AMN Reviews: John Corbett – “Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium” [ Duke University Press – isbn:9780822363507 ]

978-0-8223-6366-8_prFreaks are those of us that harmlessly indulge our interests to the point of compulsion or obsession. When it comes to music, the most interesting people that I have met have been those that exuberantly talk about music almost to the point of proselytizing. As they talk about either their collections or their discoveries or a recent concert or a new release or a particular instrument, they invite us to share in their enthusiasm and in the process they turn us on to all kinds of great music that we may have been completely unaware of. While many of these people can be found on blogs, or in chat rooms, on mailing lists and in forums, a select few have managed to turn their obsessions into a career. Luckily for us John Corbett is that kind of freak.

When it comes to the outer limits of jazz and the realms of creative music and free improvisation, Corbett writes with unmatched exuberance and passion supported by his deep and wide knowledge of the music. In “Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium” John Corbett explores the mindset of record collecting and the rising popularity of vinyl records. He combines bits of memoir and criticism to explain what he and other collectors find so special about vinyl. The book contains seven new essays and the entire twelve years of the “Vinyl Freak” column that Corbett wrote for DownBeat magazine. Each “Vinyl Freak” column consisted of a one page essay/review of a rare primarily jazz record and are reprinted in their entirety, plus updated notes on reissue status. What was really interesting about the “Vinyl Freak” columns were the tangents that Corbett might take in describing the record, its music, the musicians, cover, style, etc. This would often reveal interesting external connections between the music, its makers and its history, and in the process expose us to related albums and musicians. Among the new essays is a chapter of vignettes on one hundred thirteen of his favorite rare free improvisation and creative music recordings. There is also one riveting essay that focuses on the tale of his uncovering of a cache of extremely rare Sun Ra items.

While many will view this book as just being about Corbett’s obsessive and unique view of record collecting and the recent vinyl resurgence, and that is definitely in this book, it’s really about how the format changes of recorded music impacts music history. There is so much great music that seems to have disappeared due to format changes. In writing about all of these rare records Corbett uncovers a lot of great and potentially forgotten music. John Corbett reminds us that as formats change we can lose great music. Think of the many records that you had in your vinyl collection that have yet to make it to CD or a digital download format. Well, consider that this has happened throughout the history of recorded music, as recordings moved from tapes and wires and cylinders and shellac to various forms, speeds and sizes of vinyl and then to various digital formats. Bottom line, we may have lost a lot of great music along the way and we would have lost even more great music, if it weren’t for collectors who turned their passion into the curating and production of reissues of old recordings in new formats. John Corbett has stepped up here as well with the many reissues he has been busy producing for his Corbett vs Dempsey label.

Clearly John Corbett is a vinyl freak. Who else would include a rare unreleased limited edition Sun Ra flex-disc in his latest book? He may truly love the vinyl medium but deep down he loves the music even more. Corbett really is an “equal opportunity ear filler” and is willing to acquire the music he really enjoys in any format. With “Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium” John Corbett invites us to join him in the pleasure of discovering new sounds to indulge our ears. So what are you waiting for? You’ve been invited. Highly Recommended!

Chris De Chiara

For more information:

Additional reviews of John Corbett’s books on AMN:

Edgefest 2017 Lineup Announced

Source: Kerrytown Concert House, this year’s Edgefest features a stellar lineup and will take place October 18-21.

Jonathan Taylor Quintet
Jonathon Taylor, drums/composer
Marcus Elliot, saxophone
Michael Malis, piano
Jaribu Shahid, bass
Molly Jones, violin/saxophone

Trombone Insurgency
Steve Swell, trombone
Joe McPhee, trombone
Dick Griffin, trombone

Pheeroan akLaf (percussion) with Scott Robinson (multi-reeds)
Joseph Daley Tuba Trio
Joseph Daley, tuba
Warren Smith, percussion
Scott Robinson, reeds

Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom
Jenny Scheinman, violin
Carmen Staaf, piano
Kirk Knuffke, cornet
Jeff Lederer, clarinet
Todd Sickafoose, bass
Allison Miller, drums

William Hooker (drums) with Michael Malis (piano)
Ben Goldberg’s Invisible Guy
Ben Goldberg, clarinet/composer
Michael Coleman, piano
Hamir Atwal, drums

Tom Rainey Trio
Tom Rainey, drums
Mary Halvorson, guitar
Ingrid Laubrock, tenor saxophone

Andrew Drury’s Content Provider
Andrew Drury, drums/composer
Ingrid Laubrock, tenor saxophone
Briggan Krauss, saxophone
Brandon Seabrook, guitar

Larry Ochs’ Fictive Four
Nate Wooley, trumpet
Ken Filiano, bass/effects
Harris Eisenstadt, drums
Larry Ochs, tenor & sopranino saxophones

Oluyemi Thomas Trio
Oluyemi Thomas, bass clarinet
Djallo Djakate, drums
Kurt Prisbe, drums

Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures with Hamid Drake
Adam Rudolph, composer/percussion,vocal/electronics
Hamid Drake, drumset/vocal/frame drum/congas/bata
Graham Haynes, cornet/flugelhorn/percussion/electronics
Ralph M. Jones, flutes/bass clarinet/husli/ney/saxophones
Kenny Wessel, guitar/electronics/banjo
James Hurt, African percussion/bata/keyboards
Alexis Marcelo, fender Rhodes/piano/percussion
Damon Banks, bass

Steve Swell’s Soul Travelers
Steve Swell, trombone
Jemeel Moondoc, alto saxophone
Dave Burrell, piano
William Parker, bass
Gerald Cleaver, drums

Tomas Fujiwara Double Trio
Brandon Seabrook, guitar
Gerald Cleaver, drums
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
Mary Halvorson, guitar
Taylor Ho Bynum, cornet
Tomas Fujiwara, drums

Andrew Drury leads Edgefest large ensembles at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

A Guide to Morton Feldman’s Music

Source: The Guardian.

Something strange starts to happen when you listen to American composer Morton Feldman‘s long, long – and I mean long – late chamber pieces. I’m talking about the 80-minute Piano and String Quartet, the four and a half hours of For Philip Guston (which you can hear live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music festival on 21 November 2012) or the biggest of them all, the five-hour Second String Quartet. By the end of these works, composed a few years before Feldman’s death in 1987, I was left wanting more, not less. My sense of time had been altered, so intently focused was I on the way the music changed from note to note and chord to chord. It created a living, breathing network of relationships that extended across its length. You don’t really listen to these pieces, you live through them and with them. By the end of the Second String Quartet, I felt it was living inside me too.

Stephen Drury Interviewed about SICPP

Source: The Boston Globe.

“I’m always accused of having well-thought out programs,” Stephen Drury said by phone the other day. “Which is a total myth.”

He was talking about the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, abbreviated SICPP and known, with colloquial affection, as Sick Puppy. It is an annual new-music lollapalooza that Drury has been hosting for more than two decades at New England Conservatory, where he is a longtime faculty member.

Along with a deep dive into various specimens of the avant-garde by the institute’s fellows, guest artists, and faculty comes a week of free concerts whose programs not only enliven Boston’s musical landscape but also allow audience members a glimpse of Drury’s creative process, shot through with inadvertence though it may be.

Dusted Reviews

English: Billy Bang at the Vision Festival, 20...

Source: Dusted.

Faust — Fresh Air (Bureau B)

Rafael Toral—Space Solo (Staubgold)

George Graewe—Stills And Stories CD (Random Acoustics)
Isabelle Duthoit/Georg Graewe—Parlance CD (Nuscope)

Metal Rouge—Broke In and Broke Out (Emerald Cocoon)

Billy Bang – Distinction Without a Difference (Hat Hut/Corbett Vs. Dempsey)

Leo Records New Releases 2017/06

Source: Leo Records.

Heath Watts, Blue Armstrong – Bright Yellow with Bass

Kusimanten; Tamara Lukasheva, deeLinde, Marie Theres Hartel – Bleib Ein Mensch

The Clarinet Trio plus Alexey Kruglov – Live in Moscow

Franziska Baumann, Christoph Baumann – Interzones Vol.1

Mieko Kanno, Anne-Liis Poll, Anto Pett, Aaron Shorr, Alistar MacDonald – Free Radicals