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Hemroid The Leader

Bjorkenheim, Raoul Ecstasy – “Out of The Blue” – [Cuneiform Records]

Hemroid The Leader   2/17/2016   CD, Jazz

Helsinki jazz quartet – guitar, sax, bass, and drums. The tight and funky rhythm section supports outwards-looking lead instruments. The guitar uses distortion and the saxophone plays a variety of voices and textures. Some times more mellower, sometimes all out whammy-bar.

Track 3 “Fly In The House of Love” buzzes along, blinking, water dripping, buzzing.
Track 4 “Uptown” has a commanding intro – sax and guitar trading off with bass and drums. Slide guitar. Really energized.
Track 7 “Roller Coaster” shares something cool with Ornette Coleman.
Track 8 “Zebra Dreams” muted guitar strings sound like African thumb piano, sax animal cries. Then it gets more complicated..

Monkey Power Trio – “Left Behind” – [Pochahontas Swamp Machine]

Hemroid The Leader   2/17/2016   12-inch, A Library

Freaky band meets up one day every year and makes recordings. These are from years 13, 14, & 15. There are several 7″s from other years in the library.

Sounds made up on the spot because it mostly is. Absurd, juvenile, amateurish There is a recorder. First song on each side is best, A1 has pathos, B1 has autotune. Last track on B a space transmission from Earth saying Don’t come here.

A4 FCC A5 FCC

Harper, Billy Quintet – “Live On Tour In The Far East Vol. 2” – [Steeplechase Productions]

Hemroid The Leader   1/15/2016   CD, Jazz

Texas Tenor Billy Harper on tour with his eponymous quintet in Taiwan. The first track is Priestess, Harper’s most famous composition. The next tune is also by Harper, and he is very energized on the horn. The first two tracks are 17 and 25 minutes, great for the bottom of the hour. He solos first on both tracks, until trumpeter Eddie Henderson takes over at about the ten- or 11-minute mark. Concert outlook anyone? The band displays impressive command of the material, fluidly changing arrangements to evoke different moods. The album was remixed and mastered by Danish jazz god and Steeplechase honcho Nils Winther, and it sounds great.

Mazurek, Rob Exploding Star Orchestra – “Galactic Parables: Volume 1” – [Cuneiform Records]

Hemroid The Leader   1/15/2016   12-inch, Jazz

Sides A-C recorded live in Sardinia, broadcast on Italian radio. Sides D-F recorded live in Chicago in front of a hometown crowd.. Large ensemble improvising music like Sun Ra, with poet and electronics. The poet, Damon Locks is x-Trenchmouth with Fred Armisen.
A, B, & E are side-long, last track on C has a great cornet solo by Mazurek.
Lots of other Rob Mazurek and other Exploding Star Orchestra CDs in the Jazz library.
On the back of the release is a quote from the late Amiri Baraka upon hearing the Sardinian broadcast, here’s another: “A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom.”

Stillman, Mimi & Abramovic, Charles – “Freedom” – [Innova Recordings]

Hemroid The Leader   1/15/2016   CD, Jazz

Authoritarians fear abstraction because, who knows, it might be about them. Two commissions and one long-lost recovery. Performed by the Dolce Suono Ensemble of Mimi Stillman on flute and Charles Abramovic at the piano.

Powerful meditations on upheaval and freedom, top quality performances. Stillman in particular is probably the most celebrated flutist of her generation, having received awards from Chamber Music America, Young Concert Artists, and many others.

Tracks 1-5 Composed by Miecyzslaw (me-etch-eh-SLAV) Weinberg in 1947. Weinberg was a close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich, and along with Prokofiev, they were persecuted in Stalin’s 1948 Anti-Formalist purges. Recovered from the St. Petersburg library, this is the premiere recording. Tracks 6-9 commissioned from Russian-Jewish composer David Finko in 2012, reflections on narrowly escaping the Nazis, and later persecution by the Soviets. The flute is earsplitting at times. Tracks 10-12 add Yumi Kendall’s cello for Remembering Neda, commissioned from Richard Danielpour in 2009. Composed during the Iran protests, in memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, murdered protesting in Tehran.

Ware, David S. /Apogee – “Birth of a Being” – [Aum Fidelity]

Hemroid The Leader   12/9/2015   CD, Jazz

Remixed from 8-track tapes, the first recordings of David S. Ware, with his Berklee School trio, Apogee: Cooper-Moore on piano and Marc Edwards on drums.

CD1 was originally released by hat Hut in 1979, and is long out of print. CD2 features material from the same sessions that has never before been issued. Ware had been a part of the Cecil Taylor Unit for a few years and the influence is apparent.

Different versions of “Prayer” open both CDs and both are compelling in their own ways. CD1 is a collective blowing session, while CD2 contains a more varied mix of material and arrangement. “Ashimba” (#4, CD2) features a solo recording of Cooper-Moore playing a xylophone of his own design and construction. “Solo” (#5, CD2) is David alone and very powerful, a sweet interrogation.

Guerin, Jean – “Tacet” – [SouffleContinu Records]

Hemroid The Leader   12/9/2015   12-inch, A Library

Originally released in 1971 on French cult label Futura. The most expensive production they ever did, and worth every penny. This is Musique Concrete psychedelic jazz. It has something for everyone! Reissued by Parisian label & record shop Souffle Continu (“Continuous Breath”). Turns out Futura owner Gerard Terrones is a close neighbor of the shop.

Squeaky brass splatters and furtive bass, high-pitch solfege singing, saxophone variations inter-cut with vintage electronics, analog drum machines, patch-bay air sirens, burbling cauldrons, and something called “water trumpet”. Primal, futuristic, dystopian.

Raw Frame – “Krakovia” – [dEN Records]

Hemroid The Leader   10/21/2015   CD, Jazz

“Elegant and melancholy” Italian jazz trio: guitar, bass, drums. Tracks don’t swing. They meander. They build up and fall to pieces and change abruptly. Sometimes it’s kitschy.
The guitar has a subtle reverb. The drummer is good and gets quite active at times. Would sound good next to the right Jack Diamond record.
Track 9 is a Charles Mingus tune.

West Hill Blast Quartet – “Live At Cafe Oto” – [Foolproof Projects]

Hemroid The Leader   10/21/2015   A Library, CD

Old school pianoless free quartet. Collective wailing delivered in bleats, trills, and high speed arpeggios. Then, a more lyrical horn statement. Drums are skittishly verbose. Trumpet player overblows. Group freakout, then solo focus, then back. Earnest. Drummer and bassist push hard. Recorded live at a cafe in NE London between a vintage clothing store and a bicycle shop, May 2015.
Track 3 features an extended drum solo with bicycle bells, whistles, and harmonica, before a reedy sax solo.
Track 4 features autoharp and harmonica drum workout.
Track 5 has bowed bass, live delays and members called out by name at the end of the track.

Shyu, Jen & Jade Tongue – “Sounds and Cries of The World” – [Pi Recordings]

Hemroid The Leader   10/7/2015   CD, Jazz

Very personal folk opera art songs. A Taiwanese-East Timorian out of Peoria, Illinois. Shyu (SHOO) sings a mix of her own writings with traditional songs and poetry accompanying herself on Asian string instruments and backed by a jazz quartet. Microtonal flourishes blur into Western vibrato. Libretto is in English.
Track 9 text based on East Timor’s Report On Reconciliation, a sad saga of rape and torture.
Track 2 a very compelling story about a girl eating and being eaten by a beautiful white flower.

White Out W/ Cline, Nels – “Accidental Sky” – [Northern-spy]

Hemroid The Leader   10/7/2015   A Library, CD

White Out is Lin Culbertson on electronics and Tom Surgal on drums and they have gigged with Nels Cline for fifteen years. Recorded in Tom and Lin’s apartment, this is their first album together. Sometimes droning, sometimes percussive, ‘wet’ sounding. Snare drum has the strainer relaxed. Knobs are twiddled. Song titles refer to sky, clouds, mist, and light: images and ideas in constant flux. Active but not aggressive. Songs peter out.

Mezzacappa, Lisa – “What Is Known” – [Clean Feed]

Hemroid The Leader   9/30/2015   CD, Jazz

Mezzacappa is a triple threat: female-bandleader, female-bassist, and bassist-bandleader. She calls Bait & Switch her “garage jazz quartet.” Collective improvisations, odd meters, jazz cats play rock’n’roll. Guitar tone is distorted, reverbless, sax screams passionately a la Rahsaan, drums subtle and controlled. Reminiscent of James “Blood” Ulmer, Sebadoh, Zappa. #5 Solo bass tune from Air (jazz group). #4 Captain Beefheart tune. #9 Mingus-esque, group wailing session into bass solo.

Related: Joelle Leandre is another excellent female bassist who has her name on the dates. Lots of other Clean Feed releases in the library. Other Mezzacappa releases.

Aaron Bennett- tenor sax. John Finkbeiner- guitar. Lisa Mezzacappa- bass. Vijay Anderson- drums.

Ellman, Liberty – “Radiate” – [Pi Recordings]

Hemroid The Leader   9/17/2015   CD, Jazz

Tuba solo on track three.
Jagged spectral funk from Brooklyn guitarist associated with Henry Threadgill/Zooid, and M-Base. Prolific studio engineer, a nice recording. Bay Area-raised, played early gigs with The Coup. Part groovin’, part advanced compositions. Rhythm section bass, drums and tuba.
Tracks 1,3,5 hit harder. Tracks 2,4 more exploratory. They’d be good two in a row. Track 9 has breakcore drum programming.

Previous- Ophiuchus Butterfly (Jazz CD)
Sideman/engineer- Henry Threadgill/Zooid, Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer
Also on Pi Recordings- A lot. Steve Lehman, plays sax here and leads his own group.

Indian Music of The Southwest [coll] – [Folkways Records and Service Corp.]

Hemroid The Leader   9/17/2015   12-inch, International

Songs, with and without drums. Recorded by Laura Boulton, groundbreaking female ethnomusicologist. Album released in 1941.
“The Indian sings with his jaws only slightly open and there is very little change in the position of his jaws or lips while singing.” “Nonsense syllables are common.” Pure melody, no fixed scale, and only occasional heterophony. “When a soloist performs, it is not because he has a beautiful voice and wants to give aesthetic pleasure but because he has a song which has particular value or power.” The singing and drumbeat patterns coincide but do not match. “It is necessary to put aside … fixed concepts in order to understand.” Our predecessors on this land used these songs to deliver rain, prosperity, and victory in battle.

Related: Littlefeather, Kyle. Unconquered Spirit: Chants and Trances of The Native America (Int’l CD)
Also on Smithsonian/Folkways: Classic Southern Gospel (coll. Country CD)

Kyoto Nohgaku Kai, The – “Japanese Noh Music” – [Polygram]

Hemroid The Leader   9/2/2015   12-inch, International

In the 6th century, ancient music and dance came to Japan from the Kingdom of Kudara in what is now Korea. In the 8th century the Chinese circus came to Japan, with acrobatics, pantomime, and comedy. These influences, in combination with indigenous rituals related to the passing of the seasons or cultivation of rice, form the basis for Noh theater, which took on its present form in the 14th century.
Noh theater troupes are led by a Grand Master and all members are blood relatives or adopted. Sons reprise roles of their fathers. Small gestures are mimicked through generations, eventually commanding much of the audience’s focus. The audience is made up of the Shogun, feudal lords, sophisticates and wealthy commoners.
This record features members of the Kyoto Noh Theater, designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property by the Japanese government in 1957. It may seem like not much is going on. A wooden flute plays an ancient pentatonic melody, taiko strike here and there, a woodblock plays a slow roll as characters enter and exit the scene, dancers move in exact synchronization. The main character wears a wooden face mask, an ornate robe, and speaks in Old Japanese. A ceremonial tone pervades throughout.

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