AMN Reviews: Awkward Geisha / Galaxxu – Sea Shanties and Mariner Tales (2018; Bandcamp)

The distinction between free jazz and free improvisation can be subtle. Put simply, both labels describe music that involves much less premeditated structure than one might otherwise expect. But the instrumentation and influences of the former are centered in what one might recognize as jazz, while this is not the case for the latter. Awkward Geisha and Galaxxu are two free improvisation groups that team up for this split album, Sea Shanties and Mariner Tales. Arguably, since each group’s contributions come in at about 35 minutes, their respective efforts could have been standalone releases.

Awkward Geisha, the less conventional of these two unconventional outfits, is a loose collective with a surprisingly large number of recent releases. On this effort, their focus is more or less on sax, guitar, bass, and drums. Their four tracks vary – Day of Death features jagged guitar riffing over rapid sax lines, while Abbey Road Forever is more of a montage of musical and non-musical samples. Night at the Fairground eliminates the sax and brings in tabla-like percussion to accompany long, unstructured guitar solos. Heatwave in Winter (2ème Version) focuses on guitar and bass improv with intense synthesized, yet organic-sounding, beats. Personnel varies from track to track, adding a further level of diversity to music that is already nigh unclassifiable.

Galaxxu is a Chicago-based quartet also using sax, guitar, bass, and drums. Unlike Awkward Geisha, they work together as a band. Most likely a live-in-the-studio endeavor herein, the group powers through four angular tracks that mix subtlety and aggression. Each instrumentalist contributes equally, with bass and drums as likely to set forth leading themes sax and guitar. What we are given is an unregulated dialog involving rude tones, continually shifting tempos, and the occasional wailing. The conversations between sax and guitar are particularly fun to follow, as one will introduce a theme, the other respond, which triggers a further response from the initiator, and so on. Ultimately, many of these interchanges evolve towards free-form blowouts, which are deftly navigated without becoming overbearing.

Both Awkward Geisha and Galaxxu bring an urgency inflected by rock, or even punk. Nonetheless, this is creative music through and through, just a little rougher around the edges than most. Fans of Derek Bailey, Ruins, and The Work will likely appreciate this release.

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Newsbits: Sun Ra Plays Gershwin / William Basinski / Lisa Mezzacappa / Tyshawn Sorey / C. Spencer Yeh / Hormones

English: William Basinski live. Polski: Willia...

Pitchfork reviews a new release of Sun Ra playing Gershwin.

The latest from William Basinski is also reviewed.

Lisa Mezzacappa is profiled.

Tyshawn Sorey has been awarded a United States Artists fellowship.

C. Spencer Yeh‘s new recording of the RCA Mark II is reviewed.

And finally, the higher your testosterone level, the less you’ll like “challenging” music. Hmm.

Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier Profiled

Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, performing a...

Source: Village Voice.

One morning last June, Sylvie Courvoisier logged onto Facebook in her Brooklyn apartment and, like much of the jazz world, was profoundly saddened to learn that Geri Allen, the visionary pianist, composer, and educator, had passed away unexpectedly at age sixty.

Courvoisier, one of the most consequential pianists to emerge from the downtown free-jazz scene in the last few decades, had been a longtime admirer of the older musician ever since seeing Allen perform at the Jazz Festival Willisau, in Courvoisier’s native Switzerland, when she was sixteen.

Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Albert Ayler

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

Julie Tippetts & Mark Wastell! New from Relative Pitch: Brandon Lopez/Matt Nelson/Andria Nicodemou Gerald Cleaver & Ben Hall’s Racehorse Names: Joe Morris! Shakers N’ Bakers Tribute to Late Period Albert Ayler! Aaron Novik’s LP Only/Comic Book Gem! Two from Terp: Ab Baars & Terrie Ex Fendika!

Dogwood: Nicco Soffiato & Zach Swanson! Vancouver’s Sick Boss with Tony Wilson, Peggy Lee & JP Carter! Michael Winter on New World! Restocks from Confront: IST & John Zorn! Simon H Fell Solo! 10Tet with Radu Malfatti & Tetuzi Akiyama, Tin: Axel Dorner, Dominic Lash & Roger Turner! Restocks from Not Two & Listen! Foundation: Agusti Fernandez! Bergman / Brotzmann / Gjerstad! Bobby Zankel Trubute to William Parker! Evan Parker/Mikolaj Trzaska Quartet and Barry Guy/ Homburger Trio!

And Restocks from Little i Music: Jeff Lederer! Mary LaRose! Shakers N’ Bakers and more! Plus a Clean Feed Overstock Sale! Vinyl from Michael Hurley! Thomas Dimuzio & Alan Courtis! Jean Rollin! Javier Segura! Bruno Zambini! Edmondo Giulliani!

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THE DMG 27TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES OF SONIC CELEBRATIONS Continue with:

This Weekend DMG Will Host Two Nights of Extra Special Free In-Store Performances:

Rare Saturday, January 20th Event:
6pm: DAMON SMITH and MICHAEL VATCHER – Contrabass & Drums
7pm: TOMCHESS – Oud, Ney, Morsing / ESAT EKINCIOGLU – Acoustic Bass

Sunday, January 21st:
6pm: ZODIAC SAX QUARTET: CHARLES WATERS / CLAIRE DALY / LEE ODOM / RAS MOSHE
7pm: GUILLERMO GREGORIO / NICK JOZWIAK / TODD CAPP – Clarinet / Cello / Drums

Sunday January 28th:
6pm: MICHAEL VATCHER & JACK WRIGHT – Drums and Sax
7pm: MICHAEL FOSTER / BEN GERSTEIN / SEAN ALI / FLIN VAN HEMMEN – While We Still Have Bodies – Sax / Trombone / Acoustic Bass / Percussion

Sunday, February 4th 2018:
6pm: ZERO POINT: DANIEL CARTER / DERIC DICKENS / MICHAEL BATES / MARIUS DUBOULE
7pm: BEYOND TRIO: CHERYL PYLE / CLAIRE de BRUNNER / DANIEL CARTER