Mindblowing minimalism from the legendary Sandy Bull – an artist who might have had acoustic roots in folk music, but who was instantly turning his music into something else – drawing on modal styles of Eastern music, European generations of expression on guitar, jazz-based improvisation – and maybe even prefiguring work to come from composers like Terry Riley and La Monte Young! This album's one of Bull's first, and it's pure genius right from the start – with a side-long performance on the incredible "Blend", which features slight drums from jazz musician Billy Higgins – which Sandy extrapolates these long passages on acoustic guitar. Side two features the fantastic "Carmina Burana Fantasy" on banjo – a kind of trans-historical performance that's right up there with John Fahey's best of the decade – alongside equally mindblowing "Non Nobis Domine" and "Little Maggie" – and the closing electric guitar genius of "Gospel Tune". LP, Vinyl record album
A live pairing of two giants of 70s jazz – keyboardist Herbie Hancock and bassist Jaco Pastorius – captured live in our fair city of Chicago at a small north side club! The bass of Pastorius seems to make for an even funkier sound than usual – and plenty of strong bass solos too – and the group is very lean, with just Benny Maupin on reeds and James Levi on drums – as the quartet stretch out in ways that really open up the tunes! The tracks are familiar numbers from the Herbie Hancock songbook, but the execution here is quite unique – and the set features versions of "Chameleon", "Hang Up Your Hang Ups", "It Remains To Be Seen", and "Maiden Voyage". LP, Vinyl record album
The first album by Joyce – one of our favorite Brazilian singers ever! The album's a wonderfully lyrical batch of tracks – many written by Joyce herself, plus a few by Brazilian songwriters Jards Macale, Toninho Horta, and Marcos Valle – and the orchestrations are by Gaya, and played on a number of tracks by Dori Caymmi and his group. The style shows many elements of Joyce's later unique style, filtered through a more standard late bossa sound – light and breezy, but with a bit of a dark edge that's in a classic Jobim mode. Includes the track "Superego", which feels a lot like Joyce from the 70s – plus the lovely "Litoral", and the tracks "Me Disseram", "Nao Muda, Nao", "Cantiga De Procura", "Choro Chorado", "Bloco Do Eu Sozinho", and "Improvisado". LP, Vinyl record album
Steve Lacy —
Threads ... LP Horo/AlternativeFox (UK), 1977. New Copy (reissue)...
A real standout in the 70s catalog of reedman Steve Lacy – and that's saying a lot, given that he gave us so many fantastic records in the decade! The album's proof that the Horo Records label had a great knack for capturing key players in some different, but fantastic formations – and here, Lacy is blowing soprano sax alongside ex-MEV members Alvin Curran and Frederic Rzewski – in a unique quality that's very different than many of Lacy's other recordings of the 70s. Curran's got his usual mad edge – and plays synthesizer, percussion, and flugelhorn – while Rzewski contributes some nicely restrained dark lines on acoustic piano. Titles include "Skirts", "Threads", "Rabbit", and "Broils". LP, Vinyl record album
A fantastic entry into the improvising orchestra genre – a set that's similar to classics by ICP and London Jazz Composers Orchestra – and which also features a bit of crossover in members with both groups! The lineup here features the cream of the crop of the European avant scene of the late 70s – all brought together with that special care that always makes Horo Records albums so wonderful! There's a beautiful balance between group sounds and individual solo voices – very important, given that the strong lineup features musicians who includes Roswell Rudd and Danilo Terenzi on trombone, Kenny Wheeler and Enrico Rava on trumpets, Steve Potts on alto and soprano, Evan Parker on tenor and soprano, Steve Lacy on soprano, Massimo Urbani on alto, Frederik Rzewski and Martin Joseph on pianos, Tristan Honsinger and Irene Aebi on cellos, Kent Carter and Roberto Bellatalla on bass, Paul Lytton on drums and percussion, and Noel McGhee and Roberto Gatto on drums. Phew – that's a long list, and if you know the names at all, you'll know the tremendous sense of creativity that goes into the record – on long improvised tracks that include "Tromblues", "La Quercia", "Vortex Waltz", "The Message From The Maine", and "Dialogando". LP, Vinyl record album
Charles Mingus —
Shadows ... LP AlternativeFox (UK), 1959. New Copy ...
Just Sold Out!
A great early moment for the legendary Charles Mingus – music that was used in the equally-legendary film Shadows – the first directorial effort from a young John Cassavetes! The album's worth it alone for the unusual piece "Untitled Percussion Composition" – one of the loosest, sparest Mingus moments ever – and a work that features Charles on both piano and percussion, alongside more percussion from Dannie Richmond, Horace Parlan, Jimmy Knepper, and Clarence Shaw – with a sublime flute solo from Shafi Hadi over the top! The rest of the tracks are more familiar moments from the key Mingus year of 1959 – played by groups with John Handy on alto, Booker Ervin and Shafi Hadi on tenor, and either Richard Wyands or Horace Parlan on piano – on the titles "Self Portrait In Three Colors", "Nostalgia In Times Square", and "Alice's Wonderland" – plus an "Untitled Percussion Composition". LP, Vinyl record album
A searing live performance from Return To Forever – served up here from a moment when the group had shed some of its Brazilian elements – and was instead the superfusion quartet of Chick Corea on keyboards, Al Di Meola on guitar, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Lenny White on drums! Corea's clearly the leader, and gets in plenty of sweet solos on keys – but the group also really showcase the power that Clarke and White can create together – on titles that include "The Romantic Warrior", "Duel Of The Jester & The Tyrant", "Medieval Overture", "The Magician", and "Sorceress". LP, Vinyl record album
One of Archie Shepp's most soulful records of the 70s – and proof that the Horo label could get amazing work out of any player! The record features Shepp in a spare trio setting – with Cameron Brown on bass and Clifford Jarvis on drums – and each of the four sides features an extended reading of more traditional jazz material, yet still done in a manner that's quite free, and extremely soulful. Side one features Shepp's "Hooray For Mal", side three features the excellent "Things Have Got to Change" by the great Cal Massey, and the remaining sides feature two great Ellington interpretations, "I Didn't Know About You" and "Sophisticated Lady". Great stuff all around – and a perfect bridge between two different modes of the music of Archie Shepp! LP, Vinyl record album
A fantastic album from the great Don Cherry – and maybe one of the earliest examples of the way that he mixed together avant jazz and a globe's worth of influences on the European scene! The album features three long tracks – all seemingly improvised – very heavy on percussion, with work from Karl Berger on vibes, marimba, piano, celeste, and other percussion – and Jacques Thollot on drums and timbales – while Cherry himself plays gong, alongside his more familiar cornet, plus piano and a bit of bamboo flute. There's a huge amount going on here – almost as if Cherry is trying to invent spiritual and loft jazz modes at the same time – with a warmth, cohesion, and sense of soul that's a different than his more famous Paris recordings for the BYG label a few years later. Titles include "Infant Happiness", "Symphony For Improviser", and "Elephantasy". LP, Vinyl record album
(NOTE: Cover says 1979, but all other data indicates that this is the 1967 Paris Trio session.)
Four slices of genius from this important German jazz festival of the 60s – one of the leading showcases for the best in avant garde and experimental music! The sounds here are as stunning as the lineup – maybe even more so, as there's some nicely-unfamiliar, surprisingly collaborative passages going on – all of which really illuminate the studio music by these groundbreaking artists! The set begins with "Andalusian Proverb" – a beautiful showcase for the dynamic vocals of Jeanne Lee, as she sings with Gunter Hampel on vibes, Albert Mangelsdorff on trombone, and Pierre Courbois on drums. "Cubis" features a sublime trio with Marion Brown on alto, Peter Kowald on bass, and John Stevens on drums – and that rhythm duo also supports "Jepa", which features Mangelsdorff on trombone and Evan Parker on soprano sax – and "Relationship", which also features Parker – as well as Don Cherry on trumpet and Buschi Niebergall on second bass. LP, Vinyl record album
A fantastic live performance from Alice Coltrane – and one that features a very heavy-hitting group, one that features both Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp on tenor, in a spirit that's as strong and righteous as Alice's Ptah The El Daoud album! The set features one long track – a reading of the John Coltrane tune "Africa" – soaring, stretched out, and done in a very spiritual way by the whole group – building in intensity, but also with moments of more contemplative energy too. The lineup features two bassists – Jimmy Garrison and Cecil McBee – two drummers – Ed Blackwell and Clifford Jarvis – plus tambura from Tulsi and harmonium from Kumar Kramer – all laid out with both piano and harp from Alice Coltrane herself. LP, Vinyl record album
Very freewheeling live work from Miles Davis – captured here on a set of long tracks recorded in Berlin at the start of the 70s – all with an open vibe that maybe matches some of his famous concert dates from Japan! The overall sound is maybe a bit more spacious and slightly less noisy – and the group features Gary Bartz on alto, Keith Jarrett on electric piano and organ, Michael Henderson on bass, Ndugu Chancler on drums, and Don Alias and Mtume on percussion! There's no guitar in the group, which has the pulsing keyboards doing most of that work – and Gary Bartz is wonderful on his solos, playing with some of the rhythmic edge of his early 70s work on Milestone, and making a nice contrast to Miles. Titles include "Directions", "What I Say", "Honky Tonk", "Funky Tonk", "It's About That Time", and "Sanctuary". LP, Vinyl record album
Early film music from the great Serge Gainsbourg – nice work from a stretch before Serge got totally funky in the movies, but could still bring some very groovy elements to a picture! The work here features arrangements by Alain Goraguer and Michel Colombier – both of whom helped unlock the coolest sides of Serge's talents – and music is often jazzy, with a hint of Latin or exotic elements too – and many of the tracks here are instrumental, but still wonderfully haunting! Juliette Greco sings on "Strip Tease", and Serge sings on "L'Eau A Bouche" and "Comment Trouvez Vous Ma Soeur" – and other titles include "No Love For Daddy", "Erotico Tico", "Wake Me At Five", "Black March", "Cha Cha Du Loup", and "Rocking Horse". LP, Vinyl record album
A very early live set by Pharoah Sanders – very much in the best modes of his late 60s albums on Impulse Records, and a great addition to that era of recordings from the tenor genius! The performance was recorded by French Radio, and has great sound quality – really capturing the soulful shadings of the group, which is a quartet with a young Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, Sirone on bass, and Majeed Shabazz on drums. There's no other instrumentation at all, but the interplay between Sanders and Smith is wonderful – as full of tonal color as their studio recordings – and Sirone is really fantastic too. The performance is presented as one long continuous track – beginning with a long improvisation, then moving through "Venus" and "The Creator Has A Master Plan" – all as spiritual as you'd expect! LP, Vinyl record album