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Moses, Ra Kalam Bob / Damon Smith Duo: Purecircle (Balance Point Acoustics)

A superb, inventive duo collusion between percussionist Ra Kalam Bob Moses and double bassist Damon Smith, continuing their collaborations that started with "Astral Plain Crash" with Vinny Golia, Henry Kaiser & Weasel Walter, here in concentrated form, recording and layer in the studio for 14 diverse dialogs using advanced techniques on drums, gongs, spring drums and double bass.

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product information:

Label: Balance Point Acoustics
Catalog ID: bpaltd15015
Squidco Product Code: 31735

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Native Pulse on October 14th 2021, in Quincy, Massachusetts, by David J. Sullivan. Double bass parts for Purecircles 1-3 recorded at Birdcloud studios on January 28th, 2022.


Ra Kalam Bob Moses-drums, percussion, gongs, spring drum

Damon Smith-double bass, voice

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Dip your fingers in the boiling water.
Scald your fingers.
Let your fingers sing the pain."

From "Sounds" (Klänge) Wassily Kandinsky 1912

"So this obviously is huge, to play with Ra Kalam Bob Moses is fantastic. The last time I saw Alvin Fielder was when we did our trio with Joe McPhee, and then I just moved to Boston. I'd been in Boston a few weeks at that point, actually, Quincy, Massachusetts, which is basically Boston, but not quite. And I knew Moses lived there, and of course, I knew Moses' work, and I made contact with him so that Alvin could meet him and I brought Alvin over. So the first time I met him was in 2016, Alvin and I went over to his place and got to go hang out in his drum room and talk to him. Mainly those two just went into deep drum talk, and it was heavy, and I was just sort of the fly on the wall there. And Moses had a bass in his studio, so we played together a touch that day. And it was amazing because obviously talking about Adam working on how to bring time into improvised music in his way, and he's got an original take on it. I think, of course, Moses is like that. His whole life has been spent dealing with rhythm and time and how it can be free and how it can relate back because he still will play some things that are a lot more jazzy with different people when it makes sense. And he has one of the greatest time-feels in the world. This whole idea of Alvin's, of being adventurous with swing, obviously, is so intertwined in my playing, and I feel like that sort of prepared me a bit to make this album, to be able to get in with somebody with so many original rhythms and time ideas and then see how my material is going to sit with that way of playing. It's our fourth album that we've done. I actually overdubbed on an album of him and Mike Nock playing synthesizers in the 60s. That album is around. I forget the title, but he put that one out. And then obviously, Astral Plane Crash. And then the trio with Burton Green, which was fantastic, and I was living in there. We played together a fair amount. I would play sessions at his house, and then we would go play concerts.

And after the duo with Bryerton I really started to focus more on bass & drum duos, I had made a duo with William Hooker, and then I made the duo with Alvin. And there's these great duos with William and Hamid and a fair amount of other bass and percussion duos. It's not something that's unheard of, but it's got a specific challenge that I'm really into, and I'm a little bit more into it at the moment. I think it's a great thing to look at. There's just a lot to be done with that instrumentation with just bass and drums, because we kind of know what saxophone and drums will do, right? There's a way to make it new and interesting, but that's been very well explored. Not to say people shouldn't do it. It's always great to go into those situations. Something like a piano trio that's been well explored and see if you can do something innovative. But, yeah, I think the duo of bass and drums is so interesting and so unexplored that it's a really great thing to do. This music is the last thing that was recorded at Native Sound Studio, his home studio in Quincy, Massachusetts, and it's all in the order that we recorded it, and it's all the music that we did. And then these things that are called Purecircles, Moses has these things called beds that he makes that are for people to play over, and they might have overtones and stuff. And I took three of these beds to a local studio here, which was cool because he's got a bunch of them. And so he said I just felt like the album didn't have enough gongs and symbols. So maybe could you pick some of my beds that have that? So he let me pick the beds, which is really cool.

And then I went and recorded these minute long pieces over the beds. And then I came up with this title. The original title of the album was Let Your Fingers Sing The Pain, but then I wanted to find a single title for the pieces with the beds. And when I found Purecircle, I thought that was a good title. When I told Moses, he said, oh, man, it's too bad that we can't use that as the title for the album, so I said, you know what? I was thinking the same thing. And so I agreed with him. The last piece was with the prepared bass and mallets, and he said something to me in the session that he wished I would work with the mallets for the whole piece, and it takes guts to sit there and play mallets with ra Kalam. It's a bit ridiculous on my end, but I gave it my best and I went for it. But you have one of the greatest drummers alive. I would say a master percussionist. The titles all come from Kandinsky's book of woodcuts and poems called Sounds like Who Led You In Deeper? That was the title I was able to use for that, which is pretty good. And that's another thing about, like, because I talked earlier about my version of spirituality, about art trying to sort of hover above our humanity a bit and not wallow in it. So I definitely have a version of it. But Moses is more engaged in spirituality than I am. And I thought Kandinsky was this nice middle ground. And I found this book right before I went on this trip, and so it was something that was really a great way to get the titles. And I even stole liner notes from the book, which is: dip your fingers in the boiling water, scald your fingers, let your fingers sing the pain."-Damon Smith at The Free Jazz Collective

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective

Artist Biographies

"Damon Smith studied double bass with Lisle Ellis and has had lessons with Bertram Turezky, Joëlle Leandré, John Lindberg, Mark Dresser and others. Damon'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. Visual art, film and dance heavily influence his music, as evidenced by his CAMH performance of Ben Patterson's Variations for Double Bass, collaborations with director Werner Herzog on soundtracks for Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, and an early performance with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Damon has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including: Cecil Taylor, Marshall Allen (of Sun Ra's Arkestra), Henry Kaiser, Roscoe Mitchell, Michael Pisaro, Wadada Leo Smith, Marco Eneidi, Wolfgang Fuchs, Peter Brötzmann and Peter Kowald. After many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and five great years in Houston, Texas working regularly with Alvin Fielder, Sandy Ewen, David Dove & Chris Cogburn, Damon will move to the Boston area in the fall of 2016. Damon has run Balance Point Acoustics record label since 2001, releasing music focusing on transatlantic collaborations between US and European musicians."

-Balance Point Acoustic Website (

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Track Listing:

1. Let Your Fingers Sing The Pain 6:40

2. Radiated Violet 4:59

3. Purecircle 1 1:03

4. Sound Hangs Hopelessly in the Sky 9:13

5. Wild Foam 3:35

6. True Mortar 7:10

7. Purecircle 2 1:03

8. Heavy Earth 7:28

9. Invisible Bell 5:13

10. Speaking Windows 9:48

11. Purecircle 3 1:04

12. The Blueish Wavelet Tosses 6:46

13. Cooled off Flash 3:37

14. Who Led You in Deeper 9:17

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Boston Area Improvisers
Duo Recordings
Stringed Instruments
Percussion & Drums
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