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© 2002-2018, Squidco LLC
  Top Lists for 2017

Squidco's list of the top sellers from 2017 releases in sales order. In many ways the most important list: this is what Squidco customers are really listening to.

Following that is:

Phil Zampino's Top List for 2017
Carl Kruger's Top List for 2017



Customer Top Sellers for 2017

Top Sellers in Squidco's catalog listed in order of popularity during the 2017 year. In many ways this is our most important top list, as it speaks from the community on what our customers are really interested in and listening to.





Sylvie Courvoisier / Mary Halvorson
Crop Circles
(Relative Pitch)

A studio encounter between pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and electric guitarist Mary Halvorson, both using sophisticated techniques giving unique voices to their playing styles, in a set of improvisations that balance playful, subtle, energetic, and emotional playing.




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.




Corsano / Courviosier / Wooley
Salt Task
(Relative Pitch)

First recorded meeting of Chris Corsano (drums), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), and Nate Wooley (trumpet) in the studio in Brooklyn, 2015, for a completely open, sensitive set of improvisations that are constantly on the edge, at times explosive, and always in a focused dialog.




Morton Feldman
Patterns In A Chromatic Field [2 CDs]
(Hat [now] ART)

Feldman's idiosyncratic large composition is also one of his more active, influenced by John Cage, and using a score that defines organizational procedures in chordal and chromatic patterns, as realized in this '93 recording by Rohan de Saram (cello) and Marianne Schroeder (piano).




Mat Maneri / Evan Parker / Lucian Ban
Sounding Tears
(Clean Feed)

Viola improviser and composer Mat Maneri leads this trio with British UK legend Evan Parker on soprano and tenor saxophone and Romanian ex-patriot and frequent collaborator Lucian Ban on piano, for ten compositions blending tradition, song, and improvisational tactics, recalling 20th century modern classical music in addition to jazz.




Christian Wolff / Eddie Prevost
Uncertain Outcomes [2 CDs]
(Matchless)

Two concerts of experimental improvisation from two giants of conceptual improvisation and composition, recorded at IKLECTIK in London in 2015 and at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire in 2016; with superb pacing and brilliant execution, these dialogs between keyboard and percussive instruments explore unique sound worlds with depth, inquisitiveness, and a sense of wonder.




Anthony Braxton
Solo (Victoriaville) 2017
(Victo)

On the 30th anniversary of the Victo Festival Anthony Braxton took to the stage for a magnificent solo performance on the alto sax, performing 8 spontaneous compositions and an 8+ minute version of "Body and Soul", seamlessly crossing lyrical and complex approaches to the horn using his unique intervallic, trimbral and diagrammatic language, a stunning and embraceable accomplishment.




Evan Parker / John Edwards / Steve Noble
PEN
(Dropa Disc)

Bringing together three leaders from the UK free jazz scene, the new trio of Evan Parker on tenor sax, Steve Noble on drums & percussion, and John Edwards on double bass present a masterful album drawing from the roots of free improvisation in playing that rises and recedes like a tidal force, captured live at the Oorstof concert series in Antwerp.




Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Karyobin (1968) [2017 REISSUE]
(Emanem)

The 2nd SME record to be issued, a 1968 classic of free improvisation as the quintet of John Stevens, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Dave Holland, and Kenny Wheeler, the 1st SME to feature their new organisational method, here remastered with far superior sound and balance than previous issues, with new notes by Evan Parker, Dave Holland and Martin Davidson plus session photos.




Korekyojinn Acoustic
Kaleidoscope
(Magaibutsu Limited)

The Korekyojin trio of Tatsuya Yoshida on percussion, Kido Natsuki on guitar and Mitsuru Nasuno on fretless bass, plus violinist Miyamoto Rei on several tracks, take their intricate and exuberant rock into acoustic territory with this impressive album, which includes acoustic takes on "Arabesque", "Careless Heart", "Four Holes in the Sky", &c.




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.




Angles 9 (Zethson / Stahl / Broo / Kajfes / Aleklint / Hegdal / Berthling / Werlin / Kuchen)
Disappeared Behind the Sun
(Clean Feed)

Saxophonist Martin Kuchen's amazing 9-piece Angles ensemble returns for an album titled for the grief of those who disappear due to war, crime and oppression, music that celebrates the tense balance in the challenge to confront and lead away from darkness and tyranny.




Neukollner (Denzler / von Schlippenbach / Grip / Johansson)
Sektion 3-7 [2 CDs]
(Umlaut Records)

The Neukollner trio of Bertrand Denzler on sax, Joel Grip on double bass, and Sven-Ake Johnasson on drums is joined by pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach for a double album of exhilarating free jazz that conjurs standards-based jazz through well-structured instant compositions.




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.




BassDrumBone + guests Joe Lovano / Jason Moran
The Long Road [2 CDs]
(Auricle)

The 40th Anniversary release for the creative free improvising jazz trio of Gerry Hemingway (drums), Mark Helias (bass) and Ray Anderson (trombone), with guests Joe Lovano on sax and Jason Moran on piano; superb lyrical soulful collective improvisation of the finest order.




En Corps (Eve Risser / Benjamin Duboc / Edward Perraud)
Generation
(Dark Tree Records)

The 2nd album from En Corps, the improvising trio of Eve Risser on piano, Benjamin Duboc on double bass, and Edward Perraud on drums, was recorded live at Artacts 16 festival in St Johann, Austria in 2016, performing two building works--"Des Corps" and "Des Ames" (The Bodies, The Souls)--which evolve from intricate quiet interplay into rich harmonic interaction.




Wadada Smith Leo / Natsuki Tamura / Satoko Fujii / Ikue Mori
Aspiration
(Libra)

Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii's "Aspiration" brings together four masterful improvisers and innovators--trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Natsuki Tamura, and Downtown NY laptop player Ikue Mori--for an album of exciting and exceptional free playing over compositions from Fujii, Tamura, and one collective composition, a brilliant pinnacle of creative music.




Harris Eisenstadt
Recent Developments
(Songlines)

NY Composer and percussionist Harris Eisenstadt furthers his exploration into long-form composition and unusual instrumentation in his 20th release as a bandleader, with a spectacular improv ensemble including Nate Wooley, Jeb Bishop, Han Roberts, Anna Webber, &c. &c.




Eric Revis
Sing Me Some Cry
(Clean Feed)

Double Bassist Eric Revis expands his concepts in this outstanding album with fellow New Yorkers, pianist Kris Davis and drummer Chad Taylor, and Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone, with all four players providing compositions that push the limit on structure and form while opening up the players to superb soloing settings of great modern jazz.




Derek Bailey / Joelle Leandre / George Lewis / Evan Parker
28 Rue Dunois Juillet 1982
(Fou Records)

A superb encounter from France in 1982 between four masters in a fertile and creative period: Derek Bailey (guitar), Joelle Leandre (double bass), George Lewis (trombone), and Evan Parker (saxophone), each bringing incredible experience to their enduring collective music.




Morton Feldman
Three Voices (performed by Juliet Fraser)
(Hat [now] ART)

Soprano Juliet Fraser performs Morton Feldman's late work for 3 voices, performed by 1 vocalist (originally Joan La Barbara) who performs with themself on tape, in a work that Feldman described as "lucious", "sexy", and "gorgeous", as heard in Fraser's beautiful rendering.




Keith Rowe
The Room Extended [4 CDs]
(erstwhile)

A massive and rewarding work of organized sound extending ea-improviser, AMM guitarist Keith Rowe's work "The Room" into a massive 4 CD set of compositions, layering work familiar from his recent improvisations with classical compositions, field recordings, &c. &c.




Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo + KAZE
Peace (Tribute To Kelly Churko)
(Libra)

Pianist Satoko Fujii's Orchestra Tokyo + the band Kaze, bringing guests trumpeter Cristian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins alongside trumpeter Natsuki Tamura into a spectacular big band of great power but also subtle meditation, in four works that include a tribute to the late guitarist and Fujii collaborator Kelly Churko.




Michael Attias Quartet (w/ Ortiz / Hebert / Hebert)
Nerve Dance
(Clean Feed)

New York alto saxophonist Michael Attias presents his new quartet with Aruan Ortiz on piano, John Hebert on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums, in his sixth album as a leader, a lyrical album dealing with the theory of elasticity and the concept of equality in music.




Keith Rowe / Michael Pisaro
13 Thirteen [2 CDs]
(erstwhile)

A collaboration between composer Michael Pisaro and AMM guitarist/improviser Keith Rowe, with each bringing scores which they improvised over, creating 13 discrete sections including samples from Shostakovich's 13th String Quartet, balancing activity, space and silence in patient ways that only two such experienced composer/improvisers could.




Steve Swell (w/ Brown / Hwang / Ulrich / Boston / Pugliese)
Music for Six Musicians: Hommage a Olivier Messiaen
(Silkheart)

Steve Swell presents an homage to composer Olivier Messiaen in a sextet with Rob Brown (saxophone), Jason Kao Hwang (violin & viola), Robert Boston (piano & organ), Tomas Ulrich (cello), and Jim Pugliese (drums & percussion) performed live at Metro Baptist Church in NYC, 2017, a presentation of encompassing and passionate free music that knows little boundary.




Albert Ayler Quartet with Don Cherry
European Radio Studio Recordings 1964
(Hatology)

Recorded during Albert Ayler's 1964 European tour with Don Cherry on cornet, Gary Peacock on bass, and Sunny Murray on drums, perhaps Ayler's best band and most creative period, well captured at Hilversum in The Netherlands and for Danish Radio Copenhagen, Denmark.




Morton Feldman
For John Cage
(Hat [now] ART)

Morton Feldman was a friend, flatmate and student of John Cage's innovative approaches to composition; he wrote this 3 part work for violin and piano in 1982 as a 70th birthday present for Cage, here performed by violinist Josje Fosie Ter Haar and pianist John Snijders.




Evan Parker / John Russel / Ian Brighton / Phillip Wachsmann / Marcio Mattos / Trevor Taylor
Reunion: Live From Cafe Oto
(FMR)

London's Cafe Oto organized a reunion of String Thing, guitarist Ian Brighton's project with violinist Phillip Wachsmann, bassist Marcio Mattos, & Trevor Taylor on percussion and electronics, adding guitarist John Russell and saxophonist Evan Parker, here capturing an impressive night of improv, and Brighton's first public appearance in nearly 40 years.




Ballister (Renpis / Lonberg-Holm / Nilssen-Love)
Slag
(Aerophonic)

The trans-Atlantic Ballister trio of Dave Rempis (saxes), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello & electronics) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums & percussion) release their 6th album, a live concert at Cafe Oto in London in 2015, a hard-hitting, euphoric release of free-improvising power.




Matt Mitchell plays Tim Berne
Forage
(Screwgun)

Pianist Matt Mitchell, a member of saxophonist Tim Berne's Snakeoil, releases a solo album of Berne compositions, taking the reedist's typically frenetic material into unexpected territory, revealing dark beauty and intensely introspective aspects to Berne's music.




Mario Pavone (Pavone / Ballout / Malaby / Noriega / McEachern / Sarin)
Vertical
(Clean Feed)

Drawing from some of the finest players on the New York Downtown jazz scene, with Dave Ballou on trumpet, Tony Malaby and Oscar Noriega on reeds, Peter McEachern on trombone and Michael Sarin on drums, double bassist Mario Pavone presents a set of 11 new compositions of lyrical and sophisticated jazz anchored by the leader's powerful compositional structures.




Wadada Smith Leo
Najwa
(Tum)

Paying tribute to musicians whose vision paved the way for modern creative players to use new approaches, language and philosophy in improvisation, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's band with four guitarists, electric bass, drums and percussion dedicates five incredible compositions to Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Billie Holiday.




Imaginary Numbers (McPhee / Niggenkemper / Solberg)
Imaginary Numbers
(Clean Feed)

Playing both pocket trumpet and tenor sax, Joe McPhee joins German/French/NY bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, and Norwegian drummer Stale Liavik Solberg, for an authoritative and bold album of collective free improv, three extended conversations that center on "A Supreme Love (For John Coltrane)", pointing to the history and sympathies of these impressive musicians.




John Butcher / Thomas Lehn / Matthew Shipp
Tangle
(Fataka)

After "Exta", where saxophonist John Butcher and electronics artist Thomas Lehn met with pianist John Tilbury, the duo now meet with New York pianist Matthew Shipp for a distinct improvisational entanglement of Butcher's dense streams, Lehn's rich sound floor, and Shipp's thick repetitions.




Willem Breuker Kollektief
Angouleme, 18 Mai 1980 [2 CDs]
(Fou Records)

The late Willem Breuker's Kollektief was an ensemble focusing on jazz roots in theatrical and dramatic performances, emphasing the fun aspects of historic jazz bands with energetic orchestration and soloing, described as a "mix of circus music, jazz and improvisation".




Morton Feldman
Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
(Another Timbre)

Morton Feldman's final composition, originally premiered in 1987, here performed by pianist Mark Knoop, violinist Aisha Orazbayeva, violist Bridget Carey, and cellist Anton Lukoszevieze, recording a year after their successful performance at London's Cafe Oto, maintaining focus and concentration on this large, unhurried work of micro-variations.




Angles 9
Disappeared Behind the Sun [VINYL]
(Clean Feed)

Saxophonist Martin Kuchen's amazing 9-piece Angles ensemble returns for an album titled for the grief of those who disappear due to war, crime and oppression, music that celebrates the tense balance in the challenge to confront and lead away from darkness and tyranny.




George Lewis & Splitter Ochester
Creative Construction Set
(Mikroton Recordings)

An amazing album of advanced techniques and sonic possibilities from the Berlin based Splitter Orchester, bringing together 25 superlative players from the "Echtzeitmusik" electroacoustic improvisation, here performing George Lewis's composition "Creative Construction Set".




Mats Gustafsson / Craig Taborn
Ljubljana [VINYL]
(Clean Feed)

Celebrating the 400th release of Clean Feed Records, Swedish free jazz phenomenon, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson meets with NY jazz pianist Craig Taborn for an unlikely yet highly satisfying encounter that pushes each improviser into unfamiliar, edge-of-their seats, territory.




Harris Eisenstadt Canada Day (w/ Wooley / Bauder / Niggenkemper)
On Parade in Parede
(Clean Feed)

A live recording of drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day band performing as a quartet with trumpeter Nate Wooley, saxophonist Matt Bauder, and bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, recorded at SUMP during their 2016 European tour, an exemplary set of free playing over a great set of original compositions, including a large work in 3 sections and 5 parts.




Mars Williams presents (w/ Berman / Lonberg-Holm / Baker / Kessler / Sandstrom / Hunt)
An Ayler Xmas: The Music of Albert Ayler & Songs of Christmas
(Soul What Records)

Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams directs his Albert Ayler tribute band, Witches and Devils, to merge Ayler-esque compositions with Christmas songs, performed by Josh Berman (cornet) Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Jim Baker (keys, viola), Kent Kessler (bass), Brian Sandstrom (bass, guitar, trumpet); an unexpected and welcome present for your free jazz festivities!




Yoshida Tatsuya / Cho Sokkyo / Tzboguchi Masayasu
TYU
(Magaibutsu)

The frequent and super-speed improvising duo of drummer Tatsuya Yoshida and guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi join forces with Tzboguchi Masayasu on keyboards and vocoder for an energetic, melodic, and at times outlandish album that pays homage to astonishingly complex rock forms.




Paul Dunmall Quintet
The Dreamtime Suite
(FMR)

Saxophonist Paul Dunmall's quintet with Hamid Drake, Dave Kane, Steve Tromans, and Percy Pusgove, bridge traditional with chamber jazz and world music, including a work for bagpipes and frame drum, in a monumental suite of improvisational possibilities.




Rhodri Davies / David Sylvian / Mark Wastell
There Is No Love
(Confront)

Confront initiates their new Core Series with the text piece "There Is No Love" with David Sylvian on voice, vocal treatments and electronics, Rhodri Davies on harp, vibraphone and radio, and Mark Wastel on tam tam and percussion, a sophisticated spoken word piece of shadowy atmosphere and innuendo, leveraging approaches from experimental, improvised and composed music.




Jurg Frey
Ephemeral Constructions
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Three works, two for large ensembles of performers on sax, guitar, clarinet, voice, percussion, horn, flute, vibes, and objects that belie the size of the group in its fragile presences, with a shorter trio of Frey, Greg Stuart and Erik Carlson transitioning the large pieces; compositions conceived as both short presences within abundant orchestration.




Bill Orcutt
Bill Orcutt
(Palilalia)

Guitarist Bill Orcutt's self-titled solo album brings a mix of standards and original compositions, starting with Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and eclectically running us to "The Star Spangled Banner", each song unfolding as he delivers in an unhurried way with rich sustain and reverb on a 4-string Telecaster, performing at The Living Room in San Francisco.




Nate Wooley
Knknighgh (Minimal Poetry for Aram Saroyan)
(Clean Feed)

Pronounced as "knife", this new project from NY trumpeter Nate Wooley brings together Chris Pitsiokos on alto sax, Brandon Lopez on bass, and Dre Hocevar on drums in a fresh take on the concepts of free jazz, using short material composed by Wooley and based on the poetry of Aram Saroyan, used in looping and repeating structures that never sound as such.




Dunmall / Shipp / Edwards / Sanders
Live in London
(FMR)

Two extended examples of free improvisation from UK stalwarts, tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Mark Sanders, joined by New York pianist Matthew Shipp, all captured live at Cafe Oto in 2010; set one is an unflagging example of energetic collective improv, set two more introspective yet vital and demanding; a superb concert!










Phil Zampino's Top 25 for 2017

This year I've listed my top picks for 2017 in alphabetic order, so the position in the list does not suggest that any one release is "better" than any other. There are also a couple of December 2016 releases that weren't out long enough to be considered in last year's list, but which certainly deserved it. In 2017 we added roughly 525 titles to our catalog, so one way of looking at this list is to delcare them my top 5%. Given that most of the releases we carry are directly recommended or related to important labels or artists, it's somewhat of a crime to not include many more qualifying releases, but at that point the list would be effectively useless; needless to say, this was a very difficult list to compile.






Barbez w/ Velina Brown
For Those Who Came After: Songs Of Resistance From The Spanish Civil War
(Important Records)

New York's literate and genre-encompassing rock band Barbez led by guitarist and journalist Dan Kaufman present their 5th album, renderings of protest songs from The Spanish Civil War in a tribute to the Spanish International Brigades, blending avant-rock, contemporary classical, and folk music styles into a compelling and historically important set of songs.




Beins, Burkhard / 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.




Butcher, John / Damon Smith / Weasel Walter
The Catastrophe of Minimalism
(Balance Point Acoustics)

A great trio of free improvising innovators--John Butcher on soprano and tenor sax, Damon Smith on double bass, field recordings and lloopp, and Weasel Walter on percussion--for a live set at 21 Grand Oakland in California, 5 improvisations with unexpected twists and turns, never overly agressive but always absorbing in their unique approach to their instruments.




Cage, John
Klang der Wandlungen [3 CDs]
(Edition Rz)

An impressive triple-CD box with recordings of some late works by John Cage, including "Seventy-Four for Orchestra, 1992", "103 for Orchestra, 1991, part 1 & 2", In a Landscape fur Harfe", "Postcard From Heaven fur Eine Bis Zwanzig Harfen", and some of "The Harmony of Maine"; including a 32 page booklet with photos and liner notes by Jakob Ullmann.




Camarasa, Xavier / Jean-Marc Foussat
Dans les Courbes
(Fou Records)

Matching two distinct keyboards--Xavier Camarasa's piano with Jean-Marc Foussat's synthi AKS--two improvisers present two extended works roughly translating to "The Immensity of The Instincts" and "There, or all is water ...", contrasting between melodic and otherworldly sounds, a complex tapestry that guides and excites the listener in an unusual convergence.




Courvoisier, Sylvie / Mary Halvorson
Crop Circles
(Relative Pitch)

A studio encounter between pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and electric guitarist Mary Halvorson, both using sophisticated techniques giving unique voices to their playing styles, in a set of improvisations that balance playful, subtle, energetic, and emotional playing.




Dunmall / Shipp / Edwards / Sanders
Live in London
(FMR)

Two extended examples of free improvisation from UK stalwarts, tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Mark Sanders, joined by New York pianist Matthew Shipp, all captured live at Cafe Oto in 2010; set one is an unflagging example of energetic collective improv, set two more introspective yet vital and demanding; a superb concert!




Elks, The (Kai Fagaschinski / Liz Allbee / Billy Roisz / Marta Zapparoli)
This Is Not The Ant
(Mikroton Recordings)

An extremely balanced group of electroacoustic improvisers, Kai Fagaschinski on clarinet and Liz Allbee on trumpet make up the acoustic side, though sounding as electronic and other-worldly as Billy Roisz on e-bass and electronics and Marta Zapparoli on reel-to-reel tapes and tape machines, creating incredibly wide-ranging and psychedelic sonic environments.




Filosofer
Landet Er Gitt Oss
(Nakama Records)

An hallucinogenic and commanding blending of improvisation, song, spoken word, and tonal/timbral music from double bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen's Filosofer, creating beautiful sonic environments out of which voice and message emerge and submerge, buoyed by a string quartet (two violins and two double basses), computers, turntables, synths and samplers.




Fujii, Satoko Orchestra New York
Fukushima
(Libra)

Diverse aspects of the 2011 disaster at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear power plant brought on by a tsunami orchestrated in sound by composer/pianist Satoko Fujii and rendered in remarkable ways from some of New York finest improvisers, including Tony Malaby, Ellery Eskelin, Oscar Noriega, Herb Roberts, Joe Fiedler, Stomu Takeishi, Nels Cline, &c &c.




Guerineau, Sylvain / Kent Carter / Itaru Oki / Makoto Sato
D'Une Rive A L'Autre
(Improvising Beings)

Dedicated to sailors, their adventures and rough living conditions while at sea, from the collective free improv quartet of US jazz master and Lacy associate Kent Carter on bass, French saxophonist Sylvain Gueineau, Makoto Sato on drums and Itaru Oki on trumpet & flute.




Halvorson, Mary Quartet (w/ Gress / Fujiwara / Okazaki)
Paimon: The Book Of Angels Volume 32
(Tzadik)

The final album from John Zorn's "Book of Angels" series presenting Zorn's Masada compositions, here with 10 previously unrecorded compositions from "Masada Book Two" performed by NY guitarist Mary Halvorson in a quartet with Drew Gress on bass, Tomas Fujiwara on drums, and Miles Okazaki on guitar, in an album of joyfully exciting and melodic improvisations.




Hammill, Peter
From The Trees
(Fie! Records)

Peter Hammill continues his immense solo career, intricately linked to his work with Van Der Graaf Generator, but more focused in intelligent lyrics, profound vocal layering, and fluid song structures, a unique voice who for more than 35 studio albums has developed an approach to songwriting and intellectual observation of subtle sophistication and detail.




Insub Meta Orchestra
13 & 27
(Another Timbre)

Coordinated and composed by d'incise and Cyril Bondi, this incredible Swiss-based collective of 30 to 40 experimental musicians was founded in 2010 and has presented concerts and recordings since; this CD presents two works, "13 unissons" splitting the orchestra into 13 subgroups; and "27 times" where each musician plays 27 times in 30 minutes; phenomenal.




Jeck, Philip
Iklectik
(Touch)

Named for the IKLECTIK performance space in London, England, Jeck's four part piece creates beautiful atmospheric passages which transition with field recordings, muted spoken word, symphonic-like passages, and other obscure sources, occasionally increasing in assertiveness but never leaving an exotic dream state of beautiful tonal environments.




Kurzmann, Christof / Mats Gustafsson
Falling And Five Other Failings [VINYL]
(Trost Records)

Two versatile and innovative improvisers, Mats Gustafsson on saxophones and Christof Kurzmann on electronics and voice, extracted improvisations recorded in the studio to create the 7 parts of this rich, pulse-based and intensely understated work about Falling and Failing.




Leap of Faith Orchestra
Possible Universes
(Evil Clown)

Started in 1995 as an interdisciplinary unit of improvisational artists led by Boston area reedist/multi-instrumentalist David Peck and cellist Glynis Lomon, exploring multi-phonics, glissando, microtones, graphic & descriptive scores, and extended techniques, expanding the ensemble with like-minded musicians, here in this 2017 recording of full 24-piece orchestra.




Parker, Evan / Daunik Lazro / Joe McPhee
Seven Pieces. Live At Willisau 1995
(Clean Feed)

1995 recordings of the superb saxophone trio of Evan Paker on tenor & soprano, Daunik Lazro on alto & baritone, and Joe McPhee on alto & soprano, plus alto clarinet and pocket trumpet, a group that went undocumented until this live concert tape at Willisau was discovered.




Peregrine Falls (Grdina / Loewen)
Peregrine Falls
(Drip Audio)

Named for the moment when a Peregrine Falcon falls from flight to attack its prey, the Vancouver duo of Gordon Grdina on guitars, oud, electronics and Kenton Loewen on drums and percussion present a heavy album of improvised rock with raw energy, riveting technique and powerful grooves with an Arabic influence and essence; of interest to King Crimson fans.




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

Presented at the Vancouver International Improvisation Festival and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, guitarist Ron Samworth's conceptual work explores the life and dreams of a dog, with narration from Barbara Adler and an incredible ensemble including cellist Peggy, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, trumpeter JP Carter, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, etc.




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.




Suzuki, Akio / John Butcher
Immediate Landscapes
(Ftarri)

At the same event in Scotland that John Butcher recorded his excellent "Resonant Spaces" album, he also joined forces with sound artist Akio Suzuki on a variety of objects and sound devices to record the first 5 tracks of this unusual album of very free improv, the last track by the duo recording at the 2015 Ftarri Festival at SuperDeluxe in Tokyo.




Tilbury, John / John Lely / Dirar Kalash & Christian Wolff
Seaside
(Another Timbre)

1st recordings of John Tilbury playing clavichord, recorded on his own instrument at his home, combined with improvised trios for clavichord, oud (played by Dirar Kalash) and John Lely's distinctive low-key electronics, plus compositions by Christian Wolff & John Lely.




Uchihashi, Kazuhisa / Richard Scott
Awesome Entities
(Doubtmusic)

Japanese guitarist and daxophone player Kazuhisa Uchihashi joins forces with Berlin-based composer and free improvising analogue modular synthesizer player Richard Scott for an album of unique orchestration, the daxophone "humanizing" the playing with unusual voicing.




Wooley, Nate
Knknighgh (Minimal Poetry for Aram Saroyan)
(Clean Feed)

Pronounced as "knife", this new project from NY trumpeter Nate Wooley brings together Chris Pitsiokos on alto sax, Brandon Lopez on bass, and Dre Hocevar on drums in a fresh take on the concepts of free jazz, using short material composed by Wooley and based on the poetry of Aram Saroyan, used in looping and repeating structures that never sound as such.










Carl Kruger's Top 20 for 2017



Abrams, Joshua Natural Information Society
Simultonality [VINYL]
(Eremite)

Chicago bassist and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Abrams follows up his incredible "Simultonality" album with this faster-paced album recorded with his Natural Information Society, joining traditional musics, American minimalism & jazz with the gnawa ceremonial instrument the guimbri.




Block, Olivia
Olivia Block
(Another Timbre)

Olivia Block created this unique suite for piano and organ, played inside and out, over a span of several years, developing techniques inside the piano through rehearsals and performances, sketching the basic ideas out, including motivation, physical materials etc, leaving room for improvisation between the composed bits, here executed in Chicago in 2017.




Bromander, Vilhelm
Oh Lord Give Me Strange
(Creative Sources)




Buck, Tony
Unearth
(Room40)

Starting from nearly inaudible rumbling, Necks percussionist Tony Buck takes his listeners on a wild ride of sound, from quiet moments of introspective sound onto the densest potency, slowly unfolding his detailed journey in rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and concrete additions, like an impressive storm brewing until it slowly overwhelms you.




Butcher, John / Damon Smith / Weasel Walter
The Catastrophe of Minimalism
(Balance Point Acoustics)

A great trio of free improvising innovators--John Butcher on soprano and tenor sax, Damon Smith on double bass, field recordings and lloopp, and Weasel Walter on percussion--for a live set at 21 Grand Oakland in California, 5 improvisations with unexpected twists and turns, never overly agressive but always absorbing in their unique approach to their instruments.




Courvoisier, Sylvie / Mary Halvorson
Crop Circles
(Relative Pitch)

A studio encounter between pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and electric guitarist Mary Halvorson, both using sophisticated techniques giving unique voices to their playing styles, in a set of improvisations that balance playful, subtle, energetic, and emotional playing.




Dresser, Mark
Modicana [VINYL]
(NoBusiness)

Double Bassist Mark Dresser, a mainstay of the Downtown NY scene as an improviser and composer, and also prominent on the US West Coast and as an international touring artist, releases a powerful album of distinctive solo playing, both technically and melodically, with 2 tracks caught live at the Umea Jazz Festival and others recorded at the University of California, San Diego.




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.




Haco
Qoosui
(Someone Good / Room40)

An hypnotic, lush and beautiful album of sound and lilting voice from Japanese vocalist and electronic experimenter Haco (After Dinner), seven songs of subtle sophistication that create dreamlike environments of floating tones and invoking voice, refined from decades of experimentation and investigation to yield this enchanting album.




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

American organist and composer Carson Cooman performs three sontatinas, each in three movements, and the 2014 work "drones", by German contemporary composer Eva Maria Houben, a member of the Wandelweiser group, all slowly evolving works of tone and subtle harmonics.




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.




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.




Leandre / Minton
Leandre / Minton
(Fou Records)

Phil Minton started as a trumpeter and became one of free improv's most outside vocalists; Joelle Leandre is a double bassist who also performs free vocal improv; this is their first recorded collaboration, and it's an unusual and wonderful album of heavy tone improvisation, plucked and bowed, and a masterfully odd free association of vocalisation.




Lunar Error
Selene
(BeCoq)

A rich and building improvisation from this French 10 piece ensemble, using 4 reeds, piano, zither, gangsa gantung, Indian harmonium, harmonium, mixing desk, contact microphones, banjo, objects, electric & acoustic guitars, effects, gong and drums to create a expansive audio universe that owes its sound to free improvisation and Ligeti.




Majkowski, Mike
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.




Martins, Luis Jose
Tentos - Invencoes E Encantamentos
(Shhpuma)

Luis Jose Martins uses classical guitar, prepared guitar, electronics, and percussion in a solo album of incredible detail and lyrical, beautiful playing of original compositions that blend his playing with modern techniques and electronics into melodic masterpieces, performed in the natural resonance of the church of the convent of S. Bento in Avis.




Myers, David Lee
Superpositions [CASSETTE with Download Code]
(Cronica)

David Lee Myers, AKA Arcane Device, explores feedback in its most beautiful forms, over decades developing systems to capture the microscopic edges of errant signals and convert them into lovely long tones, using a series of matrix mixers to manipulate them in real time, creating works of fragile charm, impressive interstices of rhythm, and gorgeous melodic nodes.




Nitsch, Hermann
Orgelkonzert Jesuitenkirche 20.11.2013
(Trost Records)

Austrian avant-garde musician and multimedia artist Hermann Nitsch performed these powerful and mesmerizing solo organ drone works during the 2013 "Shut up and listen" festival in in the Jesuit church of Vienna, releasing the 4 recordings with an 8-page booklet of art and an essay from Nitsch himself, with mastering by Martin Siewert.




Noetinger, Jerome / 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.




Pisaro, Michael / Samuel Dunscombe / Steven Andrew Flato / Wen Liu / Celeste Oram / Johannes Regnier
Organ For The Senses
(Marginal Frequency)

San Diego's Parkeology director Kate Clark and composer Samuel Dunscombe organized this concert to take advantage of the Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ, inviting local and regional experimental composers to develop works for the 5,017 pipe instrument, attracting artists like Michael Pisaro, Samuel Dunscombe, Steven Andrew Flato, Wen Liu, &c.




Seen, The
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.




Storring, Nick
Exaptations [CASSETTE]
(Notice Recordings)

Toronto-based composer Nick Storring presents two highly textural, side-long pieces; "Field Lines" originally composed for Yvonne NG Peck Wan's dance piece, "Magnetic Fields", presenting a series of a brief, dreamlike clearings through clusters of tonal instruments; and "Yield Criteria" a work of drifting drones that ebb and flow in rich harmonies.




Suzuki, Akio / John Butcher
Immediate Landscapes
(Ftarri)

At the same event in Scotland that John Butcher recorded his excellent "Resonant Spaces" album, he also joined forces with sound artist Akio Suzuki on a variety of objects and sound devices to record the first 5 tracks of this unusual album of very free improv, the last track by the duo recording at the 2015 Ftarri Festival at SuperDeluxe in Tokyo.




Vink, Jaap
Jaap Vink [VINYL 2 LPs]
(Recollection GRM)

Composer, sound engineer and teacher, Jaap Vink recorded these compositions at The Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, Holland, from 1968-1985, using electronic sources, feedback networks with configurations of analog tape recorders (delay lines), filters, and modulators to create these impressive and forward-thinking textural and drone compositions.




Warble & MDuo
Ama
(Creative Sources)

Two improvising duos that share one person and joined as a trio -- Berlin musician Miako Klein on recorders -- Warble being Klein and NY/Berlin trumpeter Brad Henkel, the two exploring their instruments through close amplification; Mduo is Klein & NY/Berlin percussionist Michael Weilacher using extended techniques and strange actions.





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