Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bern Nix/Sabir Mateen/Jeffrey Shurdut-THE DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN CD-R

Luther Thomas/Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut/Nick Gianni/Mike Fortune-THE RAP CD-R

(both of these "No" label items [and more] are available from Mtnwad Jazz ebay store)

Didja ever hear that old expression "when it rains it pours"??? Well, that sure applies to me, and not only when I get into trouble but when (believe-it-or-not) good things happen to me as well. I mean, this week not only did I get a package from Mike Stax of UGLY THINGS fame which contained, besides the latest issue of his magazine which I told him not to send me last year because my own publication is, shall we say, on hiatus, but a number of Cee-Dees on his very own custom label (y'know, just like what Frank Zappa and the Jefferson Airplane had in the early-seventies only there ain't no major label backing him up!) which was certainly nice of the follicled one, but really, do I really come off that PATHETIC as to warrant such a bountiful parcel as this? (You may answer this question yourself, albeit silently.) Also arriving in the mail was a nice package filled with Cee-Dee-Arrs of live recordings by such current Japanese psychedelic wonders as LSD March and Up-Tight which, as you know, may also tickle my already swelled fancy (but then again maybe not considering how I felt some of the latter group's more recent recordings have been somewhat lacking with less reliance on their idols Les Rallizes Denudes' late-sixties crunch and more on a modern-day sense of...alternative rock hand wringing????). And to top all this good luck off, I just received these two avant garde jazz disques that were recently released on Jeffrey Shurdut's "No" label, all of them featuring multi-instrumentalist Shurdut performing with a number of bona-fide (calm down Noll, I'm not talking about you!) free-play legends including former Ornette Coleman/Contortions guitarist Bern Nix, hotshot moderne-day saxist Sabir Mateen and longtime BAG fave Luther Thomas.

You may have seen my review of another Thomas "No" label offering earlier (scroll down!), and these (s)platters are pretty much like that one complete with flimsy color xeroxed covers and usually sparse information onna back. Except for the Nix/Mateen/Shurdut one, which has a rather long flowery description of the music encountered therein which (as usual) seem to be more or less a lotta big words crammed together esoterically in an attempt to try justifying the noise to a buncha eggheads or something like that (see your Red Crayola albums for more of the same!). But whaddeva, both Cee-Dee-Arrs are pretty hotcha in their own way that despite the admitted practice-space-as-recording-studio sound and low-budget packaging you feel as if you're getting a pretty good deal, kinda like a moon rock of avant garde jazz that nobody else in the world knows about and it's all your nice little SECRET.

I'd been looking forward to hearing the one featuring Bern Nix and Sabir Mateen in a setting I thought would pretty much exemplify that whole under-the-fusion hub-bub that was Loft Jazz back inna seventies, and with Shurdut traipsing around on everything from piano and violin to trumpet, percussion and arrangement how could I go wrong anyway? And on this 39-plus minute burnt offering they do pretty well although I must 'fess up to the fact that I really found it awkward listening to the trio go from mass improvisation of the highest form to solos that seemed totally at odds with what was just heard, and if you're expecting Nix to be shredding some hot r&b-influenced or Sonny Sharrock-inspired noise-blasts to jolt you outta your everyday reality think again because the playing here is strict jazz guitar gone slightly abstract (and distorted...his guitar has a sound that reminds me of that part in Stan Freberg's "Rock Around Stephen Foster" where Freberg gives the guitarist a Howdy Doody badge to use as a pick for that fuzzy feeling!). Nothing wrong with that...just warning you NOISEMONGERS out there, that's all! Still, I really must say that I enjoy this one to the proverbial max, given how the playing works out whether as a mass of total energy or as gnarly solo spurt. Mateen's playing is kinda like Ornette at one moment and then you hear snatches of Jarman the next so maybe there is more blend to the entire kadiddle than I had given this one credit for. But the improv sections are enveloping (see, I can use descriptive words of this caliber too!), reminiscent of those great Alan Silva albums of the late-sixties that were so inspirational even when there seemed to be a bit of the Eastern Spell seeping into it all.

People who've read my fanzine already know of my undying fandom for Thomas, a man who not only played on some pretty crazed BAG/Human Arts Ensemble albums back in the seventies but spent some time afterwards trying to be the BLACK James Chance at Max's Kansas City not to mention put out a whole slewwa wild disques in varying formats for CIMP and other just-try-and-find-'em labels. On this relative newie ("8 26 05" is written in felt pen on the back cover...dunno if this refers to the date of the session or when it was issued) Thomas and band play two numbers, one a relative shortie and the other the long one where the band gets into this jazzy almost funky groove with Thomas waiting a bit before he gets to bring his guttural alto into the act. The man also gets to bleat out some wild Yoko-styled yodeling and there's this point where he's barking out orders to the band and tells 'em to play free, then all of a sudden you get this massive wall of atonal beauty atcha that really tells the tale (and'll jolt you out of your complacency as well)! I dunno exactly what sort of, er, clientele reads this blog or if it differs from the folk who've been reading my rag for the past dos decades, but its stuff like this that made up the crowning point of my existence and certainly not the comparatively limp amerindie slop or European way-too-introspective rants that "others" lap up with relative glee this day, that's for sure!

Before I this is totally unrelated to the above, but I thought you should know that former Von Lmo guitarist and master musician in his own right Lou Rone has his own website which I'm sure you'll want to check out between combing the web for new mp3 blogs and barnyard hijinx. Give Lou a try, he's got some pretty good pics old and new on this one and you might be spending your evenings a little bit better hitting his page rather'n the usual been-there-done-that alternative music sources which seem to be all the rage!

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