The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Evan Parker / Daunik Lazro / Joe McPhee: Seven Pieces. Live At Willisau 1995 (Clean Feed)

1995 recordings of the superb saxophone trio of Evan Paker on tenor & soprano, Daunik Lazro on alto & baritone, and Joe McPhee on alto & soprano, plus alto clarinet and pocket trumpet, a group that went undocumented until this live concert tape at Willisau was discovered. ... Click to View


Motif (Lonning / Nymo / Thieke / Wilk / Johansen / Vagan): My Head is Listening (Clean Feed)

Since 1999 the Norwegian Motif band has surprised listeners with their energetic, intelligent approach to experimental jazz, bridging free, structured, and collective approaches to improvised music, here as a sextet of trumpet/sax/clarinet/piano/bass/drums. ... Click to View


Mark Dresser Seven (Mitchell / Ehrlich / Boroff / Dessen / White / Black): Sedimental You (Clean Feed)

Downtown NY scene pioneering bassist and active on the West Coast, Mark Dresser presents an album of original compositions performed with an amazing septet including Marty Ehrlich, Jim Black, Joshua White, Michael Dessen, David Morales Borof, and Nicole Mitchell. ... Click to View


Ned Rothenberg / Mark Feldman / Sylvie Courvoisier: In Cahoots (Clean Feed)

Long time collaborators and friends, part of the original Downtown NY scene, mutli-reedist and shakuhachi player Ned Rothenberg joins violinist Mark Feldman and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier to record a beautifully contemplative album of commanding improvisation. ... Click to View


The Chicago Plan (Swell / Ullmann / Lonberg-Holdm / Zerang): The Chicago Plan (Clean Feed)

Bringing together the core of the Gebhard Ullmann / Steve Swell Quartet in sax and trombone with Chicago mainstay improvisers Fred Longberg-Holm on cello & electronics and Michael Zerang on drums for an alubm that embraces free jazz, world rhythms, and experimental sound. ... Click to View


Eve Risser / White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (Clean Feed)

Pianist and composer Eve Risser wrote this work after a mystical experience in Bryce Canyon, Utah, adding a choir to her 10-piece orchestra, balancing big band and chamber orchestra through instrumentation and approach, creating a complex and fulfilling journey in sound. ... Click to View


Dre Hocevar (Hocevar / Pluta / Tevis / Qu / Rasmussen / Corren / Clarke / St. Louis / Fraser): Transcendental Within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder (Clean Feed)

An expansive album blending acoustic and electronic instruments in unique ways, creating a tapestry of sound as a framework for creative improvisation, composed by drummer Dre Hocevar & performed in an ensemble that includes some of New York's finest young improvisers. ... Click to View


Mathisen / Svendsen / Wildhagen: Momentum [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

With a list of projects including Shagma, The Core, Zanussi 5 and Mopti, the trio of Jorgen Mathisen (sax), Christian Meaas Svendsen (bass) and Andreas Wildhagen (drums), "Momentum" is an apt name for their uniquely building, unpredictable and atypical improvisations. ... Click to View


Friends & Neighbors (Roligheten / Johansson / Gronberg / Rune Strom / Ostvang): What's Wrong [VINYL] (Clean Feed)

Following jazz traditions blending lyrical and free approaches with unexpected twists and turns from the Norwegian quintet of Andree Roligheten on sax, Thomas Johansson on trumpet, Oscar Gronberg on piano, Jon Rune Strom on double bass, and Tollef Ostvang on drums. ... Click to View


subterrene: Bathetic Resonance (Mystery School Records)

Layered and manipulated sound created in the studio and captured through live improvisation to create these rich, resonant compositions from Grant Stewart, a member of Machine Language, Daedal, A Perfect Mirror, The Eschaton Manifest, and The Inference Engine. ... Click to View


Black Bombaim & Peter Brotzmann: Black Bombaim & Peter Brotzmann [VINYL] (Shhpuma)

Portugese stoner rock band Black Bombaim and German free jazz saxophonist Peter Brotzmann recorded this album live at Estudios Sa Da Bandeira in Portugal, a power trio + 1 of uncompromising and burning improvisation, a less common but completely rewarding setting for Brotzmann. ... Click to View


Peter Kowald Quintet: Peter Kowald Quintet [VINYL] (Cien Fuegos)

A reissue of Peter Kowald Quintet's self-titled album, originally released by FMP in 1972, with the line up of Peter Kowald on tuba, bass, and alphorn; Gunter Christmann and Paul Rutherford on trombone Peter van der Locht on alto saxophone; and Paul Lovens on drums. ... Click to View


Various Artists: An Anthology Of Noise and Electronic Music Volume 3 [3 VINYL LPs] (Sub Rosa)

Reissuing the 3rd volume of Sub Rosa's Anthology Of Noise and Electronic Music as a 3-LP vinly set, presenting music by a wide range of artists from historical to contemporary, including avant compositional, improvised, rock, concrete, sound, noise, and electronic music. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: Bricktop (Trost Records)

Live recordings at Sugar Maple/Okka Fest in 2015 from the duo of saxophonist Joe McPhee on tenor & soprano, and double bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, in a set dedicated to Paris jazz singer and club owner Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith, aka Bricktop. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Raymond Boni: Live From The Magic City (Birmingham, Alabama) (Trost Records)

During the 80s, free jazz saxophonist Joe McPhee teamed up with French guitarist Raymond Boni to perform and release albums; this live concert at the University of Alabama is from that period, an excellent example instant composition inspired by Eric Dolphy. ... Click to View


Sun Ra / Merzbow: Strange City (Cold Spring Records)

Blurring the lines between Sun Ra's avant jazz and Merzbow's approach to noise, these pieces are based on rare and unreleased tracks authorized by the Sun Ra archive, worked into compositions that morph and micro-inspect each track into something unique and outer-worldly. ... Click to View


John Cage: Complete Song Books [VINYL 2 LPs] (KARLRECORDS)

Volume 3 in Karl Record's Perihel series is dedicated to one of the most iconic composers of 20th century: John Cage, with 92 pieces of his "Song Books" in new interpretations by Reinhold Friedl, recorded at Rashad Becker's Clunk Studio, who also contributed live electronics. ... Click to View


Oren Ambarchi vs. Ricardo Villalobos : Hubris Variation [VINYL 12-inch] (Black Truffle)

Oren Ambarchi's "Hubris" is remixed by electronic music legend Ricardo Villalobos, who transforms Ambarchi's layered web of countless sustained and pulsating palm-muted guitars into a funky, mesmerizing and propulsive long-form piece. ... Click to View


Sun Ra / Merzbow: Strange City [VINYL] (Cold Spring Records)

Blurring the lines between Sun Ra's avant jazz and Merzbow's approach to noise, these pieces are based on rare and unreleased tracks authorized by the Sun Ra archive, worked into compositions that morph and micro-inspect each track into something unique and outer-worldly. ... Click to View


Anthony Braxton : Quintet (Basel) 1977 (Hatology)

Reissuing and remastering Braxton's outstanding radio concert for Radio DRS in Safranzunft, Basel in 1977 in quintet with George Lewis on trombone, Muhal Richard Abrams on piano, Mark Helias on double bass, and Charles "Bobo" Shaw on drums. ... Click to View


Jackson Harrison Trio: Sintering (Hatology)

Melodic and texturally rich jazz from the trio of pianist Jackson Harrison with Ben Waples on double bass and brother James Waples on drums, a lyrical album of original compositions named for the process of coalescing a powder into a solid by heating it without liquefaction. ... Click to View


Musicworks: #126 Fall 2016 [MAGAZINE + CD] (Musicworks)

Canada's premiere music magazine, with articles on The Sound Future of Virtual Reality; Roarke Menzies; Heidi Chan; Erin Gee; Eric Normand; Carmen Braden; Nick Dourado; plus a CD with recordings from Eric Normand, Carmen Braden, Erin Gee, Nick Dourado, Heidi Chan, and Plumes Ensemble. ... Click to View


James Tenney: Bass Works (performed by Dario Calderone) (Hat [now] ART)

Fascinating works for doublebass from American composer James Tenney, 3 pieces for solo doublebass, and a large work for viola, cello, doublebass and tape delay system, performed by bassist Dario Calderone with William Lane on viola and Francesco Dillon on cello. ... Click to View


Morton Feldman: Three Voices (performed by Juliet Fraser) (Hat [now] ART)

Soprano Juliet Fraser performs Morton Feldman's late work for 3 voices, performed by 1 vocalist (originally Joan La Barbara) who performs with themself on tape, in a work that Feldman described as "lucious", "sexy", and "gorgeous", as heard in Fraser's beautiful rendering. ... Click to View


Iancu Dumitrescu : Live In New York w/ Either/Or (Edition Modern)

Iancu Dumitrescu premieres six new works of Spectral compositions performed by the 13 piece Either/Or Ensemble under the direction of Richard Carrick, presented in Colubmia University's Miller Theater in 2016, an amazing album of microcosmic and macrocosmic sound. ... Click to View


Rupp / Fischerlehner: Live in Aarhus (Farai-Records)

The roots of Xenofox, the duo of electric guitarist Olaf Rupp and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner, performing at the 2014 Lydfestival in Aarhus, Denmark in an excursive set of free improv with a rock-oriented edge that ebbs and flows with power and technical skill. ... Click to View


Xenofox (Rupp / Fischerlehner): Hundred Beginnings (Farai-Records)

The debut of Xenofox, the duo of Olaf Rupp on electric guitar and Rudi Fischerlehner on drum playing electric improv that ranges from critically dense to spacious and exploratory, blending rock and European Free Improv sensibilities into a moody and absorbing album. ... Click to View


Lipchitz: Lipchitz [CASSETTE] (Wee Space Tapes)

An unusual duo of voice and percussion from New York City percussionist David Grollman (Prom Night, Wee Tapes) and vocalist Ryan Krause, using space, dynamics and acoustic to create improvised works that range from atmospherically tonal to bizarrely interactive. ... Click to View


Fredrik Nordstrom : Gentle Fire, Restless Dreams [2 CDs] (Moserobie Music)

Saxophonist Fredrik Nordstrom releases two sides of his music, the hard-hitting "Gentle Fire" and the more contemplative "Restless Dreams" in a 2 CD release with Gerald Cleaver on drums and Swedish jazz musicians Jonas Ostholm on piano and Torbjourn Zetterberg on double bass. ... Click to View


Isabelle Duthoit / Georg Graewe: Parlance (Nuscope)

The duo of French clarinetist Isabelle Duthoit and Viennese pianist Georg Graewe in a subtle and sophisticated set of improvisations with chamber music inclinations, using impressive technique that serves their beautiful and mesmerizing dialog. ... Click to View


Email:



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales

Heard In

Reviews of artist releases:
cd's, books, magazines, &c.


  John Zorn 
  The Classic Guide to Strategy Volume Two  
  (Lumina (1986)) 

   review by Kurt Gottschalk
  2003-08-20
John Zorn: The Classic Guide to Strategy Volume Two (Lumina (1986))

For a man of considerable stature, well over 6 feet tall and with a deep voice that can penetrate through anything else going on in a room, my Uncle Roger has a way of quietly flying below any other activity. His jokes bounce off the floor, catching you unawares when you didn't realize he'd spoken, and on Christmas he tends to hand out unwrapped items after everyone else is done exchanging gifts.

So it was on the Christmas of 1986 when, with a low and slightly perverse laugh, he handed me a copy of an album called The Classic Guide to Strategy Volume Two. I was essentially an avant rock listener, or as avant as you could get in central Illinois, listening to the Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth and thinking my college roommates and I more or less had the world of jazz covered with a few John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Henry Threadgill records between us. But here was a record that, from the outset, I could figure nothing. Although the artist was clearly not Japanese, or at least he didn't use a Japanese name, the black-and-white cover was emblazoned with a large Japanese character. The seven songs seemed to be named after Japanese people, or at least the titles seemed Japanese and were accompanied by photos of Japanese people. (I still don't know who all of the people are for which the songs are named, but certainly came to know Kondo Toshinori, Togawa Jun and Mori Ikue (as they are listed) after moving to New York seven years later). The record jacket contained precious little information: it was recorded in 1985, produced by Ned Rothenberg (who, I later learned, is a brilliant saxophonist and who ran the label - recently restarted as "Animul," the previous name in reverse). The character on the front cover meant "water" and was from something called A Book of Five Rings. The performer played alto saxophone, clarinet and bird calls.

I took it home, and my roommates and I listened to it. One of them dismissed it fairlyreadily, the other shared my fascination. We took to listening to it every afternoon. We didn't know what to think, but I don't think we liked it. One thing was certain: we'd never heard anything like it.

Contained in the grooves of the LP (it was, of course, an LP, and I still have my copy) was a variety of noises with long spaces between them. Sometimes Zorn was definitely playing the game calls (we were glad to have the cover confirm that those things that sounded like ducks were supposed to sound like ducks). Other times he seemed to have his saxophone submerged in water (he did, in fact). Most of the time we didn't know what he was doing. Even seeing someone play saxophone was uncommon; the instrument was generally heard in Normal, Illinois, in only the most standard of jazz or blues settings; "extended technique" was not in the parlance, and on this record Zorn challenges even customary understandings of "outside" playing.

The two volumes of The Classic Guide to Strategy set out Zorn's vocabulary in the way that only a young visionary might. Coming 17 years after Anthony Braxton's For Alto, the first solo saxophone recording to be commercially released, it is no less a challenge to what is, and isn't, jazz, improvised music or, perhaps, music at all. The Tzadik reissue retains the two side-long pieces from Volume 1, but drops one track from Volume Two for the cd reissue - an economically reasonable decision but still a little unfortunate since, if Zorn himself isn't going to put out the whole of the work, who will?

But moreover, when will he put out the other three volumes? In the notes to the reissue, he says that five volumes were planned, but never recorded. Perhaps a little love and understanding at the time would have helped him along. Make no mistake: this is not easy listening even today. In 1985, when the first volume was released (also on Lumina), Milo Fine wrote in Cadence magazine that Zorn's work was "overconceptualized" and that his music comes off as "occasionally enjoyable, but mostly cluttered, cute, self-consciously avant and derivative." He did, however, call Volume One "Zorn's strongest document to date" and said that "there appears to be a genuine glimmer of a spirit with something to say ... on the second side there are about 4 brilliant brief sections." (The same issue asked for readers' opinions as to whether or not they should start selling compact discs.)

Certainly Zorn couldn't have realized all the directions he would go as a composer and a bandleader in the coming years, but listening to it today many of the avenues he would explore can be heard: there's quotation, cartoon, noise, fragmented melodies and fast thematic shifts. There's also the pure physicality of his playing - the overblowing, the vocalizing and the shockingly human noises wrenched from his throat. But more than that, there is (something completely lost on me at the time) the pure virtuosity of his playing. The album shows a capacity to fully play his instrument. Like Derek Bailey, Cecil Taylor or William Parker, Zorn has complete command over his instrument; he is able to produce from it whatever he wants to, whatever he needs to. With all the directions he has flown in the 13 years since it was recorded, it's often overlooked that Zorn is a masterful saxophonist. But whether it's a Sonny Clark tribute or a screaming match with Yamantaka Eye, Zorn is able to play whatever has to be played. He's a composer, an organizer and a provocateur, but he is also a hell of a player.

Three years after that fateful Christmas, I was listening to an arts segment on the National Public Radio program Morning Edition about the cutting edge of "downtown" music. They played a high-octane version of the Batman theme and said it was by the band Naked City, led by the same guy who had made that record that had long since been retiredfrom rotation without ever winning my heart. I was surprised to learn that that New York artiste actually made music that was enjoyable, even fun. I went to the record store and bought the self-titled Naked City cd, and found a vinyl copy of a record called Spillaine as well. I wondered if that was the composer pictured on the cover of Spillaine. I still had no idea what the guy looked like, but dime-store novel narratives, punk Mancini covers and solo sax freak-outs? I knew there was something going on.





Comments and Feedback:



The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Mark Dresser Seven
(Mitchell /
Ehrlich /
Boroff /
Dessen /
White /
Black):
Sedimental You
(Clean Feed)



Motif
(Lonning /
Nymo /
Thieke /
Wilk /
Johansen /
Vagan):
My Head
is Listening
(Clean Feed)



Evan Parker /
Daunik Lazro /
Joe McPhee:
Seven Pieces.
Live At Willisau
1995
(Clean Feed)



Various Artists:
An Anthology Of
Noise and Electronic
Music Volume 3
[3 VINYL LPs]
(Sub Rosa)



Peter Kowald Quintet:
Peter Kowald Quintet
[VINYL]
(Cien Fuegos)



Iancu Dumitrescu :
Live In New York
w/ Either/Or
(Edition Modern)



Eugene Chadbourne :
There'll Be
No Tears Tonight
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)



James Tenney:
Bass Works
(performed by
Dario Calderone)
(Hat
[now] ART)



Anthony Braxton :
Quintet
(Basel) 1977
(Hatology)



Oren Ambarchi:
Hubris
(Editions Mego)



Oren Ambarchi:
Hubris
[VINYL]
(Editions Mego)



Fredrik Nordstrom :
Gentle Fire,
Restless Dreams
[2 CDs]
(Moserobie Music)



Henry Threadgill & Zooid:
In for a Penny,
In for a Pound
[VINYL]
(Pi Recordings)



BassDrumBone +
guests Joe Lovano /
Jason Moran:
The Long Road
[2 CDs]
(Auricle)



Schall Und Rausch
(Mukarji /
Arrias /
Dorner /
Fagaschinski):
Vapour
(Confront)



Mary Halvorson Octet:
Away With You
(Firehouse 12
Records)



Illegal Crowns
(Halvorson /
Fujiwara /
Delbecq /
Ho Bynum):
Illegal Crowns
(RogueArt)



Nicole Mitchell's
Black Earth Ensemble &
Ensemble Laborintus:
Moments Of
Fatherhood
(RogueArt)



Rova::Orkestrova:
No Favorites!
(for Lawrence
"Butch" Morris)
(New World Records)



Graham Lambkin:
Community
[2 CDs]
(erstwhile)







Squidco
Click here to
advertise with
The Squid's Ear






The Squid's Ear pays its writers.
Interested in becoming a reviewer?




The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2016 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (2892)