th album from the quartet of Netherlands guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels (The Ex) with Chicago free improvising multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and Netherlands drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in an album balancing amazing energy with profound introspective moments in thrilling edge-of-your-seat improvisation - excellent! ... Click to View


Kontakte Trio (Trevor Taylor / Ian Brighton / Steve Beresford): Kontakte Trio (FMR)

An important and well-matched trio of electroacoustic improvisers, and a welcome addition to guitarist Ian Brighton's return to active music life, with Steve Beresford on piano, prepared piano and electronics, and Trevor Taylor (Circuit) on percussion and electronics, six unhurried improvisations of intricate interplay and interchange themed on physics. ... Click to View


Viv Corringham / Lawrence Casserley: Anemoi (FMR)

Lawrence Casserley is a pioneer of real time electroacoustic music, since the 60s working with other artists and developing his Signal Processing Instrument, using physical gestures to process and morph sounds; here he works with British vocalist and Deep Listening teacher Viv Corringham in an other-worldly collaboration of voice and electonics. ... Click to View


Kamins / Smith / Fielder / Hertenstein: After Effects (FMR)

A great example of traditional free improvisation spanning generations from the quartet of Danny Kamins on baritone saxophone, Damon Smith on double bass, and two drummer/percussionists--Alvin Fielder and Joe Hertenstein--for 10 tracks of swinging free music recorded in the studio in Texas, 2016, jazz with a lyrical intention and powerful rhythmic underpinnings. ... Click to View


Pat Thomas: The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari [VINYL] (Otoroku)

Inspired by the automatic water clock invented by Iraq inventor, engineer, and father of robotics, Badi' al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari built in the 12th century, pianist Pat Thomas recorded these four exceptional improvisations of powerful solo piano with an unusual and inventive twist live at London's Cafe Oto in 2015. ... 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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