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Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert / Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts Volume 1 (FMR)

The first of two volumes documenting Canadian alto saxophonist Francois Carrier and the trio of Michel Lambert on drums and Alexy Lapin on piano in their 2010 superb tour of Russia, here performing at DOM Cultural Center and Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center. ... Click to View


Francois Carrier / Michel Lambert / Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

The second of two volumes documenting Canadian alto saxophonist Francois Carrier and the trio of Michel Lambert (drums) and Alexy Lapin (piano) in their 2010 superb tour of Russia, performing at Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center, ESG-21, and JFC Jazz Club. ... Click to View


Willi Kellers Quartet: Life In A Black Box (FMR)

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Icepick (Nate Wooley, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten & Chris Corsano): Hexane [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

The Icepick trio features Nate Wooley on trumpet, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on bass & Chris Corsano on drums, freely improvising live in Brooklyn at Shapeshifter Lab in 2013 for two extended improvisations of superbly detailed technique, concept, and sonic approach. ... Click to View


John Dikeman : The Double Trio [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

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Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra: Visits Planet Earth [VINYL] (Saturn)

A 180 gram reissue of Sun Ra's 1958 Saturn release with a large and classic configuration of the Arkestra, recorded between '56-'58 in Chicago, and showing the evolution from more traditional jazz to the outer planetary work the Arkestra is more associated with. ... Click to View


The Wire: #368 October 2014 [MAGAZINE] (The Wire)

October 2014 issue of the UK's best modern music magazine, with Robert Fripp on the cover, plus articles on Jeremiah Cymerman, Pharmakon, Bruce Lacey, Mdou Moctar, Gazelle, plus CD, DVD, Video, Book & Live reviews, &c. &c. ... Click to View


The Wire: #369 November 2014 [MAGAZINE+CD] (The Wire)

November 2014 issue of the venerable UK magazine, with Richard Dawson on the cover, plus articles on Alfred 23 Harth, Autechre, Moniek Darge, Kenny Wheeler, Katie Gately, Joe Maneri with Ashley Paul, plus live, recorded & print reviews, &c &c &c. ... Click to View


Ornette Coleman : The Shape of Jazz to Come [VINYL] (So Far Out)

180G reissue of Ornette's classic harmolodic free jazz album, approaching jazz structures in a revolutionary way by creating a language where chord structures are absent, performed in a quartet with Charlie Haden (bass), Billy Higgins (drums), and Don Cherry (trumpet). ... Click to View


Univers Zero: Relaps/Archives 1984-1986 [VINYL 2 LPs] (Sub Rosa)

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Iancu Dumitrescu / Ana-Maria Avram: Paris-London (III), Spectrum XXI Festival (Edition Modern)

Three works from Romanian composer Iancu Dumitrescu, and two from Ana-Maria Avram, recorded at the 6th edition of the Spectrum XXI Festival held in London, Paris, Berlin and Bucharest in 2011, presenting works gravitating around the "Spectral Music" nucleus. ... Click to View


Ilan Volkov conducts Ana-Maria Avram / Iancu Dumitrescu: Hyperion International Ensemble (Edition Modern)

Ilan Volkov directs the Bucharest based chamber group Hyperion Ensemble merging the history of Romanian music with moder avant-garde music, here performing the music of Ana-Maria Avram & Iancu Dumitrescu with guest guitarist Stephan O'Malley. ... Click to View


Philip Corner: Satie Slowly [2 CDs] (Unseen Worlds)

Composer Philip Corner takes on Satie's piano works with an emphasis on pacing, allowing the pieces to develop their beautiful lyricism; 17 pieces over two CDs, including "Gymonpedies", "Ogives", "Fanfares of the Rose+Cross", &c. ... Click to View


Seijiro Murayama / Eric La Casa: Paris: Public Spaces (Ftarri/Swarming)

Twelve recordings constructed from 2012 field recordings of public locations in Paris by Eric La Casa and Seijiro Murayama, including subway stations, parks, open gardens, tunnels and fountains; a fascinating portrait of communal sound in this great city. ... Click to View


Angharad Davies : Six Studies (Confront)

Six unorthodox sketches for acoustic violin, focusing on advanced techniques and preparations including a plastic peg, a spring, and a nail file, from London based Angharad Davies, recording live improvisations at Goldsmiths University. ... Click to View


BEFOREHAND (Lazaridou / Wastell): Live at Hundred Years Gallery (Confront)

The duo of Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga on zither and Mark Wastell on his electronics set including bowls and shruti box, formed for the release concert for Angharad Davies' "Six Studies" in 2014 and recording this excellent improvised dialog of rich and unusual sound. ... Click to View


Jeph Jerman: Analog (NO LABEL)

Sound explorer Jeph Jerman's "Analog" in two extended works merging field recordings and inexplicable sound, a hazy balance of muffled and indeterminate sound with great motion and punctuated moments, like hallucinatory memories heard from the wheel well of a car. ... Click to View


Jeph Jerman: Quo Modo Deum (No Label)

"Quo Modo Deum" translates to 'This is the way of God', which sound artist Jeph Jerman invokes through a 2 CD release starting with intoning bells, proceeding through six recordings of minimal drones of varying character. ... Click to View


Various Artists: Fluviology (Runningonair Music)

Runningonair releases recordings from the Ologies concert series at the Railway in Winchester, England, initiated to expand the experimental music scene in the Hampshire area, here with Delphine Dora, Sophie Cooper, Serbastiane Hegarty, and Joe Evans. ... Click to View


Rob Mazurek & Black Cube SP (featuring Sao Paulo Underground): Return The Tides: Ascension Suite And Holy Ghost [VINYL] (Cuneiform)

Two weeks after the passing of his mother to cancer, cornetist Rob Mazurek and his Black Cube sextet recorded this profound album blending acoustic and electronics with intense spiritual and emotional energy, a fitting tribute that explores our connection to the next stage. ... Click to View


Rob Mazurek & Black Cube SP (featuring Sao Paulo Underground): Return The Tides: Ascension Suite And Holy Ghost (Cuneiform)

Two weeks after the passing of his mother to cancer, cornetist Rob Mazurek and his Black Cube sextet recorded this profound album blending acoustic and electronics with intense spiritual and emotional energy, a fitting tribute that explores our connection to the next stage. ... Click to View


Ideal Bread (Stinton / Knuffke / Hopkins / Fujiwara): Beating the Teens [2 CDs] (Cuneiform)

The 3rd album NYC's Steve Lacy repertory band Ideal Bread led by John Sinton (baritone saxophone) with Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Adam Hopkins (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) in a double CD recomposing Lacy's "Scratching The Seventies / Dreams" in unique and fascinating ways. ... Click to View


Anthony Pirog (with Michael Formanek and Ches Smith): Palo Colorado Dream (Cuneiform)

Washington, DC guitarist and electronic artist Anthony Pirog's trio with Michael Formanek on bass and Ches Smith on drums in his debut album, blending acoustic playing with electronics in immersive songs of soundscape and strong technical skills in 11 cathartic songs. ... Click to View


Richard Pinhas / Yoshida Tatsuya: Welcome In The Void (Cuneiform)

Electronics and guitar from French psychedelic rock legend Richard Pinhas (Heldon) merges with the percussion mastery of Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei and Korekyojinn) for a remarkable two part duo of sonic and percussive exchanges recorded in Paris and Tokyo. ... Click to View


Richard Pinhas / Oren Ambarchi: Tikkun [CD & DVD] (Cuneiform)

Richard Pinhas of Helodon fame meets guitarist and sound artist Oren aMbarchi, Masami Akita (Merzbow) on loops, noise &effects, and Duncan Pinhas on sequencer, effects & noise, plus Eric Borelva for additional drums in a studio CD / live DVD 2 disc release. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer / Keiji Haino: Zeitkratzer + Keiji Haino (Zeitkratzer)

Keiji Haino collaborates with Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer for their 2nd release, with Haino concentrating solely on his voice without electronic manipulation, in a live recording at Jahrehunderthalle in Bochum, Germany for a frightful mix of ferocious chamber music. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Jim O'Rourke / Oren Ambarchi: Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

The 5th release from the trio of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Keiji Haino, guitarist Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi on wineglass and percussion is an introspective and beautifully developed set recorded live at their March 2013 concert at SuperDeluxe. ... Click to View


Zeitkratzer / Keiji Haino: Live At Jahrhunderthalle Bochum [VINYL] (KARLRECORDS)

Keiji Haino collaborates with Reinhold Friedl's Zeitkratzer for their 2nd release, with Haino concentrating solely on his voice without electronic manipulation, in a live recording at Jahrehunderthalle in Bochum, Germany for a frightful mix of ferocious chamber music. ... Click to View


Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Black Is Back - 40th Anniversary Project (KATALYST )

Percussionist Kahil El' Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble with Ernest Khabeer Dawkins on saxophone and Corey Wilkes on trumpet, referencing the history of jazz in contemporary settings, with superb rhythmic textures and excellent soloing. ... Click to View


Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms: From The Region (Delmark)

Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms explores the sparse territory of the vibraphone trio with fellow Chicago player Mike Reed on drums and Texan via Norway bassist Ingrebrigt Haker-Flaten replacing Nate McBrite; tasteful and lyrical jazz with a modern edge. ... Click to View


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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.





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