Friday, December 1st, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
It was a treat to continue the promotion of the Phillip Greenlief, Joelle
Leandre, and Maggie Nicols show that's coming up Dec. 3, 2006, at the
Community Music Center in San Francisco's Mission District. I'd started
week with the receipt of the Greenlief/Leandre CD that's coming out
on Evander Music
any day now.
Phillip was gracious enough to do an interview, where we talked about the
nature of free improv music and the respective resumes of Leandre and
Nicols, two very well regarded musicians in European free improv.
(For more on the genre, do check out Peter Stubley's excellent
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
* Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood -- "In Case the World Changes Its Mind" -- Out Louder (Indirecto)
I have to admit I've never really gotten into MMW, but I pride myself
on playing them anyway, since the stuff (according to most journalists) does
fit my kind of show, and since it's healthy to toss a bigger name into the mix
once in a while. Kind of perks up listeners. This CD adds John Scofield to
the band and gives him second billing for some reason... having Scofield in
your band is a big deal, but the CD is gonna get displaced away from other
MMW releases in every computer database in the world. Good thing "Medeski"
isn't that common a name.
* Tony Bianco -- "Surya" -- Monkey Dance (FMR, 2006)
This is the album's closing track, an athletic duet of Bianco's drums
and David Liebman's sax. A briskly dry sound, great stuff.
* Mei Han and Paul Plimley -- "Ume" -- Ume (Za Discs, 2006)
Collection of duet improvisations for the zheng (stringed instrument,
looks similar to a koto) and piano. First we've heard from Plimley in
a while; he's based in Vancouver IIRC and put out quite a few records in
the '90s. There's a stately, almost classical air to the session, but it's
hardly what you'd call stuffy; there are plenty of wild moments akin to
free jazz. This particular track is a quieter one with a delicate air
befitting the zheng.
* Myra Melford/Be Bread -- "Equal Grace" -- The Image of Your Body (Cryptogramophone, 2006)
Previously noted here. I think I've played this track more than any other on the CD. It's not
the most immediately catchy and "radio-friendly" one, but I love the
way it slowly unfolds into a dramatic coda. Lots more commentary
spread around this
* Phillip Greenlief/Joelle Leandre -- "1st Variation for Alto Saxophone and Contrabass" -- That Overt Desire of Object (Evander, 2006)
Previously noted here, and
see below. Fairly brisk piece that made a nice intro to a more
* Nathan Hubbard -- "Discrepancy in Flow 2" -- Compositions 1998-2005 (Circumvention, 2006)
Previously noted here.
This piece is dedicated to John Cage, and it shows -- a mishmash of
"found" snippets: conversation, some music IIRC, various noises.
* Zeena Parkins -- "The Hand" [1st movement of "Visible/Invisible"] -- Necklace (Tzadik, 2006)
From electric harpist Parkins, an album of classical works, including
this piece for string quartet (played by the Eclipse Quartet) and
a separate piece or solo harp. This movement starts with that cool sound
of bows tapping on the strings; it's a lively piece with a requisite quiet
Cruel Frederick -- "Blind Man in a Sleigh" -- We Are the Music We Play (SST/New Alliance, 1990)
Random gem discovered during a library dig. From the L.A. area,
some nice free jazz with good energy and attitude. Lynn Johnston on sax;
didn't have much time to look up the other particulars of the group.
I'll have to keep this one in mind for future reference.
* Sayag Jazz Machine -- "Porque" (W Mix, by Fluide) -- Anachro'mix (Vision Alternative, 2006)
From the dance/electronica section, a disc of almost jazzy
beats with, of course, lots of remixes of the same material, because
god forbid you should actually compose something new for an electronica
disk. This is a fun track, a darkly fun feel mixing crime jazz and
cartoony music, according to the DJ who reviewed the disk for us.
The project appears to emanate from Europe (judging from the various
languages in the liners). Unclear what distingushes Sayag from the
zillion DJs who did all the remixes; I guess Sayag is responsible
for the source material? In any event, I enjoy tossing stuff like
this into the show, for a different and modern sound, but unlike others
at KZSU (who I respect very much, btw), I can't deal with entire
blocks of the stuff.
* Kyle Bruckman's Wrack -- "The System Cannot Withstand Close Scrutiny" -- Intents and Purposes (482 Music, 2006)
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Charles Gayle -- "Glory Dance" -- Shout! (Clean Feed, 2006)
Dynamic trio session from Gayle, plus one track (not this one) that's
a solo piano romp. I haven't had time to hear that one yet, but DJs
Mike and Mufaor say it's awesome. Great stuff, with Sirone on bass (from
the Revolutionary Ensemble) and Gerald Cleaver on drums (from the Lounge
Lizards and various Thirsty
Ear jazz albums).
* The Empty Cage Quartet -- "Swan-Neck Deformity" -- Hello the Damage! (pfMentum, 2006)
This is the opening segment of a 42-minute piece that spans disk 2
of this 2-disk set. Starts in a rather laid-back vibe and gets into
some hard-digging trumpet and sax solos before eventually quieting down.
I really have to catch these guys live sometime.
* Cross-Border Trio -- "Hell in Hat Yai" -- New Directions (Circumvention, 2006)
They call it "modern
transitional jazz," and it's got a good post-bop grounding with
a sprinkling of free-jazz moments. Overall bright sound, with
nicely modern twists to the composing. This is a Southern California
trio of Jason
Robinson (sax), Rob
Thorsen (bass), and Paquito Villa (drums; "paquitovilla.com" exists
but doesn't appear set up yet). Solid work that I'm hoping will
appeal to the DJs who shy away from the avant stuff.
*! De Kift -- "De Molenaar" ["The Miller"] -- De Kift (North East Indie, 2006)
Basically a rock band with lots of brash brass and tons of
goofy fun. And since it's from Holland, the musicianship is top
notch; the Dutch are great at forming serious-but-fun bands like this. Dig
the video on their home page.
Lots of singing, all in Dutch.
Apparently the group has its genesis in the punk/squatters scene, and this CD
is drawn from previous albums in 1998 and 2001. This track is a bit folkier than most, I think;
the intro emphasizes some aggressive acoustic guitar strumming.
This one's a keeper.
* Geoff Farina, Luther Gray, Nate McBride -- "Drumlin" -- Out Trios Volume Four (Atavistic, 2006)
Maggie Nicols, Caroline Kraabel, Charlotte Hug -- "Lullaby for Clement" -- Transitions (Emanem, 2002)
As Maggie Nicols will be joining Phillip Greenlief and Joelle Leandre
for their Dec. 3 show, I figured I should play some of her music. This
trio improv date includes Nicols on vocals, Kraabel on sax, and Hug on
viola, with timbres (is that the right word?) overlappin so it's sometimes
hard to tell who's doing what. Most pieces unfold slowly, even the shorter
ones, for a gradual and atmospheric air. At least, that's how I remember the
disk from aural glances; it's possible I'll listen again soon and discover I'm
way off. That's one of the intriguing things about improvised music.
-- 5:00 p.m. --
Phillip Greenlief interview, part 1
Phillip is a great interview, and quite eloquent about the nature of
making this kind of music. Joelle Leandre, possibly the pre-eminent
bassist in improvised music (with a tip of the hat to the late Peter Kowald), has been in the
Bay Area quite a bit, with a semi-regular teaching gig at
Mills College, so she's met
many of the folks in the local scene, including Phillip. After a while,
they started playing music together and found an affinity that led to the
* Phillip Greenlief/Joelle Leandre -- "1st Variation for Clarinet and Contrabass" -- That Overt Desire of Object (Evander, 2006)
The opening track to the CD, a nice quick cut with an ear-catching
active start, as noted last week.
Coincidentally, this track demonstrated something Phillip mentioned towards
the end of the interview segment: That every track on the disk is
relatively short (mostly 4 minutes or less) and sticks to one aesthetic:
fast, quiet, spiky, whatever -- but some of them take a 90-degree turn into
another area ... as with this one, which quiets down for a
Phillip Greenlief interview, part 2
* Phillip Greenlief/Joelle Leandre -- "1st Variation for Tenor Saxophone and Contrabass" -- That Overt Desire of Object (Evander, 2006)
Another "radio-friendly" kind of track, active and upbeat. I'll be
playing the slower stuff too, in weeks to come; I recall being really drawn
in by one of the soprano saxophone pieces, in particular.
Joelle Leandre, with Maggie Nicols and Irene Schweizer -- "Meeting Two" -- At the Le Mans Jazz Festival (Leo Records, 2006)
Previously noted here and here. This trio, known as Les Diaboliques, has performed together for about 20 years. Could have sworn we had a CD of theirs in the library, but I couldn't find it in the database,
alas. (They've got at least three disks on Intakt.)
* Phillip Greenlief/Joelle Leandre -- "1st Variation for Soprano Saxophone and Voice" -- That Overt Desire of Object (Evander, 2006)
Another mini-preview of the Greenlief/Leandre/Nicols show. This is a
7-minute sequel to the 25-minute "Meeting One" improvisation that you'll
find mentioned in the links above.
Closing out the Greenlief/Leandre/Nicols segment with one of the
two solo pieces off the Object CD, this one for Phillip on sax,
with some vocal growls through the instrument to start things off. It's
about 11 minutes long, as is the subsequent solo for Leandre's bass and
voice; the two pieces close out the CD.
* Judy Dunaway -- "The Rubber Forest" -- Mother of Balloon Music (Innova, 2006)
Phillip might protest my playing
his piece rather than Leandre's (and the fact that I keep mentioning his
name first when talking about the upcoming show), but practicality had
a hand here. Part of this track served as sound bed for the
Concert Calendar that I have to read at 5:30 ... and I've learned it
never pays to use the last track of a CD for that, no matter how long the
track is, because then if things go ridiculously long, you've got no
"next" track to continue the music. Just another boring detail of DJ
One of my little triumphs early on at the station was to contact
the label CRI (Composers Recordings Inc., now subsumed into New
World) to send us Dunaway's Balloon Music. Mu-hahahaha!
Music with balloons -- the squeaking of rubber, the trilly tones of
escaping air, all treated as a vehicle for a new type of music.
Atau -- "28:23:33" -- Biorhythms (Caipirinha, 1999)
This CD pushes things into an even more serious realm by adding
strings -- balloon with string quartet, koto with balloons under
the strings, etc. This is a "solo" track, all balloon sounds,
but electronically processed to create a metally, spiky kind of
"forest" or "insect music" sound, unrecognizable as balloons.
The disk is full of inventive takes, turning what could have
been a one-joke concept into a serious exploration.
Album of sound and electronics experiments -- rather uninteresting,
actually. This particular track is a succession of electronic blips,
quite similar to an EKG
sound (and DJs Ragnar and Chauncy were
cracking all kinds of jokes to that effect while it was playing;
you'd be seriously messed up if your EKG had all the pitch-bending
this one does). Elsewhere, you've got rather pedestrian experiments;
one track is basically the sound of traffic, presumably on a
Tokyo street. Yawn.
* Anouar Brahem -- "Le Voyage de Sahar" -- Le Voyage de Sahar (ECM, 2006)
Fanciful oud playing with modern trappings that put the music into
something resembling a modern jazz vein. I enjoyed this CD, but the ECM
sheen on it gives the music an almost new-age feel, slow sleek and pretty.
I've been meaning to fit it into the show for weeks but haven't found
a good entry point; it's too much of a dead stop, although one that I'm
sure some listeners would prefer to my normal fare. The strangely static
calmness of the rapid-fire blips in the Atau track made for a good
entry point, so I closed out the show here. I'll probably give this
another spin or two; it's decent music, but again, not an easy fit. I love
to mix things up, but this music is almost too "nice" to be an
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.