Saturday, February 19, 2011

Don Cherry Quintets - Copenhagen 1963 - Hilversum 1966 (FreeFactory, 2010)

Another gorgeous Free Factory re-issue, from last years' ending. Five tracks, three from a 1963 Copenhagen concert, just few days after the quintet recorded Niel Holt's Future One soundtrack. Consequences was taken from that lp, and along with the opening Coleman's Emotions, sounds like Archie Shepp's Fire Music: hot rhythms, breathtaking horn blows, confrontational attitude: October Revolution in music. Time's up also for a pianoless, but touching, Monk's Mood. This show was broadcasted by Danish Radiohusets, and it seems that those three tracks would be all that remains.

Last couple of titles comes before Cherry recorded his Symphony for Improvisers and after trumpeter, with saxophonist Gato Barbieri, released Togetherness. Long Suite presents material from Complete Communion (recorded five months before), as long as a nervous rendition of Afro-Blue, which is very far from Coltrane's majesty, and Golson's I remember Clifford. Five players involved in this Hilversum sessions never recorded together again: Don will meet 'Leandro' on Le Depart (soundtrack for beautiful Jerzy Skolimowski movie), Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra and Gaslini's Nuovi Sentimenti; pianist/vibist Carl Berger and drummer Aldo Romano would be present on Togheterness sessions, but these 30 minutes of music are the only bassist Bo Stief took part in trumpeter discography. Sound quality's quite good, not excellent, but a couple of few seconds noise intrusions wouldn't spoil listener's enjoyment.

Tracklist: 01. Emotions; 02. Monk's Mood; 03. Consequences; 04. Exodus; 05. Suite (For the Children / Afro Blue / I Remember Clifford).

Personnel: Don Cherry (trumpet) with: John Tchicai (alto), Archie Shepp (tenor), Don Moore (bass), J. C. Moses (drums) - 01/03; Gato Barbieri (tenor), Karl Berger (vibes, piano), Bo Stief (bass), Aldo Romano (drums) - 05/06.

Friday, February 18, 2011

John Coltrane - At Temple University 1966 (FreeFactory, 2010)

This is probably the best recorded late Coltrane performance ever issued. Not as subversively noisy and harshly unconventional even for Trane standards of that time, as his Olatunji Concert (officially published in 2000 by Impulse!), this 1966 live exhibition of his last quartet gifts fans all over the world with one of the most beautiful renditions of  both Naima and Leo. Naima is here more organic than on Live at the Village Vanguard Again!, where piano and horns were less focused into a continuum; Leo (the studio version, a sax/drums duet, was published as a bonus on Interstellar Space cd reissue) presents Jimmy Garrison bass and Alice Coltrane piano on the very background, due to powerful argumenting of two saxophones and drums. Arcoed bass gives this rendition an ineffable sense of melancholy, but it's up to Crescent, a beautiful 1964 composition from the same titled record, to testify the state of Trane's mastery and even difficulties in developing further his style and language.

As Ravi Shankar states, in his liner notes, John Coltrane was looking (as ever) for something different. Indian sitar master points out at inner peace, at the pain of living he felt in crossing many jazz music of that time (and after all, Trane himself was looking for yoga meditation and Shri Ramakrishna teachings and relating his music to his inner struggling); but as far as this music from Temple University, what we hear it's a continuous, firm fire coming out of an injure that has already found a forged shape of expression. A record to listen to carefully, relating to the way Trane tries to cope with his musical architecture, always expanding it, whereas Pharoah Sanders gives shape to multiphonics and screaming lines that are as assertive as full of awareness. Alice Coltrane plays piano as harp, interlacing beautiful textures with Rashied Ali's wide open palette of percussions.

Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor sax), Pharoah Sanders (tenor sax), Alice Coltrane (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Rashied Ali (drums)

Tracks: Naima (16.47) - Crescent (26:15) - Leo (20.43)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anthony Braxton - 3 Compositions of New Jazz (Delmark, 1968)

Stunning Braxton's debut record as a leader is one of the milestones in defining and developing avant-garde AACM language and aesthetics, like its predecessor, 'Muhal' Richard Abrams' Levels and Degrees of Light, and second Braxton double For Alto. Along with Roscoe Mitchell's Sound, these albums signed an era with their intense expanding improvisation's palette and exploring new compositional territories, related to textures of sound and individual expression.

Multi-instrumentalism, the use of symbolic notation systems so to give improvisation and composition equal stress and new shapes, the relevance given to sound itself and its modulation along with silence, little instruments (bells, whistles, bottles), these seminal performances will influence improvised music for more than 30 years, and their inputs will give shape to a wider range of electroacoustic styles that will go beyond jazz. After all, Braxton's music is wide aware of avant-garde proper language: his interest in Cage's and Stockhausen's music will be developed in his parterships with the likes of Alvin Curran, Richard Teitelbaum and Wolf Eyes. Leroy Jenkins and Leo Smith have developed, spannig their careers, the intuitions this record witnesses, related to a new way of exploring their musical heritage (blues, r'n'b, gospel, above all). Muhal Richard Abrams is perfectly at ease with his debussian / impressionistic style, here at his rough and pointillistic, both energic and abstract peak. 

Personnel: Anthony Braxton (alto & soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, musette, accordian, bells, snare drum, mixer); Leroy Jenkins (violin, viola, harmonica, bass drum, recorder, cymbals, slide whistle); Leo Smith (trumpet mellophone, xylophone, bottles, kazoo); Muhal Richard Abrams (piano, cello, alto clarinet).

Tracks: 1. (840m) -Realize-44M-44M, 2. N-M488-44M-Z, 3. The Bell

Monday, February 14, 2011

AIR - Air Raid (Whynot, 2010)

Last year was a breakthrough in Threadgill's long career: Mosaic and Soul Note / Black Saint reissues, PI new album, a couple of complete retrospectives published on Italian magazines (Blow Up and Jazz.It), not to mention The Wire. As far as reissues of his first trio, the one with Steve McCall and Fred Hopkins, Air Raid is probably his finest. Originally recorded in 1976, following previous year's Air Song, the album presents compositions in which players are allowed to take full control over interaction dynamics without backdropping any lead musician. Air Raid opens with Threadgill on chinese musette and alto offering a perfect essay in trio's art: suspension and strain (arco's vamping and droning doubled with exotic horns) rapidly reach their peak with alto/bass/drums nervous exchanges and then unleash the tension in sound/silence articulations. Fred Hopkins' harmonizations on Midnight Sun (beautifully lyrical and melancholic) reminds of Charlie Haden work with Ornette Coleman on pieces like Broken Shadows: both were opening tones, giving them an anchorage, offering a balance and broadening space in front of horn's full blown. Release is the lenghtiest composition of the record. Threadgill plays flute and hubkaphone, a self-built instrument, gamelan-like, made by putting together cars hubcaps. In Through a Keyhole Darkly plucked and bowed arco and brashes give a quiet setting for tenor balladry, givind the record a nocturne ending.

Henry Threadgill - tenor, baritone and alto saxophones, flute, hubkaphone; Fred Hopkins - bass; Steve McCall - percussion

Tracklist: 01. Air Raid - 02. Midnight Sun - 03. Release  - 04. Through a Keyhole Darkly