Sunday, 26 December 2010

Giving it away.

This is really a short post to follow up a short discussion - had via the comments section - with Jacques Prevost, a Belgian music journalist (and all round philosopher) who has a very lively music blog Jazzques. Jacques and I passed back and forth question/comments in a previous posting which he then used as a short online interview. One thing that fascinated me is the idea of getting (some of) your music out to the public, to be heard as in the concert situation, or rehearsals. I like the idea that you get to hear what people are working on, live concert recordings and short work-in-progress snippets. I've come across a few musicians sites who work a little in the same way. It's great to be able to get to sample a little of their different projects, and they don't need to be in high quality wave files to be enjoyed. After all if you can't always make it to the concert - especially if it's 1000's of kilometres away!

A few places offering free music are/have been :

Cooper-Moore
Matt Otto - lessons, and free music!
Steve Coleman
NPR Music - Live at the Village Vanguard - You can download some of the most recent concerts.
Panopticon
Birmingham Jazz - Great place to download some of the interesting jazz circulating in the UK.

Smalls Jazz Club (you can only listen).


Although I've put Steve Coleman into this list I would like to point out that it's good news (for us) that you can listen to and download the music of Steve Coleman for free, it's also lucky for him that he's well known, played all around the world, made a reasonable living out of his music/playing and lastly that his reputation means that he can get concerts (and so sell, or sold, his recordings also) with no problem. Not something that lesser known European players can do so easily, if at all. When I see big name pop bands giving their music away and saying this is the thing to do, after already making millions out of their record/CD sales, it's really the dialogue of people who are no longer in touch with reality. This is a long discussion and has already been argued over by the likes of Lilly Allen and others, however when it comes to the jazz world I don't think that such large sales figures really become an issue.

As for more web-sites giving away free music I'll post more as I come across them. I won't be taking into account those people who give away 'one' track from their latest CD and the likes. 

There are also various blog sites that offer live concert recordings, these although not real 'freebies' are excellent ways to discover and hear groups who will never play in your neighbourhood. I hope that the musicians concerned don't mind, in earlier times these were known as bootlegs and record companies fought hard to get rid of or release better versions of these recordings. However, for jazz and improvised music they have become valuable sources of lost concerts and people that we never got a chance to hear live, and after all that's what music is about! You can check through my blog list where you can find some of these sites.

A final remark on why it's fun to give away (or make freely available) your music. Some music is just not easily sellable and if you're hoping to find concerts then forget it! The public is often hesitant to go to concerts where the musicians aren't known, or the music a bit different, one has to understand that many programmers are afraid (fear) to program music outside the norm. Cultural centers, festivals, jazz programming centers do not include more marginal types of music in their program. Some places are just down right rude and never even answer back ...... unless you add in that Charlie Parker is guesting! What we hear generally in festival programs is music that's easily digestible, or one could say 'not too challenging'. In addition it's maybe interesting for the public to understand that they are not always hearing music that musicians (would) choose to play! So, it seems to me that giving people a chance to hear your music for free, or at least the concerts, can only be a good thing, hopefully making people curious to come and see/hear your music live, where it should be heard. And one never knows maybe a programmer might just stumble across the recordings, and even be courageous enough to take a chance!

Postscript :

I thought I'd add in this poster from the Amougies festival in 1969. What's so interesting about this (for me) is the real cross section of music played here - Yes and Dave Burrell, Clifford Thornton and John Surman on the same day/bill, not a bad mixture. Of course it's wondering of the tracks a little when talking about giving away music, but it shows how at one time programming music could produce exciting results!

Click on the poster to get a larger view.
Interesting poster from the famous Amougies Festival 1969 on the border of Belgium.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

More news from 'The OPen Source'.



The OPen Source - Live at the Hot Club de Gand 
07/11/2010

Joe Higham - sax/clarinet, Augusto Pirodda - Piano
Hugo Antunez - bass, Antonio Pisano - Drums.

Here is the continuation of the OPen Source improvisation project. As I said in an earlier posting, it's interesting to hear how some of the work progresses when checking out musicians posts. Here I've decided to upload (via Rapishare) the first 'real' concert which took place at the Hot Club De Gand, a small club in Gent (Belgium) which hosts some interesting 'more open' types of music.  In the files that I've uploaded you'll find 4 tunes/improvisations : #1 and #2 (First set), #3 and #4 (Second set), in total about 2 hours of music. 

We (naturally) improvised all the music except for occasionally using some of Augusto's themes as starting points to create atmospheres or maybe even a tonal area. These themes were sometimes just played in the middle of an improvisation, and not always as opening themes (at the beginning of a piece), and it was up to the other players to decide whether to follow, or just carry on. This meant that the music  had when needed a possible 'crutch' that could help us refresh our ideas at any given moment. 

It's also (for me) interesting to be able to hear this music for a first time. One of the strange things with improvising everything is that you have very little reference as to how the music is sounding to the outside listener, or I should say 'the public'. When playing more conventional jazz theme based music, you at least have major guidelines such as the theme, the chords,  etc, by which you can at least judge (even if only on a moments thought) how well you played or followed those things : - 

- "Oh *$%+°°° I really made a mess of the theme" 
- "OOOOPPPPs, I missed the B section, etc". 

However in this type of music you just have to listen to the other musicians all the time, with no time left to asses how things are going. So, anyhow here's the music as it sounded on the night (anyone whose brave enough to download the music) and you can judge for yourselves how things turned out. If you wondering how the group sounds, check out a previous post with a rehearsal session here (or click work in progress in the labels section).

mp3 Zip Files @ Rapidshare (it's free, what can you loose?)
:::: First Set ::::
:::: Second Set ::::
Try the first set, and if you like it come back for the second set.

The photos are naturally not taken at the concert, but just a couple of snaps I took one day whilst rehearsing and having our usual philosophical discussions in one of our little work sessions, and a few pictures are always fun to look at on a blog..... don't you think? 

I hope you enjoy the music.

For all of those who are just curious I've posted the fourth improvisation of the evening here. It's 35 minutes long, so take some time out before pushing on play. Of course if you enjoy it try downloading a set!


Listen here to a set of the band - recorded @ The Hot Club de Gand.



* Rapidshare for those who don't know it is a file storage site, there are many, but this is the one I belong to. Unfortunately downloading files can take some time if you don't have an account - also depends on the time of day - however, if your interested in the music then just be patient.
** RAR files. You'll need a RAR converter to open these. You can find one on the web, there's plenty around that are free to download. You just need to drag and drop the files into the converter and press 'GO'. However, you'll need all three (3) files for the system to work!!!  

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Harry Miller - A Family Affair (and more).

I was listening to an excellent bootleg of Elton Dean's Ninesense recorded live at the 100 Club in London in 1979 and what an amazing experience it was, and still is. It's hard to imagine the energy of this band without having witnessed them live, and in that particular line-up. But for me the importance of hearing this band is the presence of Harry Miller and with him as always drummer Louis Moholo and pianist Keith Tippett (*). The music is intense, the most intense swing (free, and otherwise) you've ever heard, and I've heard - and even played with - some very intense rhythm sections, but this! Anyhow, the importance of this reminded me of my first experience and the discovery of Harry Miller way back in '77.

As an avid music fan (and amateur teenager guitarist) I'd started discovering the edges of jazz music due to the first time re-issue of the Blue Note catalogue on EMI. These albums had been mentioned in The Melody Maker and I'd been down to my local vinyl store to buy one or two of those which had been recommended in Melody Maker. I'd not heard any real jazz before but was interested due to a jazz encyclopaedia The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Jazz - (Brian Case) - which I'd been given. I'd also heard bits of jazz on the radio along with the likes of John Martyn and a few other 'jazzy' sounds, I was also about to go off to art college where I would discover the likes of Charlie Parker and Co. However I one day stumbled across a write up in Melody Maker of the new LP by a bass player called Harry Miller. Something about the review seemed very interesting, maybe the picture or the description of the music - I still have it, I'll dig out in the near future. It was also certainly VERY alternative musically, at least for someone from my age group, this made it more intriguing. I asked my brother if he could pick up a copy of this record the next time he was passing through London on the way back from university.

 Harry Miller's Isipingo - Family Affair 1977 (Ogun Records OG 310)

Not only was this my first Miller album but also my first OGUN record (Harry's own label). The feel of the record - which is pressed in very heavy vinyl - and the cover already made an impact, I was sort of hypnotised before even listening to the music inside. I was to be disappointed, however I didn't really know what to make of it, almost like my first discovery of King Crimson. The music pulsed rather than swung, as most jazz that I'd heard up until that point. The soloists played partly 'jazzy' licks and mostly shrieks and wails that at times were very intense. The piano player (Keith Tippett) didn't comp' politely but played ripples of sound - on a rather dry sounding upright - or at times played very short percussive stabs and one note lines. The drums and bass team of Harry and Louis Moholo were just something I'd never heard before in music, dense swing that made your hair stand up on your arms and neck and a fierce drive that was often unstoppable, or at least sounded that way. The tunes, only four on this album, were for me hard to get into, but the joyful sounds that came from the record made me listen and listen again. 

The 4 tunes : 
Side One : Family Affair, Touch Hungry. Side Two : Jumping and Eli's Song.  

The musicians : 
 Miller (bass), Marc Charig (trumpet), Malcolm Griffiths (trombone), Mike Osborne (alto), Keith Tippett (piano), Louis Moholo (drums).

The music, which I'm listening to as I write, moves through all areas, all of which you maybe call 'avant-garde/free bop', but still very melodic, if that makes sense. The first tune Family Affair starts off with a piano, bass and drum groove which is very singable. This is followed by glorious horn ensemble paying the main theme, the trombone, trumpet and intense alto (of Mike Osborne) give it a strangely big band sound, yet with the first solo by Malcolm Griffiths you realize that the music is not going to be a Count Basie record as he glides in playing nice lines that hint at dissonance, but not too much. Keith Tippett often playing piano that sounds sometimes from Steve Reich and sometimes like Debussy's Cathédrale Engloutie. But with Marc Charig's solo things start to really warm up, leading towards a lovely change from minor to major at the 6:08 minute mark. It's like the group is finally moving into 4th gear and seems an almost joyous moment in the solo, revelatory even. The final soloist, and my first introduction, is Mike Osborne, a very intense alto player who later on had to withdraw from music due to severe schizophrenia.

After this first track the whole thing takes off in many directions and in those days completely lost me. The tracks run into each other as it's all taken from a live concert recorded at the Battersea Arts Center, which means there's probably more recorded ..... but where? Touch Hungry features some glorious out playing from the horns and the music stops and starts very organically, but for me the thing that jumped out of this track is Keith Tippett's amazing piano solo, that somehow manages to defy description, due to it's many points of departure - swinging one note runs, large arppegiated chords played very fast, stabs and thumps. Finally when he's a t his most 'out' the horns seems to swagger back in and Keith comes back down to earth, and harmony, as if nothing could be more natural.

The highlight of the album is probably Jumping, a fast up tempo free-bop piece with a very intense solo from Mike Osborne, which has some almost chase like moments from Keith Tippett's piano which accompanies very tightly. The whole thing builds into a free for all over beautiful chordal shapes with Osborne leading the ensemble making the music sound a little like a Coltrane-esqe spiritual sound. Everyone - except Miller and Moholo - get to solo on this and the trombone builds strong free-bop lines which stay more towards the tonal area created by the theme, whereas Keith Tippett yet again takes his piano into various different orbits around the pulsing rhythm section. Finally it's left up to Marc Charig to introduce the final solo with the other horns coming in bit by bit. The final tune, which was the only one could easily relate to at the time, is Eli's Song which is lovely melody which then gives way to a sort of Seven For Lee ostinato, and gives  a kind of feature where Mike Osborne plays some serious Jackie McLean type alto.

After hearing this album I searched out some more of his LP's although to my mind he never got to the same heights musically as this album. However various live bootlegs do show that his live bands were always as exciting, and due to his early death in '83 in a car accident in Holland, where he was living at the time. I however am completely moved every time I hear one of the many bands he played in - too many to mention here - and especially with Louis Moholo as they were such a strong team. It's also a credit that someone took it upon themselves to record and release so much on the edge jazz at that period, the only other label in the UK being Incus records.

Here's the track Family Affair taken from a live recording (a little different, and much faster). Listen to the 'burning' rhythm section of Miller, Moholo and Tippett :



 You can find some of the other tunes from this record also posted on YouTube.


Footnote on Wiki entries. Sorry that these links are so poor, and really quite an insult considering the importance of these musicians. however, I thought to include these as it's often a quite useful way to give readers a idea of who these people are, and of course dig further into the various search engines, jazz books, Bootleg download sites, and of course second-hand CD shops. Harry Miller hardly has a mention on the web, and considering his input in the UK jazz scene? The same applies to the others, although due to Elton Dean's Soft Machine connection he at least seems to have some solid biographical information floating around, and also more re-released recordings.

* = The UK jazz magazine Jazzwise published an article recently about Louis Moholo. I was completely shocked to see that hardly any mention of Harry Miller occurred. It seems to me that these two men were almost a permanent team with unrelenting energy. If you check out these two names in the UK jazz scene of the 70s you'll notice that they made dozens of recording and thousands of gigs together. I wonder why such a short mention of Harry in that article as if he hadn't existed?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

John Carter

It's difficult to write about such a broad minded player such as John Carter, after all he seems to have slipped through the net when it comes to 'well known' musicians, yet somehow he seems to have been a pioneer all on his own, especially when talking about the clarinet. In fact if you've already clicked on the wiki link you'll have noticed that it's a very short entry.

Born in Fort Worth, the same town as Ornette Coleman we're always reminded, John Carter although starting his career with sax and clarinet later focused on one instrument (rather than be a jack of all trades?), and that instrument being the clarinet. Although saying that, his earlier recordings with Bobby Bradford were centered on the tenor/alto saxophones, and he was no slouch on those instruments for sure! I'm certainly no specialist on John Carter and all the music he recorded and played, but it is striking to hear his earlier music and realize how far ahead he was in terms of 'concepts'. His early records with Bobby Bradford are really quite stunning. They show how these two were really soooooo far ahead of everybody else at the time, when it comes to open improvisation, with melodic structure and flexible time.

The first three albums are almost the same, and one has to wonder what the recording circumstances were, after all two of the records/sessions seem to have been recorded almost simultaneously - Flight for Four (1st January '69) and West Coast Hot (on 3rd January '69). The third in the series is recorded a few days later - Seeking (16th January '69).

Seeking - New Art Ensemble (1969)

Nowadays this album is found under various titles, but both mention John Carter and Bobby Bradford - re-released several times and most recently on HatOlogy 620. This is a good a place to start as any when thinking about discovering Carter and his music. As already mentioned the first three records are very similar and have the same personnel. This record flies off the turntable/CD player straight away with a fast Ornette type of tune called 'In the Vinyard' with John Carter on tenor!! Yes, it's also one of the reasons I like this record, our clarinet man starts out on tenor sax, and maybe, although it's to late to ask, it would have been very interesting to ask Dewey Redman about Carter and the tenor sax, their sound and styles have much in common with Dewey Redman. The second track 'Karen on Monday' also holds an interesting surprise due to it's duo quality. It starts with a lovely (and lonely) duet with alto sax and double bass - playing a bass line which resembles 'Footprints' ! The music could almost come from some late night police series or film from the seventies. Interestingly they manage to keep this very subtle tune moving without ever getting into a tempo, quite remarkable really as you interest stays all the way through. Most of the tunes are what nowadays one would 'freebop' but often with very intricate lines played very precisely. I think I read somewhere that these albums had as much inventiveness as Ornette, but due to the fact that these guys didn't re-locate to NewYork the music didn't get so well heard. Interesting enough tunes such as 'The Village Dancers' and 'Sticks and Stones' could certainly come from an Ornette album. The main difference being the precision of the unison work and the clarinet of course.

 
In the Vinyard - from Seeking (1969)
 
It's here where John Carter went in another direction with the use of clarinet, which of course doesn't really have the same initial impact as sax, and probably is less attractive to the young kid wanting to copy his idol. I remember at college not being so interested in the clarinet, after all John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Cannonball Adderly all played sax - not forgetting the other more modern (sax) players that influenced me ... Branford Marsalis, Mike Osborne, Skidmore, Garbarek etc ... no clarinets here!

The album that really caught my attention with Carter was (of course) 'Castles of Ghana' a complete giant of an album, and part three of a trilogy mapping the development and history of the movement of peoples from Africa to America in the slave trade.

  Castles of Ghana - (1985)

In fact the Castles of Ghana (Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music # 2) and the other two Dauhwe, Dance of the Love Ghosts, Fields and Shadows on the Wall (Roots and Folklore Volumes #1 and #3, #4 and #5 - respectively), all use the compositional techniques that you hear on the early discs as mentioned above. He constantly writes melodies moving in and out of ensembles made up of duos, trios etc. However with an ensemble that is made up of John Carter – clarinet, vocals, Bobby Bradford – cornet, Baikida Carroll – trumpet, vocals, Benny Powell – trombone, Marty Ehrlich – bass clarinet, percussion, Terry Jenoure – violin, vocals, Richard Davis – bass, Andrew Cyrille – drums..... the palette of sounds is vast and always swinging! Examples of the music to be found here are a wonderful clarinet duo with Marty Ehrlich on Conversations, a wonderful fanfare like piece (opens the album) which is built around a drum ostinato. Interestingly John Carter uses his clarinet here in a very interesting way, creating bird like sounds - difficult to explain - throughout this piece 'Castles of Ghana' leaving other players to take solos. The drums often take a important role here, but often in an interestingly percussive way and much of the music has a dark brooding quality about it, which is not surprising when considering the context of the music - there is an especially haunting piece Theme of Desperation using two voices which is almost painful, yet quite serene (strangely).

In all of this one has to ask what John Carter has that has been so influential in the jazz world and especially the clarinet. How does he play even? John Carter's playing is modern, at a moment when many players moved away to the saxophone, being a more powerful instrument. Carter also seems to have combined various styles in a successful way, using some more avant garde techniques yet still remaining modern and lyrical. I can really recommend his solo recording 'John Carter: A Suite of Early American Folk Pieces for Clarinet (Moers 2086)' which after the initial opening piece, which sounds a little like 'Propulsion' from Jimmy Guiffre's Free Fall album, settles into a treat for solo clarinet fans, and quite easily accessible.

Finally it's interesting listening back to John Carter hearing his music which in the case of his last recording (1989) is over 20 years ago, yet his music and playing, approach and sound and compositions are modern even for today's standards. Unfortunately more attention is placed on other players of his generation, but interestingly enough modern giants such as Tim Berne, Gerry Hemingway and William Parker have all worked with and used John Carter as a sideman, showing the respect that he held in his lifetime. I also suspect that he was a very open minded person and probably someone who encouraged other musicians younger than himself. I'm tempted to send out a few email to these players to hear the real story behind the man who has been quietly been an important influence on our modern music scene. 

Postscript :

'I'm tempted to send out a few email to these players to hear the real story behind the man who has been quietly been an important influence on our modern music scene.' Well, I did send emails out to Tim Berne and Marty Ehrlich but it seems there's no reply as yet from either. I hoping to get some response which I was looking forward to posting here as I thought some inside stories would be interesting to read. I'll keep you posted if anything shows up.  

I should really do some more in-depth work on John Carter such transcribing some of his work. I've just started reading Steve Isoardi's wonderful book (The Dark Tree) on Horace Tapscott and the development of the Los Angeles avant-garde scene which is fascinating and it of course mentions John Carter. However one wonders at point someone may be tempted to write something on Carter as he seems to have been under documented. Here's a list of links that I've found on John Carter whilst browsing the net :

WFMU - Beware of the Blog
New York Times
Misterioso
LA Times
Bells
University of Colorado
If You Know What I'm Saying (Blog)
Night after Night (Blog)
Mark Weber (Jazz for Mostly)
Who Can Be Fresh (Blog)

I'll tidy these links up later and make them more user friendly (I'll also add more), but in the meanwhile it's cut and paste time!

Footnote :

Please also check out this post on Bobby Bradford, an equal partner to Carter on many recordings, and I imagine a close friend also.

A group which slightly reminds me of the early work of Carter and Bradford is the Empty Cage Quartet, check them out if you have time.

* = Here's a link to what seems to be a comprehensive discography for John Carter (thanks to whoever compiled it). You can get the complete discography of John Carter here. Unfortunately everything is not available, although I see Mosaic Records is bringing out a three CD box set of some of the early discs with a few unreleased items added in.

Friday, 5 November 2010

YOLK Records .... don't miss it #3.


Alban Darche Trio - Trickster (Yolk j2027)


line-Up :
Alban Darche : saxophone ténor
Frédéric Chiffoleau : contrebasse 
Emmanuel Birault : batterie 

Well, here's my last review from the YOLK catalogue and the special offer series that they're running until the end of 2010. If you look at the other Yolk postings you'll get a better idea of what's going on, vis a vis this excellent french label and their special offers that pop up on a regular basis.

Anyhow, let's get back to the real meat of what this posting is about, the Alban Darche Trio CD Trickster.  This is the first CD from the YOLK catalogue that I bought, actually I was looking for the live CD from Matthieu Donarier Trio (unavailable at this moment - no distributer), but due to the absence of this CD I opted for Alban Darche and Trickster, and a good choice it was.

Well, what do you get on this CD, some tricks, n'est pas! Yes, it seems (intentionally or not) much of this music is in fact a trick. Darche has overdubbed sax as backgrounds onto some of the tracks, and maybe the bass as well, but not in bad taste at all. The sound of the trio is very present (or up front one could say) on this CD, the only one I've heard from Alban Darche's Trio. As already mentioned, it's interesting to hear how the group has managed to smuggle in some overdubbed sax lines on various tunes to good effect, after all why not use the studio as a tool? But the main focus is on a very danceable sound and solid compositions, acctually due to the overdubbing some of the tracks sound a little like Polar Bear, in particular Novenus, with it's almost rock/dub beat.

Some favorites for me are Hybride with it's lovely lonely melody and overdubbed horns and a rolling bass rhythm leading to a joyous sax solo. Les Avatars sounds a little like Polar Bear but without the doubled saxes as does TOC with it's infectious beat and manipulated drum beats. In fact many of the tunes are like little pop melodies, easy to take in and fun to hear, Mammifère being another very easy melody to follow, but with blowing that is not your normal be-bop.

Alban Darche tries to bring a kind of post Mark Turner feel to the playing which is excellent even if not a complex harmonically. Unfortunately, we don't get to hear the other players 'solo', but one can hope that this will be developed in the next CD.  All in all the music is very listenable with good melodies on all the tracks; however (for me) it does lack the depth of Matthieu Donarier's trio outing, but due to the directness of the music and the compositions .... who cares. The music is joyous and free wheeling, although never free, and very much influenced (I feel) by the world of reggae music. The drum and bass work together exactly like a Jamaican rhythm section - there's even a few manipulated drum sounds to go with it.

1. Hybride 2. Les Avatars 3. Enckavé 4. Trickster 5. Mammifère 6. Novenus 7. Passin 'by III 8 La Tahgerine Sucrée 9. TOC  10. Cycle de Ziriab : Dabcse #1 11. Le Clown Triste 12. Misty 13. La Conjuration des Imbéciles. 

If you want to find somewhere to start - as I did - in the YOLK catalogue - then this is maybe your first choice?! 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

YOLK Records .... don't miss it #2.


Qüntêt : Vents Dominants (Box Set Yolk 2023)

Here's the next in the great series from Yolk Records special offer series. As I mentioned in my last Yolk post #1 the Yolk record label occasionally does promotions on their CDs which are well worthwhile following up. If you read this post before the end of December 2010 you still have a chance to pick up on the great offers at Yolk's site here. They offer one CD a week - from a list of 11 discs chosen from their catalogue - at 5€. That disc then moves into a new category and will be available at 8€ until the end of the year/offer, not bad considering the quality of the music on offer, and if your interesting in investigating the music from this catalogue. YOLK Records tells me that the offer is good for everyone, which seems to mean worldwide, so no excuses for not checking out the CDs on offer. Anyhow, the last post was on Matthieu Donarier's excellent trio CD Optic Topic, today a short note about the above box set ..... 2 CDs and a DVD from Qüntêt.

As I already mentioned above this is a box set, so what do you get in here? I'll give a short run down of the three items (see) below, but first a quick explanation of what this project seems to have been about. The liner notes explain that the group was asked to participate in Europajazz, which is probably one of these funded projects that we get over here in Europe to promote composers, young groups, amateur music etc. Anyhow, the group wrote music for two brass bands from the area known as Sarthe and if you buy the CDs you can see the whole list of musicians (totaling 80 odd player, it's two brass bands). The compositions were rehearsed and then performed at the Europajazz in Mans 2007, or is it 2005 .... it's not very clear in the liner notes. Consequently all of this has been recorded and placed in a box set along with an album from Qüntêt making up this little package.

CD #1 - Faux Semblant 

Qüntêt is Jean-Louis Pommier : trombone, Christophe Lavergne : drums etc, Patrick Charnois : baritone sax, Alban Darche : alto sax, Médéric Collignon : pocket trumpet, voice, bugle. 

This is the main disc in this package and is an album (as titled above) from the brass quintet Qüntêt. You can immediately understand why these guys were asked to participate in a brass band project as they are of course a small brass band! The music here written either by Jean-Louis Pommier or Alban Darche (*) is very varied in style, the quality of the writing excellent, and the arrangements really make the music hang together, never missing the sound of a traditional electric/acoustic bass. The compositions are in general quite funky, but with modern harmonies, and there are also other styles that appear  throughout such as Polkas and Tangos - Polka and Un Poco Tango, un Poco Paso, mucho Loco. What I enjoy in particular is the way that the compositions are really developed so that when a soloist comes to the fore it's really an extension of the piece, and not the often used ... theme, solo (250 choruses), and then a little theme again. Here we are taken on voyages through various atmospheres, such as in the title piece Faux Semblant and the second track Isasong, both with excellent soloing from Alban Darche (often featured, and deservedly so). There's some excellent 'almost dissonant' writing with simultaneous soloing on an interesting on De Noël A Pâques. It's also nice to hear how they have used the drum/soloist combination to great effect in several pieces Total Schwarz, a lovely gentle ballad featuring trombone, which uses sax/voice to great effect on the theme. And on Prolongement Bulgar the sax or trumpet (Médéric Collignon) battle with the drums to great effect, in the solo section. This is an excellent album with plenty of detail and will surely keep it's interest for many listens. You can hear some of the compositions here on their MySpace which will give you a better idea of the music.

CD #2 - Vents Dominants

On this CD we get the recordings from the Europajazz project featuring the group with the brass bands - as I mentioned above. The CD has six tracks on it, 1 to 3 - feature the Harmonie de Ballon and tracks 4 to 6 - Harmonie du Bailleul Villaines. The music is well written and certainly must of been much fun to play. The brass band doesn't solo that's left, when needed, to the group Qüntêt, but there isn't that much and when it does happen they're short solos (often together). To best appreciate the music you have a DVD of the brass band rehearsing and gradually getting ready for the main performance, which you see a few extracts of. What's nice about the compositions/arrangements is that the composers Pommier, Darche and Collignon, have combined interesting melodies and arrangements that are not too complicated, yet don't sound simplistic, giving the brass band(s) a really quite modern and light sound, which for the number of instruments is quite extraordinary. If you understand french then you'll already get a gist of the music from the titles such as - Suite Arabe, Oh la Villaines, Chemn faisant, etc. I can say that the quality means that there is plenty here to enjoy, even if not quite on the level of the first CD.

The DVD - #3 Harmonies (28 mins).

There is not much to explain here as everything just has to be seen! What you have here is a documentary of the rehearsals, preparation and concert from the Europajazz. There are a few interviews with some of the local musicians and of course with the group Qüntêt. It's nice to see how the brass band reacts to the first contact that they have with the quintets music and to see how they progress with time and rehearsal. You also get a true feeling of achievement when the group/brass band(s) get to play at the final big concert at Europajazz in Nant, as all the preparation comes to fruition and the excitement of playing before a real audience (and a paying one, which is rare for them - the local brass band) is a high point of there musical journey. I thoroughly watching this DVD, and although I don't think I'll be getting out of the box every week, it surely makes an interesting and fun addition to this box set, which I'm sure to watch from time to time.

Here's the first track from Faux Semblant (title track also), hope you enjoy it.




The next (and last) post from this YOLK series, will feature the CD Trickster from the Alban Darche Trio.





(*) = see next posting on YOLK for more on Alban Darche.  

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Triangulation II - Bert Turetzky, Vinny Golia & George Lewis


Triangulation II (Kadima Collective #30 - 2010)
Musicians : Bert Turetsky : Double Bass - George Lewis : Trombone - Vinny Golia : Woodwinds. 


1. Reconaissance 
2. Plenipotentairy Penache 
3. Ballade 
4. You Don't Say 
5. A Low Frequency Colloquy 
6. Diversion Ta Tre 
7. Another Heated Conversation 
8. Up Is Down

This is what my children are calling 'Ghost Music', which is in fact a great description for such a music as this. And when I say that my children gave it this title it's a big compliment, after all I notice that children (mine at least) often hear music in another way, giving names to sounds or melodies, with no prejudices about what they mean or might infer. So here we have it Triangulation II (#30) in the catalogue of Kadima Collective, a label run by Jean - Claude Jones.

The music here suits the ghost images very well as these improvisations are all based on atmosphere that could be described as cinematic - i.e. they would not be out of place on a film soundtrack. The reason for this, to my ears at least, is the interesting use of bass flute, bass saxophone and a few other 'extreme' register instruments by Vinny Golia. Due to imaginative use of wind instruments - clarinet, bass sax, flute, bass flute and others probably, the (un)usual trombone sounds of George Lewis which combines with the bass playing of Bert Turetzky, much of the music builds on atmosphere and rarely melodies, except for the last piece. Commenting on individual pieces is difficult and rarely do the titles of the tracks define the music - which is where Anthony Braxton's number system for titles springs to mind as a useful way of categorizing tunes/tracks without influencing the listener as to what they might hear.

However, if one had to describe the music at all I would say that almost all the pieces are ballads in feeling. Never is there any aggressive screeching and it's almost as if the musicians hoped to keep a calm reflective sound in the music, almost serene. Of course there are aggressive moments such as Diversion Ta Tre which use Lewis's singing harmonics combining with the bass later in the piece. The end section of A Low Frequency Colloquy also uses the bass saxophone to great effect. But the general direction of the music is towards a calm contemplative sound and much of that is due to the unusual choice and use of such instruments as the bass flute and bass sax. As already mentioned the last piece 'Up Is Down' has a quite amazing opening with flute, trombone and bowed bass creating an oriental atmosphere. The music gradually moves into much darker sounds only to return to the original motive at the end .... planned maybe?

All in all this is an album that reveals many details with listening. Whilst writing this review I would constantly hear sections passing which were beyond description when using words. George Lewis' unusual use of trombone sounds often become unidentifiable as such, and when combining with either the double bass of Turetzky and the wind instruments of Golia, create textures of real delicacy.  A real success, and one that grows with listening. What more can one ask?

YOLK Records .... don't miss it #1.

What is happening at YOLK Records is worth mentioning on this blog, and especially if you enjoy discovering new things and of course jazz. I hope that for those who read this blog they will be in time to catch the wonderful 'sale - special offer' that YOLK is doing at the moment (*).  I've already come across YOLK before, although I can't remember how, and have so already bought music from this label. But, just to highlight a couple of the CDs that they are selling off at 5€!, I thought to quickly write a short review of three of the titles that I've bought ... so far. I should also add that the offer is based on a 'featured' CD each week for 5€, all other CDs (in the promotion) are 8€ for the duration of the promotion YOLK POUSUIT SON OPA, whatever that means.

The three CDs that I've taken this time are as follows, and I can highly recommend each release.



 Matthieu Donarier Trio : Optic Topic (Yolk J2020).


The trio is :  Matthieu Donarier : saxophones & clarinets, Manu Codjia : guitar electric, Joe Quitzke : drums.


Quite a lovely album and one I've been waiting for for quite a few months. When I first looked at this album it was out of print, and so I put it on my mental waiting list. Luckily this came up on the special offer and so now I get to hear the whole thing. The music is beautifully textured and well composed, in fact there isn't really a bad composition on this CD, different atmospheres and driving beats, coupled with great dynamics make for constant exciting listening. I've heard quite a few bass-less trios in my time - Paul Motian being the example for all - I've even played in that format myself, and it's certainly hard to keep up the quality of playing when you have no bass to fill the bottom register. Here you get it all, great playing (from all) coupled with strong compositions.


La Chute - 2nd track from the CD.

Starting with Choses Révées (le Jour) which is an atmospheric beginning leads directly into an excellent groove piece called 'La Chute' featuring soprano sax. What's great is the mixture of intensive grooves and delicate melodies ex : Jamais Contente an almost dissonant angular melody, followed by a hard hitting guitar burn out, finally becoming a very 'ppp' rhythm that has a lovely breathy clarinet improvisation (worthy of Jimmy Giuffre) that unfolds over the guitar/drum ostinato.

In fact I can't recommend this album highly enough and is easily a good buy for anyone who enjoys the likes of Paul Motian or Trio AAB.

You can check out some of his (Donarier's) music on MySpace here.  

Tomorrow I'm writing about the Qüntêt box set ...... 2CDs and a DVD all for 5€? And lastly will be the CD Trickster from the Alban Darche Trio.





(*) = Not the first time they've done an interesting promotion, and surely not the last.
(**) = The offer finishes at the end of December 2010 .... so hurry!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Man with a Glass Nose - Kurt Schwitters.

Carrying on the work in progress theme that I've posted earlier (see links), I'm posting another bit of work in progress which I find interesting and fun, The Man with a Glass Nose.  The 'modern fairy tale' by Kurt Schwitters has come from Lucky Hans and other Merz Fairy Tales translated by Jack Zipes. My friend Irvine Peacock suggested that I may be interested to participate in the the project concerning the works of Schwitters that he any several other British artists are working on. 



After starting to work by myself on a sound collage (which still is a work in progress also), I decided that it may be interesting to work with another musician, or at least artist. I had been thinking of working using sound and electro-acoustics and so started to look around me for someone to collaborate with. It was at this moment that I came across Roald Baudoux, one of the professors of electro acoustic music and composition at Mons Conservatory (Belgium). We got together a few months ago and have since then been gradually working on various rough sketches for this project using improvised music, speech and electro-acoustics. 

I hope that it will be possible to develop this project even further and maybe include another musician or even a dancer, or actor. However, for the moment we are still meeting up from time to time and working on refining the basic project for a 'live presentation'.

Here is just one of our rehearsals - i.e. excuse the 'p' popping sounds every time I get too close to the microphone.


 Schwitters - The Man with the Glass Nose by joehigham

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Deep Tones for Peace - DVD/CD


Deep Tones for Peace CD/DVD release from the Kadima Collective

Deep Tones for Peace is a project from the Kadima Collective run by (set up?) by Jean Claude Jones a bass player who emigrated to Israel in 1983. The project features master bass players mostly from the world of modern bass players, some classical, others from the world of improvised music and jazz. The players on this CD/DVD release are : -

Jerusalem : Hama'abada Lab - Mark Dresser, Barre Phillips, JC Jones, Bert Turetzky, Irina-Kalina Goudeva, Chi-chi Nwanoku, Thierry Barbe, Michael Klinghoffer,

New York : Manhattan School of Music - Sarah Weaver (conducting), Trevor Dunn, Henry Grimes, Lindsey Horner, Dave Phillips, Rufus Reid.

As you can see the players are split into two teams, why? Well, this is a project with a difference, and has been set up as a call for peace via the world of music and especially as you can see bass players. The idea (basically) is that two groups of bass players, in different places, play pieces of music via internet link up. SLM - for Telematic Contrabass Ensemble (I guess that's the piece Dresser talks about at the start of the DVD) is built on the bass notes of D and G, (meant to be) the lowest tones in the universe, or that's what Mark Dresser tells us, hence the title. However, what we get is much more than this, and a must for all budding free form music fans and off course bass players with a sense of adventure. I'll break the review down into the two separate elements, although from what I understand the DVD is a documentary about the project, and the CD is the performance of SLM.

The DVD 
Deep Tones for Peace - a film by Christine Baudillon and Francois Lagarde (1h 30) :
This is really the most interesting thing to watch and listen to first. For someone like me - musician, but not a bass player - it really helps you understand what you're about to hear (in more detail) on the CD, although the DVD is NOT the music of the CD! However, there is added interest here with the inclusion of :

1) Dialog from JC Jones, who briefly describes to (maybe ?) a journalist, the idea behind this project.  
2) Mark Dresser getting his team ready for the final project performance, which is heard only in it's entirety on the CD.
3) The most interesting bit is a chance to get to see the musicians performing, solos, duets, trios and sections together, although I'm not sure where these fit into the SLM - for Telematic Contrabass Ensemble project. From what we see at the end of the DVD - announcements from a presenter at the concert you see being filmed - this was several days of performances, with SLM being another part. The individual performances are very interesting, and mostly very accessible. Interestingly enough Bert Turetzky uses a poem over his piece which comes across very nicely and of course keeps your attention. Barre Phillips turns up in several situations, solo, in duet with Dave Phillips (via internet link up), and an excellent duo performance with Turetzky. We get to see Mark Dresser performing a very intense solo piece/improvisation (?) which is quite striking due to his masterful playing. Other performances that stand out are Irina-Kalina Goudeva performing a piece combining voice (hers) and bass, Thierry Barbe a piece using pre-recorded sound and bass, and JC Jones comes up at several moments solo, in trio, and quartet, much like Mark Dresser, with very strong emotional playing, or improvisations. I imagine that we are witnessing the first day - of concerts - with duo, trio, quartet and solo performances, or that's how it comes across.


The CD (48mins) (*)
SLM - for Telematic Contrabass Ensemble :
It's very interesting after having listened to and watched the DVD concerning the making of the music and it's performance. The music on this disc is made up of one long piece SLM - for Telematic Contrabass Ensemble, although everyone gets a feature at some point ..... I imagine? It is one of the small weakness with this edition that there is no information on who's playing at what moment, although one could argue, who cares, it's the music that counts. If you buy the CD/DVD package you'll also get to see more information about SLM - composed by Dresser and Weaver. There's a lovely booklet that goes with the package explains that SLM is a piece made using different compositional systems, including Soundpainting. (**)


Having said this there are some lovely moments of tranquil music which come out of the often dense sound of 13 basses. At 18 minutes a very lovely bowing solo from one of the players - Barbe maybe - brings in a nice rhythmical section using harmonics and low tones. At 21 minutes a solo pizzicato ostinato section with strange chordal sounds shimmering ushers in another soloist. The closest it gets to mainstream jazz (even post Coltrane) is around 34 minutes with another funky ostinato (Rufus Reid?) accompanied by percussive tapping from the bows. All in all the music reminds me of watching the sea, constant movement such as the swells of waves, long moments of very powerful walls of sound which eventually give way to more delicate sections. At the end of the piece the music kind of hovers for the last few minutes and finally comes to rest as if some sort of long journey is over.


Over all it's a very satisfying listen, if you're into hearing basses en mass, and if you're just open minded. You'll have to give it many listens to really get to know it well as there is so much going on through this recording. Often it's difficult to settle down to this type of music with such an unusual combination, and even though the music is almost 'epic' I think that in the end it's quite accessible, especially with a DVD to get you into the general climate. All in all it's an interesting addition to the bass catalogue, and after all where else will you find 13 of the worlds top bass players on the same record?

If you're interested to get hold of a copy I suggest looking at their website Kadima Collective here as I'm not sure if this will be available via larger outlets.

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(*) I listened, whilst writing this review, on my computer AND when I placed the CD in my machine it came up as 'Interview with Keith Richards' !!!!!!! Unfortunately I can't tell you why, but if this happens, maybe you should let JC Jones know as iTunes could get this changed this way people know what they've really bought and are listening to.
(**) If you put Soundpainting into YouTube you'll find quite a few examples, which may help you to understand a little of how the system works 'practically'.

Monday, 20 September 2010

If you're a musician ..... weddings!

If you're a musician you'll laugh out loud at this one, I don't think I need to explain anything to you about this.
If you are either organizing or going to a wedding you may find this quite informative (!!!!). It's really frustrating playing this type of 'gig' and is actually very stressful due to the attitude of the people at the wedding (event) and of course the person in charge, who usually has no experience of music, weddings and just plain practical business. A friend of mine told me once how a woman came up to him at a wedding and asked them to play a certain tune, which they didn't know. When they explained this to the woman she just explained ;

"Oh, it's easy, just follow my feet!"

And stories such as this are legend among musicians, and don't all happen at weddings, some are stories from bars, events and other places. I remember having to play my saxophone wearing a kind of large condom with a flame on my head to advertise some sort of anniversary of a shopping center in Luxembourg, unfortunately I don't have any pictures. or of course the many amazing song requests received over the years.

Many musicians can tell you stories that will make you cry with laughter over this type of event. If you have any good ones, just let me know as I will be very happy to add them to this post.





You will find more of these here here and here ....... enjoy.

Friday, 10 September 2010

3 Mustapha 3

Just  a very short post to celebrate this ground braking musical band the 3 Mustapha 3. There is not much one can add to this post except to say that the 3 Mustapha 3 were of course well ahead of their time. I remember them being strong favorites of the alternative scene - post punk - with students, the unemployed, and anyone who enjoyed a bit of fun mixed with serious music. Of course what made the band so interesting was the Balkan music they used as source inspiration, along with oriental music, Indian, Japanese and other styles. Groups such as Pachora, The Paradox Trio, Balkan Beat Box etc didn't exist, and wouldn't exist until ten years later! The 3 Mustapha 3 were a truly genre breaking band, and had a lot of balls to be able to pull off such a stunt (making out that they were from somewhere in the Balkans .... as a joke of course), it also gave them a slightly mystical aura. The music sounds a little dated nowadays I suppose, but if I remember correctly from other peoples stories, the group was sublime in concert and didn't transpose well onto LP. However, I bumped into this video on YouTube and thought that it would be nice to place it up here for one and all to see or discover. Although it's not the band at their best it at least gives you a taste of their zany originality. 
 

 

I notice that some sessions were recorded for John Peels show (which I vaguely remember), so if anyone running across this post that has any live recordings of the band from this period ..... I'd be most interested to hear from you.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The music's coming back #2

Here's two albums that changed my view of music. The first is an album that I discovered (or remember) retrospectively, and the second is an interesting one as I bought and sold it almost immediately!

Nursery Cryme 1971 - although I first heard it in 1974.

When I was at school there were several different camps of music listeners, rock and roll (*) or progressive-rock - there were more things than that, but it sums up the basic listening camps. The rock and roll category listened to Hendrix, Free, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Groundhogs, Pink Fairies to name but a few. The intellectual prog rock crowd listened to Monty Python, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson, etc .... and Genesis. I should really add King Crimson's - Starless and Bible Black  to my list (  see later, and funny tale) due to the fact that I took some time to really fall under the spell of Crimson, but when I did. Anyhow, Nursery Cryme was album I heard around 1974 and somehow stayed with me until this day, yet I never owned a copy until a few weeks ago! Strangely enough I remember having this album recommended  to me by by a guy called Hans at my school. He had an excellent album collection, and I often popped by to borrow a few things. He was a few years above me and so had more sophisticated tastes ..... in comparison to my peers.

What struck me so recently about the music is the melodic complexity and tight playing of the band. Each song develops in a very natural way, keeping the listener engaged through the story (lyrics), which if I understand have often interesting hidden meanings (**). But the tunes themselves are all excellent from the opening Musical Box, which is one of the favorites (apparently) of the Genesis fans, all the way through to The Fountain of Salmacis, which somehow evokes King Crimson with the use of the mellotron which was apparently bought from the King Crimson crew. Peter Gabriel was a master of the  of the theatrical, spinning stories which mix Victoriana (such as the cover images at this time showed), Greek myths and 1970's imagery. The Musical Box, is a good example of how the band worked musically, moving between fine instrumental passages - combining Gabriel's flute, imaginative use of guitars, sometimes picked (a la classical), strummed or acoustic sounding - and the excellent use of dynamics. All this is being used to great effect whilst the story is being told by the vocals usually in sections, giving a pseudo classical form - i.e. sections that develop. Of course this method was not only used by Genesis, bands such as King Crimson and Yes among others also used this system of sections, something largely lacking in todays rock and pop music.

Starless and Bible Black - 1974.

King Crimson's Starless and Bible Black  is an excellent example of the two styles - long instrumentals and shorter songs. I remember this as my first introduction to KC, and far too advanced for my 13 year old ears at the time. I'd noticed this album in a local record shop 'Knights', where I wandered past every day to look through the LPs and see if something new took my fancy. This album was pinned up on the wall for show among the other new releases, and somehow it seemed intriguing and mysterious, although I didn't have a clue of what the music sounded like.  I finally bought the album on a whim and took it back to the school placed it on my turntable and blew my mind! That is to say, I didn't like it, it was very advanced for such a young listener as myself. I could relate to a couple of the songs - The Great Deceiver and The Night Watch and was also quite taken with a short track called The Mincer which had an interesting grungy feel at one point, plus a stop start thing with the drums and bass. But overall the two tracks on side 2 were just too much, and somehow I didn't see the point. The music was sophisticated and dense and didn't have recognizable guitar solos (aaahh), and I was listening (***) to more pop oriented music (everyday), so this music was difficult in comparison.

Anyhow, I sold the LP a couple of months later to someone in the school with more sophisticated tastes, yet the sound of the record stayed with me and I often thought about the music which I could hear in my mind. In between time my brother and I bought other Crimson albums which I grew to love. More recently I rediscovered the music in it's pure form on the Great Deceiver and Night Watch live CDs of these concerts. It was here that I realized that much of the music had been improvised and developed at a later stage (****).

(*) = My category due to the people I was hanging around with, although we were really just swapping LPs between us, so we heard everything. I remember hearing the likes of Gentle Giant and Kraftwerk (a great track called 'Ruckzuck') when they first appeared via an album called Suck it and See (a Vertigo Compilation) which we were all mad about.
(**) = Selling England By the Pound being a sly reference to Margaret Thatcher and her policies at that moment in time.
(***) = I was listening to the likes of Roxy Music, Free, Black Sabbath, The Faces/Rod Stewart, Slade, Ashton, Dyke and Gardener and other pop orientated music
(****) = It's interesting to realize how much of Crimson's work was in fact improvised, either completely or re-developed later as on the Starless and Red LPs. It seems that Teo Marcero was not the only one building collages out of live recorded improvisations, King Crimson used this technique on ; Larks Tongues in Aspic (the track of the same name Pt 1 on the album), on Starless and Bible Black - Trio and Fracture and on Red - Starless, just to name the few tracks that I remember. On the Night Watch live CD you'll be amazed to realize you're actually listening to the same tracks that are to be found on the studio albums as much of this material was cut a pasted in to various tracks!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Clarinets - Jimmy Guiffre

As I already mentioned in the 'pre-blog' talk, I'm not doing an in depth study of each clarinetist, or all of their albums, just some that I really liked and why. These are also just brief thoughts and reflections, which means if you're really intrigued then you should go out and look up these CDs/LPs. In some cases there is material laying around the net with live 'bootlegged' concerts, and I suggest that you also look these up as it's often very interesting stuff - not only for clarinetists - and is often material that has never been previously published, or edited in CD/LP form. BE CAREFUL not to download in print CDs as this is .........!


Jimmy Giuffre, my first choice of someone to write about when talking about clarinetists. I think that along with Artie Shaw, Jimmy Giuffre is the clarinetist that inspired me to take the clarinet more seriously. Although Chris Speed and Don Byron (as already mentioned) were clarinetists that made me aware of the instrument and it's possibilities (away from more traditional roles), it was Giuffre who somehow looms above all modern jazz clarinetists as a role model of modernity. I suspect that Tony Scott might be another of these icons. But what makes Giuffre so interesting was his move towards American folk music and his ability to effectively integrate this into an original jazz form. And more importantly his developments in third stream writing, leading eventually to the great trio with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, that combined all of these elements (including) - atonality, free improvisation, folk melody, jazz harmony, free flowing time/pulse, etc. Along with this Jimmy Giuffre also possessed good technique, intonation and a beautiful round (and slight breathy) sound on his instrument. Interestingly enough he never moved (not that I know) onto the bass clarinet, although as followers of Giuffre will already know he also played earlier in his career tenor and baritone sax, and later on soprano sax also.

Here's a few remarks (*) on a couple of the albums that have influenced me.



The Jimmy Giuffre 3 (1957)
What a great record with the well known tune The Train and the River used in the film Jazz on a Summers Day. What I so enjoy about this record is the approach to combining jazz and Americana folk music together. I'm sure that Bill Frisell must have listened to this record many times, and especially due to the presence of Jim Hall. The titles themselves - The Crawdad Suite, The Green Country (New England Mood), Voodoo - evoke America in the same way that Bill Frisell's music does (especially the album This Land). At this stage Jimmy still plays Tenor, Baritone and Clarinet. I particularly like the piece called Two Kinds of Blues with the almost haunting clarinet melody which so lonesome in it's sound/melody. The trio at this stage was Jim Hall, Ralph Peña on bass and of course Jimmy as mentioned.




Piece for Clarinet and Strings/Mobiles (1959).
A strange record that was made for Verve Records in 1959. I discovered this album as part of the Lee Konitz meets Jimmy Giuffre CD reissue. It was a very nice surprise to hear Giuffre in this context with a string orchestra - of high quality. The pretext for the two compositions is quite simple Piece for Clarinet and Strings is written and Mobiles is improvised. In both cases they use the Südwestfunk Orchestra of Baden-Baden, conducted by Wolfram Röhrig, as you can imagine the recording is excellent and the music really benefits from this. The first piece is reminiscent of Bartok meets Copland and as the liner notes say ....... ' the third movement swings in a way Copland couldn't manage. The music is of course what nowadays is called Third Stream.




Free Fall (1962)
This is the third and final (official) album in the infamous trio's discography - Paul Bley/piano, Steve Swallow/bass and JG/ clarinet (only). I say infamous to seperate them from the other trio formations of 1) Jim Hall/guitar, Ralph Peña/bass, JG/clarinet etc & 2) Jim Hall/guitar, Bob Brookmeyer/trombone & JG/clarinet etc. This is 'the' album that as one critic said (something like) 'absolutely nobody was ready for this', and it's kind of true. What's also wonderful is the blend of solo clarinet pieces, trios and duos so that the album has a t times an almost suite like feeling. Steve Swallow explained how they would rehearse ( playing and also discussing) regularly trying out ways of playing, asking questions such as - "how can we play at a given rate of speed, but without a fixed tempo? For how long is it possible to improvise without reference to a tonic pitch?". The whole album is way ahead of it's time (1962) and was the end of the trio ...... again Steve Swallow said "we disbanded on the night we each made 35 cents". The music was far too advanced for that time and even now it still sounds modern.


Other albums that I also love being :
The Easy Way - Jimmy Giuffre 3 ("The three of us fell into a oneness which allowed the music to roll out naturally." Jimmy Giuffre wrote of this 1959 session with Ray Brown on bass!).
Fusion and Thesis - Jimmy Giuffre Trio (nowadays reissued on a double ECM CD, but originally two albums 1961).
Emphasis Stuttgart and Flight Bremen (Wonderful live recordings of the concert tour of the 'infamous' trios tour of Europe in 1961, nowadays a double CD on HatHut).


* = These little articles are not about the complete discography just the ones that have influenced me. Secondly, I don't posses all the CDs/LPs of these artists and being very lazy probably wouldn't have time to write about all the recordings.
** Intersting article on All About Jazz here.
*** A really nice appreciation - blog posting - about discovering Jimmy Giuffre here.

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