I’ve reviewed some great records for KFJC in the past two months. I write these reviews and read them in a booming voice at the staff meeting, I sit at the top of the lecture hall and let ‘er rip. Most have youTube links so you can check out the tunes yourself. It’s a far-reaching mix of jazz, psych, and classical. Dig it.
Jean Guerin, Tacet (Souffle Continu)
Originally released in 1971 on French cult label Futura. The most expensive production they ever did, and worth every penny. This is Musique concréte psychedelic jazz. It has something for everyone! Reissued by Parisian label & record shop Souffle Continu (“Continuous Breath”). Turns out Futura owner Gerard Terronés is a close neighbor of the shop.
Squeaky brass splatters and furtive bass, high-pitch solfege singing, saxophone variations inter-cut with vintage electronics, analog drum machines, patch-bay air sirens, burbling cauldrons, and something called “water trumpet”. Primal, futuristic, dystopian.
Glenn Stallcop, Myths and Fairy Tales (Self-released)
Solo piano improvisations in the western classical tradition. Pensive, expressive, melancholy. Recalls Debussy. Recorded in a cabin in Arizona. Glenn Stallcop plays double bass in the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
David S. Ware / Apogee, Birth of A Being (Aum Fidelity)
Capably remastered from 8-track tapes, the first recordings of David S. Ware, with his Berklee School trio, Apogee: Cooper-Moore on piano and Marc Edwards on drums.
CD1 was originally pressed by hat Hut in 1979, and is long out of print. CD2 features material from the same sessions that has never before been issued. Ware had been a part of the Cecil Taylor Unit for a few years and the influence is apparent.
Different versions of “Prayer” open both CDs and both are compelling in their own ways. CD1 is a collective blowing session, while CD2 contains a more varied mix of material and arrangement. “Ashimba” (#4, CD2) features a solo recording of Cooper-Moore playing a xylophone of his own design and construction. “Solo” (#5, CD2) is David alone and very powerful, a sweet interrogation.
Rob Mazurek / Galactic Star Orchestra, Galactic Parables Volume 1 (Cuneiform Records)
Sides A-C recorded live in Sardinia, broadcast on Italian radio. Sides D-F recorded live in Chicago in front of a hometown crowd.. Large ensemble improvising music like Sun Ra, with poet and electronics. The poet, Damon Locks is x-Trenchmouth with Fred Armisen.
A, B, & E are sidelongs, last track on C has a great cornet solo by Mazurek.
Lots of other Rob Mazurek and other Exploding Star Orchestra CDs in the Jazz library.
On the back of the release is a quote from the late Amiri Baraka upon hearing the Sardinian broadcast, here’s another: “A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be anyapprenticeship for freedom.”
Mimi Stillman and Charles Abramovic, Freedom (Innova Recordings)
Authoritarians fear abstraction because, who knows, it might be about them.
Two commissions and one long-lost recovery. Performed by the Dolce Suono Ensemble of Mimi Stillman on flute and Charles Abramovic at the piano.
Tracks 1-5 Composed by Miecyzslaw (me-etch-eh-SLAV) Weinberg in 1947. Weinberg was a close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich, and along with Prokofiev, they were persecuted in Stalin’s 1948 Anti-Formalist purges. Recovered from the St. Petersburg library, this is the premiere recording.
Tracks 6-9 commissioned from Russian-Jewish composer David Finko in 2012, reflections on narrowly escaping the Nazis, and later persecution by the Soviets. The flute is earsplitting at times.
Tracks 10-12 add Yumi Kendall’s cello for Remembering Neda, commissioned from Richard Danielpour in 2009. Composed during the Iran protests, in memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, murdered protesting in Tehran.
Powerful meditations on upheaval and freedom, top quality performances. Stillman in particular is probably the most celebrated flutist of her generation, having received awards from Chamber Music America, Young Concert Artists, and many others.
Billy Harper Quintet, Live on Tour In The Far East, Vol. 2 (SteepleChase)
Texas Tenor Billy Harper on tour with his quintet in Taiwan. The first track is Priestess, Harper’s most famous composition. The next tune is also by Harper, and he is very energized on the horn. The first two tracks are 17 and 25 minutes, great for the bottom of the hour. He solos first on both tracks, until trumpeter Eddie Henderson takes over at about the ten- or 11-minute mark. The band displays impressive command of the material, fluidly changing arrangements to evoke different moods. The album was remixed and mastered by Danish jazz god Nils Winther, and it sounds great.
That’s all for now. Until next time!