AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon – Soft Berm (2018; Magnetic South Recordings)

Hear ye, aesthete! Hear ye, free music(s) fan! Hear ye, improvisers! The brash, virulent duo of Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon hold the keys to the kingdom and are ready to storm the palace of non-idiomatic form. Shimmy Soft Berm, the latest from guitarist Dorji and drummer Damon’s ever-proliferating corpus, into the deck. Comprised of a single live performance from Fall 2017, this one has all the hallmarks and hits the high points.

Soft Berm is a fine specimen of contemporary audio verité: the wow, flutter, and hiss of the original source recording, the sounds of shuffling feet and crowd noise, and even a few unsteady moments during the duo’s sonic explorations remain preserved and presented. Whilst their studio releases afford the pair a degree of forgiveness and/or rumination on the productive process, make no mistake, Berm’s fleeting moments of disorientation are as fascinating as the eons of pure exhilaration captured on this performance. From Damon’s crystalline drum paradiddles to Dorji’s prepared guitar hypno-raga, the duo spends just over 40 minutes trekking through three distinct sonic movements, in which they sanguinely explore space, syncopation, timbre, tension, and release. Damon is easily one of the most exciting percussionists to appear on the scene since Chris Corsano and having recently witnessed Kuzu, Damon and Dorji’s trio with Dave Rempis, I can assert that his technical proficiency and stamina behind, around, and in front of the drum kit are top-notch. Meanwhile, Dorji remains one of the few contemporary guitarist possessive of a Bailey-esque sensitivity, which is manifestly apparent in his tasteful engagement with his looping pedal.

Barring any wanton self-indulgence or dives off the proverbial deep end, this duo is walloping towards canonization. You heard it here first. Don’t be surprised when you hear someone half your age name-checking Damon and Dorji alongside Rashied Ali and John Coltrane as a force to be reckoned with in the realm(s) of free/improvised/art rock.

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb


The Electric Ascension Film Project is Looking for a Grant Writer

John Rogers is making a film about ROVA and is looking for some help. Contact him if you have experience and time to work on grants.

The Electric Ascension film project is looking for a grant writer with experience in the avant-garde art and music world.

A documentary is underway about the Rova Saxophone Quartet‘s re-incarnation of John Coltrane‘s milestone free-jazz recording from 1965, Ascension; famously called “…the single most vexatious work in jazz history” by Gary Giddins, and on its release, “…possibly the most powerful human sound ever recorded,” (William Mathieu, Down Beat). The film revolves around the impact of the original Ascension recording, and its re-emergence in a series of turbulent live performances by the large electrified ensemble Orkestrova. Separated by forty years, the two works serve as gateways for audiences to engage with the continuum of American experimental music, and John Coltrane’s contentious late period.

Contact John Rogers,, in Berkeley, (510) 647-5051

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Performances Reviews

Marc Ribot’s Sun Ship

Marc Ribot‘s take on Coltrane is reviewed.

The dauntless, combustible energies of jazz’s 1960s avant-garde have long held a deep attraction for the guitarist Marc Ribot. His public profile may involve a great deal of tact and concision — he works widely as a gun for hire, often infusing low-gloss pop albums with a proper hint of twang — but as a bandleader he tends to reach for a messier, more transcendent ideal. In recent years he has expressed that impulse best through his band Spiritual Unity, inspired by the free-jazz firebrand Albert Ayler.

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Performances Reviews

By Any Means brings chemistry and history to the Newport jazz festival

The Boston Globe reviews the supergroup By Any Means Necessary.

The trio of alto saxophonist Charles Gayle, bassist William Parker, and drummer Rashied Ali play with a potency and urgency that can make your hairs stand on end. They also just happened to have made one of the greatest albums in free jazz, a 1993 date called “Touchin’ on Trane,’’ a collection of tunes inspired by, rather than composed by, John Coltrane. (For contractual reasons, the album was released under the artists’ individual names rather than by By Any Means.) In 2008, more than 20 years after it formed, By Any Means finally released a proper album, a superb two-CD set called “Live at Crescendo’’ that was recorded at a club in Sweden.

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New Thing Productions in July and August

The latest schedule from Syracuse’s New Thing Productions:

July 24th @ 8pm
Andrew Lamb Solo
$5-$10 Donation

Andrew Lamb (Saxophones, Flutes, Woodwinds) Born in Ingold, North Carolina and grew up in Chicago and predominately in South Jamaica, Queens. Having studied with AACM charter member Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Lamb came into New York’s “avant – garde’ community during the 1970’s at the height of New York’s legendary ‘Loft Jazz scene”, and as time progressed, was to become an active presence in the vibrant Bedford – Stuyvesant arts world at that time, becoming the recipient of several consecutive, and highly competitive Brooklyn Arts Council grant awards.

Andrew Lamb and his ensembles remain a regular presence both domestically and internationally, frequently playing the annual Vision Festival (New York City) which began in 1996. Andrew Lamb has also taken part in the Composer’s Workshop Ensemble, Alan Silva Sound Vision Orchestra, Cecil Taylor Vision Orchestra, Roy Campbell Ensemble, and several other big band projects. Lamb is also the member of an exciting trio collaboration with AACM affiliated drummer Alvin Fielder and pianist Chris Parker known as M41 which also has a highly regarded recording entitled M41. In ’04, The Henry Grimes Trio with Andrew Lamb and Newman Baker, was named “Best Jazz Trio” by NY Press in it’s “Best Of Manhattan” issue. That trio also played in Berlin, Germany Edgefest (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and The Hothouse, Chicago in ’05.

Andrew Lamb’s music rises out of the African – American church, blues, and jazz traditions, and is deeply spiritual, profoundly emotional, and easily accessible to all who hear him, wrote Steven Loewy for “All Music Guide” Andrew Lamb is a serious musician seeking to uplift his soul through art, and like John Coltrane and his progeny, Lamb’s vehicle is the psalm-like expression of his tenor saxophone. The results reflect his quest, testifying to his musical abilities, enormous potential, and depth of character”

In the year 1994, lamb was signed to a recording contract by Chicago’s famed Delmark record company to make his first recording as a leader, “Portrait In the Mist” which reached critical acclaim being listed among the best albums of the year in the Jazz Times 1995 critics poll, while bringing light to Lamb’s compositional prowess, and featuring Percussionist/vibraphonist Warren Smith, bassist Wilber Morris and drummer/percussionist Andrei Strobert. Andrew Lamb has since recorded in both duo and trio settings.

Andrew will be performing solo as well as a set with Michael Hentz & Mike ((P))

July 26th @ 8pm
Henry Gale, Stone Baby, Torus
$5-$10 Donation

“We’re suckers for a good Lost reference, so when we stumbled across a band named Henry Gale while skipping through the fields of MySpace, we approached their music with the same cautious optimism any Lost fan accords another on first meeting. It paid off: these guys are good. Like many post-rock bands, Henry Gale (an instrumental four-piece specializing in post-rocky bombast à la Explosions in the Sky or our own Common Cold) just love guitars that veer between twinkling loopage and soaring textures. Unlike many post-rock bands, they don’t take forever getting to the part that rocks, they do it from the get-go.” – Michael Brodeur, The Boston Phoenix

August 1st @ 8pm
Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone
$5-$10 Donation

Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone have collectively been featured in The New York Times, Jazz Review, The Wire, Time Out New York, Time Out Chicago, The New York Press, Jazztimes, All About Jazz, BBC and Downbeat. From the collaborative minds and nimble fingers of Mary Halvorson (Guitar, Vocals) and Jessica Pavone (Viola, Vocals) come a minimalist rendering of emotions and themes, performed with stark clarity and introspection. Touring in support of their new Thirsty Ear CD Thin Air: “Thin Air” is a presentation involving their vast talents as musicians, vocalists and poets. Their lyrics borrow from themes relating to everything from human relationships and travelling to more abstract and intangible elements. These melodies are offered in a sparse yet effervescent style that make the listener feel as though they are sitting right next to them, much like an impromptu coffeehouse performance. Both intimate and forward thinking, this release is a true example of the power of thought, through a unique blending of avant folk with jazz underpinnings.

August 10th @ 8pm
Eli Keszler & Ashley Paul
$5-$10 Donation

Eli Keszler, using drums, along with crotales, bells, bowed metal, strings, Eli creates a unique whirlwind of sound that balances sparse droning harmonics with intense, fast, free rhythms. He has performed, recorded or collaborated with artists such as Jandek, Phill Niblock (performed a new work of his for bowed crotales and saxophone), Roscoe Mitchell, Loren Connors, Charles Cohen, Anthony Coleman (appearing on his New World Records Release), Aki Onda, Bryan Eubanks, David Linton, Steve Pyne (Redhorse), Greg Kelley, Ashley Paul. Eli has performed at venues like The Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), Irving Plaza, Merkin Hall, Issue Project Room, The Stone and The Knitting Factory (NYC and LA), and countless bookstores, basements, and small galleries around the US and Europe. He has released solo CD’s and cassettes on REL as well as labels such as Rare Youth (debut solo LP, Livingston), Reverb Worship and Something on The Road.

Ashley Paul plays reeds, unique string instruments, electronics and sings. Her dream-like music juxtaposes aggressive, sustained high pitched blasts, floating vocals, clattering strings and bells, cry-like saxophones and is somehow tied together by oddly melodic songs. In the past year she performed with Loren connors, Aki Onda, Joe Morris, and Greg Kelley, premiered a new work by Phill Niblock for soprano saxophone and bowed crotales (written for her and Eli Keszler), performed as part of the US premiere of Mauricio Kagel’s masterpiece ‘Der Schall’ at Merkin Concert Hall in New York and was heard in a live feature on wzbc’s Rare Frequency. Additionally, Ashley performs regularly with Anthony Coleman in duo, trio and on his recent New World Records release, plays duo with Eli Keszler and has recently begun performing solo, sharing the stage with Thurston Moore, Mats Gustaffson, Chris Corsano and others.

Metropolis Underground
615 S. Main St (backside of bldg, first door on your left)
N. Syracuse, NY 13212

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John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ Live, With Strings

From NPR Music:

A Love Supreme, by John Coltrane and his powerful quartet, remains a towering and seemingly untouchable jazz classic. But the virtuosic genre-benders in the Turtle Island Quartet have done it justice, re-working the seminal album for strings and winning a Grammy for their trouble. They recently performed a live version, captured live for JazzSet, at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City.

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Cecil Taylor at University of Vermont

From University of Vermont:

Visionary avant garde pianist Cecil Taylor, one of the most innovative figures in the free jazz movement, will spend four days in residency at UVM April 14-17, rehearsing student musicians, performing with them, and delivering a talk about his life and music. Taylor will also perform at the Flynn Theater on Friday night. Tickets for members of the UVM community are half price.

An enduring and uncompromising figure of the jazz avant-garde, pianist/composer Taylor is widely acknowledged as one of the three pioneering titans of free jazz, with John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. He is one of the few musicians in any genre to explore the full tonal range of the keyboard, and his ferocious playing and rhythmic acuity are trailblazing. Using piano as percussion, his sheer physicality often finds him addressing the keyboard with open palms, elbows, and forearms, yet he is just as likely to investigate the instrument’s many subtle shadings.

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Free Music

Good Stuff from Free Albums Galore

Free Albums Galore offers several new AMN-approved listings.

Eugene Lee – Meditations
Genre: Avant-Garde, Jazz

Eugene Lee has proven he is a talented artist in the avant-garde circles with his last free online album titled Srivbanacore but this time he’s doing something that is a bit different. On Meditations, he is entering an area that has been explored by such jazz legends as John Coltrane and Tony Scott but rather than simply creating music for meditation, Lee is probing what goes on during the act, the deep and serene calm but also the busy traffic of thought that always emerge in the practitioner as he learns this skill. With the exception of “Nightmare” this is a solo endeavor using some electronic enhancement and overlays. It is a tour de force of saxophone virtuosity yet becomes more than fancy playing. Being a daily meditator myself, I really sense Lee has succeeded in his goal. “Candles” is a beautiful array of slow melodic lines while “Conscience” and “Locus” deftly displays that turbulence in the mind that is always there. “Immortality” is a haunting three minutes of echoes and drones. “Nightmare” is the odd man out, a quartet number with pianist Ben Stepner, bassist Robin Betton and Brent Raskind on drums. It gives you a peek at what Lee is normally up to and it is a marvelous bit of ensemble playing but still sounds a bit out of place here. This album may be an experiment but it is a fairly successful one.

Squadra Omega – two albums
Genre: Rock, Avant-Garde, Improvisation, Psychedelia

Squadra Omega is an Italian psychedelic free-form jam band that knows how to bend your ears. From the first onslaught of sax, guitars and drums on Tenebroso I was spellbound. The 20 minute single track album was recorded in one live take with an intensity that few artists can keep going for that duration. This is a free improvisation spree complete with all the mistakes and risks that make this form of live art so…well…alive. The tracks starts in full throttle and continues with an almost shamanic dedication, a full volume free jazz chant. It is The Grateful Dead, Sun Ra and Coltrane all rolled together in one night of all joy and dread abandoned. If you haven’t guessed, I love this album. This is some of the best free improvisation you will find in avant jazz and rock. This gem of a live session is brought to you by The Clinical Archives net label and is available in 320kbps MP3 format.

Rennes Le Chateau from the Vuoto net label didn’t send me waxing poetically like the former album did but it did verify my first perception that Squadra Omega is an unique and exceptional ensemble of musicians. Like Tenebroso It is a 20 minute long free-form jam that keeps your interest throughout. There’s a lot of 70s jam rock influence in this album but I find the way these artists interact and mix their influences together totally 21st century. There are traces of The Dead, electronic sampling, mid-east tonalities, free jazz, and even the ghost of Link Wray’s guitar in this jam and all of it makes sense in some musically chaotic definition of normality. I’m hooked on this band. Rennes Le Chateau is available in 320kbps MP3.

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Jazz Listings from the New York Times

From the Times.

THE BAD PLUS (Tuesday) The curious agenda of this staunchly cohesive trio feels even curiouser on “For All I Care” (Do the Math/Heads Up), the first Bad Plus album to feature a vocalist, Wendy Lewis. Before embarking on a European tour, the full cohort stops here for a belated album-release concert, featuring Ms. Lewis on such disparate fare as “Lithium” (Nirvana) and “Barracuda” (Heart). At 9 p.m., Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, near the Bowery, Lower East Side, (212) 533-2111,; $25. (Chinen)

MARY HALVORSON TRIO (Friday) Last year the guitarist Mary Halvorson released “Dragon’s Head” (Firehouse 12), a brambly but engaging debut featuring her own compositions for a trio with the bassist John Hebert and the drummer Ches Smith. It was one of the standout jazz albums of 2008, partly because it felt so utterly of its moment. Ms. Halvorson will draw again from that material here, but she’ll also introduce some new music and feature a couple of guests, the trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and the alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon. At 8:30 p.m., Roulette, 20 Greene Street, at Grand Street, SoHo, (212) 219-8242,; $15 at the door; $10 for members and students. (Chinen)

CHARLIE HUNTER TRIO (Thursday) “Baboon Strength” (Spire Artist Media), the new release from the guitarist Charlie Hunter, reflects his fruitful preoccupation with groove and introduces a tight new trio with the keyboardist Erik Deutsch and the drummer Tony Mason. This album-release gig will also feature Eric Biondo on trumpet and Cochemea Gastelum on baritone saxophone. At 8:30 p.m., Sullivan Hall, 214 Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village,; $18 advance, $20 door. (Chinen)

A LOVE SUPREME (Saturday) John Coltrane’s most beloved album receives a spirited interpretation, courtesy of Exuberance, a group consisting of the trumpeter Roy Campbell, the tenor saxophonist Louie Belogenis, the drummer Michael Wimberly and the bassist Hilliard Greene. Joining this worshipful effort are the pianist Andrew Bemkey and the vocalist Beth Anne Hatton. At 8 p.m., Middle Collegiate Church, 50 East Seventh Street, East Village, (212) 477-0666,; $15. (Chinen)

OPEN LOOSE (Friday) Together with the tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and the drummer Tom Rainey, Mark Helias, a bassist and composer, walks a line between form and freedom, confirming that there can be rigor in both. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street, West Village, (212) 989-9319,; cover, $10, with a one-drink minimum. (Chinen)

JESSE STACKEN TRIO (Thursday) On “That That” (Fresh Sound New Talent), the pianist Jesse Stacken presents a program of original pieces showcasing his slippery rapport with the bassist Eivind Opsvik and the drummer Jeff Davis, who rejoin him here. At 8:30 p.m., Roulette, 20 Greene Street, at Grand Street, SoHo, (212) 219-8242,; $15 at the door; $10 for members and students. (Chinen)

VISION COLLABORATION NIGHTS (Wednesday and Thursday) The Vision Festival unfurls one of its perennial off-season satellite series, dealing explicitly with movement. This first night of festivities features several dancers and more than a few musicians, including the tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, leading Tamarindo, a trio with William Parker on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. The second night features the violinist Jason Kao Hwang, among others. (Through Feb. 21.) At 7:30 p.m., Living Theater, 21 Clinton Street, Lower East Side, (212) 254-5420,; $15 in advance, $20 at the door and $15 students. (Chinen)

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Jazz Listings from the New York Times

Lots going on in New York this week.

RASHIED ALI QUINTET (Sunday) Rashied Ali has had a substantial career in the jazz avant-garde, beginning with his role in the late-period bands of John Coltrane. But hard bop is the foundation for this quintet, with a front line of the trumpeter Josh Evans and the tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark. At 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan, (212) 576-2232,; cover, $25.

GO: ORGANIC ORCHESTRA (Monday) This meditative large ensemble, scheduled to perform at Roulette for the next three Monday nights, is a project of the open-minded percussionist, composer and conductor Adam Rudolph. Drawing inspiration from earthy and elemental sources, it features changeable layers of woodwinds, strings, percussion and guitars. At 8:30 p.m., Roulette at Location One, 20 Greene Street, at Grand Street, SoHo, (212) 219-8242,; $15; $10 for students, 60+ and those 30 and younger. (Chinen)

JON HASSELL AND THE MAARIFA STREET BAND (Tuesday) On his first United States tour in more than 20 years, the trumpeter-composer Jon Hassell recreates the meditative glow of his new album, “Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street” (ECM). To help conjure his various fusions onstage, he enlists his Maarifa Street Band, with Kheir-Eddine M’Kachiche on violin, Jan Bang and J. A. Deane on electronics, and Peter Freeman on bass and programming. At 8:30 p.m., Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, (212) 247-7800,; $35 to $45. (Chinen)

L’IMAGE (Thursday) This all but forgotten funk-fusion group of the 1970s recently reunited in the studio, bringing a lot more collective experience to the table. Its lineup consists of the vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, the keyboardist Warren Bernhardt, the guitarist David Spinozza, the bassist Tony Levin and the drummer Steve Gadd. (Through Feb. 15.) At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., Iridium, 1650 Broadway, at 51st Street, (212) 582-2121,; cover, $35, with a $10 minimum. (Chinen)

PAUL MOTIAN TRIO 3 IN 1 (Tuesday through Thursday) Paul Motian is drawn to melody as a drummer, composer and bandleader, but he also harbors a fondness for indeterminacy. In this configuration he features an instinctive melodist, the saxophonist Chris Potter, and an incorrigible abstractionist, the pianist Jason Moran. Because he has recent history with each of them, and because everyone involved is an active listener, the results should suggest something other than an earnest collision. (Through Feb. 15.) At 9 and 11 p.m., Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th Street, West Village, (212) 255-4037,; cover, $20, with a $10 minimum. (Chinen)

NED ROTHENBERG AND INNER DIASPORA (Friday) Ned Rothenberg is a saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist and composer with a penchant for insistent frictions. He draws here from a recent texture-rich album called “Inner Diaspora” (Tzadik), with vital help from Mark Feldman on violin, Erik Friedlander on cello, Samir Chatterjee on tabla, and Jerome Harris on acoustic guitars. At 8:30 p.m., Union Temple, 17 Eastern Parkway, near Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, (718) 638-7600,; free. (Chinen)

CHRIS SCHLARB (Saturday) Mr. Schlarb, a guitarist best recognized (in some parts, anyway) as half of the drone-crazy duo I Heart Lung, has an atmospheric new solo effort called “Twilight & Ghost Stories” (Asthmatic Kitty), organized as a suite and featuring more than two dozen improvisers. Each of these two sets will span the entire work, with contributions from Tom Abbs on bass and didgeridoo, Katherine Young on bassoon and accordion, and Mick Rossi on piano, among others. At 8 and 10 p.m., the Stone, Avenue C and Second Street, East Village,; cover, $10 per set. (Chinen)

SEARCH AND RESTORE (Friday and Saturday) The promoters behind this left-leaning concert series are unveiling their new Web site,, with all appropriate fanfare: on Friday they present Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, a postmodern big band, and on Saturday they feature Now vs. Now, a rhythmically assertive trio led by the pianist Jason Lindner. At 9 and 10:30 p.m., Jazz Gallery, 290 Hudson Street, at Spring Street, South Village, (212) 242-1063,; cover, $15; $10 for members.

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