The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Judson Trio (Leandre / Maneri / Cleaver):
Light And Dance [2 CDs] (RogueArt)

A live recording at Instants Chavire's, in Montreuil, France in 2020, and a studio recording 5 days later in Malakoff, France, in the 2nd album from the Judson Trio of Joelle Leandre on double bass, Mat Maneri on viola, Gerald Cleaver on drums & small percussion, the entwining of viola and bass strings propelled with assertive restraint and accent from Cleaver. ... Click to View

All Set (Laubrock / Payen / Tordini / Rainey):
All Set (RogueArt)

Distinctive for the dual reed front line of French saxophonist Stephane Payen on straight alto sax and New York tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, with the spirited rhythm section of double bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Tom Rainey, formed in 2002 through the collectives HASK and F-IRE, finally realized in recordings with this 2019 studio encounter in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France. ... Click to View

Natural Information Society w/ Evan Parker:
Descension (Out of Our Constrictions) (AGUIRRE RECORDS)

The first live album from Chicago bassist and guimbri player Joshua Abrams is the 6th Natural Information Society album, captured live in the summer of 2019 at Cafe Oto in London, the core quartet with Lisa Alvarado on harmonium, Mikel Patrick on drums and Jason Stein on bass clarinet joined by UK legend Evan Parker on soprano saxophone for four ecstatic improvisations. ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp / William Parker:
Re-Union (RogueArt)

The kind of conversation only two profoundly accomplished jazz artists such as pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker could have, steeped in the history of the creative form and founded on a long history of collaborations between the two, here in four engaging extended dialogs recorded in the studio Sextan in La Fonderie, Malakoff, France. ... Click to View

Evan Parker:
Collected Solos [VINYL 4LP BOX / CASSETTE] (Otoroku)

A limited edition box set of solo Evan Parker, reissuing the 1986 Incus label box of four previous Incus LPs (Saxophone Solos (1976), The Snake Decides (1986), Monoceros (1978), and Six of One (1982)) plus a cassette of previously unreleased material, here in a beautifully produced box with a booklet by Paul Haines signed by Evan Parker, eacg box hand numbered 000/250. ... Click to View

Big Bad Brotzmann Quintet :
Karacho! (Euphorium)

A superb example of European Free Jazz tradition, modern and amazingly creative, from the quintet of pianist Oliver Schwerdt and reedist Peter Brotzmann performing on tenor sax, tarogato & clarinet, with Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion and dual double bassists in John Edwards and John Eckhardt, performing a 50+ minute free masterpiece at club naTo in Liepzig, 2017. ... Click to View

Susan Alcorn Quintet:
Pedernal [VINYL] (Very Good)

An innovator in integrating pedal steel guitar into modern improvised music, Cleveland-born, Baltimore-based pedal steel guitar player Susan Alcorn's quintet enlists a superb set of New York players--Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Formanek on double bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Ryan Sawyer on drums--taking on a diverse set of Alcorn compositions. ... Click to View

Susan Alcorn / Phillip Greenlief:
Prism Mirror Lens [VINYL] (Very Good)

A beautifully balanced encounter between Baltimore pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and Bay Area reedist Phillip Greenlief, performing on tenor saxophone & B-flat clarinet, improvising four "colors" as the two span the spectrum from rapid interaction of weaving and pointillistic playing into deeply introspective and ruminating discourse, each the perfect complement for the other. ... Click to View

Fred Frith:
Rocking The Boat (Volume 1 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

The first of three sturdy box sets from innovative guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith, here with 8 CDs from the Recommended Records label plus a bonus CD, a thick booklet of artwork, photographs & extensive notes from Frith; albums included are Guitar Solos, Gravity, Cheap at Half the Price, Killing Time, Impur , Middle of the Moment, Keep the Dog; Dropera. ... Click to View

Fred Frith:
Crossing Borders (Volume 2 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

The second of three sturdy box sets from innovative guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith, here with 8 CDs from the Recommended Records label plus a bonus CD, a thick booklet of artwork, photographs & extensive notes from Frith; albums included are Live in Japan, Speechless, Prints, Step Across the Border, Impur 2, Art of Memory II, Skeleton Crew, Helter Skelter. ... Click to View

Fred Frith:
Stepping Out (Volume 3 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

The third of three sturdy box sets from innovative guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith, here with 8 CDs from the Recommended Records label plus a bonus CD, a thick booklet of artwork, photographs & extensive notes from Frith; albums included are Technology of Tears, Propaganda, Allies, Accidental, The Previous Evening, Happy End Problem, Nowhere, Sideshow, Field Days; Inimitable (previously unreleased). ... Click to View

Roy Campbell / John Dikeman / Raoul van der Weide / Peter Jacquemyn / Klaus Kugel:
When The Time Is Right (577 Records)

Performing at Bimhuis in 2013, the trans-Atlantic quintet of Roy Campbell on trumpet, flugelhorn & flute, John Dikeman on saxophone, Raoul van der Weide on cello & percussion, Peter Jacquemyn on bass & voice and Klaus Kugel on drums, perform an extended, energetic and dynamic set of free improvisation, with intricate melodies and beautifully rich transitions. ... Click to View

Elliott Sharp:
IrRational Music [BOOK] (TerraNova Press)

An insightful look at the history of New York composer, saxophonist and guitarist Elliott Sharp, "Sixteen Pieces in the Shape of a Memoir" as Sharp looks back at his musical influences and approach to playing and composing, with observations on music, art, politics and technology, a fascinating set of essays from a vanguard artist's point of view. ... Click to View

Charles Noyes K. :
Crimes In High Places, Part 1 (zOaR Records)

Known as a percussionist, Bay Area improviser Charles K. Noyes' first part of his Crimes In High Places is performed on electric & resonator guitars plus amplified guqin, expanding on the innovations of Derek Bailey in free-form non-idiomatic playing as he works to create a personal language on the instrument, presenting a dark and creatively foreboding vision. ... Click to View

Gerald Cleaver / Devin Gray:
27 Licks (Rataplan Records)

Drummer Gerald Cleaver's significance in NY free jazz can't be understated, and his influence and work with younger generation drummer Devin Gray as a teacher, friend and associate has shaped Gray's work, as heard here in this monumental encounter between the two drummers, a duet that started many years before, playing in the streets of NYC, and now properly captured in the studio. ... Click to View

Devin Gray / Ralph Alessi / Angelica Sanchez:
Melt all the Guns (Rataplan Records)

Recorded in the fall of 2019 as a statement to help expand awareness and work for a future free from gun violence, composed in response to several gun violence incidents, performed at Douglass Recording in Brooklyn with the trio of Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Angelica Sanchez on piano, and Devin Gray on drums and providing the compositions, each title expressing his concern. ... Click to View

Devin Gray / Ingrid Laubrock / Cory Smythe :
Cloudsounds Trio (Rataplan Records)

NY drummer Devin Gray provides the compositions for this EP with his Cloudsounds trio of Ingrid Laubrock performing on tenor and soprano saxophones and Corey Smythe on piano, the sophisticated structures leading the improvisers into almost chamber jazz territory, with a light playfulness and warm interaction, Gray's intriguing rhythms shifting and propelling their music. ... Click to View

The Selva + Machinefabriek (Jacinto / Almeida / Morao + Zuydervelt):
Barbatrama (Shhpuma)

The Selva trio of Ricardo Jacinto on cello, Goncalo Almeida on double bass and Nuno Morao on drums join with Rutger Zuydervelt of Machinefabriek who adds unique electroacoustic transformations to their fusion of free improvisation and hydrid world elements, resulting in this wonderfully dark venture inside a virtual jungle of contrasting darkness and refined acoustic beauty. ... Click to View

Giovanni Di Domenico :
Decay Music n. 4: Downtown Ethnic Music [VINYL] (Die Schachtel)

The fourth release in Die Schachtel's Decay Music series is Italian composer Giovanni Di Domenico's Downtown Ethnic Music, a tapestry of synthetic and acoustic sources in a 4th world/Jon Hassell mode, with rhythms from drummer João Lobo, vocals by Pak Yan Lau and Patshiva CIE women choir, the horns of Ananta Roosens and Jordi Grognard; a gorgeous album of detailed ambience and atmosphere. ... Click to View

Adrian Knight:
Fly By Night [2 CDs] (thanatosis produktion)

A "travelogue" of Swedish composer and songwriter Adrian Knight's guitar explorations, works originally released on his digital-only and now dormant label Pink Pamphlet, drawing from work recorded in his home studio that developed from sketches and experimentation, along with new recordings including one with saxophonist David Lackner; beautifully moody and elegant music. ... Click to View

J/L Duo + Adrian Knight and Frew Elfineh Taha:
Ismalfa [VINYL] (thanatosis produktion)

A cohesive suite in eight parts on dynamics, tone and vocal narration in acoustic jazz from the joining of the 20+ year Swedish duo project J/L Duo of saxophonist Johan Jutterstrom and drummer/percussionist Andreas Hiroui Larsson, Brooklyn-based pianist Adrian Knight and vocalist/lyricist Frew Elfineh Taha (also known under the moniker Black Fist). ... Click to View

Marta Forsberg:
TKAĆ [VINYL] (thanatosis produktion)

Tkać means to weave, as Swedish electroacoustic sound artist Marta Forsberg interwines drones, first through a work of sound and light using frozen and processed violin sounds that slowly shift in minimal repetition; then in a synthetic work exploring darkness, light and colour by means of LED light, fabric, sequins, and minimalistic drone-based electronic music. ... Click to View

Two Crumbling Shapes [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (esc.rec.)

The electroacoustic duo of singer Andrea Silvia Giordano and drummer Nicholas Remondino, working with Pierre Bastien, E-cor Ensemble, Gianluca Verlingieri, Maria Dybbroe and Torstein Lavik Larsen, create uniquely motioned works of decay, deconstruction and destruction, percussion and voice weaving amid unusual sonic sources both abstract and rhythmic. ... Click to View

Yoshio Machida / Cal Lyall:
Premeditation [VINYL 2 10-inch records] (By the Bluest of Seas)

Both members of the Tokyo band SuperDeluxe, drummer Yoshio Mashida performing on steelpan, gamelan and metal-slit drums, and 5-string banjo player Cal Lyall, performing largely on a tabletop guitar setup augmented with electronics, have developed a lovely and relaxed, compelling language of improvisational forms using structural ideas-based on minimal scalar patterns. ... Click to View

Fred Frith:
Stone, Brick, Glass, Wood, Wire (Graphic Scores 1986-96)(2CDs) (Angelica)

RESTOCKED: Fred Frith's 1999 box set, presenting a large, flexible ensemble project using marked photographs and rules as scores while Frith directs and conducts as well as performing; permanent members are Ikue Mori and Zeena Parkins, otherwise the balance of the 44 strong ensemble changes; recordings here are taken from 5 concerts, including the first in 1992 at AngelicA. ... Click to View

Robbie Avenaim / Chris Abrahams / Jim Denley:
Weft (Relative Pitch)

The Australian trio of percussionist Robbie Avenaim, keyboard player Chris Abrahams performing on a Waldorf Q+ Synthesiser and bass flutist Jim Denley, all compatriots in a variety of groupings, in an extended studio improvisation of spacious textures and rapidly understated percussive elements, aptly titled for the weaving and cris-crossing threads on a loom. ... Click to View

Sergio Armaroli / Fritz Hauser:
Angelica (Leo Records)

Performed at the Angelica Contemporary Music Festival in Bologna, Italy in 2019 and recorded with superb fidelity, drummer/percussionist Fritz Hauser joined with xylophonist Sergio Armaroli for an enthralling performance that balances chamber jazz forms with fully free exploration, avant yet embraceable as two interact in exquisite and authoritatively unhurried ways. ... Click to View

John Brennan Wolf:
Nitty Gritty Ditties (Leo Records)

33 songs & instrumentals in 74 minutes performed by Dublin composer, performer, improvisor, pianist and organist John Wolf Brennan, covering an eclectic and vast cross-section of styles and genres, from composers including Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Lars Hollmer, Tom Waits, Cornelius Cardew, Bela Bartok, Paul McCartney, John McLaughlin, &c. ... Click to View

Kontrabassduo Studer-Frey:
Zip (Leo Records)

Naming each track for the teeth of a different type of zip-fastener (curved, triangular, saggitate, &c) Swiss double bassists Daniel Studer and Peter K. Frey improvise a fascinating set of interlocking and intersecting abstractions, recorded live at at Kronen Galerie, in Zurich as the two celebrated their 20th anniversary as a duo through a series of 10 half-hour concerts. ... Click to View

Christer Bothen :
Ambrosia [3 CD BOX SET] (thanatosis produktion)

Swedish contrabass clarinetist Christ Bothen in six extended works, the first and third disks a series of solo works using incredible technique and concentration, the 2nd disc a large work in an ensemble with fellow deep reedists Hans Koch & Per Texas Johansson, double bassist Vilhelm Bromander, pianists Kristine Scholz & Tisha Mukarji, and a spectral narrative from Sofia Jernberg. ... Click to View

  •  •  •     Join Our Mailing List!

The Squid's Ear
Facebook: Squidco Sales

Heard In

Reviews of artist releases:
cd's, books, magazines, &c.

  Albert Ayler Quartet with Don Cherry 
  European Recordings Autumn 1964 Revisited  
  (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd) 

   review by Thomas Mellish
Albert Ayler Quartet with Don Cherry: European Recordings Autumn 1964 Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

There is a common phrase about how someone's reputation can precede them. Jazz, more than any other genre, dismantles this ubiquitous mantra. The seemingly unfulfillable aura that some names possess is always followed by an individual who is somehow befitting of this aura. Albert Ayler and Don Cherry are tokens of this phenomenon. Ayler's presence in the jazz zeitgeist is a soup of superlatives and hyperboles: a jazz avant-gardist who used his tenor saxophone to 'speak in tongues'; a man who dismantled and deconstructed melody itself. Cherry's status borders on mythical also: a trumpeter (primarily) who stuck two fingers up to formalism; a trumpeter who was panned by critics for not adhering to notions of technique and for making jazz that only jazz-ignorant white people would enjoy.

This is quite a reputation to fulfill, and the music contained in this album does. In the liner notes of this album, there is a passage from Brian Morton. There are appeals to how Ayler and Cherry locate the "here-ness" of music, and how these two did not hide behind a veil of technique or formalism to justify the use of musical platitudes and cliches. Initially, these sentences seem fanciful and borderline unsubstantial. However, upon listening to this album, I understand Morton. Ayler and Cherry's complete rejection of technique and formalism is what provides the "here-ness", the unorthodoxy. Their music is wholly sui generis. These two cannot even be captured as outsider artists; their music is so eclectic and free it belies any appeal to genre. The music just "Albert Ayler and Don Cherry." Much of this album defies quantification: I'll focus on tracks that I can (even vaguely) describe and capture.

Disc 1 provides a set of recordings from November 6th, 1964. 'Angels', the opening track, is typified by the driving drums of Murray which augment the space. Ayler plays cascading crescendos and soaring arpeggios which helps beget a peculiar sonic landscape. The peculiar and singular playing of Ayler is contrasted with, and underscored by, Peacock's anemic and feeble sounding bass. This meeting between vitality and infirmity, musical wealth acting against musical paucity, is curious. Cherry joins Ayler in occasional moments of unity. They join in song through a unity-in-opposites. This moment of sonic bliss is equally charming as it is fleeting.

In 'Ghosts', Cherry contains his particularly free playing. The cornet becomes more staccato and stochastic, rather than sprawling and flowing. Cherry works in tandem with the rhythm of this track, which is tenuously upheld by Peacock and Murray. The voluptuous cornet teases and toys with the disparate rhythm section, lending its hand in aid to only snatch it away. Cherry continuously pulls away from, and then marries himself with, the rhythm section. The track is a salacious sonic equivalent to a will-he-wont-he narrative arch. Harmony continues to arrive momentarily only for Ayler and Cherry to decide that it's too boring and formulaic. Upon making this decision, they resume their venture into the familiar sound of the unfamiliar atonal.

'Spirits' is the musical equivalent of the uncanny. You recognize what you hear but can't locate it in your memory, much like how a doll's face is so uniquely familiar, yet also wholly inhuman. The skeleton of previous tracks is there, but the soul has been replaced. Only Ayler and Cherry, in my eyes, could construct such a piece: a track that lends itself to what you've previously heard on this album, but whose features you cannot identify. 'Spirits' contains a motif which pervades the album.

On Disc 1 there is then a separate section for tracks recorded on September 10th, 1964. 'Vibrations' is the first of this set, which features a sprawling and crawling bass scouring the landscape for a sonic partner to join in arms with. Eventually discovering the drums and becoming in phase with each other, they locate and attempt to contain Ayler's saxophone. Again, Ayler's playing defies the notion of restraint and capture. It dips and glides, evades and hides. The motif found in 'Spirits' begins to reify and become discernible. The use of this motif has the effect of teasing a semblance of structure, some idea of refuge. Ayler enters the rhythmic cage that Peacock and Murray desire only for him to escape like a wily coyote. These islands of structure and harmony are taken back and sullied; fervid playing once again takes a hold; Ayler and Cherry dictate the scene.

'Saints' provides a particularly precipitous change in tone. Far gone are the atavistic scales of before; roaring notes are replaced by sonic splutters. Perhaps, finally, the volcanic playing has lost its spark; perhaps the wily coyote is emaciated and disheveled. There is a languid hesitancy which permeates this track. Intrepidation becomes caution. For the first time, there are occasional pauses; moments of silence even. The saxophone wains and weeps in mourning. The track acts like a lament, bemoaning the inevitable denouement. 'Spirits' puts these worries to sleep. It provides the rebirth, the new ascendancy. The music will never stop. Freedom will never go unrealized.

Disc 2 provides a set of recordings from September 26th, 1964. The first song, 'Spirits', provides a new take on the song from the previous disc. Spluttering saxophone arpeggios act like an exasperated bull in a china shop, elbowing and barging the sonic space. This boisterousness is underpinned by microtonal notes, which carve and cut steep sonic peaks. Ayler finds notes that are out of the rubric of jazz. There is an indescribable absence of melody. It's not 'atonality' because that implicitly accepts that what is being heard can be captured by a term. This is the privation of melody, a negation of melody: un-melody. A percussive interlude introduces Cherry's cornet which only mirrors and compounds the fervid, virulent playing of Ayler. Somewhat aptly, as soon as a melody becomes discernible, the song ends.

'Vibrations' contains circular and reflexive motifs. These motifs are afforded to the listener by Ayler, while Cherry does his best to sully this moment of structure; Cherry augments the motifs with occasional bellows and belches. Both instruments lament and celebrate, their moods are capricious and equally volatile. The drumming and bass playing provide a fitting container for the liquid playing of Ayler and Cherry to fill; these are the stationary riverbanks for the flowing river. There is once again a unique unity-in-opposites.

'Saints' is the most perplexing track on the entire album. Structure collapses into total free verse. Even calling it free verse belies the playing; I cannot describe what I have heard. 'Autonomous' is the only word which suffices here. This music is not of a natural kind. This is Ayler and Cherry at their best, their most indescribable. The motif rears its head at the end of the track; an island of sonic familiarity in a sea of otherwise obfuscated notes. Teasing the listener like an oasis to a parched traveler.

'Children' continues this inexplicable streak. Polyrhythmic paroxysms juxtapose finely articulated scales. An increasingly agitated rhythm section drives the flurry onward, egging on these paroxysms towards their explosive conclusion. Ayler's saxophone verges on atavism at certain points: it occupies the liminal space between object and animal. Cherry joins to stir this musical storm into an even more fervid mess. No note is left untouched; no space is left uncovered. A writhing bass marks the shift from the protasis to the epitasis. Rhythm and sound reach its apotheosis. The denouement is provided through 'Spirits'. The motif once again plays, hinting at this record's circular, reflexive and infinite nature. The only concept that this music can be linked to is itself. It is entirely and wholly self-referential.

This album is unlike anything. It defies description most of the time, and when it is describable, you're left scratching your head like an idiot. There is a total lack of genre or form. However, that "...was their genius, and it suffuses everything you will hear on this disc."

Albert Ayler Quartet with Don Cherry: European Recordings Autumn 1964 Revisited
Is On Sale at Squidco!

Comments and Feedback:

The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !

  Copyright © Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (5335)