March 23, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-03-21


* Venice Baroque Orchestra: Victoria Hall, Geneva 2008-02-28 (FM 2CDR)
* John Cage: Three Constructions (Knaack Percussion Ensemble, et al.) (Tomato CD)
* John Cage, et al.: Sala Verdi, Conservatorio di Milana 2007-09-28 (FM CDR)
* Morton Feldman: For Philip Guston (Blum/Vigeland/Williams) (d.1) (hat ART 4CD)
* Yusef Lateef: Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony (Atlantic LP)
* Marc Johnson: Shades of Jade (ECM CD)
* William Parker: Painter’s Spring (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Matthew Shipp Trio: Root of Things (Relative Pitch CD)
* Jemeel Moondoc: The Zookeeper’s House (Relative Pitch CD)
* Nate Wooley: Battle Pieces (Relative Pitch CD)
* Birgit Ulher & Leonel Kaplan: Stereo Trumpet (Relative Pitch CD)
* Slobber Pup: Black Aces (Rare Noise 24/96 FLAC)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Heeltop Home Studio 2014-12-29 (selections) (WAV)
* Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol.33: Oakland Coliseum Stadium 10/9-10/76 (GDP 4HDCD)
* Touch: Touch (Coliseum LP)
* Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left (Island/Universal LP)
* Nick Drake: Pink Moon (Island/Universal LP)
* Deep Purple: Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Thief (OST) (Elektra LP)
* Tangerine Dream: White Eagle (Virgin LP)
* Johannes Schmoelling: Wuivend Riet (Erdenklang LP)
* Ricked Wicky: I Sell The Circus (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Royal Trux: Hand Of Glory (Drag City LP)
* Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase (KScope 2LP/BD)
* Hot Chip: One Life Stand (Domino 2LP/CD) †
* Expo 70: July 18, 2004 (Sonic Meditations LP) †
* Expo 70: Where Does Your Mind Go? (Immune 2LP)
* Lower Dens: Nootropics (Ribbon Music 2-45RPM LP)

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Commentary:

Spring, continued!

March 15, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-03-14


* Cage: Complete Piano Music Vol.1: Prepared Piano 1940-1952 (Schleiermacher) (MDG 3CD)
* Sun Ra: Secrets Of The Sun (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Sun Ra: Discipline 27-II (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Sun Ra: The Soul Vibrations Of Man (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue (Columbia/Legacy SACD)
* Ornette Coleman: Virgin Beauty (Portrait LP)
* Lou Donaldson: Mr. Shing-A-Ling (Blue Note LP)
* Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harping (Cadet/Verve CD)
* Michael Mantler: Silence (Watt Works LP)
* Shakti: Shakti With John McLaughlin (Columbia LP)
* Free Flight: Soaring (Palo Alto LP)
* Susan Alcorn: And I Await The Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar (Olde English LP)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Heeltop Home Studio 2014-12-29 (FLAC) (†/‡)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Heeltop Home Studio 2014-12-30 (FLAC) (†/‡)
* Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical (Fly/Sire LP)
* D’Angelo & The Vanguard: Black Messiah (RCA 2LP)
* Steeleye Span: Below The Salt (Chrysalis LP)
* Gong: You (Virgin LP)
* Gong: Shamal (Virgin LP)
* Steve Hillage: Fish Rising (Virgin LP)
* Steve Hillage: L (Atlantic LP)
* Lindisfarne: Roll On, Ruby (Elektra LP)
* Lindisfarne: Sleepless Nights (Shanachie LP)
* Coven: Coven (MGM LP)
* Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase (KScope BD)
* Electric Wizard: Let Us Prey (Rise Above 2LP)
* Pelican: “The Cliff” (Southern Lord 12”)

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Commentary:

And now it's spring!

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In other exciting news: Sam Byrd and I will be performing live at Free Form Friday at The Black Box Theater in Centennial Park, Nashville on May 15th! Admission is FREE and we will be premiering our new, electrified space-rock material. Also, a new download-only album of recent recordings will be available soon on Bandcamp, so please stay tuned!

March 8, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-03-07


* Debussy/Ravel/Dutilleux: String Quartets (Juilliard) (Sony CD)
* Cage: Complete Piano Music Vol.7: Pieces 1933-1950 (Schleiermacher) (MDG CD)
* Cage: Complete Piano Music Vol.8: Hommage à Satie (Schleiermacher) (MDG CD)
* Sun Ra: Other Planes of There (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Sun Ra: The Magic City (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Sun Ra: Continuation (Saturn/Universal LP)
* Terje Rypdal / Miroslav Vitous / Jack DeJohnette  (ECM LP)
* Derek Bailey: Music And Dance (Revenant LP)
* Jack Wright & Ben Wright: As If Anything Could Be The Same (Relative Pitch CD)
* Joelle Leandre & Phillip Greenlief: That Overt Desire Of Object (Relative Pitch CD)
* Joelle Leandre & Jérôme Bourdellon: Evidence (Relative Pitch CD)
* Vinny Golia Quartet: Take Your Time (Relative Pitch CD)
* Vinny Golia & Urs Leimgruber: Empiricism in the West (Relative Pitch CD)
* FPR: All At Once (Relative Pitch CD)
* Stephen Gauci/Kirk Knuffke/Ken Filiano: Chasing Tales (Relative Pitch CD)
* Mary Halvorson: Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch CD)
* Susan Alcorn: Soledad (Relative Pitch CD)
* Rabih Abou-Khalil: Roots & Sprouts (MMP/Enja CD)
* Rabih Abou-Khalil: Morton’s Foot (Enja CD)
* Dawn of Midi: Dysnomia (Thirsty Ear CD)
* D’Angelo & The Vanguard: Black Messiah (RCA CD)
* Miguel: Kaleidoscope World (RCA CD)
* Shelby Lynne: Just A Little Lovin’ (Lost Highway/Analogue Productions LP)
* John Fahey: Let Go (Varrick LP)
* The Pentangle: Basket of Light (Reprise LP)
* Brian Keane: Snowfalls (Flying Fish LP)
* Grateful Dead: The Horizon, Rosemont, IL 1993-03-10 (SBD FLAC)
* Van Morrison: No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (Polydor CD)
* Fred Frith: Cheap At Half The Price (Ralph LP)
* Earth: Earth 2 : Special Low Frequency Version (Sub Pop 2LP)
* Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase (KScope MP3) †
* Expo 70: July 18, 2004 (Sonic Mediations LP)
* Expo 70: Where Does Your Mind Go? (Immune 2LP)

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Commentary:

It's kinda hard to believe, as I comfortably sit here this evening in a T-shirt, that we had yet another nasty storm this week, which dumped over five inches of ice and snow overnight on Wednesday. Of course, the experience wouldn't be complete with losing power for several hours as the temperatures dropped--why, oh, why do we not bury our power lines? And, once again, we were essentially trapped in the house for two days.

*SIGH* 

I tell you what: this winter thing is getting old. Heck, we are well into March--and that usually means daffodils and forsythia bushes are blooming away down here in Dixie. Hopefully, that was the last of it and spring is soon on its way.

OK. Enough bitching about the weather. See you next week.

March 1, 2015

Sun Ra Sunday


While I was record shopping in Birmingham, Alabama I made a point of driving out to the Elmwood Cemetery to visit Sun Ra's grave. The humble marker was not easy to find--even with a map!--but it was incredibly moving (if a little bit creepy) to be standing at the site of Sonny's earthly remains.

Someone had left behind a pair of joss sticks (which I was unable to get lit in the wind) and some plastic flowers atop a small pile of pinecones. I found a pinecone and put it on the pile and looked around, surrounded by miles and miles of dead bodies, their grey stone sentries looming across the landscape. I'm pretty sure this not where Sonny wanted to wind up.

I swept off the gravestone and paid my respects. I apologized for letting him down with the Sun Ra Sunday project--and, I swear, I could hear him laughing at me down there under the ground. Well, maybe I'll get back to it one of these days. Making this pilgrimage was inspiring--and there's not much time left for me on this planet!

In the meanwhile, check out Sam Byrd's excellent post over at World of Abstract Dreams for an excellent overview of the recent iTunes-only remasters (which I don't have). There's also another vinyl-only release out on Roaratorio, a previously unheard studio album from 1974 called, Sign of the Myth. You don't need me to tell you that it is essential listening; if you are reading this, you need it.

Sun Ra may be gone, but his music lives on.

February 28, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-02-28


* J.S. Bach: Motets (Collegium Vocale Gent/Herreweghe) (PHI CD)
* Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Op.4, etc. (Chicago/Barenboim) (Teldec CD)
* Messiaen: Éclairs sur l’Au-Delà (Orchestre de l’Opera Bastille/Chung) (DG CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Santa Cruz) 1993 (Hat ART 2CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Quartet/Quintet (NYC) 2011 (New Braxton House FLAC>CDR)
* Anthony Braxton: Trio (New Haven) 2013 (New Braxton House 4CD)
* Anthony Braxton Falling River Music Trio: University of Alabama 2015-02-23 (AUD WAV)
* Robin Kenyatta: Girl From Martinique (ECM LP)
* Jemeel Moondoc & Connie Crothers: Two (Relative Pitch CD)
* Andrew Raffo Dewar: Interactions Quartet (Rastascan CD)
* Lou Donaldson: A Different Scene (Cotillion LP)
* Donald Byrd: Black Byrd (Blue Note LP)
* Ofra Haza: Shaday (Sire LP)
* D’Angelo & The Vanguard: Black Messiah (RCA CD) †/‡
* Mandrill: Mandrill Is (Polydor LP)
* Grateful Dead: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA 1980-08-30 (selections) (SBD FLAC)
* Grateful Dead: Civic Center, Hartford, CT 1981-03-14 (selections) (AUD 3CDR)
* The Pentangle: Basket Of Light (Reprise LP)
* Matching Mole: Matching Mole’s Little Red Record (Columbia LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Atem (Relativity LP)
* Art Bears: Hopes And Fears (Re LP)
* Art Bears: Winter Songs (Re/Ralph LP)
* Fred Frith: Speechless (Ralph LP)
* Chris Cutler/Lindsay Cooper/Dagmar Krause/Zeena Parkins: News From Babel (Re 45-RPM LP)
* New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies (Factory/Rhino 2CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Lightbulb Sun (KScope CD/DVD)
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise 2-45RPM LP) †/‡
* Torche: Restarter (Relapse LP)
* Pelican: The Cliff (Southern Lord 12”)
* Pallbearer: Sorrow And Extinction (Profound Lore CD) †/‡

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Commentary:

I caught a break in the weather and drove down on Monday to catch the Anthony Braxton Falling River Trio at the University of Alabama Gallery at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in downtown Tuscaloosa—and it would actually turn out to be final concert of the weeklong residency.

Unlike the spacious Bama Theater or the University’s Moody Music Hall (the other venues where Braxton appeared), the performance space was quite intimate. Braxton’s Falling River Music scores were hanging on the walls along with artworks and installations created by students, which were, in turn, inspired by Braxton’s presence on campus. In other words, it was the perfect setting for the music. By the time they started, the place was packed—standing room only!

It was enthralling watching the musicians navigate their way through Braxton’s wildly variegated notational strategies, communicating their intentions to each other via furtive glances and cryptic sign languages. Having never seen him perform before, I was impressed not only with Braxton’s instrumental virtuosity (with which I was already familiar) but also with his gentle yet utterly commanding stage presence. This is his music and he is in total control—yet his innate generosity allows his collaborators ample freedom to express themselves fully—more fully, perhaps, than most so-called “free jazz” allows.

Taylor Ho Bynum (whose Sextet I got to see in New York way back in 2007) is nominally a cornetist, but deploys an array of brass instruments—including trombone—combined with all kinds of mutes (both conventional and unconventional) to exploit a wide range of timbres. Like Braxton, Bynum utilizes multi-instrumentalism to further expand the available range of expression, all of which was on display on Monday.

Kyoko Kitamura, whose astonishing vocal acrobatics were delivered with an almost unsettling calm, particularly blew me away. I’ll be honest: I have a hard time with vocals in a non-pop/rock setting and operatic warbling and swingy scat singing generally leaves me cold, no matter how much I might respect the technical abilities required. Kitamura, however, was completely riveting—and sometimes very funny, bringing out the humor and good-natured fun at the core of Braxton’s music. I have disparaged Braxton’s obsession with opera in the past (displaying my own biases in the process, of course), but I might just have to reconsider my stance after hearing Ms. Kitamura bring bits of the libretto to such vivid life.

Ingrid Laubrock was in the audience and it was great to chat with her. She was also nice enough to personally introduce me to Mr. Braxton. I was at first quite star-struck being in his presence but he was so kind and gracious, I was immediately put at ease. He seemed genuinely interested in the copy of Cosmologies I gave him and even made polite noises about making music together one day. Ha! Wouldn’t that be amazing? Mostly we talked about Don Elliott, who, I told him, gave me my first Anthony Braxton record back when I was a teenager. Of course, Braxton knew who Don was and told me he’d always wondered what happened to him. “Oh, Ingrid,” he said. “He had such a lovely tone.”

After about ten minutes, he deftly turned his attention to another fan who was patiently standing by—and Braxton devoted the same affectionate attention to him and everyone else who bothered to say hello. His generous spirit and boundless love of music was truly inspiring to behold and a memory I will forever cherish.

Tuesday started off sunny and nice but by the afternoon the Governor of Alabama had declared a state of emergency, with five-to-eight inches of snow expected through Wednesday night. Having been stranded once already this winter, I high-tailed it back to Nashville only to awake to a couple of inches of the dreaded white stuff. And, as it turned out, the concert was cancelled so it was a wise move either way. Nevertheless, I really resent Old Man Winter interfering with my planned weeklong Braxfest (not to mention the fact that almost every musician travelling for it was horribly inconvenienced by the storms, including some no-shows). Guess I should grateful what I was able to do—because it was extraordinary.


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I also made a VC video about my trip—and the surprisingly top-shelf records I found while digging around in Alabama: