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Kaiser, Henry / Steve Parker / Damon Smith / Chris Cogburn : Nearly Extinct (Balance Point Acoustics)

An exceptional example of collective free improvisation in the traditions of American and European styles from a quartet of Austin and West Coast players: Henry Kaiser on electric guitar; Steve Parker on trombone; Damon Smith on double bass; and Chris Cogburn on drums.

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product information:

Label: Balance Point Acoustics
Catalog ID: bpaltd707
Squidco Product Code: 21873

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2016
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard sleeve
Recorded April 3rd, 2015 at Congress House Studio


Chris Cogburn-drums

Henry Kaiser-electric guitar

Steve Parker-trombone
Damon Smith-doublebass

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Artist Biographies:

"Henry Kaiser (born September 19, 1952) is an American guitarist and composer, known as an idiosyncratic soloist, a sideman, an ethnomusicologist, and a film score composer. Recording and performing prolifically in many styles of music, Kaiser is a fixture on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. He is considered a member of the "second generation" of American free improvisers. He is married to Canadian artist Brandy Gale.

In 1977, Kaiser founded Metalanguage Records with Larry Ochs (Rova Saxophone Quartet) and Greg Goodman. In 1979 he recorded With Friends Like These with Fred Frith, a collaboration that lasted for over 20 years. In 1983 they recorded Who Needs Enemies, and in 1987 the compilation album With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends? They joined with fellow experimental musicians John French, and English folk-rocker Richard Thompson to form French Frith Kaiser Thompson for two eclectic albums, Live, Love, Larf & Loaf (1987) and Invisible Means (1990). In 1999 Frith and Kaiser released Friends and Enemies, a compilation of their two Metalanguage albums along with additional material from 1984 and 1999.

In 1991, Kaiser went to Madagascar with guitarist David Lindley. They recorded roots music with Malagasy musicians and discovered music that, he says, "changed us radically and permanently". Three volumes of this music were released by Shanachie under the title A World Out of Time. In 1994 he made a similar trip to Norway, again with Lindley, recording music that was released as Sweet Sunny North (2 volumes, 1994 and 1996).

Since 1998, Kaiser has been collaborating with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith in the "Yo Miles!" project, releasing a series of tributes to Miles Davis's 1970s electric music. This shifting aggregation has included musicians from the worlds of rock (guitarists Nels Cline, Mike Keneally and Chris Muir, drummer Steve Smith), jazz (saxophonists Greg Osby and John Tchicai), avant-garde (keyboardist John Medeski, guitarist Elliott Sharp), and Indian classical music (tabla player Zakir Hussain).

Kaiser has appeared on more than 250 albums and scored dozens of TV shows and films, including Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World (2007). He was given a Grammy Award for his work on the Beautiful Dreamer tribute to Stephen Foster.

In 2001, Kaiser spent two and a half months in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant. He has subsequently returned for nine more visits to work as a research diver. His underwater camera work was featured in two Herzog films, The Wild Blue Yonder (2005) and Encounters at the End of the World (2007), which he also produced, and for which he and Lindley composed the score. Kaiser served as music producer for Herzog's Grizzly Man (2005). He was nominated for an Academy Award for his work as a producer on Encounters at the End of the World."

-Wikipedia (

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track listing:

1. East Cape Yupik 20:00

2. Broom Pearling 2:17

3. Kung 2:33

4. Boonting 12:31

5. Hixkaryana 19:58

6. Nunatsiavummiutut 12:08

7. Grass Koiari 8:50
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"In the mid to late 1960s, American Free Jazz travelled across the Atlantic to become free improvisation. British musicians John Stevens, Derek Bailey, and Evan Parker, and Hanover's Gunter Christmann were among the first to move away from American jazz-based methods towards a more inclusive but non-idiomatic method of improvising. Such diverse countries as Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan and South Africa also added ideas and concepts to the global concept of free improvisation before finally traveling back to the USA.

The title and cover artwork of Nearly Extinct refers to languages or methods of improvisation that are either no longer practiced or deemed by some to be "out of style". Featured on the CD jacket map of improvisation are such historical methods as:

AMM - AACM - SME - FMP - Vario - Trans-Museq - Global Village - SME - Cross-Cultural - Mass Projection - EAI/Onkyokei - SF Bay Area - FREE JAZZ Ayler/Coltrane/Coleman/Taylor/Ra - ICP - ISKRA 1903 - Music Improvisation Company - Toy Killers - Company - Intuitive Music - Sinawi - Aleatory - Psychedelic...

The music on Nearly Extinct draws from all of these traditions, and recombines them in new and kaleidoscopic ways. All of the various methodologies represented on the CD's cover map have been studied and grokked by all members of the ensemble, resulting in an improvisational paella of extraordinary juxtapositions and combinations of ideas and sounds - with a wider range than is usually heard in contemporary 21st century free improvisation.

Despite many attempts over the years to state the contrary, improvisation remains a method and not a style. Nearly Extinct confronts certain methods head-on, while freely using material not commonly associated with the musicians who originally established those concepts. Henry Kaiser, for instance, brings in ideas from both transcendental Korean shamanism and ferocious psychedelic guitar musics, as well as his long-time deep knowledge of 20th century British Free Improvisation and Free Jazz. The three younger musicians bring post-AMM sensibilities and extreme attention to detail - primarily out of other British approaches from the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and Iskra 1903. All of the various methodologies represented on the CD's cover map have been studied and grokked by all members of the ensemble, resulting in an improvisational paella of extraordinary juxtapositions and combinations of ideas and sounds, with a wider range than is usually heard in contemporary 21st century free improvisation.

Henry Kaiser is an American guitarist, composer, and deep sea diver, known as an idiosyncratic soloist, a sideman, an ethnomusicologist, and a film score composer. He was a pioneer in the first wave of American free improvisors, back in the early 1970's.

Steve Parker is a trombonist, composer, and curator living in Austin. He directs the hybrid arts series SoundSpace at the Blanton Museum of Art, is an artist in the new music outfit Ensemble Signal in NYC, and teaches at UTSA.

Chris Cogburn is a percussionist and curator living in Austin and Mexico City. His artistic practice and curatorial interests are rooted in the collaborative context of improvisation.

Damon Smith's explorations into the sonic palette of the double bass have resulted in a personal, flexible improvisational language based in the American jazz avant-garde movement and European non-idiomatic free improvisation.

The unusual sonic fidelity of this audiophile recording, made in Austin, Texas in the spring of 2015, brings all the musical layers into clear, vibrant, and colorful focus."-Balance Point Acoustic

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Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz
Quartet Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music

Other Releases With These Artists:
Recommended & Related Releases:
Other Recommended Releases:
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Bennet / Bryerton / Butcher / De Gruttola / Kaiser / Smith
Sextessense: A Tribute to John Stevens and the SME
(Balance Point Acoustics)
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The Guitar Lesson
(Les Disques Victo)

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