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Matthew Shipp : Magnetism(s) (RogueArt)

The creative NY jazz trio led by pianist Matthew Shipp with Rob Brown on alto sax and flute and William Parker on bass re-release and re-master their 1999 Bleu Regards album "Magnetism", a 20-part suite of concise and informed dialogs; and add a live CD of the trio recording three larger "Magnetism" improvisations capture live at the Stone, 2016. ... Click to View


Larry Ochs / Sax and Drumming Core: Wild Red Yellow (RogueArt)

Rova leader Larry Ochs takes his Sax and Drumming Core to the next level with this charged album of mind-bending album of free improvisation with an hallucinatory edge, joined by Libra artists Satoko Fujii on piano & synth and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, with Scott Amendola on drums, William Winant and Matthias Bossi on a wild set of percussive instruments. ... Click to View


The Seen: Archive: Volumes I - V (2005 - 2009) [5-CD BOX SET] (Confront)

Since 2005 bassist and percussionist Mark Wastell has been organizing concerts of ever-changing groups of improvising musicians under the collective name The Seen, using predominantly improvised material with occasional instructions or themes, here presented in 5 CDs, each a complete concert recorded at venues including Cafe Oto, Red Rose Theatre, &c. ... Click to View


Nicole Mitchell : Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records)

The second astounding album from Chicago Flutist Nicole Mitchell on the FPE label, continuing her project in the sphere of Sun Ra and Afrofuturists, merging fiction, fantasy and sound in an electro-chamber octet, encompassing contemporary classical, globally oriented fusion, gospel, avant-rock, spoken word, and funk-inspired groove research. ... Click to View


Nicole Mitchell : Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds [VINYL] (FPE Records)

The second astounding album from Chicago Flutist Nicole Mitchell on the FPE label, continuing her project in the sphere of Sun Ra and Afrofuturists, merging fiction, fantasy and sound in an electro-chamber octet, encompassing contemporary classical, globally oriented fusion, gospel, avant-rock, spoken word, and funk-inspired groove research. ... Click to View


Michael Foster / Ben Bennett: In It [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

The second release for the duo of Ben Bennett on drums, percussions and membranophones, and Michael Foster on tenor, soprano, sopranino saxophones and aerophone, in uniquely voiced improvisations that develop both carefully and, at times, erratically, but always with an ear to interesting dialog that captivates and confuses the listener. ... Click to View


Andrew Smiley : Dispersal [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

An uncommon solo guitar album from Andrew Smiley, a member of Little Women and the Chris Pitsiokos Quartet, creating textures on the guitar by applying unconventional techniques with his pick and fingers instead of using effects or guitar preparations, and accompanying himself on voice in Haino-esque ways, creating an album of sharp contrast and color. ... Click to View


Emmanuelle Waeckerle : Ode (owed) to O [2 CDs] (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

London-based composer Emmanuelle Waeckerle in a project of spoken word, flute and melodica with contributors including Antoine Beuger, using minimal and multiple narrations in texts that blend erotic literature, conceptual writing and verbal scores, presented as 2 Scores for voice(s) and instrument(s) based upon Pauline Reage's "Story of O". ... Click to View


HMS (Joe Houpert / Nathan McLaughlin / Erich Steiger): Tetrad [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Blurring the lines between experimental music, improv, and composition, the trio of Joe Houpert, Nathan McLaughlin, and Erich Steiger use the studio to rework their improvisations, accenting aspects of the acoustic and electronic elements and morphing them in unexpected ways; "think Henry Flynt meets Cluster meets Revolutionary Ensemble". ... Click to View


W-2 (Sam Weinberg / Chris Welcome): Fanatics [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

The Brooklyn duo of saxophonist Sam Weinberg (Captain Phillips) and synth player Chris Welcome (Chris Pitsiokos, Mike Pride) in an album of abrasive, rhythmically abraded and contorted electro-acoustic improvisation, each player embedding themselves into each other's sound, at time making their instruments indistinguishable from one another. ... Click to View


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 brings 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


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The Squid's Ear
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The Bottom Shelf is where artists keep the records in their collections that they might not want you to see. Revealing early influences, unusual appetites or just guilty pleasures, we offer a peek at the shelves of some of our favorite musicians.


  Our Own Bottom Shelves  

Over the last year, we've asked musicians Ron Anderson, Anthony Coleman and Gary Lucas to come clean about their private predilections, to reveal for our readers the records they might try to hide when company comes over. For The Squid's Ear's First Or So Anniversary issue, publisher Phil Zampino and editor Kurt Gottschalk belly up to the bar, revealing some of the deep embarrassment of questionable riches in their own collections.



Phil Zampino's Bottom Shelf  

I take a lot of grief from certain friends regarding my love of progressive chestnuts like Van Der Graaf Generator, Gong, Jethro Tull and (early) Genesis.  Certain time-bound predilections simply refuse to fade. But last summer I revisited something from the beginning of my listening days: Steppenwolf, in particular, the Live album.  Anyone who gives me grief for this one needs to be ready for an earful.

I re-approached Steppenwolf Live with great trepidation.  This album sat alongside Iron Butterfly's In a Gadda Da Vida in my early listening habits.  Persistent memory dictates that it can't be uncoupled from visions of a spastic me, flailing around the living room and enthusing about how "cool" this music was.  At the age of 8 I really didn't understand anything clearly about the political and world crises of the day.  I knew there was unrest and criticism.  Steppenwolf became an unfocused focal point of that turbulent era for me.  I know as a child that I thought the song "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam" actually had to do with "Keep Off the Grass" signs, and how oppressive our government was for forcing us onto the path.  I didn't get any of the cocaine or sex references.  Hey, I was a kid!

The gatefold copy with the big Wolf's head on the cover that impressed me so belonged to my older brother.  I think in the end I listened to it as much as he did, and maybe a bit more.  I don't still listen to his Kiss albums.  But when Steppenwolf crept back into my head I at last bought my own copy on cd, of course, a tiny booklet with a picture that couldn't rival the power of that 12" wolf's head threatening you from the gatefold.  And I gave it a spin.

In reflection perhaps I just filed the memory of this album away until I needed it.  Maybe I knew that I shouldn't be burnt out on it when the message applied again.  Steppenwolf's songs express outrage and criticism of government practices that apply to our current situation.  Along with, of course, a lot of '60s 'turn on tune in, smokin' the grass' sentiment.  It talks about the war on drugs (Don't Step on the Grass, Sam, criticizes the using community at the same time (The Pusher) and, boldest of all, it takes on the government (Monster) with commentary that's clear and direct and every bit as vital today as it was then.  Between songs John Kay talk about working together with the government to preserve what's good in our great land.  It's uplifting, patriotic and challenging to the status quo all at the same time, while extolling the virtues of sex and pills and having a good old Magic Carpet Ride.  And it played on FM before Clear Channel owned the air.

Sadly Steppenwolf made a deliberate decision to shift away from their characteristic culturally charged spiel late in their career, a decision that resulted in some decent records that don't distinguish themselves from other rock blands of the time.  To these ears the music already sounds a bit out of step with the ever-changing rock scene they once carried such a strong voice in. Steppenwolf has remained a surprisingly tenacious band, and in their current incarnation they have a stiff schedule of biker shows, city fests and casino's planned for 2004.  I don't know if they still play Monster, but their message has never had a more appropriate time.  That it's not in heavy rotation on every classic rock radio station now is a sad statement of the time.

Steppenwolf.com

Zacherley, the "Cool Ghoul," was a '50s television movie prompter, a demonic figure who introduced monster movies to a New York area punctuated with ghastly sketches and creative comedic "break-ins" during the movies. John Zacherle was born in Pennsylvania, 1918 (the character he went on to create is spelled as "Zacherley"). He went on to make a splash with his song "Dinner with Drac" on the Parkway label, which ran to #6 on Billboard and garnered appearances on American Bandstand.  He put out a book, 3 lps, several singles, a few videos, even Transylvannian Passports. The personae of Zacherley lays itself out in an insinuated Charles Addams world of vampires, mummies, werewolves, monster monkeys, monster mothers-in-law and body snatchers.  He snorted with a characteristic condescendence while asking Igor for this or that assistance in his macabre machinations.  Zacherle was sardonic and, er, bitingly witty.  It was all in good fun, and to this day Zacherle plays to a small cult following.

I never watched Zacherley on TV.  My father did.  My father reveled in scary stories and in spooking his children.  He still tells with guilty amusement how he made my older brother, then a toddler, fly out of the bedroom as he tricked him into thinking there was a ghost in the room. Nightly he threatened us that while we slept the "liver snatcher" was going to sneak in and remove our livers through our noses using a pair of needle-nose pliers.

One day my father brought home a peculiar orange and black record on the Parkway label: Zacherley's Scary Tales: a collection of "scary" songs and stories, narratives in pop genres - surf, jazzy pop, doo-wop, pop rock, done with capable studio musicians, good arrangements and decent production.  All the songs are sung by the ghastly Zacherley, who's Transylvanian laugh punctuated the music in a way that paid homage to and laughed at the idea of B horror.  I had no idea who he was, but I took to it immediately.  

For the next few years my family quoted the songs from that record, and many an afternoon my brother and I "surfed" our beds to "Surf Board 109" as the mummy took yet another a dive: "first bath he's had since 10 BC."  It was a good pop record, right up there with The Archies, and that's high praise coming from an 8-year-old boy (remembering how he cut out an Archies 7" single from the back of a Super Sugar Crisp cereal box...)  To top it off, the first track on the second side had three parallel grooves, so depending upon where you dropped the needle you got different lyrics.  How cool is that?...

Last year it struck me to find out what other releases were available, and to try to find a less destructed copy of the lp than my brother and I had left my father. I searched eBay - the melting pot of all unusual and cul-de-sac culture - and found that the "Spook Along with Zacherly" lp had been rereleased on cd; relieving, as I'd seen the original lp at a record collector's show priced at more than $200!  I "bought-it-now," and successfully bid on the "Monster Mash" LP as well.  Sadly "Scary Tales itself has been less forthcoming.  Of the 3 releases I now have access to I still mostly listen to a cassette tape of our very crackly copy of "Scary Tales."  I'm sure that's pushed on by my inner 8-year-old's devilish grin, part of the frightening amount of happiness that tape brings me.

Zacherley.com





Kurt Gottschalk's Bottom Shelf  

The Beatles ruined pop. Before the Fab Four took over the western world, there was a suitable division of labor. You had singers, songwriters and instrumentalists. Nobody was expected to do it all. But in the epoch after John, Paul, George and Ringo, rock bands were expected to do it all and look good too.

In the course of seven short years, The Beatles led a wave that made teenybopper music into art and created an undying catalogue that would come to represent saccharine sentiments and overblown pop craft. Bad jazz singers and boring cover bands have made gallons of schlock from their songbook.

There have been good covers, of course, and tributes worth owning. Aki Takahashi has recorded great solo piano arrangements by the likes of John Cage, Frederic Rzewski, Carl Stone and Alvin Curran. Laibach bent Let it Be into an industrial dirge. Big City Orkestraw looped and mutated the boys on beatlerape. The Knitting Factory collected covers by Lydia Lunch, Eugene Chadbourne, Samm Bennett, King Missle and others on Downtown does The Beatles. Mike Westbrook's Off Abbey Road (Enja, 1990), with Phil Minton singing on half the tracks, has it's moments, and Sarah Vaughan's Songs of The Beatles is notable, if only for the chance to hear her warble "Come Together."

My collection, unfortunately, isn't limited to interpretations of merit. I have a regrettable tendency to horde the worst Beatles tributes I can find, which are generally available in the $2 bin.

Liverpool 1962 is an odd name for a 1990s mariachi record, but it leaves little doubt about the group's impetus. The 13-piece Mariachi Mexico de Pepa Villa make some frightfully lush detritus of the usual picks for sappy rendition ("Eleanor Rigby," "Yesterday," "Michelle," "The Long and Winding Road," - yup, McCartney comps all), and stretch out to include a couple from the solo years (Lennon's "Woman" and McCartney's "No More Lonely Nights"). It's remarkable how trumpets and strings can sound like a cheap synthesizer in the right hands. The title track is an original composition that evokes the working class English like Bugs Bunny playing Napoleon.

When I was a teenager, a distant and senile relative invited me over to listen to his record of The Canadian Brass playing The Beatles. Polite Midwestern punk that I was, I said I'd like to and promptly fled. In later years, I regretted passing up the surreal opportunity, so I was excited when I later found their 1998 All You Need is Love. It's livelier than the mariachi tribute, which makes it even harder to listen to. The liner notes point out that "no one knows exactly when pop music crosses from its world into the classical domain," suggesting that somehow the quintet have bridged the gap. Maybe I should have stuck with punk.

The hallmark for insipid interpretation is of course Muzak, so I was stoked to find an actual Muzak cd in the cut-out bin at Tower Records. Surprisingly, it seems closer to the spirit of The Beatles than the preceding titles, if only for the presence of electric guitars. Instrumentally Yours was released in 1999, around the time the corporation was trying to update its image and began switching from elevator music to feeds of actual songs. The musician credits shed little light on the culprits of this watered-down apple martini (at least to me), but they do point out that proceeds from the disc go to the Heart & Soul Foundation. Muzak probably should have been a grant recipient rather than a benefactor.

Not in need of a heart transplant is David Peel, who had a counterculture hit with Have a Marijuana in 1968 and worked hard as hell to weave gold from the short straw of having met, and apparently been complimented by, John Lennon. Bring Back the Beatles, from 1977, is a stoner declaration of, uh, what was I talking about? Tracks include covers of "With a Little Help from my Friends" and "Imagine," adapted to the three chords Peel knew, and no end up tracks written for the subjects of his adoration ("The Beatles Pledge of Allegiance," "The Wonderful World of Abbey Road," "Apple Beatle Foursome," "The Ballad of James Paul McCartney," "Keep John Lennon in America" and, of course "B-E-A-T-L-E-S"). This is your brain. This is your brain in a skillet.



continued...





Previous Bottom Shelf Articles:
Anthony Coleman's Bottom Shelf
Gary Lucas
Ron Anderson


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