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Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Oliv & Familie (1968-9) (Emanem)

Reissuing the 3rd release from drummer John Steven's Spontaneous Music Ensemble with 31 minutes of previously unissued material, with participants including Derek Bailey, Kenny Wheller, Evan Parker, Dave Holland, Maggie Nichols, Trevor Watts, Johnny Dyani, &c &c. ... Click to View


Rutherford, Paul Trio: Gheim - live at Bracknell 1983 (Emanem)

A short-lived improvising trio led by Paul Rutherford (trombonist) with Paul Rogers (double bass) and Nigel Morris (drums) performing live in 1983, originally issued on cassette on the Ogun label, here with more than 24 minutes of additional studio material. ... Click to View


Lacy, Steve: Cycles (1976-80) [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Solo saxophone performances of three of Steve Lacy's cycles--"Shots", "Sands", and "Hedges"--recorded in concert and in the studio in the late 70's and 1980, with the majority of the material previously unreleased; thoughtful, technical, lyrical, astounding music from a true master! ... Click to View


Halvorson, Mary: Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch)

Guitarist Mary Halvorson's project with Chris Speed on sax & clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Tomas Fuijwara on drums, a band formed for a one-off concert at the Blue Note in NYC, that continued on based on the strength of the bond between them, as heard on this superb release. ... Click to View


Grimal, Alexandra / Giovanni Di Domenico: Chergui [2 CDs] (Ayler)

Saxophonist Alexandra Grimal recorded this double CD with pianist Giovanni Di Domenico a the Theatre Du Chatelet, in Paris, France, for adventurous dialog in a dynamic set of original Di Domenico compositions plus freely improvised work, both duo and solo. ... Click to View


Lacy, Steve: School Days (1960/3) (Emanem)

Presenting a 1963 gig by the quartet of Steve Lacy (saxophone), Roswell Rudd (trombone), Dennis Charles (drums) and Henry Grimes (bass), playing piano-less interpretations of the music of Thelonious Monk; plus Lacy with the Monk Quintet live in Philadelphia, 1960. ... Click to View


Moholo, Louis / Frode Gjerstad: Sult (FMR)

Norwegian reedist Frode Gjerstad in three extended duos with legendary South African drummer Louis Moholo for sensitive, creative and engaging freely improvised music from two masters, performed live in concert at Gallery Sult in Stavanger, 2013. ... Click to View


Shetland Improvisers Orchestra: First Steps (FMR)

The 1st release from this collective directed by Raymond MacDonald on sax and George Burt on drums (GIO), presenting work from workshop sessions and a complete set from the 2012 Glasgow Improvisers Festival, 6 unique and sometimes eccentric work, including a piece for Lol Coxhill. ... Click to View


Bianco, Tony: Utoma Quartet (FMR)

Borrowing from Elvin Jone's concepts, drummer Bianco's band uses 2 saxophones (Mike Fletcher and Mark Hanslip), bass (Colin Somervell) and drums, for energetic and ecstatic jazz compositions creating a continual pulse with long lines and looped synchronicity. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple SWR: Yes, No & Perhaps (Magaibutsu)

Acid Mother Temple SWR merge's AMT's Kawabata Kakoto (guitar, voice,) and Tsuyama Atsushi (bass, vocals, sax) with Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei, &c), here in their 6th release, insane prog-oriented rock of indescribable insanity and skill! ... Click to View


Zorn, John: Valentine's Day (Tzadik)

John Zorn brings together Downtown New Yorkers, Marc Ribot on guitar, Trevor Dunn on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, for 12 instrumental miniatures combining atonal lyricism with rock intensity, scronky, demanding and exciting hybrids of improv and rock. ... Click to View


Rodiriguez, Roberto / Zorn, John: Aguares: The Book Of Angels Volume 23 (Tzadik)

Drummer Roberto Rodriguez interprets John Zorn's "Book of Angels" in this 23rd volume from the series, recording in Israel with a wonderfully compelling ensemble emphasizing both rhythmic and melodic elements in nine exciting compositions. ... Click to View


Smith, David / Laswell, Bill / Zorn, John: The Dream Membrane (Tzadik)

Bill Laswell on bass and drones and John Zorn on shofar and alto saxophone perform darkly evocative ambient music to readings from magus David Chaim Smith reading selections from his mystical text "The Awakening Ground". ... Click to View


Sealed Knot, The: Surface/Plane (Confront)

Listed as one of The Wire's Top 10 Improvised Music Records in 2003, this reissue of The Sealed Knots Meniscus release presents two live 2001 concerts in the UK from the subtlely sophisticated trio of UK & Berlin artists Mark Wastell, Burkhard Beins, and Rhodri Davies. ... Click to View


Wastell, Mark: Caressed On The Brow By Unseen Hands (Confront)

This long overdue re-issue celebrates the unique encounter of eleven like-minded musicians from Japan, England, Wales, Germany, Basque Country & Norway, brought together in the studio for one day only for this daytime recording session followed by an evening concert. ... Click to View


Leandre, Joelle / Michael Duch: (Live at) Gramolna (Confront)

Two double bass players--Joelle Leandre and Michael Duch--performed as a duo live in at nyMusikk in Oslo, then recorded this album of freely improvised bass interactions the next day in the studio at Gramolna in Trondheim; dark and commanding explorations of deep strings. ... Click to View


Moholo-Moholo, Louis Unit: For the Blue Notes (Ogun)

Ogun marks their 40th anniversary by releasing this superb album from drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo's Unit as an octet including Alexander Hawkins on piano, John Edwards on bass, and Jason Yarde on saxes, performing a heartfelt tribute to The Blue Notes live in Italy. ... Click to View


Perelman, Ivo / Mat Maneri: Two Men Walking (Leo)

The second collaboration between saxophonist Ivo Pereleman and violist Mat Maneri, pairing two single-melody instruments in a melding of sound, technique and personalities that captivates in exceptional unison and counterpoint playing. ... Click to View


Perelman, Ivo / Matthew Shipp / William Parker: Book Of Sound (Leo)

A single extended work in 6 parts from the trio of Ivo Perelman (sax), Matthew Shipp (piano) and William Parker (bass), emotional and masterful music from a trio that has developed their sound over years working together; superb! ... Click to View


Smith, Wadada Leo: The Great Lakes Suites [2 CDs] (Tum)

Outstanding compositions and performances on a 2 disc set from trumpeter Leo Smith, each piece dedicated to one of the US Great Lakes, with multi-wind player Henry Threadgill, bassist John Lindberg, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, a milestone in a superlative career! ... Click to View


Konstrukt & Joe McPhee: Babylon [VINYL] (Roaratorio)

NY saxophonist and pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee meets Turkish free-improv group konstruKt, who have collaborated with Evan Parker, Marshall Allen and Peter Brotzmann, for these fascinating improvisations mixing jazz, traditional instrumentation, and electronics. ... Click to View


Sun Ra: Sun Song [VINYL] (Delmark)

Reissuing Sun Ra's first album from 1957 on Transition Records, in a band including John Gilmore, Pat Patrick, Julian Priester, Wilburn Green, &c., with Sun Ra's original liner notes and poetry, a must-have release for Sun Ra fans. ... Click to View


Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Blue (Hot Cup Records)

New York's brilliant band takes on Miles Davis' classic "Kind of Blue" in a note-for-note recreation, a head-scratching anomaly that is as close to performing a perfect replica as is imaginable. ... Click to View


Laubrock, Ingrid Octet: Zurich Concert (Intakt)

The NEWJazz Meeting of the SWR German Radio in Baden-Baden brought saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock together with Tom Rainey, Ben Davis, Drew Gress, Liam Noble, Ted Reichman and Mary Halvorson to develop these 7 pieces, recorded live in concert in Zurich, 2011. ... Click to View


RED trio & Mattias Stahl: North And Red Stream (NoBusiness)

RED trio (Rodrigo Pinheiro-piano; Hernani Faustino-doublebass; Gabriel Ferrandini-drums) meet Swedish vibraphonist Mattias Stahl for a live concert at the VDU Jazz Festival Kaunas in 2013, performing a mix of intricate interactions and subtle improvisation with space and restraint. ... Click to View


Hooker, William / Liudas Mockunas: Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival (NoBusiness)

A demanding duo from New York drummer William Hooker and Lithunian saxophonist Liudas Mockunas, performing live at the 2013 Vilnius Jazz Festival, hard-edged and rugged free music from two outstanding players. ... Click to View


Carter, Kent / Gianni Lenoci / Bill Elgart: Plaything [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

The trio of pianist Gianni Lenoci, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer Bill Elgart recording in France, 2012 in an album that balances free improvisation with melodic impulse, giving the impression of calm while yielding intricate interactions on close listening. ... Click to View


Cross, Earl / Muhammad Ali / Rashied Al Akbar / Idris Ackamoor: Ascent Of The Nether Creatures [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Previously unreleased material from the quartet of trumpeter Earl Cross, saxophonist Idris Ackamoor, bassist Rashied Al Akbar, and drummer Muhammad Ali, performing live in The Netherlands in 1980, for five smoking examples of free jazz. ... Click to View


Blacksberg, Daniel Trio (w/ Matt Engle & Mike Szekely): Perilous Architecture [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Brooklyn trombonist Dan Blacksberg's and the powerful rhythm section of bassist Matt Engle (Shot X Shot) & drummer Mike Szekely (Anthony Braxton Quartet) in their 2nd NoBusiness release, performing compositions pushing the limits of the trombone while adhering to jazz roots. ... Click to View


Edwards, Michael: For Rei As A Doe (for piano and computer) (Aural Terrains)

UK Composer Michael Edwards wrote these quiet compositions using his "slippery chicken" software, originally written as a challenge to pianist Rei Nakamura, in contrast to his technical skills, instead requiring pensive accuracy over a steady line of quiet chords. ... Click to View


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John Zorn 
Spillane  
(Elektra Nonesuch (1987)) 

review by Steve Smith
2003-08-18
John Zorn: Spillane (Elektra Nonesuch (1987))

If 1985's The Big Gundown was the shot heard 'round the world for both John Zorn and New York's burgeoning downtown scene, then its follow-up, Spillane, was the revolution for real. The signal difference this time was that where the previous record had demonstrated the bold vision and commanding range of John Zorn's musical language as applied to western soundtrack compositions by Ennio Morricone, this time the compositions--and the vision--were Zorn's alone. Yet, from the very first line of his lengthy and revealing liner notes, Zorn challenges the assumption that the music contained therein could be solely attributed to him. "Whether we like it or not," Zorn says, "the era of the composer as an autonomous musical mind has just about come to an end." Instead, Zorn cites the increasingly collaborative efforts of such disparate composers as Cage, Stockhausen, Ellington and Reich as being the touchstones of a more open approach to musical creativity.

Given the astonishing talent pool present in mid-'80s New York -- and in particular, early core collaborators Anthony Coleman, Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz and Bobby Previte -- who can blame Zorn for wanting to yoke their talents to his larger vision? And that's essentially exactly what he does on the titular composition, the first of his so-called "file card" compositions to achieve widespread circulation. (Its immediate predecessor, Godard, was originally available only on a hard-to-find Nato LP; perhaps that's just as well, since most American listeners could likely relate to the pulp fiction of Spillane's crime novels more readily than to the more abstract French filmmaker.)

To guide the combined efforts of his ensemble, Zorn made use of a series of file cards, each of which contained an idea or impression gleaned from author Mike Hammer's literary ouevre --bloodcurdling screams, sleazy bar saxophone, twanging and searing guitars, and of course, John Lurie's laconic, world weary narration. The music drastically changes from moment to moment, yet somehow, a satisfying unified whole is the result: In effect, the dramatic subect serves to unify the composition in much the same way as classical form or tone rows had served in previous eras. Perhaps most incredibly of all, while Spillane sounds like a piece that could only have been achievedin the controlled circumstances of a studio recording, Zorn went on to lead ensembles in a handful of breathtaking live performances in subsequent years. Despite its patchwork origin, Spillane breathes, snaps, howls andtumbles into the gutter like a living organism. Nothing overstays its welcome; nothing goes to waste. (In fact, a handful of cast-offs from Spillane were absorbed into Zorn's incidental music for the Mabou Mines production The Bribe, which was recorded at the same time in the same studio with most of the same musicians, but remained unreleased until 1998. The score almost sounds like an extended meditation on the themes and moods of Spillane.)

The two other works on the original Nonesuch disc are nearly as fascinating: Two-Lane Highway is nothing less than a concerto for the great electric bluesman Albert Collins. To accomodate the soloist's laconic drawl and wailing leads, Zorn slowed the pace of this dusty imaginary Texas travelogue. Collins is shadowed by the eerie wail and Hendrix murmurs of Robert Quine's guitar, buttressed by the fat, rich chords of Big John Patton's organ, and prodded along by bassist Melvin Gibbs and dual drummers Previte and Ronald Shannon Jackson. It's a fascinating glimpse at a compositional format that Zorn was not to revisit. Forbidden Fruit wedded the Kronos Quartet and turntable artist Christian Marclay (using recordings of music for strings only) into a disquieting and frequently cacophonous web of scapes, plucks, ghostly whirrs and Grosse Fuge snippets to back the cooing of vocalist Ohta Hiromi. Ifthe piece doesn't reach the heights of the brilliant works Zorn would go on to write for Kronos in subsequent years, still, the birth of one of Zorn's most significant artistic relationships of the decade remains eminently listenable and a giddy thrill ride. While most of the music from that particular period in New York's musical history sounds comfortable and familiar -- and some, indeed, perhaps awkward and dated -- Spillane maintains a sense of weird mystery and self-sufficiency. Who's screaming at 8:50? Presumably that's Zorn drunkenly singing just ten seconds later? And just who is ranting in Russian at the 16-minute mark? Even with the passing of 16 years, the piece refuses to divulge all of its secrets, and yet it is so distinctive and instantly recognizable that enough that the piece can be easily identified by couple of drums beats, a guitar riff and a sax lick sampled on Amon Tobin's track "Cruzer" (from the 1997 album Adventures in Foam, released under the name Cujo). Zorn reissued Spillane on his own Tzadik imprint in 1999, paired at last with Godard. To my mind, that's a mixed blessing: Great to have the earlier piece more easily accessible, but while Spillane the composition is a masterpiece, Spillane the album was no less estimable. Indeed, in 1987, it was the call of the wild, and it remains utterly sui generis.





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