Thursday, November 18, 2021

Ave B Free Jam, 1967, Cook, Coursil, Gale, Robinson, Tintweiss


Surprises can be good. Unless it is a spam call for a car warranty or "you just charged $900 onto some credit card"? Oh? Musical surprises are usually a good thing. Just lately something of that nature came in the mail. It is a CD of a 1967 reel-to-reel tape of some important Free Jazz players jamming in New York. It is entitled aptly Ave B Free Jam or to give it its full title Avenue B Collective Free-Jazz Jam Session (Inky Dot Media IDM 2020 CD 005).  It was one of those special sessions where bassist Steve Tintweiss had a decent Tandberg tape deck and all five players came ready to play as they installed themselves in an apartment in the alphabet section of lower Manhattan. 

This is a happy outcome of those heady New Thing days in New York, where ESP disk was documenting the scene in a series of important releases. This tape might have been released by ESP then--like New York Eye and Ear Control, it has that total spontaneity, a leaderless, five-way collective of closely aligned free group improvisations. with exciting and effective mass sound expressions from the likes of Laurence Cook on drums, Jacques Coursil and Warren Gale on trumpets, Perry Robinson on clarinet and Steve Tintweiss on contrabass. Each contributes a great deal to this continuous wash of fire and energy. The Coursil-Gale trumpet twosome give us a flaming expressionist density that Perry Robinson adds to in his sound-colorful barrages of sound. Tintweiss and Cook give us tintense and continuous freetime that urges the other players onward and ensures that proceedings remain at high energy levels throughout.

Anyone who appreciates the New York New Thing explosion from those days will doubtless find this a substantial and rewarding romp. Each player contributes significantly to the whole while giving us a model of how such open improvs can generate excitement and great energy. Bravo!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Pago Libre & Sooon, Friendship


In the world of music coming out these days, anything goes if you let your mind remain free of rigid preconceptions. And so as I so do, things come to my ears and bring me some happiness if good. For example here today is a group by the name of Pago Libre & Sooon and an album entitled Friendship (Leo CD LR 919). Now whatever one expects in new things we recently have been made available Pago Libre & Sooon might not be what you might ordinarily expect to hear. It is a sextet

To be precise, it consists of Sonja Morgenegg as vocalist and guitarists on a couple of tracks, then there is Arkady Shilkloper on French horn, alphorn and elephant horn, Florian Mayer on violin, John Wolf Brennan on piano, melodica and arrangements (which are always special, interesting), Ratus Flisch on bass, and Tony Majdlani on voice and percussion, specifically on various hand drums.

And as can be the case in a good situation they are more than just the sum of their parts. Sonja is an outstanding vocalist. She and the band take us through a  Jazz inflected Folk mélange ranging from Norwegian (to my ears) through to Eastern Europe, Baltic and even a touch of Mideastern.

The arrangements along with the instrumentation set everything up and Sonja's lead vocals bring it all home. Listen to their 5/4 version of the Beatles' "For No One" or even "Hey Bulldog" and you will get it. But there is lots of good music, some apparently original but all bearing the stamp of original and authentic rootedness.