Friday, October 24th, 2008 ... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ... KZSU, 90.1 FM

(Return to playlists.)

(Spent the week in NYC for work, didn't have time to prepare much or to update last week's playlist. All that is in progress this weekend. Going off to see Cecil Taylor at Grace Cathedral tonight -- woo hoo!)

* Carla Kihlstedt, Gino Robair, Matthew Sperry -- Sonarchy 1998 (Majmua, 2008)

Maybe I'm kidding myself, but there does seem to be a West Coast improv "sound." An uninitiated listener, at once glance, will say Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, and Gino Robair are all the same -- doing abstract, inaccessible, sound-based music that "doesn't make sense." Of course, they're all different, and with the amount of improv I got to see live in the 1996-2000 timeframe, I think I started to hear particular differences and commonalities around the Bay Area scene. Maybe, maybe not.

The sound I'm thinking of is one step even further removed from "jazz" than the Evan Parker/Derek Bailey camp is. Not that those guys necessarily like to be called "jazz," but Evan Parker's long, twining soprano sax solos, for instance, do share some characteristics with '60s free-jazz. Bailey uses more of an abstract-sound model that I suppose puts him further from jazz than Parker.

The west coast players I saw most -- including Carla Kihlstedt and especially Gino Robair, seemed determined to take the model even further. Strings, like Kihlstedt's violin and Matthew Sperry's bass, got pounded or scraped, creating industrial bursts of metallic fury, or cold, high-pitched whistles. Robair's drums became like alien noisemakers, deftly played.

Now, that kind of playing has been around for decades, but like I said, there seems to be a character and spirit unique to the Bay Area. It's certainly not like the "lower case" improv of Bhob Rainey and other east-coasters. And I think it's more sound-oriented, and even less note-oriented, than European improv. Some of it evolved from a desperation to find something new -- and yeah, there were shows where it just wasn't working. But these musicians were good enough, and played together often enough, to craft a sound.

So, here's an example of that sound, circa 1998. I wish I'd heard it sight-unseen, to see if it conjured up any sentimental feelings on sound alone. As it is, I did know exactly what the CD was when I started it up. So, yes, it could be all in my imagination, but I swear I'm hearing some familiar and nostalgic tones when I listen to this CD's long stretches of acoustically alien sounds.

Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.

* Adrian Iaies Trio with Michael Zisman -- "Astor Changes" -- Vals de las 81st & Columbus (Sunnyside, 2008)

* Frank Lowe -- "In Trane's Name" [excerpt] -- Black Beings (ESP-Disk, 2008; orig. released 1973)

* Kris Davis -- "Black Tunnel" -- Rye Eclipse (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008)

* Equal Time -- "Regeneration X: Phase 2" -- Regeneration X (Avant Coast, 2007)

15 Degrees Below Zero -- "Westward" -- New Travel (Edgetone, 2007) * George Schuller's Circle Wide -- "Survivors' Suite (Part 2)" -- Like Before, Somewhat After (Playscape,2008)

* Carla Kihlstedt, Gino Robair, Matthew Sperry -- "" -- Sonarchy 1998 (Majmua, 2008)

Sutekh Loves Miguel Galperin -- "Phobic Duo #1" -- V/A: 45 Seconds Of: (Simballrec, 2002) * Fire Room -- "Dashboard Fire" -- Broken Music (Atavistic, 2008) Liz Allbee -- "Fanfare the Goad Offal Ages" -- Quarry Tones (Resipiscent, 2005)

* Junk Box -- "Soldier's Depression" -- Cloudy Then Sunny (Libra, 2008)

*! Sam Shalabi -- "Pitchfork" -- Eid (Alien 8, 2008)

* Cuong Vu -- "Accelerated Thoughts" -- Vu-tet (ArtistShare, 2008)

* Bernhard Gander -- "Bunny Games" [parts 7,8,9] -- Bunny Games (Kairos, 2007)

* The Giants of Gender -- "Monogram" -- The Giants of Gender (Edgetone, 2008) Colin Stetson -- "Letter to HST" -- New History Warfare: Volume 1 (Aagoo, 2008)

Cecil Taylor -- "Leaf Taken Horn" -- In Fluorescence (A&M, 1990)

-- 5:00 p.m. --

Cecil Taylor -- "Third Pleasure" -- Always a Pleasure (FMP, 1996)

Larry Ochs Sax and Drumming Core -- "Finn Crosses Mars" -- The Neon Truth (Black Saint, 2002)

* Bloom Project -- "Sam" -- Prismatic Season (Edgetone, 2008)

* Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert, Jean-Jacques Avenal -- "Core" [excerpt] -- Within (Leo Records, 2008)

* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library

-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: