Sunday, March 7, 2021

Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble - NOW (April 9, 2021 International Anthem)

“Time is just the difference between knowing now and knowing nothing. Because if you know now fully, it’s past, present, and future.”
— Mattie Humphries, 1968

Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble’s new album "NOW" was created in the final throes of Summer 2020, following months of pandemic-induced fear & isolation, the explosion of social unrest, struggle & violence in the streets, and as the certain presence of a new reality had fully settled in. Set up safely in the garden behind Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, the music was recorded in only a few takes, capturing the first times members of BME had ever played or sang the tunes. For Locks, the impetus was more about getting together to commune and make art than it was about producing an album. In his words: “It was about offering a new thought. It was about resisting the darkness. It was about expressing possibility. It was about asking the question, ‘Since the future has unfolded and taken a new and dangerous shape... what happens NOW?’”

...about Black Monument Ensemble...
Originally conceived as a medium for Chicago-based multi-media artist/activist Damon Locks’s sample-based sound collage work, Black Monument Ensemble (BME) has evolved from a solo mission into a vibrant collective of artists, musicians, singers, and dancers making work with common goals of joy, compassion, and intention. Galvanized by Locks’s conceptualizing, poeticizing, and guiding vision, the contributors come from all facets of the diverse wellspring of Black artistic excellence in Chicago, bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to uplifting, anthemic, and highly animated musical performance.

BME is a genuinely multi-generational collective; ages of the members range from 9 to 52 years old. In addition to Locks, current and consistent BME members include: instrumentalists Angel Bat Dawid, Ben LaMar Gay, Dana Hall, and Arif Smith; singers Phillip Armstrong, Monique Golding, Rayna Golding, Tramaine Parker, Richie Parks, Erica Rene, and Eric Tre’von; and dancers Raven Lewis, Cheyenne Spencer, Mary Thomas, Bryonna Young, Tiarra Young, and Keisha Janae.

Locks has a stated interest in work that explores “The Black Nod” which, as he explains, is “an unspoken acknowledgment that happens often out in the world – a sort of ‘I see you’ moment exchanged between Black people.” His work with BME attempts to do the same. Fronted by a jubilant choir, the ensemble embraces a kind of civically engaged, artistic approach to activism originally heard in the 1960s from bands like the Voices of East Harlem and on albums like Max Roach’s We Insist; or originally seen in the photography of Kwame Brathwaite and the art of Emory Douglas. Merging influence from the subsequent half-century of artistic & technological evolution, Locks employs a cyber-punk palette of disparate implements (including beatbox, boombox, telephone, and megaphone) to make narrative compositions of mined sound, beats & archival speech (a la Madlib or Supa K) which are brought to life by the ensemble in electric, improvisational performance. It’s a truly multi-dimensional sound that spans mediums, genres, and generations; past, present, & future.

...about Damon Locks...
Damon Locks is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, vocalist, musician, and deejay. Known for decades of varied projects in Chicago’s underground music & art scenes, Locks’ CV starts in the late 1980s with the band Trenchmouth, and is highlighted by work with The Eternals (co-led by Trenchmouth bandmate Wayne Montana), Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra, collaborations with Nicole Mitchell, Ben LaMar Gay, and many others. In recent years Locks has traversed almost every media discipline… including sound/animation work using unheard Sun Ra recordings from Experimental Sound Studio’s archive (with Terri Kapsalis, Wayne Montana, and Rob Shaw); various collaborations with contemporary dancers & choreographers including Onye Ozuzu, Ayesha Jaco (of Move Me Soul), and Anna Martine Whitehead (on presentations & workshops with the Detroit Justice Center); participating in artist residencies at The New Quorum in New Orleans (alongside Nicole Mitchell, Lisa E Harris, Wadada Leo Smith, and others); teaching work with incarcerated artists for the Prison and Neighborhood Arts/Education Project at Stateville maximum security prison; and producing cover art for dozens of albums, including several International Anthem releases by Makaya McCraven, Hear In Now, Irreversible Entanglements, and more.
Angel Bat Dawid – clarinet
Ben LaMar Gay – cornet & melodica
Dana Hall – drums
Damon Locks – samples & electronics
Arif Smith – percussion

Phillip Armstrong
Monique Golding
Tramaine Parker
Richie Parks
Erica Rene
Eric Tre’von

Lyrics & Compositions by: Damon Locks

Recorded August 27th-28th and September 29th, 2020, at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago.

Engineered & Mixed by: Alex Inglizian
Mastered by: David Allen

Marc Ribot Plays Solo Guitar Works of Frantz Casseus (May 14, 2021)

Long before Marc Ribot made a name for himself as a pioneering force in NYC's downtown music scene, and as guitarist for luminaries like Tom Waits, Wilson Pickett and The Lounge Lizards, he began his guitar studies as a teenager with close family friend, the Father of Haitian classical guitar, Frantz Casséus. In 1946, Frantz came to NYC from his native Port-au-Prince, Haiti with the ambition to compose a distinctly Haitian classical guitar music, to fuse the European classical tradition with Haitian folk elements as Heitor Villa-Lobos had done with his native Brazil’s and as Béla Bartók had done with Hungarian folk songs. His three recordings, Haitian Folks Songs (1953), Haitian Dances (1954) and Haitiana (1969) were released on Folkway Recordings (and since reissued by Smithsonian Folkways) and his compositions have been covered by artists worldwide including the song “Merci bon dieu” by Harry Belafonte.

In effort to preserve Frantz’s musical legacy, Marc edited a collection of Casseus' solo guitar compositions, and performed those same pieces on his 1993 album "Marc Ribot Plays Solo Guitar Works of Frantz Casseus". This remastered and expanded edition, with three additional bonus tracks recorded in 2020, marks the first time Marc's interpretations of this work is available on vinyl. Also available again on CD.

From the original liner notes:

The pieces on this record are the work of my friend and teacher, Frantz Casseus. They were written over a period of approximately 40 years, from 1940 to 1980, most of which were spent in New York City, where Frantz emigrated in 1946. The music, however, remains consistently engaged with Haiti, where, in Port au Prince, 1915, Mr. Casseus was born. I believe Frantz saw it as his task to help create a national music for Haiti, and that as a composer, he used Haitian folk material in the same sense as Villa Lobos used the folk music of Brazil, Chavez that of Mexico, or Bartok that of Hungary. A formidable guitarist himself, Frantz originally recorded his own work. The four pieces of the “Haitian Suite” first appeared on a 1954 Folkway release. “Dance on Sunday”, “Dance of the Hounsies”, and “Simbi” appeared on a 1968 recording for the now defunct Afro-Carib label. Although I studied guitar with Mr Casseus, my own development (or perhaps regression) took me far from these studies. However, after complications from an early hand injury made it increasingly diffi cult for Frantz to play guitar, he and I began to discuss the possibility that I would record his work. This record is the most comprehensive recording of Frantz Casseus’s music for solo classical guitar.

In addition to the pieces mentioned above, it contains five compositions previously published as sheet music but never recorded by Frantz (Rara, Prelude #2, Serenade Lointaine, Valse and Romance) and six pieces (Romance 1978, Untitled, Chanson, Improvisation, Merengue and Prelude #1) previously unpublished in any form which Frantz, before his death in June 1993, had expressed a desire to have recorded. I made this recording with the hope that it will help reawaken an interest among listeners and classical guitarists alike in this beautiful but neglected body of work”. Marc Ribot, 1993

100% of the publishing proceeds benefits the "Frantz Casseus Young Guitarist Program" in Port-au-Prince Haiti, and other projects that promote the work of Frantz Casseus.

1. Simbi
2. Rara
3. Prelude #2
4. Haitian Suite: Petro
5. Haitian Suite: Yanvalloux
6. Haitian Suite: Mascaron
7. Haitian Suite: Coumbite (Merci Bon Dieu)
8. Prelude #1
9. Merengue
10. Improvisation
11. Chanson
12. Congo 03:16
13. Dance (On Sunday)
14. Serenade Lointaine
15. Valse
16. Untitled
17. Romance
18. Dance of the Hounsies
19. Romance 1978
20. Meringue Frangeul [Bonus Track]
21. Sobo [Bonus Track]
22. Nan Guinan [Bonus Track]

Marc Ribot - guitar

Jaubi - Satanic Nafs (with The Gaslamp Killer & Mophono REMIX) / March 26, 2021 Astigmatic Records

Eastern mysticism re-imagined
by Jaubi & The Gaslamp Killer collab

In Islamic philosophy, each person has an aspect of the Self called the “Nafs” which is divided into multiple layers. Every day, a person enters into a spiritual battlefield with their dark side, their lowly desires, and Satan. Satanic Nafs is thus the lowest level of the self, due the love of oneself and evil desires. Achieving spiritual transformation involves a constant struggle against the lower nature of the self (Satanic Nafs). This struggle led JAUBI to discover the complex Qur’anic and philosophical concept of “Nafs”, which became the major conceptual driving force behind the all-new and original music.

The spiritual journey began when London flautist/saxophonist Tenderlonious and Polish Pianist Marek Latarnik Pędziwiatr (EABS/Błoto), both amongst the torchbearers of the new European Jazz scene, visited JAUBI in Lahore, Pakistan during April 2019. The six musicians collectively poured their personal turmoil of experiencing death, divorce, unemployment, drug addiction and religious disaffiliation into the recording sessions that served as a spiritual path to transcendence and artistic purity.
‘Satanic Nafs’ serves as a teaser for Jaubi’s debut album entitled ‘Nafs At Peace’ which itself is a musical exploration of Qur’anic verses and Islamic philosophies through a prism of Spiritual/Modal Jazz, North Indian Classical Music and Hip-Hop. The Nafs journey is strengthened with remix on B side done by Los Angeles legends The Gaslamp Killer and Mophono. Single artwork was designed by Australian artist A.Kid, also known for his work with Brownswood Recordings.

1. Satanic Nafs
2. Satanic Nafs (The Gaslamp Killer & Mophono Remix)

A Side

Written by Ali Riaz Baqar (A.Baqar)

Zohaib Hassan Khan - Sarangi
Kashif Ali Dhani - Tabla, Vocals
Tenderlonious - Flute
Latarnik - Moog Voyager

Recorded by André Viervoll at Newtone Studios
Mix: Rhys Downing

B Side

Written by Ali Riaz Baqar, The Gaslamp Killer & Mophono (A.Baqar, W. Bensussen, B. Illgen)

Drums: Gene Coy

Recorded by Mario Caldato Jr. at MCJ Studio
Mix: Mophono

Both tracks mastered by Paweł Bartnik -
Executive Producer: Łukasz Wojciechowski
A&R: Łukasz Wojciechowski, Sebastian Jóźwiak & Oliver Reeves

Samuel Strouk - Nouveaux Mondes (2021)

Au XXIe siècle, il existerait encore des contrées
à explorer, des plages musicales à fouler, si
l’on en croit ce compositeur vagabond

Eriger des ponts pour abattre les chapelles, casser les codes, les formules récurrentes, redessiner la mappemonde musicale...

Tel était le fil rouge de cet album qui fait cohabiter les modes de jeu de la musique classique, contemporaine, et du jazz. Deux mondes aux antipodes l’un de l’autre : l’écriture face à l’improvisation, le solfège face à la tradition orale, un certain académisme contre un soi-disant anarchisme. «J’ai baigné dans ces univers, ce sont deux facettes de ma personnalité. Les dissocier équivaudrait à me diviser. Je voulais créer une zone de rencontre, trouver un entre-deux», résume Samuel Strouk.

Quatuor à cordes, trio jazz, pourquoi choisir quand on peut les réunir sur une même scène ? C’est ce qu’a réalisé l’audacieux guitariste parisien, qui n’a de cesse d’inventer sa propre grammaire musicale. Cela fait quelques années que cet artiste sans frontières ni oeillères, directeur musical et artistique, fouille cette veine à la recherche de partitions apocryphes : avec son album Silent Walk (2017), il proposait un quintet sans batterie naviguant entre jazz et musique classique ; avec Loco Cello (2019), il invitait le jazz manouche dans la musique de chambre.
Dans ce nouvel album, Samuel Strouk poursuit ses recherches en «confrontant la batterie, ses couleurs et ses riches fréquences, au quatuor à cordes». Un autre monde, en effet. Le titre de l’album prend un pluriel pour illustrer les divers cheminements de ce compositeur adepte des carrefours en tous genres. «A travers ce titre Nouveaux Mondes, je voulais traduire l’alchimie née de la rencontre entre ces deux univers qui fait émerger de nouvelles bulles d’expérience, un langage musical à défricher. Je désirais aussi exprimer mes réflexions d’homme, le fait de vivre dans une époque sans cesse bousculée par les crises et les révolutions - musicale, à travers l’émergence du hip hop, de la musique électronique - écologique, numérique… Quelle place trouver face à tous ces bouleversements ?»

On l’aura compris, pour ce musicien diplômé du C.N.R. de Paris, guitariste tout sauf classique, il n’existe pas de jeux interdits.

Ses Nouveaux Mondes s’écriront donc au-delà des portées. Épaulé du Quatuor Elmire et d’une section jazz composée du bassiste Guillaume Marin et du batteur Damien Françon, Samuel Strouk développe sa vision d’un «jazz d’inspiration symphonique».
Si le filon a déjà été creusé - Samuel Strouk évoque avec des étincelles dans les yeux l’album Focus de Stan Getz et l’Hymne au Soleil des frères Belmondo -, il se méfie des aplats qui se superposent, des collages et des fusions à froid. Les écueils à éviter ? «Ne pas tomber dans l’apposition et ne pas faire jouer le musicien à contre-emploi. Bref, ne pas jouer swing, mais être swing !», relève celui qui se voit avant tout comme un metteur en scène. «On pourrait presque dire que cet album, c’est The Big Lebowski qui rencontre Louis XIV», s’amuse-t-il.

Les Nouveaux Mondes du «Stroukonaute» s’ouvrent sur un «Prélude», une guitare buissonnière parmi les cordes de violons, d’alto et de violoncelle, des voix étrangères qui s’accordent. Première note d’intention : le contrepoint n’exclut pas le dialogue. Ni les voix dissonantes, à l’image du titre «Nouveau Monde», une suite en deux temps et beaucoup de mouvements, dans laquelle la guitare jazz joue les funambules sur un fil drum’n’bass et sous un déluge de cordes, le quatuor posant le premier cadre tel un adagio de Ravel, avant que la section rythmique jazz et groove ne prenne le relais, «comme s’il s’agissait de son négatif photo». Il en va de même avec «Hermano Tony», «la première pièce que j’ai composée pour un quatuor à cordes et guitare», un diptyque qui se joue des mesures.

On prend de la hauteur, et même un ticket pour l’espace, avec «Proxima Centauri», une fresque futuriste influencée par la musique modale, où «chaque note est un monde en soi», et dans laquelle les sirènes de cordes et le swing le disputent à une batterie pop et funky, les silences aux syncopes.

La vie dans les étoiles. En filigrane, le compositeur émet l’idée que les musiques dites savantes sont avant tout populaires, pour peu qu’on daigne s’affranchir des pesanteurs stylistiques pour parler aux foules, emportées par la fougue. Le style Strouk.
Il y a là des mondes moins rebelles. «Alap», titre dans lequel le quatuor se grime en tampura (instrument d’accompagnement qui joue le bourdon dans la musique indienne), est le prélude de la pièce «Lazimpat Rag», un crochet en clair-obscur à Katmandou, où vécut quelque temps le compositeur. Musique de chambre avec vue sur le Moyen-Orient, «Romantic Lebanon» fait le grand écart entre «un adagio dans le style de Gustav Mahler puis et une plongée dans l’univers de John Coltrane.

C’est un Liban idéalisé, ma vision d’un pays déchiré par les guerres, les catastrophes... C’est une prière», décrypte Samuel Strouk. «Regard Purs» s’inspire de ces «regards d’enfant pleins de naïveté, cette humanité si proche mais insaisissable et qui disparaît inexorablement». L’album se clôt sur «Lost Birds», une ballade folk au creux de l’épaule, une dernière envolée. Par ces Nouveaux Mondes, Samuel Strouk démontre qu’il n’existe d’autres frontières que celles que l’on s’impose.

Jon De Lucia - Zoom Workshop III March 12th at 12 noon EST!

Book Sale and Zoom Workshop III: Technique with Bach Loops

Well, after ten years we are moving to a new place. I've amassed quite a bit of stuff over the years and now would be a great time to pick up a print edition of Bach Shapes One, or any of my CD releases, at up to half off. This is also to clear the way for the FIVE, count 'em, FIVE new releases coming out this spring, starting with Bach Shapes: The Etudes on March 31st in four transpositions. More on that later!

Next bit of news, I am going to do my next Zoom workshop on Friday March 12, from noon to 1:30 EST. Sign up below by scrolling down to the calendar, clicking on the date, then time. Register to get a recording even if you can't make it. Some feedback from the last two sessions:

"There are precious little tidbits in these videos"

"That was fun! It’s inspiring to hear your analysis"

"I really get a lot from these talks"

It's great to be able to interact and take questions. The topic for this meeting will be Technical Practice. To discuss this I'm going to be referring to a chapter in the new book called "Bach Loops." These are short looping technically challenging parts, directly out of Bach's music and sometimes altered. I will address:

* Outlining, the methods of teacher Abby Whiteside, which I discuss here: Jazz Ideas 6: Outlining

* Inclusive intervals, ways to approach wide intervals

* Releasing tension through repetition

* How I practice this in my daily routine

* Doubling on clarinet and/or flute

* Basic image, imagining the music before you play it

* Whatever else comes up!

Just click on the date on the calendar, then the time, and you’ll enter an email and be all set! Even if you can’t make it live, I will send the recording and handouts afterwards.

The workshop will be free but with a suggested donation of $10-20, and will run 1.5 hours. Looking very much forward to it!

Sign up includes a coupon towards the Etudes eBook, and any relevant PDFs!

XYQuartet & John De Leo: "StraborDante. Viaggio musicale in nove tappe nell’Inferno di Dante" da oggi sul nuovo portale della Farnesina

Dante jazz e rock, con XYQuartet & John De Leo: il viaggio nell’Inferno si trasforma in musica, voce e immagini in uno spettacolo visionario e immersivo.

Una produzione inedita, nata durante l’emergenza e la chiusura dei teatri grazie al sostegno della Regione Veneto e del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, presentata oggi alla Farnesina

Il ricco immaginario dell’Inferno dantesco prende vita in tutta la sua grandezza, in uno spettacolo multimediale, nato in occasione delle celebrazioni per il VII centenario della morte di Dante Alighieri del 2021: StraborDante, un’opera musicale tra jazz, rock e noise con musiche originali di XYQuartet, ensemble di spicco del panorama jazzistico europeo, interpretate da John De Leo con le immagini in multivisione di Francesco Lopergolo.

Uno spettacolo pensato per portare Dante Alighieri nel mondo attraverso gli Istituti Italiani di Cultura, grazie al progetto promosso dal Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale - Direzione Generale per la Promozione del Sistema Paese - nell’ambito dell’iniziativa “Vivere all’italiana in musica”. Il progetto è disponibile da oggi, giovedì 4 marzo, sul nuovo portale “Italiana” uno strumento a disposizione del MAECI per la promozione della lingua, della cultura e della creatività italiane nel mondo, presentato nel corso della conferenza stampa odierna, in diretta dalla Farnesina.

Con StraboDante la discesa agli inferi del Sommo Poeta va in scena con un’inedita performance, prodotta nel corso della residenza artistica dell’associazione culturale (svoltasi a novembre 2020) realizzata al Teatro Salieri di Legnago (VR), nell’ambito del progetto A Casa Nostra – La rinascita dei Teatri per i Cittadini del Veneto. 

StraborDante è un viaggio musicale in nove tappe in cui appaiono gli incontri, i dialoghi, le suggestioni e le straordinarie invenzioni che popolano il cantico più evocativo della Divina Commedia. Con il sound degli XYQuartet di Nicola Fazzini (sax alto) e Alessandro Fedrigo (basso elettrico) - autori dei brani originali Oscura, Limbo, Pozzo dei Giganti e Canto Invisibile che descrivono i luoghi tra i gironi infernali e di un prezioso lavoro di arrangiamento di composizioni Trecentesche- Saverio Tasca (vibrafono) e Luca Colussi (batteria).
Musiche interpretate dall’inconfondibile timbro e dalla straordinaria presenza scenica di John De Leo, a dare voce alla drammaturgia di Vincenzo De Vivo. A condurci sin dentro la voragine infernale, infine, la multivisione di Francesco Lopergolo; immagini suggestive in cui i musicisti sono completamenti immersi.

Il legame intrinseco tra musica, sonorità, poesia e immagine, indagato dallo stesso padre della lingua italiana, è protagonista del progetto di ricerca del quartetto, tra rigore compositivo e lo spazio libero dell’improvvisazione. Momenti di pura energia che nascono dalla grande intesa tra i protagonisti sul palcoscenico. Superando i confini tra spettacolo teatrale e concerto, StraborDante ci porta sin dentro la parola e la visione di Dante, restituendo tutta la straordinaria vitalità e attualità di quest’opera immortale.

John De Leo - voce
Alessandro Fedrigo - composizioni e basso elettrico / XYQuartet
Nicola Fazzini - composizioni e sax alto / XYQuartet
Luca Colussi – batteria / XYQuartet
Saverio Tasca – vibrafono / XYQuartet
Vincenzo De Vivo – testo e drammaturgia
Francesco Lopergolo - multivisioni
Franco Naddei - live electronics 

ARTESUONO Recording Studios
Stefano Amerio – registrazioni missaggio e mastering audio
Lorenzo Crana, Giulio Gallo – assistenti

Registrazioni video
Luca Milanese, Enrico Piva 

con la collaborazione di Fondazione culturale Antonio Salieri
Federico Pupo – direttore
Francesca Tonegato – servizi di segreteria generale e biglietteria
Chiara Battistella – servizi di biglietteria e servizi per le scuole
Emanuele Sarria – servizi di biglietteria e servizi per le scuole Mas Servizi