April 28, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Black Utopia (A Cauleen Smith Movie) (ThreeWalls 2LP/DVD)

I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of Black Utopia in the mailbox this week (after all, only 40 copies of the special “collector’s edition” were pressed) but I guess I got lucky. It is a stunningly gorgeous piece: two heavyweight colored vinyl LPs housed in hand-silkscreened jackets; an oversize booklet containing photographs, texts and interviews; a flyer commemorating filmmaker Cauleen Smith’s 2012 exhibition at Three Walls Gallery, "The Journeyman"; a giant newsprint foldout listing the various books on display from the Sun Ra/El Saturn Research library; a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity; and, finally, a data DVD-R containing all four sides in 24bit/96kHz high-resolution WAV format. Black Utopia is clearly a labor of love.

The album is presented as an “audio documentary,” a movie for your ears by Smith, who spent the last couple of years in Chicago, researching the Sun Ra archives at the University of Chicago and the Experimental Sound Studio. Culling material from the 700 tapes in the audio archive (supplemented by rare LPs from the Dorchester Projects’ Dr. Wax Record Library), Smith has divided the four sides into movements (or episodes) entitled, “Gemini,” “Shaped Notes,” “Speculations” and “The Learned & The Learned,” formed out of snippets of Arkestra rehearsals, live performances and lectures by Sun Ra as well as cut-up radio documentaries and poetry by Krista Franklin and Avery R. Young. In conjunction with the print materials, it is a fascinating document of DIY scholarship and contemporary mythmaking that explores the esoteric intellectual pursuits and intensely “radical black creativity” that Sun Ra epitomized.

I have only had a chance to listen to it through twice, so I cannot really comment in detail—but it is superbly well-done and definitely worth the premium price. More than just a “record,” Black Utopia is a rare and beautiful work of art. It looks like I got one of the last copies of the “collector’s edition” (it is no longer listed on their website) but the “fan” edition (containing just the LPs and booklet in a slightly different jacket) is apparently still available—but you better hurry! It too is a limited edition of only 100 copies.

April 27, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-04-27

Piles o'Vinyls

* Hesperion XXI (Savall): Orient-Occident 1200-1700 (Alia Vox SACD)
* Corelli: Violin Sonatas, Op.5 (Manze/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Stan Link: In Amber Shadows (Albany CD)
* Miles Davis &; Gil Evans: Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (selections) (Columbia/Legacy 6CD)
* Sun Ra: Piano Recital, Teatre La Finice, Venezia (Leo/Golden Years CD)
* Sun Ra Quartet: The Mystery Of Being (Horo/Klimt 3LP)
* Sun Ra: Disco 3000 (Saturn/Art Yard CD)
* Sun Ra: Media Dreams (Saturn/Art Yard 2CD)
* Sun Ra/Cauleen Smith: Black Utopia (ThreeWalls 2LP/DVD)
* Bobby Hutcherson: “Mellow Vibes” (Blue Note mix CDR)†
* Bill Dixon: 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound: Darfur (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Mark Nauseef/Ikue Mori/Evan Parker/Bill Laswell: Near Nadir (Tzadik CD)
* Slobber Pup: Black Aces (Rare Noise FLAC>CDR)
* Living By Lanterns: New Myth/Old Science (Cuneiform CD)
* Catatumbo (Ingrid Laubrock/Olie Brice/Javier Carmona): Catatumbo (Babel Label CD)
* Ches Smith &; These Arches: Hammered (Clean Feed CD)
* Marvin Gaye: Let’s Get It On (Motown/Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Marvin Gaye: Midnight Love (Columbia LP)
* Shuggie Otis: Introducing Shuggie Otis (Epic/Legacy LP)
* D’Angelo: Brown Sugar (EMI CD)
* D’Angelo: Voodoo (Virgin/Light In The Attic 2LP)
* Cypress Hill: Black Sunday (Ruff House/Columbia/Legacy 2LP)
* John Fahey: Vol.4: The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party & Other Excursions (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* John Fahey: Vol.5: The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* John Fahey: Vol.6: Days Have Gone By (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* John Fahey: The Voice Of The Turtle (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* Johnny Cash: American Recordings (American CD)
* Johnny Cash: American Outtakes (Empire/boot CD)
* Johnny Cash: Unchained (American CD)
* Bob Dylan: Tempest (Columbia 2LP/CD)
* Grateful Dead: Rare Cuts & Oddities 1966 (GDP/Rhino HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: View From The Vault II: Washington, D.C. 6/14/91 (GDP 3HDCD/DVD)
* Ash Ra Tempel: Ash Ra Tempel (Ohr LP)
* Dust: Dust/Hard Attack (Kama Sutra/RCA/Legacy 2LP)
* Boston: Boston (Epic LP)
* Thurston Moore & Loren Connors: The Only Way To Go Is Straight Through (Northern Spy LP)
* Pussy Galore: Groovy Hate Fuck (Shove EP)
* Guided By Voices: Alien Lanes (Matador LP)
* Guided By Voices: Under The Bushes, Under The Stars (Matador LP+EP)
* Guided By Voices: English Little League (GBV, Inc. LP)
* The Sunflower Logic: Clouds On the Polar Landscape (Pink Banana CDEP)
* Lambchop: OH(ohio) (Merge CD)†
* Lambchop: Damaged (Merge CD)†
* Lambchop: Mr. M (Merge 2LP)
* Earth: Hibernaculum (Southern Lord LP)
* Earth: Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light I (Southern Lord CD)†
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/Sony CD/DVD)
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner HDCD)†/‡
* Clutch: Strange Cousins From The West (Weathermaker 2LP)
* Grails: Burning Off Impurities (Temporary Residence 2LP)
* Grails: Deep Politics (Temporary Residence 2LP)



I went to my favorite record store on Monday—two days after Record Store Day—just to survey the aftermath. I was actually surprised to find lots of stuff still available! Not any of the super-rare stuff, of course, but a healthy selection just the same. I was able to get the one thing I “needed,” a limited edition reissue of the Grateful Dead’s Rare Cuts &Oddities 1966. The double-LP was sold out but there were still several copies of the HDCD on the shelf, which is fine with me. I never bought this back when it came out in 2005 and by 2007 it was already out of print. In order to complete my collection, I knew had to have this reissue. I’m not the biggest fan of ’66 Dead, but it’s fun and moderately illuminating for the obsessive collector.

There were also plenty of copies of Sony/Legacy stuff. I passed on the mono Miles Davis titles (I have to draw the line somewhere!) but I picked up the limited/numbered reissue of Dust’s first two records, Cypress Hill’s classic Black Sunday and the Shuggie Otis compilation, Introducing Shuggie Otis. I also snagged the reissue of Pussy Galore’s first EP (a record I owned back in the day but foolishly sold) as well as the limited edition Thurston Moore/Loren Connors LP, The Only Way To Go Is Straight Through on Northern Spy. I didn't even know that Southern Lord was reissuing Earth's Hibernaculum but there it was. Score! The only other thing I really wanted was the Stephen Malkmus & Friends cover of Can’s Ege Bamyasi, which had sold out that morning. Oh well—you snooze, you lose. In all, I’m pretty happy with my Record Store Day haul—especially since I didn’t have to battle the crowds.

This means the piles of records continue to grow—meaning we have reached critical mass at chez NuVoid. I spent today gathering some choice LPs and cleaning them up, preparing them to be photographed and sold on eBay. I’ve got about a dozen discs ready to go (including a bunch of original Grateful Dead LPs) and they will be priced to sell. I’ll let you know when they’re available!



Like records? Please consider checking out my CD: Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums). It's an explosive set of intense free improv, recorded live at "Indeterminacies" at Zeitgeist Gallery on September 6, 2012. Packaged in a deluxe 6-panel digipack with a 12-page booklet, it is made by record collectors for record collectors to savor and enjoy for years to come. You can also download digital files if that’s your thing. Thank you!

Rodger Coleman: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums)

April 21, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Living By Lanterns - "New Myth/Old Science"
Living By Lanterns: New Myth/Old Science (Cuneiform CD)

I’ve recently been filling some holes in my collection of Mary Halvorson and Ingrid Laubrock discs and came across this one, which I had somehow missed when it came out last year. Sun Ra afficianadoes will definitely want to check it out:

Living By Lanterns is a group convened by Chicago drummer Mike Reed vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, in order to fulfill a commission by the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) to create a performance based on material contained in the Sun Ra/El Saturn Audio Archive at ESS. The archive contains dozens of master tapes and rehearsal tapes as well as recordings of Ra’s poetry and lectures and “audio research” such as a television documentary about Duke Ellington and a radio talk show discussing the benefits of self-hypnosis (a jaw-dropping work-in-progress catalog of the archive’s holdings can be found here). Reed was provided an iPod with 700(!) hours of material culled from over 400 reel-to-reel and cassette tapes recorded from 1948 to 1985 and Adasiewicz, chose “Reel 43” to work with, an hour-long rehearsal tape labeled “NYC 1961,” which features Ra on electric piano, John Gilmore on tenor saxophone and Ronnie Boykins on bass.  Reed describes the tape as “a stream-of-consciousness songwriting session with few details worked out but many ideas played through” (quoted in Terri Kapsalis’s liner notes). Adasiewicz isolated themes and harmonic sequences and, with Reed, developed new compositions for an all-star nine-piece band, featuring Greg Ward on alto saxophone, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophone, Tomeka Reid on cello, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Beautifully recorded at ElectricalAudio in Chicago on September 3 & 5, 2011, the results were released in October 2012 on the venerable Cuneiform Records label as New Myth/Old Science.

Sonny’s voice can be heard admonishing and lecturing on the opening sound collage, “New Myth,” with Laubrock’s long split-tones and wispy melodic figures blowing in and out of the sonic landscape. Then it’s right into “Think Tank,” the longest and most viscerally intense track on the album. After a majestically rubato ensemble section, Halvorson delivers a blistering guitar solo full of metallic distortion and massive power chords over a propulsive, double-drum groove. “2000 West Erie” is built around a twisty, post-bop head and yields an incredible tenor solo from Laubrock over a swinging rhythm section and scrabbling guitar. Although sounding nothing like him, Laubrock is clearly Gilmore’s heir as master of the tenor saxophone. “Shadow Boxer’s Delight” more overtly evokes Sun Ra’s unique style, with spacey electronics, a loping ostinato in 7/4 and a vaguely Egyptian-sounding theme. “Forget B” is another updated post-bop number with another astonishing solo from Laubrock while “Grow Lights” moves back to a leisurely space-groove kind of thing, with Abrams taking the lead on upright bass with Boykins-like authority. The album concludes with “Old Science,” an up-tempo rocker with another outrageous solo from Halvorson.

New Myth/Old Science is an intriguing album: rather than presenting Sun Ra’s music as a mere repertory project, sketchy, raw material has been transformed into entirely new, original music, performed by the leading lights of 21st Century jazz. It’s a fitting tribute to Ra’s genius and continuing influence—plus you get to hear some of Mary Halvorson and Ingrid Labrock’s finest playing on disc. Good stuff!


Another interesting item from the Sun Ra Audio Archive, ESS and ThreeWalls Gallery is Black Utopia, an extremely limited edition 2-LP/DVD set compiled by filmmaker Cauleen Smith, documenting her two-year residency and research on Sun Ra for her exhibition, “The Journeyman,” which the gallery describes as “an installation, recording studio and library about artistic process.” The recording contains music and other material from the Sun Ra Archive as well as original pieces created for the exhibit. Although I suspect they are all sold by now, I was able to order a copy online directly from the gallery—I’ll let you know when/if it arrives.

Who knows what else from this stash of rare Sun Ra material will see the light of day?

April 20, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-04-20

Playing With Light 2013-04-19

* Nono: La lontananza nostalgia utopica futura, etc. (Kremer/Gridenko) (DG CD)
* Nono: Variazioni canonische, etc. (Sinf. Des Südwestfunks/Gielen) (Montaigne/Naïve CD)
* Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano (Impulse! CD)
* Sun Ra: Sound Sun Pleasure! (Saturn LP)
* Sun Ra: Fate In A Pleasant Mood (Saturn LP)
* Sun Ra: Bad And Beautiful (Saturn LP)
* Sun Ra: Atlantis (Saturn LP)
* Sun Ra: Taking A Chance On Chances (Saturn LP>CDR)
* Sun Ra: Piano Recital, Teatro La Fenice, Venezia (Leo/Golden Years CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Trio (NYC) 2011 (New Braxton House FLAC)
* Anthony Braxton: Quartet/Quintet (NYC) 2011 (New Braxton House FLAC)
* Anthony Braxton Falling River Quintet: Institute Française, Berlin 2012-10-10 (AUD  FLAC)
* Pat Metheny Group: Bürgerzentrum, Bremen, W. Germany 1978-03-13 (FM FLAC)
* Secret Keeper (Stephan Crump/Mary Halvorson): Super Eight (Intakt CD)
* Ches Smith & These Arches: Hammered (Clean Feed CD)
* Living By Lanterns: New Myth/Old Science (Cuneiform CD)
* Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (Island/Def Jam CD)
* John Fahey: Vol.1: Blind Joe Death (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* John Fahey: Vol.2: Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* John Fahey: Vol.3: Dance Of Death & Other Plantation Favorites (Takoma/4MWB LP)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol.4 No.4: Spectrum 4-6-82 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Formerly The Warlocks: Hampton 1989 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 6HDCD)
* Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon (Capitol SACD)
* Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (PinkFloyd/Analogue Productions SACD)
* Deep Purple: In Rock (Warner Bros. LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Fade (Matador CD)
* Flaming Lips: Embryonic (Warner Bros. 2CD/DVD)
* Flaming Lips: The Terror (Warner Bros. CD)
* Circus Devils: Five (Fading Captain LP)
* Wilco: A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch/Rhino 2LP)
* Wilco: Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch 2LP)
* Earth: Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light I (Southern Lord CD)†
* Earth: Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II (Southern Lord CD)†
* Steven Wilson: The Raven That Refused To Sing (KScope BD)
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD/DVD)†/‡
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD/DVD)†
* Opeth: Hultsfred Folkets Park, Hultsfred, Sweden 2003-06-12 (FM CDR)
* Opeth: Jazz Club Nefertiti, Gothenburg, Sweden 2012-12-02 (AUD FLAC)
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise 2-45RPM LP)†
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2CD)
* Agalloch: Ashes Against The Grain (The End CD)†
* Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino 2LP)
* Animal Collective: Centipede Hz (Domino 2LP/24/96 FLAC)
* Ghost B.C.: Infestissumam  (Loma Vista/UMG CD)



Today is 4/20 – Record Store Day 2013. Heh. Apparently folks started lining up at Grimey’s beginning at 4:00 yesterday afternoon, intending to camp out overnight in the sub-freezing cold. Good grief! That is insane. I love records but I can’t compete with that. Just imagine what a scene it was when they finally opened the doors at 10:00 this morning! Needless to say, I stayed far, far away from that madness. Besides, for me every Tuesday is Record Store day.

And, you know, it has occurred to me that perhaps I already have way too many records. I’ve been contemplating selling some of them on eBay (or Discogs.org) so I invested in some studio lights and a light tent in order to take high-quality photographs of my, um, merchandise.

Would you buy this record? Take a look: it’s a rare white label promo!

Deep Purple - In Rock (wlp)

I also pulled out the 85mm micro lens and took some pictures of very small items like this sculpture by Jodi Hays, “All Together Now” (2012). I think it looks pretty darn good for a first attempt at this kind of photography—but, please be advised: the artwork is not for sale.

Jodi Hays - "All Together Now" (2012)


Like records? Please consider checking out my CD: Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums). It's an explosive set of intense free improv, recorded live at "Indeterminacies" at Zeitgeist Gallery on September 6, 2012. Packaged in a deluxe 6-panel digipack with a 12-page booklet, it is made by record collectors for record collectors to savor and enjoy for years to come.

Rodger Coleman: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums)

April 14, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Taking a Chance on Chances (Saturn LP>CDR)

Also recorded at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago sometime in November 1977, Taking a Chance on Chances was released as Saturn 772, the companion volume to The Soul Vibrations of Man (Saturn 771). Being the final release on the Chicago-based Saturn label, it is exceedingly rare: there are only a hundred or so copies known to exist—but, unfortunately, all of them have a defective pressing on Side A (see Campbell & Trent pp.244-245). That fact (along with the somewhat mundane repertoire) makes this one a rather difficult and, ultimately, frustrating listen. The pressing defect manifests itself in a woefully unbalanced stereo presentation and a near-constant overlay of scratchy noises and horrifically ugly distortion which only begins to clear up towards the end of the side. Ugh. Pressing the mono button helps a little (if you have one) but not much. As listeners to The Soul Vibrations already know, these are not great-sounding recordings to begin with; the pressing flaw renders them almost unlistenable.

In any event, the title track opens the album; but, of course, the correct name is “Taking a Chance on Chancey,” since it is the usual improvised duet between Ra (on organ) and Vincent Chancey on French horn. Regardless, Chancey sounds remarkably self-assured on that notoriously unwieldy instrument, confidently navigating Ra’s twisty chord changes. About four minutes in, Michael Ray comes in with some blaring trumpet while the rhythm section starts to heat up and saxophones ad lib swinging background figures. Interesting. The “Lady Bird”/”Half Nelson” medley follows—but the sound quality takes an even more disastrous turn for the worse, making even John Gilmore’s wonderful tenor sax solo hard to enjoy. Fortunately, the sound cleans up a bit for Sonny’s solo piano rhapsody, “Over the Rainbow.” This tune had become a near-permanent fixture in the setlists during this period but it is beautifully played and warmly received by the audience.

Side B sounds much better (though still decidedly lo-fi), starting off with a hard-driving take of “St. Louis Blues,” led by Sun Ra’s fleet-fingered piano work and supported by Richard “Radu” Williams on bass with Tommy Hunter and Luqman Ali on trap drums. Ra moves back to the electric organ for an extended take on “What’s New?” wherein Gilmore takes one of those monumental solos that only reconfirms his stature as one the all-time great post-bop tenor saxophonists. While hewing close to the labyrinthine harmonic sequence, he takes it further and further out as first the organ and then the rhythm section drop out from under him, leaving him naked and alone on the stage. Despite considerable microphone distortion, his tone is still earth-shakingly huge, with brilliant ideas spinning out in endless permutations. It seems like Gilmore could go on like this forever but Ra eventually puts a stop to it with an emphatic organ stab, inviting Ahmed Adullah to take over on trumpet. While nice enough (and a welcome contrast to Ray's cloying extroversion), it seems a little anticlimactic after Gilmore’s astonishingly virtuosic display. The album ends with yet another rendition of “Take the ‘A’ Train,” notable for yet another incredible Gilmore solo. Sadly, my "needledrop" CDR starts to develop a horrible digital clicking sound about halfway through and becomes completely overwhelming by the end. Oh well; I take what I can get.

Obviously, the ever-amazing Gilmore solos are what make the generally bad sound quality worth suffering through on this one—particularly his tour de force outing on “What’s New?” But with several other, much better-sounding albums available featuring this sort of material, I can’t really recommend Taking a Chance on Chances to anyone but the most devoted Sun Ra freak (or slavishly devoted Gilmore fan). Perhaps a proper reissue (a la The Soul Vibrations of Man LP) would change my mind.

April 13, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-04-13

From The Discrete To The Particular CD

* Vivaldi: “Manchester” Sonatas (Romanesca) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Cello Suites (ter Linden) (Brilliant Classics 2CD)
* Joe Morris/ Augustí Fernández: Ambrosia (Riti CD)
* Joe Morris/ Augustí Fernández/Nate Wooley: From The Discrete To The Particular (Relative Pitch CD)
* Slobber Pup (Jamie Saft/Joe Morries/Trevor Dunn/ Balasz Pandi): Black Aces (Rare Noise FLAC)
* Mary Halvorson/Reuben Radding/Nate Wooley: Crackleknob (hatOLOGY CD)
* Secret Keeper (Stephan Crump/Mary Halvorson): Super Eight (Intakt CD)
* Paradoxical Frog: Union (Clean Feed CD)
* Billy Cobham: Spectrum (Atlantic LP)
* Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA CD)†/‡
* Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon (Axiom/Island 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 1993-09-22 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Touch: Touch (Coliseum/London LP)
* Black Sabbath: Masters of Reality (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Black Sabbath: Vol.4 (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Hawkwind: Hawkwind (United Artists LP)
* Hawkwind: In Search of Space (Liberty/EMI LP)
* Hawkwind: Hall Of The Mountain Grill (United Artists LP)
* Hawkwind: Quark, Strangeness and Charm (Charisma LP)
* Hawkwind: Masters Of The Universe (United Artists LP)
* Budgie: Squawk (MCA/EMI LP)
* Ash Ra Tempel: Ash Ra Tempel (Ohr LP)
* Brian Eno: Here Come The Warm Jets (Island LP)
* Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (Island LP)
* Brian Eno: Another Green World (Polydor LP)
* Brian Eno: Before And After Science (Polydor LP)
* R.E.M.: Life’s Rich Pageant (I.R.S./Mobile Fidelity LP)
* R.E.M.: Document (I.R.S./Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys (Slash/Warner Bros. CD)
* Yo La Tengo: Fade (Matador CD)†/‡
* Guided By Voices: Vampire On Titus (Scat LP)
* Guided By Voices: The Grand Hour (Scat 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: Static Airplane Jive (City Slang/Recordhead CDEP)
* Guided By Voices: Get Out of My Stations (Siltbreeze 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: Fast Japanese Spin Cycle (Engine 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: Clown Prince Of The Menthol Trailer (Domino/Recordhead CDEP)
* Guided By Voices: Bee Thousand (Scat LP)
* Guided By Voices: “I Am A Scientist” (Scat 7”EP)
* Circus Devils: Sgt. Disco (Happy Jack Rock Records 2LP)
* Stereolab: Dots And Loops (Duophonic/Elektra CD)†/‡
* Clutch: Strange Cousins From The West (Weathermaker 2LP)
* Clutch: Earth Rocker (Weathermaker LP)
* Meshuggah: Destroy Erase Improve – Reloaded (Nuclear Blast CD)
* Mastodon: Blood Mountain (Relapse/Reprise 2-45RPM LP)
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2LP)
* Agalloch: Pale Folklore (The End CD)†
* Agalloch: The Mantle (The End CD)
* Alcest: Écailes de Lune (Prophecy Productions CD)
* Alcest: Les Voyages de L’Âme (Prophecy Productions CD)
* The Sword: Age Of Winters (Kemado CD)†
* The Sword: Gods Of The Earth (Kemado CD)†
* The Sword: Warp Riders (Kemado LP)
* The Sword: Apocryphon (Razor & Tie LP)
* Pineapple Explode: Pineapple Explode (Pineapple Explode CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: A Bushel & A Barrel (Pineapple Explode CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: Skye’s Christmas Card (World Trade Center CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: [untitled work-in-progress] (Pineapple Explode CDR)



For the past couple of years, a small upstart label called Relative Pitch has been quietly releasing beautifully produced CDs from a broad selection of European and American avant-garde jazz musicians, often in unusual groupings. For instance: exploratory duet albums by Joëlle Léandre with Phillip Greenlief and Jérôme Bourdellon (That Overt Desire of Object (RPR 1002) and Evidence (RPR 1010)); a trio, dubbed Aych, with Jim Hobbs, Mary Halvorson and Taylor Ho Bynum (As The Crow Flies (RPR 1004)); or a rare recording by the unsung genius, Connie Crothers, with longtime collaborator Jemeel Moondoc (Two (RPR 1009)). Others document more established ensembles like The Vinny Golia Quartet (Take Your Time (RPR 1003); Matthew Shipp/Martin Bisio duet (Floating Ice (RPR 1005)); Way Out Northwest with John Butcher, Torsten Miller and Dylan van der Schyff (The White Spot (RPR 1006); and the Urs Leimgruber/Roger Turner Duo (The Pancake Tour (RPR 1007). Run by executive producers Mike Panico and Kevin Reilly, the label is obviously a labor of love, as evidenced by the high-quality sonics and distinctive design sensibility. Each CD is a crucial artifact of today’s cutting edge music scene.

As great as they all are, there is one in particular that really stood me on my ear: a trio recording featuring Joe Morris on guitar, Augustí Fernández on piano and Nate Wooley on trumpet (From the Discrete to the Particular (RPR 1008)). I was not previously familiar with the venerable Catalan pianist but was immediately blown away by his ferocious yet refined attack. Precisely articulated trills and highly irregular rhythms; wide, acrobatic leaps across the keyboard; impossibly fast tremolos; as well as a sharply drawn polyphony and subtle dynamic shading all point to a severely rigorous “classical” training. But Fernández applies his considerable technique to a non-idiomatic, freely improvised music that is deeply personal and highly expressive. Morris and Wooley are perfect accomplices, with Morris having recorded a duet album with Fernández back in 2010 (Ambrosia (Riti CD11). After more than thirty years on the scene, Morris continues to evolve as a player, now vigorously incorporating the noises and textures of extended, off-the-fingerboard techniques: scrubbing and scraping the strings, picking above the nut, and assaulting the instrument with various foreign objects. Wooley, of course, is one of the most interesting trumpeters around. With his warm, pure tone he can evoke the bittersweet melancholy of Miles Davis while also capable of all sorts of bent smears, gurgling whooshes and bleating moans that give his trumpet a percussive, richly textural quality. On tracks like “Membrane” and “Chums of Chance,” where Fernández is playing inside the piano, Morris is skittering around the neck of his guitar and Wooley’s trumpet sounds like some sort of malfunctioning electronics; you can hear the sound of a truly new, purely acoustic music. Beyond sheer technique—no matter how impressive—From the Discrete to the Particular approaches the divine.


Speaking of the ever-prolific Joe Morris, he’s part of an interesting new project called Slobber Pup, masterminded by keyboardist Jamie Saft. They have a disc coming out next month on Rare Noise Records called Black Aces that can only be described as “free-metal.” Morris straps on the Les Paul, cranks up the volume and lets it rip with Saft, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Balasz Pandi. While I have admittedly only heard a small fraction of Morris’s hundred-something recordings (so far), I’ve never heard him play quite like this: not just rocked-out (and how!) but with downright bluesy pentatonic scales interspersed with his usual angular dissonance and chunky power-chords punctuating the freely evolving harmonic structures. It is really quite thrilling to hear Morris going for the whole guitar-hero thing with such gusto—particularly on the nearly-thirty-minute opening track, “Accuser.” Holy shit! This stuff pushes some of my favorite musical buttons: free improvisation and the heaviest heavy metal and they pull it off with snarling (yet genial) aplomb. I have no idea if this is just a lark for Morris or the revelation of previously repressed influences—but if this record helps to bring metal heads into the free-jazz camp (which it damn well should), then more power to him. I pre-ordered the double-LP/CD “combo pack” which gave me free access the to the FLAC download, which I’ve been playing pretty much non-stop since I got it. In true metal fashion, the label promises a high-resolution 24bit/96kHz download as well—rock on, Joe!



Augustí Fernández inspires me to play the piano (a real one!) and Joe Morris makes me to pick up the guitar again. As Albert Ayler said, “Music is the healing force of the universe” and I am extraordinarily pleased with my new CD, recorded live with drummer extraordinaire, Sam Byrd. If you have read this far, please consider checking it out at NuVoidJazz.com or clicking on the link below. Thank you for listening!

Rodger Coleman: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums)

April 7, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Ash Ra Tempel LP

OK, not Sun Ra, but Ash Ra Tempel--a different kind of space music.

Today, I went with my nephew to the semi-regular record show at the Holiday Inn over by the airport. It can be a hit or miss affair, with a lot of overpriced junk--and you have to get there early before everything has been picked over. But there was a new guy there today with boxes and boxes of rare old prog LPs in amazingly good condition. OMG! Needless to say, he was instantly mobbed by fanatical collectors (as usual, the place was packed). When I saw this early pressing of Ash Ra Tempel's first (and best) album, with the triple center-gatefold sleeve and minty vinyl, well I could not resist (despite the sphincter-tightening pricetag). I bought a bunch of other cool stuff and he gave me a  really good deal on the lot, so I am a super-happy record nerd. It really is a fantastic, totally cosmic album and almost impossible to find.

Of course, I spent the rest of the day cleaning and spinning LPs and the time has gotten away from me. Sorry about that! I'll pick up where we left off with rare Sun Ra records next week.

April 6, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-04-06

Broken CD 2013-04-02

* Biber: Missa Christi Resurgentis (English Concert/Manze) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)
* Biber: The Rosary Sonatas (Manze/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Ornette Coleman: Beauty Is A Rare Thing: Atlantic Recordings (d.3-5) (Atlantic/Rhino 6CD)
* Sun Ra: The Soul Vibrations Of Man (Saturn LP)
* Sun Ra: Taking A Chance On Chances (Saturn LP>CDR)
* Sun Ra Quartet: New Steps (Horo 2LP>CDR)
* Keith Jarrett: The Impulse Years 1973-1974 (d.4-5) (Impulse! 5CD)
* Joe Morris & Mat Maneri: [soul search] (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Joe Morris: Singularity (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Joe Morris/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Altitude (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Joe Morris/Augustí Fernándéz/Nate Wooley: From The Discrete To The Particular (Relative Pitch CD)
* Slobber Pup (Jamie Saft/Joe Morris/Trevor Dunn/Balasz Pandi): Black Aces (Rare Noise FLAC)
* Gigi: Gigi (Palm Pictures CD)
* Gigi: Illuminated Audio (Palm Pictures CD)
* Bill Laswell: Baselines (Elecktra/Musician LP)
* Bill Laswell: Dub Chamber 4: Book Of Exit (ROIR CD)
* Bill Laswell: Version 2 Version: A Dub Transmission (ROIR CD)
* Deadline: Down By Law (Celluloid LP)
* Deadline: Dissident (Day Eight CD)
* Nicky Skopelitis: Ekstasis (Axiom/Island CD)
* Nicky Skopelitis: Wake Up And Dream (CyberOctave CD)
* Nona Hendryx: Nona (RCA LP)
* Nona Hendryx: The Art Of Defense (RCA LP)
* Chaka Khan: I Feel For You (Warner Bros. LP)
* D’Angelo: Brown Sugar (EMI CD)
* D’Angelo: Voodoo (Virgin CD)
* Miguel: Kaleidoscope World (RCA CD)
* Sly & The Family Stone: There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Epic/Sundazed LP)
* War: The World Is A Ghetto (Avenue/Rhino CD)
* Roseanne Cash: King’s Record Shop (Columbia LP)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol.3 No.1: Oakland 12-28-79 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 2+1HDCD)
* The Band: Music From Big Pink (Capitol/Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac (Reprise 2-45RPM LP)
* Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Warner Bros. 2-45RPM LP)
* Beck: The Information (Interscope CD/DVD)
* Beck: Modern Guilt (DGC CD)†
* Kyuss: Welcome To Sky Valley (Elektra CD)†
* Clutch: Earth Rocker (Weathermaker LP)
* Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (Lava/Atlantic CD)†/‡
* Katatonia: Night Is The New Day (Peaceville CD)†
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise 2-45RPM LP)
* Mastodon: The Hunter (Reprise 2-45RPM LP)
* Astra: The Black Chord (Metal Blade CD)
* Wild Nothing: Nocturne (Temporary Residence CD)†/‡



The other day, I found this broken compact disc just outside Grimey’s New & Pre-Loved Music, my favorite local record store. I guess this person didn’t like it! Or maybe they bought the vinyl and tossed the over-compressed, clipped and distorted piece of crap CD!

I can relate.

I spent the past couple of days teaching myself how to use Audacity, the freeware audio program, so I can get back into digitizing some of my prized LPs (and homemade cassettes). While not as intuitive as my beloved Feurio! (which will not run on Windows 7), it is a much more sophisticated and powerful piece of software, making it possible to easily make super-high-quality “needledrops” of records that have no digital equivalent.

Amazingly enough, my old Harman Kardon CDR-1 is still working great (knock on wood), so first I dump each side of the LP onto a disc and then transfer those WAV files to the computer for editing in Audacity. While this is an old-school way of doing things, the 24-bit analog-to-digital converters on the CDR-1 sound nice to my ears and, more importantly, the unit is integrated into the big stereo system, making it much easier to use than trying to hook up my turntable to a computer. Using Audacity, I trim extraneous audio, add track markers and metadata, normalize the volume levels and compile it into a complete album. Then I burn another CD (using Nero) to listen to and load it onto the iPod (in Apple lossless format, of course). This means I have two discs for every one album—but, hey, redundant backups are a good thing in the digital realm.

How do they sound? Pretty good–for CD. Straight from the turntable, the sound is more open, spacious and three-dimensional than on the CDR. But that is to be expected; clearly, the 16-bit/44kHz CD standard truncates ultrasonic data that even my humble analog rig manages to reproduce. Nevertheless, it is nice to have some of these unique, high-quality masterings in a portable, digital format.

Like what? Well, there’s my small collection of double-45RPM LPs, like Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 self-titled album and Steve Hoffman’s exquisite remaster of Rumours—then, at the other extreme, there’s the last three Mastodon albums, which sound like garbage on CD but which really shine on 45PM vinyl. This has been my record-nerd project this weekend. Next up will be ripping my Music Matters 2-45RPM LP of Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch—a Blue Note classic with unbelievable sonics!


Speaking of record nerds, Record Store Day is coming up on 4/20 (heh heh). I have blown these off the last couple of years as they have become too much of a scene to deal with, with folks camping out overnight in order to snag all the rare, limited edition stuff (some of whom are obviously turning around and selling them on eBay). I’m a pretty fanatical record collector but not that hardcore. Then again, Grimey’s has recently expanded—maybe now they have the space to accommodate all us record nerds. I’m not going to camp out but I might go later in the day, when the frenzy dies down. I do love the record store—but, for me, every day is Record Store Day!


[/shameless plug]: Looking for a cool record? Buy my CD—it sound as good as a CD can, I promise!

Rodger Coleman: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums)

April 4, 2013

Now Available!

I am pleased to announce the official, world-wide release of my CD, now available via CD Baby as well as online via iTunes and elsewhere. For more info, please visit our new website, NuVoid Jazz Records, where you can stream the entire album, check out photos from the concert and other neat stuff. Enjoy!