might as well hoist some deep delve scrupulous scrutiny reviews from some of th greats I scribed a year or two back. destined for another website I have yet to construct. lets get them up here for th moment as they may have escaped yur attention. I will just review Avant/Free-Jazz stuff here along with th occasional clod of eccentric, super complex or mega progressive Jazz related jargon.
CECIL TAYLOR-nuits de la fondation maeght x3 LP set:
prolific debauchery & plenty of it! an edgy, intemperate leviathan casting a pall of threat as well as riotous wonder & technical brilliance Cecil Taylor’s splendour trails for fuckin’ decades & frequently clambers to unimaginable alcoves. so’ so much could be drafted, but this review will concentrate on the Nuits De La Fondation Maeght trilogy recordings (captured during live group performances in France in 1969), which for me has so far been his best work from a particularly enigmatic period. Taylor was playing sprawling immeasurably intense reckless refulgence & asymmetrical avant wizardry with the insane Andrew Cyrille, for me indubitably one of the most fantastic & original drummers ever. out of the many things that could be said, I would emphasise that Taylor & his unit redefined the elongated-outburst & prolonged-peaking coming with ceaseless surging’s of unparalleled clamour & volatility. frequently without intervals, extenuation or cessation they would dance an immensely detailed & dynamic squall within the singularity of remorseless & unforgiving outermost, fully-cyclic, hell-for-leather frenzy. a heteronomous hurricane & blitzing blizzard of ebullient fulmination Cyrille was able to maintain physically these momentous requirements but also inflect with a cycle of extensive improvisational embellishment & continually capricious contrasting. Taylor’s closest adjutant saxophonist Jimmy Lyon’s would also duck in & out with sax screel & hysteria. these Olympic stints of decadent comminute went way beyond the threshold, agreeable limitation or somatic restriction that pretty much everybody else was on, with an unapologetic & frankly extremist activity/ideology of severe surplus pandemonium & improvident forceful action whilst exercising immense technical credibility. many a marvel of withering extravagance was being exercised by other legends during this great era, but this lot did it, to my knowledge, longer & harder without intermission including mostly for each individual musician (consecutive group participation), never slacking & all exploding into one sustained shock-wave of terrific turbulence. these recordings though, do offer the secondary function of a more Avant-Garde slower & emotionally alternate medium occasionally with vocal extracts from Taylor. they are stunning diverse & intricate but also often bizarre. this is another phenomenon of Cecil Taylor & much of his music, lyrics & imagery. it’s dark, I would say at times even quite minatory. much of the furore from the depths of Free Jazz’s sonic battle field encompassed anger, madness & intensity are as a commodity, but Taylor as with Sunny Murray often depicts & conjures stuff that I would not feel at error calling nasty, dark, or threatening in a direct & mostly unequivocal manner. It is not malefacient (I don’t think?) but for me tones of hazard, tragedy & outright tenebrous madness etc are very apparent (hell, it could be just my misinterpretation, but I feel these elements skulk within his work amongst other sentiments & energies of a far more positive distinction). this is another specialist feature of Taylor & contributes even more to his significant idiosyncrasy. anyway, as for this mind-blowingly marvellous 3LP set released by Shandar, there is another foreign element/irregularity that kicked shit completely into hyper-space. on these recordings they threw fucking Sam Rivers into the mix! can you imagine? as if things were not preposterous enough, the absolute madman Rivers was air-dropped into the vortex with his tenor & soprano cannons. the results are just ridiculous & why these recordings are amongst the most precious & heavily rotated in my stash. unfortunately, to my knowledge, no further foray frenzy was created with Rivers after this tour. thank the goddess that someone was recording & captured this brain scattering murrain so expertly & issued it in this cult vinyl trilogy. shamefully these recordings have not been reissued on CD/vinyl or even MP3 download. utterly absurd. there was two editions pressed… Shandar in France did th initial set, then licensed it to Prestige in the US that did a single triple LP box set. both have cult design. perhaps inspired by the ultra unapologetix of the music, the Shandar versions considerable liner notations are all in François only without translation. for the authentic hunters, the Shandar edition seems to be more ubiquitous but generally goes for more money. all the LP’s are brilliant but I favour Vol.2 most, a detailed analysis of Vol.2 follows & a rip of side A (of Vol.2) has also been uploaded.
Cecil Taylor-nuits de la fondation maeght Vol.2 :
PREFACE INFO FLASH! : dammit! i wrote this over a year ago & have just resurrected it with new additions. these notes were jotted whilst listening/spinning th record with maximum attention (obviously after many listening’s). going back to it again now (and re-listening as I write) i realize that i have mixed up descriptives rather than having a progressing cogent assessment of each side from start to finish. ta’ hell with it! it’s totally jumbled but so is th music, & yu can see it as random speculation on these immense energies/scenes/sections encapsulated on th recording.
B-syd: this syd emerges from where the last digressed. things finally relent, Cyrille is prodding & skittering on th rims of his drums, Rivers is howling distended maledictions, Taylor is spuming gibberish infantile lallation. messing around with vowels, i don’t know what the guy is doing, probably he doesn’t either? unsettling, awesome. a strange five minute phase of pacified but louring Avant-Garde ensues, with th musicians all contributing then detracting around Taylor, casting off sonic motifs to a totem-pole or sumthin’.
Rivers starts spazzing out with those rapid oscillating flutters, testing the joints for the inevitable onslaught.
Taylor holding back whilst Cyrille gets increasingly agitated, stabbing, butting, ramming, with those uneven foot manoeuvres, crashing all over the kit with highly energetic abject off-road Tumble Weed,
Taylor starts gibbering & falls further into hysterics & speed mostly on the high notes of the piano
Rivers enters but takes a while before he is audible, he effuses with wild strangulations & alacrity, Cyrille not letting up for shit, smoking the kit. Cyrille recedes & Rivers drops out war on all fronts, Lyons cuts out as the rest manhandle the listener through a series of tumble dryers, Rivers really throttling that sax & making it squeal & billow, Taylor present & rowdy but not at full austerity, you have to hand it to Cyrille for his extremity, indomitable stamina, sentinel-power & constant multifariousness, the guy is one of the best drummers that ever was & to think that this is 69? Lyons comes in at full force & throws down with Rivers, both just ripping your sinews in the process & ringing your guts out through your arse, total madness. they then turn Rivers volume down, who is smouldering, Lyons sounds out of breath. i love Lyons & he is class, but he cant fuck with Rivers at any angle, that’s just the truth of it (I suspect that this is so unfortunately why Rivers stint with Taylor was so brief).
Lyons subsides then Cyrille relents the avalanche queuing the solo piano, Taylor now presumably being fully riled starts ripping the keys to fucking bits with ineligible free-form. also, the guys gibbering. gibbering like a freak man. like they dragged someone out of the secure wing of the mental home & stuck a mike in front of him. it’s not musical, it’s not stylish or sensible, it’s a mad man spilling his dementia verbally. Cyrille re-enters at full force & the tambourine palpitations resume. more maelstrom as Crylle punishes those drums *__* Taylors gibbering grows ever more deranged, perhaps a spume of spittle all over that massive tash & his eyes turgescent out there orbits, I mean this guy is OUT of it. Cyrille I think is now blasting (certainly his foot is battering the bass head) with Sunny Murray style cymbal blur the track then cuts out, bringing this absolute monster to a stand-still. phenomenal forces fuming in existential ardour…like, just unbelievable shit kid!!!
A particularly extraordinary contribution this one. even by Rivers standards which really have an altitude of their very own, this is a momentously distinctive hall-mark who’s permanent crater will forever be a feature of the Freejazz/Jazz landscape. More than 30 other musicians donate their abilities over six tracks…so it’s an orchestra scenario. I normally really abhor these experiences in Jazz & am generally of the dogma that if you need a huge passel of musicians to convey power or dynamic your obviously at an extreme deficiency. However on this occasion & under Rivers cerebral excogitations you end up with an overwhelming ebullition of superbly diverse, outstandingly innovative & derangedly detailed dalliance…let me be emphatic with the degree of originality enacted on this record, there is a swell of techniques/arrangements & methods that I have never heard attempted or repeated outside of this album. taking the entire opus into account, you have an amalgam of predominantly feral freejazz ferocity, avant-garde, pensive, genre hesitant & even briefly Flott, Swing & oh yes turbo Swing, Latin arrangements (a frequent predilection of Rivers) & to a lesser extent Funk & more Jazz orientated fusion (no guitars perform on Crystals & an electric bass is given a single cameo on the second track only). A lot of Rivers compositions & arrangements push the stereotypes to such extremes that they contort into something else entirely, & with so many horns present, syncopating but with independent patterns the final definition becomes even more difficult to adequately explicate. This is seriously’ seriously challenging stuff! But SHIT it’s dope. Forgetting all the floridity & innovation for a second (because it’s easy to warrant merit for these actions alone despite the final reality of the album/composition), the album is an absolute success sonically, & although some sections have a deliberately difficult or purposely pontificate style, the bulk of such an astonishingly avant-garde album remains an elating triumph in the most direct of meanings. If you want to have your senses brayed-beyond-belief by ridiculously dramatic screaming horn multi-dismemberment or sprinting bass turbo-swing with Rivers insanely exuberant fluidic sax exogamy over the top intersected with high class unpredictable Avant-Jazz Fusion this album will riddle you with more holes than you can imagine. It’s accessibility is frequently treacherous & it may well take numerous excursions before access or even understanding is attained <I immediately found niches but it literally took me over a year to fully appreciate it’s many chambers>, but nothing can suppress the brilliance at play.
Crystals also screams an insane plurality & versatility, the contrast between each meticulously laboured track is major & the themes & instrumentation shift significantly. The initiator “Exultation” squanders no time & lobs the listener straight to the depths, overturing with a tremendous eye-of-the-storm blow-out with a multitude of horns fraying the listener alive. It’s a real “let there be no doubt” preface that in a small parenthesis asserts & prepares you for the madness within. The track then emerges & subsides into a jovial mid paced Swing section before changing vehicles again, this time assuming the bizarre, nervous & completely incongruent anastrophic orchestral segments that impose if not interrupt at the strangest moments throughout most of the album. Obscure, equivocating, abnormal incertitude’s, totally out of place! I hated them at first, especially as they obstruct the flow, but repeated expedition to this album over literally years have made me really appreciate this unnecessary abnormality during it’s abrupt episodes. The track then gets wild again, you can tell that these moments are of great delectation & enjoyment, having all these horns together & all, like wild dogs in the pack…it’s manic, like being savaged by piranhas or getting caught in a classic horse-shoe ambush & multi-machine gunned from three directions. Blistering free jazz frenzy, total fucking bliss bra ^ ^ the track transfigures again into more Flot territory although still sedulous & rousing under Rivers zero-bollox command, before twisting the ligatures into yet another malformation & reprisal of the entry orbit…WILD! The next track “Tranquillity” starts slow with a strong slab-as-shit strut of ghetto-funk on double bass & drums with subtle introduction of the Trombone. That’s enough normality for one day, here comes an electric bass & a whole horn section dispensing very unnerving & louring howling…it’s yet again completely dislocated & off balance, the notes/scales are totally heterodox, no doubt a conscious deliberation to induce further invention. The track manages to be/feign a laid back vibe with a tremendous paranoia/impending disaster dread notion (at least that’s my interpretation). Hazardous & nervy, yet languid & relaxed, I think paradox of posture is the intention, the duality of sentiments all in the same mouthful, staying phlegmatic in an immensely dangerous scenario? Another novelty is spawned, this is serious shit & your absolutely in the grip of a master.
Next up is “Postlude”, a brief but dramatic passage that again pulls the massive mood-shift & irregular notations…from passive pedestrian to deadly psychopath in one sentence.
Flipping over we finally reach possibly the albums high-light, “Bursts” & for me unquestionably one of the best Jazz/trax ever recorded. This is the most fast & aggressive track on the album, yet I would also deduce the most accessible & least abstract. Turbo swing, the bass is running, the drums are charging & Rivers just singes over the top mostly solo but with the rest of the horn section interacting at designated intervals. It’s a set of apotheosis getting more & more flamboyant & ecstatic/out-of-hand with each episode, returning each time to the swing with less restraints until it finally explodes into utter avalanche. It’s almost straight Jazz (albeit very fast & with the exceptionally emotive overlay from Rivers) but once the horn section congregates everything shifts to the apex of Off-Road Frenzy, torrential tempest terrific turbulence.
The following two tracks continue with heaving horn monoliths, the concurrent “uncomfortable” & odd note convenes & a much more Latin based rhythm & drum momentum. Bells & jangling percussion also advance the ritual. These trax are deeply experimental but they also have a stubborn precision that prevents them ebbing into the “aimless” arena that will permit “commotion” rather than “activity” or firing off as much ordinance as possible without target or result besides mass expenditure. Rivers always delivers that discipline, & I pretty much feel the man defines the highest degree of skill heaped into the most extreme/aberrant areas, which to me is really what it’s all about. This album also demonstrates his pedigree for pleasing both polarities & the remarkable schism that plays a large part of his definition as a musician… anyone into highly expressive & dynamic Jazz will be sated, & yet anyone into the most user-hostile FreeJazz/Avant-Garde will also find stupendous succour. The guy is completely autochthonous in both zones & creates new dynamics by combining the two let alone the large Latin contribution which festoons a third formula (although it could easily go under the gesture “Jazz”, it really deserves extra emphasis due to it’s ubiquity & distinction here.)
To sum up, this is undoubtedly a classic in every possible facet. It’s a compulsory mecca for anybody serious about Jazz or FreeJazz/Avant-Garde or mad instrumental mentalism at a maximum. It works both in pure mellifluence/dope-as-shitness, as well as insanely inventive/ground-breaking vigour all cast amongst some of the finest & most expressive playing in Jazz history. I can’t recommend it enough & I cant really take anyone’s dedication seriously that has not had at the very least an encounter with this sublime opus. Sacred shit mothafukuz!!!
Download Mp3: Sam Rivers-Crystals (excerpt)
Sam Rivers-paragon LP:
Dominion. We have here the deepest, furthest, lengthiest incision, reaming, projection, or what have you into one (perhaps multiple) of Off-Road Jazz’s facets/sectors ever recorded. Nobody has blazed such an psionic shockingly exigent & ambidextrously adept attempt/voyage/penetration into this vector of the wilderness (whatever vector that is)…NOBODY!
The 3 musicians gathered are indubitably three of Free Jazz’s most eminent panjandrums, in ability, conception & application. They are for me personally responsible for a considerable tranche of the most precious material & contributions, & their combined participation on this overwhelming opus is potentially the best from all 3.
This album/the majority of it’s material is astronomically astounding, unregulated ethereal excellencies exceeding unimaginable amazingnous… searing coruscations of glow in the fucking dark ultra magnificence manifolding & multiplying meticulously…it’s absolutely out of control, out of orbit, off the scales, beyond belief… +__+
to have such a good genre, concept & three such good musicians merging with such mastery is the indelible precipitation of legend, & this album contains material that literally blows me the fuck away every time I listen to it, I almost can’t believe what i’m hearing, paranormal communication & tetra-pronged zenith supra-meltdown(s).
It was always going to be something supernatural when these three came together under the free-jazz labarum, which thank-bloody-goodness they did many times (never enough though) in their own independent careers, all resulting in tumultuous freak-incidence of STUPEFYING refulgence (You Can’t Name Your Own Tune, Conference Of The Birds, Waves & Contrasts) but this occasion goes further than any & anything.
Lets start with what is definitely the most defining seizure of the album, the brain-malfunctionally outstanding “Ecstasy”, for me by far the greatest moment on this release. It also just happens to be one of the most remorselessly intense, cranial-fissuring highly flammable biblical-blizzard of retardedly insane distressingly over-emotive seven-barrelled multi shot full-auto triple-belt-fed hazardously rapid ferociously frantic FreeJazz shock waves, indiscriminately engulfing all obstacles in a continually ascending expansion of utter astaticism. Drawing out the indefinable in a protracted oblation of excruciating excellence. No one can move that fast through the crowded streets without a collision, but super-human faculties, years of peak-practice & overgrown-ideation inducement & intrepid-intentions…. Who in the florescent-fuck are these maaaad-men? What in Lamashtus name? bro. just think of the most hectic yet astonishingly precise ultra austere spacking Free-Jazz performed by ferocities finest. Should I break it down? I guess I should…
“Ecstasy” is not a Turbo-Swing track…it’s pure Off-Road/Tumble-Weed. from the percussive angle, mad-bad super drummer Altschul just decimates with his crazy rolls, collapsing-column fills & angled, odd-entry blind-spot fragmentation dalliance…incredible, endlessly inventive, ultra-tight, unpredictable & infallible…GOODNESS. He works a lot with increased pressure, forcing contrasting volumes out of his roll’s & fills & is often every-where at once & remains like everybody else totally recusant to any time-scope. The luminary don Sam Rivers just seers, the avatar of erraticism, it’s so over the top, so fast & graceful yet ferocious that I laugh, I literally laugh, the man is something else & I will always love him for pushing parameters further than anybody else in his own unflinchingly unique style & manner. He is on a Tenor here & just takes the madness almost further than my brain can grasp…it’s unreal! Totally’ totally unreal. Sam’s often this good but the difference on Ecstasy is that he truly has two other musicians that can adequately participate/compete (it’s not that other excellent musicians have not shown marvellous compatibility/performance with Rivers, but this elite Holland/Altschul trio is unmatched for it’s speed & gracility & so importantly they played a LOT together over years) & also that all the conventional Jazz which was so expertly integrated & contrasted in most of his work is excluded…this is pure Off-Road, Fuck Em’ Up with no lulls in the down-pour. Rivers is an incredible repository for fast, no-holds-barred extreme over-energetic Free-Jazz & I think one of the most consistent as he churned out bull’s-eye after bull’s-eye for over two decades & never really “calmed down”, a remarkable stint that few others can attest to. & then we have a Mr David Holland. Ha! Holland’s a real bad-arse right? Yeh this we know, but iyl tell ya, th guy out-does his already over-done reputation here. FUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!! How off the scales can you go? Sorry, but this man is a monster, the meanest bass bleeeurk iyv ever’ ever heard & his palpitations seem to change & morph every few seconds. not so much an insane elaboration on one transit, it’s like he hops transit entirely every 2-5 seconds with some kind of 360 degree teleport, obviously whilst erupting another elaboration/pattern. You get attacked from different angles by a different weapon using a different style. Like some one possessed. It’s ridiculous, but the accuracy & constant micro inventiveness, repeatedly fashioning a tool then ditching it to make another out of thin-air, almost as if the first few seconds of invention & the essence of conception/inception is the only way/reason to relay/remonstrate or whatever you want to call such mad sound & energy. The track starts & concludes with a difficult syncopation, probably quite logical for a sax, more difficult for a bass (it’s replicated) & a really odd one for drums (no problems for Altschul though) but is otherwise a complete Free-Range scrum aside a fairly brief solo for firstly drums & then a more lengthy bass episode. Iym a bit so-so on solos, seems a bit gratuitous & I don’t see why you cant just do it with everybody else, most of them get in the way but these two are epic especially Holland who by this stage & in tandem with the epidemic & staggering temperatures of hysteria now that the song has reached fever pitch, gone beyond invocation & in2 a state of energumen & dances over his bass with such imagination speed & inflection that somebody better call the fire-brigade. I’m not in2 bass solos at all but I cant believe how ecstatic this passage is & how much improvisational ingenuity is exercised. Ecstasy does not ameliorate acceleration throughout…it’s 5.45 & theirs nowhere to hide from the perennial convulsives. As a “song” it works perfectly. I don’t really like the expression “perfect” but that seems the most auspicious analysis. The content is also pretty much perfect. It does not feel like anything should be abscised or added, it’s all there. That amongst all the hundreds of genres & tens of thousands of albums I have heard is something I rarely ever ascribe.
Moving away from Ecstasy the next best track on Paragon for me is “Rapture”. It’s a very similar affair but is not as psychotic & frenetic. Another sure shot though for certain. Right after Ecstasy there is a dreadful little Flot number with flute & cello called Bliss. Really vague, febrile & oblique repining. Personally I can’t stand this kind of stuff & at this standard it’s pretty much unheard of for Rivers who never offers such platitude. The following side has one long track, Paragon, with Sam on Piano Flute Tenor & Alto. Rivers is a very accomplished Piano player but I always prefer him on reeds. That aside the track seems pretty deflated & a bit random perhaps furnished by the strained relics of creative outburst after the session’s extraordinary exercise in intensity. Not terrible but I never really go back to it. But after Ecstasy it’s almost impossible, intagliated into the consciousness in massive intractable furrows. It’s a vent for communicating with another world…or rather having another world communicate with you. For sheer fire-ball frustrations, this is hard to match, a statement I find myself saying yet again about this extraordinary man, although the support & performance by the others involved can’t be iterated enough & the phenomenal powers they combine. This album, like much of Rivers albums, is unavailable/out of print. It’s never even been issued on CD! This is obviously a great pity (as is any quality exclusion), but it’s also one of the biggest perversions, injustices & infractions in Jazz history. For me Rivers takes a central roll that can be ignored by only the most idiotic & insensate. No one can fuck with his consistency, from the sixties to the 00’s he has left a corridor of incineration that so few can coordinate (Roscoe Mitchell for me is the only parallel candidate). I accept that obviously Rivers will be simply “too much" for a lot of people but his pseudo-obscurity & the expurgation of most of his back-catalogue are quite clearly keeping him from administering massive audio rapture & enriching many musicians with his insane accomplishments. it is frankly despicable & I would like to take this moment to say fuck you to the “Jazz Community” & all the labels for allowing this ignominious infraction to persist., Rivers is elite legend & it needs to be screamed from the tree-tops!
Rekd: 1977 Released: 1979
Download Mp3: Sam Rivers-Paragon (excerpt)
This album seems to be fairly accessible for hunters & mostly goes for a reasonable £10-£15. I kno that sealed & non-played copies are sold through Groove Yard (along with some other exceptional & hard to source Sam Rivers wax) in Oakland USA. Email Rick on email@example.com