Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thoughts on Improvisation

Peter Brötzmann, Cecil Taylor
Peter Brotzmann & Cecil Taylor,

I love these thoughts on improvisation:
For you, is improvisation, a pleasure, a risk, or both?
It ought be a pleasure and most of the time, I have to, say it is. I’ve been lucky to have been with the right people. But improvisation can really become quite boring and silly when you are on stage with people who don’t listen or with people who think that they can do just what they want. The first thing you have to learn when you play this music, when you’re on stage, is respect for each other, that means you have to listen, to be aware of what is going on, you have to take a back seat sometimes. I know it may sound strange when I start saying these kinds of things because sometimes I’m quite forward on stage and I push myself or others into action. I don’t see this as a contradiction, which brings me to the second part of the question, the risk. From my point of view, the music has a beginning and it must have an end, but in between these two points whatever else is happening, you have to keep the tension up. Sometimes if you have the feeling the music is coming down to nothing, which means it has no meaning, nobody needs that, you have to push yourself sometimes, you have to push the others, you have to take that risk that the whole thing could break down. The other side is that risk can develop into something if you have the right combination of guys and I’m happy to say that most of the time that was the case and then taking risks was just a pleasure. I mean, working with Bennink for example for so many years, on stage with him was always just such a risk, I could have killed him, and sometimes it was far cry from any kind of pleasure. Another way of taking risks is to go on stage with ten or eleven people with no score, with no discussion, no ideas, just you. That kind of risk is only possible if there’s a trust between everybody who is involved, then the music takes care of itself. So, both things, pleasure and risk, are in a way two sides of the same coin. (Peter Brötzmann, from We Thought We Could Change the World, Brötzmann and Rouy, 2014, quoted here)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Album Out!! "Cosmologies" Released

The "Cosmologies" vinyl album has finally been released! Kudos to Rodger for an amazing amount of effort, hard work, and creative sweat. As you can see, the cover and label are both gorgeous. Available exclusively at Bandcamp.

Playlist, Week of 2014-08-24

Playlist 2014-08-25:

*Stockhausen/Lachenmann: Musikfest Berlin 2008-09-17 (CDR) disc 1
*Muhal Richard Abrams/George Lewis/Roscoe Mitchell: 2003-09-20 Venice (CDR)
*Muhal Richard Abrams/George Lewis/Roscoe Mitchell: 2008-08-17 Antwerp (CDR)
*AMM: AMMMusic 1966
*AMM: Before Driving to the Chapel We Took Coffee with Rick and Jennifer Reed
*AMM: 1998-04-03 Padova, Italy (CDR)
*AMM: Tunes Without Measure or End
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Meeting
*Anthony Braxton  & the Wesleyan Tri-Centric Orchestra: 2011-04-25 Middletown, CT (CDR) (disc 1)
*Ian Carr with Nucleus: Solar Plexus
*Roscoe Mitchell/Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3
*Roscoe Mitchell & the Note Factory: Far Side
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-07-21 “Emoticondo Canoe” (wav)
*Evan Parker/Transatlantic Art Ensemble: Boustrophedon
*Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra: Other Strange Worlds
*Sun Ra Arkestra: 1978-11-27 Portland, OR (CDR)
*Syd Barrett: The Madcap Laughs
*Beach Boys: The Beach Boys (1985) (selections)
*Beatles: On Air: Live at the BBC Volume 2 (discs 1, 2)
*Circulatory System: Mosaics Within Mosaics
*Flaming Lips: The Terror
*Grateful Dead: Steppin' Out With the Grateful Dead (disc 4) "Dark Star" (1972-04-08 Wembley Pool)
*Grateful Dead: 1973-12-06 Cleveland (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Seun Kuti + Egypt 80: A Long Way to the Beginning
*Lassie: Lassie
*Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin (2014 remaster) (disc 2)
*Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II (2014 remaster) (disc 1)
*OOIOO: Gamel
*Super Furry Animals: Radiator
*Various artists: The History of Indian Film Music (disc 10)
*Wig Drop: Wig Drop

Reading List, Week of 2014-08-24

Reading List 2014-08-25:

*Gioia, Ted. History of Jazz (started)
*Mikics, David. Slow Reading in a Hurried Age (started)
*Shannon, Samantha. The Bone Season (started)
*Sun Ra Research. Issue 34 (July 2001) (started)
*Barth, John. The Tidewater Tales (reread/finished)
*Sun Ra Research. Issue 32 (Feb. 2001) (finished)
*Thomson, David. Moments That Made the Movies (finished)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bad Bunny Rules Us All

An older set of percussion toys I had forgotten about and accidentally sent up to my brother. Ruling over all: Bad Bunny!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Louis Armstrong

What do all the jazz greats have in common? They all try to find their own sound. This is what I fear the American jazz education system doesn't teach or encourage: trying to find your own sound.
I’m still a pretty unconventional saxophone player but my early influences or the people I liked when I was younger were Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, Don Byas, not that I tried sounding like them but their message is much clearer to me now than it was back then. Which means try to find your own sound and way of phrasing, I do that much more consciously now than I did back then. (Peter Brötzmann, from We Thought We Could Change the World, Brötzmann and Rouy, 2014, quoted here)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In the studio with Scott Brookman

Playing on some Scott Brookman tracks at The Shop, in Manchester, on August 9. Great, challenging fun. Thanks for the opportunity, Scott!

Playlist, Week of 2014-08-17

The AMM splurge continues. God, this music is great. My Roscoe Mitchell marathon continues as well, even though it's not as chronological as it could be. Killer stuff.

Playlist 2014-08-18:

*AMM: AMMMusic 1966
*AMM: Laminal (disc 3)
*AMM: 1994-05-16 Bielefeld, Germany (CDR)
*AMM: From a Strange Place
*Pete Christlieb/Warne Marsh Quintet: Apogee
*Duke Ellington: At the Cotton Club (disc 1)
*Brandon Evans: Elliptical Axis 4/7/10
*Joe Henderson: Inner Urge
*Charles Mingus: Mingus Dynasty
*Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: Live at “A Space” 1975
*Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound Ensemble: Live at the Knitting Factory
*Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory: 1999-06-11 Chicago (CDR) (disc 2)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-07-21 “Emoticondo Canoe” (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-08-11 “Mostly in E” (wav)
*Wayne Shorter: Moto Grosso Feio
*Stark Reality: Acting, Thinking, Feeling (disc 1)
*Sun Ra: Astro Black (2014 remaster) (side 1)
*B-52’s: Wild Planet
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Get Happy (2003 reissue, disc 1) (selections)
*Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Midnight Sun (selections)
*Grateful Dead: 1972-05-18 Munich (CDR) (selections)
*Lost: Lost Tapes 1965-1966
*OOIOO: Gamel
*Opeth: Ghost Reveries
*Various artists: The History of Indian Film Music (disc 9)
*Various artists: Incredibly Strange Music, Vol. I
*Wig Drop: Wig Drop

Reading List, Week of 2014-08-17

Reading List 2014-08-18:

*Sun Ra Research. Issue 32 (Feb. 2001) (started)
*Winters, Ben H. The Last Policeman (started/finished)
*Barth, John. The Tidewater Tales (reread/in progress)
*Thomson, David. Moments That Made the Movies (in progress)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

From an interview with Anthony Braxton by Nate Wooley:
When I was a young boy, I put on Stockhausen or Albert Ayler, and I said, “I hate this music. I hate it! But what is it? Who are these people and what the hell are they doing?” I don’t feel our young people get that feeling anymore, or when they think about playing jazz, they’re really thinking about idiomatic certainty. Jazz equals walking bass, drum set, chord changes, a particular kind of voicing. But it’s all a known space. If I knew what it was about then I wanted to go to something else, because I came to see that music wasn’t about just style. What attracted me to the discipline of music was this component that I couldn’t understand, but I could sense, in every kind of music. It helped me to see how little I knew about music. It also helped me to learn humility, because whatever you can do there’s always someone who can do it better. There’s always someone in a different idiom who can do something that pushes my buttons and makes me want to work harder because I’ve been inspired.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Other, Better World
...the dream-like qualities of this music--its sometimes weird and unpredictable shapes, its ability to twist the mind and the ear to new anticipations--are like windows on a world in which one would rather live. (Edwin Prévost, No Sound Is Innocent, p. 122)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wig Drop

So now this is dropped on us... Wig Drop.

Wig Drop cover art

Jefferson Pilot + Tex Goldstein = Wig Drop.

This music is swampy and swarthy. Lo, lo, lo-fi, high, high, high-intensity. Sharp attitude like a bentback big toe hangnail, struggling with the moist sock lint through the infested hole of yesteryear. Strange, strained, immediate.

From the website:
Who is Wig Drop? We don't know, but a batch of their songs have been unearthed near the Passaic River off of Rt. 20 in Paterson, N.J. 
Literally- they were pulled from the mud and hosed down in some guy's backyard. Like otherworldly field recordings, Wig Drop's songs conjure a strange world where spray adhesives, diapers, UFOs, old discounts, sleepovers and sacred love all vie for the listener's attention. Like a weed between the crack, Wig Drop grows wild and is hard to put down.
Check it out.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Playlist, Week of 2014-08-10

Playlist 2014-08-11:

*AMM: 1990-03-31 Zurich (CDR)
*AMM: 1991-12-15 London (CDR)
*Paul Bley: Barrage
*Anthony Braxton  & the Wesleyan Tri-Centric Orchestra: 2011-04-25 Middletown, CT (CDR) disc 1
*Brandon Evans: Solo Saxophone (Brussels) 1999 “February 13th, 1999 (C-Melody)”
*Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea
*Coleman Hawkins: Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (disc 3)
*Joe Henderson: Inner Urge
*Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory: Nine To Get Ready
*Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory: 1999-06-11 Chicago (CDR) (disc 1)
*Roscoe Mitchell: Conversations II
*George Russell Sextet: 1964-07-03 Newport Jazz Festival
*Matthew Shipp Duo with Roscoe Mitchell: 2-Z
*Stark Reality: Acting, Thinking, Feeling (disc 2)
*Sun Ra Arkestra: 1978-11-24 University of California, Berkeley (aud) (CDR)
*Sun Ra Arkestra: 1978-11-24 University of California, Berkeley (FM) (CDR)
*McCoy Tyner: Today and Tomorrow (selections)
*B-52’s: Wild Planet
*B-52’s: Cosmic Thing
*Scott Brookman (unreleased selections 2014)
*Chemical Brothers: Singles 93-03
*Circulatory System: Mosaics Within Mosaics
*Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young: CSNY 1974 (sampler CD)
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2014-06-13 (wav) (selections)
*Mars Volta: Frances the Mute
*Mr. Bungle: California
*OOIOO: Gamel
*UYA: 1989-08-29 Stupor (side B) (cassette>wav)
*Various artists: The Complete Stax-Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975 (selections)
*Various artists: The History of Indian Film Music (discs 7, 8 )
*Wig Drop: Wig Drop

Reading List, Week of 2014-08-10

Reading List 2014-08-11:

*King, Stephen. Mr. Mercedes (started/finished)
*Barth, John. The Tidewater Tales (reread/in progress)
*Thomson, David. Moments That Made the Movies (in progress)

I'm about halfway through rereading The Tidewater Tales, which longtime readers of my blog may recall is on my ostensible reading plan list. Yes, I am still thinking about my reading plan, and am slowly but surely sticking to parts of it. And I have to say, I'm glad I am, because Tidewater Tales is one of John Barth's most delightful novels. As I've written elsewhere, Barth's voice is a friendly one, and when he's spot-on, as he is here, there's no better story storyteller (and yes, that repetition is on purpose: Barth is a great storyteller of stories about stories, and stories of stories).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Playlist, Week of 2014-08-03

The Art Ensemble as a trio. Roscoe shines. And their percussion grooves were never recorded better. A worthy tribute.

Playlist 2014-08-04:

*Muhal Richard Abrams: The Visibility of Thought
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: Tribute to Lester
*Daniel Barbiero: Haiku 08 (wav)
*Anthony Braxton Large Ensemble: 2010-04-29 Wesleyan (CDR) (disc 2)
*Duke Ellington: The Private Collection, Vol. 8: Studio Sessions New York, Chicago 1965, 1966, 1971
*Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay
*Masters of Disorientation: 1990-02-25 Birmingham, Eng. (CDR) (disc 2)
*Charles Mingus: Mingus Dynasty (selections)
*Roscoe Mitchell New Chamber Ensemble: Pilgrimage
*Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory: 1997-06-16 Knitting Factory, NYC
*Roscoe Mitchell LRG Ensemble: 1998-04-27 NYC (CDR) (disc 2)
*Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris: Testament: A Conduction Collection "Conduction 41, New World, New World”
*Music Improvisation Company: Music Improvisation Company
*Soft Machine: 5
*Soft Machine: 6 (disc 2)
*Sun Ra: Explore the Cosmos (2014 remaster) (selections)
*Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra: Strange Strings (2014 remaster)
*Sun Ra: Discipline (cassette compilation)
*Various artists: Jazz Misc. “R-Coe” (cassette compilation)
*Boris with Michio Kurihara: Rainbow
*Eire Apparent: Eire Apparent
*Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Midnight Sun
*Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick
*Jethro Tull: A Passion Play
*Tasavallan Presidentti: Lambert Land (side 2)
*Traffic: Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (side 1)
*United States of America: The United States of America
*Various artists: Incredibly Strange Music, Vol. II

Reading List, Week of 2014-08-03

Reading List 2014-08-04:

*Barth, John. The Tidewater Tales (reread/started)
*Thomson, David. Moments That Made the Movies (started)
*Angel, Katherine. Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell  (started/finished)
*Gaiman, Neil, Andy Kubert, and Richard Isanove. Marvel 1602 (started/finished)
*Weir, Andy. The Martian (started/finished)
*Martin, George R.R. A Dance with Dragons (reread/finished)
*Thomas, Gordon. Los Manos de Jack Kirby (reread/finished)