Sunday, December 09, 2007


Before I begin with today's rigamarole I thought I should warn you honest and abiding readers that I'm not going to post my letter to Santy this year, and in fact I ain't gonna send the ol' bub any notes whether via email or even the good ol' fashioned way! Since I pretty got much of what I asked for the previous Christmas, I don't wanna tax Santa any more than I have to considering he has his job cut out for him trying to find anyone who was good this year. Of course, as far as I know that San Francisco simp J. Neo Marvin is still alive (you might remember I was wanting his strangulation via guitar string, something that would benefit the whole of mankind who wouldn't have to put up with that puerile pap of his that he calls music), and not only that but performing who knows what with his silver-spoon-wrapped tongue, but given that the "man" does live in SF you know his lifespan has automatically been shortened by at least thirty years. Hey Neo, I know you read this...all I'm sayin' is to expect Gabriel to come blowing...his trumpet, that is and be prepared to meet thy maker. No, not that stage door Johnny of yours!

Anyhoo, this is installment #3 of my latest record/CD run (and I didn't even get to the vinyl yet!) along with an actual FREEBIE sent my way which only goes to prove that...after twenty-seven years of scribbling some of the most etapoint and cutting commentary to see the light of day in an age of what seems like terminal anti-Bangs/Meltzer/McGuire- isms in rock writing, SOMEBODY still thinks this entire shebang has some worth and meaning to it! Now only if his tribe would increase!!!!

And as for today's specialties of the house...

Sirone/Bang Ensemble-CONFIGURATION CD (Silkheart, Sweden)

Tried linking this review up to the Silkheart website address that is mentioned on the back cover but it looks as if it's down...perhaps for good because although back in the nineties hipster m.o. bizzes like Forced Exposure were selling a whole langload of this Swedish jazz label's wares, as of late finding Silkheart-issued booty has been harder than finding funny jokes in an entire series of M*A*S*H reruns. (And hey, I used to like that show...go figure!) But I guess if you search hard enough you'll be able to find Silkheart's pretty contemporary free jazz wares including this 'un featuring not only violinist extrapolateordinaire Billy Bang, but former Cecil Taylor/Revolutionary Ensemble bassist Sirone, famed homeless shelter legend Charles Gayle on saxes and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, one of the new breed of performers nobody's ever heard of because the jazz press establishment is too busy rehashing old boring cocktail music 'stead of rehashing this old exciting avant garde stuff that sounds just as up-to-date now as it did back when Ornette hit his first sour note!

Comparisons to Sirone's old Revolutionary Ensemble, without the AACM-inspired small instruments and gongs, will come easily to mind. After all, Bang himself studied with the late Leroy Jenkins and, although Bang has developed a rather different arco-style on his fid' there are still enough similarities in atonality and extrapolating on normal jazz forms linking the both of 'em. (Though I do consider Bang a more expressive musician IMHO, perhaps because of his willingness to take his jazz roots into rock via Material amongst other interesting vistas.) But this grouping does have more'n a few ref. pts. with the old Revolutionary Ensemble whether it be those quiet, almost classical passages or Sirone's own arco bass playing which could also be heard on a number of much-needed (by you) Noah Howard issues. Of course Gayle's presence on alto and tenor with its Ayler influence steady and sure gives this sesh an even more "loft jazz" sound and approach that's probably gonna have me heading back to my WILDFLOWERS collection as soon as I put this post to beddy-bye. And put 'em all together (with Sorey's expressive drumming which doesn't recall any bigtime free players offhand, and perhaps is the better because of it!) and you got a disque that, while not a total knock-upsides-the-head free splat did manage to keep me interested enough in it the two times I've given it a spin since receiving it three days ago. As they say, a definite keeper.

An additional note...the show from whence this Cee-Dee came was recorded live at the old CBGB Lounge November 9 2004, back during the great Freestyle Jazz run curated by Dee Pop oft mentioned on this blog and perhaps a few other places as well. Those cybercasted gigs were definitely major events in my life, and this 'un sure digs up old memories of those gigs where the old hands and the new upstarts intermingled to take jazz deep into the 21st century. All I can say is that I hope a whole load more of these gigs were not only recorded but will be issued shortly because frankly, it was stuff like this as well as all those great under-the-counterculture bands that I remember best about CBGB, not that rather cute and calculated alternative muzak that began to overtake the "scene" sometime in the eighties only to ruin the entire punk game for eons on end!

Weasel Walter Double Quartet and Double Trio-FIRESTORM CD (ugEXPLODE)

Here's the freebie sent to me by Weasel Walter, a man who previously thrilled us with his REVOLT MUSIC disque earlier this year. Y'know, I really don't know much about this Weasel Walter guy...and really, from what I do know well...I dunno! For example, the pic of him I scammed in SIGNAL TO NOISE with the warpaint on didn't quite evoke any no wave feelings of old while anyone who'd perform a song with a title like "Slit the Catholic Throat" only goes to prove to you that some ethnic/religious cleansings are more equal than others and for reason we all know just don't register on the enlightened minds emote-o-meter like others do (see Elizabethan England, 1936 Spain or Northern Ireland for an example, Walt!). But we're talking music here, and just like all those self-consciously guilt-riddled whiteboy rock critics would just bleep over the reverse racism in rap or usually misperceived racialist commentary in white rock back inna eighties I'll just put my own personal feelings on the side and say that this guy can really put out a killer diller of an avant garde jazz platter that doesn't sound like it was recorded by some caucasian no wave revivalist, one whom I'm sure some woulda fallen smack dab into the "I wanna be black" syndrome oh so common back inna seventies! FIRESTORM actually has some backbone and balls to it, and hey, if this were an actual release from thirty years back and sold via the New Music Distribution Service who knows, maybe DOWN BEAT would've reviewed it, though with only three stars given how square some of their critics could be!

Of course drummer Walter hadda surround himself with a variety of Chicago-area jazz musicians to pull off this powerful recording which even a cursory listen will show is clearly in the Brotzmann tradition of strength through busted bloodvessels. In fact Walter even got Sun Ra reg. Marshall Allen on a few tracks which certainly does help Walter's own stature out quite a bit, and I'm not just talking about the "prestige" of having Allen play on it if only for the sake of the big name drawing power. And there's no let-up in sight as these groupings careen in and out of their power-play for 74 nonstop minutes of total eruption.

Now be forewarned (that is, if such things frighten you off!): there is a bitta the eighties avant jazz splurge here thanks to some electronic tomfoolery courtesy Mario Rechtern, but I'm sure that a good time will be had by all. That is if your idea of a good time is atonal free spew being played at 250 m.p.h. by punks which is probably one reason why you ain't gonna hear about it via any of the legit jazz trades! Frankly it's a pretty good idea of where free jazz stands here inna late oh-ohs, the style and attitude being caried on by the same white guys who pretty much kept this music afloat throughout the seventies drawing ideas and influences from it while everyone else was more concerned with Chick Corea's insipid attempts to make jazz more "palatable" to Emerson Lake and Palmer fans.
Ai Aso-CHAMOMILE POOL CD (Pedal, Japan); Suishoi No Fune-THE SHINING STAR-LIVE CD (Important, both are available through Volcanic Tongue)

Two of the more-recent Japanese CDs that I got because I thought they'd have some cohesive connection to the early-Velvet Underground intensity grope that way too many groups over here jettisoned in favor of a soft touch and a Matador recording contract. Ai Aso were a totally new 'un to me...and actually, Aso is the femme singer who pretty much moves and shapes this session with her high-pitched voice which makes Kate Bush sound like she just hit menopause. Band follows her amply enough but still this one's guaranteed to induce instant diabetes.

Suishoi No Fune sound better on their latest (recorded live in Japan anna U.S. of Whoa) than I thought they were on their debut with more of a total energy flow approach rather similar to their chief inspiration Les Rallizes Denudes, at least more so than anything else I've heard outta Japan (even LSD March and Up-Tight!) as of late. And I think this 'un's an Amerigan, or at least "western" release! How about that!
Les Rallizes Denudes-CABLE HOGUE SOUNDTRACK 2-CD set (Univive Japan); MIZUTANI WITH ASSOCIATION LOVE SONGS 3-CD set (Univive Japan); ARE YOU RALLIZED 2-CD set (Ignuitas); YODO-GO-A-GO-GO CD (10th Avenue Freeze Out)

And speaking of Les Rallizes Denudes, what better way to follow up the previous review than with mentions of four of the Denudists' latest offerings that, like many of these disques, are bound to be here today and gone tomorrow. Like I might have said, some of these Denudes platters (especially those on the Univive label) seem to sell out faster than gerbil tubes in San Francisco so if you do manage to latch onto any of 'em whether they be silver-pressings or CD-Rs consider yourself one lucky obsessive-compulsive high-energy music fan custom-made for a blog such as this!

It's kinda funny that CABLE HOGUE SOUNDTRACK is named after one of Sam Peckinpah's early-seventies westerns which gained some notoriety for being the first one to feature any nudity. (Actually Peckinpah's THE WILD BUNCH had a boobie scene in it so I dunno what Hy Gardner was blabbing about when he labeled THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE as the first nudie western!) Anyway, I still recall with fond confustion that poster where Stella Stevens and Jason Robards are giving each other rub-a-dubs (and to me, well it did send tingle thrills throughout my pre-pubescent form proving that maybe I was on to something),
but back to this newie from the Denudes archives...CABLE HOGUE SOUNDTRACK is I guess taken from the legendary Ethan Mousike "documentary" (which I never saw) that was filmed in the early-eighties, or at least Mousike's name is on the cover so who knows. My guess is, judging from the wide array of Denudies who are listed on the cover, that these rather soundboard-y recordings were taken from various times in the Denudes lifespan, most likely mid-seventies to early-eighties. Disc one is pretty standard live stuff complete with an extended "The Last One" closing the affair (meaning: if you have it on ten or more of those other Denudes box sets this might be a bit redundant) but #2 has some new-to-mine-ears numbers including this nice extended instrumental passage to a song with a Japanese title so I can't name it for ya, but it was so pleasing to the ears that all sorts of hot-flash comparisons were hitting my brain while it spun, only to be immediately forgotten as the followup number shocked me back to heavy metal reality.

Of course the strangest thing I encountered here was that ending of "Night of the Assassins" with that saxophone, an instrument ne'er before heard by my ears in the Denudes canon, at the end being played in a fashion that would not sound out-of-place on KILL CITY! What gives with that anyways (sounds like an overdub perhaps slipped on w/o the group's knowledge, and I'm sure they would know better)???

I would say that MIZUTANI WITH ASSOCIATION LOVE SONGS might also be a pass-on for those with most of the Denudes CDs yet not enough of the long green. After all, a lot of this is redundant with disc one scamming much from the group's early/mid-seventies days while #2's an '80 gig that doesn't reveal any new or deep insight into the overall Denudes mystique. However, there were some strange bizarroid sounds in here that surprised even me especially on disque #3, where not only can one hear some one-finger organ being played on "Improvisation" but there's another track with nothing but organ music sounding like some skewered soundtrack to a silent film! And what do you know...more saxophones!!! Like on CABLE HOGUE, the sound is pretty spiffy though the occasional tape mangles and splices will shock you back to seventies technological glitches that we all recall, perhaps not so fondly.

Another Denudes newie is the strangely-titled ARE YOU RALLIZED? which claims to be taken from a 1974 gig at the Shizouka Stupa, a name that seems to sound more Polish than Japanese which kinda makes me wonder what would have happened if Mizutani and gang decided to ape their intellectual and political makeup from Poles instead of stuffy Frog intellectuals! Could you imagine a Japanese rock group called "The Empty Pirogies"???? The show's good though nothing out of the ordinaire, but if you're low on Denudes stock maybe this will fill in that big heaping hunking gap in your record collection! Once again, don't let the lousy cheap cover w/o any real information, exciting snaps or detailed (if any) liner notes throw you off.

And finally, here's one for the beginner as well as the Denudes fan in the know, a collection of tracks spanning '67 to '82 under the not-so-strange title of YODO-GO-A-GO-GO! Of course that's in reference to the Yodo-Go hijacking which involved original Denudes bassist Wakabayashi, and for those of you historically inclined there's a snap taken at the scene of the crime resplendently poised on the front inlay card! The music captured herein is equally inspiring, with not only some tracks from the must-have '67-'69 STUDIO ET LIVE (worthy of its own release, which I hope is more forthcoming than any of us would hope), but various numbuhs from the group's seventies heyday including the usual showstoppers like "Ice Fire" and "Field of Artificial Flowers". Even the manic "Smokin' Cigarette Blues" from the live debut appears although for some reason it's vu-metered way down to the point where you really have to crank it up to get any volume out of it. I dunno why, since the take on my burn of '67 ET LIVE is perfectly presented without any distortion or hiss other'n from the original live recording, but eh, if you ain't got it on YODO-GO-A-GO-GO you probably ain't got it at all so why complain. Just turn up the volume and if you get blasted outta your seat by the next track may it be all for the better!
The Blue Humans-LIVE IN LONDON 1994 CD (Blast First England)

No, this is not part of the recent grab-it-up buying spree I've been telling you about but a platter that's been in the collection for quite awhile that I only snatched up (after about an hour of combing through dozens of boxes of CDs scattered about) if only because of Charles Gayle's appearance as one of the drummers in this edition of the long-running Rudolph Grey performing group. Yes, that Billy Bang/Sirone CD mentioned above really got my juices flowing as far as Gayle's other performances go, and y'know, since he's the only Human pictured on the outer sleeve of this thing you get the idea that Rudolph Grey himself has just as high a regard for Gayle's talents as do most of the new avant garde jazz following which made the man a star (in retrospect, but a star anyway) in a movement that one must sadly say is limited only to higher minds like ours. Recorded o'er the course of two days at various outta-the-way venues (including the old Rough Trade shop which I guess was still operating as late as these '94 dates), Grey whips up a pretty hefty guitar wail backed by two drummers, one being longtime associate Tom Surgal while the other's the aforementioned Gayle who only proves that he's just as good whamming it out on free drums as he is attempting other non-sax instruments such as violin and piano! Too bad this 'un never got around, and its also too bad that other recordings by this version of the Humans remain in the vaults because I personally wouldn't mind hearing just about every note that this particular trio plunked, scronked, ka-cymballed and feedbacked! And while I'm at it, I wonder where those tapes of the original Blue Humans where Grey was joined by Arto Lindsay and Alan Vega at Max's Kansas City back in early '79 are rotting away at this very moment? (Actually, I KNOW where they are...what I want to know is WHY?????) If there ever was a no wave classic worthy of our ears it's that one, but please no breath holding unless we all turn blue, humans!


Anonymous said...

I was at the (Covent Garden) Rough Trade performance - I'm not sure what you mean by "the old Rough Trade shop which I guess was still operating as late as these '94 dates" because Rough Trade have had 2 stores in London for donkey's years, even if the locations have switched around.

Anyway, it was pretty wild (as you can tell), accentuated by unsuspecting browsers doing their best to ignore the racket they were blasting out.

Christopher said...

Actually I thought Rough Trade went deep-six in the early-nineties. Maybe I'm only thinking of the Amerigan branch.

Anonymous said...

After the early 80s the label and the shop became distinct operations in the UK. Althugh the label was virtually defunct at one point, they're both going strong now -in fact the shop has just opened a HUGE megastore which I suspect might prove catastrophic in the long run in these download times...

PS Are you ever going to review the Wayne County ESP LP and/or the Wayne County at the Tracks CD (from his Mainman era)? I'm really intrigued by the idea of both but I'd love to see a verdict from somebody whose taste I actually respect!

Christopher said...

Yeah, I keep forgetting about the Rough Trade label still going in the UK. Unfortunately their best items from the late-seventies are now being reissued on other labels. As far as Wayne County goes, I didn't even know that the ESP LP and the WAYNE AT THE TRUCKS stuff was out! I've heard a 5th generation tape of the former a long time ago which was campy-good enough to satisfy me on a base NYC rock sorta level, and personally I wouldn't mind hearing that and the Trucks album both hopefully cleaned up for mass consumption!

The story behind the ESP album is pretty strange, with Wayne and the Electric Chairs recording that album in '75 and having it ready to go around October of that year, only to have Bernard Stollman's new wife rag on it when the first few riffs of it were played thus nixing the entire affair right on the spot! With ESP going down shortly afterwards it probably wasn't like the thing was going to go anywhere, but if it had been released at the time maybe UK punk would have happened a few months earlier than it did!

And thanks for that "taste" remark! Actually if you're looking for GOOD taste in music you came to the wrong place, but hey, didn't someone out there once say that bad taste is timeless?