antiMUSIC News discusses Trevor Dunn‘s new group, featuring Trevor on bass of course, Sunny Kim on vocals, Hilmar Jensson on guitar, keyboard player Erik Deutch and drummer Ches Smith. Tom Wilkes, the designer of Captain Beefheart‘s Safe As Milk cover has died. Some experiments with fractal music can be found here.

Finally, if you’re in Chicago and want to help out with the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, call 773-834-3534 or email to volunteer.

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KFJC Reviews

From KFJC:

Fast ‘n’ Bulbous – “Waxed Oop” – [Cuneiform Records]

The second album of compositions by Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) as played by this NY ensemble, led by saxophonist Phillip Johnston and guitarist Gary Lucas. The bluesy bounce and surreal swagger of the original versions are recreated here with reverent arrangements heavy on horns. Everyone plays great, especially Lucas –a member of Beefheart’s Magic Band in one of its later incarnations— and his mean slide guitar. I have to say that the songs, as great as they are, sound to me like they’re missing something in these versions because Van Vliet’s vocals aren’t around. The compositions don’t have a lot of inherent melody, and the instruments playing the vocal lines here don’t have a whole lot to do. But honestly, I applaud any effort to get Beefheart’s music out where people can hear it, and these guys do a good job with it.

Land of Kush – “Against The Day” – [Constellation]

Sam Shalabi is a Montreal musician (oud, Middle Eastern lute) who assembled this large ensemble for this 2009 release. His liner notes call it an homage to Thomas Pynchon who wrote a novel of the same name (Against the Day) that is sometimes described as literary free jazz. Like Pynchon’s work, this is all over the place and often with a lot happening just below the surface.

Sun RA – “Live At The Horseshoe Tavern” – [Transparency]

Jazz: These are the live recordings of three concerts during 1978 at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, and Disc 10 is a 20-minute 1968 radio interview of Sun Ra with several guys at WBAI. Sun Ra sounds anything but humble in this interview in which he explains that he speaks to the world, and has since elementary school, where he taught and led students. The concert discs are truly the eclectic jazz mix that characterizes Sun Ra’s compositions, with Discs 3, 6, and 9 containing more vocalized “sermons” and almost sounding like revival meetings. “Look to the sky…the best things in life are free…sing with the birds…” This is vintage Sun Ra.

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Through The Eyes Of Magic

John French (musician)
Image via Wikipedia

John “Drumbo” French has a book coming out on his time with Captain Beefheart called Through The Eyes Of Magic – Vol 1.

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Fast ‘N’ Bulbous in New York Tonight

From Captain Beefheart Up Sifter:

We’ve just received an announcement about the Fast ‘N’ Bulbous performance scheduled for Tuesday, March 10th in New York.

Fast ‘N’ Bulbous performs at (Le) Poisson Rouge Tuesday March 10th 2009.

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Releases Reviews

DMG Newsletter February 20th, 2009

Wadada Leo Smith
Image via Wikipedia

From DMG:

John Zorn’s Filmworks 23! Frith & Arte Qt Vols 1 & 2! Roberto Rodriguez! Paul Dunmall Sun Qt! Denman Maroney Qnt! Michael Blake & Kresten Osgood!

FAB :Fonda/Altschul/Bang 4th Live! Gary Lucas & Gerald Zbinden! Two Historic Reissues from Nessa: Wadada Leo Smith & Charles Tyler! Lol Coxhill! Ivor Cutler! ..

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AMN Podcast: Fast ‘n’ Bulbous – Waxed Oop

Woeish Me Bop

Captain Beefheart‘s music is the quintessential ‘outsider art music’ of the second half of the 20th century. Despite the fact that he retired from music over 25 years ago, his music resonates more strongly than ever as an influence on contemporary music. Fast ‘n’ Bulbous offer a unique slant on the songbook of one of contemporary music’s most idiosyncratic musical figures. The band features seven great, well-regarded musicians drawn from the rock and the jazz worlds: co-leaders guitarist Gary Lucas (who was in the final incarnation of Beefheart’s Magic Band) and saxist/arranger Phillip Johnston (of the Microscopic Septet) as well as drummer Richard Dworkin, and baritone saxist Dave Sewelson (both also of the Micros), trombonist Joe Fieldler (Ed Palermo Big Band and Satoko Fujii‘s big band), bassist Jesse Krakow (of Time of Orchids and Doctor Nerve) and trumpeter Rob Heinke (also of Doctor Nerve). With a strong, creative line-up like this, you know that you will be getting something more than just a ‘cover band’ and you indeed are. Heartfelt, exciting and it both rocks and swings!

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Tom Hull’s Best Jazz of 2008

Cover of
Cover of Golden Quartet

Tom Hull gives us his picks for the best jazz of 2008, with many picks familiar to readers of this blog.

François Carrier: The Digital Box (1999-2006 [2008], Ayler, 7CD): Download only, as I understand it, although the label very generously provided clumsy me with a set of CDRs, packaged with their usual exceptional care. (Ayler has been going more and more to download-only product, which I always thought a shame, not least because their original artwork and packaging is so nice. I understand they’re still producing the artwork, which can be downloaded with the music, so you can print your own packaging — not that you’re going to be able to print it on slick card stock.) Sometimes I complain about multi-disc sets being too much extra work, but one way to handle that is to just let them flow into a single impression — and that’s a pleasure here. Carrier plays alto sax, increasingly soprano sax as well. A free player, I go back and forth on how original or distinctive he is, but he has a spirit and clarity of vision that becomes increasingly compelling the longer he plays. First disc here is a 1999 trio with Dewey Redman joining on on one cut. The rest of the material runs from 2004-06: two discs of duets with drummer Michel Lambert (a constant presence on all 7 discs); two trio discs with bassist Pierre Côté; two quartet discs with guitarist Sonny Greenwich and bassist Michel Donato. The bassless duets run a little slower, working through short, relatively patchy pieces, more like practice, or work even. The others offer long takes, the trios more improv, the quartet a long thematic piece called “Soulful South.” It adds up to more than the sum of the parts. A-

Exploding Customer: At Your Service (2005-06 [2007], Ayler): Swedish group, two horns up front — Martin Küchen on alto and tenor sax, Tomas Hallonsten on trumpet — bass and drums in the rear — Benjamin Quigley and Kjell Nordeson. Küchen is the effective leader, writing 6 of 7 pieces, his sax more prominent than the trumpet. Like a lot of Scandinavian groups, they play adventurous free bop with rock energy. The odd piece out, starting off with a Carla Bley arrangement of “Els Segadors,” adds an infectious Latin twist, closed out by a riff (“Sin Nombre”) from Hallonsten. Their previous album, Live at Tempere Jazz Happening, should have been an HM; so should this. B+(***)

Stephen Gauci’s Stockholm Conference: Live at Glenn Miller Café (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1966, based in Brooklyn, plays free, has a few records out, has yet to establish himself as a distinctive leader but usually gives a solid team performance. Two quartet sets here, both with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Fredrik Rundqvist on drums; the first adds Mats Äleklint’s trombone, the second Magnus Broo’s trumpet. The trombone actually has a little more hop to it. B+(**)

Rashied Ali/Charles Gayle/William Parker: By Any Means: Live at Crescendo (2007 [2008], Ayler, 2CD): By Any Means is probably meant to be the group name, but the principals are listed on the front cover, top to bottom as above (that would be alphabetically), and their names go further toward explaining what this is or why anyone should care. This is the same trio that recorded, under Gayle’s name, Touchin’ on Trane back in 1991 — one of those Penguin Guide crown albums. So it’s a little disconcerting that this gets off so awkwardly at first — even more so that Parker is the odd man out. Ali gets 3 of the first 4 pieces; Gayle the other one and the next 3; Parker recovers on his own 3-song second disc stretch, ending with a group improv. The sound isn’t all that sharp. The moves are unexceptional for these guys — Gayle at full speed is quite a treat, but he’s been there and done that many times before. B+(*)

Rob Mosher’s Storytime: The Tortoise (2007-08 [2008], Old Mill): Soprano saxophonist, from Canada, based in New York, also plays oboe and English horn here, writing for a 10-piece group with four reed players — more clarinet and flute than saxophone — three brass including French horn, guitar, bass and drums. Reportedly Mosher is self-taught, so it may not be fair to attribute this to the jazz-classical merger in the academies. But this is as pop-classical as Prokofiev, with all the hokum laid out so intricately you sometimes forget how the game works. It’s an old saw that jazz is America’s classical music, but that came out of an age when we all thought that America was different, so naturally our classical music would be something else. Now jazz is the world’s classical music, and it’s returning to its common denominator. B-

Charlie Hunter: Baboon Strength (2008, Spire Artist Media): Trio, with Hunter on his familiar 7-string guitar, Erik Deutsch on organ and Casio Tone, and Tony Mason on drums. Fairly pleasant grooves, and not much more. B

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet: Tablighi (2005 [2008], Cuneiform): Trumpet player, goes back to the 1970s when he was one of the AACM cats searching for an avant-garde path out of the end-of-history that playing far out and radically free led to — a fellow traveler to Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Much of this effort maintains the studied diffidence that always made him hard to grasp, except when he opts to channel Miles Davis. Quartet includes Vijay Iyer on keyboards, John Lindberg on bass, Shannon Jackson on drums. B+(**)

The Microscopic Septet: Lobster Leaps In (2007 [2008], Cuneiform): Seven-piece group: four weights of saxophone, piano, bass, and drums, led by soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston and pianist Joel Forrester. Group recorded enough material 1981-90 to fill up 4 CDs of History of the Micros, then disbanded until this reunion, Johnston leading scattered projects like his Captain Beefheart tribute band, Fast ‘N’ Bulbous. The old Micros were hard enough to pigeonhole, fitting about as well in postbop as Raymond Scott in show music. The new one is more prebop, albeit surrealistically, as befits the title track’s take on Lester Young swing. Only personnel change is at tenor sax, where Mike Hashim replaces Paul Shapiro. Hashim is primarily an alto saxophonist, having some marvelous records on his resume. A-

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January Cuneiform Releases

Upcoming releases from Cuneiform Records:

Cheer-Accident-Fear Draws Misfortune
For over 20 years, Cheer-Accident have been a creative, interesting force in rock music. They constantly strive to surprise their audience and themselves with constant reinvention. Fear Draws Misfortune is their 16th release and arguably their best and also the album which strives the furthest towards a powerful balance between personalized and unique studio techniques and the excitement of a visceral, live, well-honed rock band. Which is saying something. It is a strongly compelling and high-reaching album that uses a wide variety of ideas, styles and studio techniques, resulting in a cohesive and ambitious album of art-rock. The basic band is a trio who between them perform on vocals, keyboards, trumpets guitars, bass and drums, but they are augmented by 15 additional musicians who, each in their own way, bring their own musical gifts to the album. Fear Draws Misfortune reveals a fortuitous intersection of between Cuneiform and Cheer-Accident, both of whom have long admired the other and both of whom finally decided to do something about it! This long overdue marriage, which neatly coincides with a timely (and quite lengthy) cover-feature article in December 2008’s Signal To Noise magazine, promises to hurl Cheer-Accident into into wider recognition.

Fast ‘n’ Bulbous-Waxed Oop
Captain Beefheart’s music is the quintessential ‘outsider art music’ of the second half of the 20th century. Despite the fact that he retired from music over 25 years ago, his music resonates more strongly than ever as an influence on contemporary music. Fast ‘n’ Bulbous offer a unique slant on the songbook of one of contemporary music’s most idiosyncratic musical figures. The band features seven great, well-regarded musicians drawn from the rock and the jazz worlds: co-leaders guitarist Gary Lucas (who was in the final incarnation of Beefheart’s Magic Band) and saxist/arranger Phillip Johnston (of the Microscopic Septet) as well as drummer Richard Dworkin, and baritone saxist Dave Sewelson (both also of the Micros), trombonist Joe Fieldler (Ed Palermo Big Band and Satoko Fujii’s big band), bassist Jesse Krakow (of Time of Orchids and Doctor Nerve) and trumpeter Rob Heinke (also of Doctor Nerve). With a strong, creative line-up like this, you know that you will be getting something more than just a ‘cover band’ and you indeed are. Heartfelt, exciting and it both rocks and swings!
“Remarkably, these instrumentals hold onto Beefheart’s obsessive strangeness, whch is really the best tribute that Lucas, Johnston and the rest of the Fast ‘n’ Bulbous crew could have given him.” – All Music Guide

Forgas Band Pheneomena-Axis of Madness
Drummer and composer Patrick Forgas has been releasing jazz-rock gems that showcase his compositional and and arranging skills for over 30 years. Axis of Madness (L’Axe du Fou) is the fourth album by his current band; a 7-piece instrumental ensemble of skillful young musicians, performing on saxes/flute, trumpet/flugelhorn, violin, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. The group play music that combines the most attractive aspects of jazz and rock composition with inspired solos. The quality of the music and performances is obvious from the first note and we’re pleased that it isn’t only us who noticed; press has been unbelievably enthusiastic towards this group’s music!

Gutbucket-A Modest Proposal $15.00
Destroying walls between art-rock, avant-squonk, jazz-core and beyond, the decade-old New York quartet Gutbucket is not only equally comfortable playing in front of 900 sweatily pogo-ing teenage skate-punks, a crowd of cosmic indie-psych freaks, on an anarchist German art collective’s house-boat or even teaching master classes in the music departments of schools around the country, but most importantly, their music fits right in. A Modest Proposal solidifies Gutbucket’s place at the forefront of a revitalized avant-garde music scene in New York, where sparkling new venues pack in 20-somethings at Steve Reich gigs and Bang on a Can’s all-night music marathons draw crowds for Stockhausen at Sunrise. The band has spent the past 10 years injecting a shot of exuberance into the minimalist cool of the New York downtown scene. The group attacks their music with the ferocity usually reserved for punk, and the humorous abstraction of art-rock, despite having earned their jazz bona fides. Founded by bassist Eric Rockwin, saxophonist Ken Thomson, guitarist Ty Citerman, and drummer Paul Chuffo, Gutbucket built their all-important live reputation in New York clubs before spreading across east coast college towns. Trips to Europe soon followed, with over a dozen tours in 19 countries taken to date. Joined in 2007 by longtime friend Adam D Gold on drums following Chuffo’s departure, Gold’s musical voice was quickly deemed a necessity. A close friend, he’s also good for van conversation. Which is good. Because there are miles to go before Gutbucket sleeps!

Univers Zero-Relaps: Archives 1984-1986
Founding members of the Rock In Opposition movement, Univers Zero have continued to change and grow and develop over their entire career, while still keeping a ensemble sound and spirit that is easily recognizable. Relaps presents something that Univers Zero’s fans have been hoping for for decades; a peek into the recorded archives of one of the greatest avant-rock ensembles since mid 1970s! This CD documents the final 1980s line-ups of Univers Zéro before the band’s long sabbatical from recording and touring. The live sound is excellent throughout and the CD features a 16 page booklet with a informative history of the band during this time period as well as rare, never-seen photos. The line-ups featured on Relaps are the quintet who recorded UZED and the septet who recorded Heatwave. The material is drawn from those two albums, with the live setting providing some different arrangements and even greater fire to the pieces; I found the pieces taken from Heatwave to be particularly inspiring and outrageous. There is also a short, otherwise unheard composition included here. While UZ continue to play truely awesome gigs and develop the material that will be found on their next studio album, Relaps provides a chance for the listener to catch up with some never-released and exciting recordings from a truly classic band!

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Performances Releases

Cuneiform Artist News: Part III

Gary Lucas at the SKIF Festival, Russia.
Image via Wikipedia

From Cuneiform Records:

Gayle Ellett (Djam Karet)

Press Release for the music group FERNWOOD

Djam Karet’s Gayle Ellett has a new side-group called FERNWOOD. Their debut release “Almeria” has recently been getting rave reviews in the national and international press. GUITAR PLAYER Magazine (June issue) described their music as “Wonderfully melodic, expertly layered, masterfully interwoven, and luscious yet rootsy”. RECORDING Magazine said “The writing, arranging and performances are of the highest order. This release is something special to our ears. Highly Recomended”. The DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGE said “An enchanting, beautiful and captivating aural pleasure. 9 out of 10 points”.

They have been getting great radio play on NPR Radio, and ECHOES Radio, which has picked them as “Top 25 CD Of The Month” for the past six months, and their DJ John Diliberto is flying to Los Angeles to record FERNWOOD as part of his “Living Room Concert Series”.

Currently, the group is hard at work on a second release due out in early 2009. Their music is available at Wayside, CD Baby, I-Tunes and other outlets. You can read more about the group, and hear their music at

Forrest Fang

A new CD side project by Forrest Fang under the project name “Sans Serif” was released on the Hypnos Secret Sounds label in July 2008. The CD is called “Tones for La Monte” and was inspired by the harmonic drones of La Monte Young. The CD will soon be available through Wayside Music.

Fast ‘N’ Bulbous

In May 2008, Fast ‘N’ Bulbous recorded it’s second CD, Waxed Oop, to be released on Cuneiform Records in January of 2009. A strong departure from their first CD, Waxed Oops, ranges from Gary Lucas’ solo National Steel guitar version of “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N’ Yes I Do,” to a full band arrangement of Don van Vliet’s solo sea chantey, “Well.” It also includes the first FnB delving into “Lick My Deacls Off, Baby,” and features a bonus track with guest vocalist Robyn Hitchcock.

Just prior to the recording, they did a tribute concert to Captain Beefheart at New York’s Knitting Factory, curated by Gary Lucas, which featured little-known video clips and recordings, and readings and reminiscences by many special guests, including Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, Suicide’s Alan Vega, Kurt Loder, and David Lynch (via video).

You can watch a podcast of highlights from the show at:
You can also watch a clip on YouTube, of Gary and Robyn performing “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N’ Yes I Do” at the same event.

Fast ‘N’ Bulbous will be appearing in the US and Europe in March of 2009.

Visit Fast ‘N’ Bulbous online for YouTube videos and audio from the new recording.

Forgas Band Phenomena

As of writing (mid September), the band are about to embark on their first foreign concert ever – in Seoul, South Korea, no less! The Forgas Band are representing France in the 2008 edition of a major festival in Guro, a district of the Korean capital. Previous editions of this free event had over 10,000 in attendance.

This performance is yet another milestone in a very eventful year for the band, who early in the summer recorded their new album “L’Axe du Fou” / “Axis of Madness” for release on Cuneiform Records in January, 2009. In contrast to 2005’s “Soleil 12” which for a large part used old material, this was all composed by drummer/leader Patrick Forgas in the last three years.

This was actually the FBP’s second studio session this year; in February they recorded a cover version of Christian Vander’s “Africa Anteria” (originally on 1971’s Uniweria Zekt album) for “Hur”, the sequel to Alain Juliac’s acclaimed Magma tribute project “Hamtai”, due for release later this year.

We hope to celebrate the release of the new CD with a concert in Paris (details tba). The other confirmed concert date is the Chateau d’Auvers-sur-Oise on April 4, 2009. Obviously the band very much hope to follow up their Korean debut with other performances abroad and will happily consider any offers to perform at venues and festivals worldwide!

Audio and video excerpts –
More information, press, etc. –
Management / booking contact –

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