The Squid's Ear
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Steve Lacy: Free for a Minute (1966-72) [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Four sessions on a 2 CD set, all featuring Steve Lacy and Kent Carter: (1) DISPOSABILITY, the 1965 trio record with Aldo Romano of jazz standards, originals and free improv; (2) SORTIE, the 1966 free improv quartet + Enrico Rava album; (3) previously unissued 1967 'Free Fall' Film Cues in a quintet with Rava, Karl Berger, & Paul Motian; (4) two never issued '72 quintet pieces with Steve Potts, Irene Aebi on cello and Noel Mcghie. ... Click to View


Paul Rutherford : In Backward Times (1979-2007) (Emanem)

Four very different previously unissued concert settings featuring trombonist Paul Rutherford: 2 festival solos - one from 1979 with electronics and one from 2004 without; a 1988 duo with Paul Rogers a few months before their ROGUES CD; and a 2007 trio with Veryan Weston and Marcio Mattos, which turned out to be Rutherford's last public appearance. ... Click to View


Barry Guy: Frogs [VINYL 7-inch PICTURE DISC] (Trost Records)

A 7" limited vinyl picture disc made to celebrate legendary European Free Jazz bassist Barry Guy's 70th birthday, with Guy providing "acoustic sounds" along with his collaborating frogs, Wasserfrosch (Rana Esculenta) and Laubfrosch (Hyla Arborea), size A presenting Frogs & Barry Guy, and side 2, Barry Guy & Frogs; quirkly and wonderful free improv. ... Click to View


Christian Wolff : Berlin Exercises [VINYL] (God Records)

A series of shorter works composed by Christian Wolff written to explore the process of practicing and working within specified limits, exercises for both the composer and the performers, recorded live in Berlin in 2000 by an ensemble directed by Peter Ablinger and including Wolff on piano & melodica, Robin Hayward on tuba, Anette Krebs on guitar, &c. ... Click to View


Phill Niblock: Rhymes With Water [VINYL] (God Records)

A beautiful set of minimalist compositional drone from New York composer Phill Niblock, commissioned by the performers Natalia Pschenitschnikowa on bass flute and Erik Drescher on glissando flute, recorded at PIETHOPRAXIS, in Cologne, Germany by Marcus Schmickler, and in Berlin, Germany, by Thomas Ankersmit. ... Click to View


Simon Rummel Ensemble: IM MEER (Umlaut Records)

German composer and improviser Simon Rummel presents the 2nd release from his 11-piece Simon Rummel Ensemble, blending his interest in acoustic phenomena and improvisational harmonics in an extended work that shift from beautiful tonal work to disruptive cacophony and back to melodic music blending jazz and 20th century approaches; a great achievement. ... Click to View


Joe McPhee / Bryan Eubanks: My Undocumented Alien Clarinet [VINYL] (Penultimate Press)

Recorded and presented as part of Pauline Oliveros Foundation's New Vanguard Series in Kingston, NY in 2006, the unusual duo of Joe McPhee on b-flat and e-flat alto clarinets and synthesizer and Bryan Eubanks on open circuit electronics explores unusual dynamics and psychoacoustic intersections of both acoustic and electronic instruments. ... Click to View


Blaise Siwula / Jorge Nuno: Waterscapes (Creative Sources)

Waterscapes is the performing duo of New York saxophonist Blaise Siwula and guitarist Jorge Nuno, interwining distinct approaches to acoustic and electric improvisation, creating rich sound environments and rapid interaction that draws the listener in and then sweeps them off their feet with passionate, complex and informed dialog. ... Click to View


Carlo Mascolo: My Tubes (Creative Sources)

A unique take on this large brass instrument from Italian trombonis and Free Flow Festival director Carlo Mascolo, using preparations, focusing on components of the instrument, and using extreme techniques to create a startlingly diverse set of sounds, vocalisations, microtonal output and simply bizarre utterances as Mascolo attempts bring new language to horn. ... Click to View


Alfredo Monteiro Costa / Miguel A. Garcia: Aq'Ab'Al (Mikroton Recordings)

Audio experimenters Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Miguel A. Garcia join forces in an album titled after "Aq'ab'al", the Mayan Astrology Sign about polar opposites-- dawn and dusk, hot and cold, black and white--which represents renewal and change, through a series of opposing audio events, forceful sounds of texture, feedback, and intervention. ... Click to View


John Butcher / John Edwards / Mark Sanders: Last Dream Of The Morning (Relative Pitch)

A studio album between three UK master improvisers -- John Butcher on sax, John Edwards on double bass, and Mark Sanders on drums -- the trio pushing the envelope in technique and dialog in nearly telepathic playing that transports the listener into their environment, as the music builds and releases in effortless ways that are stunning and exulant; highly recommended. ... Click to View


Fred Van Hove / Roger Turner: The Corner (Relative Pitch)

Pioneering improvising pianist Fred Van Hove at UK's Cafe OTO for the first time, captured in a duo with UK drummer/percussionist Roger Turner, their first recording together, for a night of exceptional improvised interplay, sophisticated and complex playing that is constantly buoyant and charming, an enthralling conversation between two veteran players. ... Click to View


Magda Mayas / Jim Denley: Tempe Jetz (Relative Pitch)

A pairing of two innovative players, Berlin-based pianist Magda Mayas and Australian sound and wind artist Jim Denley, Mayas playing inside and out of the piano and Denley on alto sax and bass flute, both providing field recordings adding unexpected elements in a set of extremely balanced recordings that entrance the listener with unlikely and captivating settings. ... Click to View


John Butcher: Resonant Spaces [VINYL] (Blume)

Extreme acoustic space recordings from saxophonist John Butcher, part of Arika's Resonant Spaces event, with performances from resonant and remote corners of Scotland. ... Click to View


Lean Left: I Forgot To Breathe (Trost Records)

The 7th album from the quartet of Netherlands guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels (The Ex) with Chicago free improvising multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and Netherlands drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in an album balancing amazing energy with profound introspective moments in thrilling edge-of-your-seat improvisation - excellent! ... Click to View


Lean Left: I Forgot To Breathe [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The 7th album from the quartet of Netherlands guitarists Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels (The Ex) with Chicago free improvising multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and Netherlands drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in an album balancing amazing energy with profound introspective moments in thrilling edge-of-your-seat improvisation - excellent! ... Click to View


Kontakte Trio (Trevor Taylor / Ian Brighton / Steve Beresford): Kontakte Trio (FMR)

An important and well-matched trio of electroacoustic improvisers, and a welcome addition to guitarist Ian Brighton's return to active music life, with Steve Beresford on piano, prepared piano and electronics, and Trevor Taylor (Circuit) on percussion and electronics, six unhurried improvisations of intricate interplay and interchange themed on physics. ... Click to View


Viv Corringham / Lawrence Casserley: Anemoi (FMR)

Lawrence Casserley is a pioneer of real time electroacoustic music, since the 60s working with other artists and developing his Signal Processing Instrument, using physical gestures to process and morph sounds; here he works with British vocalist and Deep Listening teacher Viv Corringham in an other-worldly collaboration of voice and electonics. ... Click to View


Kamins / Smith / Fielder / Hertenstein: After Effects (FMR)

A great example of traditional free improvisation spanning generations from the quartet of Danny Kamins on baritone saxophone, Damon Smith on double bass, and two drummer/percussionists--Alvin Fielder and Joe Hertenstein--for 10 tracks of swinging free music recorded in the studio in Texas, 2016, jazz with a lyrical intention and powerful rhythmic underpinnings. ... Click to View


Pat Thomas: The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari [VINYL] (Otoroku)

Inspired by the automatic water clock invented by Iraq inventor, engineer, and father of robotics, Badi' al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari built in the 12th century, pianist Pat Thomas recorded these four exceptional improvisations of powerful solo piano with an unusual and inventive twist live at London's Cafe Oto in 2015. ... Click to View


Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza: Azioni/Reazioni 1967-1969 [4CD + DVD BOX] (Die Schachtel)

Box set CD reissue of the 2007 release of this seminal Italian free improvising group's complete recordings from 1967-69, in a deluxe box with 4 CDs, a DVD containing the original film "Nuova Consonanza" shot by Theo Gallher of their 1967 concert, and a 64 page LP-size book in English and Italian with essays, group commentary, collected reviews, &c. ... Click to View


Cilantro (Angelica Castello / Billy Roisz): Borderland (Mikroton Recordings)

Cilantro is the duo of multi-instrumentalists Angelica Castello on paetzold, ukulele, organ, tapes, & electronics, and Billy Roisz on electric bass, organ, tv, piezzo, computer & electronics, scrutinizing the activity in bordering areas between noise and silence, tenderness and rudeness, beat and drone, inner consciousness and outer awareness, control and freedom. ... Click to View


Burkhard Beins / Lucio Capece / Martin Kuchen / Paul Vogel: Fracture Mechanics (Mikroton Recordings)

"Fracture Mechanics" is the scientific study of cracks in any material, an apt title from these European experimental innovators--Burkhard Beins, Lucio Capece, Martin Kuchen, and Paul Vogel--pulling back the curtain on process and creating an impressive album crossing acoustic and electronic improv, organized sound, and inexplicable interaction; recommended. ... Click to View


The Holy Quintet (Change / Drouin / Lash / Lazardiou / Ryan): Borough (Mikroton Recordings)

The meeting of Johnny Chang (viola), Jamie Drouin (suitcase modular synth), Dominic Lash (double bass), Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga(zither, and David Ryan (bass clarinet) recording at Bourough welsh Congregational Chapel, in London in 2013, recorded by Another Timbre label leader Simon Reynell, for a unique merging of disparate approaches to ea-improv. ... Click to View


Kurt Liedwart / Andrey Popovskiy / Martin Taxt: Hjem (Mikroton Recordings)

A live concert at Dom Cultural Center in Moscow, Russia in 2015 from Norwegian tuba player Martin Taxt, Saint Petersburg violinist and object player Andrey Popovskiy, and ppool performer Kurt Liedwart focusing on sinewaves and noise, in an extended lowercase improvisation exploring harmonic and microtonal sounds. ... Click to View


Ayumi Tanaka / Johan Lindvall / Christian Wallumrod: 3 Pianos (Nakama Records)

This trio joins 3 disparate approaches to composition and improvisation--Japanese improviser Ayumi Tanaka, Oslo composer Johan Lindvall, and ECM artist Christian Wallumrod-developing the engaging material on this album by focusing on elements like tuning, register, intervals and dynamics, for an absorbing album of compatible and concentrative playing. ... Click to View


Ayumi Tanaka / Johan Lindvall / Christian Wallumrod: 3 Pianos [VINYL LP] (Nakama Records)

This trio joins 3 disparate approaches to composition and improvisation--Japanese improviser Ayumi Tanaka, Oslo composer Johan Lindvall, and ECM artist Christian Wallumrod-developing the engaging material on this album by focusing on elements like tuning, register, intervals and dynamics, for an absorbing album of compatible and concentrative playing. ... Click to View


Christian Svendsen Meaas : Avin (Nakama Records)

Known more for his double bass work, Christian Meaas Svendsen releases a stunningly beautiful album of unusually orchestrated pop songs with an 8-piece band of Nordic improvisers and performers, a dramatic album of tension and release which, despite lyrics in Norwegian, draws all listeners in through inventive and innovative musical structures. ... Click to View


Christian Svendsen Meaas : Avin [VINYL LP] (Nakama Records)

Known more for his double bass work, Christian Meaas Svendsen releases a stunningly beautiful album of unusually orchestrated pop songs with an 8-piece band of Nordic improvisers and performers, a dramatic album of tension and release which, despite lyrics in Norwegian, draws all listeners in through inventive and innovative musical structures. ... Click to View


Tipple (Frode Gjerstad / Kevin Norton / David Watson): Live at Elastic Arts (FMR)

Tipple, the trio of Frode Gjerstad on alto sax and clarinet, Kevin Norton on percussion, and David Watson on electric guitar, are captured live for an energetic and masterly concert at Elastic Arts, in Chicago, Illinois in 2015, four "Elastic" improvisations of intense interaction, from collective conversation to stunning solo statements; jaw dropping. ... Click to View


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  Outside the Chicken Shack  

Lars Hollmer Brings Sammla Mama to the U.S.


By William Burke 2003-12-15

Lars Hollmer
[Photo: Pelle Engman from the album utsikter]
"My influences? Hard to tell. Of course I like artists like Robert Wyatt, Albert Marcoeur, Tamla Movton, Wagner, Beethoven, Prokofieff...even some stuff of Michael Jackson."

Lars Hollmer is a true original. From his home base in Uppsala, Sweden, Hollmer and his accordion explore sublime regions of varied musical worlds, drawing on rock, prog, Scandinavian folk music, circus music, organ grinders and other cultural traditions. "Lately I have been listening to much from Japan," he said. "I have been so occupied with Japanese musicians and I have been to Japan six times." Along with his group Sola, which draws on those Japanese influences, Holmer works regularly with the groups Accordion Tribe and Von Zamla. But he is perhaps known for his progressive rock group Samla Mammas Manna, who undertook their first US tour in the fall.

Over more than three decades of performing, Hollmer has consistently been a tireless performer and dazzling composer. Just about any sounds or rhythms that may enter his world seem to be fair game and may eventually turn up on a composition. He is a noted keyboard player often blending his compositional pieces with a ferocious ability to improvise. The Samla sound especially, is often upbeat and at times almost whimsical, crossing musical boundaries and creating a warm blend of pleasing melodies within complex time signatures. "I always write the music down on paper," he said. "I need to do it to be able to communicate with other musicians. I compose everything myself from the heart. Nowadays I also have Pro tools for recording and I use Logic Audio Platinum for composing. It is much easier now. I have big experience from the past with analog tapes, multitracks. So much easier now."

Samla was originally formed in the late 60s, rehearsing and recording in Hollmer's home studio, which has become known over the years as the Chicken House. (The Zamla side of Fred Frith's Gravity was recorded there). "Mainly all my recording work I do in the Chicken House," he said. "I've had it since the mid '70s. I made the Chicken House myself and it's mainly two rooms, one kitchen and one studio. CH is located 50 meters from our living house in the country outside Uppsala. I'm very happy about it! It has great sound and now I have excellent tools as well."

The Uppsala countryside has remained his home base, despite the quiet lifestyle. "It is not a very big town," he said. "It is a university town, close to the airport, and close to Stockholm. The music scene is so-so. I don't play her so much but many good musicians live here. I have thought about moving, but since we built a house ourselves in the countryside and we have four children it has not been so easy to move. Also I have my studio here. If not Sweden, Italy maybe , or even Japan."

After years of recording and touring in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, Zamla was invited to tour Europe with the legendary British band Henry Cow. This helped further Zamla's contact with different European bands such as Univers Zero, Etron Fou, Stormy Six and Art Zoyd, among others, enmeshing them in the Rock in Opposition movement. "The nicest part about RIO was that suddenly we found out that we were not alone making strange music," Hollmer said. "Other groups like Univers Zero and Henry Cow had their own tracks but we found several common things. It was great to collaborate and to be invited to play in other European countries. Of course many influences were moving around."

Despite acclaim among the progressive rock community, Samla Mammas Manna had never played in the United States before this year, when they headlined the Progday Festival held in North Carolina. "I don't know why we haven't played in the US before," Hollmer said. "Fred Frith wanted me to come to the Knitting Factory in the '80s and we negotiated about playing there many times but always something came up."

The new incarnation consists of the core of the classic '70s lineup, with Hollmer on keyboards, guitarist Coste Apetrea, and Lars Krantz on bass, with Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, himself an unabashed prog fan, joining in. Hollmer and Yoshida had previously played together in Sola, and the power drummer was a strong addition to the Samlas. "Great with Tatsuya Yoshida in Samla!" he said. "It is not easy to take Hans Bruniusson's place but Tatsuya makes it great, and he adds good energy to the band."

Even without playing the US, Lars' tour schedule is demanding. "I'm on the road several times a year," he said. "Last year I had five repertoires in my head, Samla, Accordion Tribe, Sola, Fem Söker en Skatt, and solo, and I toured like hell! This year less, but I have been in Japan twice and on a tour in France solo. Plus some gigs in Sweden. The audiences have been great. I have got a kind of reputation from over the years and it may help a bit, especially in Japan. Toyko is a nice city to play.

"Recording is enjoyable but overall I can't stand just sitting in a studio," he added. "I need to meet an audience. Also the music develops in front of an audience and for me to play and share the music with other musicians is the biggest pleasure."

Samla Mammas Manna brief US tour included a stop in New York's Knitting Factory at the end of August, where they shared the stage with two other heavy prog outfits. The evening began with Nick Didkovsky and the great Dr. Nerve playing their wonderfully tight compositional madness for an appreciative crowd. They were immediately followed by the impressive Ron Anderson and Pak, who ripped through their set with a heady combination of power and control. The two bands warmed up the recently renovated Tap Bar for Samla, who delighted the crowd with their light-hearted ease and complex musical progressions. Hollmer was especially impressive as he directed the band, chatted casually with the audience and played difficult passages without a misplaced note, frequently all at the same time.

That onstage juggling act seems to be how he manages much of his work. In the coming months, Hollmer will release two new cds, include a "Chicken House Archives" disc in Japan, and has tours booked for December and March, as well as an Accordion Tribe tour in February. And he is working with Michel Berckmenns to form a larger group with a string section. "I hope I can keep alive some more because much remains to do."



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