Monday, December 30, 2013

LIVE UPDATE one to go... and it's a fast opener - !

it's not been snowing here in the u.k. - far from it, since most parts of the south-and-midlands at least, has been swept again and again with lashing wind and rain, and the odd bit of blazing sun, for what seems like weeks now, - most unxmassy xmas ever. (zmas.) the north hasn't exactly had it easy either, but for once the brunt was borne by the "posh bits" - or some of them at least: surrey, sussex, kent.

- no, the one choice was just a nice, apposite state-of-the-pagan-in-the-modern image-spell, captured a few arse-end-of-decembers ago when we actually did get a (lethally) white christmas. it is suitable, because:

- the weather has indeed turned horribly wintry, along with the bloody (nearly) endless rain, and whippet uno (now nine years old, or 55 (...))has been feeling it dreadfully. never mind the details of the consequences - either for him, for him-and-me, for the rest of the family and for the still-grieving mrs c, five years ago today.- ...
 (but tomorrow will look ... different, i think)

- and because a spell against the pernicious intrusions of this vile and insidious creeping cold is what is called for, here. and how delivered?

- lo, and behold, there came unto the western men and women the nine scorched-sayers, the nonuply-undelivering-twisting-open-fist, unwinding its cragged and barbed way back up through the earth which was violated, screwed in the shifting; violated because rudely and ruthlessly pushed aside, but as we will see, the excavation was required and has, has revealed incredible marvels, details impossible to unlock within rectilinear, mere straight-in-and-out "clean" switchblade-jobs.

- in-and-out storytelling. [i was always good at that (*)] - this is not what the ninetet came to tell us.

the actual full, explicable and written-in-sort-of-english version of this will appear in due course, but in the meantime i am nearly completed with it, onto the last piece as say in the title above, and i well and truly got more than i could have wanted out of doing it... but that will be a reflection, to be made in the new year, and not what has simply been the final LIVE UPDATE, for this particular journey...

* see comments

Sunday, December 29, 2013

LIVE UPDATE ... fire burn, and cauldron bubble/

comp. 209 is more than halfway through already, and the musical planes we have been exploring are most amazing. long, interestingly long and detailed inhabitings of refined artistic-conceptual subspaces... followed by complete change and transportation seamlessly into another such, entirely and utterly different from the next and previous. this type of essentially hybridised and multidimensional artistic experience... requires a new type of listener-reader--thinker. like it or not, i am it..., and if you'rereading this then you probably are too. (if it still says 2013 on your computer screen right now then you definitely are closer to me than the rest of humanity!  o pity us! - but in any case -

good lord it's not even new year yet, but i did embark on another little journey, before coincidentally finding myself in a situation whereby its essential for me to do what i am now; i.e. sit in the house, on the sofa, thus comforting and stabilising the injured whippet of the household (also ensuring that the uninjured one doesn't cause further inadvertent injury) - ... - and on and off, i have been (in human terms) alone in the house whilst doing this, so the yoshi's ninetets do indeed provide the backdrop. the always-underway-nor-ever-complete type of listening-exploring-inhabiting which we do in following gtm, - as opposed to "listening" to it as semi-background music (*1) - can, by definition, be switched on or off at any point, once one has entered the stream at its own natural pace (of course this term itself *pace* itself has to be considered differently "hereonafter", since it comprises many different and separable pulses or rhythms; meta-pace is not a term i can bring myself to use,  quel horreur - and i don't want to slow down enough to think of an alternative just at this second)

- and then switched back on again of course -

fuck, all three of these pieces have been wonderful to listen to, to follow as i say - very very hard still to write about! writing and imagemaking, and sequencing, over time... hmmmm, now there's an idea i could work with ;-)

- but yeah, just remember the twenty-ninth minute of the third piece (i.e. disc 3/8)  - 29 in 209, not exactly hard to remember that, which is good. we'll be coming back there, in due course... right now we are streaming...

... and just approaching the end of this piece, where i may as well finish for a bit (*2)  -


* see comments

(no really, see comments if you want to know what's actually going on behind the scenes in terms of philosophical self-discovery-through expression... which is what this blog is, duh. (*3)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

LIVE UPDATE the yoshi'nine-athon is underway...

sod it, whatever youse thinks at this (relatively-)advanced stage of proceedings, i am literally-figuratively revealing a whole tucked-up and -pleated little microcosmic world tunneled from within the confines and depths of my navel; subtitled the manifold explorations explored backwards along the spiral, the whole conducted in close (/distant) association and under the blessings of mr anthony braxton

[ - *** - and invoking also e.e. cummings, herman melville, alan moore and thomas pynchon (though n.n.i.t.o) ]

- i am asking you to share my (actually pretty modest) belief that my inviting the hapless reader thus into a (what is very nearly literally in this instance, since the next verb-derived noun  after the brackets ties back into the extended metaphor so flippantly and flagrantly paraded in the dizzy heights of the first sentence - ): complication seemingly (tho not actually) entirely of my own invention or devising... - you ask - ? well, the answer is simple: once you're here, regardless of how you done got there, y might surprise y'self by hangin out a lil longer than expect', and even come to dig the view.

i genuinely wouldn't offer it if i didn't sincerely believe it was worth it...  {{{guuuush}}}

- (though (of course (i've known for some time that (everyone else can see (clearly (yessss... clearly) the extent "to witch"  i've at least shown consistent pa
ce with previous years in terms of easily-measruable unfinished postage and gerenal fart-arsery)))))


uh yeah the ninetet hyperspin,  the ninetet hyperspin, it only took in one disc in the end, cos, well blow me down if it didn't seem at last about three and a half hours all on its own. by the time i actually got the pod out to check where we were, i was astonished to find us all with fifteen mins still live on the clock, in the first set of the opening night. so comp. 207 still and none other...


a lot happens in there needless to say - ! hey GO LISSEN ;-) 

BUt i will check back with y'all in due course and soonmost. now, when were we all free again? does anyone at this level actually celebrate new year? (well... the hard-drinking hard-fighting celts obviously - !!)

remind me...

... to remem-berrr....

c..~ xx


*** numerous emendations and restorations were deemed necessary and were made today, the 29th. see the first comment

whether or not to revert to the use of british english for "draft" in the first line of said comment is currently bubbling away in my small intestine ;-)

Friday, December 27, 2013

... and a happy new year

- just time to squeeze out one last triple-triple-deep-distilled metafluid ounce ee({e}) -e - thanks, i needed that - before yet another one-a them pesky new yar thingies... which i always quite enjoy as the ultimate harmless private joke and amusement rather than as any act of self-politicking and/or promoting...

... in the meantime, i say: at the moment alexander hawkins' album of braxton rep is one possible album i (liver-mindedly(*1)) salivate over more than i would even steve lehman's - well, depending on the personnel i suppose and besides, the above is not meant disrespectfully to mr lehman at all, but rather to acknowledge the increasingly-imposing stature of mr hawkins, one of britain's few clear, strictly non-derivative composer-bandleaders alive as far as i am any judge ( [as far = some distance, if greater than most in the allotted time then at least partly thanks to some timely and knowledgable guides, i guess ;-) without them, as you can see by now, i would certainement never have done any of this (or this or this or this... whadadada...] )

- and nudge, nudge i think (and have indeed tonight slipped it into alex's cocoa, so to speak) that young ms-or-is-it-fraulein laubrock might be a good choice of co-explorer for the dense and super-populated pan-tropical jungles of anthony braxton's living-nay-thriving music/(s) - lehman btw has just been mining and refining his own coalfaces for long enough that a similar release from him in 2014 would bear a wholly different configuration of weights and stresses and angles and scents, flavours &c (*2) - i really do think that the young a.h. could knock 'em all flat with his offering if and when he chooses to do it - but in the meantime only he knows how realistic a project like that is in the coming (or indeed any other) year. lotta labels out there, few if any of 'em making any actual money as i understand it... and for that matter, only he knows if he wants to do it. i'm just sayin'... the man collects(-cted) braxton scores and charts (a.o.) and is living the great example in his own way. not for nothing does he play equal partners with the right-hand man after all.


and in the meantime meantime, some people really have been doing stuff which is, like, braxton rep upon another plane(t) or somethin', in the best possible way, which is to say that the leader a) knows full well that the influence is right out there for all to hear, and delivers a really convincing understanding of how to write within (what he perceives to be (some of)) braxtonian idioms or sound/mindsets, and b) has gerry hemingway on the traps, and indeed mr hemingway's old dutch master-wingman and longtime co-explorer wolter wierbos on the trombone, demonstrating (a.o.) (some of) what he has learned via george lewis and ray anderson, in particular... bassist dieter manderscheid is hitherto-unknown to me, but acquits himself marvellously well in such fast, fast company and is brave enough to invoke the spirit of mark dresser, right there in the middle of the album (*3) - and confident enough to pull it off with some aplomb. the leader himself, well - that's more than just one album doing this stuff and not the first time i've noticed the blatant braxtonian compositional flavoring - and while i'm aware the saxophonist has more to him than "mere" braxton-homage (*4*), it's still a remarkably good, powerfully cogent and successful outgrowth of a creative undertaking which (a.o.) keeps alive the braxtonian compositional spirit as tradition, and ... yeah, i've basically been enjoying listening to it (as i obviously and avowedly have to the output of mr hawkins, though on fewer occasions just recently)..!


yes, so happy new year everybody ***modest lo-budget fireworks***

 - and yes there is more on the way, but the promised 23c-athon will have to wait jus' a leetle bit longer... so let's round this year up now and look forward to that, at least ;-)

incidentally my latest meta-playlist consists simply of the eight (so far) ninetet gtm performances, in order (*4). i haven't got round to the actual immersion, not yet... it's on the way though...  :- )

hal c.. (x)

* see comments

 *4*see second comment!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

(meanwhile) this is new...

i'm halfway through a (previously-promised) post about recent treatments of comp. 23c, so in the meantime i thought i'd better just draw the (putative) reader's attention to this recent release, from the polish label which also brought us the latest mary halvorson album, ghost loop. (see, what did i say all those months ago? she has the core trio closest to her heart... or is it just a matter of road economics, this being after all a live album? yes, no, both, neither, whatever... i still don't have a firm opinion on this one, i.e. i can't yet make up my mind whether i was right all along or just talking shit. wouldn't be the first time...)

- google "braxton quartet warsaw" at time of writing, and some of the results are still related to the maestro's sideman (or rather special guest) appearance with john zorn, back in 2009 with messrs laswell and graves; it's actually quite hard to find any reference to the current album on a site which is not in polish, and who knows, that may continue to be the case (by no means all of b's albums get widespread exposure: indeed, a fair few of them are only available from the label in question, and not always for very long at that). but the concert captured on the cd is evidently a diamond curtain wall performance, and a rather unusual one. the presence in the band of thb is as much of a given as that of the leader himself - i don't recall ever coming across a dcw performance which did not feature mr bynum - but ms halvorson, almost as ubiquitous for these, is absent from this one; instead we have another of the heirs apparent, james fei, whose association with b's music and with his groups predates even bynum's, but who rarely appears in small groups with him. (there are always exceptions to this sort of rule, natch.) rounding out the quartet is erica dicker on violin; until the last year or so, i don't believe i had heard of ms dicker - she played in the expanded gtm 'tet at the bienniale di venezia last year (ahem... one of the numerous posts i started and left unfinished, over the last couple of years) and this was very possibly the first time i had come across her name, but this year's tcf releases indicate that she was playing in b's small groups, at any rate, as far back as 2007. [the relevant recordings are NBH042 -47 inclusive, all of which are falling river music performances; having been a monthly member at the time those were released, i have heard three of them - still only once each, at time of writing - and got quite excited about one of them, back in june (when i was still smoking ganja...).]

anyway, the current album is from last year of course, and judging by the audio clip available on the label's site (relinked - i've long since got into the habit of peppering my posts with embedded urls, so can't very well expect readers to go back in search of one!), it is potent and intriguing stuff - not that we would seriously expect anything less at this juncture (*1). as i say above, i don't know widely available it will end up being, but if it doesn't show up in any of the usual uk-based retailers online, i shall very probably buy it from the label sometime in the new year. the unusual choice of personnel makes this one particularly appealing to me... i shall be fascinated to see what the four of them made of the material.

(i am still pondering over this one, as mentioned briefly last time out - b. himself isn't on it, but mr dahinden was closely associated with the music for several years, played in various live groupings, issued an album under his own name on which b. played, and which also included a rendition of comp. 136 without the composer; what with one thing and another, i think it safe to assume that this year's swisstravaganza will have been a success, and i am pretty curious to hear the results. so, yes, probably another one for the old xmas list...)


since my long-desired big breakthrough (which i had rather dreaded might never happen), i have listened to a whole shitload of music, always trying to keep myself fresh by mixing it up, but not actually listening to a whole helluva lot of braxton, which is one reason why i still haven't finished the 23c update as mentioned at the start of this post (it is on the way, promise). what i have heard has been greatly enjoyed; i've just been keeping myself very busy, checking out all sorts of stuff i had previously allowed myself to neglect... not that i'm about to list all these here, even i would draw the line at that, but the crucial thing here is that i now seem to have arrived at the point i always to reach, whereby i can flip from the most violently extreme hardcore punk or death / black metal (etc) to the subtlest free improv or free jazz (etc) and trust my mind and ears to make the necessary adjustments pretty much immediately. basically, i'm very happy to have got here at last (so much so that other, less satisfactory aspects of my current daily life are far more easily bearable than they might be otherwise) and i'm enjoying chopping and changing, delving in and out of this and that (*2). i'm not really in any great hurry, therefore, to force myself to narrow the parameters right down - even if that entails narrowing them down to a composer whose work covers an extraordinarily broad spectrum. that said, there is definitely more writing on the way... so if you haven't already, don't give up on me just yet ;-)

* see comments

Thursday, October 31, 2013

fully reborn (again!)

- see, in the the end that previous photo just doesn't do it justice... if there is not quite the same sense of (thc-fuelled) unfettered exuberance as before - and in all probability there never will be again - still, the sheer sense of relief is extraordinarily welcome.

now, when i talked (in a comment) of "fifty hours or so" of re-immersion in the waters of braxton, i did not (of course) mean that i was listening solidly for two days. hell, even when i was stoned off my face i never went more than one night without sleep... no, i just meant that during that time, whenever i listened to music (a lot of the time, at present) it was to b's music; and it was indeed pretty intensive. anyone who was curious enough to click on all the hyperlinks will have noted the preponderance of official tcf downloads in there: to a large extent this was just a matter of convenience, these having been lumped together in one mega-playlist in my music library, but that worked out pretty well, allowing me to feed on a lot of pretty recent, fresh material and hence get very close to the source(s) of the composer's inspiration. it did lead to a lasting change, and one which has left me feeling a lot better all round: since the evening of that last post, i actually haven't got to braxton yet at all, but this is not for any reason other than the fact that i just found a particularly good online source for current albums that i can't afford to buy at the moment and would otherwise not be able to hear; all of a sudden i find myself in the aftermath of a complete u-turn, listening almost exclusively to jazz-based and/or improvised music. so, right now i am so busy listening to the likes of steve lehman, roscoe mitchell, george lewis, henry threadgill and (especially) mary halvorson that i haven't found time for any braxton... but this is just a matter of there not being enough hours in the day. (it's half-term, and that free time i was talking about before is gone, for a week... next monday, normal service shd be resumed!)

i have been really enjoying everything i've heard, and mary halvorson's albums have really got me thinking. can i back up what i said (in several places online) last year, and before: that her initial writing for quintet still sounds like trio-plus-bolted-on-horns, and that it's not till the third album that her charts for the quintet begin to sound like proper, fully-contemporary five-piece arrangements? what do i make of the latest development, the expansion into a septet? and what of the latest latest development, the release of a live album stripped back down to the faithful core trio..? it may be that i will have something concrete to say about all this fairly soon...

... meanwhile, one thing that did keep smacking me over the head during the aforementioned re-immersion is the near-omnipresence of good old comp. 23c, which i did to death at the beginning of this year, and swore i wouldn't write about again, or not for a good long while... well, apparently i don't have any choice in the matter, cos it just keeps cropping up, seemingly at every turn. thus, inevitably, i will be heading back there in my next post to try and make sense of all that. some of the treatments are very recent, and some rather less so, but how many times can life nudge me before i have to admit defeat?


this came out within the last month or so. looks interesting...

Friday, October 25, 2013

reborn (again) (gradually, by degrees)

now, you see, this could be what i was waiting for.

when i said "just around the corner" - i actually wasn't far off. but it's not quite that simple (when is it ever, with me?)... within minutes of posting last time, i was warming up the ipod with a choice bit of zooid, then plunging headlong into the willisau '91 transmission, studio half: regular readers - if there are any left, after i've so shamefully neglected the blog over the last few months - will doubtless remember my singling out this crucial set before, and earlier this year i had used it as the constant background to several days (or was it weeks?) of enthusiastic (re)discovery; ah, but let's not forget that i was pretty much high as a kite at the time. and as i've confessed since, my biggest problem recently is that with ganja no longer playing a part in my life (*1), i've been worried about no longer having "full access" to the music.

- so, back to where we were recently: i played the whole thing (well, the studio half like i say) and enjoyed it, and found i had no trouble penetrating it, really; indeed, i even noticed a couple of things i hadn't picked up on before. for example: the long and (to my ASD-inflected mind) rather oddly-titled comp. 23c + 32 + 105b (+30) features quite a lot of improvising around cells from the 23c superstructure (as we might term it)... i had previously allowed myself to state that this piece was always played as written, which is to say: through-composed, no room for interpretation, making it an extreme rarity in the braxton catalogue. well, so much for another easily-grasped assumption... but listen, the point is that although i enjoyed the music, there was no rapture as such. and this, of course, is what's really been missing lately, and why i haven't had anything to post on here.

... in the days and weeks that followed, i made several more efforts towards easing myself back in. now, several things have changed on the domestic front recently, and the upshot of all this is that i now find myself with an awful lot more free time on my hands: having had so precious little of it for the last year, i now have - literally - more than i know what to do with. during the day, once i've put my daughter on the school bus, i am free for anything up to seven hours at a time; and obviously there are mundane things to be done in that time, such as clearing up, folding laundry, walking dogs etc etc - but let's note that all those tasks can be done to the accompaniment of music. perfect opportunity to get back on it, yes? no..? well... not for the first few weeks, at any rate. and the week beginning 7th oct saw my daughter turn five, which means that the blog turned six at roughly the same time; i had had in mind to celebrate that by spending as much of the week as possible listening to b's music, and making a concerted effort to get back inside it, and it inside me; but for various reasons (none of them interesting or significant, even to an obsessive like me), it just never happened.

there was always plenty of music, mind you, and this state of affairs helped avert the depressive periods i've slipped into at times over the last few years; but, as i said last post, the vast majority of that music was guitar-based and none of it bore any resemblance to braxton. there a few choice items, slipped in there amidst everything else: a pinch of this to fill the room with positive vibrations, a spot of that to caress my ears; i even made sure i caught up at last with the "final" monthly tcf download (before the monthly memberships were cancelled, and i slid back into outsider status) - i had of course downloaded the file during august, but for the first time all year (probably discouraged by what had happened when july's recording had drifted past my ears without leaving a trace in the memory), i found that i had no enthusiasm for actually listening to it. well, that did change more recently and i even found that i could hear the shape of the music, without much trouble; as with the willisau discs, i enjoyed it while i was listening to it. in the case of the heidelberg loppem duo, there was even a brief moment where i found myself suddenly wondering "why don't i just listen to this sort of stuff all the time?" - but, as before... it just didn't last.

ok, but last week something slightly odd took place, and that in turn led me to a much-desired, but by-now-unexpected development within the last few days. typically (both in general, for me, and specifically recently) i have been finding it terribly hard to make good use of my new-found free time; but last friday, with no warning at all (having woken up most unwillingly, as usual, and struggled through the first part of the morning rather irritably - wanting nothing more than to get my daughter on the bus so i could traipse back home and collapse on the sofa) i found myself possessed with lots of energy, and did far more than i usually do. that in turn proved to be a bit of a weird false dawn, as within a few hours i had succumbed to a filthy cold that i'd previously been fighting off with no difficulty; and a frustrating and tiring weekend ensued; this week began with dreadful weather and the promise of plenty more to follow, and i battled to retain the sense of energetic movement which has seized me a few days before; and then, again with no warning, this wednesday saw me casually decide to start the day with another spot of room-filling, and -

- that kickstarted a process which has yet to finish. in more than forty-eight hours since, i have listened to practically nothing other than b's music, and this time, to say i've been enjoying it really would be a gross understatement. the pivotal moment seemed to occur just a few minutes into my second spin of the day - a recording which i acquired at some point over the last eighteen months, and had played a number of times with a notable lack of impact, finding it unusually hard to penetrate for some reason; but this time, like i say, with less than ten minutes on the clock i was really feeling the music, and - crucial indicator, i always take this to be - completely distracted away from what i was doing by the music itself. by the time i'd moved onto the live willisau discs, out with the dogs by this point, i was enrapt and could barely keep my excitement under control. (the version of comp. 34 on there (*2) had me thrashing around all over the place, confusing the poor dogs no end - if there had been anyone around i'm sure i would have looked like an escapee from some secure institution or other!) yes, fellow experiencers - there is no longer any doubt about it: this is what i have been waiting for.

... and here's the kicker: after all these years of only being able to immerse myself in the music when in a state of intoxication, this so-much-desired rebirth took place on my one hundredth day straight. no more, no less and i didn't even know it until i sat down and worked it out. it was only really quite recently that i discovered my petty obsessiveness over numbers is simply a typical indicator of asperger's syndrome, and says nothing personal about me at all; but what is a guy to do, when life keeps throwing such numerical coincidences his way? :)

more to come! c x

* see comments

Monday, September 30, 2013

i disappeared again. what happened?

tsk... promises, promises.

so what did happen? just the usual - ? well, yes and no... it is true that after my (all too brief) burst of energy back in june, i totally lost the momentum, in a manner which is by now entirely (tediously) predictable; but even i never dreamed it would take this long for me to get back to the blog - and in this first instance, just to explain why i haven't been active here. i first started this particular post back in july, and quickly abandoned it... other posts, with actual content in them, are as inchoate as they are numerous.

yes, and no... late last year, i had given up smoking ganja - and bemoaned the complete lack of mental and spiritual direction which bedevilled me as a result. and then, of course, i fell off the wagon rather spectacularly, fell back in love with everything, and started posting again. what's happened this summer has been similar, yet compeltely different. last year i gave up not because i really wanted to, but because i had been convinced that it was necessary; it left me feeling terrible, and although i stuck to my resolution for some time, underneath it all i had changed my mind: i still wanted to smoke, to be high. i detested being constantly "straight" and feared that it would see my life become purely dull and grey, with no interest in anything. for a while, that's exactly what it felt like.

this year, having got myself diagnosed with asperger's syndrome (for work-related reasons; let's face it, at my age i didn't really need a diagnosis), i allowed myself to get talked into taking SSRIs as well, in a minimal does prescribed not to counter depression, but as an anxiolytic, and to take the edge of my notorious mood swings. i had no intention of stopping smoking at this point, and didn't try to do so. but... over (not much) time, it just happened: by the end of june, i found i no longer had any desire to smoke, and was coping just fine without it. an unusually hot july came, and my birthday with it; old habit saw me scoring ganja for the occasion - though it turned out to be far from straightforward, and took several days of uncertainty, as if the very universe were trying to keep me from recidivism - and i spent an entire week in a pleasant green haze, not having to work, not really bothering about very much...

... but what i thought would happen, simply didn't. you see, as i've complained (or confessed) before, my journey of discovery with avant-garde music, and with anthony braxton in particular, has been very much tied up with my use of psychoactive drugs, and without them, i seem to have no ready access to the realms opened up by, within, the music. those few weeks before my birthday, i was feeling perfectly level and content, and i was listening to plenty of music; but i hadn't listened to any jazz-based or (semi-)improvised music at all, and (so i told myself) by indulging my old habits and altering my mental state, i would give myself the chance to get posting again, reclaim the momentum which had suddenly faltered.


- didn't happen, this time. i carried on listening to the music i had been exploring for the previous few weeks (lots of hardcore punk and grindcore, some experimental rock), thinking initially that this would merely confirm what was lacking in such musics, and send me in search of deeper and richer materials; but that just didn't quite take place. in fact - and this scared me a little - when i pushed myself to listen to july's tcf download, it passed in an hour-long blur and left no impressions behind at all. straight, stoned, whatever, i seemed to have lost the thread completely now.

- and i am yet to pick it back up. hence the total lack of engagement with this project; hence my continued silence. for weeks now i have been intending to write at least this post, and tell such occasional readers as may be left that i will be back at some point, i just don't know when; and for weeks i have been prevaricating. finally i am forcing myself to do it, ever so belatedly, and at the time (and here's where the sunshine peeps through again) when i am close to re-engaging with the music.

there are doubtless a few other reasons which underpin all this lack of braxton in my recent life, in no special order:

1. that last post posited a preponderance of duets-with-bass which i ahd just presumed was there, without really bothering to check beforehand. when i actually went through the discography to list them, i was surprised to discover a lot fewer than i thought there were, and this left me feeling a bit silly. (i still think there is something especially personal and apposite about the maestro's meetings with the contrabass - but there's no denying that they don't stand out in the discography nearly as much as i thought.) so, i will get back to that thread and finish it off at some point - even if various other posts never get completed now, having passed the stage where they can be picked up again - but it doesn't surprise me that i felt a bit sheepish about doing so, for a while back there...

2. as most if not all of you will know, tcf have discontinued the monthly membership scheme. they have replaced it with an annual subscription, which i can't curently afford (having found myself with rather less disposable income than i thought i had, at the beginning of the year); hence, for the time being at least, i am back to feeling cut off from that organisation and all it entails...

3. i have long since identified in myself a strong tendency to recoil from deep and lasting commitment. ok, so i have been married more than seventeen years and a father since 2008, and i have not turned my back on my family; but in most other aspects of my life, i still seem to be terrified of committing to anything in particular. hence, i created this monster in part to distract myself from my studies in oriental medicine, at a time when i was "supposed" to be getting myself fully qualified as a shiatsu practitioner, then branching out in my own therapeutic direction (never happened, despite my completing the actual course); and a year or two on from then, i allowed myself to be distracted away from even this blog by a renewed interest in tai chi chuan (and comics) which took up most of my attention for a good long while. the last two years have seen a complete change in my professional life, and that itself has entailed a veritable rollercoaster of excitable, hopeful highs and gloomy, miserable lows; at a time when all the forward-moving parts of me are trying to cut ties to the entrenched and anchored parts, it's (again) no surprise that i have been led away from the one thing in which i was trying to do my best.

- and, you know, let's be clear about this: i've built the braxtothon up into something i can't quite seem to live up to, because time goes by and i never seem to get back there. will i ever actually continue it, now? i still intend to; but what are my intentions worth?

still... lest this all sound terminally pessimistic... i am basically not doing too badly, and here's the major difference from this time last year: i still don't have any urge to get high. i am doing just fine without it, and as enjoyable as that week in july was, it really didn't do for me many of the things for which i had come to rely on it: in particular, i found no increase in insight or mental clarity, never mind resolve and inspiration. if it can't do that for me, what use is it? better that i try and achieve what others have had to do: build it up natually, over time, without taking shortcuts to it. and as for the music, i know that that will come, as day follows night: psychedelic it may have been, but there was never anything illusory about what i found in those realms. and, you know, my ears have always needed change from time to time and i can't keep sandpapering them with hardcore punk forever (as much as that does satsify them, to an eyebrow-raising extent). where this post, so long deferred, would previously have ended with a big ??? - in terms of when the return was likely to come - i now feel that it's probably just around the corner.

keep checking back... and you will find out if i am right :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

next-level studies, inst. 2: the reed(s) and the bass (pt. 1)

- or, the duets with mark dresser are on permanent hold -

... and when it comes to duo encounters with bassists specifically, our man really comes into his natural element. he has explored this one over and over again...which is why the omission, at time of writing, of dresser's name from the list of contrabass collocutors seems striking, egregious even. i mean... still not ready yet? well, it only took twenty-four years, give or take, to get hemingway in there... so far we are up to twenty-eight with m.d. ... and counting.

but bassists - and their prevalence among these myriad, multifarious duet meetings: a significant major trend and/or preference, or just a freak statistic to be noted and not built around? see, it could so very easily be the latter, but i keep coming back to the former and here's why:

- b's reed already reveals itself (over/over) as the mass of compressed strings it is;

- hence a chordophone is an ideal counterpart and collocutor;

- and the lower frequencies are themselves an endless source of fascination for our intrepid explorer


- that's pretty much it really, i think it's no statistical anomaly at all: i think b. very possibly above all gets genuinely excited at the chance to dance with (yet) a(nother) contrabass, and one could hardly blame him. and besides - goddamn but there have been some amazing players of that instrument. b's own (extensive) cv is in this regard putatively deficient only in terms of transatlantic meetings, logistics and total lack of funding etc, but altena (*1), guy, kowald, and yes even texier and tommaso, are all names "missing". well, but europe is not entirely unrepresented after all, as we will discover in due course -

now let's just run through all those damn bass duos in chronologorder, and make a few pertinent observations about each in turn:

a) the earliest (as-yet) documented duet with a bassist is - i believe i am right in saying - with a brit, and a long-serving (and possibly much-maligned, perhaps not for me to say... at any further length) one at that: david holland, as he was wont to be billed later that same year ('72) ... but it's only a fragment; and in any case it's a ringer, holland was playing 'cello on this'n. ok, so moving on to the list proper, then, and leaving fragments much as they were before i rudely disturbed them...

b) to (base/bass) business: we actually don't get started, amazingly, until 1982 (after all that build-up), to wit
i)  with john lindberg, six duets (1982) 
- starting the (as yet) faithful student. it's not necessarily widely known, but lindberg was actually named as a member of the new working group as early as maybe even 1977, if the dates given for the interviews in the appendices to the collected writings are to be taken as strictly correct (dubious... but, ) - '77, ground zero for british punk and the year david murray finally "made the scene", was a mystery year for me for ages as it happens, in that the personnel of b's working group at this point becomes immediately far from clear, since the various quintet appearances with muhal cannot really be taken as "working group" workouts as such, mra participating always on the euro festival circuit and ever the special guest, i would hazard a guess (?); so who was in the band? well, according to that interview (*2), john lindberg certainly was, before the year was out. hence, by now he is in his fifth or sixth year of tenure and no greenhorn at all. 

so, the programme is suitably academic-oriented - as regards the six core compositions themselves, all from the songbooks, but including what are ostensibly some odd choices, such as comp. 23j which is normally used a tension-vehicle for group interplay and development, but which works here just fine, albeit still sounding a little underweight. suitably academic, because wherever the leader found lindberg, it wasn't just in some club or whatever, he came from a background which i'm sure (not checked) must include plenty of time behind  and among the cloistered and closeted confines of some conservatory or other... he learned fast, thrown in with very fast company in a band including clarence "bobo" shaw and (g. lewis' crosstown twin) ray anderson... anyway, it's lovely to see comp. 6a given the treatment on this one as well, since dave holland had played so well on the '71 version and all that. right, well, there is also a standard(ish) in there tacked on the end, "four" by miles davis (who rarely bothered to flex his muscles much as a writer), and included in two takes. ok, so moving swiftly(ish) on:

ii) with buell neidlinger, 2x2 as discussed previously
- two sets of high-end, frequently high-octane mutual encountering and coexploration of territories both esoteric and familiar, captured on an april evening at mccabe's guitar shop in santa monica, CA back in 1989. (and seven years further up the continuum from the previous entry - i know, i know, my thesis is looking pretty weak at this point...). understand that i am not (usually) relistening to any of these recordings as i type, just trying to allow the information to flow and drawing on absorbed memory... but i was sufficiently impressed by this double cd (despite its decidedly unappealing cover) to consider that all the krystallhype regarding the actual release (a high-point even among braxton's career as a duettist, etc) is pretty fully justified, there is something extra-special about what took place here - and the only reason they (neidlinger and marty k) sat on the material for as long as they did is cos they just could never decide which pieces to include and which to leave out, finally deciding once and for all that the only viable option was, indeed, to release both sets in toto and just allow the listener to wallow and drink deep. sufficiently impressed to attract the attention of buell himself, who sounded me out about whether i was the right guy maybe to undertake his life story (clearly he had never heard of me before mr krystall showed him my emails and pointed him to the blog, otherwise he would know what a space cadet / notorious lunch artist i am when it comes to following through on my stated intentions, &c, and as you can imagine nothing ultimately came of it, which is probably only fair since although i am an admirer of mr neidlinger and his playing, i have little or no experience of much of the music/s in which he has chosen to involve himself, and i'm sure a better ghost can be found, not to mention about 100000 more reliable ones as i say - still time for me to change all this mind, i will still only be 43 when the summer is out and my daughter not yet five..!).

- but yes, this recording pretty much answers any and all questions about why the experience of duetting with a contrabass would be so appealing to the maestro in the first place. 'nuff said, go lissen...

iii) with peter niklas wilson, 8 duets hamburg 1991
- haha, and this one is a bit good as well, indeed i got all hot under the collar when i finally strapped it on back in february (another story as-yet begun but not completed...), could barely sit still for the fidgets. the opus numbers on this - and btw i really know nothing about the late herr wilson, but whoever he was this is (funnily enough) another case where the label (in this case the well-established music and arts of san francisco) proclaims the release to be special even among b's career as a duettist, stop me if you have heard this one before and so on, but bugger me if they don't have a point there also, since as it turns out wilson, whoever he was, really throws himself into this incredibly challenging set of totally fucking new music fresh and quivering and still bleeding from the tender minstrations of the cutting edge - just go back and look at those opus numbers, the only thing missing from that fever-inducing list are comps. 158 & 159, explicitly to be unveiled as pieces for the reactivated working quartet, just round the corner, four months up the line to be precise, in willisau - comp. 159 in particular will obsess this band for several years to come, no doubt at the cost of many a night's sleep but yielding so much in terms of richly layered understanding of what it means to play group music in the first place (free-sliding tectonic plates underpinning, if that's the word, the potentially-maddening repetitive line which carries and defines this number) - wilson, i say, properly commits himself to the material (also including the mighty old warhorse comp. 40a for good measure, amidst the flurry of totally new music remember - as if i am about to let you forget) and these explorations are just thrillingly exciting to witness.

- woah, dear... [slap} thanks, i needed that... too much coffee (...) - i'm off for some fresh air and a shower and we'll reconvene.


(in keeping with my current - enforced - policy of shorter posts without cutting back on the barely-controlled rambling and playing-with-punctuation, all in the interests of helping it flow ..., i am cutting this one short for the time being. the entire thing would be a bit indigestible in one sitting anyway, even for me... but i am on it, this one will almost certainly be continued in the immediate future...)

* see third comment

Monday, June 10, 2013

... yep, still back (and counting)

first keystroke, 46.53 at 2348 my time (the blog and i sort of keep different time, though not exactly *) - we were at the point of experiencing comp. 363c - an early (as yet) appearance for the beauteous creation that is falling river music, as previously mentioned tonight. nowhere near as early as this release, admittedly - which i neglected to hyperlink when last i mentioned it, soz - which was (if all is as it shd be) recorded in july 2003 (*1), released in 2006... but as things stand, we are only just now getting to know frm properly, or indeed at all, as far as that goes.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh it's so fucken amazing

something about the circumstances turns at least two of b's three (female) (*2) collocutors/coexplorers into (g.) "robairs" so to speak, achieving such incredible degrees of precision over the manifold means of their expressions and utterances that they - well, match the maestro himself to all intents and purposes, certainly on the night, and just leave me continually marvelling - these two are violinist erica dicker and pianist sally norris - if i haven't retroactively included bassoon-charmer katie (formerly credited as katherine) young in this brisk sweep, it's because i didn't notice the same of her playing (while i treated this as semi-b/g music, inevitably under the circ's) - and, well, because that is one difficult instrument to master i should think, and apparently the range of tonal/timbral variation available on it is relatively limited for a reed instrument (*3). - to some small extent, there may even be a familiarity-bred contempt as it were, since i have heard ms young's voice on several recordings previously, usually making a fourth at a hand (or so) of dcw. sally norris is a new name to me altogether, i think, whilst erica dicker only recently elbowed her way (ever so elegantly) into my consciousness as the smiling one, whenever there is a pair of violins (*4); evidently she was on the (braxtonian!) scene somewhat earlier than that (bearing in mind that the first time i was clearly aware of her was in last year's italian gtm reinterpretation)...

... but getting back to my point: something about the music, or the occasion, or the leadership, or all three and (potentially, as ever) more, elevates the musical expressiveness of b's sidewomen to a really extraordinarily level. - yes, i repeat, that of the maestro, the master, of the masters themselves. (pause.) (*5) not voices come forth at times, but choirs. b. himself launches his singing voice through the sopranino such that both are separately audible in concert (fully in the case of the voice, less so the saxophone *6). just - just stop reading me, and whatever else, until you have these sounds in your ears, in your head. it's that good. in fact -

* first comment

* second comment



after weeks of resolutely not listening to that music which promises to do me the most good (whyyyyyyyyyyyyy??? mrmrmrmrngngngnghhhhhh), i am back again - for the time being breaking loose from a tidal spiral of near-sanity which has accompanied the recent process of officially getting myself diagnosed (reasons would make a long story but can be condensed down to one word: work) and surfacing, allowing myself all of a sudden to partake, drink from some of the deepest waters the muses have to offer, and -

- and at once benefit therefrom, quelle choc  {{doh}}

what light from yonder window breaks

('tis... the sun)

programme thus far for tonight goes like this:

1. comp. 220 (+23c) (*1)  (first half of this beautiful release *2)

2. comps. 153 & 155 & 154 (bites four-six from this slice of gorgeousness)  (*3)

3. comp. 363c (hot off the m-f'ing press) [well... ten days late actually! (told you i've been denying myself)]

ok, so... cut to the chase: when i can find the receptive state for listening, i am so much nicer a person and feel so much better; whether or not i communicate better is a moot point ;-)  (*4) - but in any case, i speak, i arrange my thoughts and for whatever reason/s, some people out there still read them whether i post regularly or not. this is encouraging, though not in any ego-massaging way since a) i have rendered myself (almost) completely unapproachable over the years, in all sorts of ways - so i seldom get comments; and b) by internet terms, the page hits are still laughably minuscule (though steady and appreciable (with all the obvious riders and codicils that qualification entails!, regarding limited-interest subject matter, aforementioned (auto-)alienation (*5) and all that)). but yes, when i allow it to be, - it is encouraging.

and yet -

yes, but this is neither the time nor place for those (ever) darker reflections... this is a time for light and clarity and joy and above all, in this case, for listening since the new release, the 2007 falling river music, is now underway. i'll get back to you later -

* first comments

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

birthday card (on time for once!)

- it won't have escaped the regular reader's notice that i failed to follow up the previous "duet" post as i promised; actually, there have been any number of posts recently which i started but haven't finished. (i have all sorts of interesting challenges going on both at work and at home right now.)

in the meantime, today is our man's birthday and i just wanted to mark the occasion. this musician continues to be committed to pushing back boundaries and exploring new territories, to developing the role of women in creative music (previously very much a male-dominated province), and to helping younger players and composers to work out their own systems which incorporate their complete range of influences. there are not many like him and let's all just be grateful that he's still here!

***happy birthday sir***

i wish you good health, and many happy returns of the day :))

Sunday, May 26, 2013

next-level studies, inst. 1: duo update

[y'see, the order with which all this gets revealed and clarified even for me is of crucial importance in this sort of work, never mind the decisions and strategies concerning the order in which the information is then encoded and disseminated(ish) to you guys, the listening readership-at-large (*1);

- next comes another mini-burst of several linked posts, on a contextual-conceptual development-based theme:]

ONE of these days, i will i will, i will actually put up the much-delayed-and-further-delayed student studies 3 post (of course, it might ease the process if i wrote it first...). meanwhile, we are stuck back at the level of scholarship as notified here, two short-long years ago plus weeks-and-counting, so that the most important conclusion from the readings i had done throughout the published braxton materials at this time - namely the centrality of the duet, as opposed to the solo concert - never yet got published. two years, some weeks and counting. [it's not really such a big deal, is it... let's all remember, the reason we can justifiably use a term like avant-garde is cos the rest of the world still aint catchin up any time soon. i say let's all remember, i never got round to that post either (i.e. the state of the term avant-garde *2 and whether there is yet any utility in deploying it)]

so anyway, without further ado and all that, here it (belatedly) is:

1. when "they said" ("they" being the scottish critic in this case) that braxton's continuing creativity and longevity is fuelled by his frequent returns to the good old american songbook, they were way off target. ok, this bit isn't actually anything to do with the update is it. that's true, but:

2. when i said (passim up till that point, though mainly on and around the old radio 3 jazz messagebored) that what actually fuelled said continuing creativity and longevity was b's frequent solo recitals, i was wrong also. haha, actually - as i found out when i read some of the interview materials appended to the books of composition notes - those solo concerts were really just a pragmatic way of getting around the euro tour circuit on the (ultra-)cheap, i.e. travelling and playing alone, and knowing that if and when even a friendly promoter was weighing up whether to book a "free" act they would immediately be thinking in terms of the number of people onstage as separate hungry open mouths, the obvious conclusion was to sell himself as act which could always be booked solo. this, in turn, quickly became reputed as an act well worth seeing, so that no-one ever really had to worry too much about whether anyone would turn up for it and sit through it; and besides, it was hardly unique by that point anyway. (the aacm, they really knew what they were about. let's all be clear on that for a sec)

3. - no, what actually actually fuelled said continuing creativity and longevity was:




en bref, then: the reading material updated me about the fact that playing solo gigs frequently wasn't (ultimately) anything much to do with spiritual advancement or refreshment or anything else (albeit these were beneficial side-effects), it was driven primarily by economics, and backed up by considerable nerve and courage (albeit both born of grizzled and road-tested experience); it was only later (or was it? *3) that i concluded that actually the duets were where it is at in terms of the major long-distance deep-reserve fuel source. again, to sum up: exploring an open space with one other mind and voice is a unique opportunity which is entirely different from the trio, where all sorts of further dimensions are opened in terms of sub-relationships and extrapolations, either in different directions or with different weighting or balancing; and if the trio represents a different paradigm then how much more is that true of the quartet, and onwards and upwards... no, the duet encounter offers possibilities which can only come and go within larger ensembles. two minds together - where minds now encompasses hearts, guts, voices and every other damn thing - the upward spiral, the virtuous circle, that begins here. ground zero.

and that concludes inst. 1

stay tuned ;-)

c x

* see comments

Thursday, May 2, 2013

(meanwhile) a vanity mirror

the ridiculous thing is, for once i actually did what i said i was gonna do, the very next day - laboriously copied back over the lion's share of my "braxtonphiles" to the re-virginised laptop, - and indexed them all properly this time dammit (grrrrr... chsuis une asperge) - then settled down at last and played april's tcf downloads, the two new(ish) ones... and was, indeed, utterly enchanted and charmed and delighted by the whole experience. so much so, that i did indeed start writing about it at once... then never quite had time to finish it, ... and so didn't. (yet) *

meanwhile - one thing i teased about back at the beginning of my hot streak was the possibility of a "best of braxton" list after all these years of refusing even to entertain the idea. i drafted one at the time, but bugger me if i could find it this evening so i'll just do another one. after all, it merely involves speed-reading the restructures recording index (which i have never found a chore!) and the whole point is not to fetishise the bloody thing beyond absolute basic "necessity". it's incomplete, it's imperfect and i hope i will spend the rest of my life adding to it, but:

for alto
complete braxton 1971 (first true quartets)
town hall 1972 (trio and quintet)
4 comps 1973 (jap.)   {{magnifying glass}}
new york fall 1974  (remember other reviews are available!)
five pieces 1975 *1
montreux/berlin (both early quartets, orch.) *2
creative orch. 1976
elements of surprise (w/lewis)
duets w/braxton (mitchell) ***
comp. 98
london-birmingham-coventry 1985 (great quartet)
victoriaville '88
2 comps järvenpää '88
eugene 89 *3
seven comps trio '89 (roidinger, oxley)
willisau 1991  (great quartet)
trio london 93 (parker, rutherford)
quartet santa cruz 93  (great quartet) *4
charlie parker project
duets with brett larner 95 *5
comp. 192 (w/lauren newton)
yoshi's ninetets 97 (all)
quintet london 2004 (thb, mary h.)
iridium box set 2006  (12+1tet)

[non-album, super-boot special mention: trio pisa 1982 (bailey, lewis) ]

- like i say: it's incomplete, it's imperfect
the whole point is not to fetishise the bloody thing
- but it happens to include twenty-five albums, and for what it's worth, these listed above are the recorded albums which i believe capture our maestro at his highest level qua maker of albums. and yes, that's my quasi-professional, guerilla-musicologist's assessment (rather than a wholly subjective, emotionally-contaminated personal opinion).

... there's tons of other stuff which very probably belongs on there (solos and duos really cry out for their own lists; hell, we could do one just of duet recordings with bassists). some of it i haven't heard enough, or haven't heard recently; some stuff i still haven't heard at all, of course. the syntactical ghost trance choir very probably belongs in there, but technically (ahhhhh...fergodsake) i haven't heard it, only the boot. [gtm (syntax) 2003 is erroneously titled, among minor but irksome distractions i find in the album's production on this occasion, otherwise it would pretty much be a shoo-in. mrs testa, anne rhodes belongs in there somewhere for sure :) ]

that's me for the time being... more on the way though... and btw i'm right now downloading this month's aural treat :)))

cent x

* see first comment
* see second comment
*** see third comment

Friday, April 19, 2013

i'm stalling

... no change there, then. in any case it's evident, from the bizarrely-lopsided post stats for 2013 so far...

... but i do appear to be stalling. que je vous explique. i recently (on top of all what else) had the estimable arse-painery of having to reformat a three-year-plus laptop - after first ensuring that all the files were backed up (yep, learned that one last time. oh yeah, this is the third and presumably final factory reset for this battered old mf'er) - and i stalled for well over a week before installing itunes on it, never mind importing some actual music... and with recent events being what they were and (sort of) still are, it's been heavy stuff all the way, little or no deep modern creative. mmm, back there again, am i - in one of those metal-only phases; well, it never lasts indefinitely.

- so after almost a week with tons of rock and metal, and the odd bit of mary h, thb sextet, mr threadgill or mr rivers, et al, i still haven't listened to any braxton yet. (told you i was stalling.) i have of course downloaded the latest TCF monthly instalment - two performances - but have not yet listened to that becaause, in part, i have not yet replaced by tera-mega-braxtonoid database on this "clean" hard drive and i don't want to have to move the files once they're in the music library. (anal, i know. quel choc). in another part,  it's simply cos i know (and had it confirmed on tuesday) what a time-consuming, pain-in-the-sodding-backside task it is to reconstruct this sort of thing (one album at a time, altering file details then and there or not at all, as i've also learned). all this is true, - but also, in (possibly) even larger part, cos i'm backing off again, indulging a die-hard part of me that wants to stagnate, sabotage, self-destruct if necessary rather than grow and improve. (this has spilled over into other areas of my life, to be frank.)

ok, so.... only one remedy for that! one more spin of the new kvelertak album, and... next stop, new(ish!) braxton.


the placement of this photo against this post is unsually multi-layered even for me. (that is, i see the various layers tonight, at first choosing - rather than only understanding them later, as is normal.) i'm not vain enough to think that anyone but me would give a shit about the exxplication of what i just asserted, so that's enough of that. it has hope in it, of course, and movement. nevertheless, it was taken while lost, again, on the road north to ingolstadt. (the second time.)


music to follow... what, really? well, maybe... the reduced-bitstream "airshot" of the european FRM performance - as mentioned back at the beginning of feb (just before... ah well.) - will go up at some point after all, since the FRM performance released by TCF this month was not the same one. no, indeed. so since no-one else seems to be doing it, i will try and get round to it

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

( ... )

 so... anyone wondering what happened, after that unusually promising start to the blogging year? or does everyone just assume that it's business as usual for me?!

what actually occurred: around the end of january, mrs c suffered a recurrence of a back injury (well... actually two - really three, four different injuries) and went off sick from work. at first we attempted to carry on otherwise as normal, until it became obvious that this was not gonna fly. she couldn't drive, and indeed couldn't really cope with me being out of the house all afternoon and evening, which in the end left me no choice but to go on the sick also. that, in theory, left me loads of time for - well, any number of things, but specifically for writing and listening. yes? no.

listening was out - that much was clear early on. normally i need time and space alone in the house for this, and ever since my working hours changed to permanent lates last autumn, i've had precious little of that, but since mrs c has been laid up - none whatsoever. her recovery space has been governed by her choice  of sounds, of energies. when i realised this, i briefly felt a sort of ultra-intense silent strangled sob, then quickly and unilaterally compacted to see the whole thing through with paregoric, in the form of the ol' mean 13 (as uzh, continued drug of choice), thus pacifying myself instantly in time-(dis)honoured fashion... and that was that for the next few weeks. sofa, kitchen, car. mrs c above all esle cannot (or couldn't, back then) sit and definitely could not (still can't) drive; hence i have been a daily chauffeur/assistant/co-carer etc etc... and ended up, in short order, pacified-to-mush, out-of-shape (no taiji at all whatsoever - then once in a blue moon, surprisingly good but never then sustained), and finally so in thrall t the household's newly-uncovered retrograde energetics that i ended up succumbing to my daughter's school-driven lergi (at the second time of asking, having already fought it off once) and took two weeks to even think about recovering.

every year or so - i need to do this - why? and why, still? well... that's under discussion elsewhere and i wouldn't want to pre-empt that; but i am finally back at work (ish) and lo and behold, the opportunities may not look exactly the same as when i abruptly went away, but they are nevertheless manifold and abundant and imminent, imminent.

good good... squeezed in some music last night, too - that particularly good dcw (core) trio from 2011, this month's current download with my new-this-year official tcf membership :)  ok, i may or may not be able to justif my recourse to jazzer-style licence: this performance is "particularly good", or is it just the first one to which i have paid proper attention in a while? and how was it for you? drop me a line and/or please comment, just please take the time and trouble to get your facts straight in your own mind before embarrassing us all by compelling me to do the straighening for you ;-)

ah... there was gonna be loads of course - still will be - i expect! but i can't say off the top of my head which ones will or won't limp off the planning board and onto the online page... but you know, please stay tuned nonetheless :-D

bye for now! cent x

Friday, February 1, 2013

falling river *music*

- as in, i finally got the chance to listen to it properly... actually as i type this sentence, the hour mark is coming up on the clock though this is a slow-hourglass night, and we still have nine minutes to go...

it is new music

- as in, when i said before that this was genuine cutting edge stuff, it was more by way of an article of faith than born from experiential conviction; now i can confirm (if there's been any doubt) that actual, authentic unexplored territories are being navigated here. falling river music is not, in itself, brand new; the name was put in circulation at around the same time that diamond curtain wall music was first mentioned, and all the while, the composer's head was still principally occupied with working out all the various components of the ghost trance music meta-system. but reports of live performances are - well, hang on, i was gonna say "rare" and i've just realised i don't recall ever hearing of more than one (see third para) until now. the only release that i am aware of, and certainly the only one i have heard, which contains any frm is ABCD (itself yet another example of that aristocratic sub-species, the reed-bass duets session - there will be more on this topic next month *1), recorded over two days in july 2003. and that was far from a whole album of it. so, you know, almost a decade ago and the concept itself simply had to take a back seat to every other dam' thing  which was goin' down ;-)  (*2)

heard properly, without environmental distractions, this grips loose-tightly (*3) from the off because, like at järvenpää (and unlike some other great meetings which required warm-up), the "sound-mesh" is in place right from the first attacks (*), and throughout its lengthy, variegated and subdivisible playing-time there is never any doubt that we are hearing one piece, one territory. there is a cohesion to it that quite simply seems to come down to the experience of hearing one fibrous, endlessly unwinding and infinitely curious tendril push and twist its way from left to right (and very possibly back again) through the strangest, most unimagined of landscapes. there is real tensility to this unbroken line and the piece is knitted together around it, and the result, astonishingly, is that which has not been heard before, even though a cross section taken at any time would very likely reveal the leader, thb and mary h at least seemingly play what they already know. yet the shape of that cross-section, again, irrespective of its component layers, is still unrecognised from previous long-range exploratory structures. what this shares in common with dcw or gtm is that it's never predictable and always resteless, continuously shape-shifting into something-other-than-itself; but it doesn't remind me of listening to, inhabiting those musical-energetic strategies at all. no, this really does feel different... and hey music fans, it's very listenable too for the most part! [ok... admitedly my tolerance levels for unusual sounds and structures in music are way higher than most people's. i really couldn't tell you how easy the recent ulrichsberg outing would be to penetrate for a neophyte.]

the name which is missing from the para above is that of ingrid laubrock. this german expat moved to london a few (action-packed!) years ago and quickly found herself immersed in the city's nice-middle-class jazz scene, that is to say the socially acceptable face of young british "upwardly mobile" jazz players as typified by the f-ire collective, julian siegel, &c et al... so, something she certainly didn't do much in that company was any high-end free improv - and the young saxophonist's compositions had never (yet) struck me as having outgrown that perpetually-callow scene by much (if at all *); hence, i was surprised when her name appeared on a list of coming events over at new tcf central a while back; this was not just any event either, coming under the auspices of "Energies, Ideas, Intuitions" - which itself was received terribly gratefully by me even though i couldn't go, since it was not long earlier that b. had told me that he had no bookings on the horizon at all (that was a dark day which received that news, let me tell you *4) - and two things immediately leapt to meet the eye, namely that falling river music was to be played, among many other (mainly new) things; and that the maestro had finally gone the whole way (ish) and formed an all-female ensemble; (ish) because he still took part in it / steered, guided it himself. but we know that our guy has long maintained it's crucial to introduce more women to the creative music scene, among other fields of activity, and in this i wholeheartedly agree with him (immediately and on purely spiritual grounds, without even pausing to consider any ethical/socio-political concerns). so, if occasionally there might appear (to the cynical eye) to be a faint touch of affirmative action in the maestro's choice of personnel for this or that project, the results do rather tend to bear him out. [anyone actually heard a bad braxton show? answers on a postcard...] part of this may be the "rahsaan effect" by which a great and inspired leader raises the level of his crew by example (and with good-enough parenting, so to speak), but some of it will have been brought to the date by (some/all of) the various participants.

so, anyway, there i was, ingrid laubrock soon to be playing braxton in an important series of happenings, and i talked before of how this was an eyebrow-raiser, and elsewhere herr spring day pointed out (as always, with exquisite courtesy) that ms/fraulein laubrock was pretty well-regarded these days and had been getting about a bit. well, good for her like i say, and it's interesting that she should have taken so well to the role, going out on the road with it, taking (bringing) the news (back) to europe. one thing's for sure, no-one enjoyed the bienniale gtm happening more than ingrid laubrock. [this is - honestly - coming soon btw!] and in this piece - getting back to the matter in hand, the ulrichsberg 2012 "barnstormer" - she could almost not be there, one thinks, for much of the first half; one hears the other three constantly, continually. from about halfway on, then, the tenor player asserts her presence in the soundscape more and more confidently, and this amps up the power a notch, inevitably. (this isn't really about power, though.) leading up to the 42-min mark and beyond, laubrock is just blowing air, barely even troubling the mouthpiece with it but completely owning the portion of the soundscape she inhabits, and (more to the point) supporting the contributions of her colleagues magnificently in the process, indeed completely transforming what might otherwise sound like "routine" (*5) utterances, from three thoroughly-travelled players, into something entirely fresh and unfamiliar. as i said above, this is above all a new musical experience... and laubrock's role on tenor may in fact have been similar all along to the one played so successfully by george lewis (in the '82 pisa trio with bailey, &c). the glue, the glue... the sticky sound-mesh which holds the rest together, binds it and gives it continuous form amidst literally constant flux. the lady takes right and proper ownership of this role, as i say, and in doing so may even be the crucial secret ingredient which allows the mix to work its new, new magic/k. highly recommended, to say the least. spread the word :))

[this bit will be replace in due course by a d/l link. at some point, though, i would expect this to turn up as a monthly nbh release so the link won't be kept alive forever anyway. meantime, watch this space... and until then, for about the next three weeks you can still "here" the group's encore c/o the jazz on 3 team. kudos to them for getting this stuff out there, even though as usual jez nelson tried his best to ruin it for me - never even came close;-)  ]


thanks to the artist formerly known as king kennytone for providing me with the opportunity to do what i couldn't on the night of the broadcast - listen to the music properly! and he also nudged me belatedly about this, which has been up for over a year: braxton all-stars at the contemporary, chicago,1978

- check it out! the sound is laughably compromised when you first hear it, yet bringing your attention openly to it is instantly rewarded, and anyone with a listener's heart and ears will enjoy the shit outta this, which in truth is not really exploration as such, just "let's blow some serious free jazz and take it in turns to burn the place down with our red-hot solos" - even though the pieces "are" all braxton originals; but, y'know, even serious-as-your-life aacm-ers deserve some time away from the coalface once in a while... - i've listened to the whole thing, both sets (in one sitting no less) and can confirm that the players' relaxation will = your educated enjoyment :)))

more on the way...

(*) see second comment

 * see third comment

* see fourth comment

this will be replaced by an opus number just as soon as i find where i put it..! 
(i'm sure i've seen it somewhere)