The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Parkins / Wooley / Westera / Vuletic: Fugitive Beautee (Ignoring Gravity Music)

Bojan Vuletic composed these works based on lines from Baudelaire's "Les fleurs du mal", a remarkable set of songs sung by Vera Westera over the excellent musicianship of Zeena Parkins on harp, Nate Wooley on trumpet, and Bojan Vuletic handling the odd instrument. ... Click to View


Jean-Marc Foussat / Les Autres: Alternative Oblique [4 CD Box Set] (Improvising Beings)

A 4 CD anthology released on Jean-Marc Foussat's 60th birthday, presenting an amazing diversity of material from 40 years of recording, including early experiments, the development of his unique language, through improv with Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Matthias Mahler, Joe McPhee, Paul Lovens, &c. ... Click to View


Hugues Vincent / John Cuny : Tagtraum (Improvising Beings)

Free improvising cellist Hugues Vincent and pianist John Cuny in a studio release of 9 subtle duos using space, time, unusual techniques, and intent listening to develop succinct, unique and sometimes curious dialogs of spontaneous skill. ... Click to View


Walabix invite Maris: Walabix invite Maris (BeCoq)

The French quartet or Quentin Biardeau on sax, Gabriel Lemaire on sax and clarinet, Valentin Ceccaldi on cello, Adrien Chennebault on drums and guest trumpeter Bart Maris in a set of composed, structured, and freely improvised pieces, with an ear to lyricism. ... Click to View


Hasse Poulsen / Tom Rainey: Open Fist (BeCoq)

New York Drummer Tom Rainey met French guitarist Hasse Poulsen to record this album of dynamic duos in the studio, building works that ebb and flow between aggressive sound and reflective harmony, an impressive display of technical, lyrical, and powerful playing. ... Click to View


Jean-Luc Guionnet / Thomas Bonvalet : Loges De Souffle (BeCoq)

Thomas Bonvalet takes the banjo into unusual territory with Jean-Luc Guionnet performing on the organ at the protestant temple of Bergerac, France, in a beautifully terrifying album recorded during the MONC cultural arts centre's festival of avant-garde culture in 2010. ... Click to View


Lo Flopper : Lo Flopper [CASSETTE] (Music a la Coque)

Experimental "childrens jazz" in a 2-sided cassette from this Italian septet, the first side a free-form structured live performance, the second an unusual set of experiments using toys, balloons, objects, synths over strange rhythms and sound - a fun and odd release. ... Click to View


The Wire: #383 January 2016 [MAGAZINE] (The Wire)

Rewind 2015: Records of the year charts plus opinion, analysis, musings and reflections; Invisible Jukebox: Gnod; Global Ear: Zagreb; Marc Baron; Inner Sleeve (Noveller on Sonic Youth's Goo videos); Collateral Damage: Ergo Phizmiz; plus reviews, articles, &c &c. ... Click to View


The Wire: #384 February 2016 [MAGAZINE] (The Wire)

On The Cover: Alan & Sir Richard Bishop; 22a Records; The Primer: This Heat And Beyond: A user's guide to the recordings and spin-off groups from Camberwell Now to Monkey Puzzle Trio; Breadwoman; ZA!; Bastard Assignments; Bizarre Rituals; Puce Mary; Josephine Foster; &c. &c. ... Click to View


Bennani / Silva / Greene / Henderson: Free Form Improvisation Ensemble 2013 (Improvising Beings)

Instant compositions live at Sunset in Paris, 2013 from the quartet of Burton Greene on piano & percussion, Alan Silva on synthesizer, Adelhai Bennani on tenor sax, and Chris Henderson on electronic drums, an essential update from a trailblazing band that started in 1964. ... Click to View


Oberg / Schubert / De Joode / Sanders: Rope (Red Toucan)

Soprano saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert and pianist Uwe Oberg have played together since 2009; for ROPE they are joined by UK drummer Mark Sanders and Amsterdam bassist Wilbert de Joode for a diverse and astounding live set performed at Just Music Fest in Wiesbaden, Germany in 2015. ... Click to View


Icepick (Nate Wooley, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten & Chris Corsano): Amaranth [VINYL + DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

Nate Wooley (trumpet), Chris Corsano (percussion) and Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (bass) recording in Austin, TX for their first proper release as Icepick, 3 tracks of powerfully creative and downright smoldering modern jazz using exceptional skill and passion. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee : Zurich 1979 [1-SIDED VINYL + DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

Originally recorded to cassette tape (in Zurich, in 1979) this one-sided 180Gm LP restores and remasters this amazing 20 minute solo, a tour-de-force of tenor sax starting from the mouthpiece and bell and working into a fully formed and remarkable journey of method and music. ... Click to View


Clara Iannotta : A Failed Entertainment. Works 2009-2014 (Edition Rz)

Works from Italian composer Clare Iannotta recorded from 2012 - 2014, including a work for string quartet composed for the DAAD artist-in-Berlin program titled "A Failed Entertainment" commissioned by Quaturo Diotima; plus 6 works for contemporary ensembles. ... Click to View


Gabriele Emde : Die Natur der Klange: Neue Musik fur Harfe (Edition Rz)

Harpist Gabriele Emde began performing contemporary music by exceptional 20th century artists in the early 80s; in this collection recorded from 1985 to 1987 she presents one of Cage's "Landscape" pieces, a major work by Hans Otte, and several short pieces by Lou Harrison. ... Click to View


Michel Banabila : Tapu Sampler 2016 (Tapu Record)

Michel Banabila's excellent melodically experimental electroacoustic label Tapu in their 2016 double CD sampler, with tracks from Banabila, Asid & Banabila, Banabila & Van Geel, Banabila & Machinefabriek, Banabila & Erker, and Banabila/Erker/Samson. ... Click to View


Tellef Ogrim / Anders Berg: Kume (SImlas)

The second album from the duo collaboration of acoustic and electric bassist Anders Berg and guitarist Tellef Ogrim on fretted and unfretted standard and baritone guitars, a Hadron Particle synthesizer, and other instruments, merging rock, jazz and other groove oriented styles. ... Click to View


Keiko Higuchi: Between Dream And Haze (Improvising Beings)

Free jazz vocal improvisation from Keiki Higuchi in a quartet with drummer Tatsuya Nakatani, bassist Luis Inage, and guitarist Masami Kawaguchi, creating an hallucinatory sound of unusual techniques and hazy vocal implications, revealing layers with each listen. ... Click to View


Jad Fair / Strobe Talbot: Hunger (Music a la Coque)

Jad Fair, vocalist and mastermind of Half Japanese, with the band Strobe Talbot (Nick Hobbs, Beng Gallaher, Andy Fisher), in a 33 rpm postcard flexi record of a song titled "Hunger", a limited and numbered edition of 250 copies with artwork from Jad Fair himself. ... Click to View


Ensemble SuperMusique: Les accords intuitifs (Ambiances Magnetiques)

Montreal's most creative large ensemble, led by Joane Hetu & Daniell Palardy Roger, in their 5th release presenting works composed between 1976-2015 featuring twenty musicians playing in different combinations, showing the creative breadth and skills of this amazing band. ... Click to View


The Disguises (Thomson / Caloia / Charuest / Hood / Tanguay): Songs 7 Dances from The Muted Note (Ambiances Magnetiques)

Eleven songs by Montreal trombonist Scott Thomson, settings of poems by P.K. Page (1916-2010), one of Canada's distinguished literary figures, in a band with Pierre Tanguay on drums, Yves Charuest on sax, Nicolas Caloia on double bass, and Susanna Hood on vocals. ... Click to View


Otomo Yoshihide : Guitar Solo 2015 RIGHT (Doubtmusic)

The complement to his "Guitar Solo "RIGHT", Otomo Yoshihide recorded 123 structured guitar improvisations on Masayuki Takayanagi's 1963 Gibson, then gave them to Akihiko Matsumoto who fed them into software he developed to play them back using a set of intelligent rules. ... Click to View


Roger Turner / Otomo Yoshihide: Live at SuperDeluxe (Doubtmusic)

UK free improvising percussionist Roger Turner in a duo with Japanese creative improviser Otomo Yoshihide on guitar, performing live at Tokyo's SuperDeluxe in 2015, two sets of dynamic and demanding improvisation, from near silence to driving rhythm and noise. ... Click to View


Roger Turner / Satoh Masahiko / Otomo Yoshihide: Live at Hall Egg Farm (Doubtmusic)

During legendary UK free improvising drummer Roger Turner's 2015 tour of Japan he met with guitarist Otomo Yoshihide and pianist Satoh Masahiko to record this monumental and astounding 66 minute improvisation at Fukaya City's Hall Egg Farm. ... Click to View


Junji Hirose / Kazuhisa Uchihashi: Saxophonedaxophone (Doubtmusic)

Saxophonist Junji Hirose met Kazuhisa Uchihashi at Foxhole in Kichijoji in 2014 and 2015, Uchihashi performing only on Hans Reichel's daxophone--wood shapes played in a variety of ways to create unusual sound--as heard on these 10 surprising and wonderfully idiosyncratic recordings. ... Click to View


MILESDAVISQUINTET!: Shapin' With (BeCoq)

The French trio of Xavier Camarasa on piano, Valentin Ceccaldi on cello, and Sylvain Darrifourcq on percussion, having little to do with Mile Davis, but instead a creative band using timbral changes, intensity, density, volume to create unique improv environments. ... Click to View


Silke Rollig / Burton Greene: Space Is Still The Place (Improvising Beings)

New York free jazz pianist Burton Greene and free jazz vocalist Silke Rollig recorded these thirteen improvisations at The Loft in Koln, Germany in 2013, a mix of lyrical free playing with scat and freeform vocals, accompanied by flute, and by sax, on one piece each. ... Click to View


Ute Wassermann / Birgit Ulher: Radio Tweet (Creative Sources)

The long-standing duo of trumpeter Birgit Uhler, also on radio, speaker & objects, and free improvising vocalist Ute Wasserman, in an album of 8 unbelievable improvisations of a unique and sometimes bizarre character, holding one's attention from its outlandish nature--superb! ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Dorner / Torres / Fragenheim: Nor (Creative Sources)

The freely improvising quartet of Ernesto Rodrigues, Axel Dorner, Nuno Torres and Alexander Frangenheim recorded this beautiful album of dark sound in Germany in 2014, 3 movements of understated dialog using unexpected techniques in a subtle dialog. ... Click to View


Vorfeld / Scott / Gratkowski: Sieben Entruckte Lieder (Creative Sources)

The trio of Frank Gratkowski on clarinets and alto sax, Michael Vorfeld on percussion, and Richard Scott on modular synthesizer, also known as Spectre, freely improvising in dramatic and generally reserved ways, intently focusing on sound and interchange. ... 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



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


  Copyright © 2014 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (5142)