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Third Coast Ensemble: Wrecks (RogueArt)

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Kodian Trio: II [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The uniquely voiced free improvising Kodian Trio formed of saxophonist Colin Webster using aggressive techniques and unusual approaches to his horn, electric guitarist Dirk Serries (vidnaObmana) throwing spiky lines in forceful and unorthodox dialog, and in-demand UK drummer Andrew Lisle providing underpinning and punctuation, in six far-ranging and impressive tracks. ... Click to View


Becoming Animal (Massimo Pupillo / Gordon Sharp): A Distant Hand Lifted [VINYL] (Trost Records)

An album of dark atmospheric electroacoustic sound with voice and introductory narrative from Zu bassist Massimo Pupillo and Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk, the first meeting between the two, performed live at Cafe Oto for four pieces of rich sonics, emotional and hypnotic playing from two creative masters with a long history of powerful and passionate music. ... Click to View


Novaks Kapelle: Fartwind - Complete Discography (1967-1979) [2 CDs] (Trost Records)

Hard rocking Novaks Kapelle was an Austrian underground rock band, formed in 1967 by Erwin Novak, Walla Mauritz, Peter Travnicek and Helge Thor, with Paul Brown Steiner joining in 1970, and after a period of quiet, in 1978 jazz guitarist Harri Stojka joined the band; this double CD collects all known tracks, presenting a fascinating evolution of style. ... Click to View


Kan Mikami / John Edwards / Alex Nielson: Live at Cafe Oto [VINYL] (Otoroku)

More typically a solo performer, Japanese bluesman Kan Mikami has created a distinctive path for his voice, guitar and poetic lyrics; here he is propelled in an improvisational setting with two powerful UK players--John Edwards on bass and Alex Neilson on drums--captured live at London's Cafe Oto for a growling concert of finesse and brusque attitude. ... Click to View


William Parker : Conversations II Dialogues & Monologues [CD & BOOK] (RogueArt)

The 2nd volume in New York free improvising basist William Parker's "Conversations" series, more than 500 pages with 32 interview between William Parker and artists including Marshall Allen, Tim Berne, Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Dresser, Henry Grimes, &c &c, plus a CD excerpting those interviews and punctuated with duos between Parker and saxophonist Kidd Jordan. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Feat. Pika: Astro Infinity Discotheque [VINYL 2 LPs] (Bam Balam Records)

A live album in 2016 from the mind-blowing and prolific Japanese psychedelic improvising rock band Acid Mothers Temple with Kawabata Makoto, Higashi Hiroshi, Mitsuru Tabata, Stoshima Nani, S T, and Pika, performing some of their well known works and starting with Gong's "Flying Teapot", all recorded at 15th Acid Mothers Temple Festival at Tokuzo (Nagoya). ... Click to View


Strycharski / Andriessen: Ghost (Bolt)

Polish composer and recorder player Dominik Strycharski wrote these pieces in response to a work for the recorder by composer Louis Andriessen that he dedicated to Frans Bruggen: "Melodie"; Strycharski response is "Harmonie", performed in a duo with pianist Sebastian Zawadzki to demonstrate the impracticability of harmony in its purest forms. ... Click to View


Vinny Golia Wind Quartet: Live At The Century City Playhouse (Dark Tree Records)

Dark Tree's Southern California archive series adds this phenomenal session from multi-woodwind player Vinny Golia's Wind Quartet with clarinetist John Carter, trombonist Glenn Ferris, and cornetist Bobby Bradford, recorded fairly early in their careers in 1979 live at Century City Playhouse in LA for two sets of exploratory, dexterous and astounding jazz. ... Click to View


Christian Kobi (solo and with Taku Sugimoto / Yoko Ikeda / Wakana Ikeda: Atta! (Monotype)

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Natsuki Tamura / Alexander Frangenheim: Nax (Creative Sources)

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Raphael Roginski : Populista Presents BOX [3 CDs + POSTER] (Bolt)

Raphael Roginski's Trilogy - 3 CDs in Bolt's Populista series: CD 1. "Raphael Roginski plays John Coltrane and Langston Hughes African mystic music"; CD 2. "Zywizna plays Zaswiec Niesiacku and other Kurpian songs"; CD 3. "Populista presents Raphael Roginski plays Henry Purcell featuring Olga Myslowska and Sebstian Witkowski"; in a slip box with a poster. ... Click to View


Polyorchard: Red October [CASSETTE w/DOWNLOAD] (Out and Gone Music)

Polyorchard founder and double bassist David Menestres leads the quartet of Jeb Bishop on trombone, Shawn Galvin on percussion, and Laurent Estoppey on saxophone, using skills drawn from both improvisation and compositional music to present six free dialogs showing intent listening amongst the four as they create complex, interweaving, sophisticated statements; impressive! ... Click to View


Polyorchard: Color Theory in Black and White (Not On Label)

Two trios, "Black" with cellist Chris Eubank and violist Dan Ruccia, and "White" with trombonist Jeb Bishop and saxophonist Laurent Estoppey, each with the foundation of bassist David Menestres, balancing experience in free improvisation and compositional music to create an exciting hybrid, a chamber collective of tumult and control. ... Click to View


Various Artists: Lao Dan / Rick Countryman / Colin Webster: Saxophone Anatomy (Armageddon Nova)

Saxophone solo improvisation omnibus by three free saxophonists from around the globe: Lao Dan from China recording in an underground bomb shelter in an agressive solo performance; US ex-pat Rick Countryman from the Philippines in a traditional yet extremely free jazz exposition; and London's Colin Webster on baritone sax for an exploration of extended techniques. ... Click to View


Aishi Oyauchi : Wrong Exit (Armageddon Nova )

Under-recorded but legendary Japanese free improvising saxophonist Aishi Oyauchi in a double CD, performing on alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, and piano through 52 untitled and inventive pieces, from a few seconds in length to several minutes, presented as 7 composite tracks; part of the Armageddon Nova Series exploring radical free improvisation. ... Click to View


Zywizna: Roginski, Raphael with Genowefa Lenarcik: plays Zaswiec Niesiacku and other Kurpian songs (Bolt)

Guitarist Raphael Roginski reinterprets the music of the Kurpi region of Poland, performed with vocalist Genowefa Lenarcik who was born in 1940 in the village of Krobia, part of the Kurpi region, and is the daughter of folk singing legend Stanislaw Brzozowy; together they bring out the rich heritage of this region, expanded by the natural sounds of the forests of Northeaster Poland. ... Click to View


subterrene: Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been (Bad Architect Records)

Rich sonic atmospheres from subterrene, aka Grant Stewart, a member of the 910 Noise collective, using slowly evolving and dovetailing drones that resonate and reveal shimmering beauty, deeply controlled and maintaining aural interest without any sense of impatience, maintaining a steady hand that reveals hidden harmonics amongst beautiful clouds of sound. ... Click to View


Alessandro Bosetti : Notebooks (Bolt)

Czech composer Leos Janacek was fascinated with speech melodies, writing them down in notebooks to use in his compositions; Italian composer Alessandro Bosetti has adapted these notes, using the words themselves to create a series of works that builds rhythmic structures in place of melody, injecting himself and other performers into Janacek's interest in the voice. ... Click to View


Raphael Roginski (feat. Olga Myslowska / Sebstian Witkowski): plays Henry Purcell (Bolt)

Polish guitarist Raphael Roginski presents works from baroque English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695), considered one of the greatest English composers, performed on solo guitar and with accompaniment by Sebastian Witkowski on synth and Olga Myslowska on voice, a beautiful and languorous album that pays homage to the profound lasting qualities of Purcell's music. ... Click to View


Boguslaw Schaeffer : Travel Notes (Bolt)

Several compostions by Polish composer Boguslaw Schaeffer developed in the Polish Radio Experimental Studio from 1966-1978, including works for tape, electronic computer, voice, a quadraphonic generator, the SynLab synthesizer, composed using both graphic and notated scores, and realized with incredibly detailed layering and development of the material. ... Click to View


DJ Lenar: Drite Shtilkayt (Bolt)

Using recordings of Polish Jewish cantors with cello arrangements from Marek Czerniewicz, DJ Lenar (aka Marcin Lenarczyk) dedicates an album to the memory of Polish Jews by reimagining the recordings in subtle and sincere ways, reinforcing the powerful voices that guide the liturgical music of the Jewish faith, accompanied by a booklet of inspirational text. ... Click to View


Refusenik (Arturas Bumsteinas): Musikaliszer Pinkos (Bolt)

A collection of more than two hundred Hebrew religious chants compiled and published by cantor Abraham Berenstein in 1927 in Vilna, Poland (today Vilnius, Lithuania), re-composed by Arturas Bumsteinas using fragments of melodies found found in the Berenstein's book, with electronics recorded on the old Russian analogue synthezier Polyvox then mixed in EMS. ... Click to View


Trio 3 (Lake / Workman / Cyrille): Visiting Texture (Intakt)

This time around the long-standing trio of drummer Andrew Cyrille, bassist Reggie Workman, and saxophonist Oliver Lake doesn't add a 4th player to the group, instead focusing on the trio itself and their intuitive and implicitly lyrical approach to free jazz, in this 11th album recorded in the studio to feature their masterful collective playing as a group of equals where "music is the leader". ... Click to View


Thanos Chrysakis / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Miguel Mira / Abdul Moimeme: Micrographia (Creative Sources)

Recording in Portugal, the quintet of Aural Terrains label leader Thanos Chrysakis on piano, Creative Sources label leader Ernesto Rodrigue on viola, son Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Miguel Mira on double bass and Abdul Moimeme on electric guitar, three parts of microscopic collective electroacoustic improvisation of highly focused, detailed interplay. ... Click to View


VCA (Vilanova / Castrillon / Andean): Ceres (Creative Sources)

Electroacoustic improvisation from the trio of Marc Vilanova on saxophone, Sergio Castrillon on cello, and pianist James Andean also performing on objects and electronics, in nine collective improvisations of close-knit dialog balancing intense activity and silent space, building tension and releasing it in unexpected and wonderfully eccentric ways. ... Click to View


Edward Sol / Alpha Crucis: Excessive Weight [CASSETTE] (Banned Productions)

Ukrainian sound artist Edward Sol collaborated with Puerto Rican sound experimenter Jorge Castro (Cornucopia) via the post to create these two long works of harmonic drones from indecipherable sources creating slowly building chambers of rich noise that resonate and shift above deep underpinnings of cavernous bass. ... Click to View


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  Ameri-chord: Johnny Cash Remembered  

Amer-chord - Johnny Cash & June Carter
By Skip Heller

In 1964, Johnny Cash recorded the Bitter Tears album, which made known his feelings about Native Americans. Its centerpiece was his hit version of Peter LaFarge's "Ballad Of Ira Hayes," a brilliant, accusatory song about the Pima Indian who was one of the five men to raise the flag at Iwo Jima, came home to less than fanfare, and died drunk in 1955 at the age of 33.

The Pima tribe inhabited a piece of Arizona not far outside Tuscon. They were a peaceful tribe who farmed well enough to sustain their food needs, until their water rights were taken from them and everything they worked for was either killed off by dry heat or was taken from them outright. But Ira Hayes felt a duty to his country, enlisted, went to fight for the good old USA, and became a decorated American hero. You can guess how glorious his life was upon returning. One night Ira Hayes fell drunk into an irrigation ditch and froze to death in cold water.

I saw that land had a gig in Tuscon in May 2002, driving southeast from Los Angeles on the way to a gig in Tuscon.

Los Angeles in spring is paradise. The sky is visible and wide, the mountains pose for postcards, freeways open and you realize how vast our country is. It is beautiful as long as you don't go too far east. That's when the oasis turns back into the desert from which it was carved. LA to Tuscon is about eight hours of driving, and the first four or five are gorgeous.

Arizona comes on the heels of a fairly ugly piece of southeastern California, and has nothing to recommend it upon entry. As you drive in a little more, the Indian reservation stores - with tax-free cigarettes - pop up. Past Phoenix towards Tuscon, you see a rest stop with wall displays that tell the story of Ira Hayes and the Pima tribe. Sort of.

The tale they tell is some "see Dick run" shit and says nothing about the kind of man Ira Hayes was - to forgive what had been done to his tribe and enlist in the Marines. And they certainly said nothing of his death and who helped that tragic process along. The Pima Indians, in recent years, are noted for diabetes (studies have shown that one out of two adults suffers from Type II) and morbid obesity. It seems that, when their right to water was stolen and they could no longer grown their own crops, they had to adopt a "western" diet, which did egregious things to their bodies.

I have a thing about Cash. Maybe it's because the only actual day he spent in jail was the very day I was born, October 4, 1965. Cash was popped at the El Paso border checkpoint. He was trying to smuggle several thousand amphetamine capsules across the border from Mexico.

If you've ever brought contraband through a Mexican border crossing, you know the drill. I got pulled out of the car once, holding a hundred 600 mg Ibuprofen capsules, sold over the counter in the local farmacia but illegal without a presciption in the USA. Fortunately, the border cops didn't look far inside a gym bag of clean clothes (although they were very thorough with the dirty clothes, the guitar case, and the glove compartment).

Mexico was wide open in '65, so Johnny - then no stranger to intense amphetamine procurement - probably thought nothing of it until they slapped the cuffs on.

June Carter - who he married and who died May 15th of post-operatory complications - got him cleaned up, helped him find religion, and helped him realize certain dreams that were not in reach for most country singers in the sixties. June was born into the Carter Family - a major American Music dynasty if there ever was one - but had enough brains and ability to keep herself from being defined by her legendary mother, Maybelle Carter. She had a viable career in country music, then chucked it and went to New York, where she joined the Actor's Studio (director Elia Kazan - who died just 16 days after Cash - sponsored her enrollment), and finally returned to the Carter Family. They became part of Johnny Cash's touring show in 1961; by '63 June was in love enough with Cash - then totally out of control on pills - to write a song, "Ring Of Fire" about it.

Johnny Cash burst onto the scene in 1955 with "Cry Cry Cry." He came not from a Nashville major but that most venerable of indie labels, Sun, the Memphis label that had at about the same time sold Elvis' contract to RCA for an unprecedented $30,000. RCA would soon enough begin trying to make sister Anita Carter into a rock'n'roll star as part of a trio called Nita, Rita, and Lita. June was at the time married to country star Carl Smith, whose "You Are The One" is a classic of the period. They would have a daughter, Carlene, who later married British pop singer Nick Lowe.

If you can find photos of country singers of the period, you notice that 1950s Nashville had nobody like Johnny Cash. Look at George Morgan, Webb Pierce, Porter Wagoner or the great Lefty Frizzell. They're colorful, extroverted. Cash was hard-looking, introverted, and dressed in black.

Similarly, listen to the typical male country singers of the period. The biggest was Eddy Arnold, a human Hallmark card. Singers like him and Marty Robbins forecasted the "countrypolitan" movement to come and paved the middle of the road for Nashville easy listening artists like Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, and Floyd Cramer.

Honky-tonk, on the other hand, was nowhere near so repulsive. This was a harder Southern urban sound, with walking electric bass, and a cracking drumbeat that cut through the din in bars and dancehalls. All the guitars were electric, too. Webb Pierce's fantastic "Honky Tonk Song" was not hill music, although his voice stayed in close touch with the high lonesome sound. "Honky Tonk Song" was a 12-bar blues streamlined in Nashville, and it's not wussy music.

To my ear, Cash was most influenced by Ernest Tubb. Both made unpolished, minimalist records. Tubb was from Texas, and sang in a low, craggy voice. His records of the '40s are very proto-Cash, with sparse electric guitar up front. Cash covered Tubb's "Thanks A Lot" while he was still on Sun, and you can hear how close to Tubb Cash really was.

Cash was not immediately invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, but Louisiana Hayride, which was more at home than the Opry with mavericks, like Elvis Presley, Jimmy Martin, and a few others who were a little dangerous.

The more famous Cash got, the more rebellious he seemed. He left Sun because he wanted a higher royalty and to make thematic LPs. The subject of royalties is always dangerous, and LPs were then a novelty for country singers. In 1957, Cash became the first artist to have an LP on Sun. The following year, Cash had a new album out - on Columbia.

As his success elevated, Cash became a speed freak. This was common in country music back then. Lots of driving, being on the road 250+ days a year, often having to drive back from wherever you were to be back in Nashville to do the Opry or Shreveport, LA to do Hayride. Early morning broadcasts after playing 'til midnight or later 300 miles away from where you did your morning broadcast were common. It was a rough life, and the pay wasn't great. But it was the job, and benzedrine helped many get it done.

In those days, tour buses were a rarity. Bands traveled by car. If they were lucky, they had a station wagon and a little trailer. You'd strap the upright bass to the roof. Cash and his band made about $150 per week each on the 1961 package tour. June Carter fell in love with Johnny Cash under these conditions, which speaks volumes about his appeal and her intestinal fortitude. It sure wasn't about the money.

Very few artists can achieve some of their highest achievements in their art while being up to their eyeballs in chemicals. But Cash was on an artistic roll through the 1960s, before, during, and after the period of his El Paso arrest, with groundbreaking thematic LPs. He also appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, where he finally met Bob Dylan, whose "It Ain't Me Babe" Cash had been performing for some time.

In 1968, he recorded the Live In Folsom Prison album, followed shortly after by Live At San Quentin, which contained "A Boy Named Sue", his biggest hit of the decade. He was not new to playing prisons - Merle Haggard was a member of the captive audience when Cash performed at Quentin in 1959, and said afterwards that the sheer force of Cash's performance turned his life around. By 1968, largely because of June carter, Cash had turned his own life around, trading drugs for fundamentalist Christianity. Whatever works.

Around that time, Cash got his own network TV show, pretty much unheard of for country artists at that time. Unlike other music shows of the time, his show was often a showcase for cutting edge music of the time. His guests included Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and even Bob Dylan, who at that point was largely allergic to TV cameras. But Cash was held in such high artistic regard that someone like a Dylan or a Joni would do TV if he asked.

Because of his celebrity at that point, June Carter's contributions are usually reduced to her appearances on records like "Jackson" and "If I Were Carpenter". But it was she who first told Johnny about a janitor at the Columbia recording studio who was writing songs. His name was Kristoffer Kristofferson.

People don't recognize it now, but Kristofferson was a threat to Nashville's status quo. Cash was tough enough for the local establishment to deal with, but he came from nothing, and Nashville always likes a Cinderella story.

Through the 1950s, Nashville's GNP was not music but insurance. It's nickname (self-imposed, I'm sure) was "the Athens of the South." Nashville has Vanderbilt University and a full-scale replica of the Parthenon.

Kris Kristofferson was a former Air Force pilot, Golden Gloves boxer, and a Rhodes Scholar. And he chucked it all to go starve in Nashville. I'm sure the attitude towards Kristofferson in Nashville was that local society would be better off with less songwriters and more Rhodes Scholars.

Kristofferson was a longhair from Texas, and his songs were a little raw by the standards of the time, which were getting a too loose for the locals anyway. Texans had always been a problem, ever since Bob Wills brought drums to the Opry stage and Floyd Tillman wrote unapologetically about cheating. Kristofferson lines like "the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had one more for desert" did not fit the image makeover Nashville was going for, which was typified by the string-drenched records of former honky tonk great Ray Price. But Cash was all-powerful. And June Carter was the power behind him.

"Sunday Morning Coming Down" was a remarkable song, and Cash turned in a performance that came from hard-won field research, and it was a hit. Cash started doing tunes like "Cocaine Blues."

Cash was definitely the only '50s country performer who could fit in with the 60's songwriters. June Carter, who was a very intelligent woman but who was also duty bound to country music tradition because of her family, was likely the key to his ability to expand so gracefully while never forgetting who Johnny Cash was.

The '70s were scattershot for Cash. The hits didn't dry up completely, but he was no longer a constant on the country charts. He became something of an actor, and made The Gospel Road, a documentary about him in the Holy Land. There was a Christian comic book chronicling his fight with pills. He played a great many benefits for Native Americans, especially in Arizona.

Johnny Cash and June Carter had come into that Louis Armstrong place where they were genre symbols about as much as they were musicians who still occasionally had hits. By the 80s, Cash had been dropped by Columbia, who refused to grant him the respect they gave Miles Davis. So Cash went to Mercury, and, for the first time, put out a few shitty records. He also teamed with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kristofferson for a group called The Highwaymen, who had a few hits but nothing all that memorable.



continued...




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