The saxophone has become an increasingly en vogue addition to the extreme music formula. Ever since John Zorn bleated and honked over grindcore and avant-garde metal with Naked City and Painkiller, a growing crop of younger bands have demonstrated how to masterfully incorporate a jazz staple into heavier compositions. The sparsity of such bands should come…
Ever press send on an important email only to glance it over and find a glaring typo? That’s roughly how I felt when the name “Colin Webster” popped in my head right after we published our second Jazz Quarterly of the year. For those unaware, Webster is a prolific saxophone madman whose constantly challenging his instrument and ever-widening group of collaborators (for more on Webster, read Bandcamp’s excellent piece on him, Travis Laplante and other essential modern saxophonists). With Webster’s name in mind, I reluctantly pulled out my phone over my morning cup of coffee and checked his Bandcamp. I knew full well I’d find a new, exceptional album worthy of inclusion in our latest Jazz Quarterly, and sure enough, Molar Wrench fits this description perfectly. The four-track maelstrom pits together sax, percussion and electronics for abrasive free jazz that’s harboring a voyeuristic obsession with noise.
We’re back with more fantastic jazz from the second quarter of 2017! Unfortunately with the departure of staff writer and our friend Jimmy Mullett from Heavy Blog, it’s left a hole in our Jazz Club trifecta. Thankfully we were able to fill that void quickly with our buddy Dave Tremblay of Can This Even Be Called Music? Dave is constantly finding interesting and original stuff in the way of jazz and elsewhere, and we’re excited to have him join and help us recommend jazz of all stripes that demands your attention.
We’ve covered a fair bit of ground with our Starter Kit series, where we select a handful of key records that highlight a niche musical style or penetrate the prolific status of a staple genre. Unfortunately, this format doesn’t lend itself to covering proto-genres—microcosms of musical history comprised of a specific set of albums released in a fixed period of time. But these movements are crucial to the evolution of our favorite genres, particularly when it comes to the trajectory of sludge metal. What’s become a multifaceted and often refined style was once a disparate lineage of bands from different genres who all applied the “sludge factor” in different measures. While you won’t find a dedicated section for proto-sludge at your preferred music store, the following albums an artists laid the framework for the modern sludge landscape. So whether your sludge purveyors of choice come from the atmospheric, blackened or progressive sects of he genre, they’re all indebted to the groundbreaking statements these albums made.
At the beginning of this year I covered a band called Burning Ghosts, a sort of free jazz/rock hybrid who expressed their want for change in an instrumental fashion. Their debut was chaotic and noisy but at the same time a harbinger of hope, with trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom’s piercing tone breaking through guitarist Jake Vossler’s most riotous noise-making techniques. I noted in that article that “if I had known about this band earlier, I can almost guarantee that this would be on my top ten of 2016,” and I still stand by that. Musically, Burning Ghosts was a much-needed voice to the experimental music scene—their loudness was matched by the delicate control and virtuosity they put towards their music, and the addition of trumpet to the lineup offered slightly different sonic variations to enjoy. And, to my surprise/luck/excitement, Burning Ghosts is releasing their sophomore album Reclamation this month on John Zorn’s Tzadik label.
Let’s dive into our album this week: The Parable of Arable Land by experimental rock/psych band Red Krayola, made in collaboration with “The Familiar Ugly”—a group of the band’s friends. RK consisted of Texas art school students, and this “outsider” influence (i.e. not trained musicians) shows up in their music in the best way possible. Lo-fi? Check. Tons of tracks that sound like noise (referred to as “Freak-Outs”)? Double check. If you like your music psychedelic, experimental, and given to flights of all-out, Brötzmann-esque free jazz, this is your record.
Free improvisation is hardly a new subject on Heavy Blog; Scott and I have written extensively on the subject. However, we haven’t touched on some of the more interesting modes inherent in the genre—namely, EAI, or electroacoustic improvisation. The definition of EAI, along with most avant-garde “genres”, is murky at…
We’ve talked about John Zorn before on Heavy Vanguard (and everywhere else too), but not much about the project he’s most famously associated with: Naked City. Founded in 1988 and featuring a handful of the New York Downtown scene’s best players (Wayne Horvitz, Henry Cow’s Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, Joey Baron, and, later, Japan’s own Yamatsuka Eye) Naked City was on a quest to test the limits of a rock band format through a sort of free jazz/grindcore hybrid that played through nearly every style of music ever, all within a matter of seconds, referred to as “miniatures”.
Welcome back to Jazz Club! It’s been a while since the three of us (Jimmy, Nick and Scott) sat down to dissect the one of our favorite genres, which was most recently a conversation about BADBADNOTGOOD’s excellent 2016 album IV. In that discussion, we tossed around the idea of pooling together a list of some of our favorite new jazz releases, something we’re excited to finally begin today with our first installment of Jazz Quarterly. This is also offering us an opportunity and excuse to get ourselves back in the habit of listening to new jazz regularly, which, if you’re anything like at least a couple of us (namely Nick) has been something we’ve been meaning to get back into for far too long. There are a few places now that offer some great monthly curated lists like Bandcamp, Stereogum, and more, and you’ll likely notice that a bunch of these selections are pulled from there because they provide a valuable resource for even supposed “curators” such as ourselves. As each of us prefers different flavors of the genre, you’ll find an eclectic list of recommendations below, ranging from more traditional offerings to experimental blends of jazz with Indian classical music, doom metal sensibilities, electronic music, progressive rock and much more. We’d be genuinely shocked if you can’t find at least one release worth your time from this list, so without wasting any more time, feel free to dive in to the best the genre’s had to offer so far this year.
So, twenty episodes, and we’re still kicking…I guess that’s something to be proud of! Anyway, when we come to special numbers of episodes, Scott and I like to pick an album that’s had a huge effect on us and talk about it without worrying about the thirty-minute timer. For our tenth episode we covered Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, and we again dive into jazz territory with Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz.