The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Quin Kirchner:
The Shadows and The Light [2 CDs] (Astral Spirits)

Recorded over 2 days in a Chicago studio in configuration from duos to an octet, drummer Quin Kirchner provides the compositions on this double CD for 11 pieces, alongside works by Frank Foster, Phil Cohran, Sun Ra & Carla Bley, presented as a story or a journey of differing styles and forms, glued together by Kirchner's remarkable drumming and coherently diverse interests. ... Click to View


Tomeka Reid Quartet:
Old New (Cuneiform)

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Kaoru Abe :
19770916@Ayler, Sapporo (Doubtmusic)

Recently discovered, unissued solo improvisations from legendary Japanese free jazz alto saxophonist Karou Abe--four extended statements from the full concert recorded in 1970 at the Sapporo jazz cafe "Ayler"--an excellent example of the passionate performances he presented, using extended and unusual technique from assertive mastery to near-silent moments; incomporable. ... Click to View


Adam Caine Quartet, feat Adam Lane / Bob Lanzetti / Billy Mintz:
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Embracing a wide and diverse stylistic range, from burning modern electric jazz to introspective interplay, NY guitarist Adam Caines' band with fellow guitarist Bob Lanzetti, Adam Lane on acoustic bass, Billy Mintz on drums, and Nick Lyons on alto saxophone, perform with great taste, technical mastery and superb interplay, releasing an extremely well-balanced colelction. ... Click to View


Keys & Screws (Thomas Borgmann / Jan Roder / Willi Kellers):
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Two thirds of the free jazz group "Boom Box"--saxophonist Thomas Borgmann and drummer Willi Kellers--and referencing that band's 2011 album titled Jazz, Keys & Screws is rounded out as a trio with double bassist Jan Roder, following the format of "Jazz" with compositions from each player following head/solo format, fueled by each player's extensive experience. ... Click to View


DUX Orchestra (Dave Sewelson / Mats Gustafsson / Susie Ibarra / Will Connell Jr. / Dave Hofstra / Walter "Sweet" Perkins / JC Morrison):
Duck Walks Dog (With Mixed Results) [VINYL] (NoBusiness)

Dux, led by guitarist JC Morrison and baritone saxophonist Dave Seweleson, plus Dave Hofstra on bass and drummer Walter Perkins, is heard in this 1994 recording from "an attic" in New York City in an expanded version of the band, adding Mats Gustafsson on baritone sax, Will Connell, Jr on clarinet and Susie Ibarra on drums, for a wild session of exuberant free playing. ... Click to View


Larry Ochs / Aram Shelton Quartet (w/ Nordeson / Dresser / Walton):
Continental Drift (Clean Feed)

Key artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, composers and bandleaders Larry Ochs on tenor and sopranino saxophone and Aram Shelton on alto saxophone join together with Swedish drummer Kjell Nordeson, joined by either double bassist Mark Dresser or Scott Walton, in an album drawn from two session featuring exhiliarating pieces of unique approach from both composers. ... Click to View


Roots Magic (Pololla / De Fabritiis / Tedeschi / Spera):
Take Root Among The Stars (Clean Feed)

Mining the area between the blues and creative jazz with pieces by Charles Tyler, Ornette Coleman, Phil Cohran and Sun Ra, this is the 3rd album from the Italian quartet of Alberto Popolla on clarinets, Errico De Fabritiis on saxophones, Gianfranco Tedeschi on double bass, and Fabrizio Spera on drums & percussion, joined by Eugenio Colombo on flute and Francesco Lo Cascio on vibes. ... Click to View


Cliff Trio (Pandelis Karayorgis / Damon Smith / Eric Rosenthal):
Precipice (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

Recording at the Lilypad in Cambridge, MA, the Boston-area trio of pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, bassist Damon Smith, and drummer Eric Rosenthal are captured in concert for an adventurous album of free improvisation, Karayorgis's compositions leading this piano trio of magnificent mastery into buoyantly exciting interplay as they take their listeners to a dizzying precipice edge. ... Click to View


Anton Ponomarev Trio (w/ Per Ole Jorgens / Dmitri Lapshin):
Dodsdromen (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

Aggressive "honk-n-skronk" free jazz from the Moscow based trio of alto saxophonist Anton Ponomarev, with Danish drummer Peter Ole Jørgensen (aka P.O. Jorgens know for his work with Peter Brötzmann) and bass guitarist Dmitry Lapshin, ijn a studio album of eight burning "Circles", demanding skirmishes of fiery imformed collective free jazz. ... Click to View


Magnus Granberg / Skogen:
Let Pass My Weary Guiltless Ghost (Another Timbre)

First performed in November 2019 at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and then at the Splitter Orchester festival in Berlin, this studio recording of Magnus Granberg's delicately complex and exquisitely dream-like composition features his Skogen ensemble, including Granberg, Rhodri Davies, Toshimaru Nakamura, Erik Carlsson, Petter Wastberg, &c. ... Click to View


Rhodri Davies:
Telyn Rawn (Amgen Records)

Dating back to the 13th century in Wales, the Telyn Rawn is a nearly forgotten horsehair harp; UK improvising harpist Rhodri Davies researched the instrument and its unique sound, commissioning the construction of a harp on which he performs 18 improvisations of impressive technique and sonority, launching his new Amgen Records label with this album named for the instrument. ... Click to View


Tyler Higgins (w/ Monticello / Stevens):
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Blues with a strong sonic sense in Atlanta, GA guitarist Tyler Higgin's 2nd release on Shhpuma, his trio again featuring drummer Paul Stevens, and here adding bassist Gabriel Monticello, known for symphonic, jazz and rock forms, bringing masterful skill to this album that richly blends blues, gospel, folk, jazz and rock forms with passion and style. ... Click to View


Nicolas Snyder:
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West Coast sound artist Nicolas Snyder is a composer, filmmaker, sound-documenter, gardener, and forager; fascinated by the sounds of nature, he took recordings from streams and National Parks in Vietnam, Pennsylvania, and California and merged them with music composed in the studio to create these works of great beauty as a study of locational and emotional memory. ... Click to View


Dimos Vryzas:
Really Short And Tonal (Creative Sources)

Violinist, improviser, songwriter and composer from Thessaloniki, Greece, Dimos Vryzas creates a virtual electroacoustic ensemble using violin, voice and effects, contrasting acoustic and electronic sounds in the search for music expression, his studies with Fred Frith and Alfred Zimmerlin a good indicator of the kind of sound approach Vryzas employs. ... Click to View


Takamitsu Ohta:
Three Relations Among The Flock [CASSETTE] (Winds Measure)

Takamitsu Ohta, known for his work with artists Anne-F Jacques & Ryoko Akama, in three unexpected recordings using the microphone and speaker of small devices with recording and playback ability, from five to fifteen such linked devices creating surprisingly stacatto and expressive voices from feedback, each piece aptly named for the resulting articulation each combination creates. ... Click to View


Klaus Filip / Moe Kamura:
Passagein (Winds Measure)

ppooll sound artist Klaus Filip and Japanese experimental vocalist Moe Kamura (10Tet, Taku Sugimoto) in a two part electronic improvisation of electronic tones, textures, silence, and minimalist vocalization and utterance, Filip using a dynamic frequency palette inspiring Kamura's wordless expression; lowercase or Onkyo, a meditative and moody work. ... Click to View


Ballister:
Znachki Stilyag (Aerophonic)

The tenth year of the working and touring international Ballister trio of Dave Rempis on alto & tenor saxophones, Fred Lonberg on Holm on cello & electronics, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drum & percussion, here in an outrageously powerful yet explorative concert at Dom Cultural Center, in Moscow, Russia in 2019, a fierce example of what this band is capable of. ... Click to View


Stirrup + 6 (Lonberg-Holdm / Macri / Rumback):
The Avondale Addition (Cuneiform)

The Stirrup trio of cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, Nick Macri (bass), and Charles Rumback (drums) is merged with improvisers from Lonberg-Holm's Lightbox Orchestra project--Keefe Jackson & Mars Williams on reeds, guitarist Peter Maunu, violist Jen Clare Paulson, trumpeter Russ Johnson & Zoots Houston on electronics -for this compelling structured performance at Elastic Arts. ... Click to View


Tashi Dorji / Tyler Damon:
To Catch A Bird In A Net Of Wind [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Fully free improvisation from Chicago musicians, electric guitarist Tashi Dorji and drummer/percussionist Tyler Damon, performing live in a concert at Horatio N. May Chapel in 2018, the resonance of the location adding a rich reverberant level to their evolving dialog, building to ecstatic sonic states and releasing to energetically ruminative discourse. ... Click to View


BROM (Lapshin / Ponomarev / Mikensky / Kurilo):
Dance With An Idiot [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Raw, raucous and dauntless improvisation from the Russian quartet of Anton Ponomarev on alto saxophone, Dmitry Lapshin on bass guitar, Felix Mikensky on guitar & electronics, and Yaroslav Kurilo on drums, in 7 passionate collective improvisations with a dark melodic bent with titles like "demon" or "iron hair", plus a twisted take on Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts". ... Click to View


Berangere Maximin :
Land of Waves [VINYL 2 LPs + DOWNLOAD] (KARLRECORDS)

The sixth album of embraceable electroacoustic and acousmatic French composer Bérangère Maximin, whose work with Ina-GRM, Stockholm's EMS points to her extraordinary skills in organize other-worldly sound, imbued with her ability to create warmly embraceable works with mystery amongst propelling rhythm, here exploring recordings from city parks & abandoned properties. ... Click to View


Sun City Girls:
Live at the Sky Church - September 3rd, 2004 [VINYL LP & DVD] (Twenty One Eighty Two Recording Company)

A 2004 live performance in LP and DVD from the experimental, irreverent and twisted rock trio Sun City Girls performing at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, from strange songs of weird, blunt or vulgar intent to experimental cutups--an unorthodox exorcism in sound--all presented with bizarre theatrical accompaniment as documented on the accompanying DVD. ... Click to View


Matias Riquelme / Fernando Ulzion:
La Trahison Des Mots (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

Using the natural resonance of the Apodaka church in Alava, Spain, the Bilbao-based experimental improvising duo of cellist Francia Matías Riquelme and saxophonist Fernando Ulzion on soprano and alto, present an introspective and informed set of works titled as iconic jazz compositions, an implication of the impressionist approach their expansive and thoughtful playing invokes. ... Click to View


Machinefabriek / Anne Bakker:
Short Scenes (Zoharum)

While developing a soundtrack with violinist and violist Anne Bakker, Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek, began editing a series of Bakker's improvisations, creating new works from those recordings by layering them into succinct short works or "scenes"--twenty of them in the end--that he sequenced into this album of confidently dramatic and delicately beautiful episodes. ... Click to View


Master Oogway:
Earth And Other Worlds (Rune Grammofon)

The second album from the Norwegian electric jazz quartet of Havard Nordberg Funderud on guitar, Lauritz Lyster Skeidsvoll on saxophone, Karl Erik Horndalsveen on double bass, and Martin Heggli Mellem on drums, after their 2018 album The Concert Koan on the Clean Feed label, here in six powerfully thrilling tracks of youthful exuberance and impressive skill. ... Click to View


Master Oogway:
Earth And Other Worlds [VINYL] (Rune Grammofon)

The second album from the Norwegian electric jazz quartet of Havard Nordberg Funderud on guitar, Lauritz Lyster Skeidsvoll on saxophone, Karl Erik Horndalsveen on double bass, and Martin Heggli Mellem on drums, after their 2018 album The Concert Koan on the Clean Feed label, here in six powerfully thrilling tracks of youthful exuberance and impressive skill. ... Click to View


Thumbscrew (Fujiwara / Halvorson / Formanek):
The Anthony Braxton Project (Cuneiform)

The Thumbscrew trio of NY improvisers Tomas Fujiwara on drums & vibes, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Michael Formanek on double bass, turn their focus to their shared history with composer and reedist Anthony Braxton as he celebrates his 75th birthday, performing 11 previously unheard compositions selected from Composition No. 14 through No. 274; masterful and profound. ... Click to View


Toyozumi / Yandsen / Countryman:
Future of Change (ChapChap Records)

The collaboration of American alto saxophonist living in the Philippines Rick Countryman with legendary Japanese free improvising drummer Sabu Toyozumim, also performing on Erhu, continues with this outstanding performance at the LIMBO Art Gallery in Makati, Philippines in 2020, joined by Malaysian tenor saxophonist Yong Yandsen for a burning set of free jazz. ... Click to View



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Instrumentals
We've asked a number of musicians to write about their instruments of choice, taking a view that is either personal, historical or, in some cases, just unusual. The results are to be found in these pages.


  The Clarinet (& Chi)  


By Perry Robinson 2002-12-11

Perry Robinson
Perry Robinson    [Photo by Peter Gannushkin]
The clarinet is a very interesting instrument. Whereas the sax starts thin at the neck and gets broader at the bell, the clarinet is straight, and that makes a big difference between the clarinet and the sax's sound. Of all the instruments, the clarinet has the biggest difference between the lowest and highest sound, and that's what makes it unique. The clarinet has such a broad range that sometimes you need two mics to get a good recording, one to get the low register and another to get the high. It's also harder to play than the sax because on the sax if you want to play the same note an octave higher you just press an octave key with your thumb, but to go an octave higher on the clarinet you have to completely change your fingering. So that's probably one of the reasons the clarinet has a reputation for being difficult to learn.

Your sound definitely comes from your personality, and it's also the shape of your body, your embouchure and your breathing. Style is a fascinating thing to analyze. Two people can play the same instrument and get a totally different sound, like Coltrane and Sonny Rollins both playing tenor sax. Playing clarinet is a process of finding what's right for you in terms of your breathing, reeds and mouthpiece, but I would say that it's mostly breathing. All playing and singing comes from the diaphragm, which is the seat of life, of chi. Tony Scott's stomach was huge; it was full of chi, which is the main reason he got that huge sound. We should all develop our diaphragms, and we should all breathe from there. It's something that I worked on, and now I breathe that way almost without thinking. I don't do circular breathing when I play; I don't think I need it with my style of playing. It's good for certain things, like playing long lines without stopping, but I just take a deep breath for whatever I'm doing. Breathing deeply like that is good because you develop your lungs.

Mouth and throat techniques are also important. As I've discussed, I play using the double embouchure, which isn't done so often in jazz. You can also roll your "R"s while you play, which creates a certain sound. It's like a guttural "R" sound but not quite, it's more a "th" sound. If you want a raspy sound you make a rasping "Rrrrr" in your throat. The old players like Pee Wee Russell did a lot of that. The early vocabulary of jazz is very rich and emotional, it's full of people talking and yelling. If you think how people talk when they say something like, "Yeah, I'm gonna get you," it's that same kind of guttural voice. And there's a whole technique where you sing through your throat at the same time as playing. You sing a melody with yourself, which creates a double voice; many horn players have developed this to a high degree. There's also ways to create an overtone, which is another way of getting two sounds at once. It only works with the lowest fingering, but if you tighten your embouchure in a certain way you can do it.

Mouthpieces are important as well. Some horn players get obsessed, and they go through thousands of mouthpieces searching for the perfect one; it's like trying to find the holy grail of mouthpieces, or like looking for that perfect person. I didn't go that far, although I tried a lot of different products. In the old days instrument stores had boxes of old mouthpieces; you'd search through a box and find one you liked. Some didn't even have a brand on them, but they were cheap and you could find a good mouthpiece that way. I also tried a glass mouthpiece. Part of Tony Scott's early sound came from using a glass mouthpiece; it gives a different sound, and the feeling of glass is a whole other experience. Over the years I've gone through many mouthpieces. You find one you like, but then they break or you lose them or something else happens. Once in the mid-1990s at a place in New Jersey called Nature's Friends Farm somebody accidentally knocked my horn over and danced on it, and they split my mouthpiece. After that I got the one I use now, which is an old one I found at a store.

Reeds are also a big concern with horn players. Reeds are from cane, then they're machined so they're soft or hard. They're numbered one and up, with one being the softest. A student who's just starting plays 11/2, then as you get stronger you move up. Guys like Tony and Buddy would use 5 or 6, and that was part of their sound. Reeds are tricky; in a box of twenty-five you might find only three good ones. You fix them by sanding or molding, but that's an art in itself which I never got into. One trick I learned was that you can break in a reed by soaking it in milk, and I've told people that over the years. There are also reeds made out of synthetic materials, and lately I've been using a clear plastic one that I like a lot. The plastic ones come in soft, medium and hard, and I use the soft.

Then there's different combinations of reeds and mouthpieces. You can experiment using a hard reed with a closed mouthpiece or a soft reed with an open one. Coltrane was a great experimenter this way; he tried all kinds of combinations. In general I'd say that the harder the reed the more pressure it takes, so then you have to have a mouthpiece to compensate. There's lots of ways you can do it; you just try everything you can to get the right combination of sounds.

It's also important to find a repairman you trust. An instrument is like a person, and your repairman is like your doctor. Instruments are so delicate and technical; there's all these little springs and levers and tiny parts, and a good repairman really has to know what he's doing. I use Alex Kolpakchi, a wonderful guy who has a store at 701 7th Avenue in New York. He's a clarinet and sax player from Russia who came to America and got work as a repairman. I used to take my horn to another store on 48th Street, but I liked talking to Alex and started using him forrepairs. I bring my horns in for an overhaul or to fix something, and he sees other little technical problems that I didn't even notice. He's very good.

Alex also sells horns, and I got all my horns through him except my little one. All of my instruments are old. I always look for vintage horns because there are certain models that aren't made any more, and they made them so great in those days. A horn from the 1930s is just as good as one from today because the basics are the same, plus the old ones have a different quality that I prefer.

I have four horns: three B-flats and one E-flat. I have a beautiful old wooden horn from the 1950s, a Selmer Centertone. The funny thing about wood clarinets is that black is not the real color; it's really an uneven brown-white, the black is just a dye that became the standard color. Wood has a great sound, but the problem with wood is that if it gets wet it cracks. If a saxophone gets wet it's not that bad, but if a wood clarinet gets wet or too cold it cracks. That's why you see musicians cleaning their instruments all the time; you have to clean after you play because if the instrument stays wet and you go into another temperature the wood will crack. But cracks can be fixed. In the old days it was like surgery on a person, but now they have a very sophisticated method and it works well.

I also have a plastic clarinet, an Evette, which is the student model of Buffet. Every major instrument company has student models, and they're less expensive because they're plastic. There's a special soul feeling with wood, no doubt about it, but you really can't tell the difference between wood and plastic, and that's because companies like Buffet and Selmer use the same shape and mechanism in their plastic student models as their wooden models. My plastic clarinet is my all-purpose one; no one believes it, but I used it when I recorded Call to the Stars. It's the exact kind kids use in school marching bands, and I can take it out in any weather.

My silver clarinet is the one I use most professionally. In the early 1990s I saw it on a stand in Alex's store and I said, "What the hell is that? That's out." I tried it out, and I loved it. It's unique because the metal covers wood, which creates a special alchemy. People say it has a larger sound, a heavier sound like a soprano saxophone. There are very few of these in the world; it's a Selmer, but it must have been an experiment because nobody has ever seen one like it. We can't even find out what year it was made because the serial and model number are covered with metal. We know it's very old, though, because it's cracked and worn. I always take my silver clarinet on tour with me, and I always use it at recording sessions. People know about it; it's a signature thing. My other clarinets are beautiful too, and they're equally good in their way, but this one is unique.

There's a funny story about that clarinet. I had a benefit at the Hoboken High School with Gary Schneider and Gene Turonis, and I wanted to use it. Alex had fixed it, but the middle part was loose and it needed just that slight adjustment. He didn't think I should use it, but it was new and I really wanted to so he said, "Okay, just be aware of the loose part." Then right before I was about to go on the whole bottom of my clarinet fell, and I lost one of the five joints. When those things happen you go, "Oy! Oy gevalt!" I put the bottom back on, and luckily it was okay for the rest of the night.

Those are my three instruments of the soprano clarinet family. Then I have the E-flatsopranino that I got from Eckhard Kolterman. It's a Noblet, which is a subsidiary of LeBlanc. I love it; it's a mini-replica, a one-piece teeny-weeny. It's much more expensive than the others because the work is so delicate, and because it's a different size it has its own special sound. I use it for specific gigs, like when I playwith Dave, Perry, and Rande.

I have other instruments as well. I collect them because I like to have different little instruments around the house. I have a whole collection of flutes, both wood and plastic. My favorites are a wooden flute that my dad and mom brought me from Czechoslovakia, and a wooden Hawaiian flute called the Xaphoon. I had seen the Xaphoon advertised in Down Beat; it's known as the bamboo saxophone because although it's a flute it has a mouthpiece like a sax. The sound is so out; I use it with the group Cosmosis on some of our out music. I also have a few ocarinas, which are little clay instruments with four or so holes. You can hear me playing an ocarina on "Wahaila" on Angelology. I get them from an arts and crafts stand in Pike's Market in Seattle. Most of them come with a booklet that explains the fingering you're supposed to use, but I always throw those booklets out. That kind of fingering is good if you want to play "Yankee Doodle" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but it's more interesting to fool with the instruments, to make up your own fingerings and get sounds that way. You learn by playing, it's a Zen thing; you try everything, you go crazy and flip out and make all kinds of sounds.






reprinted from The Traveler by Perry Robinson and Florence Wetzel available at Squidco




Previous Instrumental Articles:
The Accordion (& the Outsider) - Pauline Oliveros
The Guitar (& Why) - Derek Bailey
The Banjo (& guitarist Johnny PayCheck) - Eugene Chadbourne
The Violin (& The Infidel) - Jon Rose


The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco

Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Quin Kirchner:
The Shadows and
he Light
[2 CDs]
(Astral Spirits)



Cliff Trio
(Pandelis Karayorgis /
Damon Smith /
Eric Rosenthal):
Precipice
(Listen! Foundation
(Fundacja Sluchaj!))



Roots Magic
(Pololla /
De Fabritiis /
Tedeschi /
Spera):
Take Root
Among The Stars
(Clean Feed)



Larry Ochs /
Aram Shelton Quartet
(w/ Nordeson /
Dresser /
Walton):
Continental Drift
(Clean Feed)



Rhodri Davies:
Telyn Rawn
(Amgen Records)



Tomeka Reid Quartet:
Old New
(Cuneiform)



DUX Orchestra
(Dave Sewelson /
Mats Gustafsson /
Susie Ibarra /
Will Connell Jr. /
Dave Hofstra /
Walter "Sweet" Perkins /
JC Morrison):
Duck Walks Dog
(With Mixed Results)
[VINYL]
(NoBusiness)



Ballister:
Znachki Stilyag
(Aerophonic)



Tashi Dorji /
Tyler Damon:
To Catch A Bird
In A Net Of Wind
[VINYL]
(Trost Records)



Berangere Maximin :
Land of Waves
[VINYL 2 LPs +
DOWNLOAD]
(KARLRECORDS)



Master Oogway:
Earth And
Other Worlds
(Rune Grammofon)



Stirrup + 6
(Lonberg-Holdm /
Macri /
Rumback):
The Avondale Addition
(Cuneiform)



Alva Noto:
Xerrox Vol. 4
(Noton)



Thumbscrew
(Fujiwara /
Halvorson /
Formanek):
The Anthony Braxton Project
(Cuneiform)



Toyozumi /
Yandsen /
Countryman:
Future of Change
(ChapChap Records)



Steve Swell
(w /
Cyrille /
Hwang /
Bart /
Lonberg-Holm /
Boston):
The Center
Will Hold
featuring Andrew Cyrille
(Not Two)



Jubileum Quartet
(Leandre /
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Fermandez /
Kaucic):
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Angharad Davies /
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Charlie Parker :
Selections From
The DIAL Recordings
(ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)



Charlie Parker :
Selections From
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(ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)







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