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Zlatko Kaucic (w/ Evan Parker, Agusti Fernandez, Rafal Mazur, Lotte Anger, Artun Majewski, Phil Minton, Johannes Bauer): Diversity [5 CD BOX SET] (Not Two)

Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaucic reinforces the title of his "Diversity" box set over 5 CDs in a variety of solo, duo, trio and quartet setting, including some of the UK & Europe's finest improvisers--Evan Parker, Agusti Fernandez, Lotte Anker, Artur Majewski, Rafal Mazur, Phil Minton, and Johannes Bauer--an excellent example of his wide-ranging work as an improviser. ... Click to View


Roscoe Mitchell Orchestra: Littlefield Concert Hall Mills College (Wide Hive)

Roscoe Mitchell 25 Piece Orchestra Returns with an outstanding follow-up to it's 2017 release "Discussions", recorded in concert at the Littlefield Auditorium in Mills College, reworking earlier works that take advantages of Mitchell's systems designed to articulate and capitalize on the tensions between composition and improvisation; an impressive achievement. ... Click to View


Chicago Odense Ensemble: (El Paraiso Records)

In 2008 the Danish group Causa Sui of guitarist Jonas Munk and drummer Jakob Skott ventured to Chicago, meeting and setting up the studio session for this excellent electric jazz session in a 70's Miles mode, with cornetist Rob Mazurek, Tortoise members Jeff Parker and Dan Bitney. ... Click to View


Luc Ferrari: Music Promenade / Unheimlich Schon [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Two works from French composer Luc Ferrari: "Music Promenade" (1964-69) an electroacoustic work for four stand-alone tape recorders presenting a series of colliding realistic sounds and sonic images; and "Unheimlich Schon" (1971), a quiet work of Musique concrete with spoken work--"How does a young woman breathe when thinking about something else?" ... Click to View


Regis Lariviere Renouard: Contree [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Acousmatic compositions--works of sound having no relationship to concrete elements--from French composer Regis Renouard Lariviere, using bold sounds structures in three major works from 2002, 2010 & 2013, each exploring sonic environments affected by tone, timbre, time and pitch in fascinating and gripping ways; profoundly interesting and otherworldy. ... Click to View


Maja Ratkje S.K.: Sult (Rune Grammofon)

Starting with a pipe organ, adding metal tubes, PVC tubes, a wind machine, guitar strings, a bass string, a resin thread, metal and glass percussion and a bow, Maja SK Ratjke developed the instrument for a live performance in Jo Stromgren's ballet "Sult" ("Hunger"), taking the instrument to the studio for this extraordinarily interesting album of keys and song. ... Click to View


Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl With G.W. Sok : Forget All This (Music a la Coque)

Surplus 1980 Collectiv Ensembl takes the current members of drummer Moe! Staiano's Surplus 1980 and associated musicians including Kyle Bruckmann, John Shiurba, Vicky Grossi, Paul Costuros, &c, with Dutch vocalist G.w. Sok from The Ex, in an album of avant post-punk rock works, sophisticated but determined and pointed music, an unusual hybrid of impressive styles. ... Click to View


Toyozumi / Countryman / Montes: Blue Incarnation (Improvisations for Kulintang) (ChapChap Records)

Also known as "Improvisations for Kulintang", this live album of energetic and informed free jazz occurred between legendary Japanese percussionist Sabu Toyozumi and Philippine-based saxophonist Rick Countryman in Dec 2018, with featured guest Tusa Montes performing on prepared Kulintang percussion, a set of horizontally laid gongs that add tympanic melody. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg / Skogen: Nun, es wird nicht weit mehr gehn (Another Timbre)

Composer Magnus Granberg took influences from Schubert's song cycle "Die Winterreise", extracting tonal material, which he merged with rhythmic influences from medieval English folk music and a song by Dowland, merging them into a temporal framework for this large and subtle composition, executed by a setpet including Angharad Davies, Erik Carlsson, Henrik Olsson, d'incise, &c. ... Click to View


Angharad Davies / Rie Nakajima / Alice Purton: Dethick (Another Timbre)

Three free improvising women--Angharad Davies, Rie Nakajima, and Alice Purton--met in the church in the tiny hamlet of Dethick, near Matlock, Derbyshire, over the course of two days developing the ten pieces of this album using an impressive set of stringed and percussive instruments, objects, and mysterious sources to create these fascinating sonic evocations. ... Click to View


Klaus Lang / Golden Fur : Beissel (Another Timbre)

A collaboration between Austrian composer/organist Klaus Lang and the Golden Fur ensemble ofSamuel Dunscombe on clarinet, Judith Hamann on cello & James Rushford on viola & harmonium, reworking a hymn from 18th century composer Johann Conrad Beissel, using an algorithmic system to reinterpret the piece through orchestration, dynamic movement, harmonic density & harmonicity. ... Click to View


Julius Eastman / Apartment House: Femenine (Another Timbre)

A live recording of Julius Eastman's 1974 work "Femenine" performed by Apartment House led by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze with Simon Limbrick on vibraphone, Kerry Yong on piano, Mark Knoop on keyboard, Mira Benjamin on violin, and Gavin Morrison and Emma Williams on flute, an ecstatic and intricate work using a repeating figure contrasted with both asynchronous and complementing backgrounds. ... Click to View


Joshua Abrams And Natural Information Society: Mandatory Reality [2 CDs] (Eremite)

Two large hypnotic works and 2 shorter pieces from Chicago's Natural Information Society led by Joshua Abrams on gimbri in an eight-piece acoustic band with Lisa Alvarado on harmonium & gongs, Mikel Avery on tam-tam & gongs, Ben Boye on autoharp & piano, Hamid Drake on tabla & tar, Ben Lamar Gay on cornet, Nick Mazzarella on saxophone, and Jason Stein on bass clarinet. ... Click to View


Various Artists: An Anthology of Greek Experimental Electronic Music 1966-2016 [2 CDs] (Sub Rosa)

An anthology of contemporary Greek experimental composers focused primarily on works since the 1980s, attempting to map the breadth of approaches while delineating different understandings of what "Greek" or "experimental" may stand for, by means of zeroing in on the numerous, often overlapping, realities and micro-scenes that are associated with the former. ... Click to View


Various Artists: An Anthology of Greek Experimental Electronic Music 1966-2016 [2 LPs] (Sub Rosa)

An anthology of contemporary Greek experimental composers focused primarily on works since the 1980s, attempting to map the breadth of approaches while delineating different understandings of what "Greek" or "experimental" may stand for, by means of zeroing in on the numerous, often overlapping, realities and micro-scenes that are associated with the former. ... Click to View


Masing / Lin / Tallone / Rodrigues / Zek: Buratino (Creative Sources)

A quintet of strings, hurdy gurdy, and amplified objects from Elo Masing on violin, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Hui-Chun Lin on cello, Caroline Cecilia Tallone on hurdy gurdy, objects, and Ame Zek on 12 string guitar, objects, recording in the studio for this 5 part improvisation, the hurdy-gurdy adding sustained mystery to a balance of subdued and assertive interaction. ... Click to View


Wolfgang Schwabe / Hui-Chun Lin: 180818 (Creative Sources)

A unique pairing of strings from Berlin improviser Wolfgang Schwabe performing on the Guqin, or Qin, a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family, and Hui-Chun Lin on cello and voice, finding common ground in instant compositions of exotic string figures plucked and bowed, with Hui-Chun Lin sometimes bringing emotional release in voice. ... Click to View


Dave Douglas: Showing Up / The Power of the Vote [7" VINYL] (Greenleaf Music)

2019 Record Store Day release, a 7" from trumpeter Dave Douglas in two different configurations: the lead track from his album "Engage" featuring guitarist Jeff Parker and cellist Tomeka Reid along with Anna Webber, Nick Dunston & Kate Gentile; and a B-Side from 2018's "Uplift" featuring Joe Lovano and Bill Laswell alongside Mary Halvorson, Julian Lage, and Ian Chang. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.: Invisible Eyes And Phantom Cathedral [VINYL] (Bam Balam Records)

One of the most significant Japanese psych bands, Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.'s official RSD release has a distinct Gong/Can feel about it, with the 2019 lineup of Kawabata Makoto: guitar, synthesizer, speed guru; Higashi Hiroshi: synthesizer, noodle god; Jyonson Tsu: vocal, guitar, bouzouki; Satoshima Nani: drums, another dimension; Wolf: bass, space & time. ... Click to View


Various Artists: 20 Jahre Inventionen VI (Edition Rz)

New Pricing April 2019: Recordings from the Berlin Inventionen Festivals for New Music 2005 and 2006 featuring compositions by Edgar Barroso ("ODD"); Mario Verandi ("Comme un jeu des images"); Paul Wilson ("Trhough the Rain"); Ricardo Climent ("Wallwoodpeckers"); Vladimir Djambazov ("The Secret Life of a Snare Drum"); and Ludger Brummer ("Glasharle"). ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall Sun Ship Quartet (Skidmore / Kjaer / Solberg / Wastell): John Coltrane 50Th Memorial Concert At Cafe Oto [2 CDs] (Confront)

A stellar line-up commemorateing the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane's passing, showcasing Paul Dunmall's blistering Coltrane-influenced quartet together with special guest, lifelong Coltrane devotee saxophonist Alan Skidmore, and also marking the premiere performance of the newly formed international trio of Julie Kjaer (DK), Mark Wastell (GB) and Stale Liavik Solberg (NOR). ... Click to View


Anthony Pateras : Collected Works Vol. II (2005-2018) (Immediata)

The second volume in composer and audio explorer Anthony Pateras' "Collected Works" series, a sturdy 5 CD box set assembling 26 collaborations and solo works that bridge experimental and contemporary compositional work investigating electro-acoustic orchestration, temporal hallucination and sound phenomena, a remarkably diverse and fascinating collection. ... Click to View


Biota: Fragment For Balance (Recommended Records)

From Mnemonist Orchestra to Biota, with 18 albums in total, the Colorado collective Biota presents its 11th album on ReR, taking 4 years to complete this genre-defying album of gorgeous abstraction through free improvisation and composition, absorbing styles and reflecting them in a filtered ray of melody & song using unusual instrumentation and arrangment; absolutely recommended ... Click to View


Jakob Ullmann : Femde Zeit Addendum 5 (Edition Rz)

Jakob Ullman's 5th solo work for piano is atypical for a piano performance, using electronic playback and requiring three assistants sustaining a soundscape to realize a concept of "gravity" that Ullman applies as laws in a conceptual soundscape modified by a series of abstract images, resulting in unexpected sonic environments, tones, timbres and momentum. ... Click to View


Turgut Ercetin (Ensemble Mosaik, Ensemble Apparat, Ensemble Adapter, Sonar Quartett): Panopticon Specularities (Edition Rz)

Istanbul composer Turgut Ercetin (Daad artists-in-Berlin 2016 award winner) completed his doctorate studies at Stanford University, developing works engaged with issues of sound as sonic entities dealing with time and space, here in a string quartet performed by Arditti Quartet, and a work for voice and live electronics performed by Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgar. ... Click to View


David Behrman: On the Other Ocean [VINYL] (Lovely Music)

In 1977 David Behrman programmed a Kim 1 microcomputer developed at Mills College to analyze the music performed by the duo of bassoonist Arthur Stidfole, flutist Maggi Payne; and then the solo work of cellist David Gibson; for each work, the Kim 1 following Behrman's instructions, becoming a virtual musician responding to and interacting with the playing of each setting. ... Click to View


Robert Ashley: Private Parts [VINYL] (Lovely Music)

A reissue of Robert Ashley's 1978 release "Private Parts", presenting an unvarnished exposition of the inner workings of a man's mind through narrative, read by Ashley over the piano & synth of "Blue" Gene Tyranny and tabla player Kris, as Ashley describes two lives in an abstract narrative of keen observation and inside jokes; baffling and spellbinding. ... Click to View


Jacob Wick: Feel [VINYL] (Thin Wrist)

The first vinyl solo release from Chicago/NY/Mexico City avant trumpeter Jacob Wick, whose work includes exploring the physical form of the trumpet itself as he uses extended techniques and circular breathing while he deconstructs the instrument during performance, creating unusual textures and timbres, here in two side-long profoudnly contemplative improvisations. ... Click to View


Phew / Oren Ambarchi / Jim O'Rourke: Patience Soup [VINYL] (Black Truffle)

Performing at Japan's Playhouse in the Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center in 2015, legendary Japanese underground vocalist Phew joins Oren Ambarchi on guitar and Jim O'Rourke on piano & synth for the two part "Patience Soup", Phew's extreme vocal technique and electronics a powerful foil to the rich sonic environments of frequent collaborators Ambarchi & O'Rourke. ... Click to View


Edith Steyer: Hoox And Add-ons (Creative Sources)

A reflection of the previous year's solo work from Berlin-based saxophonist and clarinetist Edith Steyer, a member of GEDOK, the Berliner Senat and Composers Orchestra Berlin, here using preparations and extended techniques to open new possibilities in improvisations, as she explored ethnomusicology, using repetitive figures influenced by tribal music. ... Click to View


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  When They Write the Book  

Pianist Lewis Porter's Creates an Encyclopedia of Jazz


By Matt Rand 2003-03-28

There's a fundamental difference for documentarians between exploring the past and organizing the present. The historian who mines the past is a detective, searching for ways to expand the scope and the cohesion of information that has been dwindling. Lewis Porter Clues abound, but they aren't growing. With each year, the potential for errors magnifies, and the uninspected moments recede into quiet solitude. The chronicler who gives order to the present, however, has to make sense of more information than he could sift through in a lifetime. The present is everywhere, is ever changing, and so the historian has to pick and choose, define general movements and trends. Sometimes, though, a historian comes along and wants to catalog everything, to leave no stone unturned. More power to him, the rest of us think. Let him be our Sisyphus.

For much of his career as a jazz historian (as well as a jazz pianist), Lewis Porter, the director of the Masters Program in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers University, has focused on the past. In one of his better known works, John Coltrane: His Life and Music, Porter investigated a life already much written about. But he took on the subject by starting at the beginning and taking nothing for granted. One example is the discrepancy he noticed between Coltrane's previously reported years of military service (December, 1945 - June, 1946) and the actual way in which military service generally plays out. How could he have started in the Navy band, as was previously reported, when he first started in the Navy? What about basic training? As it turns out, the date most biographers had used came from an interview where Coltrane said he was in the band from December, 1945 to June, 1946, not that he was in the military from December, 1945 to June, 1946.Military service records are publicly available, so Porter checked on it. Sure enough, the earlier figure was wrong, and Coltrane actually served from July, 1945 to August, 1946.

So what, right? We care about Coltrane the musician, not Coltrane the short-term soldier. But Porter insists, and makes a very convincing case, that this is exactly what is important. First, it gives fluidity and cohesion to a musician's life. Musicians are people, after all, with birthdays, anniversaries, family and sometimes also military service. Porter explains that "one thing that's missing in all the other reference works and a lot of what's written about jazz is any sense that jazz musicians have families. Look at a biography of anyone who's not a jazz musician: the first thing they go into is the family history. Whether you're looking at Edward R. Murrow, or any book about any president, or about James Joyce or Ernest Hemingway, the first thing they do is say his father was named this, his mother was named that and this is where he came from. So you have a sense that they didn't just land on this planet - Miles Davis didn't just land on the planet in 1926."

The second reason that comprehensive (and accurate) information is important is a little less direct, but is just as compelling. Jazz has always been an also-ran for historians, and even, more specifically, for musicologists. The discourse on Bach is very different from the discourse on John Coltrane. Keeping the history, then, becomes a struggle for the validity of jazz and its musicians. Huge institutional strides have been made of late, but we still look at its past with the kind of wonder that we usually save for mythology, or for things we don't know much about. Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker are colossal figures who could pick up rail cars with their bare hands and bend street signs with their minds.

For Porter, jazz musicians are real people living in real places, and that they are part of a community of musicians that they both affect and are affected by. This has brought him headlong out of the past and into the present. He is presently working on a jazz encyclopedia, but it won't be like the ones that came before it. Porter is aiming to include all living jazz musicians in his encyclopedia. Yes, all of them.

"It's great to have the Grove [New Grove Dictionary of Jazz] and the one that Leonard Feather did that was revised by Ira Gitler [The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz]," he said, "but they do a lot of picking and choosing of who quote-unquote 'deserves' to be in an encyclopedia. What I'd like to see out there is not to have anybody deciding whether you deserve to be in there or not, just a place to find anybody that you may hear on a recording or go see out in the club... The only bottom line is they have to be performing on a professional level."

Though don't take that to mean that a musician has to earn all of his money playing jazz, just that he plays actual gigs. Sisyphus, indeed, is in the building. ("Oh, no question about that," Portet said. "This rock is going to roll right over me.")

As biographical information goes, the encyclopedia is going to have everything. It'll have information on the musicians' parents, siblings, spouses and children; on radio, film and TV broadcasts and appearances; on unissued recordings; newspaper and magazine articles; awards; websites; contact information, and photos. There will be indexes based on last name, birth year and instrument. And, "because I'm a jazz historian, I have files on probably about 5,000 jazz musicians, of things that are in the news, things that I've observed myself and things that they've told me." Those will find their way into the book, as well.

There are a couple caveats (that the mam moth task requires superhuman patience is merely an aside). "The day it comes out, two things are going to happen," Porter said. "One is I'm going to have dozens of emails from musicians saying 'Oh, I changed my website or my phone number,' or 'I forgot to tell you something.' And the other thing that's going to happen is there'll be a whole new group. I'm sure there are going to be dozens of musicians a day saying, 'I didn't know about this - how did I not know about this? How come I'm not in there?'" But of course, he added, "that'll be the impetus for a new edition."

Another issue that will come up is that some musicians will pass away during the process of putting the book together. "I'm being a little bit flexible about that, because some cats have passed away in the last year or so. In some cases I'm in touch with the family. For instance, I know the widow of Ken McIntyre, and she says, 'you know I can give you a biography; I'm his widow; I know stuff that nobody knows.' And he just passed away, so why not?"

Porter understands that, for the encyclopedia to be a valuable reference tool, it must develop a context for the musicians. And so he aims to capture the essence of the jazz scene at this particular point in time. But he won't be writing articles on the music, like those that appear in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. What he will be doing to foster this context is letting the musicians write their own entries, which he says about a third of them have done so far (with Porter acting as fact-checker). Porter hopes that by encouraging musicians to write their own entries, they'll be able to share their stories as they see them, and in so doing, will create a collection of accurate representations of what's actually going on in jazz.

There are, of course, drawbacks to this system. Porter had initially intended to collect all of the information by January 1 of thi s year, but that hasn't happened yet. He's not drastically off-schedule, but he is certainly knee-deep in a lot more information than he expected. "It's been hours a day, getting my email, sorting it into files, making an index of who's responded so far," he said.

And the entries keep coming in. Porter said he's been surprised by the number of international submissions he's received from musicians he hadn't heard of, but who are very well-known in their home countries. They've been rolling in from the Netherlands, from Poland, from Finland. He's also been surprised by some of the big names who have personally sent him submissions, players such as Joe McPhee, Jane Ira Bloom and Roy Campbell. Initially, he thought he'd be doing most of the work for the musicians he knows of. ("Wynton Marsalis and Joshua Redman won't be sending me submissions.") So it's hard to step away from it all, although he knows he'll eventually have to. "There's going to be a point where I just have to call it quits. I'll just have to say, 'Okay, that's how big the book's going to be,' because it certainly could go on forever."

Until then, the pile of submissions grows, and the unturned stones are becoming harder to spot. It seems Dr. Porter might almost be getting this rock to the top of the hill. He comes back to explaining the value of contact information for the musicians, which Leonard Feather's encyclopedia had included, as well. Porter laughs and then says, "It's kind of fun, actually. You browse through it and it'll say 'Thelonius Monk,' and it'll have his address at West 64 Street." Time has a funny way of making history.

Lewis Porter is accepting entries for his jazz encyclopedia through May 15, 2003. He can be contacted at lrpjazz@aol.com



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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Roscoe Mitchell
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