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Recently @ Squidco:

Satoko Fujii: Ninety-Nine Years (Libra)

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Kira Kira (Tamura / Spence / Fujii / Takemura): Bright Force (Libra)

Since 2007 Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and Australian keyboardist Alister Spence have collaborated on performance and recording in several configurations, including work with Tony Buck, Raymond McDonald, Jim O'Rourke, &c.; this energetic and otherworldly quartet session with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and drummer Ittetsu Takemura was recored live Knuttel House, in Tokyo, 2017. ... Click to View


Kevin Drumm: Inexplicable Hours (Sonoris)

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Kevin Drumm: Inexplicable Hours [VINYL @ LPs + CD] (Sonoris)

Chicago experimenter and improviser Kevin Drumm releases the sequel to his 6-CD boxset "Elapsed Time", using audio generators and various electronic devices to generate beautiful ambient environments and drones, that are complemented by field recordings and short spoken sections, a rich work of subtle complexity, dark warmth, and mystery. ... Click to View


Animals & Giraffes (Greenlief / la Rocco / Leidecker): Landlocked Beach (Creative Sources)

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Bill Dixon: Odyssey (Solo Works) [6 CD BOX SET] (Archive Edition)

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Hong Chulki / Will Guthrie: Mosquitoes and Crabs (erstwhile)

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Toshiya Tsunoda / Taku Unami: Wovenland (erstwhile)

The liner notes give good detail to each composition from these Japanese sound artists and composers Toshiya Tsunoda and Taku Unami, reworking and transforming field recordings from a diverse set of environmental locations by changing pitch, playback speeds, frequency, amplitude, &., creating 11 compositions, imbuing the mundane with unusual and surprising aural attributes. ... Click to View


Michael Pisaro / Reinier van Houdt: Shades of Eternal Night (Gravity Wave)

Largely derived from piano recordings by Netherlands pianist Reinier van Houdt, a member of both the Ensemble MAE and the Ives Ensemble and heard on the Wandelweiser label, expanded by several field recordings recorded by Michael Pisaro in Syros (Greece), creating a work in three pieces of rich environments that contrast peaceful passages with powerful ambiance. ... Click to View


Michael Pisaro : Etant Donnes (Gravity Wave)

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Dave Rempis / Tim Daisy & Guests: Dodecahedron (Aerophonic)

Marking their 20th anniversary working together, the collaboration between Chicago improvisers, saxophonist Dave Rempis and percussionist Tim Daisy, release their third duo recording, inviting an incredible list of improvisers to perform live with them at Elastic Arts in Chicago in 2017: Jason Adasiewicz, Jim Baker, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Steve Swell, Katie Young, and Aaron Zarzutzki. ... Click to View


Peter Bruun's All Too Human (w/ Tranberg / Ducret / Toldam): Vernacular Avant-garde (Ayler)

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Christophe Monniot & Grand Orchestre du Tricot: Jericho Sinfonia (Ayler)

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Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp / Jeff Cosgrove: Live In Baltimore (Leo)

A rare live album from Brazilian-born/NY-based saxophonist Ivo Perelman, performing live at An Die Musik in Baltimore in 2017 in a trio with pianist Matthew Shipp and new drummer Jeff Cosgrove, for a single epic improvisation that takes the listener on an adventure from lyrical to energetic free jazz, all three players unhurried and absolutely focused. ... Click to View


Suspensao: Physis (Creative Sources)

The third album on Creative Sources for this 10-piece ensemble with 5 string players, piano, sax, trombone, electronics and percussion, freely improvising in an extended work themed for the Greek theological, philosophical, and scientific term typically translated as nature or physics, in a rich tapestry of meticulous detail and profoundly subtle communication. ... Click to View


Domeniconi / Schlegel / Suter : Quince Dreams (Creative Sources)

Three versatile improvisers with pedigrees including Christian Weber, Christian Wolfarth, Objets Trouves, Big Bold Back Bone, &c, the Swiss trio of Roberto Domeniconi on piano, Jan Schlegel on electric bass, and Sheldon Suter on drums use unusual and extended techniques integrated within free improv in this coproduction with RSI Rete Due Radiotelevision, Switzerland. ... Click to View


Baker / Glover: Love, Approximately (Bad Architect Records)

Bridging folk traditions with modern aesthetics, the duo of Evan Baker on guitar and Austin Glover on violin, both contributing songs, sing about every day events, music, and life, the songs having a bluesy and even early Kinks feel at times, made unique through a cappella moments and languid instrumental sections. ... Click to View


Cornelius Cardew / London Experimental Ensemble: Treatise (Split Rock Records)

The full two-hour performance of Cornelius Cardew's entire 193-page legendary Treatise graphic score, performed at Iklectik in London, England on January 28, 2017 in an 11-member ensemble of some of London's most interesting improvisers including participants in Scratch Orchestra, in a double CD release with liner notes by AMM founder Eddie Prevost. ... Click to View


Henry Kaiser / Ed Pettersen: We Call All Times Soon (Split Rock Records )

A series of acoustic guitar duos between Henry Kaiser playing on an 18-string harp guitar, and Ed Pettersen, playing an 8-string Weissenborn guitar, freely improvised and with a psychedelic/cosmic impulse as the two draw on elements of Americana and roots-based folk music in four extended recordings, the camaraderie and mutual intent evident in this fascinating album. ... Click to View


Simon Nabatov / Max Johnson / Michael Sarin: Free Reservoir (Leo)

An exciting and forceful album of free jazz from the trio of pianist Simon Nabatov, bassist Max Johnson and drummer Michael Sarin, recording in the studio in New York City with each player propelling themselves in dynamic, inventive collective free playing with an experimental bent, but never departing from the traditions of identifiable jazz music; recommended! ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp / William Parker / Bobby Kapp: Heptagon (Leo)

Releasing albums at a furious pace, Brazilian/NY saxophonist Ivo Perelman continues his collaborations with some of New York's finest players, here in a quartet with Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass and Bobby Kapp on drums, in the appropriately titled 7-part "Heptagon" of lyrical free improvisation of great intensity and dialog. ... Click to View


Camarasa / Mahler: TbPn (Gigantonium)

Recorded in concert during "Culture with a Big Q" in Toulouse, France in 2017, the duo of Xavier Camarasa on piano/prepared piano and Matthias Mahler on trombone, take Camarasa's compositions and arrange them to alternate between melodic free sections and contemporary abstract passages using extended techniques, heard in this captivating and versatile performance. ... Click to View


Clement Janinet : O.U.R.S. (Gigantonium)

French violinist Clement Janinet composes music for quartet inspired by the lyricism of the free jazz melodies of the 60s (Ornette Coleman, Phoraoh Sanders, &c.) and the timbral and rhythmic textures of repetitive music (Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Adams, &c) in several quartet configurations including bass clarinet, tenor sax, bass, drums, guitrar, and cello. ... Click to View


Jean-Brice Godet : Epiphanies (Gigantonium)

French experimental improviser Jean-Brice Godet, a frequent collaborator with Joelle Leandre and a member of Cuir, in a solo album of 8 etudes for dictaphone, radio, and clarinet, a unique album of extreme and eccentric technique on reeds punctuated by unearthly voice and radio transmissions, a curious album that rewards detailed listening. ... Click to View


Shed Metal (Daniel Kernohan / Dan Lander): Equivalent Insecurity (Spool)

Verge Music founder Daniel Kernohan aka Dee Kay and radio host Dan Lander developed this album of electroacoustic interaction between 1987-1989 in a dilapidated row house on "the wrong side of the tracks" in Toronto, using "instruments, toys, stuff, sound" to create an amusing, sometimes startling, and insightful series of interactions; unpredictable and interesting. ... Click to View


IKB: Rhinocerus (Creative Sources)

One of Portugal's most interesting large scale lowercase ensembles led by violist Ernesto Rodrigues, with frequent Creative Sources collaborators including Nuno Torres on alto sax, Carlos Santos on electronics, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Miguel Mira on bass, 14 musicians move with subtlety in a tapestry of electroacoustic resonance and mystique. ... Click to View


Wasteland Jazz Unit: Attuned To Ruin [CASSETTE] (Banned Productions)

Wasteland Jazz Unit is Jon Lorenz on saxophone and John Rich on clarinet, based in Cincinnati, Ohio that please their own ears by playing an amorphous, hyper-amplified free improvised noise of blasting screaming horn squeals, damaged contact mics, feedback tones and the like, in a cassette of dark, aggressive sound. ... Click to View


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The Squid's Ear
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A Month of Zorndays
John Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration at Tonic

Updated througout the month

John Zorn







John Zorn Improv Night  (Tonic) 

September 29, 2003

With Derek Bailey unable to make it to town for his scheduled night in the monthlong Zornfest, John Zorn pulled together an old-fashioned improv night (although having drummer Joey Baron still in town certainly made it something more than an ordinary night). It was the first nonevent of the month, which almost carried with it a tinge of relief.

Two opening pieces by Baron, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and cellist Erik Friedlander achieved the often-claimed-but-usually boring improvised classical. Violinest Mark Feldman and laptop percussionist Ikue Mori followed in a similar vein, Feldman playing bold, heavy notes, leaving Mori's laptop as the melody instrument. Their second piece took a very different path, with Feldman playing fast lines and scratches over Mori's busy backing. Feldman and Friedlander also carried the high-art torch for a piece, and were joined by Courvoiser (making the group into Courvoisier's Abaton trio) for an equally stunning piece.

Baron and Zorn had of course already shared the stage during the month - two weeks prior had been the Masada quartet's first gig in over a year - but seeing them in duet was just good. Starting and stopping, completing each other's sentences until they built to a roar, only Baron to stop and play a quiet, slowly metered rim roll while Zorn carried on full throttle. Later Baron backed Zorn with licked-finger drum-head rubs, not just for effect but really playing with Zorn's saxophone.

Better yet was Baron sitting in the Susie Ibarra seat with the Mephista line-up. He's a faster, busier player than Ibarra, it's not really fair to call it Mephista at all, but they played wonderfully, although he ultimately overpowered Courvoisier and Mori. A second, quieter piece where Baron rode cymbals worked better. The piano, drums and laptop created torrents of rhythm together, and Courvoisier and Mori now have the shared pleasure of playing with the two happiest drummers in the world.

The final group piece opened with Baron, Friedlander and Mori, then Zorn coming in, suggesting combinations that hadn't been heard, and built slowly to a gorgeous sextet, Zorn blowing a slow lament, Feldman complementing him while Friedlander carried a deep bass, the rest melding into a beautiful, thick blanket.

Perhaps it wasn't quite like old times, not just in Zorn's calling consecutive pieces by the same ensembles, but in the near-formal virtuosity exhibited throughout. Certainly it was a different sort of Improv Nite than he would have presented 10 years ago. And if anything really stands as a testament to the growth of John Zorn and the scene he embraces, it's what they do for fun.

- Kurt Gottschalk






Bezique  (Tonic) 

September 24, 2003

Bezique is the last game piece Zorn conceived, and by his own admission in introducing the piece, "it's very strange." It differs from other pieces in that the players - the musicians involved - create the settings ahead of time rather than while they are playing. As a result, more coherent musical statements are made without losing the structured improvisations that can make the game pieces so rewarding.

The game pieces in general are interesting not just because of the music that's made, the characters they bring out or the mystery in which they're kept. They predate what could be called Zorn's "index card" period, and seem to have informed it. After creating a series of situations where he could hear styles, genres and moods crashing into each other, he began to use it as a formula for composing and arranging, most notably on the album The Big Gundown and the piece Spillane. Beziques was written in 1989, just two years before Spillane was recorded, and combines the tools of the game pieces with a compositional approach.

Each of the 11 players (Trevor Dunn, 5-string electric bass; Anthony Coleman, Farfisa organ; Sylvie Courvoisier, piano; Marc Ribot, guitar; Jim Publiese and William Winant, percussion; Jim Staley, trombone; Mark Dresser, bass; Okkyung Lee, cello; Mark Feldman, violin; and Jamie Saft, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer and effects) got a turn creating a piece, calling out a series of directives ("EP1, Ribot; M7, Courvoisier, Lee, Winant; EP3-1...") while a "gaffer" played interlude music. It was reminiscent of Duke Ellington's idea that he writes for individual musicians, except purely that, without scores. Zorn would write down the directives that he would then guide them through by holding up his familiar cue cards, and reminding the arranger of rules and trying to keep an overall cohesion between pieces. "The hardest thing is coming out of Ts," he reminded the group more than once. "You can't just write a whole piece and think it's gonna work," he told them later. "You gotta think about the piece that came before it. You gotta think about the pieces in order."

While pieces like Cobra show player's proclivities in what they want to hear at the moment, it was fascinating to watch entire pieces borne of one player's musical sense. Dresser created a beautiful suite. Lee jumped back and forth between styles, relying heavily on a Ribot/Saft/Dunn trio. Coleman injected humor, which in itself is impressive when you're only able to suggest with genre, tempo and volume. But "M4 and 9 for Dresser and Sylvie" got a good laugh from the bandstand. (When they got to that point in the piece, Zorn showed the two cards "Quiet" and "Rock" to the audience.) Likewise, it was interesting to watch players run the pieces through their heads as they were being called.

The performance lasted 80 minutes, and it's a shame that Bezique has been forgotten over the years. While the other game pieces make for great theater and a fun night of in-the-moment creation, Bezique resulted in some truly memorable music.

- Kurt Gottschalk






John Zorn's Lacrosse, Hockey, Rugby  (Tonic) 

September 24, 2003

In the progression of game pieces that led John Zorn to create the magnificent Cobra and Xu Feng structures, several earlier games were devised. Lacrosse was developed in 1977, originally performed in the days of Studio Henry in lower Manhattan where, as Zorn recalled at the beginning of the performace, the music competed with the sounds of crickets in the building. This rendering of the game had Anthony Coleman on keys, Marc Ribot on guitar, William Winant and Jim Pugliese on percussion and Zorn on alto. The game was very interactive, the players motioning amongst themselves and using a sparse set of rules, each calling segments and directing the game while in motion - unlike most of Zorn's game pieces there was no prompter. They used extended techniques on their instruments, and the piece was enjoyable if for no other reason than the mastery each showed: Zorn and Ribot played off each other, Coleman working inside the grand piano, and both Pugliese and Winant seeming to utilize every inch of their percussive sources. The ensuing music was not particularly coherent, a series of stop-starting quotations that were often punctuated but rarely lyrical.

Following was Hockey, a piece from 1978 that Zorn described as "exotic aquatics." He displayed the score for the game, explaining that at the time of its writing he believed that "all you really needed for an evening of music is one sheet of paper." Hockey limits each player's language to five sounds, which are carried out through a series of solos, duos and trios. Two versions of Hockey were presented, the first which Zorn referred to as the "dry version" with Okkyung Lee on cello, Jim Pugliese on percussion and Zorn on duck calls. This version was tremendous fun, particularly in seeing Zorn playing the duck calls again, a fistful of varying bird and buzzer sounds that are clearly enjoyable to play. Lee provided an excellent foil to Zorn as she scraped, sawed and zipped around her cello while Pugliese provided often rollicking outbursts. The music frequently shifted, Zorn sometimes calling off directives to change the rhythm. More sophisticated than Lacrosse, the piece still paled to later game pieces in its sometimes spastic results. The second rendering of Hockey was presented by Anthony Coleman, Marc Ribot and Mark Dresser on bass. Zorn described this as the "wet version,", and the difference between the two renditions was remarkable. Coleman here stuck to his heavily effected Farfisa organ. Ribot as well played heavily effected and downright alien guitar, while Dresser was a monster on the bass, sometimes playing with a stick, plucking around the neck or bowing below the bridge. Zorn prompted from the front as the three played with clear enjoyment. The results were, once again, fun to watch, somewhat dubious in their music results, but inspiring and important in their ability present new possiblities in improvisational playing.

The last piece, Rugby, was written several years later, in 1983, and was more like his later pieces. Sylvie Courvoisier was on piano, Trevor Dunn on bass, Mark Feldman on vioin, Jim Staley on trombone, William Winant on percussion, with Zorn prompting using a card system. The interplay this time was much more obvious, players pointing to each other to suggest musical direction to Zorn. The cards instructed the players with phrases like "Intercut," "Trans," "1 Clock Changes" or "4 Trades," and the piece seemed to work at time similar to Butch Morris' conductions. A series of escapades and interludes, the structure provided much more lyric and expressive opportunities to the musicians, adding a quirky and playful air to the resulting music. Zorn once again showed the single sheet that defined the game, but this time it was clear that the direction he was to take game pieces in 20 years ago held great potential for making excellent and unpredictable music.

- Phil Zampino






September 12, 18, 25 2003

Bar Kokhba - (Tonic) September 12, 2003, 8:00 set
Masada - (Tonic) September 18, 2003, 8:00 set
Electric Masada - (Tonic)September 25, 2003, 8:00 set

One of the wonderful things about Zorn's 50th birthday month was the opportunity it presented to hear the various Masada permutations on successive or nearly-successive nights, the chance to compare the way the different voicings and personnel shaped the music (sometimes even the same charts), and the air around us, the actual feel of the world, or as much of it as you can fit inside the little Tonic warehouse. This is evocative music, music that reaches down into the limbic system and plants fleeting images of places that, for a few moments, I have a terrible longing to visit.



continued...




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reviews about releases
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