Thursday, December 15, 2005

Earth People-SKY READERS and NOW IS RISING CDs (Undivided Vision, link up to the group via their site and they'll in turn link you up to CD Baby who are selling these things and loads more natch!)

Didn't wait until Christmas to dish out for the latest Earth People CDs like I said I would over here (scroll down, smarty) because frankly, in this day and age I just can't deny myself of good music (whatever that may entail years after the fact) even if I have bills to pay and presents to buy for my loving (hah!) relations. Anyhow, just to fill you in (because I doubt a good portion of you readers have been paying close attention as I dole out every exact-o/minute-o detail of every obsession I've had regarding art, music, Asian gals, postwar (II)/prehippie vehicles/architecture/tv... since the day I was born), Earth People are a currently-functioning jazz/world music (and we're talking REAL WORLD for once!) group that's more or less "led" by percussionist Andre Martinez (who plays besides traps your standard free jazz fare of African balafons, steel drums etc.), saxist/guitarist Jason Candler and guitarist Doug Principato, three onna-ball fellows who have at least been attempting to make waves on whatever there is left of a New York avant garde scene these past few years. Dunno exactly if they're succeeding...after all, it's not like alla them major labels are banging the door down to sign 'em or THE VILLAGE VOICE music section's featuring 'em in yet another bid to cozy up with the proles of color (even though Earth People is neatly integrated but who knows...I ain't read the Eddy-manned VV section in awhile so maybe White Guilt doth bear out in some perverted fashion???) but whatever, Earth People DO succeed on pure high-falutin' ENERGY alone, making a sound that's akin to the best moments of seventies loft jazz with psychedelic guitar lines thrown in here/there and an all around get-up-and-LIVE feeling that I haven't heard outta most if not all of what's "expected" to be speaking for the new and precocious youth of these days for a LONG time...

SKY READERS (2003) features the group in a more "stripped down" mode, minus their cooing femme vocalist "M" as well as a lotta the guests who have been clogging up live performances for quite some time. (Vibraphonist Karl Berger, who has been front and center at a number of CBGB Lounge shows or at least cluttered amidst the rest of the group in the claustrophobic stage setup is missing, as is bassoonist Karen Borca who used to spend loads of time with Cecil Taylor and late hubby Jimmy Lyons back during the glory days of the late-sixties.) Anyway, SKY READERS consists of two tracks, the first, entitled "Magical Flower (Horus the Red Travels Backwards)" clocks in at an amazing 41:22 beginning like one of those old Pharoah Sanders albums complete with tinkling percussives and glissandos all over the place! It doesn't stick around in karmic bliss for too long, venturing into free Taylor-like play and freakout jazz of varying stripes and more tenor squeals (thanks to free legend Sabir Mateen) than you can count. "It's That Simple" (which was recorded at the same live gig at the Walker Space...guess this is what became of the originally planned CBGB Lounge album) continues in on the same group-play path as "Magical Flower" and its anarchic mangle plays pretty well too, even better (OK, in some ways) than earlier Coleman/Coltrane groundbreaking tries and more all-out than the Art Ensemble too...very close in spirit to the mid-seventies New York groups who were documented on WILDFLOWERS and played as if they were of a cohesive whole, or perhaps everyone in the group thought they were the leaders which is why they sounded the way they did.

There's a funny (ha-ha and strange) story behind NOW IS RISING (2005), Earth People's latest. Y'see, this disque was recorded over a number of sessions last year as part of a student project at some school that trains tomorrow's studio engineers and producers, and although the playing was hot and the results superb the kidz at the school just couldn't relate to the free jazz Earth People laid down and petitioned the school asking that the rest of the planned sessions be dumped so's they could all go back to their rap gulcher music! The sissy administration actually caved in (shades of the sixties!) and after offering Earth People a poor mix of the resultant spew the school reportedly started acting all high horse to the point of threatening to destroy the masters! After cool heads and negotiations were held a proper mix of these sessions was made, and the results of this debacle have been issued in a limited to 250 copies edition which is good for fans of the new jazz improv who want their music and want it NOW no matter how many pampered kerchiefed gangsta wannabes say otherwise!

"M" is back singing along in her detached way, and the songs are shorter (longest being the title track at 13:33) which gives the group a chance to show off more of their ALL INCLUSIVENESS!!! By that I mean NOW IS RISING features in varying quantites and at times simultaneously interesting snatches of everything from Beefheart-inspired spoken word to Gregorian Chant (OK, sounding too much like the Fugs using the same motif on "War Song" 38 years earlier!) and early-seventies pseudo-political chant w/fife and drum preen and even some early-avant Dolphyisms all snuggled side-by-side with everything from Mark Hennan's apt Tayloresque piano lines and more of Mateen's swing-funk post-seventies stylings. Yeah, it's a REAL "World Music" especially when Principato adds in some of his searing electric guitar leads which may not exactly be Sharrock-esque or anything but sure sounds fine when he's under the spell of Hendrix (or is it Chris Karrer leading off "Jail House Frog"?) on the powerful closing instrumental entitled "Draft Dodger," which may be about as "relevant" as the Shirts singing about the same thing in 1976 but given the manic pounce and tear of this song unheard in sissy alternative circles for ages SHOULD I REALLY CARE??? The entire disc is so sheer with its balance of seventies loft jazz and acid guitar rockism fighting it out between the free-play and (dare I say) underground rock riffage...believe me when I tell you that Earth People have yet to play a bum note or release a duff track, and with a record like that (coupled with their ability to take an all-inclusive "we-are-all-one-culture"-styled 1969 ROLLING STONE credo while NOT coming off looking like hippie stinkeroos all the while!) it's a shame that most of you BLOG TO COMM readers are gonna pass this one off in favor of, oh, whatever "cool" and "hip" "gotta have it" item is being plugged on one of the competition's blogs. Go figure.

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