Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ted Daniel's Energy Module, Interconnection, 1975, 2-CDs

Trumpetmaster avant jazz composer and leader Ted Daniel does not always get the attention he deserves. Perhaps his best known affiliation was with Dewey Redman. He appeared on Dewey's Ear of the Behearer and Coincide (Impulse) and was very crucial to the outcome of those sessions. Yet of course there has been much more.

An example of a very together small group that only existed through two gigs, Ted Daniel's Energy Module, is now available for us to hear in the freewheeling, exciting 2-CD set Interconnection (No Business CD 72-73) which was recorded live at Sunrise Studios in Manhattan in 1975.

It was a group that functioned together as part of Daniel's big band Energy. Yet this quintet was more oriented towards the full-out freedom of the big-arc improvisational approaches then flourishing among the giants of the Loft Scene. The band is exceptional and well-spoken in the presences of Ted on trumpet, flugel, etc., Daniel Carter on tenor, Oliver Lake on alto, soprano, flute, etc., Richard Pierce on bass and Tatsuya Nakamura on drums.

This is a richly energized blowing date all the way. The repertoire serves effectively to launch the improvising. It has some new thing staples in Sunny Murray's "Jiblet," Ayler's "Ghosts," Ornette's "Congeniality," plus Dewey Redman's "Interconnection," and three originals by Daniel: "The Probe," "Entering," and "Pagan Spain."

The recording is quite clear and decent, the performances inspired. Pierce and Nakamura lay out thick washes of rhythm section energy while Daniel, Carter and Lake make definitive statements both together and in individual solos.

There is nothing one-off sounding about this music. They give it their all and have a dynamic presence that belies their short official existence as a unit.

Highly recommended. Essential.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kris Davis Trio, Waiting for You to Grow

I don't like to think in terms of gender as a rule. I feel strongly that women and men need to be heard and that means more women need to be included. But in the end I feel uncomfortable then separating them out, like I might do by introducing Kris Davis as "one of the foremost upcoming women pianists on the avant jazz scene," even though that seems true. The point is in what she does in the end. And that's what comes through on her Kris Davis Trio outing Waiting for You to Grow (Clean Feed 292).

This is serious trio music in a consistently avant mode. Kris never veers into an overtly Bley melodic-out-chordal mode nor in a Cecil Taylorian scatter style, but stays somewhere in the middle to find her own path. There are melodic-rhythmic compositional elements that have some relationship to new music classicism but again, not overtly. She sometimes moderately prepares the strings on the piano, but not in a central way.

What this is has to do with a new take on the trio as building block. There is innovation and style in what Kris, bassist John Hebert and drummer Tom Rainey do here. It is not always a matter of soloist and rhythm as it is a concerted three-part dialog at times. Yet at other times the free-trio paradigm in-and-out of time prevails without necessarily going to the typical places such trios often do. Hebert sounds great and Rainey sounds right. The three sound as their own stylistic universe.

Instead there is inventive leverage from all three, with the pianist taking the lead in ways that make you listen up. The pianism of Ms. Davis comes to us without a doubt. She is both outside-inventive and pianistically coherent at all times. And Hebert-Rainey as co-constructors make for a whole you listen to as a gestalt more than solo and background.

It's a strong showing from a pianistic talent destined no doubt to become more and more central as the years unravel. I do predict that. For now the promise is showing itself without hesitation.

Listen to this one!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble Reimagines Popular Hebraic Melodies, Mosaica

You have to hand it to pianist-arranger-bandleader Eugene Marlow and his Heritage Ensemble. He takes Hebraic folkways and makes them into vibrant modern jazz. Who else could breathe real life into "Hava Nagila" the way he does and then let the band scorch it with a Latin fire? Well, the list would be small. Eugene Marlow is at the top. His Heritage Ensemble comes at us again on Mosaica, subtitled Marlow's Heritage Ensemble Reimagines Popular Hebraic Melodies (ME II Enterprises).

The band is as strong as ever with Eugene taking a central role in the piano chair, the ever-buoyant Bobby Sanabria playing his usual key part as the Latin sparkplug on drums and percussion, Michael Hashim a blazing presence on soprano and alto, Frank Wagner on acoustic and electric bass, Matthew Gonzalez on percussion and special guest Shira Lissek on vocals, sounding great.

The material many will recognize if they have grown up in a Jewish neighborhood and/or of course are Jewish themselves. But this is music that goes well-beyond the local to make universal significance out of it all. Then again, of course the local done well is but an instance of the universal in action. No matter. The point is that Eugene's pianism and arranging brilliance and the band's vivid talent and heat make for music EVERYBODY should hear.

Then also all should remember the horrors of Kristallnacht as a cautionary tale, something that must not happen again on whatever terms. The final piece is a heartfelt tribute to those who suffered the horrors of that night.

This is masterful. This is exciting music. The Doctor is in the house!! Don't miss it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fortuna / Goldsbury / Minchello / Grassi, the Last of the Beboppers

I get to hear albums these days that in the days when I had money to spend I would probably never have considered. A nice example is The Last of the Beboppers (FM 018) by Maciej Fortuna (trumpet), Mack Goldsbury (tenor sax), Mark Minchello (organ) and Lou Grassi (drums). The album features an original or two by each plus an arrangement of Bach's "Minuet in G."

It's straight-ahead all the way on this one. The compositions serve up a hard-bop stew and the players all gather their own expressive means to realize music in the tradition but originally so. Goldsbury has fire and brimstone in his tenor, Fortuna plays a hard but lyrical trumpet, Minchello gives us the Hammond sound updated and Lou Grassi drums with conviction. I've never heard Lou in this context but he sounds very comfortable and inventive, as do the others.

Do we need more straight-ahead jazz? Not just for its own sake. But when it comes across sincerely and clearly and there is something original in all they do, it is welcome. I am glad to have it and hear it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Harris Eisenstadt, Golden State II

Harris Eisenstadt is a unique voice on the modern jazz scene. He is a composer of sophisticated smarts, a bandleader who knows how to bring out the unique qualities of the players he gathers about him, and a drummer who has his own way.

Golden State II (Songlines 1610-2) is a second volume of small group performances recorded live in 2014 at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. The combination of five quirkily interesting avant compositions and the unique instrumentation of Michael Moore, clarinet, Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon, Mark Dresser on bass and Harris on drums gives the music a timbral openness which with the improvisational personalities of the individuals of the quartet make for a singularity we can appreciate.

There is a jazz heat and a new music explorative bent which combine in ways that define the Eisenstadt style. It is music of an obvious seriousness yet there is also a sort of post-Braxtonian sense of humor one must hear to appreciate.

And all four players give us their personal profiles in ways that evoke Duke Ellington's ability to fashion music well-suited for the individualities of his players.

It all comes together in ways that make you grow into the music steadily as you listen. Make no mistake, Eisenstadt writes some excellent ensemble jazz and the quartet comes through vividly.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Giovanni di Domenico, Alexandra Grimal, Chergui

I won't say there will be a time when I "know it all." Doing these reviews can be a humbling experience because there are so many excellent players-artists out there that I would probably know nothing about unless otherwise exposed, thanks to the labels and artists who send their work. And each has a musical world, some are very unexpected, some familiar, some in between.

An excellent example is the duo of Giovanni di Domenico and Alexandra Grimal and their 2-CD set Chergui (Ayler 141-142). I reviewed something with Giovanni on it a while ago. This is my first brush with the duo.

Alexandra is on soprano and tenor sax; Giovanni plays piano. These are compositional-free pieces, most written by di Domenico, one a collaboration, and a few by Ms. Grimal. Most are for the two together; a few are solo showcases for each artist.

The music has jazz inflections but in many ways is in a new music zone that reflects modern avant classical without necessarily embracing it. It is the "in betweenness" that sets the music off in part as exceptional. That and the fully formed qualities of the playing.

It is music to listen to closely--not background music in any sense. And the more you listen, the more there is to appreciate. There is much that is atmospheric; all has spirit but it is not a "blowing session" so much as it is a carefully thought-out articulation of musical worlds.

I must say this set impresses me greatly. If you are looking for the new and the very good-excellent, this set is that! Listen and ye shall be rewarded.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Matt Criscuolo, Headin' Out

Matt Criscuolo has been an up-and-coming sax man for a number of years. I've reviewed his albums on Cadence and here I believe. With his new Headin' Out (Jazzeria Records Matt 2014) it's fair to say that he is now there-and-going. The comparison isn't quite right but on alto he manages to capture mature Cannonball and Johnny Hodges. Again, that isn't quite true, but there is something older and something newer that he channels into Criscuoloism. The band is hot. Matt blazes forth with his alto, Tony Purrone plays a hell of a guitar, and Preston Murphy on bass and Ed Soph on drums swing like crazy.

There are good originals by Matt, one by Tony, and the not often-played standards "Little Niles' by the great Randy Weston, "Sippin at Bells" by early Miles (in a nice arrangement), and Billy Strayhorn's perennial "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing."

This is bop and after blazing with everybody in gear. Matt comes across with a sureness and that oddly old-newness. Tony has chops to spare, and....you know...swinging is the order of the day.

This one has that something strong that puts you in its pocket and keeps you there.

Matt is now an official heavy! Nice record!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tony Malaby Tamarindo with William Parker and Nasheet Waits, Somos Agua

In the hubbub of new music I am exposed to daily I sometimes take a little bit to realize the full stature of an artist. That has been true of Tony Malaby, soprano and tenor saxophonist extraordinaire. Although I have appreciated (and reviewed) a fair amount of his music, the cumulative impact of his recent output only hits me now. He is a player to be reckoned with, an avant jazz voice of importance and originality.

The latest album has given me that boost over the wall into real recognition. It is Malaby and Tamarindo. The album is entitled Somos Agua (Clean Feed 304).

The trio setting is an especially good one. New York's premiere avant bassist William Parker gives the trio a vibrant front-line presence and distinctively inventive rhythm teammate to the ever articulate drummer Nasheet Waits. Tony Malaby floats atop this formidable partnership in free-flowing focus, timbral color and hip lining.

This is a free date that has strong connections to the jazz lineage and an articulate dialogue that flows and overflows with a kind of open clarity you don't often get. These are three of the masters of modern improvisation so that should not surprise. But they are also very primed to high expression throughout the session.

There are no lulls, no preliminary gropeings. They get to it straight off and stay right in there.

Excellent performances from some of the very best! Needless to say that makes this one pretty indispensable.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures, Nightshades

Tenor-man Matt Bauder is one of those jazz artists that sneaks up on you. Before you know it he is doing something great. And then you look back and realize he's been doing that an awful lot. This once again is true--of his quintet "Day in Pictures" date Nightshades (Clean Feed 289). It's a group of heavies in Matt, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Kris Davis on piano, Jason Ajemian on double bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Each brings with her/him his/her own way, as anyone who follows the scene will know.

And then from the first number, "Octavia Minor," there is that hip Blue Note-Impulse-new-thing period sound in the tunes, with just enough structure and melodic suggestiveness to set the tone for what amount of looseness and what amount of tightness follows in the solos. That's pretty much true across the board.

The head compositions do what they do like that and at the same time stay in your head. And these players respond to the implications of each piece with excellent work, individual expressions of the best sort of jazz kind.

This is the sort of music, I think, that is beyond a time period and into a permanence of hipness. I believe this album will still sound good in 50 years, and would have sounded good 50 years ago, too.

Listen to Matt give us his testimony on the tenor. It's very together. But everybody is that--a very well-matched five-some.

I won't say more of the place of this album in some grand scheme, because who am I to say what people will single out in 50 years? For me, right now, this is music I am very glad to hear. It is the jazz of the right-captured-moments. And so it hits me on top of the head with the command to "listen"! And the more I do, the better I feel about the music.

Don't let this one slip past you. It has that something all excellent modern sessions should have. The solid sending plus the unexpected twists and turns of the creative approach and lots of talent.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Anouar Brahem, Souvenance

Today, something quite unusual. Oudist-composer Anouar Brahem has given us a two-CD set of music for quartet and string orchestra, which he calls Souvenance (ECM 2423/24). It is an offering unusual even for the still adventurous ECM label. A quartet of Brahem on oud, Francois Couturier, piano, Klaus Gesing on bass clarinet, and Bjorn Meyer on electric bass form the core of the music. They are greatly enriched at times by the strings of Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana under conductor Pietro Mianiti. The orchestral arrangements are a collaboration between Brahem and Johannes Berauer, except one piece which was arranged by Tonu Korvits.

Essentially this is music written around the quartet, giving written and improvisational emphasis for the oud and other instruments at times. The music is both mid-eastern classically influenced as well as post-modern tonal. The strings play their role well as called for, so that this is a sort of world-jazz-modern classical synergy with an ECM ambience, sounding beautifully well but as contentful as it is pleasing.

Some of the music is extremely reflective, some has pulse and improvisational-melodic buoyancy. All of it captures your ears with beauty and a little grit, if you are open and let the music enter within.

I know of nothing quite like it for its introduction of oud tonality into an all-encompassing, eclectically processual yet brightly original mix.

Very moving music, this is. Give it a chance and you will fall under its spell.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Research Arkestra, It's After the End of the World Reissue

Anybody who reads this review column regularly probably also knows that Sun Ra was a critical force in avant jazz during his long and prolific career. He came to fashion free-avant big-band music after having put down strong roots in the music that came before. His combination of Afro-science-fiction and very daring music composition and conduction, his own keyboard work and the great contribution of solo work by masters of outness such as John Gilmore and Marshall Allen, his always adventuresome theatrics, all created an inimitable niche for his music, a somewhat surprising popularity among general audiences given the progressive nature of the music, and a legacy we still can appreciate.

So when the MPS reissues in their first phase included the full band live at Donaueschingen and Berlin in 1970, namely the album It's After the End of the World (MPS 0209744), I jumped at the chance to hear it again (I had it as an LP in my early days before I had to sell my first collection) and give it a review.

It may not be his very best album. There are others that might qualify for that status, but it is very good and very characteristic of what the Arkestra was up to live in those days. The full band of the period is on hand, including Gilmore, Allen, Pat Patrick, Danny Davis, Danny Thompson, Alan Silva, Lex Humphries, June Tyson, etc. There are free spots for various soloists, mass freedom ensemble improvisations, chants, theatrics, the Sun Ra space synth, some written vehicles (check out "Watusi, Egyptian March") and a series of duos.

It is well done and well captured, an excellent example of the band when it was starting to get real attention.

So by all means, any serious student of the Ra approach needs this one, and it's not a bad way to start out your journey into Ra's space either.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wayne Horvitz, The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, At the Reception

Wayne Horvitz has shown himself, as keyboardist-pianist and composer, one of the most versatile jazzmen active today. His avant electric funk has been innovative and important part of his style. But equally so his acoustic music. We get a very impressive example of the latter with his big band, known as the Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, and their album At the Reception (Song Lines 1609-2).

It's a game gathering of good players on the Seattle scene, some 14 of them that include worthy solo talent. They are well-rehearsed and very capable. But the compositions and arrangements by Horvitz are the main attraction. They run the gamut of styles from in-the-pocket swingers to post-Evans tone poems to adventurous avant fare. There is even something that sounds either like a Jewish or Italian (or both) folk dance, which has a sense of humor.

There is a great deal of good music here, 74 minutes worth. Absorbing it takes some time. Once you do you go away from this with a real appreciation of Horvitz's great skill and talent. This is big band music that does not sound quite like anything else. New music, truly.

The truth is in the telling, so I strongly suggest you get this one and listen closely. It is a triumph!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hank Jones Trio, Have You Met This Jones, 1977

Why is it that the late piano master Hank Jones is someone I appreciate greatly, yet often enough don't recall when I mentally compile lists of the best pianists of the bop and post-bop periods? I don't have an answer but I can say that the reissue of his 1977 MPS trio recording Have You Met This Jones? (MPS 0209731) reminds me of his brilliance forcefully. Like many in the new MPS reissue series, I cannot remember seeing this album in the record stacks of local shops. It turns out that I missed something excellent.

It is Hank with a rather obscure yet very simpatico bassist and drummer, namely Isla Eckinger and Kurt Bong, respectively. Bong swings along nicely and Eckinger digs in with some excellent ears. But Hank is what this is all about.

They go at a Jones original, a number by brother Thad, and some select standard chestnuts like "Robbin's Nest," "Now's the Time," "There's A Small Hotel" and such. Everything works out as a series of vehicles for Hank's playing as it was then, and he was very much at a peak. The thing about his playing as I listen to this one, that hits me with renewed force, is not just that he could build impeccable post-Bud-Powell bop-and-beyond lines of great swinging distinction, and he does here, but also that as a chordal, a block-chord soloist he was in a league of his own, untouchable. Listen to some of that here and you get perfection. Perhaps it all sounds so effortless that we didn't always stop and pay real attention to the WHAT that he was doing.

It is all very present on this album, Hank in all his brilliance. There was so much music to digest from the '50s through '70s that he may have been somewhat neglected. Of course in the end he got some of his due --in later years, as a fixture at the Vanguard and in his very fruitful collaborations with Joe Lovano.

When we step back and hear this nearly forgotten session from Europe, there is no doubt. He was a monster of a pianist! Get this one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trio Chemirani, Dawar

Anyone who knows or is curious about Persian classical music, and anyone who appreciates fine drumming must go and buy the new album by Trio Chemirani, Dawar (Harmonia Mundi 905723). Perhaps that is an extremely partisan way to begin a review article, but of course music writing should be about that. And from the first hearing Dawar brought me under its spell, where I remain.

Djamchid Chemirani, Teheran-born classicist who first recorded for Harmonia Mundi 40 years ago, heads the trio that includes his sons Keyvan and Bijan. They bring us a program that alternates vividly between string and percussion music that accompanies recitation of what sounds like classic Iranian poets, really brief and fascinating interludes between some incredible three-way drum pieces for tumbak, the single-headed hand drum so central to Persian classical music, with a highly developed virtuoso style and a multitude of stroke types. I've never heard a tumbak trio and I've rarely heard such skillfully wrought playing, but when worked through as a trio the sounds are nothing short of incredible.

The trio also do a trio piece on the daf, a large frame drum with jingles attached so that the sound is somewhere between the conventional frame drum and the tambourine.

The intricate interplay of the three on both drums is astounding, if I might say. They've worked out routines and tuned the drums so that the combination of all three gives you a wider tonal spectrum than just one drum, something you hear in South Asia with multiple tuned tablas and the tabla tarang, and also can be heard in some traditional Thai drum ensembles. But all that is only to reference similarities, for Trio Chemirani follow the classical Persian style and take it somewhere very beautiful.

I can only tell you that this is an essential disk for those who revel in "world" percussion, hand drum mastery, and a revelation for those who delve in Persian classical.

Molto bravo! Drummer alert!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ballister, Worse for the Wear, Dave Rempis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Paal Nilssen-Love

Dave Rempis's Aerophonic label has gotten off to an auspicious start with some very interesting albums. Up today is one by the trio called Ballister, Worse for the Wear (Aerophonic 008). You know it means business from the first moments of the opening. Fred Lonberg-Holm makes free use of electronics to alter his cello at times and that helps give the music an electric jolt that has a "take no prisoners" approach to avant improvisation. This music rivets you to your chair!

Paal Nilssen-Love of course is one of the more celebrated free drummers to come out of Europe and you hear very clearly why that is the case on this album. He is a bubbling, boiling cauldron of energy that spikes the trio and sends them rocketing forward. With his energy and the cello-plus-electronics of Lonberg-Holm the stage is perfectly set for Dave Rempis to put across his smart high-energy playing on alto, tenor and baritone. He reacts with blazing, searing torrents of sound that remind you that there has developed a fire-y wing of the "free jazz" school (which has been with us since nearly the music's beginnings) and Dave is an excellent, original exponent of it, one of the select top avant hornmen coming out of Chicago.

The three together melt the cosmos into liquid fire on this one. They are supercharged and extraordinarily impolite about it. You would not put this one on for a white-tie dinner party (do they still have such things?), nor is it intended for such occasions. Rather than seat you in front of an elegant place-setting it rockets you off the planet.

It is one of Dave's most energized performances on disk and the same might be said of his trio-mates Lonberg-Holm and Nilsson-Love. And the quieter moments when they come are far more than pauses in the action; they are cohesive free statements with less energy but lots of texture and a sense of structure that Ballister never abandons.

Hold on to your hats and put this one on. Get it by all means if you revel in free heat! It will drive the cold winter away, bring out the blooms of spring or transform whatever season you are in into Ballister-time!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Grego Applegate Edwards Talks About His New Second Album "Collage for Jack Kerouac"

Self: So you are doing another self-interview on your music, like you did for your first album "Travels in Tyme"? (http://classicalmodernmusic.blogspot.com/2014/09/grego-applegate-edwards-talks-about.html)

Grego: Yes I guess I am. It's not like I am trying to climb on some high-horse as much as I want to interest people in my music and since I am more or less a nobody this seems like a good way to do it.

Self: So your new album Collage for Jack Kerouac is out? You say it is a bit more rock oriented than the last. Does that mean you are selling out?

Grego: No, not at all. Nowadays real, hard-art rock is not especially commercial, if it ever was. This album, as all my music, expresses the musical influences I have internalized since I was young. And really five main influences stay with me: one is classical and especially modern classical, one is jazz and its legacy, leading up to, third, the ultra-modern and avant forms, fourth is what unsatisfyingly is called "world" or "ethnic" music, and last there is rock--not just anything but the art rock that affected me in the later '60s and early '70s, the psychedelic and experimental bands of that period and anything else which partakes of that in the years that followed. Rather than experimenting with time structures as I did in the last album, I am looking for various orchestrated rock sounds that are informed by song form at times, and have mesmerizing qualities that come out of world trance and minimalism.

Self: So are you on drugs?

Grego: That question raises a mind set that has been destructive to avant progressive music, though at one time it helped promote the popularity of weirdness. I find drugs irrelevant to my own creativity. I do not get involved with them. I don't think they are a solution to anything. Hard drugs mess people up. I am indifferent to whether people do them in a legal sense. I don’t think people should go to jail for using them. And I don’t design my music to get high with, though some may do that and that is not my business. When the conservative reaction to the '60s set in, the "say no" hysteria somehow got attached to serious musics as well as substance re-education. There are some who still profit by the traffic while they pay lip service against it. Others don’t. But music and drugs do not have anything to do with each other on a cultural level, not these days. Do people say that Picasso was meant to look at when high? No. So why music? To me the legacy of the earlier days has to do with consciousness raising. Some found it in various places but there was a change in perspective in the Western world in general and part of that has to do with the rise of the Beats and Jack Kerouac in the '50s. And that's why I am coming out with this album, Collage for Jack Kerouac, as a kind of tribute to what he accomplished and his influence on me as an adolescent and young adult, and even now.

Self: Tell us what Jack Kerouac has meant to you, then.

Grego: I will try to do that as briefly as I can. My parents' generation got a quadruple whammy of two World Wars and the Depression, followed by Cold War paranoia. If any generation should have felt the shock of change, of the need to question deep-seated beliefs, it was them. And yet for the most part many emerged from all that, if they survived, with a "can-do" optimism. Perhaps the sixties started to puncture that feeling, but it was rather late in the game for them. On the other hand the Beat Generation came up out of WWII and into a post-war world with a feeling that the values of the past needed reconsidering. Suburban America did not satisfy their search for happiness. And that search became what they were about. I think some day historians will look back and see the Beats as prophetic of a change in "Western Civilization." They questioned middle-American consciousness of normalcy and rootedness, and sought instead an alternative lifestyle and way of thinking that would be more enlightened. They in part embodied a restlessness but also a decreasing attachment to one place, exemplified in the suburban town where many lived most their lives, worked and raised children. After a while economic change made changes in residence from time-to-time a necessity. There was the move of some from city to suburbs, then from one town to another, and there was an influx of southern Afro-Americans from rural to urban landscapes in search of a livelihood. The Beats came to be aware of the hipness of Afro-American immediacy in music and word, and in part incorporated both the idea of jazz's ever present there-ness with the verbal creativity of Black America. Beyond that there was the discovery of Zen consciousness, of a search for experience above permanence, an appreciation of the landscape of America as a totality, from urban hipness to car culture and the ability for anyone to traverse the land from coast-to-coast rather easily. There were other things too, but the most literate like Kerouac expressed this feeling, this restless longing in eloquent terms. It was about a liberation from Puritan values, from a strictly sober-minded industriousness, an embrace of life as a form of art, a liberation of personhood from the strict controls of the past, a celebration of personhood and creative living in all its various aspects. Kerouac's novels may have embraced something that was already in the air, but he did it in a way that was compelling and aesthetically pleasing. What followed was the '60s in all its tumultuousness--an appreciation of Black culture and values, an embrace of diversity and the joy of everyday living, a questioning of the surety of middle-America and its emphasis on economic success, and so on.

Self: Wait, stop! You are saying much there. But how does this relate to your personal experience and how you express it in musical terms?

Grego: By the time I came of age Kerouac and his Beat buddies had already had influence on my older siblings. The rise of rock and its Afro-American rootedness on purity of expression, soul if you will, and the increased presence of expressionist jazz that in an obvious way was embodied in bebop and what came after, all that was coming to be in my early life. And a lifestyle revolution was underway that complemented the new aesthetic. The immediacy of that had already affected me greatly by the time I was a teenager. Then I read Kerouac's books and what he expressed made sense, hit a nerve, made me want to explore my own creative possibilities too, made me initially conscious of a Zen such-ness to living. I tried to express that musically on some tape collages I was working on in high school that included some recitation from Kerouac's "On the Road". That went well in terms of what I was trying to do but when I went off to Berklee in 1971 I pretty much left off on that, though I was still working on electroacoustics then and after for a while. The idea came to me after 9-11 had run us all amok to return to what I was trying to do on that Kerouac project. I resurrected what I felt was the most interesting part--which featured altered piano tapes accompanied by recitation. I laid the track down as it was in my studio as I had left it and began to compose music on top of it that worked outwards from that point, paraphrasing the words to "On the Road," turning the recitation to a sung melody, trying to create a rock-avant soundscape that followed the curve of the original but added more orchestral rock elements. I tied that into a reworking of a song I wrote in 1971 and reworked the whole into what became on the album "Opposite Directions - The Spirit of Kerouac." That became the twenty-something-odd centerpiece for the album as it ended up. It is in that way a kind of travelogue about the collapse of old ways and the creation of a new consciousness out of the ashes.

Self: OK, stop again! There are three other pieces on the album. Where did you get the idea for them and how do they relate?

Grego: I wasn't consciously trying to build around the "Spirit of Kerouac" as much as I was looking for different sounds in the studio and they happened to fit as I listened back. "Last Night Constantinople" was a punky sort of thing about the last night before the fall of Byzantium and the dance residents did at the city gates, a sort of dance of ecstatic desperation. That fit because the rise of the Beats in some ways I believe heralded a change in how America thought of itself. Then the third cut was more mesmeric, both ecstatic and a return to the land, symbolized by the Paiute Indians and music I imagined to accompany their periodic gathering of Pine Nuts. The last number is my adaptation of a Dream Song by the Temiar of Malaysia. They are a tribal group still active today and the songs they sing are in response to dreams the villagers have. "Agin" or "The Spirit of the Tiger" is one of their songs from the 1930s. It fit to me because the Beat/Kerouac revolution gave importance to dreams, as can be seen in Kerouac's "Book of Dreams." Plus the heightened post-Kerouac consciousness takes dream imagery seriously and in a way the future of what has been is like a dream right now. We can’t be sure where we are going but we can have intimations of it in dreams. Kerouac and the Temiar have that in common and I wanted to leave on an open note of uncertainty and expectancy.

Self: OK, I think we have plenty from you on the "back story" behind the music. What can you say about the music itself?

Grego: There are none of the time simultaneities of the first album. The music tends to pulsate with a rock feeling and the music uses mostly standard rock instrumentation--guitars, bass, drums, keys, some percussion and vocals. The "Opposite," Kerouac and Constantinople pieces were more carefully arranged than the concluding Paiute and Temiar Tiger pieces, which in many ways were improvised into being layer after layer, though Paiute has an electroacoustic foundation that in part shaped the outcome of the music. There is some amount of tension in the first half of the album. In the second there is a kind of great release.

Self: So what is it you want people to take away from this music? That you are a multi-instrumentalist of supreme virtuosity?

Grego: Not at all. This one, like the last, is about the totality of sound, the layering, the music as expressive yet not soloistic. One advantage of doing all the instruments and vocals myself is that it was easy to resist the temptation to try and have a particular part stand out in some kind of performative way. Other albums will have more of that and consequently more of a jazz-orientation than this one does. Listening to this one, you will not go away with a feeling that any one instrument is projecting a well-played appearance. It is the layering and complexities of a virtual orchestra. With a symphony orchestra you cannot ordinarily single out, say, a second violinist and say, "wow, he or she is really good." Whether I am accomplished or not is irrelevant here--I don’t care right now--because it is the totality of music that is meant to be heard. Not to compare but early Pink Floyd was designed that way, tribal music is often presented that way, and so orchestral music. I am trying for something a little new that comes out of all those roots. My hope is that the listener, after a number of listens, will come away with the feeling of having experienced music that in many ways feels familiar but maybe also departs from what people expect.

Self: So is that why you say you aren't trying to grow your audience or become more commercial?

Grego: No musician wants to be unheard, so sure I am always concerned that there will be an audience for the music, the more the merrier. But I did not set out to make music that would appeal to a large number of people, because that is not realistic given the demands the music makes on a listener. If I can please a few out there I will be content. And this #2 is part of a long developmental musical arc that I hope I can bring to listeners before I meet my maker! You can get further info and buy the album at Amazon. The link is http://www.amazon.com/Collage-Kerouac-Gregory-Applegate-Edwards/dp/B00U35YM88/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425328621&sr=8-1&keywords=gregory+applegate+edwards

Self: That's great. Thanks. What comes after this one?

Grego: I hope I can release a disk of integrated electro-acoustic works on a mythological-astronomical theme. It will be called I think Aurora Dreaming.

Self: That sounds interesting. Please don’t forget to feed me and provide shelter!

Grego: That's another problem entirely, I guess. I'll be working on that, too.

Self: Some chicken might be nice!

Grego: Chicken? Hmm... We’ll see.

Concetta Abbate, Falling in Time, Pocket-Sized Songs

Some music does not sit well with categorization. One of those certainly is Concetta Abbate's solo debut CD Falling in Time, Pocket-Sized Songs (Waterbug). It is an album of art songs that could well bear a subtitle "Songs of Innocence and Experience" after William Blake, for there is something of both in her whimsical approach. The arrangements are well wrought, with Concetta's violin working with other strings and other instruments sometimes in quasi-classical ways. The songs are original, her voice enchanting. Explorations "in poetry and soundscapes" is how it is put on the inner sleeve. Well, yes. That.

Yes, it is perhaps too artistic to place under any pop or even singer-songwriter category with the expectations one might place on those slabs of classification. Sure, some have a rock beat, and alternative might apply perfectly well.

In the end one might be reminded of some of the art songs from the era of early Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins, yet it has less of the folk roots than they both had for a time. And Concetta has her own way.

Classification can help people understand what they are likely to get, though some of the categories have less singularity now than perhaps they once had. So forget all that.

This is consistently interesting and original music in song form. And as that it gives you much good to hear and rehear.

Definitely recommended!