William Parker’s Late-Career Bloom 

Source: The Nation.

A vast body of musical works refutes a widespread notion distinguishing avant-garde from traditional music: that one is cerebral and abstruse and the other emotive and accessible. However true this may be in any number of instances, William Parker’s work over the past 45 years demonstrates that deep feeling can flourish in the realm of deep experimentation. Over the course of his long and unwaning career as a composer, bandleader, bassist, and event organizer, Parker has produced a catalog of compositions and a legacy of performances distinguished both by their free-thinking, often radical sense of adventure and by their elemental dedication to beauty and human feeling.


Marc Ribot Overview

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Ribot is generally classified as a jazz guitarist; he rose to prominence in the 1980s New York Knitting Factory scene loosely centered around composer and alto saxophonist John Zorn. Ribot has never fit easily into any one genre. As a session musician and sideman, he’s played on records by pop-rocker Elvis Costello, industrial electronic noisemaker J.G. Thirlwell, and Zorn himself—perhaps most notably in Zorn’s Masada project, which turns Jewish folk music into jazz noise weirdness. Under his own leadership, Ribot has helmed bands devoted to the Cuban music of Arsenio Rodrigues, to the exploration of Philly soul, and to various mixtures of jazz, rock, and noise. One minute he’s joining saxophonist Ellery Eskelin for a grungy dissection of boss tenor Gene Ammons’s “Twisting the Jug,” the next he’s sneerily deconstructing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” And he’s got a new album coming out that addresses the particular political pressures of the moment.

Ribot’s catalog is so extensive and varied that even the relatively small portion available on Bandcamp is a bit overwhelming. Below are some of the highlights of his work, under his own name and assisting other artists.

Daniel Carter Profiled

Source: Jazz Right Now.

Daniel Carter, born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1945, is a musician and writer. Since coming to New York City, in 1970, he has sought out musicians and situations that encourage free expression. Carter is a renowned multi-instrumentalist, playing tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, and trumpet, as well as voice. In the 1950s he sang in so-called doo-wop groups, took clarinet lessons, played in school bands (into the 60s), and the 49th Army Band (ca. 1967-69). When he first came to NYC, he played in soul bands as well as avant-garde jazz groups. He has always tried to transcend genre-boundaries, which is, today, as daunting a challenge as ever, but he’s found that the many musicians he’s met and played with, and the invaluable treasure of a huge, ever-growing, number of recordings and videos (so many, readily available on the internet, cable TV, and radio), have recharged and renewed him, all along the way. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, visual artist, Marilyn Sontag, and their two cats, Minnie and Sophie.

Sonic Arts Union Profiled

Source: The New York Times.

Members of the Sonic Arts Union helped rewire classical music in the 1960s. Literally: The founders of this collective used homemade electronics to power their experiments. And also metaphorically, by organizing festivals and producing albums for Columbia Records’ influential avant-garde series.

Their legacy would already have been formidable had it been limited to these activities and a focused span of touring, between 1966 and 1977. Yet after the union’s four founders stopped playing together regularly, they went on to achieve new individual heights as composers.

Sun Ra in Sin City

Source: Lapham’s Quarterly.

he last time I spoke with Sun Ra, I asked him for his take on the enduring legacy of the Great American Songbook. It was 1993. Ra had returned to Birmingham, Alabama, where he’d been born nearly eighty years before. He would die there, from complications associated with pneumonia, a few weeks later. The pianist, composer, and bandleader’s first published composition, “Alone with Just a Memory of You,” written in 1936 together with Henry McCellons, conveyed a tender, awkward Tin Pan Alley tone that betrayed his love of sentimental songcraft. This passion is driven home repeatedly in a survey of Ra’s magnificently gigantic discography. He employed anachronistic singers like Clyde Williams and Hattie Randolph. He played familiar compositions with double-entendre titles especially meaningful to him, such as “East of the Sun,” “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” “I Dream Too Much,” “Out of Nowhere,” “This Is Always,” “Second Star to the Right,” and “Over the Rainbow.” Never mind that Ra is known as one of the most adventurous and innovative figures in the history of the twentieth century. That he brought synthesizers to jazz. That his costumes and light shows paved the way for psychedelic rock. That he wrote apocalyptic and deeply philosophical poetry. That he identified as an extraterrestrial. That outer space and the unknown featured as prominently as ancient Egypt in his unique proto-Afrofuturist weltanschauung, which often manifested as a circus-like performance troupe that he called the Arkestra.

BA Podcast 21: Jeremy Pelt 

Source: burning ambulance.

Episode 21 of the Burning Ambulance podcast – we’re adults now! – features an interview with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, who’s been on the scene more or less since the dawn of the 21st century. He made his first album as a leader in 2002, but he really broke out of the pack in 2008, when he formed a quintet with JD Allen on tenor sax, Danny Grissett on piano, the late Dwayne Burno on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums. He made four albums with that group—November in 2008, Men of Honor in 2010, The Talented Mr. Pelt in 2011, and Soul in 2012—and they’re all terrific. That was where I started listening to him—the first album I heard was The Talented Mr. Pelt, and I went backward immediately and checked out Men of Honor and November, and Soul. I interviewed him for the site in 2011, and have written about him a lot in the years since, because he makes an album a year, and they’re always impressive.

The Reinvention of Bassist Luke Stewart

Source: Downbeat.

Luke Stewart wields a ubiquitous presence in Washington, D.C. He plays electric or upright bass in one of nine bands; presents concerts through his efforts with CapitalBop; and hosts a weekly radio show on WPFW Pacifica. Then there’s the steady flow of new albums.

The day before the June 25 release of his new disc—Blacks’ Myths (Atlantic Rhythms), a heady yet emotionally transcendental duo offering with drummer Warren “Trae” Crudup III—Stewart anchored a trio led by tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis in the city’s Goethe-Institut as part of the D.C. Public Library’s “Jazz in the Basement” concert series. The trio—which also featured Crudup—engaged in scalding, cathartic surges of energy during which Stewart provided as much bristling texture as he did rhythmic momentum and harmonic support.