Saturday, March 31, 2007


Be thankful you're getting these two reviews (and that's that!) this weekend, not only because I'm so tired after a six-day work week that's zapped all of my precious juices but because other'n the Stooges box set reviewed last time there really ain't that much to gab about. (You may THINK I spend all my money on every hip rock and jazz disque I can get my mitts on, to which I shall reply I sure wish you were right!) But don't worry, I have some hot tricks up my short sleeves in the works for next time (a come-on I hope will keep all of you prospective bungholes tuned in!).

Ray Russell-LIVE AT THE I.C.A./RETROSPECTIVE 2-CD set (Moikai, PO Box 470168, Chicago IL 60647)

I've been told that none other than underground hero Rudolph Grey is a big fan of British avant garde guitarist Ray Russell which is precisely why I bought this deluxe 2-Cee-Dee reissue of some allegedly classic seventies sides including those actually released on RCA back in the day! Well, at least the hoity liner notes say that Grey's a fan, but actually the noted guitarist and former Von Lmo sparring partner is much more than that. Just play Russell's studio version of "Stained Angel Morning" (disque 2, track 1) next to the Blue Humans' "Implosion '74" single and you'll realize that Grey was more or less a plagiarizer of Russell (but one who did it with love) if anything!

British jazz never really did excite me. Well, I gotta admit that I haven't heard as much of the stuff as I should (I always wanted to lend ear to that Ivor Cutler longplayer on Regal Zonophone that I read about in some jazz book ages ago where a big band consisting of all the hot UK jazzbos backed the "eccentric" [as the critics always say] Scottish poet), but for some reason a lotta the avant jazz that came off the offshore island didn't seem to have the same "zung" as classic sides created by authentic Amerigan blacks whether still inna States or expatriates in Europe recording albums they never would get paid for. I could say the same about this one despite the presence of some "heavy" players the likes of Harry Beckett and Gary Windo (he of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON and Pam Windo and the Shades fame)...true Russell is a great experimental guitarist who can play with some fire and verve but some of the material seems to be not that much on par with what you should expect with regards to seventies nova music.

Still Russell and band do tend to amaze even this jaded fanabla at times, not only on the studio version of "Stained Angel" (the live one's no slouch either) but on such relative winners as "All Week Tomorrow" which has this cool seventies synth sound that reminds me of when I was a li'l one and used to go "ooh" over them things. Good enough backing too from the likes of Beckett, Windo and other English flybynights. But still the entire proceeding has this strange English coating to it (must be the same one that coats everybody over there's teeth a nice green) which will undoubtedly keep me from spinning this one as much as I do that classic slice of "music from Purgatory" MONKEY POCKIE BOO. Nice but I was expecting much more after all them years of fan drool.

Karl Berger and Edward Blackwell-JUST PLAY CD (Emanem)

Do any of you out there happen to own Berger's ESP alhum? I never was able to find it myself. Somehow that one got passed over when all those reissues started coming out back in the eighties. Nevertheless the guy was more than handy as a sideman on a whole slew of recording gigs for ESP and others...I mean, who could forget his work alongsides Sonny Sharrock on the Marzette Watts disc, or on about a hundred other great 60s/70s avant boppers that I hope to get to more sooner than later! And even today the guy's still sticking around and making himself relevant to a newer search for sonic freedom. I dunno about you, but I did catch the guy on a crowded CBGB Lounge stage as part of Earth People, and maybe that's the closest to what I will ever experience of the man in any sorta two-dimensional fashion so maybe those teenage chills can affect me now just like they did then!

On this '76 side Berger does the duet thing with former Ornette drummer Edward (no longer just "Ed"...he never did like the shortened version) Blackwell getting into that seventies percussion groove that seemed popular enough with the various members of the AACM not to mention hundreds of watered-down acolytes. With Berger playing vibraphone (with the motor off giving it a less full sound), balafon and darbuka (trad African drum) and Blackwell on drums and "osi-drum" (a "slit" drum which sure sounds durty to me!), this platter contains a whole lotta percussive thump that doesn't come off that much outta place amidst all those other avant/drum percussion romps that you used t come across during the day. The balafon-dominated pieces remind me of some Jerome Cooper (former Revolutionary Ensemble percussionist/pianist) solo album I've had for quite some time, and after this one's over I'm gonna hafta refer to that one to see how good my aging memories of long-unheard percussive throb really is!

Always engrossing, never raucous and pleasant enough especially those paranoid evening hours, JUST PLAY might be a nice one to slip into an already overcrowded free jazz collection...nothing essential, but invigorating in its own way nonetheless.

And, because you DIDN'T ask for it, one more review just to pad things out a bit!!!

Erica Pomerance-YOU USED TO THINK CD (ESP/ZYX Germany)

An oldie that got tossed into the "current playlist" here at BLOG TO COMM central. 'n yeah, before all those ESP CD reissues started comin' out I too wondered exactly who this Pomerance chick was...turns out she's one of them braless Canadian freedom-loving types but don't let that turn you off to this platter which, despite the undersurging hippie current, has enough smart-sass credo to it that'll certainly knock your socks off, to coin a phrase. Think Tim Buckley (ex-folkie does her own avant garde jazz trip) and you'll be there as Pomerance bleats cool jive whine vocals while time signatures get stranger and former folk friends look on with utter contempt. Subject matters range from the French Revolution ('89 and '68) to Leonard Cohen, and I can't see the serious ESP fan or collector, or even people who scour blogs like this to latch onto some new trip being without it.

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