Jean Chaine & his Ulterior Lux (1985) Distant Sun (LP) Keta Music KM-269

Jean Chaine
& his Ulterior Lux
Distant Sun
Keta Music KM-269
recorded September – October 1984

Rating:**** (Recommended)

Enjoyable set of avant-garde jazz, or as the sleeve calls it: avant-classic, Chaine’s electric bass dominating the selections but plenty of other sounds, cello and percussion, Rob Schuh contributing drums on one selection, Dimthings offering his drumming to another, most cuts featuring only Chaine, the leader using electric guitar on one selection, recorder, tube horn, and voice on another.

While this clearly fits into the avant garde category, Chaine keeps a bassline running through most of the album, surrounds the avant-garde rhythms with electric and acoustic sounds, most of the rhythms showing third-world influences but stirring the improvisations until the influences are unrecognizable, almost like mixing the free-flowing style of Oregon with the instrumental ramblings of the Residents.

Definitely worthwhile for fans of avant garde, and even folks who find that style too much to swallow might dig some of these selections.

— winch

Lol Coxhill and Fred Frith (1982) French Gigs (LP) A.A.A. (A02)

Lol Coxhill and Fred Frith

French Gigs

A.A.A A02
Recorded 1981 and 1978

Rating:*** (Noteworthy)

Avant garde improvisation, Coxhill squeaking out sounds on his soprano sax, Frith scratching and beating on the strings of his electric guitars, the pair occasionally offering some space but mostly claustrophobic madness–like a mouse, a bird and an elephant crammed into a small cage. 

Side One is filled with one noisy live performance titled “Reims,” recorded in 1981.  Three shorter selections from 1978 fill the second side, these slightly more conventional, relatively speaking, some of Coxhill’s contributions clearly coming from the jazz world, and Frith’s contributions sometimes identifiable as he strums his instrument and plays with feedback, sometimes offering hints of rhythm, using the electric guitar as a percussion instrument.

A worthwhile listen for fans of avant garde, the first side mostly for fans of claustrophobic noise, the flipside just as interesting and for most folks likely more enjoyable–the music full of madness and emotion and even possessing moments of beauty. 

— winch

Don Pullen (LP) Tomorrow’s Promises (1977) Atlantic 1699

Don Pullen
Tomorrow’s Promises
Atlantic 1699
Produced by Ilhan Mimaroglu

Rating:**** (Recommended)

Offering healthy doses of the avant garde but grounded in a blend of hard bop and R&B (60s groove and 70s funk), this set opens with a hard-driving 10+ minute Pullen original called “Big Alice,” George Adams on alto, Michael Urbaniak on electric violin, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Pullen on piano, each getting time for solos as the rhythm section (bass plus three percussionists) keeps the sound powering along, a fairly funky freight train bouncing down the line.  After the reflective post bop of “Autumn Song,” the side picks up the pace again, closing with “Poodie Pie” (Pullen, Morgan Burton, Sterling ” Satan” Magee), Mr. Satan’s guitar work more pronounced and helping carve out the groove, the cut featuring Pullen on clavinet, producer Mimaroglu with electronic tracks. While the groove moves through various tempos and moods, it never completely forgets where it started.

The second side opens with another stand-out Pullen original called “Kadji,” this number featuring an almost hip-shaking tempo but sounding like it owes something to Coltrane’s explorations of the African continent.  After a free-form duet with Pullen and Adams, the set closes with a vocal cut, a reflective message song called “Let’s Be Friends” featuring the pipes of Rita DaCosta.  While this set doesn’t end as strong as it opens, it remains interesting and enjoyable, moving through moods and tempos to create a totality of effect.  There’s certainly enough solid material to make this recommended listening.

— winch

David Moss / Baird Hersey (LP) Coessential (1977) Bent Records BRS 2

David Moss / Baird Hersey
Bent Records BRS 2
recorded in Maine, April 4-5, 1977

Rating:**** (Recommended)

Avant garde with elements of jazz and rock, tribal percussion and the sounds of the natural world, Moss on 28 instruments and Hersey on electric guitar.

On part of the first cut, Hersey offers a sound perhaps influenced by the late-60s fusion of Larry Coryell, the 1970s work of Terje Rypdal, and Electric Ladyland-era Jimi Hendrix, but for the most part, Hersey focuses on feedback, bowing, scratches and such, returning to a Rypdal style for the final cut, meanwhile Moss mostly offering frantic fits of percussion throughout the set, the pair conversing with improvisation, pushing and pulling at each other like two animals battling for territory, backing up and charging forward into each other, rolling the animals together, Moss sometimes going semi-reflective to fuse his sounds with the electric musings of Hersey.

This is one of the more successful outings in the avant garde category.  Fans of experimental head rock should also enjoy at least some of the cuts

— winch

Antonio Carlos Jobim (LP) The Composer of Desafinado, Plays (1963) Verve V6-8547

Antonio Carlos Jobim
The Composer of Desafinado, Plays
Verve V6-8547
Produced by Creed Taylor
Arranged by Claus Ogerman 


Recommended ****

Jobim’s first U.S. album, every cut a Jobim original, every one on its way to becoming a standard, quite the feat for the man from Rio, here backed with breezy Ogerman arrangements, produced by Creed with his signature swatches of flute and such, Jobim on piano and guitar, some improvisation but mostly just simple presentations of some beautiful tunes from Brazil.

— winch

Agression (LP) Don’t Be Mistaken (1983) BYO 003

Don’t Be Mistaken
Better Youth Organization 003
Produced by Kenny Felton, Agression, & BYO
Recorded Feb-March 1983
Good Shit *****

What this Oxnard, California outfit lacked in quantity, they delivered with power, as this album shows, kick set of skate speed rock, not a weak moment, concluding with the instrumental “Cat Killer, a great ending to a killer album.

Maybe you have to be a skateboard rider to understand just how much skate-punk kicks ass, doesn’t avoid the political, but never gets bogged down with intentions, and as this set shows, captures the fun, speed and freedom of rolling down concrete.  This is the greatest album that ever came out of California.
— Didn’t you say the same thing about Fear?
— Big deal, it’s still true.

— winch