A History of Noise According to Merzbow

Source: Carriageworks.

To the best of my knowledge I first heard a recording of Merzbow almost 25 years ago.

During this time, I was a compulsive cassette trader; demos, live recordings, limited editions, old 7”s, import only releases; you name it, there was someone out there who had it, you just had to find them. In the days before the web, music travelled by post and was copied – tape to tape – by an army of curious listeners, underground writers, musicians and fanzine editors, all eager to share the joys and pains that music brought them. During this time, I was publishing a ‘zine and running a small label which had started in high school and, through those activities I’d developed a network of like-minded music obsessives around the world.

Jon Lundbom Profiled

Source: JazzTimes.

When guitarist Jon Lundbom recalls what has fired his imagination, he frequently talks about music that “blew my mind.” Three specific examples have inspired the writing for his band Big Five Chord. The first is Focus, the 1962 Stan Getz album that put the tenor saxophonist’s improvisations in the midst of Eddie Sauter’s written works for orchestra. The second is Ornette Coleman, whose disregard for chord changes liberated Lundbom. Third is Voodoo, the 2000 neo-soul album by D’Angelo that featured jazz musicians such as Roy Hargrove and toyed with beat placement and polyrhythms. On Lundbom’s ninth album with BFC, Harder on the Outside (Hot Cup), all these influences blend together in satisfying ways; engaging melodies and free-jazz interplay combine, without losing a sense of groove.

Mick Houghton Remembers Sun Ra

Source: The Quietus.

Sun Ra claimed to be an angel from the planet Saturn and this strange allegation has overshadowed the fact that he’s one of the most important figures in jazz. He’s had an increasingly potent influence across many other genres since his death in 1993. Perhaps the world is catching up with the man who since the late 50s usually led a big band, most commonly known as the Arkestra. When you suddenly find yourself working with somebody regarded as one of the greats, you have to pay due respect. Some of Sun Ra’s music left me cold, most of what I’d read or heard about him left me awestruck.

Anna Webber Profiled

Source: Jazz Right Now.

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Webber has emerged as a major force since arriving in New York in 2008. She has released a series of innovative records including her trio, Simple (2014) and Binary (2016), both on Skirl Records, and most recently, her septet, Clockwise, just released in February. Her performances and recordings bristle with compositional ideas and sophisticated improvisations. She plays next with Matteo Liberatore and Lesley Mok at Spectrum on May 20; and with fellow-Canadian saxophonist Angela Morris, they summon their big band to the Queens Museum on June 9. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Webber about her work.

Suzanne Ciani Profiled

Source: The Lost Notes podcast dedicates an episode to Suzanne Ciani.

In 1968, Suzanne Ciani was a music student at UC Berkeley when she met Don Buchla. Buchla had just created one of the first electronic musical instruments, a modular synthesizer. It looked like an old telephone switchboard with knobs and wires, dials and faders. Ciani fell in love with it. And it became the catalyst to her career – one of the most consequential and influential music careers of the 20th century.

Even Atheists Listen to Spiritual Jazz

Source: Forced Exposure.

Let me say, right up front, I am a free jazz guy. I came to jazz via rock music, and most of my favorite jazz is loud and raw and screwy. That said, I have lately been involved in a collaborative writing project about free jazz that has forced me into parsing some of the differences between “true” free jazz, and a similar hybrid known as “spiritual jazz.”

Like all such genre distinctions, this one is arbitrary, subjective and almost imaginary.

Maryanne Amacher Review and Profile

Source: 4Columns.

History tends to remember the composers and musicians who left behind voluminous discographies. Other composers, who were just as significant, remain more enigmatic because their output is harder to track down.

Maryanne Amacher, who died in 2009 at the age of seventy-one, was a shining example of the latter: a towering figure in experimental music who released few recordings. While she left an expansive private archive, spanning several decades, in her rambling home in Kingston, New York, there haven’t been many releases that the general public could find, outside of two albums (Sound Characters and Sound Characters Vol. 2, both on the Tzadik label) and a few scattered appearances on compilations.