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Vandermark / Wooley / Courvoisier / Rainey: Noise Of Our Time (Intakt)

After reedist Ken Vandermark's residency at The Stone in 2016, he went into the studio with improvisers Nate Wooley on trumpet, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, and Tom Rainey on drums to record this spectacular album of forward-reaching jazz using stunning technique and wonderful lyrical complexity, as they run through compositions from Wooley, Vandermark and Courvoisier. ... Click to View


Kaja Draksler / Petter Eldh / Christian Lillinger: Punkt.Vrt.Plastik (Intakt)

The rhythm section from the Amok Amor quartet--drummer Christian Lillinger and bassist Petter Eldh--and reforming it as a trio with pianist Kaja Draksler, to create a thrilling, twisting and turning band of quick-witted, avant jazz angles, confusing and thrilling with unexpected shifts in direction on an informed, fun-filled and thoroughly modern album. ... Click to View


Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet: Time Like This (Intakt)

NY Bassist Michael Formanek composes for and leads his Elusion Quartet with saxophonist Tony Malaby, pianist Kris Davis, and drummer Ches Smith, a heavyweight set of improvisers who take on Formanek's sophisticated and elusive compositions, using unusual meters and complex yet comprehensible structures, performed with prodigious skill and passionate approaches. ... Click to View


Don Byron / Aruan Ortiz: Random Dances & (A)tonalities (Intakt)

Working together since 2014 in larger ensembles, NY reedist Don Byron and Cuban-born, US pianist Auran Ortiz find a modern yet lyrical heat in their duo collaboration in an album that includes original compositions and intimate renderings of pieces by Duke Ellington, Federico Mompou, Geri Allen, and J.S. Bach, a uniquely diverse and wonderfully embraceable release. ... Click to View


Trio Heinz Herbert (Landolt / Landolt / Hanni): Yes (Intakt)

Blending free jazz, electronic music, glitch, and collective improvisation, the Swiss trio of Dominic Landolt on guitar, effects, Ramon Landolt on synth, samples, piano, Mario Hanni on drums, effects bring a modern and experimental edge to their diverse approaches to free improv, albeit tinged with electronica and rock overtones; a fascinating brew. ... Click to View


Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (feat. Marilyn Crispell / Evan Parker): Parallel Moments Unbroken [2CDS] (FMR)

Scottland's large improvising ensemble of around 20 musicians, merging backgrounds in free improvisation, jazz, classical, folk, pop, experimental musics and performance art, in a 2-CD release of a piece commissioned by the BBC and featuring pianist Marilyn Crispell and saxophist Evan Parker, written using graphic scores, through composition, photographs and artwork. ... Click to View


Morton Feldman (Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt): Atlantis (Hat [now] ART)

A much-needed reissue of this 2000 CD of three orchestral works from late composer Morton Feldman--"String Quartet and Orchestra" (1973), "Oboe and Orchestra" (1976), and "Atlantis" (1959)--demonstrating the evolution of his incredible control in working with tone, mood and instrumental combinations, from his earliest large-scale work to later mature works. ... Click to View


Fritz Hauser : Laboratorio - Solo Percussion (Hat [now] ART)

Swiss drummer & percussionist Fritz Hauser's solo album creates a fictional percussion center that he uses as as springboard to compose solo works for spaces within the [non-existent] environment, depicted in both spacious and active sound work, generating open-air locations with bird sounds and cymbals and areas of quick-paced activity; absolutely impressive. ... Click to View


Karlheinz Stockhausen : Historic First Recordings of the Klavierstucke I-VIII & XI (Hat [now] ART)

Originally conceived as a cycle of 21 solo piano pieces, composer Karlheinz Stockhausen only completed a section of these Klavierstucke works, eventually transforming the series for synthesizers and electronic instruments; Hat Hut now restores the original recordings from the 50s by the pianist Stockhausen dedicated some of these pieces to: David Tudor. ... Click to View


Roland Dahinden : Talking with Charlie: An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker (Hat [now] ART)

Bass clarinetist Gareth Davis asked composer Roland Dahinden to write for his quartet, with Koen Kaptijn (trombone), Dario Calderone (double bass) and Peppe Garcia (percussion), the result this "imaginary talk" with Charlie Parker, captured in a score involving graphic as well as more conventional elements, allowing structure and improvisation for the players. ... Click to View


Howard Riley: Live In The USA (NoBusiness)

The brilliant UK pianist Howard Riley is caught live in a US tour in the fall of 1976, recorded at 3 locations in NYC and in Buffalo, NY, each of the well-recorded improvisation a masterwork of extended form as he plays both outside and inside the piano, ranging from warm sections of lyrical quality to fast-paced streams of consciousness in a Cecil Taylor mode; magnificent. ... Click to View


James Lewis Brandon (Lewis / Branch / Stewart / Pirog / Crudup III): An Unruly Manifesto (Relative Pitch)

New York tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis leads a quintet with Jaimie Branch on trumpet, Luke Stewart on bass, Anthony Pirog on guitar, and Warren Trae Crudup III on drums, in a free jazz album dedicated to Charlie Haden & Ornette Coleman and Surrealism, modern creative music with one foot planted in the 70s and one in the 2010s. ... Click to View


Bloor: Drolleries (Astral Spirits)

Drolleries are small creatures adorning the margins of 13th-15th century illuminated manuscripts; Sam Weinberger is a Brooklyn saxophonist known for groups W-2, and this Bloor project with electric guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary, an assertive and rugged trio playing Weinberg's compositions about the perceptual phenomenon of ever-changing repetition. ... Click to View


Bloor: Drolleries [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Drolleries are small creatures adorning the margins of 13th-15th century illuminated manuscripts; Sam Weinberger is a Brooklyn saxophonist known for groups W-2 and this Bloor project with electric guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary, an assertive and rugged trio playing Weinberg's compositions about the perceptual phenomenon of ever-changing repetition. ... Click to View


Dunmall / Siegel / Pursglove / Sanders: As One Does (FMR)

Two saxophones take the front line in Paul Dunmall's 2018 studio album, the leader on tenor saxophone with fellow tenor player Julian Siegel, also on bass clarinet, while Mark Sanders drums and Percy Pursglove handles bass and also trumpet, as the band falls into a hard bop mode, weaving lines together over wonderfully turbulent and soulful grooves; outstanding. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Philip Gibbs / James Owston / Jim Bashford: Inner And Outer (FMR)

Paul Dunmall's 2018 studio album in a quartet with James Owston on bass, Jim Bashford on drums, Philip Gibbs on guitar, and Dunmall on tenor saxophone, Gibbs's hollow-body opening up the band sound as Owston and Bashford trade rapid responses or provide solid grooves, the themes of the dialogs focused on space and time through intricate, complex and profound interaction. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Albert Cirera / Rodrigo Pinheiro / Carlos Santos: 3 Phases (I) White (Creative Sources)

"3 Phases", or different aspects of the approach that violist Ernesto Rodrigues applies to improvisation, in three different groupings over three different days, all live at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018, here in an ea-improv setting with Albert Cirera on tenor saxophone, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, & Carlos Santos on field recordings & sine waves. ... Click to View


Ernesto Rodrigues / Bruno Parrinha / Nuno Torres / Paulo Galao: 3 Phases (II) Grey (Creative Sources)

"3 Phases", or different aspects of the approach that violist Ernesto Rodrigues applies to improvisation, in three different groupings over three different days, all live at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018, here in an acoustic sax trio with strings, with Bruno Parrinha on soprano, Nuno Torres on alto, Paulo Galao on tenor sax. ... Click to View


Diceros (Rodrigues / Mira / Silva / Curado / Almeida / Chagas /...): 3 Phases (III) Black (Creative Sources)

"3 Phases", or 3 aspects of the approach that violist Ernesto Rodrigues applies to improvisation, in 3 different groupings over 3 different concerts at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, here in an electroacoustic ensemble with Miguel Mira, Guilherme Rodrigues, Joao Silva, Eduardo Chagas, Paulo Curado, Noel Taylor, Miguel Almeida, Andre Holzer, Andre Hencleeday, Carlos Santos, and Joao Valinho. ... Click to View


Ferran Fages : Detuning Series For Guitar (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

The 2nd part of a trilogy for guitar and sinetones composed between 2015-18, alongside "What Might Occur (Rereadings of Triadic Memories by Morton Feldman for guitar and sinewaves)" (2015-17) and "Un Lloc Entre Dos Records" (2017); this work, originally written in 2016, and revised in 2018, is heard in a recording at GMEA, France, with guitarist Benjamin Maumus. ... Click to View


Larry Ochs / Gerald Cleaver / Nels Cline: What Is To Be Done (Clean Feed)

The first release from the trio of Nels Cline, Gerald Cleaver, and Larry Ochs in a 2016 concert at Gallery5 Arts, in Richmond, Virginia, captured as part of the trio's series touring around the Northeast each December since 2015, playing what Larry Ochs describes as music that "seeks sonically to soothe, to inspire, and to conspire", in three urgent and powerful improvisations. ... Click to View


Jorgen Mathisen's Instant Light: Mayhall's Object (Clean Feed)

Saxophonist Jorgen Mathisen (The Core) composes for and leads his quartet with fellow Norwegian players Erlend Slettevoll on piano, Trygve Waldemar Fiske on double bass, and Dag Erik Knedal Andersen on drums, through six lyrical free jazz compositions, often in a Coltrane mode, his music influenced by sci-fi, Sun Ra, and Philip K. Dick; a solid record of modern jazz. ... Click to View


Alberto Conde Iberian Roots Trio: The Wake Of An Artist - Tribute To Bernardo Sassetti (Clean Feed)

A tribute to pianist and composer Bernardo Sassetti from a trio that includes two members of Sassetti's Trio--bassist Carlos Barretto and drummer Alexandre Frazao--along with pianist Alberto Conde and violist Jose Valente, as they interpret Sassetti compositions, a Federico Mompou piece Sassetti played frequently, along with original compositions from all members. ... Click to View


Wschod (Pinheiro / Kozera / Suchar): Wschod (Clean Feed)

Red Trio pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro joins Polish free improvisers, drummer Kuba Suchar from the European band Robotobibok (which became Mikrokolektyw), and double bassist Zbigniew Kozera from Sundogs and LEM, for five collective improvisations, diverse and dynamic dialogs of profound technique and creative intention. ... Click to View


Jose Dias : After Silence, Vol.1 (Clean Feed)

Portuguese guitarist Jose Dias steps away from his quartet and trio, and from the many scores for theatre, contemporary dance and animation film that he's composed, to focus on his solo electric guitar work, in this album that applies subtle affects and a warm, ethereal ambiance to expressive and passionate pieces, each conveying a sense of narrative and purpose. ... Click to View


Ron Caines / Martin Archer Axis: Les Oiseaux de Matisse (Discus)

Saxophonist Ron Caines, who led the innovative band East of Eden in the late 60s, joins a septet including Martin Archer on reeds & electronics, Laura Cole on keys, Gus Garside on bass, Johnny Hunter on drums, Graham Clark on violin & guitar, and Herve Perez on live sound processing & shakuhachi as they merge improv with real time processing and studio collage. ... Click to View


Maja Bugge : No Exit (Discus)

Recorded in Britain's longest tunnel--the Standedge Canal Tunnel--during the Marsden Jazz Festival 2017, Norwegian cellist and composer Maja Bugge's solo album uses the natural resonance of the tunnel as an accompaniment to her expressive playing, recorded at a concert that blended composed work with improvisations that respond to the tunnel's unique resonant properties. ... Click to View


Laura Cole: Enough [2 CDS] (Discus)

Pianist Laura Cole's first solo album presents 2 CDs; the first a collection of arrangements of pieces given to Cole for the album from friends and colleagues, including Robert Mitchell, Alex Wilson, Nikki Iles, Jason Yarde and Corey Mwamba; the 2nd disc, "As Warm As The Sun" is a collection of compositions and improvisations by Cole herself. ... Click to View


Luis Ianes: Antiguas Construcciones Utiles (Crusoe) (Creative Sources)

With references to "Robinson Crusoe" and titles referencing islands, the sea and shipwrecks, Argentinian guitarist living in Brooklyn, NY, Luis Ianes (Parias Ensemble) records his album that roughly translates to "Useful Ancient Constructions", using effects to create percussive, accompanying, and aquatic sounds, sometimes idiosyncratic, always interesting. ... Click to View


Dietrich Petzold / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues : Ljubljana (Creative Sources)

German violinist & composer Dietrich Petzold joins violist Ernesto Rodrigues and cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, Petzold also bringing along a viola, clavichord and bowed metal objects, as the three perform live at SKUC Gallery, in Ljubljana, Slovenia for the 6 improvisations that build from languid tonal environments to detailed, rapid improv, all with remarkable control and patience. ... Click to View


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  Stop and Smell the Sewers  

Psychogeographers Strive to Slow the Nonstop City


By Kurt Gottschalk and Urania Mylonas
Photos by Kurt Gottschalk 2003-06-24

On a rainy night in May in the Lower East Side, about 100 people stopped or slowed down traffic, and nobody got mad. Motorists actually smiled as the motley crew of costumed revelers, wearing skirts made from recycled magazines and hats made from household items, banged on cans, bottles, and washboards, anything they could make noise with, as they paraded up Essex Street, onto Houston and headed towards the confines of East River Park.

The event was part of Psy-Geo Conflux, a weekend dedicated to redefining how we experience the city. The parade itself was organized by the Toy Shop Collective, who previously won a competition organized by evolutionre zellen, a Berlin-based group dedicated to finding and funding those who can best answer the question: "How do you design your society?"

As the group traveled along Houston, several police cars trailed them, although they didn't try to stop the march. Many people along the way looked quizzically, as if wondering what was going on. One man stopped a member of the group and asked her why she was banging on an old dirty can. "Thats junk!" he said. The woman looked at her can, then reached inside it and pulled out a whistle and handed it to him. He seemed resistant at first, but the bright smiles and infectious enthusiasm of this group won him over and he jumped in, blowing on his whistle and abandonding self-consciousness, tuning in to the group's collective consciousness, which was best described by a banner some of them held: Is the Fear of Looking Stupid Holding You Back?

Street Grid
Psychogeographers Locate Street Scenes at ABC No Rio
Psychogeopraphy is a discipline discussed in universities and celebrated among anarchist collectives like the Lower East Side's ABC No Rio, where much of the weekend's festivities were centered. But it's not one that's easily defined. While some organizers and participants attempted long explanations of the small field of thought that concerns itself with how the environment affects an individual's inner state, others offered simpler, more utilitarian explanations. It's an effort to "stop taking for granted the things you take for granted," said Drexel University history professor Scott Knowles, who lives in Queens and took part in several of the events aimed at slowing down the nonstop city.

Knowles is a member of a loosely-knit group calling itself Psychogeography New York. In the last two years, they have undertaken such activities as collecting objects on the street and redistributing them around the city based on the object's aesthetic qualities; riding the length of the A train, starting in upper Manhattan and making the two-hour ride to have a party in Far Rockaway, Queens; and exploring the city using maps of other cities. Such projects, Knowles said, are intended to undermine their own expectations about what goes on in, and below, the streets of New York.

"To me, at the very simplest level, stripped of political meaning, it's making yourself aware that your surroundings not only effect what you think, they are what you think," Knowles said. "At the first level, it's what you are seeing and then what you are not. But there's a deeper level that people discuss where, as capitalism develops, more of the experience of the street is closed off and you are channeled to certain areas in the street.

"It's not a religion," he added. "It's not a life-changing philosophy. It's realizing that what you see on the street is effecting you."

Taking time to appreciate one's surroundings is, of course, hardly a 21st century innovation (although it may well be one that denizens of this century would be wise to recall). Psychogeography as a discipline dates back to Paris in the 1950s, but it has roots that stretch back much further. One could even argue that Socrates, who said "The unexamined life is not worth living," was the first psychogeographer. During a talk at ABC No Rio, photographer Colette Meacher, who has worked as a lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the Andes in Bogota, discussed the value of meditative walking through philosopher Immanuel Kant's work.

"Walking has always been a means to thought, not just for writers, artists and poets but for philosophers as well," Meacher said. Kant took the same walk at the same time every day, and used these walks as ways to discover the beautiful and the sublime, not just in his surroundings but in own experiential states, she said.

"The city itself, as landscape, offers moments of wonder by virtue of the wealth of diverse practices which, synchronously, and continuously, manifest therein," she said during the talk. "The sublime views which can be gained neither depend on perspectival privilege nor on a specific positionality within its spaces - a feeling of awe can be achieved irrespective of familiarity with it or whether it is approached wit a 'naive' eye."

Regaining that "naive eye" was the impetus for several self-guided walks during the weekend. People stopping by ABC No Rio could pick up photos taken around the Lower East Side, locate the site pictured, and then return to put them in the appropriate spot on a large map on the wall. A book was handed out that directed the reader around the city, steering participants in different directions based on hearing a car alarm or a cell phone or seeing a bicycle locked to a street sign or a woman wearing a hat. And groups were sent out to photograph and document the service entrances of New York's most prominent buildings.

Bill Brown
Bill Brown
If the psychogeographers want to get a fresh look at the city, they're not forgetting that they're being watched at the same time. Bill Brown maps security cameras around the city, and says there are at least 7,500 in Manhattan alone. And with cameras mounted on emergency vehicles, planes and satellites, "we are now visible from the ground all the way to the sky," he said.

The cameras are not a product of terrorism concerns so much as attempts to monitor drug sales, traffic infractions and consumer behavior, he said.

"We are now visible to those cameras," Brown said, pointing to a camera mounted on the side of a building aimed at the dozen people circled around him. "Because we are lingering, we are loitering. It is interesting enough to track us. It used to be in our society we divided people into two groups, the people that might commit crimes and the people that might not commit crimes. If you stand here on the corner of 14th Street and 8th Avenue, you are worth watching."

The sights and sounds of the city have often been the source of artistic expression, of course. The closing party, held at Subtonic, in the basement of the nightclub Tonic a few blocks from ABC No Rio, featured site specific sound work by percussionist Sean Meehan and sound manipulator Geoff Dugan.

Sean Meehan & Geoff Dugan
Sean Meehan & Geoff Dugan
Dugan used recordings of Meehan playing on the street as a sound source, layering it and altering it as Meehan sat quietly, as if trying to find away in to the sound, into aduet with himself, despite excessive chatter and onlookers who displayed no sense of the performers' personal space. Or perhaps Meehan was simply absorbing all the noise, the sounds of conversation and cash registers, before beginning. Eventually he entered into the dialogue, rubbing the rim of his snare with a fork, rolling the drum on the floor, pushing thin wooden rods against a cymbal, mixing in with the sound around. Whatever his reaction - annoyed, amused or inspired - it could only have been seen as appropriate by the psychogeographers gathered on a rainy Mother's Day night. Meehan and Meehan, and the sounds of a basement bar. To ignore the noise would, perhaps, have been to miss the point.



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