ASHBY, DOROTHY Afro-Harping (Verve/Cadet) cd 12.98
If David Axelrod produced an Alice Coltrane record, the results might sound something like Dorothy Ashby's 1968 breakout recording, Afro-Harpin'. Of course that's not giving credit where credit is surely due. Dorothy Ashby was on the scene way before Alice Coltrane and she was the first artist to front a jazz combo with the harp in the early fifties inspiring Alice Coltrane to take it up after moving on from the vibraphone. And though David Axelrod is better known nowadays, Richard Evans isn't some nobody producer, having created, along with fellow producer Charles Stepney, the richly textured soulful sound of Chicago's Cadet Records. A sound that relied more heavily on strings, flutes, and vibes rather than horns, and that along with some tribal percussion and hypnotic beats underscored some of the most diverse and underrated soul recordings of the late sixties (Rotary Connection, Ramsey Lewis, Fugi, Marlena Shaw and Soulful Strings). Eccentric Soul indeed! From the opening off-kilter Theremin and drum breaks on "Soul Vibrations", you know we're in for a truly different kind of soul-jazz record. By the time the flutes and harp kick in, we're well under Ashby and Evans spell. A cool summery cocktail of majestic funkiness that will satisfy every groovy nerve in your body. Comprised mostly of original compositions with the exception of a couple of then-contemporary standards like "The Look of Love" and Theme From Valley Of The Dolls", there are some tracks that settle into a nice soft lounge vibe without ever getting cheesy. In fact the Hammond organ solo on "The Look of Love" finishes the album quite nicely. Having recorded three amazing break-filled and heavily sampled records for the Cadet label, we hope we will be hearing more of Miss Ashby's harp grooves again real soon. Recommended!
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ASHBY, DOROTHY Afro-Harping (Cadet) lp 11.98
This legendary disc, and HUGE aQ fave, now reissued on vinyl as well! If David Axelrod produced an Alice Coltrane record, the results might sound something like Dorothy Ashby's 1968 breakout recording, Afro-Harpin'. Of course that's not giving credit where credit is surely due. Dorothy Ashby was on the scene way before Alice Coltrane and she was the first artist to front a jazz combo with the harp in the early fifties inspiring Alice Coltrane to take it up after moving on from the vibraphone. And though David Axelrod is better known nowadays, Richard Evans isn't some nobody producer, having created, along with fellow producer Charles Stepney, the richly textured soulful sound of Chicago's Cadet Records. A sound that relied more heavily on strings, flutes, and vibes rather than horns, and that along with some tribal percussion and hypnotic beats underscored some of the most diverse and underrated soul recordings of the late sixties (Rotary Connection, Ramsey Lewis, Fugi, Marlena Shaw and Soulful Strings). Eccentric Soul indeed! From the opening off-kilter Theremin and drum breaks on "Soul Vibrations", you know we're in for a truly different kind of soul-jazz record. By the time the flutes and harp kick in, we're well under Ashby and Evans spell. A cool summery cocktail of majestic funkiness that will satisfy every groovy nerve in your body. Comprised mostly of original compositions with the exception of a couple of then-contemporary standards like "The Look of Love" and Theme From Valley Of The Dolls", there are some tracks that settle into a nice soft lounge vibe without ever getting cheesy. In fact the Hammond organ solo on "The Look of Love" finishes the album quite nicely. Having recorded three amazing break-filled and heavily sampled records for the Cadet label, we hope we will be hearing more of Miss Ashby's harp grooves again real soon. Recommended!
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ASHBY, DOROTHY Hip Harp (Prestige) lp 12.98
ASHBY, DOROTHY Hip Harp (Prestige) lp 12.98
ASHBY, DOROTHY The Rubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby (Dusty Groove) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Man, are we ever so excited to get this title, Dorothy Ashby's third and most originally authorial album with Richard Evans, The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby. Based on the mystical poetry of the eleventh century Persian astronomer, Omar Khayyam, Ashby has created ten original compositions that feature an array of far eastern instrumentation and for the first time, her voice. Sung and recited, sometimes in bewitched multi-vocal incantations, the mystical vibe is heightened by electrified harp, distorted kalimba and koto but grounded in the driving percussive and bass grooves of Richard Evans' majestic production which evokes Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Pan-Asian sensibilities. The opener, "Myself When Young," has the cinematic power of a James Bond ballad. Her voice, commanding but never over-powering, becomes more intriguing and mysterious as the album progresses, immersing us deeply into the esoteric cosmos of her muse. A truly magical record and it can't be recommended enough!
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ASHBY, DOROTHY The Rubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby (Dusty Groove) lp 12.98
Now available on vinyl! Man, are we ever so excited to get this title, Dorothy Ashby's third and most originally authorial album with Richard Evans, The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby. Based on the mystical poetry of the eleventh century Persian astronomer, Omar Khayyam, Ashby has created ten original compositions that feature an array of far eastern instrumentation and for the first time, her voice. Sung and recited, sometimes in bewitched multi-vocal incantations, the mystical vibe is heightened by electrified harp, distorted kalimba and koto but grounded in the driving percussive and bass grooves of Richard Evans' majestic production which evokes Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Pan-Asian sensibilities. The opener, "Myself When Young," has the cinematic power of a James Bond ballad. Her voice, commanding but never overpowering, becomes more intriguing and mysterious as the album progresses, immersing us deeply into the esoteric cosmos of her muse. A truly magical record and it can't be recommended enough!
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"Joyful Grass & Grape"
ASTATKE, MULATU New York - Addis- London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 (Strut) cd 14.98
If there was an actual way to measure the warmth of music, the sounds Mulatu Astatke created in the '60s and '70s would be at the top of the thermometer, his incredible and rich Ethio-Jazz sounds drifting right from the speakers and melting into your ears, permeating every cell of your body. Strut strike gold once again, coming up a killer collection of some of Astatke's finest material, recorded between 1965-1975. After leaving Ethiopia as a teen, Astatke studied music in different parts of the globe and it's wonderful to hear how he subtly infused those various outside influences into his classic Ethiopian groove based sound. Some of the tracks here will stand out as being the classic Astatke tracks we are all familiar with, culled as they are from the amazing Ethiopiques 4 collection, but Strut digs deeper as well, exploring some of the lesser known songs and sides, many of which show an awesome Afro-Latin jazz influence, as well as some tracks that find Astatke teaming up with vocalists like Muluken Melesse and Menelik Wossenatchew. Astatke really does belong in that divine elite class of musicians like John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, John Fahey, Duke Ellington, Moondog, etc. - the sounds he creates are universal in their appeal. Infused with so much soul and emotional warmth, these are sounds that transcends genre or geography, plain and simple, this is amazing music!
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ASTRO CAN CARAVAN Questral Places ( BV2 Productions) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Okay, heads up Finnish music obsessives, especially you Aavikko freaks! Let us introduce you to this massive freaked out weirdo jazz ensemble Astro Can Caravan, which just so happens to feature members of Cosmo Jones Beat Machine and aQ faves Aavikko. And it sounds like it to! Featuring more than a dozen players (sometimes as many as 18) this ensemble whips up a dizzying and eclectic world of funky jazzy, psychedelic weirdness. Wild guitars, fuzzed out organs, plenty of horns. Spacey future funk wrapped in outer space FX, Ethiopiques style jazz funk, big band jazz gone haywire, long stretches of free jazz freak out, groovy African jazz. You can definitely hear bits of Coltrane, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti and Sun Ra and of course some Aavikko style space jazz funk freakiness. Wild and fun, weird and far out. But plenty groovy and jazzy and funky. Perfect dance party music for sure. If you love the Ethiopiques but always wished it was just a little bit more psychedelic and freaked out, well then friends, Astro Can Caravan may be just what you've been hankering for...
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ASTRONAUT BODY FOUR Murder City (Vetoxa) lp 12.98
Most folks know that we are pretty picky and particular when it comes to contemporary jazz. Of course we're not that into it when it's too straight ahead, but we're also not the biggest fan of wanky, aimless skronk sessions. So it takes a lot for a new jazz album to win us over, but these two long jams by San Francisco's Astronaut Body Four, are really hitting the spot, some seriously forward thinking, left-field jazz for sure. The A side is the 18 minute track "Citizen's Day Parade" which starts off like some lost vintage early '70s psych-jazz complete with awesome mystical sounding flute, and as it progresses a really odd but wonderful keyboard that sounds as if its being channeled from another planet, enters the fold and along with the sax, bass and drums the track takes all kinds of twists and turns, including some serious skronk, which instead of being annoying actually serve as great moments of tension building and release. The B side is another long one, the 20 minute track "Murder City Planetarium" which starts with a very moody and voyeuristic vibe, reminding us of moments from one of our very favorite films of all time, "The Conversation." As the track continues on it maintains that subtle sense of suspense, leading up to a charged, chaotic freak out, and then ending on a note of deranged elegance. Awesome.
AXELROD, DAVID Seriously Deep (Dusty Groove America) cd 14.98
Another often overlooked ambitious album in the amazing career of producer/arranger/musical mastermind David Axelrod. Unlike the orchestrated and conceptual records he made earlier in his career, this 1975 album is all about the totally deep and funky jazz. Very much an album of its time, this is some over the top fusion jazz-funk action that definitely has its moments but can get very very wanky. That said, there are plenty of moments that you could imagine J Dilla sampling, or snippets that would fit so perfectly on the Beastie Boys record Pauls Boutique. Kind of like a 70's cop show meets porno soundtrack vibe. If you don't have any David Axelrod in your music collection (which you should remedy post haste!) this isn't necessarily the place to start. Try, Songs Of Innocence or the great collection The Edge: David Axelrod At Capitol Records 1966-1970, as those really capture the true genius and innovation of Axelrod. But for those who want to dig deeper into his sound or just have a sweet soft spot for this era in all its funky weirdness then we say why not go seriously deep?
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AXELROD, DAVID The Edge: David Axelrod At Capitol Records 1966-1970 (Capitol) cd 16.98
So good! Axelrod founded the "black music" division of Capitol records in the '60s. During his reign at Capitol he produced amazing records by Cannonball Adderley, Lou Rawls and David McCallum. He also pretty much created the two weirdest Electric Prunes albums. What has been hardest to track down are three of his own records during that era: Songs of Experience, Songs Of Innocence, and Earth Rot. On these, Axelrod put together an orchestra of sound complete with strings, hammond organ and a super rich backbeat that's been sampled and worshiped by the likes of DJ Shadow, Madlib and Dr Dre. This collection compiles tracks from those three albums as well as a few choice cuts he produced for other artists at Captiol circa '66-'70. His sound is one that laid the foundation for the explosion in fusion which would happen in the '70s. Miles Davis always gave props to Axelrod and one could argue that he was very responsible for helping lay the foundation for a work like Bitches Brew to be born. Taking the richness of soul, the freedom of jazz, elements of classical composition and hints of rock and psych-pop Axelrod is one of the few guys who can get away with wearing sunglasses inside 'cause he was just that cool!
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AYERS, ROY Best of Roy Ayers (Polydor) cd 12.98
AYLER, ALBERT Bells (ESP-Disk) lp 16.98
AYLER, ALBERT Bells/Prophecy (ESP-Disk) cd 17.98
AYLER, ALBERT Holy Ghost, Vol. 1 (Revenant) 3lp 36.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Okay, those of you Albert Ayler obsessives / vinyl collectors who felt left out by the recent release of the Ayler Holy Ghost 9cd boxset, can now rejoice, as Revenant will finally be releasing the the Holy Ghost box on vinyl, spread out over several multiple lp sets. This is volume one, and while not quite as elaborate as the totally extravagant cd box, it's still quite nice, gorgeous thick threefold gatefold cover, printed inner sleeves and clear vinyl! While we imagine only Ayler obsessives would probably need this, since many of his recordings are readily available and much cheaper, here's a brief thumbnail description of the man for the Ayler neophytes out there: Albert Ayler was a master on the tenor sax, who decided to forget everything he had ever learned and approach his instrument in a completely different, way more spiritual way, hoping to channel the divine through his music. And goddamn if he didn't succeed. One of the most influential players and composers in the history of free jazz! So yeah. While this may be a bit overwhelming (and pricey) for someone who has never heard Ayler, for fans of Ayler, free jazz fanatics, and vinyl obsessives, this is absolutely ESSENTIAL.
AYLER, ALBERT Holy Ghost: Rare & Unissued Recordings (1962-70) 9 CD Spirit Box (Revenant) 9cd 109.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another totally and absolutely breathtaking musical artifact from Revenant Records. This long in the works box set finally sees the light of day and is way more overwhelming than we could have hoped for, both musically and design-wise. Albert Ayler was a master on the tenor sax, who decided to forget everything he had ever learned and approach his instrument in a completely different, way more spiritual way, hoping to channel the divine through his music. And goddamn if he didn't succeed. Packaged in an ornate black plastic box cast from a hand carved original 'spirit box', the box is packed with music and material. A 208 page harbound book with essays by Amiri Baraka, Val Wilmer, and other Ayler acolytes. A photgraph of Ayler as a young man, a pressed flower, a reproduction of a sixties underground jazz zine, as well as all sorts of other flyers and Ayler related ephemera. The there's the discs. Seven discs of rare live material: the Herb Katz Quintet with Ayler, Helsinki, 1962, Albert Ayler Trio in NYC, 1964, Ayler Quartet in Copenhagen, 1964; NYC, 1967, Burton Greene Quintet with Ayler in NYC, 1966, Albert Ayler Quintet in Cleveland, Berlin & Rotterdam, all 1966, Newport, 1967, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1970, Pharoah Sanders Ensemble with Ayler in NYC, 1968, Don Ayler Sextet w/ Ayler in NYC, 1969 and Albert Ayler solo in NY, 1968. Then there's two discs of interviews from 1964, 1966 and 1970 as well as an interview with Don Cherry from 1971. And finally a rehearsal disc featuring Ayler as a member of the U.S. Army Band. Wow. While this MAY be a bit overwhelming (and pricey) for someone who has never heard Ayler and is just looking for a good introduction (there are plenty of single disc releases still available), for fans of Ayler and lovers of free jazz, this is absolutely ESSENTIAL.
AYLER, ALBERT Live In Greenwich Village: Complete Impulse Recordings (Impulse) 2cd 25.00
AYLER, ALBERT Live On The Riviera (ESP-Disk) cd 14.98
AYLER, ALBERT Love Cry (Impulse) cd 14.98
AYLER, ALBERT Love Cry / The Last Album (Impulse) cd 16.98
We have a trifecta of free jazz "twofers" this week from way deep down in the Impulse catalog. Check out the reviews elsewhere on the list for Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. While the Coltrane features two of our favorite titles from her, the Ayler and Sanders releases are from albums we're less familiar with, or at least hadn't reviewed before, but have been psyched to (re-)discover. While perhaps not the best place to be introduced to these artists, these records reward those seekers of the overlooked deep cuts without the hefty collector/import price! Love Cry from 1967 was Ayler's first release on Impulse. Like the Impulse recordings of John Coltrane, Ayler's signing to the label did not mean a shift towards commercialization, though the music is perhaps more accessible than his ESP recordings. Yet Love Cry is still a weird record. It was the last recording he made with his younger brother Donald on trumpet, before Donald was fired from the band and committed for a short time to a mental institution. So their horn interplay has a tempestuous yet strangely sullen vibe given the fact that most of the music stems from militaristic bugle calls and marches and nursery rhyme fugues. The baroque dirge quality is emphasized further with the odd inclusion of harpsichord in sometimes sallow expositions of New Orleans funeral music. Yet despite all of the chaotic atmosphere, there is a tight focus and flow. Not sure that can be said for the other record, The Last Album from 1969. Though it wasn't technically Ayler's last ever album, it came out of the same sessions as Music Is The Healing Force, though that album was released first, plus if you really want to get technical, there were two other records released from a live concert performed a year later... Yet The Last album has the feeling of something ending, as it contains a lot of experimentation that didn't venture as far out as a lot of his other recordings. Yet the odd musical pairings continue with opener, "Untitled Duet" featuring Ayler on bagpipes cutting angular phrasing with Canned Heat guitarist, Henry Vestine. Sun Ra-like cosmic vocal excursions mark the poetic "Again Comes The Rising of The Sun" and the strange "Desert Blood", a heady dirge featuring plodding piano cascades and scattershot rhythms. Though perhaps not regarded as his best outing, paired together with Love Cry, both albums provide a shored up visionary quality of range and mystique than they would yield as single releases.
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AYLER, ALBERT Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe (Impulse) cd 12.98
"Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe," something of a funk blues album, is Ayler's last studio recording. Many fans feel that after the death of John Coltrane in 1967, the two records ("New Grass" and "Music is the Healing Force") Ayler released were sell-outs, a dilution of his uncompromising (and for some, difficult) artistry in an attempt to reach a broader audience. Ayler believed that he was charged to carry the word of God to people through his music, and those two albums were attempts to do that. With decades of distance now separating listeners (who, when this recording was made, were still just beginning to reel from the freshness of Aylers free music innovation) from these recordings, this reissue serves to re-open the evaluation of the direction Ayler's music was beginning to take before his career was cut short by his still mysterious death. The tracks on "Music Is" fall into three separate categories; vocal tracks featuring the stylings of late-era Ayler collaborator / sweetheart Mary Maria as well as some crazy vocals (and bagpipes!) from Ayler himself, Coltrane-like instrumentals, and blues collaborations with Canned Heat guitarist Henry Vestine. Definitely not the stuff that earned Ayler his reputation as a free-jazz giant, but an interesting insight into the evolution of his music.
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"Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe"
AYLER, ALBERT Spirits (Get Back) cd 15.98
AYLER, ALBERT Spirits (Klimt) lp 24.00
AYLER, ALBERT Swing Low Sweet Spiritual (Klimt) lp 24.00
AYLER, ALBERT QUINTET Slug's Saloon - May 1, 1966 (Fruit Tree) 2cd 19.98
AYLER, ALBERT QUINTET Slug's Saloon: May 1, 1966 (Abraxas) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
BAD PLUS, THE For All I Care (Heads Up) cd 17.98
BAD PLUS, THE Give (Columbia) cd 16.98
Hadn't heard too much about the Bad Plus other than the ususal "They're that weird jazz group that does weird covers." A bit of an oversimplification perhaps, but yeah, the Bad Plus are a weird jazz group, and they do indeed perform lots of unlikely covers. But beyond that, they are a super original, super fucked up, totally original, post-bop jazz weird-rock hybrid. Which makes them a bit hard to pin down. They are definitely too weird and 'rock' to appeal to jazz snobs, but they have some serious jazz chops, serious enough that it definitely alienates a lot of the jazz-phobic among us. Which is too bad, because they are simply amazing. Splattery percussion is all over the place, skittering delicately one moment, crashing and pounding the next, matched by deep, throbbing upright bass, and wild mayhemic piano. Their originals show a firm grasp of the classics, but their choice of covers demonstrates a band history rich in indie and hard rock. In the past they have covered Blondie, Nirvana and Aphex Twin. This time around they take on Ornette Coleman's "Street Woman", as well as the Pixies' "Velouria", which gets deconstructed into a persistent throbbing pulse (that folks in the store mistook for an upstairs neighbor stomping around) with the song's unmistakable melody stretched out into a classical fugue, that eventually gives way to a weirdly funky free-bop workout. But the album's finest moment may just be their verison of Sabbath's "Iron Man", in which an out of tune piano intro gives way to a sludgy, jazzy dirge, surprisingly heavy, and weirdly chaotic and confusional. Part way through they unexpectedly change from minor key to major key, turning that classic metal riff into some sort of strange fanfare, all pomp and bluster, at once totally unlike the original, but at the same time you can imagine, maybe in some other dimension, the major key version being THE version. And that's what makes the Bad Plus so good, their ability to trample all over sacred ground, be it rock, or jazz, or uncoverable covers, but to do it in such a way that we end up thinking the muddy trampled ground, footprints, dead flowers and all, is almost superior to the cherished original.
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BAD PLUS, THE Prog (Heads Up) cd 17.98
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BAD PLUS, THE Suspicious Activity? (Columbia) cd 17.98
It's really easy for a band to be overshadowed by its gimmick, be it crazy makeup, wacky song titles, insane pyrotechnics, setting your drums up backwards at the front of the stage or whatever. A band has to really have the songs and the sound to keep their chosen gimmick in check. With L.A.'s acoustic free jazz combo The Bad Plus, it's their choice of covers. I mean, what proper jazz band would dare tackle songs by Blondie, Nirvana, Aphex Twin, the Pixies and Black Sabbath? Well, none actually. And since the Bad Plus is not a proper jazz group it works out just fine. Piano, bass and drums, all acoustic. From dark and minor key smokey simmer, to chaotic, splattery post bop freakout, to almost Neu!-like krautrock workouts to lush expansive jazz flecked soundscapes, these guys somehow manage to sound totally traditional and utterly fucked up at the same time. The bizarre cover this time around is Vangelis' "(Theme From) Chariots Of Fire" which the Bad Plus smash into a million little free jazz pieces, stick back together seemingly haphazardly, using just the original melody as the glue, as sputtering spastic percussive squalls rain down on manic piano runs and rumbling throbbing basslines, while that impossibly unforgettable melody creeps and skips and slinks in between. If you had never heard the Vangelis original, you'd think it was just the catchiest, weirdest wildest most perfect slab of freaked out jazz ever. Thankfully the originals play just as well, densely layered, ultra complex, wildly playful and darkly melodic, veering all over the jazz spectrum as well as careening occasionally way outside the realms of anything remotely jazzlike. Booklet includes an exclusive original comic strip from David Rees (Get Your War On). And definitely catch 'em live if you can, supposedly they're even wilder and weirder and likely to whip out even more ridiculous covers!
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"(Theme From) Chariots Of Fire"
BAILEY, DEREK Ballads (Tzadik) cd 15.98
John Zorn's Tzadik label presents legendary (notorious?) British guitar improviser Derek Bailey playing, like the title says, a set of classic ballads (recorded at the behest of Zorn himself). No, he's not taking the piss: these really are jazz standards from Bailey's youth, done in his certainly un-standard (but respectful) style, melding free improv with these sentimental melodies. He's applied his chaotic, spidery string manipulation to drum and bass, so why not Hoagy Carmichael? And if you think, like our Andee does, that Derek Bailey doesn't really know how to play the guitar, this might (might) change your mind. Bailey's stark, atonal takes on stuff like "My Melancholy Baby", "Georgia On My Mind" and "Body and Soul" creates a unique mood for sure. With liner notes by Marc Ribot.
BAILEY, DEREK Carpal Tunnel (Tzadik) cd 15.98
Here's the third solo Derek Bailey album released by big Bailey fan John Zorn's Tzadik label, and as the title sadly suggests, this disc is in part a document of the legendary (and now rather elderly) British free improv guitarist's bout with the painful condition that's the bane of office workers everywhere. Bailey didn't get it from too much mousing and keyboarding of course, it's the fretboard that did it to him. And that's no laughing matter, a guitarist suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome -- yet somehow you can imagine that if any guitarist could persevere through a crippling hand/wrist ailment, Bailey could. In fact, due to his usually rather abstract and atonal sound, some might (unfairly) say that we'd never notice... Certainly, despite the carpal tunnel, these tracks are full of all the stark, scrabbling, skeletal beauty that Bailey fans appreciate in his work. Ringing, scraping sounds with occasional alarming jumps in volume that threaten to feed back. Should we imagine gentle cries of pain? The first track, "Explanation & Thanks", features Bailey's voice as well as his precariously plucked guitar. He's not singing, but rather speaking, in a very personal tone as if to some friends (who may have been present?). It's kinda nice, really, the feeling of his warm and halting talking perhaps influencing how you'll hear his guitar playing on this and subsequent tracks, full of human personality rather than being the alienating skronk for which some might mistake it.
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BAILEY, DEREK Improvisation (Ampersand) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Recording from 1975 originally issued in Italy of 14 short (each under five minutes) solo improvisations by Bailey. At the request of the artist, no historical liner notes have been included - instead there are four nice photos of Derek eating an apple. Ooh, now there's a selling point!
BAILEY, DEREK String Theory (Paratactile) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Solo guitar album from maverick British improv legend Derek Bailey. The "electric" portion of the album features sustained feedback tones that vary from ever-so-slightly painful to actually quite beautiful. Indeed, for the most part, his more usual abstract spidery scribble of notes is absent from this recording, even on the three "acoustic" tracks, which are rather restrained and almost pretty. Towards the end of the album Bailey is joined by a female vocalist, and her singing doesn't sound much different from his electric guitar, making for some interesting duets! High-pitched bliss. Infinitely more appealing that most other Derek B. stuff, say Bailey doubters Allan and Andee...
BAILEY, DEREK & ALEX WARD LOCationAL (Incus/Compatible Recording) cd 19.98
Six new tracks from guitar improv guru Bailey with clarinetist Alex Ward. Five of the tracks here were recorded in the studio in 1988-99 and one was captured live in October of 1998.
BAILEY, DEREK & EDDIE PREVOST Ore (Arrival Records) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The year 2000 saw this historic (what, you didn't see it in the paper?) first-ever duo meeting between maverick improv guitarist old man Derek Bailey and AMM's percussion master Eddie Prevost. Two of the UKs most legendary, then, doing the in-the-studio-improv thing, now available on cd for you to see how it went...
BAILEY, DEREK / JAMAALADEEN TACUMA / CALVIN WESTON Mirakle (Tzadik) cd 16.98
Britsh free-improv guitar legend Derek Bailey (curmudgeonly, but adventurous in his collaborations) teams up with a rhythm section known for work with Ornette Coleman and James "Blood" Ulmer. So: a collision of skittering, abstract guitar skree and semi-abstract jazz funk of the "harmolodic" variety. Random, noisy, damaged grooviness. Pretty cool.
BAKER, CHET Chet (Doxy) lp 24.00
BAKER, CHET Chet (Doxy) lp 24.00
BAKER, CHET Sings (Pacific Jazz) cd 13.98
BALANESCU QUARTET Maria T (Mute) cd 16.98
BALANESCU QUARTET Possessed (Mute) cd 12.98
String quartet versions of popular songs are nothing new, in fact they're now so ubiquitous, that the other big independent store in San Francisco, has a HUGE section of nothing but string tributes to bands like Radiohead, Nickelback, Rush, even Slayer and other metal bands. But back in 1992, when the legendary Balanescu Quartet released Possessed, we were definitely a little surprised. A fairly well respected world class quartet, tackling songs by krautrock legends Kraftwerk, and unlike the current glut of 'string tributes', this was not a bunch of studio session hacks pounding out whatever music was put in front of them, instead this was an homage, a respectful interpretation, a series of cover songs that spoke to the link between classical music and popular music, and played passionately, by musicians who no doubt were influenced by the originals. Most of the covered songs are from Kraftwerk's later, more electronic period, which is interesting, considering that the early Kraftwerk records were actually not that electronic, much more acoustic and organic in fact, and featured the flute quite prominently, itself more often a classical instrument than a rock one. But these songs translate surprisingly well, the melodies are immediately recognizable, but are given an extra sort of gravitas by the new instrumentation, "Model" especially, the main melody becoming way more melancholy and aching, the mood somber and haunting. And in all the tracks, the pizzicato strings are used to great effect to create a propulsive krautrock feel, that when fused to the classic string quartet sound, definitely creates something pretty wonderful and original. Besides the 5 Kraftwerk covers, there are also 3 Balanescu originals, which are quite dynamic and dramatic, unlike a lot of string quartet music you've probably heard, the title track is super jagged and intense, but also moody and cinematic, lots of aggressive bowing and plucking, that slips seamlessly into some sort of Eastern European sounding gypsy folk tango. "Want Me" is another very European sounding piece, this one including mysterious ethereal choral female vocals which definitely give the song a whole different vibe. "No Time Before Time" is about as traditional as these guys get, sounding like a very stately sort of 'classic' string quartet music, the sort of sound you might expect to hear in some royal court, but even then, still quite lyrical and filmic. And finally, the record closes with Balanescu's version of a David Byrne piece, and it's pretty delightful, playful, and super melodic, again quite soundtracky, something you might here in some cool indie film, equal parts brooding and minor key, warm and sweetly melodic. Fantastic stuff, especially the Kraftwerk covers of course, and while we'd recommend this to pretty much anyone, folks who dig Kronos Quartet, who have yet to hear Balanescu, are in for a treat!
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BAR KOKHBA Lucifer (Tzadik) cd 16.98
BARAKA (LEROI JONES) & THE SUN RA MYTH-SCIENCE ARKESTRA, AMIRI Black Mass (Sonboy Records) cd 15.98
BARAKA (LEROI JONES) & THE SUN RA MYTH-SCIENCE ARKESTRA, AMIRI Black Mass (Sonboy Records) cd 15.98
BARBIERI QUARTET, GATO In Search Of The Mystery (ESP / Aretina) cd 14.98
A new wave of ESP reissues has finally arrived bringing a handful of obscure gems back into print. This disc is the Gato Barbieri from the old days, 1967 to be exact, before he had softened up and mellowed out and was still a major player in the jazz avant garde. Dark and rumbling jazzscapes of bowed cello and skittering, slithering percussion and haunting reverbed pianos underscore wickedly inspired solos from session leader Barbieri. Unlikely melodies and furious harmolodic runs are peppered with intense screeching and soulful wailing. Truly inspired and still amazing even after almost 35 years!
"In Search Of The Mystery"
BARIGOZZI GROUP Optical Sound (Easy Tempo) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Smooth jazzy guitar, horn and keyboard melodies float over a sexy, Italian Charlie's Angels soundtrack.
BARK! Swing (Matchless) cd 17.98
Bark! is an electoacoustic improv trio from the UK featuring guitar, percussion and electronics. The players are really good at generating cool noises (not just plain old noise) with their instruments, and create an enjoyable interplay of these sounds, sometimes resembling a rhythmic, wild, alien conversation. This stuff reminds us a bit of Supersilent, or the Shaking Ray Levis, minus the glossolalia. At other points they turn moodier but still remain quite musically active. This seems to be improv music made by good listeners, and meant (succesfully) to be a good listen.
BARON, JOEY WITH ARTHUR BLYTHE, RON CARTER, & BILL FRISELL We'll Soon Find Out (Intuition) cd 16.98
Drum god Joey Baron (known for his work in John Zorn's Naked City and Masada groups) has collected a stellar lineup to play his compositions. Saxophonist Blythe, bassist Carter, and guitarist Frisell are all leaders in their own right. Unlike some of their projects (or like some of Frisell's popular ones) this is very "inside", trad-jazz. It's the Joey Baron record that you could buy for your mom.
BAY / OSLO MIRROR TRIO s/t (Conrad Sound) cd 9.98
Oslo meets the Bay Area in this cross-continental collaboration, first brought to our attention by bay area drummer extraordinaire Jacob Heule, who also tears it up in both Basshaters and Ettrick, two bands particularly known for their explosive live shows and improvisational finesse. The Bay / Oslo Mirror Trio chronicles an exceptionally fierce meeting of 3 Norwegian improvisers (Guro Skumsnes Moe, Havard Skaset, and Kyrre Laastad) and 3 Bay Area improvisers (Jacob Heule, Ava Mendoza and Tony Dryer). Don't be fooled by the "trio" tag, really this is a 6 person collaboration that covers all kinds of sonic territory. The disc opens with low electronic rumbles, metallic drones and shimmering percussion that chime and corrode into demonic clatter and wailing distortion. The instrumentation becomes less mysterious as the album unfolds, spastic drum fills flutter beneath walls of guitar feedback and head-splitting noise, sizzling electronics burn holes in amps and glimpses of double bass peer through the mix. While we definitely love the moments of chaotic bombastic whirl, we can also hear the group's careful attention to space and detail as moments of quiet restraint offer shelter from the storm. So nice! An impressive showcase of modern improv, we can't get enough!
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