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Judson Trio (Leandre / Maneri / Cleaver):
Light And Dance [2 CDs] (RogueArt)

A live recording at Instants Chavire's, in Montreuil, France in 2020, and a studio recording 5 days later in Malakoff, France, in the 2nd album from the Judson Trio of Joelle Leandre on double bass, Mat Maneri on viola, Gerald Cleaver on drums & small percussion, the entwining of viola and bass strings propelled with assertive restraint and accent from Cleaver. ... Click to View


All Set (Laubrock / Payen / Tordini / Rainey):
All Set (RogueArt)

Distinctive for the dual reed front line of French saxophonist Stephane Payen on straight alto sax and New York tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, with the spirited rhythm section of double bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Tom Rainey, formed in 2002 through the collectives HASK and F-IRE, finally realized in recordings with this 2019 studio encounter in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France. ... Click to View


Natural Information Society w/ Evan Parker:
Descension (Out of Our Constrictions) (AGUIRRE RECORDS)

The first live album from Chicago bassist and guimbri player Joshua Abrams is the 6th Natural Information Society album, captured live in the summer of 2019 at Cafe Oto in London, the core quartet with Lisa Alvarado on harmonium, Mikel Patrick on drums and Jason Stein on bass clarinet joined by UK legend Evan Parker on soprano saxophone for four ecstatic improvisations. ... Click to View


Matthew Shipp / William Parker:
Re-Union (RogueArt)

The kind of conversation only two profoundly accomplished jazz artists such as pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker could have, steeped in the history of the creative form and founded on a long history of collaborations between the two, here in four engaging extended dialogs recorded in the studio Sextan in La Fonderie, Malakoff, France. ... Click to View


Evan Parker:
Collected Solos [VINYL 4LP BOX / CASSETTE] (Otoroku)

A limited edition box set of solo Evan Parker, reissuing the 1986 Incus label box of four previous Incus LPs (Saxophone Solos (1976), The Snake Decides (1986), Monoceros (1978), and Six of One (1982)) plus a cassette of previously unreleased material, here in a beautifully produced box with a booklet by Paul Haines signed by Evan Parker, eacg box hand numbered 000/250. ... Click to View


Big Bad Brotzmann Quintet :
Karacho! (Euphorium)

A superb example of European Free Jazz tradition, modern and amazingly creative, from the quintet of pianist Oliver Schwerdt and reedist Peter Brotzmann performing on tenor sax, tarogato & clarinet, with Christian Lillinger on drums & percussion and dual double bassists in John Edwards and John Eckhardt, performing a 50+ minute free masterpiece at club naTo in Liepzig, 2017. ... Click to View


Susan Alcorn Quintet:
Pedernal [VINYL] (Very Good)

An innovator in integrating pedal steel guitar into modern improvised music, Cleveland-born, Baltimore-based pedal steel guitar player Susan Alcorn's quintet enlists a superb set of New York players--Mark Feldman on violin, Michael Formanek on double bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Ryan Sawyer on drums--taking on a diverse set of Alcorn compositions. ... Click to View


Susan Alcorn / Phillip Greenlief:
Prism Mirror Lens [VINYL] (Very Good)

A beautifully balanced encounter between Baltimore pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and Bay Area reedist Phillip Greenlief, performing on tenor saxophone & B-flat clarinet, improvising four "colors" as the two span the spectrum from rapid interaction of weaving and pointillistic playing into deeply introspective and ruminating discourse, each the perfect complement for the other. ... Click to View


Fred Frith:
Rocking The Boat (Volume 1 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

The first of three sturdy box sets from innovative guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith, here with 8 CDs from the Recommended Records label plus a bonus CD, a thick booklet of artwork, photographs & extensive notes from Frith; albums included are Guitar Solos, Gravity, Cheap at Half the Price, Killing Time, Impur , Middle of the Moment, Keep the Dog; Dropera. ... Click to View


Fred Frith:
Crossing Borders (Volume 2 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

The second of three sturdy box sets from innovative guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith, here with 8 CDs from the Recommended Records label plus a bonus CD, a thick booklet of artwork, photographs & extensive notes from Frith; albums included are Live in Japan, Speechless, Prints, Step Across the Border, Impur 2, Art of Memory II, Skeleton Crew, Helter Skelter. ... Click to View


Fred Frith:
Stepping Out (Volume 3 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

The third of three sturdy box sets from innovative guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith, here with 8 CDs from the Recommended Records label plus a bonus CD, a thick booklet of artwork, photographs & extensive notes from Frith; albums included are Technology of Tears, Propaganda, Allies, Accidental, The Previous Evening, Happy End Problem, Nowhere, Sideshow, Field Days; Inimitable (previously unreleased). ... Click to View


Roy Campbell / John Dikeman / Raoul van der Weide / Peter Jacquemyn / Klaus Kugel:
When The Time Is Right (577 Records)

Performing at Bimhuis in 2013, the trans-Atlantic quintet of Roy Campbell on trumpet, flugelhorn & flute, John Dikeman on saxophone, Raoul van der Weide on cello & percussion, Peter Jacquemyn on bass & voice and Klaus Kugel on drums, perform an extended, energetic and dynamic set of free improvisation, with intricate melodies and beautifully rich transitions. ... Click to View


Elliott Sharp:
IrRational Music [BOOK] (TerraNova Press)

An insightful look at the history of New York composer, saxophonist and guitarist Elliott Sharp, "Sixteen Pieces in the Shape of a Memoir" as Sharp looks back at his musical influences and approach to playing and composing, with observations on music, art, politics and technology, a fascinating set of essays from a vanguard artist's point of view. ... Click to View


Charles Noyes K. :
Crimes In High Places, Part 1 (zOaR Records)

Known as a percussionist, Bay Area improviser Charles K. Noyes' first part of his Crimes In High Places is performed on electric & resonator guitars plus amplified guqin, expanding on the innovations of Derek Bailey in free-form non-idiomatic playing as he works to create a personal language on the instrument, presenting a dark and creatively foreboding vision. ... Click to View


Gerald Cleaver / Devin Gray:
27 Licks (Rataplan Records)

Drummer Gerald Cleaver's significance in NY free jazz can't be understated, and his influence and work with younger generation drummer Devin Gray as a teacher, friend and associate has shaped Gray's work, as heard here in this monumental encounter between the two drummers, a duet that started many years before, playing in the streets of NYC, and now properly captured in the studio. ... Click to View


Devin Gray / Ralph Alessi / Angelica Sanchez:
Melt all the Guns (Rataplan Records)

Recorded in the fall of 2019 as a statement to help expand awareness and work for a future free from gun violence, composed in response to several gun violence incidents, performed at Douglass Recording in Brooklyn with the trio of Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Angelica Sanchez on piano, and Devin Gray on drums and providing the compositions, each title expressing his concern. ... Click to View


Devin Gray / Ingrid Laubrock / Cory Smythe :
Cloudsounds Trio (Rataplan Records)

NY drummer Devin Gray provides the compositions for this EP with his Cloudsounds trio of Ingrid Laubrock performing on tenor and soprano saxophones and Corey Smythe on piano, the sophisticated structures leading the improvisers into almost chamber jazz territory, with a light playfulness and warm interaction, Gray's intriguing rhythms shifting and propelling their music. ... Click to View


The Selva + Machinefabriek (Jacinto / Almeida / Morao + Zuydervelt):
Barbatrama (Shhpuma)

The Selva trio of Ricardo Jacinto on cello, Goncalo Almeida on double bass and Nuno Morao on drums join with Rutger Zuydervelt of Machinefabriek who adds unique electroacoustic transformations to their fusion of free improvisation and hydrid world elements, resulting in this wonderfully dark venture inside a virtual jungle of contrasting darkness and refined acoustic beauty. ... Click to View


Giovanni Di Domenico :
Decay Music n. 4: Downtown Ethnic Music [VINYL] (Die Schachtel)

The fourth release in Die Schachtel's Decay Music series is Italian composer Giovanni Di Domenico's Downtown Ethnic Music, a tapestry of synthetic and acoustic sources in a 4th world/Jon Hassell mode, with rhythms from drummer João Lobo, vocals by Pak Yan Lau and Patshiva CIE women choir, the horns of Ananta Roosens and Jordi Grognard; a gorgeous album of detailed ambience and atmosphere. ... Click to View


Adrian Knight:
Fly By Night [2 CDs] (thanatosis produktion)

A "travelogue" of Swedish composer and songwriter Adrian Knight's guitar explorations, works originally released on his digital-only and now dormant label Pink Pamphlet, drawing from work recorded in his home studio that developed from sketches and experimentation, along with new recordings including one with saxophonist David Lackner; beautifully moody and elegant music. ... Click to View


J/L Duo + Adrian Knight and Frew Elfineh Taha:
Ismalfa [VINYL] (thanatosis produktion)

A cohesive suite in eight parts on dynamics, tone and vocal narration in acoustic jazz from the joining of the 20+ year Swedish duo project J/L Duo of saxophonist Johan Jutterstrom and drummer/percussionist Andreas Hiroui Larsson, Brooklyn-based pianist Adrian Knight and vocalist/lyricist Frew Elfineh Taha (also known under the moniker Black Fist). ... Click to View


Marta Forsberg:
TKA─ć [VINYL] (thanatosis produktion)

Tkać means to weave, as Swedish electroacoustic sound artist Marta Forsberg interwines drones, first through a work of sound and light using frozen and processed violin sounds that slowly shift in minimal repetition; then in a synthetic work exploring darkness, light and colour by means of LED light, fabric, sequins, and minimalistic drone-based electronic music. ... Click to View


OTONN :
Two Crumbling Shapes [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (esc.rec.)

The electroacoustic duo of singer Andrea Silvia Giordano and drummer Nicholas Remondino, working with Pierre Bastien, E-cor Ensemble, Gianluca Verlingieri, Maria Dybbroe and Torstein Lavik Larsen, create uniquely motioned works of decay, deconstruction and destruction, percussion and voice weaving amid unusual sonic sources both abstract and rhythmic. ... Click to View


Yoshio Machida / Cal Lyall:
Premeditation [VINYL 2 10-inch records] (By the Bluest of Seas)

Both members of the Tokyo band SuperDeluxe, drummer Yoshio Mashida performing on steelpan, gamelan and metal-slit drums, and 5-string banjo player Cal Lyall, performing largely on a tabletop guitar setup augmented with electronics, have developed a lovely and relaxed, compelling language of improvisational forms using structural ideas-based on minimal scalar patterns. ... Click to View


Fred Frith:
Stone, Brick, Glass, Wood, Wire (Graphic Scores 1986-96)(2CDs) (Angelica)

RESTOCKED: Fred Frith's 1999 box set, presenting a large, flexible ensemble project using marked photographs and rules as scores while Frith directs and conducts as well as performing; permanent members are Ikue Mori and Zeena Parkins, otherwise the balance of the 44 strong ensemble changes; recordings here are taken from 5 concerts, including the first in 1992 at AngelicA. ... Click to View


Robbie Avenaim / Chris Abrahams / Jim Denley:
Weft (Relative Pitch)

The Australian trio of percussionist Robbie Avenaim, keyboard player Chris Abrahams performing on a Waldorf Q+ Synthesiser and bass flutist Jim Denley, all compatriots in a variety of groupings, in an extended studio improvisation of spacious textures and rapidly understated percussive elements, aptly titled for the weaving and cris-crossing threads on a loom. ... Click to View


Sergio Armaroli / Fritz Hauser:
Angelica (Leo Records)

Performed at the Angelica Contemporary Music Festival in Bologna, Italy in 2019 and recorded with superb fidelity, drummer/percussionist Fritz Hauser joined with xylophonist Sergio Armaroli for an enthralling performance that balances chamber jazz forms with fully free exploration, avant yet embraceable as two interact in exquisite and authoritatively unhurried ways. ... Click to View


John Brennan Wolf:
Nitty Gritty Ditties (Leo Records)

33 songs & instrumentals in 74 minutes performed by Dublin composer, performer, improvisor, pianist and organist John Wolf Brennan, covering an eclectic and vast cross-section of styles and genres, from composers including Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Lars Hollmer, Tom Waits, Cornelius Cardew, Bela Bartok, Paul McCartney, John McLaughlin, &c. ... Click to View


Kontrabassduo Studer-Frey:
Zip (Leo Records)

Naming each track for the teeth of a different type of zip-fastener (curved, triangular, saggitate, &c) Swiss double bassists Daniel Studer and Peter K. Frey improvise a fascinating set of interlocking and intersecting abstractions, recorded live at at Kronen Galerie, in Zurich as the two celebrated their 20th anniversary as a duo through a series of 10 half-hour concerts. ... Click to View


Christer Bothen :
Ambrosia [3 CD BOX SET] (thanatosis produktion)

Swedish contrabass clarinetist Christ Bothen in six extended works, the first and third disks a series of solo works using incredible technique and concentration, the 2nd disc a large work in an ensemble with fellow deep reedists Hans Koch & Per Texas Johansson, double bassist Vilhelm Bromander, pianists Kristine Scholz & Tisha Mukarji, and a spectral narrative from Sofia Jernberg. ... Click to View



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  Freedom of Suppression  

A week of copyright infringement in New York City


By Urania Mylonas 2002-12-30
Concert photos by Urania Mylonas
Food chain Barbie photo by Tom Forsythe


Mark Hosler
"Illegal art?" John Filker, a New York-based photographer and painter grew incredulous when asked what he thought about using someone else's work without permission. "It's wrong! You can't just copy someone else's work and then add your name to it! You can't use another artist's images or other work without their approval. That's not right." But when asked about using corporate images or sounds illegally, his response was far different. "Oh, well it's OK to fuck with corporations, it's not like a corporation is an artist" he said.

Even an employee for a large advertising agency in New York City, who works in the art department (but didn't want her name or firm to be disclosed), didn't seem to mind that the Illegal Art Festival, which had its New York run from November 13 to December 6, and was organized by Stay Free! magazine, was making use of some of the corporate images that her company might have made. "This sounds like great fun," she said. "I'm tired of large restaurant chains using my good work. Let someone else use it and turn it into real art!"

Christian Marclay
So is stealing from the "big guys" OK? Is it fine to make art out of corporately owned culture? Or someone else's work? Artists like Mark Hosler of the audio-collage group Negativland would tell you it is OK. He might even say that it's not stealing, that it's "transformative re-use," as he called it in a recent lecture at Anthology Film Archives. Using fragments of one thing to create another, potentially more interesting, work is a part of artistic freedom and shouldn't be silenced, Hosler said. What the Illegal Art Fest is exploring is the illegal use of images or sounds; mostly corporate or at least owned by corporations like record labels, toy companies and other media giants, and how they are being reinterpreted by artists.

In a society where creativity is to be rewarded but free and open access to ideas -- from music to journalism to art -- allowed, a conflict can arise, leaving lawyers to sort out questions of ownership and compensation. What are the copyright issues and who do copyrights really protect anyway? And, in the case of illegal use of images or sounds, who is actually getting hurt by the copyright laws?

At a recent short film showing at Anthology Film Archives, Hosler presented some (very) illegal short films he and the other members of Negativland made for some of their recordings. The screenings included a short called Gimme the Mermaid, which was made with help from Disney animator Tim Maloney, who created the film using Disney's equipment after hours. Mermaid combines the sound of a music industry lawyer with the voice of the Little Mermaid and Negativland's cover of Black Flag's "Gimme Gimme Gimme," Former Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn was part owner of SST Records, the label that tried to force Negativland to pay the entire legal costs associated with a lawsuit brought on by Island Records regarding illegal use of a song by Irish megastars U2, which almost broke the band financially.

The U2 piece also included unauthorized a recording of Casey Kasem, a bootlegged outtakes from his American Top 40 show in which, during a dedication to a dead dog called "Snuggles," he cursed the sound engineer and insulted the band U2, saying, "these guys are from England and who gives a shit?" The piece -- featuring manipulated and deconstructed segments of the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" -- was called "U2: Special Edit Radio Mix" and included on of Negativland's album "Negativland: U2," an album that U2's label, Island Records, thought looked a little too much like an actual U2 album since the letter "U" and the numeral "2" were featured far more prominently than Negativland's name. The 15-minute long album had barely been arrived in stores when Island Records slapped the group and SST with a lawsuit. And while Kasem didn't file a lawsuit, he and his lawyers did threaten Negativland with one if they tried to release the track again or in any way use the unauthorized outtakes of Kasem from the show.

This move may have seemed hypocritical, however. While being interviewed during a concert that was part of a protest against nuclear weapons testing outside Las Vegas in 1992, Kasem was asked about the Negativland record, and he wasn't going to take action against the band and that he was against censorship.

"No, I'm not going to complain about it, it's a free country and we have the First Amendment, so...no problem," he said. "I'm against censorship of any kind...Nobody should be censored."Negativland chronicled the saga in their book Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2.

Legal actions aside, the song was one of the first, and certainly one of the most prominent, of a wave of art that steps on the toes of copyright control.

At CB's 313 Gallery in New York City, artists and photographers made creative use of corporately owned imagery. One of them, Tom Forsythe, stuffed the beloved Barbie doll in a blender and a martini glass and messed up her hair for good measure in his series of photographs entitled Food Chain Barbie. Forsythe received a letter from Mattel claiming the series of images he had posted on his Web site infringed on its copyright and trademark. Forsythe wasn't making any money from the images and decided to fight the case with help from the ACLU. A federal court ruled in favor of Forsythe and Mattel immediately appealed. A decision is pending in May, 2003. Freedom of expression is OK, but don't mess with Barbie.

Canadian copyright laws are even stricter than in the US and while our neighbors to the North enjoy other freedoms, fair play, the Canadian equivalent of fair use, does not allow for parody, as artists Diana Thorneycroft and Michael Boss discovered when their series of drawings Man, Dog, Husband & Wife, Dinosaur, Man with Large Nose, Mouse -- which portrays Marge and Homer Simpson, Barney Rubble, Burt of Sesame Street, Barney the Dinosaur, Goofy and Mickey Mouse in various stages of bondage and victimization -- was rejected by Gallery 1CO3 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the advice of the gallery's lawyer. The artists eventually showed their work at another gallery in Winnipeg and have not been sued as of yet.

While Thorneycroft and Boss were subverting known cartoon characters to bring to light the face of violence, Brooklyn-based artist Heidi Cody wrote the word "subvert" in letters from corporate logos. The piece is part of a larger work called The American Alphabet and not only has she not heard complaints from those corporations, but some advertising agencies have even paid Cody to use the letters, seemingly allowing some freedom of expression and perhaps freedom to profit.

When artist Kembrew McLeod decided to copyright the term "Freedom of Expression," he got his wish and 10 years of exclusive use of the term for his zine. McLeod, with the help of a friend posing as the publisher of an imaginary punk rock magazine also called Freedom of Expression, pretended to sue the magazine and even had a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to the "offending magazine." McLeod was later interviewed by a local paper, which quoted the frustrated copyright holder as saying "I didn't go to the trouble and expense of trade marking 'Freedom of Expression' to have someone else come along and think they can use it whenever they want."

Luckily for most artists, McLeod was just kidding, since freedom of expression and freedom to express yourself using many, many samples, was the thing at a night of music that was part of the Illegal Art Fest at Tonic in the Lower East Side.

Musicians and sound manipulators put on performances that would be a copyright lawyer's dream (or nightmare, however you choose to see it).The experimental music duo Spin-17 used noisemakers, toy horns, and electric pianos, a turntable playing sounds from science fiction movies like Godzilla and recordings from space shuttle launches. Motoko Shimizu sang from operas, while Ed Chang played guitar during their performance. "No genre is safe and the boundaries between art and doleful indulgence are blurred," the duo writes on their Web site.

The Thimbletron, an invention created by the one-man band Evolution Control Committee, could be considered the ultimate indulgence for an artist who likes to use samples. The group claims to have discovered the science of Thimbletronium, as well as its relevant subatomic particle, Superdupertron, and to begin the show, Mark Gunderson donned Thimbletron: a pair of gloves with wires and thimbles attached which trigger samples from a laptop when touched together. After applying olive oil to the thimbles "for conduction purposes," Gunderson, with his wild white hair and white jumpsuit, pressed his fingers together, but no sounds ca m e out. Afte r much fumbling and the further application of olive oil, the device sprang to life and the sounds ranging from AC/DC and Dan Rather to instructional records and meal menus pumped out of the speakers.

The quirky band is better known for their controversial single "Rocked By Rape", which features samples of Rather and resulted in a lawsuit against them by CBS and the record being pulled. Even in cases where a song might be protected as parody or freedom of expression, artists can scarcely defend their work against deep-pocketed corporations and their Philadelphia lawyers.

Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford University, said copyright laws have reached a level of control where even an educator, wanting to use a three-second clip from "The Simpsons" is required to pay $25,000 for the privilege.

"The problem is their insane rules are now being applied to the whole world," Lessig said in a speech he gave this past summer at the Open Source Convention in California. "This insanity of control is expanding as everything you do touches copyrights."

But is having a low profile, like Evolution Control Committee, the only way to get around the radar screen of the lawyers and avoid paying hefty usage fees? Are artists like Beck, Public Enemy and Beastie Boys and countless other "mainstream" artists who have the money to pay for rights (and lawyers) the only ones who can use sampling in their music? Not as long as Negativland and Evolution Control Committee and other "underground" artists continue to keep the samples and the music and humor coming, in hopes that the next piece of mail isn't another subpoena, but a fan letter.



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