August 28, 2013

Nice Review of "Indeterminate" @ Free Jazz Blog

A downright rave review of Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: "Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums)" was posted today by Paul Acquaro at Free Jazz Blog, the premiere site for online reviews of this sort of music. I am beyond amazed!

I appreciate how Mr. Acquaro particularly praises the sound quality:
This concert recording is captured nicely, you can hear the attack of the percussion balanced with the fury of the piano. It's dense music, but not without space. 
All credit for that goes to my nephew, Brian Totoro who beautifully engineered the recording under extraordinary time constraints while combatting various technical difficulties. Bravo, Brian!

You can stream the entire recording at Nuvoid Jazz Records or order the deluxe CD (or purchase a download) by clicking the link below. Thank you for your interest and support!

Rodger Coleman: Indeterminate (Improvisations for Piano and Drums)

August 25, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Sun Ra: Disco 3000 (Saturn/Art Yard CD)

Although The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (recorded at The Teatro Cilak in Milan, Italy) contains all of the music found on the original LP, Art Yard also released Disco 3000 (CD 101) as a straight reissue (with alternative artwork) in 2009. I’m glad they did because it is a classic—and very strange—Sun Ra album that deserves to be heard in its original form. Moreover, listening to the entire two-hour concert is a considerable time commitment, which, in some ways, dilutes the impact of the original Disco 3000 LP in my opinion.

The first side consists of the twenty-six minute title track while side two contains “Third Planet,” “Friendly Galaxy” and “Dance of the Cosmo Aliens.” While you can my descriptions on my review of The Complete Disco 3000 Concert, what is interesting to me is how much more effective “Dance of the Cosmo Aliens” is when it is shorn from its original context, the twisted electronica bookending the album with “Disco 3000.” Or maybe my ears got tired by the time it was played, over an hour into the original concert. Hardcore fans will want both, but Disco 3000 is essential.

In typically Saturnal fashion, Michael Ray’s liner notes (penned in 2007 and contained on both Art Yard CDs) are both enlightening and confusing. “It was here,” he says, “that most of my early dues were paid.”
Sun Ra would tell me “You playing your horn alright but try my way, unless you have some sort of mental block.” “Play that apple. Remember it is round so think of 360 degrees of sound and color. It’s red which means its energy deals with the first chakra, you have to be able to play the vibration.” We rehearsed like this from early in the morning to late at night for days. It was like having someone erase your mainframe and reboot your hard drive! Sunny always said expect the unexpected. “We might have a gig on Mars one day so you got to be swinging on your horn, because they don’t party like earthlings” 
Elsewhere, he writes:
The Winter of ’78, I headed to Rome not knowing what to expect…Sun Ra would get up every day at dawn. We would then drive over to Media Dreams, a small studio run by Andreas and Alfie, very good friends of the band. Andreas was credited with the development of the Walkman, which he sold to Sony Company.
Huh? “Andreas” is presumably Andreas Pavel, inventor of a proto-Walkman, which was (according to Wikipedia) patented in Italy in 1977. So, it is certainly possible that he was in Rome in January of 1978—but, as far as I can tell, he had nothing to do with the Horo Records label or the “Horo Voice Studio,” where New Steps and Other Voices, Other Blues were (presumably) recorded (see Campbell & Trent pp.243-246). Ray makes no mention of Horo—is he referring to those albums or were there other studio recordings made in Italy in January 1978? If so, where are they? I'm "friends" with Michael Ray on Facebook; maybe I should ask him...

August 24, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-08-24

Spinning Discs 2013-08-24

* Hesperion XXI (Savall): Orient-Occident 1200-1700 (Alia Vox SACD)
* Hesperion XXI (Savall): Istanbul: Dimitrie Cantemir 1673-1723 (Alia Vox SACD)
* Sun Ra: The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (selections) (Saturn/Art Yard 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto 1978-03-13 (AUD 3CDR)
* Don Elliott: The Voices Of Don Elliott (ABC-Paramount LP)
* Don Elliott & His Orchestra: Music For The Sensational Sixties (Design Compatible Fidelity LP)
* Don Elliott & His Choir: The Mello Sound (Decca LP)
* Don Elliott: Rejuvenation (Columbia LP)
* Anthony Braxton: The Complete Arista Recordings (d.1-2) (Arista/Mosaic 8CD)
* Derek Bailey: Guitar, Drums ‘n’ Bass (Avant CD)
* Derek Bailey: Mirakle (Tzadik CD)
* Derek Bailey: Ballads (Tzadik CD)
* Derek Bailey: Standards (Tzadik CD)
* Slobber Pup: Black Aces (Rare Noise 2LP/24-bit FLAC)
* Book Of Three (T. H. Bynum/J. Hebert/G. Cleaver): Continuum (2012) (Relative Pitch CD)
* Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet and 7-Tette: Navigations (Firehouse 12 MP3)†
* Chris Abrahams & Magda Mayas: Gardener (Relative Pitch CD)
* Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (Island/Def Jam CD)
* Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA CD)
* Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia 2LP)
* The Beatles: Abbey Road (2009 remaster) (Apple/EMI CD)†
* Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis: Bold As Love (Experience Hendrix/Sony LP)
* The Moody Blues: On The Threshold Of A Dream (Deram/London LP)
* The Moody Blues: Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (Threshold/London LP)
* The Moody Blues: Long Distance Voyager (Threshold/Polygram LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Ricochet (Virgin LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Stratosfear (Virgin LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Force Majeure (Virgin LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Le Parc (Relativity LP)
* Camel: The Snow Goose (Deram/EMI CD)†/‡
* Can: Moonmadness (Deram/EMI CD)†/‡
* Can: Future Days (Spoon/Mute SACD)
* Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball (Elektra HDCD)
* Happy The Man: Crafty Hands (Arista LP)
* Scritti Politti: Cupid et Psyche 85 (Warner Bros. LP)
* Dereck Higgins: Nice (DVH Recordings LP)
* Dereck Higgins: Sonospheres II (DVH Recordings LP)
* Deerhoof: Breakup Songs (Polyvinyl LP)
* Locrian: Return To Annihilation (Relapse CD)†/‡
* White Hills: So You Are…So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey LP)
* White Hills: Timeless Tracks For Aural Pleasure (Thrill Jockey EP)
* Wild Nothing: Nocturne (Captured Tracks CD)†
* Wild Nothing: Empty Estates EP (Captured Tracks CDEP)†
* Montibus Communitas: Hacia Aquellos Bosques de Immensidad (Trouble In Mind LP)



I have a bunch of projects in the works (both writing and otherwise) and therefore have nothing to offer this week. Sorry about that!   I did, however, make a couple more videos for The Vinyl Community this week. Just me obsessing about records. That's what I do...

August 18, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Sun Ra: The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (Art Yard 2CD)

The quartet of Sun Ra, John Gilmore, Michael Ray and Luqman Ali performed at Teatro Cilak in Milan on January 23, 1978, apparently at the very end of their extended stay in Italy. While their exact movements are poorly documented during this period, they were certainly back in the states on or before January 29, where the Arkestra appeared at the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore (see Campbell & Trent pp.247-250). The Teatro Cilak concert was recorded and portions were released later in the year as Disco 3000 (Saturn LP CMIJ78) and reissued by Art Yard in 2009. Prior to this, though, Art Yard released the entire Milan performance on two compact discs as The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (CD 001) in 2007. As with Media Dreams, these welcome reissues not only make available some of the rarest of all Saturn LPs, but also provide additional material that puts these weird and wonderful recordings into a wider context.

The concert opens with “Disco 3000” and, right away, you can tell the small band has really started to gel after several weeks working together. While Media Dreams is dominated by Ra’s electronica (wonderful as it is), Disco 3000 is much more of a cohesive group effort. There’s still plenty of mad-scientist keyboard extravaganzas, with the Crumar Mainman organ and cheesy rhythm box establishing an uneasy, mutant disco vamp—but here, Ali locks in comfortably with the beat and the horns are given plenty of space across its epic twenty-six minutes. About five minutes in, they suddenly launch into “Space is the Place,” but, curiously, not in the re-arrangement found on Media Dreams. After a couple of minutes of chanting, things take off again, with some absolutely killer tenor saxophone from Gilmore and hypnotic, quasi-ambient keyboard effects from Ra. It’s tempting to just say “Disco 3000” is the crowning achievement of the quartet’s brief existence and leave it at that. A classic Sun Ra track.

Not that there isn’t more great music on these discs! After a short drum solo, “Sun of the Cosmos” continues in the guided improvisation vein, including more crazed keyboard work from Sonny and another outrageous tenor solo from Gilmore, where he explores the entire range of extended techniques from altissimo screams to impossible split-tone multiphonics. Whew! Ra then moves to the piano for “Echos [sic] of the World,” a pretty ballad with Gilmore in the lead. “Geminiology” picks up the tempo with some jaunty swing and a riff-based head arrangement but Ra takes it way out: thunderous low-register tone clusters and furious parallel runs, just a total assault on the piano. Then it’s suddenly back to the cheery jazz feel for Ray’s extended solo on warm-toned trumpet. “Sky Blues” is exactly as the title suggests, a swinging blues riff, with Gilmore delivering the sermon. Lord have mercy! This is another incredible Gilmore solo, a blues history lesson: from honking, hokey gutbucket to dizzying post-bop harmonic labyrinths to the most out-there avant garde wailing—all without losing the thread of tradition and ending with an emphatic flourish. Dammmnnn.

Disc one concludes with six minutes of “Friendly Galaxy,” given an angular and dissonant rearrangement, fading out on Ray’s muted trumpet solo. Disc two then fades up some time later (the reel flip evidenced by the increased wow-and-flutter at the beginning of the track) and, after about a minute of noodling on “Friendly Galaxy,” Ra signals “Third Planet.” The two horns sound super-tight and Gilmore once again plays a mind-bendingly great tenor solo, this time accompanied only by the drums. Ali is uncharacteristically aggressive here, swinging like a mo-fo while Gilmore blows the doors down. No wonder Sonny picked this track for release on the original Disco 3000 LP! “Dance of the Cosmo Aliens” was also included on the original LP and it’s another spaced-out electronica-fest, with Gilmore and Ray putting down the horns and picking up percussion instruments. Even so, the expanded rhythm section struggles a bit trying to follow along with the crude electric drum box. Even so, Ra’s keyboard playing is otherworldly and the crowd eats it up, bursting into rapturous applause at the end.

“Spontaneous Simplicity” is given an electrified rearrangement with lots of wild keyboard effects and some blasting trumpet work from Ray, but is perhaps overlong at fourteen-some minutes. This segues into “Images,” which is given a tighter reading than on Media Dreams. While Gilmore’s solo is probably not the equal of “Twigs at Twlight,” it’s still pretty freaking awesome. Although the packaging says this includes “Over the Rainbow,” it actually appears on the following track, “When There Is No Sun,” which is given a gentle, gospelized feel, with Gilmore and Ray sweetly singing and Ra accompanying the on churchy organ. Then Sonny erupts into another electronic frenzy before slipping over to the piano for a brief sketch of “Over the Rainbow.” Finally, the concert ends with a reprise of “Space is the Place,” with Ra vamping on piano for a while before joining in on the chant. Interestingly, this rendition shares the quickened phrasing of the unique rearrangement heard on Media Dreams, but lacks the horn parts and countermelodies.

Sonny obviously thought highly of this concert, releasing not only the Disco 3000 LP but editing the title track and “Sky Blues” down for release on a seven-inch 45RPM single (Saturn 2100) which can be found on the two-CD set, The Singles (Evidence ECD 22164-2). Retitled "Disco 2100," the sprawling original is reduced to two minutes and and 43 seconds of Ra's swirling, primitive electronica while the flip side focuses on the first two-and-a-half minutes of boogie-woogie. I don't expect it got a lot of airplay.

While all of the Art Yard releases are essential in my opinion, The Complete Disco 3000 Concert is really something special, presenting Sun Ra in this unusual quartet situation where everything just comes together. You not only get Sonny at his most adventurous, demonstrating his inimitable mastery of electronic keyboards (as well as some virtuosic piano playing) but the young newcomer, Michael Ray, plays with admirable taste and restraint while Luqman Ali more than holds his own as the lone member of the rhythm section. And Gilmore—well, what more can be said? Incredible! Get it before it goes out of print forever.

August 17, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-08-17

Spinning Disc

* Sun Ra: The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (Saturn/Art Yard 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Sound Mirror (Saturn LP>CDR)
* Sun Ra: Lanquidity (Philly Jazz/Evidence HDCD)
* Sun Ra: On Jupiter (Saturn/Art Yard CD)
* Patty Waters: College Tour (ESP/ZYX CD)
* Anthony Braxton: The Complete Arista Recordings (d.7-8) (Arista/Mosaic 8CD)
* Anthony Braxton: 4 (Ensemble) Compositions 1992 (Black Saint CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Composition N.169 + (186 + 206 +214) (Leo 2CD)
* Chico Freeman: The Outside Within (India Navigation LP)
* Mark Dreser Quintet: Nourishments (Clean Feed CD)
* Mahavishnu Orchestra: Live: Between Nothingness And Eternity (Columbia LP)
* Return To Forever: Where Have I Known You Before (Polydor LP)
* Mick Goodrick: In Pas(s)ing (ECM LP)
* Pat Metheny Group: Pat Metheny Group (ECM LP)
* Pat Metheny Group: American Garage (ECM LP)
* Herbie Hancock: Thrust (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* Herbie Hancock: Future Shock (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* Herbie Hancock: Sound System (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* Herbie Hancock: Perfect Machine (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* Dawn Of Midi: First (Accretions CD)
* Dawn Of Midi: Dysnomia (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia 2LP/CD)†/‡
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol.4 No.3 Denver ’73 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 3HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips 2011 Bonus Disc (12-6-73) (selections) (GDP/Rhino HDCD)
* Pink Floyd: Meddle (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Obscured By Clouds (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon (EMI/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Tangerine Dream: Zeit (Virgin 2LP)
* Uriah Heep: Demons And Wizards (Mercury LP)
* Diskaholics Anonymous Trio: Diskaholics Anonymous Trio (Crazy Wisdom/Universal JP CD)
* Diskaholics Anonymous Trio: Saliha: Live in Japan Vol.1 (Load CD)
* Diskaholics Anonymous Trio: Weapons of Ass Destruction (Smalltown Superjazz CD)
* Original Silence: The First Original Silence (Smalltown Superjazz CD)
* Original Silence: The Second Original Silence (Smalltown Superjazz CD)
* Porcupine Tree: The Sky Moves Sideways (selections) (KScope 2CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Metanoia (KScope CD)
* White Hills: So You Are…So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey LP)
* White Hills: Timeless Tracks For Aural Pleasure (Thrill Jockey EP)
* Locrian: Return To Annihilation (Relapse 2-45RPM LP)



I stumbled upon "The Vinyl Community" on YouTube quite by accident, all these people from all over the world who make videos about their record collections. I felt like I had finally found my people: truly obsessive record nerds! I felt so inspired that I just had to jump in this week. It’s sort of like “show and tell” – and as Liz pointed out, who doesn’t like that? Enjoy!