Wednesday, October 08, 2008


The sap may run fast from the trees, but otherwise autumn usually tends to be a slowing down time here at BLOG TO COMM due to all of the leaf-raking, gutter-cleaning and screen-storing that goes during the tireless task of winterizing the place. I'll try to crank out the sausages for you, but don't complain if yours has a wee bit too much cereal in it.

Here are a trio of recent spins, two of them relatively new to mine ears whilst one's an oldie that I wrote about so long ago that the original review is undoubtedly way past its storage date. Hopefully something else of worth will wing its way to my inner brain for a weekend writeup, but until then I guess I will have to struggle to meet my deadline.

Alan Licht and Aki Onda-EVERYDAYS CD (Family Vineyard)

I wasn't expecting much from this mainly because a lotta this new improvisation induces unbridled yawning outta me more'n anything. However, this particular release conjures up some pretty good memories of earlier Family Vineyard offerings from the likes of Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea with or without O-Type. Armed with only a guitar, electronics and a cassette recorder, the duo of Licht and Onda roam around whichever way they feel, sounding like a horror movie organ on one track then Indian drone raga the next, rarely boring you like many other dabblers in the form have to the point where you hadda tell yourself repeatedly that its "avant garde" it!!!!!!! Of course I coulda done without the retarded French voice or the patented feedback blurp on "Be Bop", but considering I was planning on trashing this 'un all the way to Fredonia and back I gotta 'fess up that I found a whole lot of it quite...palatable! Living proof that even the stodgiest (not sayin' these guys are) of music improvisers can release exciting sounds at least once in awhile.
The Revolutionary Ensemble-VIETNAM CD (ESP/ZYX)

The first of this second-generation free jazz co-op's five albums, VIETNAM proves that the trio of Jenkins, Sirone and Cooper had even at this early stage in their existence gotten their interworkings together with a music led by Jenkins' driving violin buffeted by Sirone's powerful bass and Cooper's wide range of percussives. The three never let down on the intensity (unlike some Jenkins recordings from the post-Ensemble days have), and although VIETNAM eschews the AACM practice of those small instruments and African ritual chants that I always enjoyed the mix of the new loft jazz style and European classicism that also drew me to not only their music but the entire AACM sound can easily be sniffed out. For my money, keep an eye out for the group's only major label offering, THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC on Horizon/A&M where not only did the three get the royal treatment (high quality studio, fancy digipack sleeve complete with detailed liner notes...) but the music lurched at you even harder perhaps because of the upgrade in overall quality for a change! And if you're feeling cheap, you can get a free download of VIETNAM here, but don't let that stop you from seeking their other discs even if prohibitive prices may warrant you to tighten more than a few reigns in order to bid that elusive $64.96!
Miles Davis-BLACK MAGUS 2 CD set (Columbia Legacy)

I grew up with the impression that Davis really wasn't the tops in jass sass after spinning ON THE CORNER during my formative music years, but despite the fact that the man could get over-exposed to the point where even CREEM was making disparaging remarks about his releasing albums every other month and that he could be a class ass t'boot I guess that Davis could make a few right moves despite his own miserable nature. And I also guess that now that he's been dead and buried for a good seventeen years and we don't have to worry about him strangling any white boys or Mick Jagger for that matter it's safe to listen to him without fear of emotional reprisal. As for this double-CD reish of one of Davis' mid-seventies twofa live sets, it's got enough of the deep funk groove true, but like CORNER fails to exactly set one off into total jazz consciousness like AGHARTA. Still, for an album that can coax mid-seventies memories of a pre-Return to Forever fusion w/high spirits, DARK MAGUS sure tickles uor cochlea better'n Mahavishnu and a load of other well-meaning yet off the map endeavors'd even dare attempt. And what a band! Even with iffy saxophonist Dave Liebman these guys can crank out a good drone with the spirited leads of Pete Cosey's guitar on top. Too bad Cosey remained pretty much under the radarscope for the rest of his career...I would've loved to've seen the guy make a re-appearance in the early-eighties or thereabouts, preferably at CBGB 'round the time when the new thing and the new rock were making enticing inroads onto each others' turfs thanks to the weird trailblazing of (ulp!) James Chance!

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