Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free Jazz mayhem

Two slabs of experimental jazz insanity.

First is a live one-off collaboration between Weasel Walter (drums, clarinet mouthpiece), Forbes Graham (trumpet), Greg Kelley (trumpet), and Paul Flaherty (saxophone) recorded in Boston in 2008 and called End of the Trail. This was released in an edition of 100 cdrs following the set on the ugExplode imprint. It's absolutely insane as one might expect looking at the lineup of amazing musicians and unusual instrument pairings. Two longer pieces, nearly overwhelmingly intense and noisy excursions into the outer realms of free jazz, serve as set bookends. Three shorter pieces make up the middle of this album and each is far more self contained. The second track for example is solo saxophone until the final note. The fourth begins with screeching, scrapped percussion and distant, whistling trumpet manipulations and ends in a whooshing tornado of malleted ride cymbals. Throughout the set, Walter's fantastic scattershot drumming is a constant driving force behind the relentless brass trio's chaotic, manic improvisations. An almost violent sounding album, this is intense, abstract, brilliant stuff.

End of the Trail
1. Le Temps Detruit Tout (20:26)
2. Old Prospector (2:17)
3. The Shrieking Winds (5:32)
4. Deserts (4:03)
5. I Told You it was a Sand Storm (13:13)


Second is another one-off performance by a group calling itself Drive the Pieces Together, a single 27 minute long set titled Ethnography and featuring a mighty lineup: Dave Gross (alto sax and clarinet), Vic Rawlings (amplified cello and analog electronics), Erik Carlsen (tuba), Howard Stelzer (tapes), Steve Norton (turntable), and Peter Warren (recorded sounds). The piece was recorded live in Cambridge, MA in 1999 and was finally released last year by Carbon Records as part of their great 15YR.Series. Peter Warren prepared an improvised minimalist piece for electronic guitar with a good deal of silence. A pre-recorded version was played and the five musicians improvised over it. The result is a menacing slab of minimalist siren drone with undulating brass skronk and dark ambiance and static-filled radio samples thanks to cassette and turntable manipulations. Sound emerge from all directions, their source often unidentifiable. Mechanical clicks weave in and out of haunted house creaks and crumbling reverb. All the while the brass moans and buzzs, a chaotic whine that spikes and jabs from the underlying aural mess. A very spooky, Halloween-y piece of free jazz experimentalism here. So cool!

Carbon Records

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