cecil taylor - winged serpent

there is nothing that i could write to explain this recording. though i guess i could say that rev. frank wright is on it, which should be enough for one to get excited.

here it is, in all it's glory, the magnificent big band achievement by the one and only cecil taylor. long out of print; the cd alone could run you forty bucks...not that that should influence ones perspective of the music.
here's the lineup - basically the best band ever assembled, no?

Bass, Voice - William Parker
Bassoon, Voice - Karen Borca
Drums, Percussion, Voice - Andre Martinez
Drums, Voice - Rashied Bakr*
Mixed By - Giancarlo Barigozzi
Piano, Voice, Written-By - Cecil Taylor
Producer - Giovanni Bonandrini
Recorded By - Franco Zorzi
Saxophone [Alto], Voice - Jimmy Lyons (2)
Saxophone [Baritone], Clarinet [Bass], Voice - Gunter Hampel
Saxophone [Tenor], Clarinet [Bass], Voice - John Tchicai
Saxophone [Tenor], Voice - Frank Wright
Trumpet, Voice - Enrico Rava , Tomasz StaƄko

Notes: Recorded October 22, 23 and 24, 1984 at Studio 7, Milano.
Mixed March 27, 1985 at BOB Studio, Milano.

download "segments II (orchestra of two continents) sliding quadrants (winged serpent)" here


joseph spence - the complete folkways recordings 1958

so i don't know if you could stretch the categorization of music so far as to call this album jazz...but it is jazz, to some degree anyway. nevertheless, joseph spence was from the bahamas, and he was a great guitar player. there is no doubt about this.

these are folk tunes on guitar in drop d. that is the simplest explanation. but i think the best way to explain this recording is to say that this is some of the best guitar playing ever recorded.

i hate explaining music, it's just so irrelevant. i find it's quite difficult to utilize english to explain sound. it's as if the two mediums are opposed to one another: you can hear one, and see the other. i am sure there is a way to translate; but i do not think i've mastered that art quite yet.

however, this person did a good job explaining j. spence despite the grammatical errors:

"The Pinder Family lived in the Bahamas and were descended if not in blood then certainly in spirit from a long line of Island musicians.

Joseph Spence played the guitar and sang, if you can call it that. It's hard to say exactly what he did.

He grunted.

He snorted.

He made low gutteral noises, and then would suddenly break into a demented scat.

He would be singing along and his English would descend into complete nonsensical giberish.

Sometimes he almost sounded like Popeye. But whatever it was he was doing*, you could tell he meant business.

They say he looked like he was going into a trance when he played. The man was almost certainly filled with the Spirit.

And his guitar playing was phenomenal.

Sometimes even to this day while listening to him I wonder if my ears might be playing tricks on me.

Paired along with his voice, his guitar playing could weave incredibly complex rhythms and produce some of the most intriguing music I've ever heard to this day. His lackadaisical and carefree (almost irreverent) style is guaranteed to lighten any mood, and to hear his laugh always puts a smile on my face. Most people unfortunately would dismiss this sort of music offhand, if not because it seemed strange and exotic (and perhaps even frightening!), then because much of it was gospel. But any musician, or anybody with an ear for good music for that matter should immediately recognize its value."


joseph spence played american and caribean folk songs on guitar. he is amazing. check him out here


cecil taylor - the jazz composer's orchestra

pulses in a tonal center

there is nothing like cecil taylor's work with large ensembles. it's going to take me way too long to think of a way to explain what this music sounds like in english, so i recommend just listening to the recordings.

here we have another fantastic specimen from the record collection of the late rosario aglialoro. the only thing i can compare this album to is john coltrane's ascension (it is from the same year). it is something of a series of explosions in various tonal centers, and free improvisation combined with consciousness altering orchestrations. i don't know how else to put it.

oh and 5 of the best bass players ever are on this record. thats right, there's 5 bass players.

cecil taylor
the jazz composer's orchestra
side one: communications #11 part 1
side two: communications #11 part 2

cecil taylor: piano
al gibbons, steve marcus: sopranos
bob donovan, jimmy lyons: altos
lew tabackin, gato barbieri: tenors
charles daivs: baritone
lloyd michels, steven furtado: flugelhorns
bob northern, julius watkins: french horns
jimmy knepper: trombone
jack jeffers: bass trombone
howard johnson: tuba
bob cunningham, charlie haden, reggie johnson, alan silva, reggie workman: basses
andrew cyrille: drums

all music composed and conducted by michael mantler

recorded june 20th and 21st 1968

jcoa records


tommy flanagan - trinity

i have a policy of buying just about anything i find that is on inner city records. there is something about the sound quality, the graphic design, and the logo - it's just so 70's. and they consistently put out good music. they were one of the few labels that kept recording the greats of the 60's up through the 70's.

inner city was a small mysterious label from west 61st street in new york. they released hundreds of albums. i don't know if any of them have ever made it to cd. at one point in time, there was a web site dedicated to publishing a complete list of every album in their catalog. when i saw it last, there were still blank spots in it.

tommy flanagan's trinity is one of my favorites from the inner city repertoire. it is accessible, it swings - it is tommy flanagan's second recording as band leader, almost 20 years since his first. it seems to me that he is a pianist that has suffered from anonymity - despite the fact he had been the drummer for ella fitzgerald, had played on coltrane's giant steps and sonny rollins' saxophone colossus, and recorded with coleman hawkins and miles.

this trio is all-star. roy haynes is here and so is ron carter. check out the bass/drum break in "52nd st. theme." that is the passage that first grabbed my ear on this album. here he is on youtube playing in cologne in 1991. george mraz is on bass and bobby durham on drums; they are both incredible.

you can download "trinity" tommy flanagan here


milford graves - babi music

this is one of the most intense recordings i've ever heard. it's almost hard to believe there is only one drummer - but this is usually the case with milford graves.

professor graves has been a tenured teacher at bennington for over a quarter of a century. he's recorded with albert ayler, miriam makeeba, sonny sharrock, bill dixon, sun ra, john zorn, william parker, david murray, and many others.

he is my favorite drummer.

here is an interview with him about his career as a musician, teacher, and a music therapist.

babi music is one of those recordings that is hard to explain. it is ferocious, to say the least. some people would appreciate it for it's sheer voracity, it's noise - but i like it because it transcends music; it has an overpowering sense of spirituality.

this is a hard record to find, like a lot of milford's recordings. in fact there is a two record set of duets he and don pullen recorded live at yale in 1966; they are probably two of the most sought after free jazz records ever.
get babi music here sorry there are some skips in this one.

jimmy lyons - wee sneezawee

i bought this record when i was about 19 years old, lets say 1998. the cat's meow was a jazz record store in eugene. for the most part the guys that worked there were snobby and unhappy, the types that would only recommend bill evans (don't get me wrong i love bill evans) or something that sounded like you should be in a hot tub when you listen to it. here's the nice way of putting it: they catered to the mainstream. they went out of business.

around that time they had decided to stop carrying vinyl. so all the records they had were 40% off. there was a lot of cool stuff in there. actually, i got quite lucky: little did i know how difficult it was going to become to find things on inner city or black saint in the future. and this is the vinyl they had; the leftovers from the 80's.

a lot of music from this time period is terribly overlooked. jimmy lyons' album wee sneezawee (on black saint, out of milano) is one of these records. an all time favorite of mine, it boasts incredible personnel. here is an early appearance by william parker, who could easily be considered one of the most exciting bass players of today - if not ever. bassoon is played by karen borca, and this is my favorite aspect of the record. listen to her and you'll see what i mean.

jimmy lyons is usually associated with cecil taylor. over time he's appeared on quite a number of cecil's albums - from the the 1962 montmarte recordings and the1966 blue note classic "unit structures" to 1985's "winged serpent (sliding quadrants)."
get wee sneezawee here

bill dixon and archie shepp - peace

here's a rarity: bill dixon and archie shepp's "peace" on BYG (france) and savoy (usa). i cannot find an image of the record cover to post here. in fact, there is very little info on this album at all. the sound quality of this recording isn't too hot (below is a link to download a copy of the BYG vinyl), but the songs are wonderful - absolutely wonderful. as far as i can tell, there's never been a reissue of this album. there is another dixon/shepp collaboration that was also on this label- "winter song" - it's one of my favorites and it was reissued a few years back on cd. lucky for us, when i get around to posting "winter song," we'll have better sound quality.

another thing: reggie workman is on this album playing bass. i've always put him in a special category of bass players; a category that can only be explained by mentioning other bassists: ronnie boykins, henry grimes, jimmy garrison, charlie haden...he's recorded with coltrane, wayne shorter, tony williams, thelonious monk, art blakey, red garland, lee morgan, and many others. he's one of my favorite musicians. his work on this album is great.

there is a fantastic movie about dixon and shepp called "imagine the sound." i actually had a chance to see it on the big screen at the art museum here in portland last night. i highly recommend it. it contains interviews with shepp, dixon, cecil taylor, and paul bley. the topic of discussion is the origin of this music; new york city in the 60's, the influence of trane and bird, the jazz composers guild - a real glance into a world all too undocumented, a world that so many of us missed. also, the movie boasts numerous whole performances, not just clips, by these great players: shepp and dixon, both with their own quartets, bley and taylor both performing solo.

these recordings were made in 1962.

here's some info:

Savoy MG 12178 (Lp)
BYG 529101 (LP, France) entitled "Peace"

1) Trio (Bill Dixon)
2) Quartet (Bill Dixon)
3) Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein)
4) Peace (Ornette Coleman)

Archie Shepp: ts
Bill Dixon: tp
Don Moore: b (1-3)
Paul Cohen: dr (1-3)
Reggie Workman: b (4)
Howard McRae: dr (4)

rec. Oct 1962
get a digital copy of the original BYG release of bill dixon and archie shepp's "peace" here