The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Magnus Granberg : Es Schwindelt Mir, Es Brennt Mein Eingweide (Another Timbre)

An hour-long work for an ensemble of six musicians by Swedish composer Magnus Granberg performed by Anna Lindal on baroque violin, d incise on vibraphonen electronics, Cyril Bondi on percussion, Anna Kaisa Meklin on viola da gamba, Christoph Schiller on spinet, and Magnus Granberg himself on prepared piano, transforming material from a song by Franz Schubert. ... Click to View


John Cage : Two2 (Another Timbre)

One of a handful of John Cage's number pieces, this work for two pianists follows the forms of Renga poetry, composed with 36 lines of music, each containing 5 measures, and each line having 31 events occuring in the sequence 5-7-5-7-7, with the pianists allowed their own tempo but waiting to synchronize each measure, as performed by Mark Knoop and Philip Thomas. ... Click to View


Bondi / Martel / Schiller: tse (Another Timbre)

With backgrounds in both improvisation and compositional music, the new trio of Cyril Bondi on harmonium, Pierre-Yves Martel on viola da gamba, and Christoph Schiller on spinet, agreed on a sequence of pitches for this 5 part improvisational work, allowing space for the players to explore pitch and melody within a contemplative and pensive framework. ... Click to View


Angles 3: Parede (Clean Feed)

Martin Kuchen's Angles band changes shape constantly, originally a trio and expanding as large as Angles 10, but this album, recorded live at SMUP, Parede, Portugal in 2016, returns the band to the original trio of Kuchen on sax, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on double bass, and Kjell Nordeson on drums & percussion, reworking Angles compositions to their essence. ... Click to View


Honest John w/ Ab Baars : Treem (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quintet Honest John of Ole Henrik Moe on violin, Kim Johannesen on guitar & banjo, Ola Hoyer on double bass, Erik Nylander on drums & drum machine, on Klaus Ellerhusen sax and clarinet, are joined by multi-reedist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria to capture this quirky, controlled, and incredibly knowledgeable concert. ... Click to View


Chris Pitsiokos / CP Unit: Silver Bullet In The Autumn Of Your Years (Clean Feed)

Pushing the envelope in genre-smashing collective improvisation, Brooklyn-based sax and synth player Chris Pitsiokos and his CP Unit with 2 electric bassists--Tim Dahl and Henry Fraser--2 drummers--Jason Nazary and Connor Baker--and guitarist Sam Lisabeth, take a twisted path through improv, rock, and electronics that always shows a fierce allegiance to free jazz. ... Click to View


Scott Clark: Tonow (Clean Feed)

Drummer Scott Clark continues to explore his Native American roots in this album dedicated to the protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota, each heartfelt piece titled for aspects of those demonstrations, performed with bassist Cameron Ralston, trumpeter Bob Miller, saxophonist Jason Scott, guitarist Alan Parker, and extended with Chicago guitarist Tobin Summerfield. ... Click to View


Lynn Cassiers : Imaginary Band (Clean Feed)

Composer, vocalist and electronics artist Lynn Cassiers' new septet with Sylvain Debaisieux (soprano and tenor saxophone), Ananta Roossens (violin), Niels Van Heertum (euphonium), Erik Vermeulen (piano), Manolo Cabras (double bass) and Marek Patrman (drums) in their adventurous debut album blending improv, pop aesthetics, electronics, dreamlike voice, and solid playing. ... Click to View


AMM: An Unintended Legacy [3 CDs] (Matchless)

A beautiful 3-CD set with a hardcover book presenting 3 full concerts from 2015 & 2016 of the AMM trio configuration of John Tilbury (piano), Keith Rowe (guitar) and Eddie Prevost (percussion). The 70 page book, dedicated to saxophonist Lou Gare, includes an AMM discography, plus photos, an essays by Paige Mitchell and Allen Fisher; Keith Rowe; Eddie Prevost; and Lou Gare. ... Click to View


Mary Halvorson : Code Girl [2 CDs] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Always open to new approaches, NY guitarist Mary Halvorson takes her trio with drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek, adds trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and, in a twist of the thumbscrew, vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, for a mix of song and instrumental pieces that balance jazz and rock sensibilities with lyricism, intricate lines, and creative spirit. ... Click to View


Mary Halvorson : Code Girl [VINYL] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Always open to new approaches, NY guitarist Mary Halvorson takes her trio with drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek, adds trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and, in a twist of the thumbscrew, vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, for a mix of song and instrumental pieces that balance jazz and rock sensibilities with lyricism, intricate lines, and creative spirit. ... Click to View


The Thing (Gustafsson / Haker Flaten / Nilssen-Love + McPhee): Again (The Thing Records)

The Thing "again" as Gustafsson on saxophones, Haker Flaten on electric and acoustic bass, and Nilssen-Love on drums & percussion present 3 extended blues-based, Ayler-inflected free jazz pieces, with Gustafsson's powerfully emotional playing over Haker-Flaten and Nilssen-Love's powerful polyrhythmic foundations; Joe McPhee joins for one track taking on a Frank Lowe piece. ... Click to View


The Thing (Gustafsson / Haker Flaten / Nilssen-Love + McPhee): Again [VINYL] (The Thing Records)

The Thing "again" as Gustafsson on saxophones, Haker Flaten on electric and acoustic bass, and Nilssen-Love on drums & percussion present 3 extended blues-based, Ayler-inflected free jazz pieces, with Gustafsson's powerfully emotional playing over Haker-Flaten and Nilssen-Love's powerful polyrhythmic foundations; Joe McPhee joins for one track taking on a Frank Lowe piece. ... Click to View


Moholo-Moholo's, Louis Five Blokes: Uplift The People (Ogun)

Drummer Moholo-Moholo, a member of Blue Notes, Elton Dean's Ninesene, Foxes Fox, London Improvisers Orchestra, a sideman for Brotzmann, Keith Tippets sideman and drummer and most importantly, band leader in a rich, lyrical and spiritual album recorded live at Cafe Oto in 2017 with Alexander Hawkins (piano), John Edwards (bass), Shabaka Hutchings (sax) and Jason Yard (sax). ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / William Parker / Matthew Shipp: Seraphic Light (Live At Tufts University) (Aum Fidelity)

A long-form 3-part work of collective improvisation from 3 masterful New York free jazz legends--Daniel Carter on flute, trumpet, clarinet, and saxophones, William Parker on bass, and Matthew Shipp on piano--performing live at Tufts University in 2017 in a beautifully thoughtful and lyrical concert presented after a screening of the '59 film "The Cry of Jazz". ... Click to View


Ceramic Dog (Ribot / Ches Smith / Shahzad Ismaily): Y R U Still Here? [VINYL] (Northern Spy)

... Click to View


The Ex: 27 Passports (Ex Records)

After several years of Brass Unbound, Getatchew Mekuria, festivals and countless side projects, The Ex return to The Ex, a 4-piece led by the trio of guitars from Andy Moor, Terrie Hessels and Arnold de Boer driven by drummer Katherina Bornefeld, de Boer acerbic and insightful on this seriously great rock record; plus a 36-page photo book from Andy Moor. ... Click to View


The Ex: 27 Passports [VINYL] (Ex Records)

After several years of Brass Unbound, Getatchew Mekuria, festivals and countless side projects, The Ex return to The Ex, a 4-piece led by the trio of guitars from Andy Moor, Terrie Hessels and Arnold de Boer driven by drummer Katherina Bornefeld, de Boer acerbic and insightful on this seriously great rock record; plus a 36-page photo book from Andy Moor. ... Click to View


Mette Rasmussen / Tashi Dorji: (Feeding Tube Records)

Captured live, the excitingly assertive improvisation of Danish saxophonist Mette Rasmussen and Bhutan electric guitarist Tashi Dorji on the stage at Hotel2Tango in Montreal, Quebec in 2016, and at La Sala Rosa, each pushing the limits on their instruments while retaining control of their conversation, a taught balancing act of extraordinary playing. ... Click to View


Elisabeth Harnik / Joelle Leandre: Tender Music (Trost Records)

Two like-minded musicians with a history in compositional and improvised music, pianist and prepared pianist Elisabeth Harnik and double bassist and vocalist Joelle Leandre met at WIST, in Graz, Austria in 2016 to perform and record this live album of insightful and compelling dialog between two masterful musicians full of creativity and virtuosic skill. ... Click to View


Zu / Mats Gustafsson: How To Raise An Ox [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The first vinyl edition of the 2004 collaboration of Italian power trio Zu of Luca Tommaso Mai on baritone sax, Massimo Pupillo on bass, and Jacopo Battaglia on drums, with Swedish baritone sax phenomenon Mats Gustafsson, what Atavistic calls a "hypno-skronk implosion" of dueling baritones sax over wonderfully intense and skronky free improvisation; a classic! ... Click to View


Marty Ehrlich: Trio Exaltation (Clean Feed)

With a history of playing together in the Andrew Hill Sextet, Marty Ehrlich immediately chose bassist John Hebert and drummer Nasheet Waits to join Ehrlich in his new trio endeavor, the multi-wind & reed player on alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet and wooden flutes as they perform 9 lyrical and sophisticated Ehrlich compositions, plus one by Andrew Hill. ... Click to View


Chrome Hill: The Explorer (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quartet formerly known as "Damp" with baritone guitarist Asbjorn Lerheim, tenor saxophonist Atle Nymo, drummer Torstein Lofthus, and double bassist Roger Arntzen, blend expressive forms of jazz with blues and rock in an expansive and rich set of tunes that both pay homage and look to new and inclusive formations of emotional and effusive music. ... Click to View


Lana Trio w/ Sofia Jernberg: Lana Trio w/ Sofia Jernberg (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian experimental collective improvising group of Henrik Munkeby Norstebo on trombone, Kjetil Jerve on piano, and Andreas Wildhagen on drums & percussion are the core trio here, presenting their third release by adding free improvising vocalist Sofia Jernberg, bringing a sense of unpredictability to a finely controlled chaos of technical mastery. ... Click to View


Rafael Toral / Hugo Antunes / Joao Pais Filipe / Ricardo Webbens: Space Quartet (Clean Feed)

Composer, engineer and electronic artist Rafael Toral has completed his Space Program series and now launches his "Space Quartet" with double bassist Hugo Antunes, drummer/percussionist Joao Pais Filipe, synth player Ricardo Webbens, and Toral himself on modular feedback, blending solid acoustic rhythms with interstellar and abstract sound; singular. ... Click to View


Kirk Knuffke / Ben Goldberg: Uncompahgre (Relative Pitch)

Two extraordinary players from two coasts--clarinetist Ben Goldberg from the West and cornetist Kirk Knuffke from the East--in an exuberant duo of lyrical and virtuosic free jazz that astonishes the listener with the ease of their interactions in both parallel and contrasting lines, supporting the other as they express themselves uniquely; an impressive achievement! ... Click to View


Tomeka Reid / Kyoko Kitamura / Taylor Ho Bynum / Joe Morris: Geometry of Caves (Relative Pitch)

Bringing New York and Chicago performers together, the quartet of cellist Tomeka Reid, guitarist Joe Morris, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and free vocalist Kyoko Kitamura present an album of expressive and creative collective improvisation, bridging chamber forms and free jazz with a captivatingly eccentric appeal from Kitamura's wordless vocalese. ... Click to View


Tatakai Trio (Kuchen / Lindsjo / Strid): HappI (Relative Pitch)

A trio of well-versed Swedish free improvisers--Martin Kuchen on soprano & sopranino saxophones, Raymond Strid on drums, and Anders Lijndsjo on guitar--in 8 studio improvisations of unusual and highly rhythmic and upbeat interplay, titled with happy adjectives, an apt description of the joy these three find in unconventional approaches to improvisation. ... Click to View


Stephanie Richards : Full Moon (Relative Pitch)

An extremely interesting experimental record of free improvisation and electronics from the duo of Dino J.A. Deane and trumpeter Stephanie Richards, whose work with Henry Threadgill and Butch Morris is felt in these pieces where Richards explores resonance in brass and percussion as Deane samples and manipulates her playing live; an inventive and effusive album. ... Click to View


Fujii / Fonda / Mimmo: Triad (Long Song Records)

An album recorded on the 59th birthday of pianist-composer Satoko Fujii, the second recorded with bassist Joe Fonda on the Long Song imprint, this time in a trio with soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, the focus of the album the 42 minute monumental improvisation "Birthday Girl", a sophisticated and engaging dialog of lyrical playing and great beauty. ... Click to View


  •  •  •    Join Our Mailing List!



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales

Op-Ed (Opinions and Editorials)


  Ameri-chord: Johnny Cash Remembered  

Amer-chord - Johnny Cash & June Carter
By Skip Heller

In 1964, Johnny Cash recorded the Bitter Tears album, which made known his feelings about Native Americans. Its centerpiece was his hit version of Peter LaFarge's "Ballad Of Ira Hayes," a brilliant, accusatory song about the Pima Indian who was one of the five men to raise the flag at Iwo Jima, came home to less than fanfare, and died drunk in 1955 at the age of 33.

The Pima tribe inhabited a piece of Arizona not far outside Tuscon. They were a peaceful tribe who farmed well enough to sustain their food needs, until their water rights were taken from them and everything they worked for was either killed off by dry heat or was taken from them outright. But Ira Hayes felt a duty to his country, enlisted, went to fight for the good old USA, and became a decorated American hero. You can guess how glorious his life was upon returning. One night Ira Hayes fell drunk into an irrigation ditch and froze to death in cold water.

I saw that land had a gig in Tuscon in May 2002, driving southeast from Los Angeles on the way to a gig in Tuscon.

Los Angeles in spring is paradise. The sky is visible and wide, the mountains pose for postcards, freeways open and you realize how vast our country is. It is beautiful as long as you don't go too far east. That's when the oasis turns back into the desert from which it was carved. LA to Tuscon is about eight hours of driving, and the first four or five are gorgeous.

Arizona comes on the heels of a fairly ugly piece of southeastern California, and has nothing to recommend it upon entry. As you drive in a little more, the Indian reservation stores - with tax-free cigarettes - pop up. Past Phoenix towards Tuscon, you see a rest stop with wall displays that tell the story of Ira Hayes and the Pima tribe. Sort of.

The tale they tell is some "see Dick run" shit and says nothing about the kind of man Ira Hayes was - to forgive what had been done to his tribe and enlist in the Marines. And they certainly said nothing of his death and who helped that tragic process along. The Pima Indians, in recent years, are noted for diabetes (studies have shown that one out of two adults suffers from Type II) and morbid obesity. It seems that, when their right to water was stolen and they could no longer grown their own crops, they had to adopt a "western" diet, which did egregious things to their bodies.

I have a thing about Cash. Maybe it's because the only actual day he spent in jail was the very day I was born, October 4, 1965. Cash was popped at the El Paso border checkpoint. He was trying to smuggle several thousand amphetamine capsules across the border from Mexico.

If you've ever brought contraband through a Mexican border crossing, you know the drill. I got pulled out of the car once, holding a hundred 600 mg Ibuprofen capsules, sold over the counter in the local farmacia but illegal without a presciption in the USA. Fortunately, the border cops didn't look far inside a gym bag of clean clothes (although they were very thorough with the dirty clothes, the guitar case, and the glove compartment).

Mexico was wide open in '65, so Johnny - then no stranger to intense amphetamine procurement - probably thought nothing of it until they slapped the cuffs on.

June Carter - who he married and who died May 15th of post-operatory complications - got him cleaned up, helped him find religion, and helped him realize certain dreams that were not in reach for most country singers in the sixties. June was born into the Carter Family - a major American Music dynasty if there ever was one - but had enough brains and ability to keep herself from being defined by her legendary mother, Maybelle Carter. She had a viable career in country music, then chucked it and went to New York, where she joined the Actor's Studio (director Elia Kazan - who died just 16 days after Cash - sponsored her enrollment), and finally returned to the Carter Family. They became part of Johnny Cash's touring show in 1961; by '63 June was in love enough with Cash - then totally out of control on pills - to write a song, "Ring Of Fire" about it.

Johnny Cash burst onto the scene in 1955 with "Cry Cry Cry." He came not from a Nashville major but that most venerable of indie labels, Sun, the Memphis label that had at about the same time sold Elvis' contract to RCA for an unprecedented $30,000. RCA would soon enough begin trying to make sister Anita Carter into a rock'n'roll star as part of a trio called Nita, Rita, and Lita. June was at the time married to country star Carl Smith, whose "You Are The One" is a classic of the period. They would have a daughter, Carlene, who later married British pop singer Nick Lowe.

If you can find photos of country singers of the period, you notice that 1950s Nashville had nobody like Johnny Cash. Look at George Morgan, Webb Pierce, Porter Wagoner or the great Lefty Frizzell. They're colorful, extroverted. Cash was hard-looking, introverted, and dressed in black.

Similarly, listen to the typical male country singers of the period. The biggest was Eddy Arnold, a human Hallmark card. Singers like him and Marty Robbins forecasted the "countrypolitan" movement to come and paved the middle of the road for Nashville easy listening artists like Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, and Floyd Cramer.

Honky-tonk, on the other hand, was nowhere near so repulsive. This was a harder Southern urban sound, with walking electric bass, and a cracking drumbeat that cut through the din in bars and dancehalls. All the guitars were electric, too. Webb Pierce's fantastic "Honky Tonk Song" was not hill music, although his voice stayed in close touch with the high lonesome sound. "Honky Tonk Song" was a 12-bar blues streamlined in Nashville, and it's not wussy music.

To my ear, Cash was most influenced by Ernest Tubb. Both made unpolished, minimalist records. Tubb was from Texas, and sang in a low, craggy voice. His records of the '40s are very proto-Cash, with sparse electric guitar up front. Cash covered Tubb's "Thanks A Lot" while he was still on Sun, and you can hear how close to Tubb Cash really was.

Cash was not immediately invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, but Louisiana Hayride, which was more at home than the Opry with mavericks, like Elvis Presley, Jimmy Martin, and a few others who were a little dangerous.

The more famous Cash got, the more rebellious he seemed. He left Sun because he wanted a higher royalty and to make thematic LPs. The subject of royalties is always dangerous, and LPs were then a novelty for country singers. In 1957, Cash became the first artist to have an LP on Sun. The following year, Cash had a new album out - on Columbia.

As his success elevated, Cash became a speed freak. This was common in country music back then. Lots of driving, being on the road 250+ days a year, often having to drive back from wherever you were to be back in Nashville to do the Opry or Shreveport, LA to do Hayride. Early morning broadcasts after playing 'til midnight or later 300 miles away from where you did your morning broadcast were common. It was a rough life, and the pay wasn't great. But it was the job, and benzedrine helped many get it done.

In those days, tour buses were a rarity. Bands traveled by car. If they were lucky, they had a station wagon and a little trailer. You'd strap the upright bass to the roof. Cash and his band made about $150 per week each on the 1961 package tour. June Carter fell in love with Johnny Cash under these conditions, which speaks volumes about his appeal and her intestinal fortitude. It sure wasn't about the money.

Very few artists can achieve some of their highest achievements in their art while being up to their eyeballs in chemicals. But Cash was on an artistic roll through the 1960s, before, during, and after the period of his El Paso arrest, with groundbreaking thematic LPs. He also appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, where he finally met Bob Dylan, whose "It Ain't Me Babe" Cash had been performing for some time.

In 1968, he recorded the Live In Folsom Prison album, followed shortly after by Live At San Quentin, which contained "A Boy Named Sue", his biggest hit of the decade. He was not new to playing prisons - Merle Haggard was a member of the captive audience when Cash performed at Quentin in 1959, and said afterwards that the sheer force of Cash's performance turned his life around. By 1968, largely because of June carter, Cash had turned his own life around, trading drugs for fundamentalist Christianity. Whatever works.

Around that time, Cash got his own network TV show, pretty much unheard of for country artists at that time. Unlike other music shows of the time, his show was often a showcase for cutting edge music of the time. His guests included Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and even Bob Dylan, who at that point was largely allergic to TV cameras. But Cash was held in such high artistic regard that someone like a Dylan or a Joni would do TV if he asked.

Because of his celebrity at that point, June Carter's contributions are usually reduced to her appearances on records like "Jackson" and "If I Were Carpenter". But it was she who first told Johnny about a janitor at the Columbia recording studio who was writing songs. His name was Kristoffer Kristofferson.

People don't recognize it now, but Kristofferson was a threat to Nashville's status quo. Cash was tough enough for the local establishment to deal with, but he came from nothing, and Nashville always likes a Cinderella story.

Through the 1950s, Nashville's GNP was not music but insurance. It's nickname (self-imposed, I'm sure) was "the Athens of the South." Nashville has Vanderbilt University and a full-scale replica of the Parthenon.

Kris Kristofferson was a former Air Force pilot, Golden Gloves boxer, and a Rhodes Scholar. And he chucked it all to go starve in Nashville. I'm sure the attitude towards Kristofferson in Nashville was that local society would be better off with less songwriters and more Rhodes Scholars.

Kristofferson was a longhair from Texas, and his songs were a little raw by the standards of the time, which were getting a too loose for the locals anyway. Texans had always been a problem, ever since Bob Wills brought drums to the Opry stage and Floyd Tillman wrote unapologetically about cheating. Kristofferson lines like "the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had one more for desert" did not fit the image makeover Nashville was going for, which was typified by the string-drenched records of former honky tonk great Ray Price. But Cash was all-powerful. And June Carter was the power behind him.

"Sunday Morning Coming Down" was a remarkable song, and Cash turned in a performance that came from hard-won field research, and it was a hit. Cash started doing tunes like "Cocaine Blues."

Cash was definitely the only '50s country performer who could fit in with the 60's songwriters. June Carter, who was a very intelligent woman but who was also duty bound to country music tradition because of her family, was likely the key to his ability to expand so gracefully while never forgetting who Johnny Cash was.

The '70s were scattershot for Cash. The hits didn't dry up completely, but he was no longer a constant on the country charts. He became something of an actor, and made The Gospel Road, a documentary about him in the Holy Land. There was a Christian comic book chronicling his fight with pills. He played a great many benefits for Native Americans, especially in Arizona.

Johnny Cash and June Carter had come into that Louis Armstrong place where they were genre symbols about as much as they were musicians who still occasionally had hits. By the 80s, Cash had been dropped by Columbia, who refused to grant him the respect they gave Miles Davis. So Cash went to Mercury, and, for the first time, put out a few shitty records. He also teamed with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kristofferson for a group called The Highwaymen, who had a few hits but nothing all that memorable.



continued...




The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2016 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (126409)