More September News 2001

reviewed by Dan Warburton:
Franz Hautzinger
On Innova: Peter Warren § Matt Samolis / John Morton / Future Perfect
On Boxholder: Raphe Malik / Paul Flaherty
Press Release: Engaging Music
On Eremite: Jemeel Moondoc / Alan Silva
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More September Releases
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Franz Hautzinger
Grob 211
Dachte Musik
Grob 313/4

Though it could be helpful,even desirable, to know trumpeter Franz Hautzinger's previous album
releases before tackling "Gomberg", as Bill Dixon recommends in his voluminous liner notes (which read
like a letter of reference for a tenured teaching post), I find a comparison with Greg Kelley's "Trumpet"
(Meniscus) more revealing. While both are daring exposés of extended trumpet techniques, Hautzinger is
quite content to record in odd locations a police car wails by on one track, crickets chirp merrily on
another, and there's even a conversation going on behind "Ticket To India" and this openness to the wider
world of sound would seem to situate his work within a Cageian tradition of experimental music, whereas
Kelley's razor-honed studio perfection seems to seek the polemical purity of a Boulez. Hautzinger is
content to confine his investigations to a close-miked mid-register, concentrating on high-gain recording
of the valves mechanism(s) and the multiplicity of sonic nuances of breath inhaled and exhaled through
(or by?) the instrument.Technically impressive without being flashy, "Gomberg" demands several attentive
listenings before it starts to yield its many secrets.
"Dachte Musik" (the title is untranslatable, being effectively meaningless even in German) finds
Hautzinger in the company of trombonist Radu Malfatti and guitarists Burkhard Stangl and Günter
Schneider (who also double on psalter and banjo) for a fascinating two-hour crawl through what sounds
like the plumbing system of an underground car park. To create its unique sound, the recordings were
slowed down (hence the double CD, though I dare say one would have been enough), transforming
Hautzinger's blips and clicks into resonant watery plops, Malfatti's breathy interjections into draughty
rumbles and the guitarists' squeaks and scratches into quietly disturbing creaks and groans. It's quite unlike
any other music out there the traditional peaks and valleys of "classical" improv are flattened out into a
straight pathway crossing an apparently endless desert, yet one inhabited by myriad species of tiny,
resilient and fascinating creatures. Not for the faint-hearted. Carry plenty of water.

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BOWED METAL MUSIC and more Innova releases
Peter Warren / Matt Samolis

Innova 546
John Morton
Innova 553
Future Perfect
Innova 558

"Bowed Metal Music" is a collaborative project featuring Pete Warren and Matt Samolis playing their modified steel cello (though it looks nothing like a cello on the photos), a slowmotion metallic trawl lasting 65 minutes guaranteed to please drone connoisseurs. In fact, by the standards of Charlemagne Palestine and Tony Conrad, this is pretty active — sonorities and timbres are constantly on the move, albeit at a leisurely pace; it must be great to listen to flat on your back in the middle of a cornfield looking up at clouds drifting by (I say that because my mind wanders trying to listen to it in a big city, even late at night at home). Similarly, John Morton's music for modified music boxes, even without the added instrumental input of, amongst others, Steve Hardwick on guitar (softcore post-Terje Rypdal wishing it was Bill Frisell) and Ted Piltzecker on vibes (ultimate cool instrument), is attractive and beautifully recorded but somehow fails to hold the attention. Somewhat more engaging — or rather, less soporific — is Future Perfect, a Sound System (in the Jamaican sense of the word, apparently), i.e. loose collective of artists/groups assembled by Chris Strouth whose duo with Lorren Stafford "A Most Happy Sound" is "dedicated to smashing artistic and intellectual barriers [..] to create a genre that can frighten everyone equally.." (quoting from the liner notes here). If your idea of fear is watching X-Files re-runs and old Vincent Price movies, maybe. Ticking watches and tolling bells layered over lugubrious dub doesn't exactly scare the living daylights out of me, I must admit. As for Strouth's texts on the three Zaftig tracks "Thin Air", "Longitude" and "Tres Elements", I haven't heard as many vapid clichés strung together since the good old days of the pre-1985 British Trades Union Congress. It doesn't help matters that he sounds like a cross between a young Woody Allen and Todd B. Levin (now that's scary..). Big Daddy Jr & The Spook (a group, not a Pro Wrestling bout) turn in some solid ambient dub before Christian Erickson raises the goosebumps with his cover of "The Boxer", by that well-known noise terrorist.. Paul Simon. And so the album goes on (forget TS and Fillmore Diggz: go back and listen to your old Double Dee & Steinskis instead), pleasant enough, but not exactly living up to the grandeur — pomposity, more like — of its title.

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Raphé Malik Quartet
Paul Flaherty / Greg Kelley / John Voight / Laurence Cook

Raphé Malik Quartet
Boxholder BHX 019/020
Paul Flaherty / Greg Kelley / John Voight / Laurence Cook
Boxholder BHX 016

"Free jazz is dying out," moaned Austrian bassist Werner Dafeldecker in a recent e-mail. Sorry to disagree, Werner. Raphé Malik's live double album is fizzing with life and energy from beginning to end. In fact, drummer Cody Moffett is, if anything, too exuberant — he and bassist Larry Roland swing hard, while Malik and Sabir Mateen turn in some thrilling solo work. Saxophonist Mateen is equally at home on clarinets and flutes, and Malik has lost none of the fire he brought to the Cecil Taylor units a quarter of a century ago. This music is what Sunny Murray would call "free-bop" — listeners who enthuse over early Ornette but who draw the line at post-"Love Supreme" Coltrane and won't touch CT with a bargepole are invited to put this on loud and change their minds. What, then, did my Austrian pal mean? Perhaps simply that the various developments that went to make up early free jazz — amongst others, the post-bop of Eric Dolphy and Sonny Simmons, the sanctified wailing of Ayler and Frank Wright, the otherworldly polyrhythms of late Trane and Sun Ra — have now become solidly established as "styles" in their own right (hence, I suppose, Ken Vandermark's recent remark "We don't need to play "Cherokee" anymore, we need to play [Don Cherry's] "Mopti".."). Free jazz today is as identifiable as hard bop, swing and Dixieland, all of which are still alive and well, though committed avant-gardists like Werner might bemoan the fact. So put your ideological preconceptions on one side and enjoy "Looking East".
Paul Flaherty and his boys studiously avoid the "J" word, describing the seven pieces on "The Ilya Tree" as "spontaneous compositions", though Voight and Cook's track record with the likes of Jemeel Moondoc speaks for itself. Trumpeter Greg Kelley —a committed avant-gardist if ever there was one (see reviews elsewhere) — finds plenty of room for his phenomenal extended techniques. It's easy to forget that Kelley, like that other hero of new trumpet technique Axel Drner, can play the shit out of his horn — check out his awesome solos on "Space In Which We Live". Flaherty, whose playing sounds like his name — terse, rubbery, but ruggedly lyrical — is on splendid form throughout. So, is it jazz? It certainly sounds different from the Raphé Malik outing, but that doesn't mean much: Coltrane's "Ascension" sounds nothing like Ornette's "This Is Our Music", though you'll find both discs in the "jazz" bin. That said, Ornette doesn't care for the "J" word either. Screw it, let's just call it MUSIC. On the strength of these two fine releases, music shows no sign of dying out.

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Various Artists


Following on from Volume 1, which surveyed the HipHop scene in Southern California, "FPV2" sets out to showcase talents upstate. I have to say I feel pretty safe writing some 6000 miles away from the Bay Area, where most of the featured artists here hail from — where I happen to live, journalists who dare say anything remotely critical (not even negative) about new rap releases are visited by several large gentlemen elegantly kitted out in the latest street fashion sporting baseball bats. I'm not joking: two French journalists were recently hospitalized and another disappeared altogether. (That's what you get when you pin up posters of Suge Knight and Tupac Shakur in Community Centers as role models for local kids.) Not that there's anything particularly substandard or offensive in this material, but it's hardly earthshaking stuff. It's either "I'm Number One" or "I'm still Number One" or, more generously, "Rap is still Number One". The only lyric that stands out is Azeem's "Contradictions" ("we are a culture of contradictions, night and day, suntans and racism, truth mixed with fiction.."), for a while recalling the long-forgotten and lamented (at least by me) Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy — another Bay Area act as it happens. Back when they were in the studio, Public Enemy's Chuck D memorably described rap as "black people's CNN". It's now 2001, and you can make that Jerry Springer: the usual ingredients of attitude, nigga this'n'that, peppered with gunshots, sirens and (for the most part) run-of-the-mill DJing are thrown in the pot once again, as Fresno, Sacramento and Oakland natives shuffle into the studio for their regulation fifteen minutes of fame. There are a few bright spots of creativity from Anticon ("Pity Party People") and DJ Vinroc, but for my money San Francisco-based trio Live Human steal the show with "Lagoona's Bliss Elephant Mix". Maybe it's because they incorporate live drumming in their music (would that more HipHop groups did), maybe it's just that I like Brand Nubian samples — call it nostalgia on my part, if you like, for a period about twelve years back when, for a while, it looked as if HipHop was going to evolve beyond the big-dick'n'dollar wielding brag rap into something more intellectually mature and authentically poetic than the ugly medieval bitch'n'ho of gangsta. There may be, as Jon Hassell once said, new islands forming in HipHop culture, especially on the West Coast, but they're still surrounded by thousands of miles of uninspiring ocean.

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But will she wear platform shoes?

[Note from the editor: this is our vote for the top press release of the year, as sent in by pianist-provocateur Kathy Supové, and inspired by the upcoming elections in New York City.]

Subj: Exploding Piano/Cutting Room Sept. 7/Election
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2001 10:30:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Kathy Supové
To: Paris Transatlantic Magazine

Dear email friends:

I’d like to invite you to my concert on Friday, September 7, at The Cutting
Room. The set will run from 8:00 PM until approximately 8:50 PM (i.e., it’s
short). Admission is $10 at the door; The Cutting Room is located at 19 W.
24th Street, between 6th Avenue and Broadway.

This concert will be an ELECTION SPECIAL and will pay homage to the barrage
of campaign advertising to which we’ve been subjected in recent weeks, prior
to the September 11 primary. I’ve decided to add my own and to revel in the
ways that arts promotion and political promotion sometimes (awkwardly)!

I declare my intent to promote the following platform: get people to come
hear any of my shows/concerts because I’ll be doing something new in the way
of music, sociopolitical theatrics, humor, and provocative clothing (most
recently a housedress); stir up interest in my major concert theater piece in
Spring, 2002, called JITTERS (this is like a teaser poster); and lobby for
inclusion in The Blue Angel Erotic Cabaret, appearing on Saturdays at The
Cutting Room. I will provide entertainment, wardrobe, and some pretty amazing
piano music---THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN by Robert Carl in its NY Premiere,
written when Robert was in residence at The Copland House; TREPIDUS by Louis
Andriessen; WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? by Frederic Rzewski; and JAM by Daniel
Roumain. To celebrate you, the American people, I plan to perform the Rzewski
with the world’s first audience-interactive improv section! Plus you'll be
allowed to vote on what pieces get played. But a word of caution: this is no
democracy. You’ll have to be a pretty tough lobbyist to overcome my
dictatorial tendencies. And besides, the election may be fixed.

The concert is dedicated to John Halle and Larry Supové, two part-time
politicians I’ve known, who have put their time and energy where their mouths

Hope you can attend.

Kathleen Supové

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Eremite Releases
Eremite MTE 026
Jemeel Moondoc Vtet
Eremite MTE 028
Jemeel Moondoc & the Jus Grew Orchestra
Eremite MTE 029

Eremite's Michael Ehlers is a man with a mission: while other labels fall over each other to release the latest offerings from younger free jazz players, Ehlers is almost alone in the field when it comes to promoting the work of the preceding generation, proving beyond all doubt that the likes of Sabir Mateen, Jemeel Moondoc, Kidd Jordan, Fred Anderson, Sunny Murray and Alan Silva are not only alive and well, but positively kicking ass. "I want you to take your sound and.. THROW IT AGAINST THAT WALL OVER THERE!" I recall Silva once memorably coaching his students at the IACP in Paris, waving a fist the size of a basketball in their faces. These days bassist Silva prefers to play synthesizer (woe betide you if you haven't got a copy of his In Situ masterpiece "In The Tradition"), but when his 23-piece Sound Visions Orchestra is in full flight, we might as well be back in the glory days of the Celestrial Communication Orchestra. Poet Steve Dalachinsky follows in the hallowed footsteps of Amiri Baraka, Hart Leroy Bibbs and Sunny Murray, while Silva puts his star-studded cast through the paces. It doesn't take long for Sabir Mateen and Roy Campbell to start slugging it out for real, the ensemble surging and wailing from the ringside. Steve Swell goes a few rounds with Raphe Malik before a heavyweight tussle between JD Parran's bass sax and Joe Daley's tuba. The bruisers finally leave a little space for Karen Borca (the only player I've heard who can make me take the bassoon seriously) and the elastic rhythm section of Mark Hennen, Jackson Krall and Wilbur Morris. Silva, like nobody else I can think of except perhaps Cecil Taylor, knows just how to set ensembles on fire. Forget cute hand signals — conduction Silva-style also involves blood-curdling tribal war cries. No easy feat, then, recording two dozen monsters on the rampage — earlier Celestrial albums also suffered in this respect — but Michael Ehlers can be proud of this one: sheer power more than makes up for what clarity is (inevitably) lost. The Silva synth explosions that propel the second section into the stratosphere are spine-chilling, and Kidd Jordan comin' at ya screaming from the abyss is right up there on the thrillometer with Arthur Doyle's "Alabama Feeling". Play this mother loud and let these guys throw their sound against your walls.
Any quintet lineup featuring alto sax, trumpet, vibes, bass and drums inevitably invites comparison with Eric Dolphy's "Out To Lunch". Hard act to follow, but Jemeel Moondoc can hold his head up high. Those who take perverse pleasure in announcing the death of jazz in all its forms should be strapped to a table and forced to listen to this 47-minute set (from the Visions Festival in May 2000) until their ears bleed. Alen Hadzi-Stefanov's recording is so clear you can hear beads of sweat hit the floor as Moondoc and the aptly-named Nathan Breedlove shoot from the heart, supported to perfection by the dynamite rhythm team of Cody Moffett and John Voight and, especially, Khan Jamal's vibes. Back in 1964, in the "Out To Lunch" liner notes, Dolphy explained why he chose to work with vibes rather than piano: "Vibes have a freer, more open sound than a piano. Pianos seem to control you [...] vibes seems to open you up." Dolphy was referring to Bobby Hutcherson, though the same applies perfectly to Jamal's work here.
"Spirit House", recorded live (a couple of months prior to the Visions set) in an acoustically rather characterless recital hall in Amherst, finds Moondoc fronting his ten-piece Jus Grew Orchestra. The opening "Quick Pick" is one of those on-the-hoof big band blues arrangements la Gil Evans, a bit rough and ready (Tyrone Hill's trombone solo was no doubt fun at the time but hardly sounds subtle on playback) but powered on once more by the indefatigable Moffett (shame Voight isn't all that easy to hear). "Flora" is further proof of Moondoc's ability to write a superb ballad, and features some fine George Adams-esque soloing from Zane Massey on tenor, but the rhythm section is for once curiously lacklustre — Moffett's hi-hat and Bern Nix's lazy guitar comping sound somewhat tired, or is it just the recording? Gil Evans once more comes to mind — his live albums captured some fine blowing but rarely managed to showcase the intricacy of his arrangements in the way that top-notch studio recordings did. The infectious funky shuffle of Moondoc's title track and its multi-layered horn writing would sound even greater if someone would just put up the cash to record these boys in a state-of-the-art facility. Still, it must be admitted, there's a roller coaster energy to the closing "In Walked Monk" (good to hear Nix solo at last!) that would be hard to generate in a studio. Brutally cutting off the ensuing torrent of applause hammers home the point: this was live, and you weren't there. Fortunately Michael Ehlers was.

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Copyright 2001 by Paris Transatlantic