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Sick Boss (Schmidt / Meger / Peggy Lee / JP Carter / Naylor / Page): Sick Boss (Drip Audio)

A richly refined and sophisticated album drawing on improvisation, experimenation and rock elements from the collaborative Vancouver ensemble Sick Boss of core members guitarist Cole Schmidt, bassist James Meger and drummer Daniel Gaucher, with guests including guitarist Tony Wilson, cellist Peggy Lee, trumpeter JP Carter, synth player Tyson Naylor, &c. &c. ... Click to View


Ron Samworth (Samworth / Adler / JP Carter / Naylor / Peggy Lee / James Meger): Dogs Do Dream (Drip Audio)

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Jurg Frey: Ephemeral Constructions (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

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Eva Houben Maria: Organ Sonatinas And Drones [2 CDs] (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

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Nick Storring : Exaptations [CASSETTE] (Notice Recordings)

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Chris Strickland : Excruciating... [CASSETTE] (Notice Recordings)

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Stefan Thut / Seth Cooke: Aussen Raum [CASSETTE] (Notice Recordings)

Bristol sound artists Seth Cook presents a rendering of Stefan Thut's text-based score "aussen raum" realized in both stereo field recordings and no input field recordings, focusing on a botched water feature of the River Frome beneath Bristol's Harbourside that has been the subject of ridicule and reconstruction. ... Click to View


Christoph Erb / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly: ...Don't Buy Him A Parrot... (Hatology)

Saxophonist and bass clarinetist Christoph Erb travels between Europe and Chicago, here in a trio with Chicago mainstays, pianist Jim Baker and drummer Frank Rosaly, for an intense and fierce album of collective improvisation captured live at their second-only encounter on the stage of the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago in 2014. ... Click to View


Paula Shocron / German Lamonega / Pablo Diaz: Tenzegridad (Hatology)

Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the trio of Paula Shocron on piano, German Lamonega on double bass, and co-founder of her Nendo Dango Records label, Pablo Diaz on drums, for an exciting album of free jazz with lyrical intent and great technical skills, an unexpected gem from a part of world not well known for free improvisation. ... Click to View


David Stackenas : Bricks (Clean Feed)

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Tristan Honsinger / Nicolas Calioa / Jesse Zubot: In The Sea (Relative Pitch)

The transatlantic string trio of Amsterdam-based cellist Tristan Honsinger (also on voice) with Montreal free improvisers violinist Joshua Zubot and double bassist Nicolas Caloia in an album of informed improvisation that bring an upbeat approach to authoritative dialog which is both sharp-witted and irreverent, but never less than engaging. ... Click to View


Christian Lillinger / Tobias Deluis: Dicht (Relative Pitch)

Berlin-based improvisers Christian Lillinger on drums and Tobias Delius on tenor sax and clarinet in an album of powerful rhythms, instant melodies, and quick-witted responses, bridging a generation of experience in dialog and give and take that works well head on and in reserve, a great encounter from two modern and active creative players. ... Click to View


Isabelle Duthoit / Franz Hautzinger: Lily (Relative Pitch)

French free vocalist Isabelle Duthoit met world traveling improviser and Zeitkratzer trumpeter Franz Hautzinger in New York City to record these highly unusual duos, using extreme techniques and inexplicable intent to create 9 uniquely aberrant accompaniments to your most subtle and strange dreams; reference Phil Minton, Axel Dorner, Freddie Kruger. ... Click to View


Orphax / Machinefabriek: Weerkaatsing (Moving Furniture)

"Weerkaatsing is the first collaboration by Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) and Sietse van Erve (Orphax), both active players in the Dutch experimental electronic music field, in an album of mesmerizing sound and drone work, with one composition from each artist reworking a track from the other's previous work, and one new collaborative piece. ... Click to View


Machinefabriek: Assemblage (Zoharum)

A great collection of short film soundtracks and pieces that appeared on compilation albums and out-of-print CDRs, including the "Nerf" EP, the tracks for the book "Things That A Mutant Needs To Know" by Reinaldo Laddaga, and 3 soundtracks of which two are for a short movie and one for a video installation, alongside tracks from other compilations. ... Click to View


Lambs Gamble: Farewell Body Bags [VINYL] (Discombobulate)

Bizarre, disruptive, aberrant sound from twisted experts in the field Lambs Gamble, comprised of George Cremaschi on bass & electronics, Fritz Welch on drums, percussion and voice, and Eric Boros (Vialka) on electronics and voice, recording in Switzerland for a fantastic album of intelligent abnormality. ... Click to View


Elton Dean Quintet: Welcomet - Live in Brazil, 1986 (Ogun)

In 1986 saxophonist Elton Dean toured Brazil with his quintet of Harry Beckett on trumpet, Liam Genockey on drums, Marcio Mattos on bass, and Paul Rutherford on trombone, capturing this exemplary band at Radio Culture Sao Paulo, the tapes now transferred by Michael King and mastered by Martin Davidson, presenting the entire concert for the first time. ... Click to View


Jean-Luc Guionnet + Eric La Casa: Reflected Waves [60 pages 21x25 cm + DVD video 1h48mn] (Passage d'encres)

Eric La Casa and Jean Luc Guionnet recorded this conceptual work in Melbourne, Australia, combining different scales of time, space, & attention, with different working strategies to create a gallery installation, and this book & DVD package exploring the acoustic phenomenon of "standing waves" to engage with the physical relationship between sound and space. ... Click to View


Anthony Pateras : Blood Stretched Out (Immediata)

A dramatic work for solo piano, exploring sound phenomena in fast repetitions that generate whirlpools of overtones, "Blood Stretched Out" is the primary track on composer & pianist Anthony Pateras' first solo album in 10 years, paired with "Chronochromatics", recorded live at The Loft in Cologne as part of the Plush Music Festival in 2013. ... Click to View


Jerome Noetinger / Anthony Pateras / Synergy Percussion : Beauty Will Be Amnesiac Or Will Not Be At All (Immediata)

Anthony Pateras was commissioned to compose this work by Synergy Percussion for their 40th birthday in 2014, performed with a six piece ensemble including electronic artist Jerome Noetinger, using the same instrumentation as Xenakis' "Pleiades" of more than 100 orchestral percussion instruments, including Xenakis' 17-pitch microtonal metallophones. ... Click to View


Eric La Casa : Paris Quotidien [CD+60 page booklet of photos & text] (Swarming)

Eric La Casa documents his home environment in Paris through audio investigation and field recordings, creating 3 large works that reveal the properties, singularities, banalities and features of his audio environment in perspective to his status as a citizen of the city, presented in a gatefold CD package with a color 60-page booklet of photos and text. ... Click to View


Electric Bird Noise: The Spider / The Christ Child / The Crow (Silber)

Guitarist Brian McKenzie is known best for his dramatic rock persona, where his multi-instrumental approach to song-writing shows great skill; on this album, McKenzie gets down to the guitar itself, with loops, effects and electronics creating a cohesive set of 9 pieces that maintain an edgy, discordant approach to enthralling sound. ... Click to View


Ezio Piermattei : Tre Madri Ludopatiche [CASSETTE] (Discombobulate)

Using an eclectic set of audio tools, objects, voice and electronics, Ezio Piermantel creates a bizarre sound world of concrete and inexplicable sound that fascinates the listener in a strange non-narrative that still manages to tell a story in sound and noise; truly unique. ... Click to View


Flamingo Creatures: Fisch Versucht Das Sprechenlernen (Discombobulate)

Ten tracks of unusual electroacoustic experiments from the duo of Ronnie Oliveras and Ruth Maria Adam, using sound boxes and a variety of instruments to create a psychedelic yet embraceable set of recordings that leave the listener scratching their head but still grounded by tangible music, albeit in the strangest of settings. ... Click to View


Mike Majkowski : Days and Other Days [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

Following double bassist Mike Majkowski's Astral Spirts cassette "Neighbouring Objects", this vinyl release is Majkowski's 7th solo album, here using analog synthesizer, percussion, piano, vibraphone, samples, and field recordings to create an amazing sonic universe through sound, tone, timbre, deep cogitation and mutant interjections. ... Click to View


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  Berlitz Jazz  

David Murray's Musical Travels


By Kurt Gottschalk 2003-12-15

David Murray
[Photo: Kurt Gottschalk]
David Murray took the stage at one of the most prestigious halls in New York City in mid October. The room itself was the beautiful new Zankel Hall, but this was nevertheless Carnegie Hall, which no matter what – even when pop brothers Hanson rent it – is a statement.

Less than a decade ago, Murray was living in Brooklyn, leading a big band Monday nights at the Knitting Factory and playing well lubricated gigs at the Village Vanguard and other spots around town. Despite being one of the best jazz horn players alive, he was another New York gigging musician.

But times change, and now his appearances in town, once or twice a year at best, are events. On this night, it was the 10 string players - in addition to his quartet of pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Hamid Drake - that made the gig a concert proper. But even if this was Carnegie Hall and even if the string players were in concert black, the only orchestra Murray was taking cues from was the Love Unlimited. And while he didn't mention Philadelphia, he alluded to his other musical journeys of recent years.

"My quartet is the core of my explorations in Africa and the Carribean," he said from the stage. "We've traveled many miles together and we have many more miles to travel."

Murray's sculpting of events in part relies on a fonder heart borne of absence. But it's also – or would seem to be – by design, part of a master plan. When asked after a rehearsal for his Cuban Big Band's appearance at the Knitting Factory in January why he doesn't play in New York anymore, he said simply "That's by design."

It's also logistics. Murray left New York to live in France in 1995, where he and his wife Valerie Malot run 3D Family Productions. Since then, his performances in the town he called home for some 25 years haven't been gigs, they've been concerts: proper halls, thematic programming, and ticket prices to match. He brought a big band to Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem to play the music of Duke Ellington and appeared with his octet on Broadway for a performance with the dance troupe Urban Bushwomen.

And after three score and more cds leading dozens of musicians through his insightful arrangements of the jazz repertoire, Murray announced his retirement from jazz around the time he left New York, saying he would focus his efforts on musical traditions of other cultures. That and the move to Paris marked his fall from New York jazz darling, our own anti-Marsalis, to an outsider, someone whose name most often elicits responses like "Is that guy still around?" and "Oh yeah, what's he been up to?"

But for Murray, the musician's life in New York was getting worse, with fewer places to play and less opportunity to get paid.

"It seemed kind of a void, like things were going to change for the worse," he said. "The musicians didn't really want to stand up for their rights - the right to play anywhere they want to, to be creative. New York has always been the most creative city in the world. Conservatism had taken over jazz."

To sidestep that conservatism, Murray became a world traveler. In a tradition dating back to Dizzy Gillespie, Murray began looking to sounds from other cultures to feed his jazz. He's borrowed from the Carribean (Creole, released in 1998), Guadalupe (Yonn-De, from 2002) and now, Gillespie's beloved Cuba on the new Now is Another Time (released, like the others, on the Canadian label Justin Time).

"I'm not in everybody's faces," he said. "I'm in different people's faces all over the world. My mind is so far from New York at the moment. It's nice to be here, but I don't care to live here. I'm having the ball of my life right now."

The Cuban jazz he brought to the Knitting Factory shows that spirit. It's infectiously fun. But while the record was made with Cuban musicians (along with a few of his regular collaborators), the New York shows were a reunion of his old big band days, meaning pulling the musicians together and running charts with limited rehearsal time before the four-night stand.

Sixteen people, a baby grand, drums, congas, an upright bass, three trombones crossing over music stands, a five-strong sax section plus the bandleader and his unrivaled tenor were crowded onto the stage, the same stage where he held court on Monday nights for a good chunk of the '90s with his big band, often under the conduction of Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris. Rolls of sheet music fell from Murray's stand as he sang "New York, OK," then called "Sad Kind of Love."

"Ok, so y'all gotta groove with that," Murray said to the band. "It's weird, but ya gotta groove. You could even put it into a rock thing if you want - pah pah pah - but it's gotta lock. What's happening here is we're playing a ballad, and it's not going to get fast."

Much of his conducting during the rehearsal involved pointing heavenward with his right hand - always up, always more. Whatever project Murray takes on, he's unlikely to demand less than fire from is band. The band ran through some unmistakable Murray heads, vintage even, the pure sugar of albums like Shakill's Warrior, but with a Latin backbeat.

Whatever the influence, the Cuban here or the other "world music" projects he's taken on, the music swings. Taking the jazz out of David Murray would be something like taking the soft out of a pillow.

"It's jazz," he later affirmed. "It's my way of trying to seize something Latin inside what I'm doing.

"I started out studying the rhythms of the drums," he said. "I'm not a master of it. I just tried to study the masters." He cites Cuban pianist Monolito Simonet and flutist Jose Luis Cortez (who appears on the new record) as some of the sources to which he's been turning.

"It's not just me blowing my horn," he said. "You're going to countries, pacing out the project. I'm learning and I'm teaching. It takes me away from the mundaneness of what jazz has become. I think my life is a lot more exciting than a lot of jazz players."

Asked if he thinks he's fitting more into a world music than a jazz mold lately, he was careful not to commit.

"I haven't played at that many world music festivals, so I guess not," he said. "As long as I'm playing the jazz festivals, I guess what I'm doing is jazz. The European community is putting more white in it on the one side, I'm putting black in on the other. Me being an African, it's probably the truest thing I can do."

Still, he said, following the rhythms of the African diaspora isn't his sole ambition.

"I'm interested in China," he said. "There's so many curiosities in the world, for me to focus just on "I Got Rhythm" is kind of stupid."

But if his concert at the Knitting Factory was a cross pollinization, the Carnegie Hall night was pure jazz; if he was following in the tradition of Diz before, here he was touching on something that goes back to Charlie Parker with Strings. They played Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," a piece dedicated to Curtis Mayfield and a second for John Coltrane, in which Murray went from 1958 to 1966 in the first two minutes, eclipsed Trane altogether from a moment, then landed squarely in the early Impulse! years and worked his way to 1968.

It's with no false modesty that he takes on Trane, and he can kick it with Prez and Bean, too. And when he skips across them all like a stone across the surface of a pond, that's pure Murray. He sells big ideas, and in the end you can't blame him for whatever it takes to get him where he's going. But ultimately it isn't big ideas he delivers. It's a variety of pastiches and facades, borrowings and labellings with the same saxophone he's been playing for decades. Which may sound like harsh criticism, but it isn't, for the simple reason that Murray is still about the best saxophonist in jazz. He's easily the most dextrous and soulful, and that's what he's paid for. He's not a conceptualist, and he's not even a great composer. Out of the scores of pieces he's composed, only a handful are really memorable (and perhaps only "Hope Scope" is truly great). But his huge tone and his rich soulfulness, not to mention his equally great bass clarinet playing, have been one of the pure treasures in jazz for three decades. The rest is just window dressing.

And somewhere, behind all the dedications and below the Ben Webster hat, Murray seems to know it.

"I believe in the past," he said. "You have to study the past to have a strong future. The history of jazz is so short, why not know everything?"



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