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Vernacular (Caswell / Kulcsar / Washington): The Little Bird [CASSETTE w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

Originally released in 2004 on CDR and only now properly released, the Cleveland trio of Lawrence Caswell (bass, vocals), Chris Kulcsar (drums, guitar) and R.A. Washington (trumpet, percussion) embraced the heart of free jazz and the concepts of freedom in bold and passionate improvisation and a scathing song, captured in two concerts at The Black Eye and Grog Shop.

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product information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS160CS
Squidco Product Code: 30276

Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Cassette
Tracks A1-B1 recorded at The Black Eye, on July 5th and 6th, 2003, by Jeff Ottenbacher.

Track B2 is a live improvisation by Vernacular & Black Ox Orkestar at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in the Fall of 2004.


Lawrence Daniel Caswell-bass, vocals

Christopher Kulcsar-drums, guitar

RA Washington-percussion, trumpet

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Artist Biographies:

Lawrence Daniel Caswell is a Cleveland bassist, known for the groups This Moment In Black History, and Vernacular.

-Discogs (

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Christopher Kulcsar is a Cleveland, OH based drummer and guitarist, known for the bands This Moment In Black History, and Vernacular.

-Discogs (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"R.A. "Rafiq" Washington, aka Dookie Behringer, LeRoi Da Moor, is an El Paso native and moved to Cleveland in 1989. He performs on trumpet and voice. He is known for the bands Mourning (A) Blkstar, Madame and the Moist Towelettes, and Vernacular, embracing experimental rock and free jazz. He is also a poet, who hosts poetry readings at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Washington also runs the label Cleveland Tapes.

-Squidco 9/28/2022

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track listing:


1. The Blood 07:11

2. The Voodoo Runs Rafeeq Down 07:04

3. Memphis (First Song) 07:39

4. The System of Mister's Hell 07:16


1. The Wretched Of The Earth 10:50

2. Live with Black Ox Orkestar 17:43
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The Little Bird is an album with a lot of history, and a lot of freedom, behind it. Coming together as students at Cleveland State in 2001, Lawrence Caswell (bass, vocals), Chris Kulcsar (drums, guitar) and R.A. Washington (trumpet, percussion) first looked to heady, if predictable, reference points like local hero Albert Ayler and the 1973 experimental horror film Ganja & Hess. This is immediately apparent in their music. "The Blood," which begins The Little Bird, starts with Caswell laughing to someone off-mic, then singing a harrowing melody, "I know it was the blood for me, and I'll tell you that one day when I was lost, don't you know that he died upon that cross." After a minute and 47 seconds of grasping with heaviness of such biblical proportions, a piercing trumpet, droning bass and crashing percussion ease in and build to a cacophony.

The three practiced constantly, feeling untethered by their technical abilities and rather set free by the desire to play. Their first gig was at a party at a member's apartment, but they soon moved on to small venues and then upward to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland.

When it came time to make and The Little Bird in 2004, the production was, by all accounts, casual and inexpensive, and only released on CD-R. Seventeen years later, the time has come for this bird to fly - at least as a digital release and cassette. This is a good thing, as more people need to hear the voodoo turn the tables on jazz, and the trio does just that on "The Voodoo Runs Rafeeq Down." Elsewhere, Vernacular rages on "Memphis (First Song)" and terrifies on "The Wretched Of The Earth." This is not for the faint of heart, but also not to be missed. It sat on someone's hard drive for way too long."-Daniel Margolis, Downbeat

"Forty years ago a group of hipsters fled Manhattan for . . . has it even been that long? I cannot fathom for I'm still alive and so many of my comrades have fallen to age, to the Amerikka machine. We started our Harlem project with great promise, young energy, and foolish intent. We thought that the government should fund our liberations, and as I look back Ishmael Reed was correct in saying that we should have reached out to our black middle class business owners, lawyers and doctors for the money to free our people from the decay of racism, class difference, and nigger-ism.

The music was always there. For me it was the pulse of the whole enterprise, a stunning tribute to our genius. New music magicians like Sun-Ra, Ornette Coleman, Sonny and Linda Sharrock, those Ayler brothers and the like gave us the language to try anything. There were more of these visionaries than poets, and their work lives longer than any poem of mine's will. This is no sad statement, for the soul of the African has always been linked to the beat. My own son's generation discovered this through hip-hop, but the embracing of an instrumental music skipped the generations after its birth, the new music did not seem to make it to my son's peers.

In Cleveland, there are a few young brothers doing the "new music" without the wayward politics of their forbears, only the soul, heart and muscle of the music lives now. Vernacular, a group of three young musicians - two black men, and a white man - unaware of how crucial their enterprise will be to the coming years. I've come to know their journey through a young poet I know, whose head is harder than mine, but savvy is spirit, and his glows. He asked me to write to you, the listener, to give you a map of their place in history; I was not willing at first for I was feeling old, and attacked. Why should I help explain what they could only know as a lonely enterprise?

As albums go, this "little bird" is passion music, I enjoyed many of the selections, I did not like their slower works, nor did I enjoy how short it was. It should have been longer, but they left me wanting, so I guess they've understood some things are left to the sure voice. I tease my young poet all the time, he does the same - who will be the next mover in out collected history of moving, he asks? I say don't fret that, it will only make you a target. FBI crackers will tap your phone, and open your mail. The war against the free has come to a head. Choose wisely."-Imamu Amiri Baraka

Get additional information at Downbeat Magazine
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