A much-needed reissue of this 1988 Last Exit album, with Bill Laswell (bass), Peter Brotzmann (sax), Sonny Sharrock (guitar) and Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums), muscular "darkwave" improvisation of virtuosic playing with superb energy, suspense and tension.
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Catalog ID: ESPDISK 4075LTD
Squidco Product Code: 21005
Recorded at B.C Studio in Brooklyn, New York by Martin Bisi. Originally released in 1988 on LP on the UK Venture label as VE 38.
Ronald Shannon Jackson-drums
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1. Prayer 4:37
2. Iron Path 3:28
3. The Black Bat (For Aki Ikuta) 4:33
4. Marked For Death 2:20
5. The Fire Drum 4:19
1. Detonator 3:47
2. Sand Dancer 1:55
3. Cut And Run 2:30
4. Eye For An Eye 4:54
5. Devil's Rain 4:13
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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sample the album:
"All-star quartet Last Exit garnered its reputation with a string of unrelentingly forceful concert recordings in which it pushed the energy style of free jazz to its limits. When the group went into the studio, though, a very different sort of album emerged -- very different not only from all their other output, but even from anything else ever heard from anyone at that time. Because of that, when it was released in 1988, some fans and critics didn't know what to make of it. This was, in a way, understandable, because Iron Path was so far ahead of its time that perhaps only a quarter of a century later, in 2015, is there an audience prepared for this album's pioneering hybrid of abstract heavy metal, unsettling ambient music, and free improvisation. Back in 1988, "darkwave" hadn't yet been conceived, much less named and niched. The brutal sonic assault of Last Exit's live albums is not banished; it lurks below the surface on Iron Path, sometimes allowed to break through for a moment of stark contrast. But the unremitting density of texture heard in the quartet's shows is stripped back in favor of more subtle and varied textures, sculpting an atmosphere of moody brooding and sinister suspense. And, of course, the studio also allowed for far greater sonic clarity, putting these virtuoso players in a setting that shows off their masterful command of myriad timbres"-ESPAlso available on CD.
• Show Bio for Bill Laswell
"Over the course of some three decades, visionary bassist-producer Bill Laswell has been one of the most prolific and restlessly creative forces in contemporary music. A sound conceptualist who has always been a step ahead of the curve, he has put his inimitable stamp on nearly 3,000 recording projects by such artists as Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Bootsy Collins, Nine Inch Nails, Motorhead, Peter Gabriel, Blur, The Ramones, George Clinton, Pharaoh Sanders, The Dalai Lama, Matisyahu, Angelique Kidjo, DJ Krush, RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ, Sting, The Last Poets, Afrika Bambaataa, Julian Schnabel, Whitney Houston, Manu Dibango, Fela Kuti and most notably Herbie Hancock, who collaborated with Laswell for the pivotal 1983 smash-hit single "Rock-It" which introduced scratching to the mainstream, inspired a generation of turntablists and gave the great jazz pianist instant street credibility among the burgeoning hip-hop cognoscenti.
Laswell's sense of creative daring as a producer was further demonstrated on several recordings that have kept him on the cutting edge, including Afrika Bambaataa's collaboration with John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame) on World Destruction and PiL's Album (which brought together an unlikely pairing of drumming greats Ginger Baker and Tony Williams, synth-pop pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame and rising guitar star Steve Vai). His spoken word collaborations with William S. Burroughs and expatriate writer-composer Paul Bowles have gone against the grain of music industry trends while his radical remixes (or re-constructions) of landmark recordings by Miles Davis (Panthalassa), Carlos Santana (Divine Light), Bob Marley (Dreams of Freedom) and a vast scan of dub-related and atmospheric ambient projects have gone on to further defined Laswell's presence as a revolutionary ikonoklast.
Bill Laswell has helped in generating several innovative recording labels such as Celluloid, Subharmonic, Black Arc, and Innerhythmic. Along with Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records (Bob Marley and U2), he established the AXIOM label in 1989. M.O.D. Technologies, his most recent imprint is releasing projects by Method Of Defiance, Lee "Scratch" Perry, PRAXIS, Garrison Hawk with Sly & Robbie, Bernie Worrell, The Process (with Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith and pianist Jon Baptiste) and progressive/futuristic music from Ethiopia (CDs/DVDs).
As a player, Laswell's bass lines resound with rare authority on groundbreaking projects by Tabla Beat Science (with Zakir Hussain and Ustad Sultan Khan), his avant-funk band Material, the apocalyptic assault of Last Exit (with Sonny Sharrock), his progressive dub effected Method of Defiance and the throbbingly intense power trios, Massacre (with Fred Frith and Charles Hayward), Painkiller (with John Zorn and Mick Harris), Praxis (with Buckethead and Brain), Blixt (with Raoul Bjorkenheim and Morgan Agren) and the latest (2014) Bladerunner (with John Zorna and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo).
Laswell's artistic reach has consistently extended to the continent of Africa, creating ground-breaking, evolutionary snd controversial recording projects in Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Gambia and most recently, Ethiopia where he has established a base for developing new as well as legendary artists, just as he did in the South Bronx some 30 years ago.
A veteran of 300 plus journeys to Japan, where he has worked with everyone from The Gagaku Orchestra (Japan's ancient music, only played for emperors for 1500 years), to avant-jazz, rock, hip-hop and DJ culture. An eternal musical renegade, Bill Laswell has always played by his own rules."-Bill Laswell Website (http://www.billlaswell.net/biography.html)
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• Show Bio for Peter Brotzmann
"Born Remscheid, Germany on 6 March 1941; soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass saxophones, a-clarinet, e-flat clarinet; bass clarinet, tarogato.
Peter Brötzmann's early interest was in painting and he attended the art academy in Wuppertal. Being very dissatisfied with the gallery/exhibition situation in art he found greater satisfaction playing with semi-professional musicians, though continued to paint (as well as retaining a level of control over his own records, particularly in record sleeve/CD booklet design). In late 2005 he had a major retrospective exhibition jointly with Han Bennink - two separate buildings separated by an inter-connecting glass corridor - in Brötzmann's home town of Remscheid.
Self-taught on clarinets, he soon moved to saxophones and began playing swing/bebop, before meeting Peter Kowald. During 1962/63 Brötzmann, Kowald and various drummers played regularly - Mingus, Ornette Coleman, etc. - while experiencing freedoms from a different perspective via Stockhausen, Nam June Paik, David Tudor and John Cage. In the mid 1960s, he played with American musicians such as Don Cherry and Steve Lacy and, following a sojourn in Paris with Don Cherry, returned to Germany for his unorthodox approach to be accepted by local musicians like Alex von Schlippenbach and Manfred Schoof.
The trio of Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald and Sven-Ake Johansson began playing in 1965/66 and it was a combination of this and the Schoof/Schlippenbach Quintet that gave rise to the first Globe Unity Orchestra. Following the self-production of his first two LPs, For Adolphe Sax and Machine gun for his private label, BRÖ, a recording for Manfred Eicher's 'Jazz by Post' (JAPO) [Nipples], and a number of concert recordings with different sized groups, Brötzmann worked with Jost Gebers and started the FMP label. He also began to work more regularly with Dutch musicians, forming a trio briefly with Willem Breuker and Han Bennink before the long-lasting group with Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove. As a trio, and augmented with other musicians who could stand the pace (e.g. Albert Mangelsdorff on, for example, The Berlin concert), this lasted until the mid-1970s though Brötzmann and Bennink continued to play and record as a duo, and in other combinations, after this time. A group with Harry Miller and Louis Moholo continued the trio format though was cut short by Miller's early death.
The thirty-plus years of playing and recording free jazz and improvised music have produced, even on just recorded evidence, a list of associates and one-off combinations that include just about all the major figures in this genre: Derek Bailey (including performances with Company (e.g. Incus 51), Cecil Taylor, Fred Hopkins, Rashied Ali, Evan Parker, Keiji Haino, Misha Mengelberg, Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Andrew Cyrille, Phil Minton, Alfred 23 Harth, Tony Oxley. Always characterised as an energy player - and the power-rock setting of Last Exit with Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sonny Sharock and Bill Laswell, or his duo performances with his son, Casper, did little to disperse this conviction - his sound is one of the most distinctive, life-affirming and joyous in all music. But the variety of Brötzmann's playing and projects is less recognised: his range of solo performances; his medium-to-large groups and, in spite of much ad hoc work, a stability brought about from a corpus of like- minded musicians: the group Ruf der Heimat; pianist Borah Bergman; percussionist Hamid Drake; and Die like a dog, his continuing tribute to Albert Ayler, with Drake, William Parker and Toshinori Kondo. Peter Brötzmann continues a heavy touring schedule which, since 1996 has seen annual visits to Japan and semi-annual visits to the thriving Chicago scene where he has played in various combinations from solo through duo (including one, in 1997, with Mats Gustafsson) to large groups such as the Chicago Octet/Tentet, described below. He has also released a number of CDs on the Chicago-based Okka Disk label, including the excellent trio with Hamid Drake and the Moroccan Mahmoud Gania, at times sounding like some distant muezzin calling the faithful to become lost in the rhythm and power of the music.
The "Chicago Tentet" was first organized by Brötzmann with the assistance of writer/presenter John Corbett in January 1997 as an idea for a one-time octet performance that included Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang (drums), Kent Kessler (bass) and Fred Lomberg-Holm (cello), Ken Vandermark and Mars Williams (reeds), and Jeb Bishop (trombone). The first meeting was extremely strong and warranted making the group an ongoing concern and in September of that same year the band was expanded to include Mats Gustafsson (reeds) and Joe McPhee (brass) as permanent members (with guest appearances by William Parker (bass), Toshinori Kondo (trumpet/electronics), and Roy Campbell (trumpet) during its tenure) - all in all a veritable who's who of the contemporary improvising scene's cutting edge. Though the Tentet is clearly led by Brötzmann and guided by his aesthetics, he has been committed to utilizing the compositions of other members in the ensemble since the beginning. This has allowed the band to explore an large range of structural and improvising tactics: from the conductions of Mats Gustafsson and Fred Lonberg-Holm, to the vamp pieces of Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake, to compositions using conventional notation by Ken Vandermark and Mars Williams, to Brötzmann's graphic scores - the group employs almost every contemporary approach to composing for an improvising unit. This diversity in compositional style, plus the variety in individualistic approaches to improvisation, allows the Tentet to play extremely multifaceted music. As the band moves from piece to piece, it explores intensities that range from spare introspection to all out walls of sound, and rhythms that are open or free from a steady pulse to those of a heavy hitting groove. It is clear that the difficult economics of running a large band hasn't prevented the group from continuing to work together since its first meeting. Through their effort they've been able to develop an ensemble sound and depth of communication hard to find in a band of any size or style currently playing on the contemporary music scene."-EFI (European Free Improvisation Pages) (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/mbrotzm.html)
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