Sunday, October 21, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Three Sides of American Music

Harry Partch: 17 Lyrics of Li Po. 1995. Tzadik: TZ 7012.

Stephen Kalm: intoning voice
Ted Mook: tenor violin

Kalm and Mook have an eerie ability to practically channel the tone and intonation of Harry Partch as the maverick troubadour sound weaves a poetic spell that is half-sung and half-spoken. The vocal delivery of this music suggests a well-paced alternative to standard singing technique as the tenor violin bends toward just intervals and natural spoken rhythms that allows these unassuming verbal images to emerge. These 17 Lyrics have deeply affected my own conception of vocal writing as the music folds tightly against the austere beauty of these episodic poems.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [box set] - disc 6. 2003. Revenant Records: RVN213.

Albert Ayler Quintet: June 30 - July 1, 1967 @ Freebody Park, Newport, Rhode Island
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, vocals
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Bill Folwell: bass
Milford Graves: drums

Albert Ayler Quartet: July 21, 1967 @ the funeral of John Coltrane
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, vocals
Don Ayler: trumpet
Richard Davis: bass
Milford Graves: drums

Pharoah Sanders Band: July 21, 1968 @ the Renaissance Ballroom, New York City
Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone
Chris Capers: trumpet
unknown: alto saxophone
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
unknown: tenor saxophone
Dave Burrell: piano
Sirone: bass
Roger Blank: drums

Albert Ayler - various recordings around New York City in August, 1968
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, vocals, solo recitation
Cal Cobbs: piano, rockischord
Bill Folwell: electric bass
Bernard Purdie: drums
Mary Parks: vocals, tambourine
Vivian Bostick: vocals

This disc combines the different sides of Albert Ayler that reflects the turmoil of the late-60s. Starting with the Love Cry era live recordings from Newport that feature some of his most intense, dense ensemble playing. The sound from this set is some of the most concentrated Ayler substance these ears have heard as the quintet roars and runs through some exhilarating transitions. From there we move to the solemn, love-filled mourning from the funeral of John Coltrane. The roughness of the recording matches the raw sense of loss. Then there is the twenty minutes with Pharoah Sanders as Ayler communes with "the son" on Sanders' great composition "Upper Egypt."

Then this disc fills out with a series of demo tracks for Ayler's R & B New Grass material. Coming off of the intense, raging energy of the Newport set at the start of this disc these Mary Parks sessions feel as if the great King Kong has been caged up. And that he willfully confined himself. The inflexible rhythm section keeps a steady pulse while Ayler's horn continues to speak with his energitic outpouring while the sense of loss at not having a Milford Graves or Henry Grimes or Sunny Murray responding or balancing this force sets in. When Ayler sings he simply sounds lost, his voice being a far cry from the confident tone of his tenor saxophone. I don't doubt the sincerity of Aylers' New Grass efforts. But it still sounds like something derailed within him creatively when he went down that path.

Philip Glass: From the Philip Glass Recording Archive: Volume II - Orchestral Music. 2007. Orange Mountain Music: 0047.

Days and Nights in Rocinha (1998)
Performed by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Dennis Russell Davies

Persephone (1994)
Performed by the Relache Ensemble

This one is a light dose of the Philip Glass repetition, pulse and clear tonality that marks so much of his work. The arpeggio machine is turned way down on these orchestral arrangements while the sequences and steady rhythmic patterns are retained. These are pleasant pieces that are well performed and recorded and enjoyable despite way they blend into the opacity of so many Glass compositions. This is a good place to put one's ears if you haven't yet overdosed on the Philip Glass experience.

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