Gunter Hampel-SURVIVOR 2-CD-R SET; ON FIRE CD-R (both available on the German Birth label)
Frank Wright-ONE FOR JOHN CD-R (BYG)
But, before we get to today's subject at hand...
LET ME MAKE THIS VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!
Bear with me for a few paragraphs so's I may take this honored opportunity to clue you in to a neat website that I just discovered, one that I'm sure you'll soon be digging to high heavens and back just like I have the past few days! And surprises of surprises, this new site I'm talkin' 'bout is dedicated to none other than that infamous seventies fanzine (or "roxine" as issue #1 so eloquently put it), DENIM DELINQUENT!!! And yes you read that right...DD, that very same fanzine I and many others out there have been raving about for a longer time than I can remember is now (in part) available on the web so for once quit bidding $68.93 for a shrivelled up copy of #1 like I've been doing for the past ten years and just download the thing, eh???? In case you were sick from Rock 101 that day, DENIM DELINQUENT was a fanzoonie edited, written and hyped by Ottawa native Jymn Parrett which, along with BACK DOOR MAN and FLASH helped set the stage for a whole slew of top-notch high energy rock & foll reads that came outta the bedrooms of many a misunderstood rock fan for at least the next decade or so! Imagine that, seven issues jam-packed with impassioned articles and talk-to-you reviews featuring the likes of the Stooges, Kinks, Dolls, Alice, Kiss, MC5 and a whole bunch of seventies acts both big and miniscule you might not care about, but you won't IGNORE! And...for a rundown on my very own recent review of DD's final outing from '76 just press here and don't forget to scroll down as they say.
Many people (even those who claim to be front and center when it comes to worshipping at the altar of seventies rockism) don't seem to realize just how important DENIM DELINQUENT was on the fanzine circult at the time it was being published but believe-you-me, it was a must-read for those into the likes of not only those aforementioned groups but many more high-energy noisemongers of the day, along with various sixties rebels and the likes making a grand re-emergence via the local bargain bins. In fact, DD was so humongous as far as fanzine influences went that it garnered a pretty impressive readership with the likes of Greg Shaw and Gene Simmons being amongst the select! In fact, DD was so well-known within the rock fandom circuit that issue #4 even sported a rather scabrous Lester Bangs review of Lou Reed's SALLY CAN'T DANCE, and not only can you read that but the sorded story behind the thing if you'll only press on the link to that ish once you hit this (shall I say...) MANDATORY page!
Now I'm sure a scant few of you will remember when Jymn had a very similar website goin' about ten years back, but he soon axed that 'un due to a lack of interest on anybody's part. I guess now that all of us wild and wooly rock fanatics have comp-boxes of our own Jymn decided it time to get them old issues (along with new reviews and various bits o' fanzine esoterica) back on-line, and for a guy like myself just sick and tired of the lack of fun rock & roll reading available on the web you can bet that the grand re-emergence of DD on the web is certainly cause to run for joy in the nude just like Jymn's very own "Boy Howdy"-esque mascot did in the pages of his now-fabled read!
Be forewarned, all of the pages that appeared in the seven-ish fanzine run ain't totally up yet, but Jymn's gettin' there and what he does have goin' like a page from #5's Iggy Pop spectacular and part of the Monty Python interview that popped up in #2 (when the mag underwent the quickie moniker change to YAHOO though no lawsuits by Mr. P directed at the computer giant seem to be forthcoming) are certainly worth your time and temperament, coming off especially copasetic with my own sense of class since Mr. P has reprinted the ORIGINAL PAGES of the mag online and thankfully didn't re-peck everything out in order to make it look "professional". So it's like you get to read them the same way hundreds of rock-starved brats who found out about DD thanks to a well-placed classified in ROLLING STONE of all places! But whatever, digging into these webpages finding all of those first-hand articles and musings along with Parrett's fantastic art and generally on-target opines'll send you back to a time and day when rock & roll was still this seething, vibrating, thriving music that somehow went off the deep end around the advent of the eighties when Madonna rolled around and began calling all the shots. And what's best about it is you can now read Jymn's It's All Meat review and see for yourself just how much of it I plagiarized in my own write up of the thing!
Younger readers'll get hands-on experience by reading the various articles and finding out that there was more to seventies rock & roll...much more, than Peter Frampton. Older readers'll get a refresher course in just what this whole rockscreed was like in the pre-Eddy days, and we can only hope that maybe this newfound success on the computer boards will spur Jymn on to even greater things, like maybe anudder print issue of his "roxine" perhaps?
'n not only that, but if you study Jymn's site long and hard enough you will be directed to a page where you can do such things as buy your very own DENIM DELINQUENT t-shirts with actual Iggy and New York Dolls grafix for forty bucks a smack! 'n yeah, that might seem like a rather steep price for alla ya welfare kids out there in readerland but frankly, what better way is there for you to part with your hard-begged than pick up one of these unique tops to wear to your next social function...unless you wanna spend it all on BLACK TO COMM back issues hmmmmmmmmmm?
OK, back to the real world of blogging. And it certainly is a big switch goin' from mid-seventies rock shenanigans to free jazz sputum, but maybe not so for me...y'see, I'm one guy who believe-it-or-leave-it finds more than a few basic similarities twixt the rock and avant garde jazz world, and yeah even a base fool will have to admit that perhaps there is more than a few instances of the twain overlapping to the point where you can't figure our where one begins and the other ends. And I'm not talking about those rather insignificant meeting o' minds like Jerry Garcia recording with Ornette Coleman and other show-offy hipster publicity moves (almost as bad as when Grace Slick referred to John Coltrane's ASCENSION as his "acid trip"!)...I more or less have in mind the more dark, feral side of rockism treading onto avant territory and vicey-versy along the lines of "Eight Miles High" or "Sister Ray" not to mention FUNHOUSE, and who could forget the pre-Suicide Reverend B and other similar aggregates just begging for a CD box set release? Or maybe even better Sonny Sharrock's career from MONKEY POCKIE-BOO on up through Material and Last Exit, as well as a whole slew of aggregates that played at the Dee Pop-curated "Freestyle Jazz" series first at the CBGB Lounge and later on Jimmy's Tavern. Yes there sure is a lotta interest in rock on the jazz side and jazz elpees in many a rockist collection and hey, scratch a Stooges or Velvets fan and I'm sure you'll find a trickling of avant-jazzter moves flowing up from beneath the epidermis.
There has been some striking similarities between jazzbos and rockists in other areas as well, especially in the way that both more often than not had to circumvent the usual major labels in order to get their recorded wares out to da people (some of whom even have a taste for these kinda musics!). One guy who has been well aware of this and who has been releasing his own platters since 1969 in fact is Gunter Hampel, he of ESP-disk and Jeanne Lee fame, a German who has been splitting his time between the Old Country and New Yawk playing with musicians on both continents for a good long time with a style somewhere between Albert Ayler (whilst on sax, sorta), Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet, maybe) and Karl Berger (vibes, yeah!) and sure it's like there's a whole new generation, no matter how miniscule, aping the same influences and stylings as these greats, but Berger's a SURVIVOR (as his 2-Cee-Dee set states) whose been in on the game for a good fifty or so years long before most of the new generation was even germinating. Maybe that ought to count for something in this whacked out free jazz world of ours, eh?
Anyway I had a whole buncha CD-Rs rotting away in my collection...rotting because these temperamental thangs don't always wanna spin let alone play on my various boom boxes as well as computer which has led to a whole ballfulla frustration on my part! (And you wonder why the normally jovial I can go the curmudgeon route at times...just thinking of all the hassles and trouble I've gone through thanks to the miracle of progress and the shoddy equipment it has spawned is enough to get my blood boiling!) However, as providence (or at least Newport) would have it, I "inherited" a small cheap-o boom box that not only snuggles nicely beside the comfy chair in my bedroom but actually PLAYS these burned-me-up disques I've accrued meaning that all of those Les Rallizes Denudes platters and various dub offerings sent me by once-friends can now be enjoyed in the sanctity of my own domain, and I don't have to think up excuses to hop into the car and take fifty-minute spins in order to hear these platters anymore and you know how gas prices are these days!
Back to Hampel...ever since the inception of his Birth label in '69 Hampel's released gadzillions of his own material on disc and disque in a brave attempt to cut out the higher-up finaglings that go on in the record biz! You might have picked up these albums via the late (and maybe not-so-great) New Music Distribution Service back in the seventies and eighties, but (getting autobiographical again) the ONLY time I bought one of these Birth albums for my own dining and dancing pleasure was during a trip to the basement of Record Revolution in Cle Hts. sometime in the eighties. The cover was worn yet it didn't really matter considering how it was one of those generic things with a check next to whatever platter was slipped within the sleeve. Nice and cheap. It's still snuggled somewhere in my jazz bin in the basement, and maybe one of these days I'll slip it outta the collection and once again let you know what I think of the thing. But for now we'll talk about these relative newies.
As I said, Hampel is a "survivor" and that's the name of this double-disc offering recorded October '01 featuring the man on his usual wares (and mebbe a hint of flute?) accompanied by a German outfit consisting of Nils Wogram and Christian Weidner on trombone and alto sax. No bass, no drums, and because of that this live concert has a nice chamber sound and feel not as academic as some of those Jimmy Giuffre things and swinging enough for my own paranoid moments. The music ebbs and flows and floats but not in any sorta hippie jive way. Engaging but not overpowering. Nice stuff to enter and leave the room to, or even to read your old fanzine and book collection to while waiting to doze off in the evening like I'm wont to do these days. Oddly enough, the music stands in stark contrast to the (once again low-fidelity) sleeve, or actually some folded over sheets of foolscap which surprisingly enough deal with the September 11th doings which Hampel not only witnessed, but photographed (that's him on the reverse with the burning tower in the background). I wouldn't call it exploitation as much as a reflection of sheer terror on Hampel's (and our) part, and it ain't like he's doing this to sell gazookian amounts of disques so if you're offended, maybe you shouldn't be.
If you're feeling a little more adventurous after spinning SURVIVOR a few times you might want to check out ON FIRE, a stunning disque recorded with Hampel's European quartet (he also has one stashed away for his Amerigan appearances!) at the Essen Jazz Festival on 17/1/04 (I reversed the month and day in order to be more overseas about it considering this does emanate from the old Reich). Bass-less yet with drums, this one moves and shakes pretty well despite the obvious primitive recording techniques used to edit this thing. More spacial play and even some nice free breaks here/there. Dunno how it stacks up to the rest of the vast array of Hampel offerings he's selling via his site, but I find ON FIRE pleasant enough for an occasional free jazz resensifying session.
And as I said, there are many more of these Hampel Birth platters out there, though the best way to latch onto any is via ebay and some jazz store operating therein. I tried getting in touch with the Birth people in order to get some more of these items into my collection (especially the LIVE AT THE CBGB LOUNGE one if only for sentimental purposes) but have yet to receive any response. And ya woulda thought that by this time the mere UTTERANCE of my name would elicit all of the music world to come clamoring upon my tootsies!
While we're on the subject of free jazz Cee-Dee-R burns lemme tell you that I also got hold of a "reissue" of Frank Wright's classic ONE FOR JOHN album recently. Funny, this BYG album which I personally would have considered one of their better offerings warranted a release on the Affinity label back in the eighties, but nobody has had the good sense to make it available in the here and now which does stymie me quite a bit. Too bad we have to rely on this "dodgy" disque because ONE FOR JOHN is another feather in the BYG cap with Wright and his boffo backup (including the ace Noah Howard, pianist Bobby Few and jazz drummer MuHammad Ali) romping through a particularly high-strung sesh including not only the obligatory Coltrane homage (complete with a rather eerie yodel section) but yet another Far East theme on free jazz turf that sounds pretty wild especially when Wright and band start jammering in pidgin Chinese! I guess they could get away with that being black and all, but just try doing it nowadays! All joking aside, here's one that's begging for the Italian small label treatment in any format and more sooner than later, one would hope.