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Author Topic: FREE JAZZ - recommendations & reviews  (Read 19951 times)
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HongKongGoolagong
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« on: January 25, 2014, 01:39:16 AM »

I'm surprised to find no topic here covering this. The free jazz of the 1960s has quite a lot in common with noise music and has had a distinct influence on the musical pallette of industrial and PE, from acts like Borbetomagus through to Philip Best's synth solos for Whitehouse which were a dead ringer for Sun Ra's noise synth sound of the early 70s.

JOHN COLTRANE is probably best known for his very nicely constructed A Love Supreme album but if you wanted to hear a balls-out aggressive, borderline psychotic and transcendental 40 minute screaming assault on the senses try Ascension. I'm also a big fan of the awkward and angular LP put together from his final set of recordings, Expression.

ALBERT AYLER was a troubled and conflicted man who tried to find spirituality in music and made some of the most unusual recordings in the genre fusing wild atonal blowing and sweet melody with a Mexican funeral music influence. The one to go for first is Love Cry which has succinct versions of his most famous riffs, and after that explore the exquisite live material of the mid-60s with drone-style violin playing. I am a huge apologist for his controversial soul album New Grass, which jazz snobs hated.

I have a lot of SUN RA material. I'm listening to 'Hidden Fire' right now which inspired me to start this thread. Any noise freak will find things to love in the chaotic and dissonant live material of the early 1970s where he sometimes did twenty minute synthesiser solos which sound more like they fit on Come Org or Broken Flag ten years later than in the world of jazz. In the enormous discography there is everything from angular free blowing to silly sci-fi chanting to swing era standards to a full album of cover versions from Walt Disney films. Discovering Sun Ra is like entering another dimension and I would compare its impact on me to discovering Throbbing Gristle at a young age. Sharing a dressing room and a bill once with Marshall Allen who still keeps the Arkestra alive despite approaching the age of 90 was like a dream for me - doubly so as he's an extremely bright, pleasant, amusing and shockingly down to earth man.
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Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 02:46:11 AM »

Funny, I was thinking yesterday about the occasional link between Noise and jazz. There's definitely a link to be made between the expertise of improvisation, although one can argue jazz and Noise are at different levels. Mind you, the recent Hijokaidan release with saxophonist Akira Sakata shows those levels might not be so different. But I was listening to The Necks, who have something of a jazz background, but who's minimalist pieces have taken jazz beyond it's usual "black" roots to something polar and different, and I was idly wondering about comparisons to similarly minimal Industrial sounds.

Re Coltraine - try to find some live footage of his classic quartet in action. The documentary "Trane Tracks" includes some stunning film of an outdoor live performance in which one can see the musicians literally steaming, the steam rising from them as they play. "Ascencion", indeed, is the one to listen to for pure sounds, and I'd also recommend "Om", but I have to admit my tastes in Coltraine are more for "My Favourite Things" these days.

Sun Ra - I tried, over the years, I definitely tried but in the end I had to admit defeat, mostly over the more earlier, New Orleans-style swing that was so prevalent in much of his work. It's true his solo synth freak outs can work for Noise pervs (try his "meeting" with John Cage here, which is basically a juxtaposition between Cage's spoken word, silence, and Ra's synth freaking), but I just couldn't get into the Ra frame of mind. My personal theory is that Ra was something of a cult leader - he kept such a control over his musicians, pretty much changing how they thought and behaved (sleep deprivation, for one), I don't think it's too distant a comparison. I find his movies more interesting than his records - "The Magic Sun" is a good combination of visual and sound, and of course the movie "Space Is The Place" is one of the most entertaining "blackspoitation" flicks one can watch (the scene where he clears out a Fourties jazz club with the power of his piano is hilarious). I can see why his fans can be so obsessive, dressing up to go to their gigs and so forth. You either get Ra's music or you don't, and I don't.

I suppose Borbetomagus would be the most recognised jazz/Noise fusion group. Never really explored them.
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Zeno Marx
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 03:16:09 AM »

If you like Zorn's Parachute years, The Art Ensemble of Chicago - Nessa box set would be of interest.  Lots of clattering, duck calls, and wild improvisation.  I haven't heard anything else I like from them, though.

I have lots of good luck with Han Bennink, Brotzmann (and most of the groups except the Chicago Tentet + 1), Paul Dunmall (more musical), Peter Kowald (more musical), John Butcher, Irene Schweizer (Jazz Meets India), and various drummers (Nasheet Waits, for instance).  If you like AMM, Iskra 1903, and other Emanem groups, is a cool little scene of kitchen improvisation, electronics, and electro-acoustics.  If you're interested in improvised psychedelia, the obvious choices are late-60s/early-70s Miles Davis and Alice Coltraine.  I wish there was more like AAyler, but I haven't had any luck finding it.  He's uniquely lyrical, just as Jerry Garcia was.

Some of the krautrock scene incorporated free jazz, but maybe that is for another thread.  Guru Guru fusion.  Xhol Caravan, etc.

I haven't had a lot of luck with Sun Ra.  The best album I've heard so far is Astro Black, and I like some of the Heliocentric Worlds series.  I haven't been able to get into Anthony Braxton, either.

I relate very little of this to noise, though.  I see why it is, but I don't compartmentalize it like that.  Even when seeing Brotzmann live and watching him play his joke on us all while he lazily blasts his lungs for the 4000th time, I'm not thinking noise.  If I associate it with any other period or style, it strikes me as psychedelic and of jam band orientation.  I don't really care for the language or tonality of jazz, so it fits into extremely tiny pinholes of mood and desire.  It's a world I rarely tap and that is unto itself in my associations.
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2014, 01:06:11 PM »

Dislocation! Probably the closest one can get to free jazz/noise hybrid (along with Borbetomagus, of course). Then there's also the Junko / Urabe / Henritzi collaborations ("Ecstasy of the Angels", "Swing Low, Sweet Silence", etc.) and maybe also two Henritzi & Rinji collaborations as well as two Kuwayama & Urabe collaborations (if you can find them). Recent "Barcelona Express" LP by Urabe & Rinji is absolutely essential.

I'm also quite fond of Jean-Luc Guionnet's numerous CDs documenting live performances with other free impro/jazz musicians and of French free impro/jazz "scene" in general, e.g. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x953q8_a-l-improviste-drouet-perraud_music - the entire channel is worth exploring, but this video particularly. Amor Fati (the label) has released some really good stuff in the past few years.

There's Wasteland Jazz Unit on the other side of the globe (they had a cassette on Skeleton Dust, among others), and hardly anything else I'm aware of. If someone has any recommendations on the more underground free jazz units in the US and/or Canada, don't hesistate to share them, please.
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magnus
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2014, 06:32:00 PM »

try
ALAN SILVA - Luna Surface
CHARLES GAYLE - Touchin on trane
if you absolutley must have electric instruments in the setting any of Brötzmann`s DIE LIKE A DOG or FULL BLAST groups should do the trick.
By the way, a couple of weeks ago i was at a show with the big band jazz/progrock FIRE ORCHESTRA and for a few minutes in the middle of the set it was pure noise (á la Merzbow), maybe it didn´t fit in all that well but sure put a smile on my face.
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HongKongGoolagong
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2014, 06:06:33 AM »

I wish there was more like AAyler, but I haven't had any luck finding it.  He's uniquely lyrical, just as Jerry Garcia was.

Haven't explored it enough yet but have heard Pharaoh Sanders early 70s things with a slightly similar feel. And yes, it really is a euphoric/psychedelic/Garcia thing.

Han Bennink is a breathtaking percussionist. I was listening to a disc of him jamming with Eugene Chadbourne recently, they're flitting between improv and country/blues standards and usually I'd be blown away by Eugene's skill but I was like 'woah, who is this drummer?'

Anthony Braxton seems like some kind of pretentious grant-grabbing autist to me. I've heard worse than his recordings which are at least intriguing but the sleeve notes and those insane diagrams just inspire mockery and laughter for me. 
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2014, 05:31:02 PM »

I have very very small selection of jazz of any type. Free jazz is just handful of items.
However, from little I know, perhaps weirdest is JOHN STEVENS & EVAN PARKER "Corner to Corner + The Longest Night" CD.
I was years ago in one NYC jazz store, as they had small selection of "oddities" (scored Mnemonists CD etc). While I was browsing records, this CD was being played. I asked what it was, and bought it. 2007 OGUN (uk) label re-issue of mostly late 70's stuff.
It's ultra minimalistic, using high tone soprano saxophone and percussion with drum set consisting merely piccolo snare and two hi-hats. It borders somewhere between ridiculous & genius.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdyB2rDUttc

Their 90's recordings where intensity of 70's is substituted with almost painful level of anti-music. Not noise in terms of loud, fast and brutal, but just the stuff stripped down from almost anything worth of "musical value". Until in very end of piece the usual odd fast spasming.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnF392fWBAc

Both linked pieces can be found on the double CD
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2014, 08:50:55 PM »

i like some Don Cherry stuff, like "Brown rice" and "Mu". I like the mix of jazz, psych and more "ethnic" stuff:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2qkql2vFp8
and the straight trumpet-percussions parts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax9eEGR_Q7c

Alice Coltrane:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLP3O-XbdHo  (love the bass line at the beginning)

Archie Shepp:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT3-xXM83VM

some Gunter Hampel stuff:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr0nV83z3Os

...don't know if Shub-Niggurath could fit the topic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHK-5pLrBN0
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THE RITA HN
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2014, 09:05:10 PM »

Funny that this thread popped up... some weeks I fall into a systematic repeat playing routine of SUN RA's 'Atlantis' --- this is one of those weeks.  So many of his abstract and layered percussion lines in Atlantis i directly equate with my favorite aspects of harsh noise.
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2014, 09:08:26 PM »

Han Bennink is a breathtaking percussionist. I was listening to a disc of him jamming with Eugene Chadbourne recently, they're flitting between improv and country/blues standards and usually I'd be blown away by Eugene's skill but I was like 'woah, who is this drummer?'

Yeah. One of the very rare drummers who can pull off an lp lenght percussion solo.

I encourage everyone who hasn't yet heard it to check out Topography of the Lungs by Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Han Bennink.
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2014, 10:25:32 PM »

Masayuki Takayanagi / New Direction: Call in Question. (PSF, 1994)

Masayuki Takayanagi And New Direction Unit: Eclipse (1975)

Last Exit : S/T (1986)





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Duncan
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2014, 10:58:16 PM »

It is interesting to discuss something like this in context of its relationship or likeness to noise...especially today, given that more and more artists will be drawing from a massive, flattened palette of sounds and ideas offered by noise, free jazz and dozens of other genres all in one shot.  Generally speaking, sympathies with any kind of 'hard' music will change the character of the individual genres as time goes on.  There is no longer any real correct definition of what free jazz and its different sounds is.  What is simply a kind of far out end of jazz for one listener is something far more related to mad experimentalism depending entirely on what ELSE that listener likes to get down to.

Seems to me (perhaps obviously) that you've got artists who followed their instrument into wild territories of extended techniques and total deconstruction and then younger people who took up instruments out of an existing interest in weird sound, aiming to emulate the former before anything else.

So in terms of NOISE you could enjoy something like John Butcher with his manipulation of feedback through multiple mics and a sax or even Keith Rowe if you're talking about the dissolution of 'jazz' cultures into completely dismantled fuckery with an instrument.  Then maybe groups like Taco Bells from Finland or Bolide, who we have here in Brighton, would represent the newer, underground no holds barred stuff.  Certainly hundreds more on either side but they would be my brief recommendations.

Jazz is such an awkward loaded term anyway.  At some point this stuff all becomes 'improv' anyway!
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HongKongGoolagong
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 04:08:20 AM »

RIP Arthur Doyle who croaked it yesterday. His recording with the Blue Humans are certainly on the noise side of jazz. And goddamn if he doesn't appear as a guest on the late Sun Ra Disney covers album I love. And as times have thankfully changed, allow this line from his biography and its implications with regard to the accident of his birth genetics to reverberate: "born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1944"...
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secondplanet
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2014, 12:53:14 AM »

free jazz is great, best genre of music really

Interstellar Space is the best Coltrane record I've listened to.

this blog is great for recs, constant flow of information: http://www.freejazzblog.org/
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2014, 07:38:45 PM »

Massola : Neanderthal Jazz from Czech Republic
http://bandzone.cz/massola
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