Monday, January 24, 2011

Tribute To Albert Ayler - Live at The Dynamo

(Futura Marge, 2009)

Just read the first time about this record on JazzMagazine (a beautiful issue, with a long, relaxed interview with Cecil Taylor) a year and a half ago. It was a tiepid Sunday morning, Hamid Drake and his Bindu Project would have enlightened the end of the week with a gorgeous concert in Milano ... reggaeology, baby, that's the matter!

Didn't seek for that record, because of many others, but last Saturday finally I got it. I'd really put my hand on fire for those guys, since Roy Campbell played on Spiritual Unity group, with Marc Ribot, Henry Grimes and Chad Taylor, and, finally, because Joe McPhee played with Don Ayler, Albert's brother and you can really hear the Holy Ghost coming out of his mouth right into his tenor saxophone. Wiliam Parker is on bass (yet involved in Peter Broetzmann's tribute to Ayler, Die Like A Dog). Drummer is Warren Smith, member of Max Roach's M'Boom, contributor to Tony William's Lifetime, Julius Hemphill, Muhal Richard Abrams and many others.

Music is the Healing Force of the Universe, wrote Albert Ayler. The lyrics are played without sounds, since Ayler was an inspired poet and his latest records, often underrated because he was bringing his vision back to popular roots (r'n'b, funky) so that lots of people at the time wasn't acknowledging him and his pals as true innovators. But is' a matter of fact that records like New Grass, though sinked into a less improvisational environment, are as good and genuine as their inspired author. 

But Ayler music is related to Truth is Marching In, so in this record there are a couple of pieces directly related to his ethics: Mantu, a tribute to Miriam Makeba (flamboiantly relaxed, groovy and positive), and Obama's Victory Shout, that fades directly into one of Ayler's anthems. Anthemic Prophet John, written by Ayler brother and dedicated to John Coltrane (the Father of free spirit) is powerful as the version I heard on Revenant's Holy Ghost box, and then back again to Universal Indians, another Albert's last period tune.

Recorded during 2008's  Banlieues Bleues Festival, this CD is accompanied by a beautiful booklet with photos of the event and an interview with the musicians, conducted by Jazz Sociality class students taught by Alexandre Pierrepont at Science-Po (Paris), available in its entirety at

Personnel: Joe McPhee-tenor sax, pocket trumpet, voice; Roy Campbell-trumpet, pocket trumpet, bamboo flute, recorder, voice; William Parker-bass, voice; Warren Smith-voice, percussion, drums.

Track Listing: 1. Music Is The Healing Force Fo The Universe 6:31; 2. Muntu 15:19; 3. Obama Victory Shoutout 13:50; 4. DC 16:51; 5. Prophet John 15:05; 6. Universal Indians 6:40 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Listening [with] All Ears

All Ears Festival
Fabrikken, Vulkan, Maridalsveien 13
Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
January 13-16, 2011

Lasse Marhaug is the director of  All Ears Festival, devoted to both electronic and acoustic improvisation, and all their melting possibilities. A texture of coworkers, well known movers and new efforts to make the point on the state of sound: Kevin Drumm, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Peter Brotzmann, Zeena Parkins, Maja Ratkje and many others, beyond difference of ages, heritages, personalities. But the flyer has Joe McPhee on top, and his two sets are remarkables as the musician. But, a little order.

(Writing and photos: Gian Paolo Galasi - Get more on My Flickr!)

January 13

Terje Isungset plays tenor and african horns, Karl Seglem (see photo) is on drums and self built percussions. Displaying wide, blue shades of free roots carried into fire abstractions and melancholy; duo Isglem wouldn’t give the first night a better introduction.

Their set is followed by Mat Maneri, playing his amplified viola with Hanna Gjermundrod and Andrea Neumann. The trio is devoted to melancholic, wrapped up and introverted minimal textures of analogic sounds, female voices and real time processing.

It’s Fred Lonberg-Holm (see below) time; his personality is very close with Zeena Parkins, following him with Maja SK Ratkje but in the afternoon playing solo  harp at NiMusikk, another local avant-garde Festival that housed also Choi Yoongjong trio: both plays electrified instruments, both are well conscious of the many languages that can be trained on their musical visions, even if their attitude is different.

Lonberg-Holm rendition as a soloist is raw, rough, raucous, nervous, the one you expect from a well accomplished partner-in-crime with the Brotzmann and Gustaffson aesthetics. Whereas Parkins afterlunch party was melancholically suspended between acoustic and electric layers, training hystorical avant-garde tricks and tips (acoustic drones, minimalistic structure, aleatoric gestures) into present. She played her second self-built harp and scratching glasses and at night, with Maja Ratkje plays urban, cathartic blues, rapid and firm; black mood, vocal rage, focused gestures.

January 14

Friday opens again with Maneri (photo on the left) and drummer Randy Peterson, giving us 28 minutes made of a dynamic, stormy, impressionistic impulse to reach the peak, then downwarding from stormy grooving into a silenced openness and then back again on top of the waves, doling out instinct and structure.

Christian Weber and Joke Lanz don’t spoil in comparison: acoustic bass and turntablism are equally involved in conversing, with no flattening on layering as many avant-indie coolsters; Lanz actually ferry hip hop heritage, even turned into white EU paranoia, directly into impro grammar, and successfully.

Ames Room are Jean Luc Guionnet (saxello), Clayton Thomas (bass), Will Guthrie (drums), playing a sort of electro-acustic-core that, even if to be more focused, it's an idea on how to take a bridge back to a basic, less abstract and more confrontational attitude.

Kevin Drumm, finally, breeds with his table top, distorted guitar a massive, immersive an dense soundscape.

January 15

Saturday night starts with digital glitches and voice. Harald Fetveit and Agnes Rvizdalek, a misty, blue mood rapidly followed by Nils Are Dronen, (photo on the left) Kjetil Moster, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Joke Lanz. Electrified sax, furious drums, wild turntablism and bass mastery. 

In the middle of this third night of music, Ryu Ankil, Choi Joongyong and Hong Chulki give a longer, stretched rendition of what they did the previous afternoon at NyMusikk: ticketing tocketing cd players, typewriter, turntables slashed by medicine blisters and metal plates. A very personal point on analog glitch music, industrial blazors and concrete sound, but the resemblances between the two sets makes me want them see play again other ideas in order to have a broader, wider knowledge on those Koreans experimental musicians. 

Lionel Marchetti and Jerome Noetinger are the finest industrial performers. They play right in the middle of Fabrikken, not on stage, as a matter of attitude. No protection, both for the musicians and the public, and so is their music. Take it or leave it, but no compromise.

Their set is followed by Joe McPee’s (photo) telepathic trio, with Randy Peterson and Oyvind Storesund on bass. McPhee unique style is made of circular breathing, diplophonies, scratches of silence turning into flurrying of sound and vice versa; stretching, repeated, varied splinters of melodies turned upside down. The blues and the abstract truth.

January 16

Joe plays also on Sunday in the afternoon, at Heine Onstad Kunstsenter, echoing also piano resonances with trumpet.

All Ears last resort is Peter Brotzmann and Masahiko Satoh, avant garde masters in their own full rights. First part of the concert is for tarogato and bass clarinet with piano. Far from fluxus-inspired assaults and japanimpro blasts (have you ever seen Koji Wakamatsu The Extasy Of The Angels? Music on the last scenes is from Yosuke Yamashita Trio, and Satoh was part of them). In fact, this is a micro-history lesson on how to play contemporary music: cluster piano notes, atonality, but also some abstract ragtime answering to Brotzmann rage and full control of dynamics and sound. But when german impro chairman takes tenor on, what we hear is pure magic: a wild, raucous, powerful and bitter blues that let the audience moved from the very bottom of their hearts. Something that at first sight could recall regret, but that actually is more related to living being devoted to creating and sharing beauty, and the efforts concerned in it. In fact, it’s the sense of being there, as Don Cherry, who was and old Brotzmann pal, pointed out with his Complete Communion: give you way, play truly yourself, and the unheard will happen. What we all, here, were looking for.

Next year Lasse Marhaug and AllEars will be probably focused on japan contemporary improvisation, so stay tuned with them and never miss the appointment in January 2012.

Joe McPhee at HOK, Jan 16, 2011

Peter Brotzmann and Masahiko Satoh at HOK, Jan 16, 2011

Platousgate 18
January 10-14, 2011

(Photos: Gian Paolo Galasi on Flickr!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Joelle Léandre – Nanni Balestrini @ Cox 18

(reportage trafelato + colpevole ritardo)

Arrivo di corsa sotto la pioggia e quasi alla fine della serata. Colpa delle abitudini milanesi, leggi 22.10 sul flyer e pensi, non prima delle 23, e invece; ma dal compilare due righe, in attesa di scrivere qualcosa sul lavoro di Balestrini come gli ho promesso, e sulle interviste alla Léandre che prossimamente verranno pubblicate in lingua inglese (da una casa editrice israeliana, se non ho capito male), come mi anticipa lei, non potevo esimermi. La mia prima volta al Cox, spazio di autogestione. Ogni luogo che produce cultura, (istituzioni comprese, e non si dica che è ideologia) dovrebbe essere luogo di soggettivà e militanza, cioè capace di operare scelte in campo artistico e di produrre l’inaudito, il nuovo, possibilmente a partire da un incontro. Non si dà miracolo, diceva Annah Arendt, cioè creazione, nella relazione oggettuale e nelle convenzioni.

Oui, j’aime ce désordre, ce riche désordre, ce chaos meme qui me donne du fil à retordre, des sons à malaxer, des cordes à tirailler. Il y a là un travail immense de liberté, donc de responsabilité. Vaste sujet! Quelle arrogance, n’est-ce pas?” (Joelle Léandre). Nanni e la sua compagna sono già sul palco, finiscono di recitare una poesia e scendono. Sale Joelle, introduce un suo arrangiamento di The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Spring di John Cage (e Joyce) per contrabbasso e voce; sale di nuovo l’uomo, che recita Tre Studi per un Autoritratto di Francis Bacon (non può essere un caso), mentre lei, la musicista, suona come ho sentito nei suoi dischi, ovvero splendidamente.

Descrivere la sua musica? Per favore, non scherziamo: ci pensa Gilles Deleuze, citato da Franck Médioni in un libro-intervista con la bassista (A Voix Basse, Editions MF, 2009), quello di cui vi rendo conto all’inizio di questo scritto. “Créer, c’est résister”. Con quella virgola in mezzo, quasi una invocazione. Non ho foto, nulla con me se non un baconiano ricordo di una serata passata troppo in fretta. Ah no, ho l’autografo della Léandre (“FOR G. PAOLO, PEACE + LOVE, JOELLE LEANDRE”, e un cuoricino) sul suo disco in duo con Steve Lacy (One More Time, Leo Records, 2005), che girava nel mio stereo, le due e cinquantuno di notte, mentre compilavo queste righe. E una promessa da mantenere a Balestrini.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Buon divertimento a chi resta, a presto buone notizie da Oslo.

"Per improvvisare conta non la padronanza tecnica, il sapersi condurre - la sovranità -, bensì il perdersi, il sapersi collocare in contesti e aree espressive poco familiari che impongono risposte nuove, aprendo al tempo stesso - inevitabilmente - la possibilità dello scacco (ancora l'ombra del fallimento)"

(Davide Sparti, "L'identità Incompiuta", Il Mulino, 2010)