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The title reflecting violinist Angharad Davies' Welsh Roots, this duo with inside pianist Tisha Mukarji furthers the collaborations of these improvisers, recording in St Catherine's Church in South London, using the acoustics of the space to shape the form of their music. ... Click to View

Illogical Harmonies (Chang / Majkowski): Volume (Another Timbre)

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Linda Smith Catlin : Dirt Road (Another Timbre)

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Bryn Harrison : Receiving the Approaching Memory (Another Timbre)

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Sergio Merce: Be Nothing (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

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John Cage : Branches (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

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Radu Malfatti: Radu Malfatti (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Austrian trombonist and composer presents two works: a solo piece for trombone comprised of a series of detached sonic events; and a work performed with the Wandelweiser String Quartet, using bowing and blowing techniques to create punctuations of unusual sound. ... Click to View

Wilmington Sound Orchestra: Play Russolo (Bad At Raving Foundation)

Two interpretations of Luigi Russolo's 1914 Futurist noise composition "Risveglio Di Uns Citta" ("The Awakening Of A City"), performed forwards and backwards, from a live performance at Squidco headquarters in Wilmington, NC. ... Click to View

Nate Wooley: Argonautica (Firehouse 12 Records)

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Peter Evans: Lifeblood [USB Drive] (More Is More)

Trumpeter Peter Evans' first solo release in over 5 years, presenting two demanding and impressive live performances from 2015/16, during Evan's residency at Roulette, and at Bop Stop in Cleveland, presented on a USB credit card drive in mp3 and wav formats, with liner notes. ... Click to View

Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda: Duet (Long Song Records)

First meeting of Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and New York bassist Joe Fonda, initiated at the suggestion of Fonda, recorded in Portland, Maine at the Dimensions in Jazz Series, a beautifully recorded and intimate duo of superb dialog between two seasoned improvisers. ... Click to View

Bertrand Denzler / Antonin Gerbal / Alex Dorner: Le Ring (Confront)

Having performed in duos previously, this trio came together at Festival Noise No. 5, at Theatre Le Ring, in Toulouse, the sound of the group is a "malleable space in which the musicians generate small or bigger shapes, simple and complex sounds, irregular and mechanical rhythms." ... Click to View

Forebrace (Ward / Sassi / Horro / Doulton): Steeped (Relative Pitch)

Blending jazz and rock forms with frenetic excitement and masterful control, multi-reedist Forebrace quartet with Roberto Sassi (electric guitar), Santiago Horro (electric bass) and Jem Doulton run the gamut on exultantly virtuosic improvisation, here recording live at Cafe Oto. ... Click to View


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  John Zorn 
  First Recordings 1973  
  (Tzadik (1995)) 

   review by Phil Zampino
John Zorn: First Recordings 1973 (Tzadik (1995))

A very young John Zorn peers out from the cover of First Recordings 1973 implying that these recordings are the work of a precocious young man destined to become an important figure in jazz and improvised music. This may color the perception of the release, which in fact are the early recordings of a 19- and 20-year-old, sitting at home or working on his college projects. I'd imagine Zorn snickers a bit at that cover, or the picture on the back showing him as a nerdish young man playing guitar, an instrument with which he's not well associated.

Still there must have been something happening in the young mind of this musical innovator, because at the age of 19 Zorn's conception of sound and his ability to embrace a vast conceptual realm are as impressive as they are dichotomous and strange. Which translates to "you might not like this a lot, but if you're a fan, you will be fascinated." None of the two large and three shorter recordings on this disc are incredible in either their ability to captivate or in their overall sound quality. Zorn himself points out that one piece is a "strange, akward tribute" to one of the musical figures he revered (Albert Ayler), and on another that his vocals are "perhaps too revealing" while noting that his parents had him under observation at a psychiatric clinic from ages 8 to 16. There is something seething in these recordings, and perhaps his parents had no way of coping with the creative energy that was to be unleashed.

The first work on the cd, "Mikhail Zoetrope," is from 1974, and was recorded by Zorn in his bedroom. He describes it as the craziest piece he's ever written, and it's not difficult to believe it. Recorded in two passes, first on the left channel and then the right, it shows Zorn improvising with toy percussion, glasses, pots and pans, a cassette player, turntable, TV set, vacuum cleaner, and of course a sopranosax. The piece is an uneasy call-and-response utilizing concepts ranging from Braxton to Cage to Kagel. The soprano playing is distinctively Zorn, and the quirky instrumentation invokes years of squawking, screaming, tinkling and indescribable noise to come. At 22 minutes for the first part alone this is no passing fancy, but a serious work that may not completely come together, but certainly has a lot to say.

"Conquest of Mexico" from 1973 is another thing altogether, the remaining scraps of a musique concrète composition that functioned as the basis for a soundtrack to the filmed version of a "happening" Zorn organized in his last year at college in St. Louis. This piece was augmented at presentation with a live improvising ensemble, but here is presented as a raw series of electronic tone experiments, using psychedelic effects. What is notable, aside from being an early “filmwork,” is that Zorn utilized the same punch-in approach to composing the piece as he was to use later in such pieces as Spillane, Godard, and The Big Gundown. Difficult to listen to on its own, but perhaps telling as the one of the influences is Antonin Artaud, an innovate yet clinically institutionalized surrealist theater figure from France in the 1920's. This no doubt would make Zorn's parents just a bit more uneasy post-observation.

The remaining three pieces "Wind Ko/la," "Automata of Al-Jazari" and "Variations on a Theme by Albert Ayler/Requiem for Albert" present respectively "a little song" as Zorn intones into the mic; a one-minute piece that genre-hops every bar with film quotes interspersed; and a somewhat meandering tribute to Ayler that includes early sax work with electronic mayhem and a panoply of relatively crude studio effects noteable again for the breadth of ideas and the shadow of what was to come.

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